open thread – March 29-30, 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.

{ 924 comments… read them below }

  1. Anonynon*

    Job hunting commiseration: there’s usually a thread on the weekends for talking about books, so I thought it might be good to have on on Fridays to talk about job hunting. Who else is in the process? How’s it going for you?

    I recently started a temp job, so my search is a little bit slower now (based on advice from here, which I was very grateful for!), but I’m still getting rejections from jobs I applied to before I got my current job. And even though I’m okay for right now, it’s still disheartening. I got two from jobs I was really, really interested in on the day I started this job – didn’t even make it to the phone screen stage.

    What are you doing to keep yourself going? In general, what percentage of jobs you apply for do you end up getting an interview for?

    1. OP Unemployed*

      Started a few weeks ago. But I feel good as one does when they first start as they don’t know how the job market is b/c they’ve been out of it for a few years.

      I’m returning to pro bono work through a few online platforms to keep my skills up, in-person volunteering and lots of dog walks. I happily have a lot of work and community references, as well as text conversations, to keep me buoyed.

    2. Sloanicota*

      I’m trying to kick start my job search and looked at the postings for the first time in a while this week. I really love my current role and company, but I’ve heard repeated warnings our finance are very shaky and that makes everything so hard. I would just flag that the percentage of interviews to offers is going to vary pretty widely by field, level of experience, and how niche your experience is. I wouldn’t want anyone to end up feeling bad hearing that someone has a 99% application to interview rate if they only apply to the two perfect jobs in six months; that’s one strategy, and applying more widely with a lower success rate is another strategy. They each have their own place.

    3. TheBunny*

      The response rate is low. I’m employed now but I am having concerns about the financial health of the company so I’ve started looking.

      It’s tough…but I am hopeful. So far.

    4. Glazed Donut*

      Since I started my job search earlier this year in earnest, I think I’ve had interviews for 5-8% of applications. At this point, even just getting a “we received your application” email feels good, haha.
      One job I applied to was a more entry level position – I have a degree in the work but have never technically done it as part of a job, just as side projects. They essentially told me I’m overqualified for that job and to apply for the manager of the role, but now I worry I’ll be beat out for that role by other people with more experience. I’ve had interviews that I thought were SO good but they went with someone else. I’m in the running for 2 positions at this time.
      It’s slow for sure and is hard to get a timeline from hiring managers. I’m trying to focus on finding a job where I like the work and the people and the mission. For now I’m doing consulting to make a little money on the side. I had to lower my own expectations for # of jobs to apply to since there just aren’t that many out there in my specific area/field.

      1. Glazed Donut*

        Oh, AND for one of the positions I’m considering (/haven’t been rejected yet), they told me they’re definitely interested & want me to move to the next round, but have no timeline for it since they’re trying to fill lower positions first – but if I get an offer elsewhere, I should let them know so they can rush it. -eyeroll-

        What I don’t get is this: Over the past 2 years, when I was hiring to add to my team, I received probably 50-100 applications for each position, and they were not good: typos in cover letters, resumes that didn’t make sense, completely unrelated prior jobs and/or lack of basic qualifications. We ended up hiring people who seemed fine, not because they were stellar. Now it seems like everyone is stellar and that’s part of why so many of us are just being ghosted at any stage. Did the job market flip in the past 12 months? A friend of mine in a completely separate industry (but also 100% remote like me) has said she’s seen the same lack-of-quality in job applications.

      2. The Rafters*

        You may want to dumb-down your applications for the jobs that are more entry-level. A friend of mine, who was a very high ranking Admin to a CEO did that. She no longer wanted the higher stress jobs but was waaaay overqualified for what she wanted to do going forward. She’s had a lot of success doing that. I will add though that she didn’t have to worry about them dismissing her qualifications in the future by submitting a vastly different applications to those same companies.

          1. calcifer*

            It’s mostly a matter of minimizing the impact of your other areas of experience, if they’re not related to the role you’re applying to. You don’t want to remove jobs entirely, just describe them in a way that makes them sound more like the job you’re applying to. This might involve breaking from Alison’s advice by focusing more on responsibilities than accomplishments, minimizing references to management experience, or removing accomplishments that would be inaccessible to those entry-level roles.

            You’re trying to create the impression that you’ve ‘gotten by’ with other work while you built your skillset in this, the area you’d really like to work in, not that you’ve advanced on a different career path for a while but are now switching.

    5. UnemployedInGreenland*

      O wow – I was coming here to start the same topic. I’ve been unemployed for 7 months now – longest ever. I’ve had tons of great introductory conversations with people who were referred to me, lots of interviews, made it to the final round on several and… been either rejected or ghosted each time. I’ve applied to so many jobs – and I keep a spreadsheet of them just to further depress myself. I am fortunate in that I have experience in a few different areas so I can apply to lots of jobs – lama team management, lama training, lama project management, lame technical writer, etc. I know my lamas.

      The ghosting is killing me. A rejection I can handle. But leaving me hanging – in some cases for months! – is driving me up a wall. One place ghosted me for 2 months after 4 rounds of interviews and then the HR manager reached out to set up a quick meeting with me. Great. She spent the whole meeting (all 10 minutes of it, after she was 5 minutes late with no apology) asking me a series of questions that felt like a new game show: “Just how far will you abase yourself to get a job!” After answering everything in the affirmative (I NEED a job!) she signed off with a chirpy “You’ll be hearing from us soon!” And of course, never heard from them again.

      How do I keep going? I have great friends who talk me off the ledge when I’m despairing. I have a very supportive family, but since I am the economic engine that keeps us going, it is difficult to share this with them. I really don’t know what we’ll do if I don’t land something soon.

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          Oh, see, here I was, thinking it must be really hard to find work in Greenland, and completely missing the Princess Bride reference. I feel ashamed, as that is one of my favorite movies.

      1. Despairingly unemployed*

        Ugh, that’s terrible I’m sorry. I’ve been unemployed for nearly a year now and rarely even get interviews, but the ghosting I’ve had (including how I lost my last job) is The Worst (tied with waiting (for applications to be looked at)). I also have a few great friends to talk me off the ledge but the despair is… nearly ingrained at this point.

        I’m not sure how to keep going either (but I am decidedly Not keeping a spreadsheet, may I suggest printing that off and burning it for some catharsis?). Someone said “any port in a storm” so I’m considering applying in an industry I don’t want to expand my stay in, or look at temp jobs to tide me over even though that’d f*ck with my health insurance. I keep hoping someone will give me a chance, and while hope is definitely needed, at this point it’s a double edged sword.

    6. Elle Woods*

      I’m wrapping up a contract gig later today and am kick starting my job search into high gear this weekend. (The contract gig has kicked my butt since the beginning of the year.) I’m trying to be realistic about how long it’s going to take to land something new and permanent–as permanent as any job can be these days.

      Good luck with your search!

    7. BoratVoiceMyWife*

      Up until a couple of weeks ago I’d been searching aggressively for several months due to my current company’s financial health, even though I’m the one person who can do my role and with repeated reassurances that there are a lot of people whose jobs are less crucial than mine who would conceivably go first.

      My response rate was insanely low and two of the three roles I got into the interview process for turned out to be either “insufferably boring” (based on the example assessment they asked me to do) or “salary not commensurate to the sheer amount of hats I’d have to wear” (startup).

      The third role, which I closed the loop on, would’ve been great. But after seeing me and the other candidate present assignments, they decided the position description had been lacking one key factor all along, told us both no and started the search from scratch.

      With school summer break rushing up at us, and being unable to afford childcare during the week, I wouldn’t have the time at this stage to learn a new role and build up the capital I would need to be able to juggle parenting and work at a new company, so I’m putting the search on hold until the fall. My current employer might be driving me insane but at least I know I’m a high enough performer to be able to say “hey I’ll be AFK for the next couple of hours, taking the kid to the park” and have my superiors know I’ll still get the job done.

      1. Dreamt About a Bagel!*

        That’s the advantage of a job where they know you and you’ve worked out certain flexibilities, even if it is a toxic job overall. I’m in one of those. I’m job hunting because my employer is horrible to me really, but they also give me loads of perks that are important – including a very unusual amount of autonomy and flexibility. I don’t want to give that up. Paradox.

    8. Slow Gin Lizz*

      I’ve applied to maybe 30 jobs in the last three months. I have had a phone screening for one of them (they sent a rejection email a few days later but that was fine with me b/c I didn’t like their hybrid setup anyway) and have had an actual interview and a short case study presentation for another, and that’s it. It’s been pretty frustrating, I gotta say. Part of my troubles stems from (I’m guessing) the fact that I want 100% remote work and even though I do still apply to some local hybrid positions, most of what I’ve been applying for are fully remote and that means I’m competing on a national level. The one real interview I’ve had was for a job at a local large university and I’m guessing they are probably limited to hiring people in-state even though the team I’d be on works remotely (almost entirely; I gather there are a couple of people who like to go into the office but most of them never do).

      What’s been especially frustrating is that I’ve applied to a few jobs in which it seems like I’d be doing what I do now at similar nonprofits, and heard nothing back from them. I’m currently employed but massively underpaid compared to others in my geographic area with my qualifications and even if my current place gives me a raise, which I’m not remotely counting on, I’m fairly certain they’ll still be underpaying me. That combined with some really irritating internal politics has me itching to get out of here but I have to play it cool despite wanting to throttle a few people much of the time.

      I’m still waiting to hear about the university job; they said they’d be in touch this week so….any minute now, I guess?

      1. Bluebell*

        University hiring can be very slow. My current job about 3.5 months from submitting to offer, and I had something like 3 interviews and a writing test, spread out across that time. It was at least a few weeks between final interview and offer.

        I have an app out there now that I feel hopeful about getting an interview for even though I applied almost two months ago. Just wish I was seeing more jobs that are good fits and interesting to apply to in the first place.

        1. Kristin*

          yes, I was going to say that hiring for university jobs is like the mills of God, in that it’s very slow

    9. SoTired*

      Job search is going awful. I get two or three interviews in and then get ghosted. Even part-time gigs won’t hire me. I don’t get it!

    10. ForestHag*

      I think I’ve applied for around 150 jobs in my most recent search and I’ve gotten interviews for 3 of them. Out of those 3, I made it to the finalist stage – but they went with an internal person. One of them I withdrew from after a couple of interviews – it became clear it wasn’t going to be the right fit. The third one would have been great if I lived in or near NJ, but I don’t and it’s not an area I want to relocate to (nothing against NJ – I just have my heart set on the Pacific Northwest).

      It’s been really sad. I have applied for some jobs where I have exactly the experience listed in the description, and get an almost immediate rejection. I have talked with many people at various companies, and they all agree I have great qualifications, my resume looks good, etc etc – but no one seems to be interested. I am trying to move on from higher education, and the three interviews I did have were with other universities. I haven’t gotten any interest outside of higher ed. I feel like I have a lot of really good skills and experience that is applicable to a variety of industries, plus I’m eager to learn – I’ve tried to communicate this in my cover letters, but it doesn’t seem to be getting across.

      Plus every time my job does something that annoys me, it just hurts worse. Maybe at some point I’ll get something but it’s been over a year of serious job searching, and probably 3 years since I decided I needed to start looking elsewhere. What gets me through the day is 1) I’m the sole income for my family and 2) I can wfh most of the time. I’ve been trying to upskill myself in some of the newer things (like AI/ML) to help me feel like I’m doing SOMETHING.

      Thanks for letting me commiserate! Hopefully someday we can share some Friday good news. :)

        1. ForestHag*

          I manage a team that provides data analytics services built mostly on Oracle Cloud platforms, so I’m going through the Oracle Cloud AI Foundations course/cert right now. I am mostly coming at this from a service delivery owner viewpoint – I have amazing technical people on my team who are also upskilling in this area and will be our technical experts, so I’m trying to make sure I can talk with them intelligently and understand the business application of these services and skills. Our organization is VERY new to anything AI related.

    11. Procedure Publisher*

      I find when I’m down with my current job search, I enjoy reading posts from recruiters on the subject. Currently subscribe to the Jobseeking is Hard newsletter, which has kept my spirits up with stupid interview questions that I’m glad did not come up in any interviews.

      Out of the first 20 jobs I applied to, I only got 11 responses. I think two of the 11 responses were interview requests. One interview was where I made it all the way to the final round. After those 20 jobs applications, I had another interview where I made it to the final round but didn’t receive an offer.

      I have a lot of no responses.

    12. KerbStomp*

      Just started job hunting on Monday! My work called me last week and told me I had 90 days. The reason is I am in a fully remote position and they want to move that position to on-site full time and I don’t live in the same city as the office anymore. They’ve hired a new in-office person and I’m helping get her acclimated to the position while I job hunt. All my managers have agreed to be references on my resume. It’s a very interesting scenario to be sure.

    13. Past Lurker*

      I’ve been looking on and off for years now. I got to 3 preliminary/screening interviews and that was it. Two ghosted me and one gave the ‘we found a better candidate’ rejection. I’m trying to pump myself to start again since I must get out of here this year, for reasons.

    14. Still WFH*

      I have been freelancing for nine years. A combination of shifting focus slightly (still in same industry but different technical component) and Covid knocked me off my feet. I have been living off savings and paying crazy penalties from raiding my 401(k). I started looking seriously last summer and started a new job this week. I feel pretty lucky I was able to be picky but I have two new rules. One, I will not apply for jobs that don’t list salary. Two, I stopped applying to companies that ghosted me. I had one company I had an excellent freelancing relationship with but was ghosted by different teams, twice during this job hunt – after video interviews.

      I will say I ended up with four jobs where I made it to the final round. One I just didn’t get. Three were the best rejections ever, specifically reaching out in a very personal way to say the approach to the position had changed, and I wasn’t the right fit and they were actively looking for places in their portfolio where I would be a good fit. Over six months after my first interview, I ended up at one of those three companies. I’m fairly senior overall but newer to the technical stream I’m switching to, this company pays well enough I was able to drop a level in management but still meet my salary requirements (mid 100s) and stay fully remote.

      I stayed busy with volunteer work and looking for skills I could develop on Coursera (I got a paid membership for six months and took things that interested me) and treated looking for a job, like a job. I worked on my cover letter, kept a spreadsheet tracking applications, before every interview put together a tracker for every qualification with a behavioral example of why I was a good fit. That all helped.

      Also, finally, and this may not be universally true. Those final three, that I had the best experience with, even being rejected, all had strong internal recruiters that were very transparent about the process and communicated with me throughout, closing loops (not always on my timeline, but they did keep in touch).

      1. Plate of Wings*

        I don’t do any hiring so it won’t help anyone but: your description of the best rejections ever is so enlightening! I can see why they landed well, and it makes sense that they came from engaged, internal recruiters.

        Hopefully someone who can use this model reads your comment.

    15. giraffe*

      Got laid off a year ago. Applied for 30+ jobs. Most don’t get back to me. Final round in three. Interviewed at 5-ish more. Some jobs, even those I interviewed at a year ago, are still being posted. I guess they don’t really want people.

    16. Sharpie*

      I have an online interview on Wednesday for a short-term data entry position, which would be a really good way back into more office-based work. It’s the first interview I’ve done in a while, I’ve not had a Zoom interview before, but I’m very early in the job search (this is one of the first jobs I’ve applied to since my mum died) so while it would be good to get to the next stage, I’m not going to worry too much if I don’t.

      1. Anonynon*

        Good luck! I’m hoping for the same with my current temp job – to get back to more office-based work. I’ve done a couple of Zoom interviews and found that the idea that you can use notes more easily during them is not true. No matter where I put my note cards and how big I wrote, it was still obvious that I was looking at something and reading (saw this when practicing & recording myself). But the practicing helped, I think. I just set up a Zoom call with myself and recorded it, giving my answers to standard interview questions out loud. I think that really helped me to remember what I wanted to emphasize in the interview.

    17. Staja*

      Started really looking in earnest over the last couple of weeks. It’s end of quarter, so that always stirs up all the rage-y parts of my job and we’ve implemented some new and untested process changes to help that process along. I’m starting to really get burnt out and I find myself just not caring about the work anymore. WFH is taking a toll on me and my mental health is not doing so great.

      I also just supported my partner through their recent burnout and they’re now a lot happier and have a job that is low stress. But, I’m very much the main breadwinner and there isn’t much locally that pays close to what I’m earning now.

      On the plus side, I have a phone interview set up for next week at a local university, in the finance department. Position is hourly, so if I get, my overall pay might be less, but I’d probably be making more an hour!

    18. Meh*

      Reached out to an internal contact about job posting. Was a very positive conversation. Now need to actually apply for the role.

    19. hypoglycemic rage*

      I’m not job hunting anymore, but before I got the job I’m in now, here’s what helped (basically: boundaries):
      – creating a specific email address for job applications, and then not having that account on my phone
      – setting aside a specific time to send in applications, like i’d apply for stuff in the morning but spend the afternoon reading or watching parks and rec
      – i also celebrated the “small wins” – even getting a quick phone interview – with a coffee or some chocolate or other small treats

  2. Part-time peon*

    Update from last week:

    I had asked about how to get my new work computer from the main office to my location across town. Well, I mentioned it to my boss, and IT contractor came and set it up on Wednesday. It’s so much better! And it has a direct ethernet connection, so I don’t have to worry about flaky wifi any more, either.
    No more awkward silences while I wait for our system to load!

    1. Bananapants Circus with Dysfunctional Monkeys*

      I remember your post! I’m so glad you got it squared away, and you have a better connection.

  3. An Omynous*

    Recruiters/hiring managers please weigh in:

    A recruiter (informally helping me out, not my industry) told me I should add something on my resume to explain my ~2yr employment gap prior to my last job, but the person who helped me rewrite my resume didn’t say anything about that. I know there’s a lot of discussion around gaps but wondering if it’d hurt or help my applications to add something? (Never mind that I wouldn’t know what to write because it began for personal/family reasons, and turned into depression with a side of writing.)

    1. WantonSeedStitch*

      Let them ask if they want to know, in the interview. If they ask, tell them it was for family and health reasons, which are now resolved, and that you filled some of that time with writing.

      1. A Girl Named Fred*

        Agreed. Don’t put anything about it on the resume or in the cover letter, but be prepared to answer a question about it in the interview. Not a big deal, but being prepared with a simple explanation like WantonSeedStitch suggests will help keep you calm and in control if/when someone asks about it.

        1. An Omynous*

          That was my take on it too (from reading this blog), but I’m seeing from further comments it could be quite specific. Part of the joys of job hunting… agh

      2. JSPA*

        They’re not going to fact-check with your family, so, “caring for a family member temporarily in need of extra care, while working on a family memoir and history that meant a lot to them”? It gets around any “what were you writing” and “will you publish it” type questions, if those happen to be awkward. (And the “family member” can also be you.)

    2. CityMouse*

      So it sounds like this gap was before your current job.

      How long have you been at your current job?

      If you have a two year gap but let’s say you’ve been in your current job for 3 years, I’m not going to care. If there’s a two year gap and you’ve been in your current job for 6 months, I might care. It’s really fact specific.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Yes this is my take too. If this was six years ago and you’ve had two jobs since then, I wouldn’t even mention it. If it was four months ago and you’re in your first job since that time, I would.

      2. Tio*

        +1. The length of current job is going to hold way more weight.

        Either way, I would leave it for them to ask. If they do, I would say that you had a family emergency that needed to be dealt with, and once your family situation stabilized you returned to the workforce.

      3. An Omynous*

        Unfortunately I’m back to being unemployed (for nearly a year now), but my last job was ~1.5-2 years (with short gaps because of its temp nature but a title and pay bump).

        1. Velociraptor Attack*

          Typically I would say not to worry about addressing it before anyone asks, but since you’re looking at 2 long-ish gaps, I think it’s wise to address it.

    3. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Was this gap during Covid or pre-Covid?

      I think we’re all at the point of just ignoring Covid gaps.

      And even pre-Covid, I had a hefty gap and didn’t get that many questions about it.

      So either way, I wouldn’t preemptively explain.

      1. An Omynous*

        It started pre-covid and through half of 2021. Pretty sure my last job had a question about it (obviously) but the few interviews I’ve had since having that last job they didn’t really ask. Just back to overthinking/anxiety because I have a new, long gap…

        1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

          Then don’t worry about it. It would have been a 6-month gap, but then the world shut down, so it turned into a 2-year gap.

          1. CityMouse*

            +1. I’d just go “oh, COVID”. You did over a year somewhere else since. I wouldn’t ask. Have an answer ready to go anyway, but I don’t need an explanation in your cover letter.

    4. anon_sighing*

      It sounds like you’re currently employed. I think they were well meaning, but you’re probably okay to keep it as it is. If I saw a gap with work history before and after, it’s probably just me, but I would assume you worked at some job unrelated to the position (assuming you aren’t applying for a job asking for a comprehensive resume) and dropped it.

      1. An Omynous*

        I’m unfortunately back to being unemployed (not for lack of trying, but none so far asking for comprehensive resumes), but that’s a good point, I do have another long gap in my resume previously where I worked in another industry and that’s also never really been mentioned.

    5. JPalmer*

      Things you care about:

      1. Not getting later in the process because an employer sees the gap.
      2. Getting asked about it and not having a good answer

      #1 you can address by including a single line somewhere with the time frame. The best is if it looks like it is a necessary role – Family Caretaker (2016-2018). You sort of want to avoid putting them in the headspace that it is a disability/health issue (as some hiring folks discriminate either passively or actively).

      #2 Have a rehearsed line of what your answer is here. Think of the few questions you’ll be asked. If you’re mentioning it’s related to personal/family/health reasons, you want to give clear indication that it is resolved and not going to be a future issue

      If a job has a cover letter, you can mention it there, but I feel like that’s wasting the space you want to hype you up in an employers eyes.

      I think letting them ask is reasonable. If you have good work it should speak for itself more than a gap in employment time.

      1. An Omynous*

        Thanks for the #1 suggestion, I might trial it and see if I get any response (which would be more than usual). I’d love for them to simply ask me, but still waiting for someone to do that.

    6. Coffee Protein Drink*

      Hiring manager here. I recommend not calling it out on your resume. I don’t think it adds anything unless it’s related to the job you got right afterwards or the one you’re applying for. Finished your dissertation? Writer-in-residence? Those are activities related to your professional life. The personal reasons can remain just that. If it’s brought up during an interview, you can choose what to share then.

      1. An Omynous*

        Thanks, that’s what I keep hoping but given my current long gap something might be needed… if only to test responses (or lack thereof).

    7. theletter*

      I think there’s a lot of good answers here, but I wanted to add that at the end of your answer you can always swing the conversation back around to why you got back into working for the industry you’re in. Just say you utimately missed the structure/stability/cameradie/recognition/challenge/sense of purpose or whatever.

  4. No Tribble At All*

    Happy Friday! What’s your favorite easy-but-still-productive task at your office? I have something that’s kinda like doing sudoku (reorganizing/auditing). It can be tedious, but it requires very little creativity or brainpower. If I’m really tired I’ll volunteer for it because I don’t feel like doing something actually difficult.

    1. In My Underdark Era*

      running software updates on my team’s virtual machines. once a month I get to completely zone out for a day or two and watch numbers go up.

    2. Amber*

      There’s a portal we have at my work that shows what addresses are closed for delivery either on specific days or just for vacation. When I need to look busy while waiting for other things to be done, I’ll clean that up-remove old addresses or dates to make it look nice and have less info to load.

    3. Perfectly normal-size space bird*

      Clearing out our backlog of atypical comments. Most aren’t suitable for use so it’s easy to sort them into a catchall category and I love to see all the creative things people write that have nothing to do with what they’re supposed to write in that box. A lotta manifestos come through there.

    4. Bunny Girl*

      Our lab is normally a disaster so on Fridays I try to clean, restock and organize. It’s relatively low effort and I don’t have to think about it but it needs to be done.

    5. Donkey Hotey*

      File purge! Previously, I worked in a very paper-heavy industry, but the paper only had to be kept for six months. (Imagine six four-drawer filing cabinets crammed full.) Purging files freed up space and reduced the number of paper clips and binders they’d have to buy.

      1. anonymous anteater*

        cleaning out electronic files. Random stuff that was dumped on my desktop, downloads folder, and cloud storage drive – move where I will eventually look for it or delete. Move things to shared folders if they are relevant for shared projects. Get rid of duplicates in several locations.

    6. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Every morning I get to process the donations that come in via our website the day before or the checks and EFTs that come in that day. Almost all of these are so easy I can do them in my sleep and I actually really like that I can start my day by being like, “Ok, who gave us money yesterday?” Once in awhile there’s a complication (like this morning, when one of the online donations didn’t sync with our CRM) but even most of these can be solved pretty easily.

      Now, when we get into our big fundraising time of year (late summer, usually) it takes a lot longer to do them and can require more finagling to be certain they’re all correct, but it’s still pretty brainless to me after three years so I still enjoy it.

    7. Mornington Crescent*

      Every quarter or so I archive email folders from completed projects into my documents folder so it gets them out of Outlook.

      It’s nice to do this because it feels like the final step in closing them off, and it stops Outlook getting clogged up with old stuff too!

    8. Generic Name*

      Reviewing plan sets. I can turn on a podcast and scroll through the pages. I’m actually not an engineer, but my discipline is affected by what gets built, so I don’t normally have tons to comment on.

    9. CTT*

      Uploading and reviewing signature pages in our closing binder so feature. Technically should be a paralegal task, but when I’m in a bonkers closing it’s very satisfying to match things up and see the little progress bar of signed documents turn greener.

    10. SpringIsForPlanting!*

      I like to debug and do minor enhancements for my automation scripts. It’s soothing because it’s so narrow and focused and concrete.

    11. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      If people register into one of my 13 EDs but leave without actually seeing a provider, the encounter stays on the books and goes into my coding system anyway, so they have to be basically dummy-coded with a statistical $0 charge for the appropriate ED in order to clear out of my system. We could almost automate it except that the documentation has to be reviewed to confirm that the patient did actually leave without being seen AND verify whether any services like labs etc were actually provided – if yes services, then additional coding is needed, but if no services, just the stat. It’s almost entirely brainless and I can do it with one hand tied behind my back.

    12. spiffi*

      Upgrading our application server software – it’s mindless, but productive! I actually just did a round of this yesterday – I upgraded 4 production servers, 7 tomcats on each one – 28 rounds of copy the folder, change a dozen parameters across 7 files, stop the running process, rename a folder, restart the process to start using the new version.

      I’ve been doing this periodically since 2002 or so :D

    13. Space Coyote*

      Part of my job is designing benefit guides for our clients to distribute to their employees. During 4th quarter, this is stressful because of timelines (80% of our groups renew their benefits in December or January), but during the rest of the year, I can tweak the templates and experiment with new layouts. I love all of it, even the tedious updates to language/titles/numbering etc., and I kind of save it as a treat for myself.

      Another upside is that everyone else HATES it, so they’re extra appreciative of something I already enjoy. :3

    14. Distracted Procrastinator*

      I had a spreadsheet task that I could put headphones on and really zone out to do. But they have changed how they do things a step before me and the new software creates the list for us so I don’t need to do it anymore. It could be tedious and I would sometimes miss an entry, so it’s a good thing, but it does take away my one concentration task and I will miss that.

    15. Jay (no, the other one)*

      Dealing with certifications. This basically requires copying and pasting from something I already wrote into the official form. Sometimes I do a smidgen of editing. Mostly not. I knocked out about 30 of them in 90 minutes this afternoon.

    16. goddessoftransitory*

      Folding. We get LOTS of tee/sweatshirts for distribution to employees, and I fold, stack and label them by size to be put in the storage room. I worked in a tourist shop for years and am a real pro at folding. Nice to keep my hand in.

    17. Leslie Santiago*

      information management e.g. migrating old files from our team drive to SharePoint. it’s nice to fix the terrible folder structure and file things in a logical way with consistent naming conventions etc. Yep, I’m a nerd.

  5. That time at band camp*

    Today’s my last day in the longest held role I’ve had (since leaving the military).

    I’m leaving because I don’t align with the new boss and in order to preserve the team (mostly all new people), I decided to bow out rather than hashing it out with someone who sees me as ‘the old regime’ and as a sub-contractor on a ‘need to know’ basis (the new is still a consultant to other businesses and forgets that when in the office, they’re not one and we’re not their subs.)

    The boss hasn’t talked to me over the last 2 weeks. I wrote a comprehensive transition packet with linked docs. The boss organized a 30-min transition meeting, not to train, but for me to review the responsibilities of my work (b/c my boss, despite being on deck for 3.5 mos doesn’t know the scope, depth or breadth of my role).

    Anyone else having a good Friday?

    1. Jm*

      Yes I am, but not. As good as yours! Leave them to stew in their own mess. The best revenge is a future well lived.

      1. OP Unemployed*

        That’s the sad part – the stewing. Supposedly my boss will be assuming my primary tasks/roles until they hire. She won’t be good at it and even finance is worried as my work interfaces with them every day.

        1. JSPA*

          That will be a learning experience for them, then, about demonizing / under-valuing the “old guard.” Given the documentation, they can probably pull a few all-nighters and tear their hair a bit, and work it out.

          And if not, quote them an astronomical price to come back and get them running again, as a part-time contractor, at a time of day that’s convenient to you, and a PITA for them.

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            Make sure it’s a damn fortune. Like, they’d have to go to the local dragon and borrow from its hoard to pay you.

        2. Elsewise*

          I had a similar experience with an old employer. They never hired to replace me because they decided that my position was “non-essential”. I was the sole fundraiser. They’re chugging along so far on the ED’s connections, but he can’t be arsed to do any follow-up ever, so I suspect it’ll fall apart sooner or later. (And from a conversation with a board member after I left- just under half of the board thinks the same, but the ED’s friends make up the majority and are firmly against any change or oversight.)

          1. portsmouthliz*

            WOW. Just gonna pick my jaw up off the floor. As a fellow fundraiser, I send you good vibes and congratulations for getting out of that place. So curious how it will turn out for them, because “fundraiser is non-essential” hahaha OK.

            1. Project maniac-ger*

              Yeah that’s an, uh, unconventional approach for a nonprofit to take. Besides, all the Tupperware and Mary Kay ladies know that you can only ask for so much money from your friends before they don’t wanna be friends anymore.

    2. Donkey Hotey*

      Congratulations on moving on.
      At my last job, I received zero training, so I chose to start assembling training (my “hit by a bus” file.) When I turned in my notice, my boss asked me to write up my job responsibilities. I smiled. “Would you like the one page summary, the two page outline, or the ten page instruction?”

      1. That time at band camp*

        Yes, they were surprised when I said I’d write my transition doc according to my job description. And it’s a multi-folder document with a lot of amendments and ‘how-to’s for many items that are rote to me thus challenging to share with others.

        I moved this role into what it is today from someone who pulled it apart and put it back together. I relied on their well-written transition docs to get me here today. I appreciated those resources and wanted to pass them on, too.

    3. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

      Take comfort that they will soon learn that losing institutional knowledge hurts them not you.

    4. Pizza Rat*

      Congratulations on getting out, that situation doesn’t sound sustainable for anyone’s sanity. I hope you can do something fun to celebrate after you shut the door behind you.

      The right people will be glad to have that transition plan. Pity one of them isn’t your soon-to-be-former boss.

    5. carcinization*

      I’m off work today so yes, having a good Friday! Made a fancy cake and now actually watching Jeopardy, which I get home too late for normally.

      1. The Real Fran Fine*

        Cake sounds amazing right now. I certainly would have ordered one from the store today had I known my raise was going to be approved this afternoon. My manager called me so excited because she got me a 17% raise without a promotion! This is huge because our company usually only gives between 1-3% raises when there’s been no promotion/title change. I also got a sizable spot bonus as well!

        This was an amazing Friday overall for me.

        OP, I’m sorry you’re dealing with this, but please remember – you’re almost out of there. Go celebrate that with some cake!

  6. WantonSeedStitch*

    The office supplies thread made me think of something. I need pens! Since I am mostly remote now, I buy my own for both work note-taking and home stuff. What is everyone’s favorite pen? I’m SURE the commentariat has opinions on this. Looking for something fine-point that writes smoothly and has a comfortable grip.

    1. In My Underdark Era*

      I’m not a pen aficionado, but I was gifted a Scrivener pen that I’m probably too precious with. it’s as you describe for me, fine tip, writes smoothly, comfortable grip. my only problem is the metal casing is cold when I pick it up, lol.

      1. allathian*

        My dad, who worked for much of his career in a lab, had a hack for that, he used a piece of rubber hose. The pen no longer felt cold and was less slippery.

    2. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

      I swear by Staedtler Triplus Fineliner. They come in lots of colors if that’s what you like as well as the standard black/blue/red. I need a FINE point because I write small and these give me that.

      1. Safflower*

        I just got a bunch of these and I really like them! I too have small handwriting so these work really well. They are triangular so they don’t roll away, but aren’t the most comfortable pen to hold.

        1. ursula*

          I am always looking for as fine a point as possible without losing smoothness, and I use these in the 0.38mm. I like them and they aren’t too expensive.

      2. ismis*

        I was about to say this. I love these pens. I think my writing is relatively big and they work for me too.

        I have so many but still manage to treat myself to a couple of different colours when I pass the office supplies shop!

    3. My building is quirky*

      I exclusively use Pilot G2, 07mm. I previously liked the 05mm (ultra fine) – but found the 07mm is smoother.

      1. Betty*

        I love this pen. I feel like I think better when I write with it. Does have the potential to smudge before it’s dry, though.

      2. Neosmom*

        This pen is great! It writes in 0 degrees Fahrenheit so I can take notes when I am walking / inspecting our storage freezers.

      3. Jane Gloriana Villanueva*

        My favorite as well! The 10mm are too thick and the .38mm are too thin for my tastes, and they seem to have a harder time creating a smooth flow as well. The 07mm are my sweet spot, and they do come in many colors!

      4. PMaster*

        Great to see all the love for the G2 07! I buy my own for the office and thankfully people don’t steal them.

      1. Donkey Hotey*

        Wow. Those are about $20 each around here. Only way I’m paying that much is for a fountain pen.

        1. TheBunny*

          You can get them on Amazon for about $5 each. And as long as you aren’t one to lose pens, they are refillable and the refills are about $2 each.

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

      I love a good pen! I have a few favorites. My work go to is Acroball Pilot pen. It’s fine point but not super fine. Writes well and is a clicky pen so I don’t have to worry about caps.

      I also like all of the PaperMate ink joy pens. They have regular ink pens, gel pens, and felt tip pens. I like these for planning and journaling. I usually use one of the felt ones for office birthday cards. They also have so many different colors

      the Pentel RSVP pens are really good too, but can be tricky finding them.

      1. catlady*

        I LOVE the ink joy felt tip pens, but they are not great for small handwriting. Not fine tipped enough.

    5. Jenny*

      BeGreen Pilot Precise V5 Extra Fine in black
      Pilot Precise V5 Extra Fine in purple

      Don’t ask me why I like the ‘BeGreen’ ones in Black, but not the regular black ones. Or ask me why I love purple ink.

        1. Jenny*

          Ha! No. But I am a Fed (in accounting). Purple just makes me happy. The pen that I use is a darker purple and could look blue in certain lights. I use black for formal things, but purple for probably 95% of my notes, to do lists, etc.

      1. WantonSeedStitch*

        When I was editing a lot of written assignments from new members of my team (this was before we made using Track Changes on Word the standard practice), I used purple ink so no one would have flashbacks to papers with “SEE ME” at the top back in school.

        1. JustaTech*

          I bought my dad purple and green fountain pen ink for when he was grading his student’s proposals so it would look less like a bloodbath.

    6. T. Wanderer*

      Signal Uniball UM-151! I love these things. Very basic shape, nice and fine point, smooth writing; I picked up my first abandoned in an empty classroom in college and never looked back. They also come in a whole bunch of colors — I really like their dark shades, because I get bored writing in black all the time.

      1. office hobbit*

        Hard agree!! With the caveat that in the past few years, I’ve had several dry out/gum up and stop working. Not sure if due to my cat knocking them off the desk or supply chain/QA issues during covid. (This was mostly limited to the colors, not black.)

    7. Reba*

      Zebra Sarasa gel pens! Great colors. If you really want fine points, order from Jet Pens to get the extra fine Japanese options.

      1. dot*

        Came here to say the Zebra Sarasa Dry is my go to pen! I’m clumsy and prone to smudging my writing, and it’s amazing how fast this ink dries.

      2. kiwiii*

        these are my go to as well. I get the “vintage” ones in 05, lots of lovely not-quite-blacks

    8. Max*

      I love the Pentel EnerGel 0.7! It comes in a bunch of colours now, and you can also buy ink refills. I bought a metal case a few years ago and use the refills (cheaper and more environmentally friendly). It’s pretty thick, but writes so smoothly.

      1. Come On Eileen*

        YES. These are my favorites as well. I recently bought a box of 20 from Amazon, all different colors, so I’m set for at least a year.

      2. Aerin*

        This one is also my favourite. I particularly love the “navy blue” ink in the silver or dark grey ‘alloy’ pen.

        Actually, looking it up, the dark grey might technically be called brown? The one I have looks like warm dark grey, but on their site I only see one labelled as having a brown barrel: BL407MA-A. The other one I like is BL407-A. I’m not into gold so can’t remember if that one looked decent, I think that the way that the other colours (including the black barrel) for the alloy pen have silver designs in a way that I really don’t like. The silver and grey/brown have a dual tone that I think is much better looking, and while they don’t look like a very fancy pen they still look and feel really nice for their under $10 price tag.

        The navy blue ink I use is the 0.7mm LR7-CA, since it’s the one I can easily get locally. But you can use lots of other sizes for refills, especially if you can buy from Jet Pens or somewhere else that carries both American and Japanese options. They also have lots of other colours that I can easily find locally, plus dark coloured inks that I’d have to order online like a forest green, bordeaux purple, and burgundy red. I really like the navy blue because it still lets me differentiate between an original signature and a photocopy without being as bright as most blue pens. And the ink’s my favourite for flow and feel.

        I also like the Pentel Energel 2S (XBLW355A) for meetings. It has two .5 inks and one .5 pencil that are all refillable and the pencil can be replaced with a third ink, but they use a completely different refill size. I like it because (for the dark barrel ones) it just looks like a regular pen, but I can switch between black/red/pencil for my notes really quickly. However, they run out of ink much faster, and it turns out while I can buy the pens locally I have to source the refills from online.

      3. AFac*

        Pentel EnerGels also come in smaller tip sizes. I use the Infree 0.5, and I think EnerGels have varieties that come in 0.3 and 0.4 sizes too. The Infree 0.5 has a needle tip rather than a conical point so it feels like an even finer point than it really is.

    9. Pocket Mouse*

      Uni-Ball Signo RT 0.38mm gel pen with rubber grip. I cannot recommend it highly enough (assuming you like ballpoints) and will have no other for work or home. For those who may be wondering, as I once did, there is a 0.28mm version but it is no good.

      1. Pocket Mouse*

        I will add that I have converted three people to these pens, including one who was SO SURE their (previous) favorite, the Pilot G2 o.38mm, would be superior.

        1. Project maniac-ger*

          Hello fellow lefty! I’ve found with most gel pens the finer point you go, the less smearing. A 0.7 G2 gives me a black pinky after 30 seconds but a .38 never does. I recommend Sharpie S-Gels as a good all-purpose choice.

      1. KT*

        Honestly I am surprised I don’t see more people recommending these. The .7 isn’t what I would call fine, by any means. But the .5 are great! I haven’t been able to find refills for the .5 tho…I’ve used up more of the sharpie gel pens than I have any other pen my whole life which now has me thinking maybe the ink runs out too fast LOL

    10. Brownie*

      If you’re willing to branch out from standard pens, Jinhao fountain pens can be found for under $15 and have a range of smooth writing fine tips going down to practically human hair width as well as a huge variety of pen body sizes and shapes. I started with disposable Zebra fountain pens and ended up going to Jinhao to get a better shape/grip for my hand.

      1. Donkey Hotey*

        At my last job, I had a series of Platinum Preppys (and later Prefountes) for with on the shop floor. I have a Pilot Vanishing Point for desk work, but the old place was all on a concrete floor and Pilots don’t bounce well.

        1. Brownie*

          I keep looking at JetPens at the Vanishing Points and drooling, but with how fragile they are and how clumsy my hands are getting I can’t justify the cost, but oh they’re so pretty. I’ve got a bunch of Jinhao’s now with an all metal body and they’re getting dented from being dropped, but they still work and metal doesn’t shatter/break like the resin or plastic body pens do. One of my siblings has our grampa’s old fountain pen and they’re terrified to use it because the material it’s made of is so fragile now.

          1. Donkey Hotey*

            The only thing I’ll add re: grandpa’s pen. Either put in in a glass case and dust it or use it and make peace with the idea it was made to be used. My grandmother once randomly gifted me her mother’s wedding silver set. She said, “You’ll use it. Anyone else would put this away, pull it out once a year and say, “darn, I really need to polish that” and put it back.” And I have used it. worn it out and then some, but it’s used and loved and remembered.

            1. BikeWalkBarb*

              I’m using the “good silver” my mom only brought out at Thanksgiving and Christmas for everyday and it makes me happy. I’ve used replacements.com to fill in some of the gaps that appeared over the years and discovered that all these years what I thought of as the big forks weren’t the biggest available size. We now have forks my mom never dreamed of. Those of you who had to sit at the kids’ table and eat with the little forks will appreciate this.

    11. Alternative Person*

      Hi-Tec-C Coleto, four slot version, available in a decent range of colours, 0.3, 0.4, 0.5 points available.

    12. JSPA*

      It may be greenwashing to some degree, but I like the made-from-recycled-bottles and can-replace-insert Pilot B2P. There was a bad batch a couple of years after they came out, but since then, they’ve been solid for me, though the finest point can have a bit of a grabby or gritty feel, depending on handedness and writing style.

      1. JSPA*

        If Fisher still make astronaut pens (with the pressurized cartridge) they really do work in all sort of conditions. If you work outdoors in bad conditions and destroy pens on a regular basis, it’s potentially worth the price tag.

        1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

          They do and I love them! I use them to do sudoku in bed because they write upside down lol.

      2. Project maniac-ger*

        I like these too! Great weight and balance in the hand for me. Just bought a pack in fun colors!

    13. Tammy 2*

      Papermate InkJoy .5 mm gel

      I’m partial to brown but you have to buy a big multicolor pack to get them so I use all the colors.

    14. Some Words*

      Pilot’s Dr. Grip line. If you have any sort of hand issues or want to avoid them in the future. They’re a bit fat with a nicely padded grip. Nice balance.

    15. Soprani1*

      When I’m writing in ink: Retro 1951 Tornado. Their motto: Life is too short to carry an ugly pen
      Otherwise, I use an erasable Smart Notebook with Pilot Frixon erasable pens.

      1. Camelid coordinator*

        I love those too! My dear ones don’t always know what to get me for gifts so they keep adding to my collection. One year at the holidays I bought each of my staff members a Retro 51 Tornado in their favorite color.

    16. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

      This thread is making me realize what a wide variation there is in what people consider fine-point!

    17. here until 3*

      Zebra F-701. I keep a couple Zebra F-402s stashed in strategic spots as a backup if I’m ever caught unprepared. Staedtler triplus fineliners are my favourite coloured pens, and Staedtler permanent Lumocolor is my favourite permanent, fine, black pen/marker.

      1. Silmaril*

        These! Pentel Superb Ballpoint Fine (actually fine – 0.3mm line) are beautiful, write so smoothly, don’t smudge, and come in five or six colours if you are editing docs by hand – or just like variety.

        My go-to pens for years.

    18. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I think I am the only person around who doesn’t actually have a pickiness level on pens. (Probably because I pretty much never have to use them.) On my desk right now are three novelty pens – one shaped like the top end of a femur, one shaped like Chewbacca, and one with a sorcerer mickey hat on the top. The Mickey one used to blink, but the battery is long dead – I used that pen to write an exam in grad school and I finished grad school in 2018, so I’m kind of surprised it still writes at all.

      1. Distracted Procrastinator*

        I actually like Bic Crystal, so I’m definitely an outlier around here.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          If I have to buy pens for some reason, Bic Crystals are actually my go-to because they’re cheap and get the job done :)

          1. C*

            a coworker bought me the for her versions when they had them as a joke, and they’re still around!

    19. Albatross*

      I actually largely use fountain pens (Pilot Metro is my go-to because they’re cheap enough that I can replace one if it’s stolen), but for things where that doesn’t work, I use the Pilot ILMILY two-color gel pens. They’re great for to-do lists because you can “erase” the ink, which doesn’t remove it but does turn it a visibly different color. I’ve never had smoothness issues with a Pilot pen, and the grip works well for me.

    20. Optimus*

      My favorites are the Jotter pen series from Talking Out Of Turn (TOOT). Seriously. They write well and they’re fun.

    21. The OG Sleepless*

      Bic Softgrips. I don’t know why. They’re nothing special. But in my particular hand, they’re smooth and they feel nice. My handwriting is almost always better when I use them.

    22. BikeWalkBarb*

      Pentel Arts Hybrid Technica, 0.4 mm, is one of my favorites. Nice fine point, ink flows smoothly, rubberized grip. I get them at my local art supply store to support them; it’s nice to make it part of a weekend trip and stop in for a pen. And possibly highlighters in new fun colors that aren’t at all for work.

    23. Sharpie*

      My go-to is the Pentel BK77 Superb, which is pretty fine but has a narrower barrel than a Bic so might not work for you. It’s the only biro that reliably works for my left-handed self with my microscopic handwriting, though.

    24. Pita Chips*

      Zebra gel ballpoint, Sarasa Grand edition. Nicely fine point, smooth writing feel.

      My personal favorite color is the bordeaux purple.

    25. Nesprin*

      Pentel Energel or Pilot G2. the energels are lovely with wonderful fine points but harder to get

    26. JustaTech*

      In the lab I really like the UniBall Power Tank 1.0 (they advertise that it writes on wet things, on cold things and upsidedown). I like the size of it for when I’m wearing gloves and have a little bit less sensation and dexterity. And it’s a relatively-alcohol/water resistant ballpoint, as required in the lab. I do tend to write larger when using it, but that’s just as well, as other people often need to be able to read what I’ve written.

      For non-lab writing I like UniBall Gel 0.7. It’s a finer tip so I can write a lot smaller, but I don’t think it’s liquid-resistant, so I only use it for taking notes in meetings. And I think it can smear a bit if you’ve got lotion on your hands, but it’s so much better than the super-cheap ballpoints that I’ll keep using them until the box runs out.

    27. Velociraptor Attack*

      Arteza Roller Ball Pen, 0.5, extra fine nib rather than the needle nib. I bought 20 of them last year and I never want to use another pen for the rest of my life.

    28. Reluctant Mezzo*

      I buy the box of blue ones from Staples for $5/$6/$8 a box for 60. Most of them are fairly dark and easy to write with, though a few come out fairly faint and gosh, amazing how those get lost! Usually takes me a couple of year to lose them *all*. I did like the purple ones we had for Accounts Payable, though, but we kind of had to hide them to keep them from wandering off.

    29. Happily Retired*

      The freebie pens from our bank! Which reminds me that I need to manufacture an excuse to go to the bank to grab more. They’re indestructible, have a nice fluid ink that doesn’t smear or bleed, and work perfectly until they suddenly dry up and die.

      Peering through my phone’s 5x camera, it’s made by something called Hub, and it might be the Mosaic Metallic Stylus model, except that it has a rubberized grip.

      As long as the bank carries this pen and hands them out for free, I’m a customer for life!

  7. Seven If You Count Bad John*

    Yesterday’s thread about office supplies made me want to hear about your workplace hacks. Now that I know 3,000 uses for a binder clip, I want to hear your stories of effective mis-use of office supplies, tools, systems. Bonus points if you managed to unearth and repurpose one of the items discussed yesterday. I’d also love to hear about stupid hacks that became necessary because People Just Won’t.

    My examples:

    -at an HVAC engineering firm, the engineers, PMs, and techs had a sign-out whiteboard by the door where they were supposed to write where they went. (Sometimes they forgot but since I was sitting right there I was usually able to catch them.) it was one of those things with the little magnetic dots that you’d move over to indicate IN or OUT.

    Anyway, we also had two Brother labeling machines. (I’m a little astonished that I didn’t hear more label maker stories yesterday!) At a certain point in the installation, the tech would take one of these to the job site and label things. And it was, apparently, my job to keep track of who had what, because sometimes one tech would have to go get the label maker from the other tech at the other job site or whatever, because we only had two of these.

    So I gave them names (neatly labeled with the labeler labels) and put them on the IN/OUT whiteboard. When you took Cheery Littlebottom or Corporal Carrot out to the field, you moved their dot to OUT and put your name. Basically we used the IN/OUT board as a tool checkout sheet, and it worked really well.

    Second example:
    -small medical office with a satellite office in another town, the satellite was only open two days a week. The satellite was supplied from our office, so when they needed stuff, they’d email me, and I was supposed to put it on a list—my predecessor did a lot of stuff on paper that was then transferred to Excel or whatever, and it was a lot of extra steps, and a lot of different lists, and I had trouble keeping track, and the other person wasn’t comfortable with email and it was medieval except that medieval people had better communication systems. There was also stuff that was needed in that office for the specific appointments each patient had (assistive medical gadgets) and woe betide me if the gadget wasn’t where the patient was. So between me and the office person in the satellite, we worked out a system where we put a repeating fake appointment in the system (it was Practice Navigator) on a day we were closed (like Sunday) and that’s where we would put notes to each other. I had everything in ONE place and it resolved 50% of my problems with that job. (Since the other 50% of my problems were that this was a Small Business Special Hell with bosses who couldn’t manage for shit, I only lasted four months there anyway—I later heard that this was the longest tenure of any of their support personnel. They couldn’t keep people and it actually started to affect their business after a few years.)

    Third example (stupid manager hack):
    -call center. Call centers famously run on CALL STATS which include things like how much time on and off the phone, and if you were off the phone what were you doing, and idle time. If you’re off the phone for a Reason, you have to file a schedule exception which is then entered by your WFM so that your stats are accurate (for example, if you have a half day off, WFM needs to know that, so that you’re not getting dinged for taking half the usual number of calls on that day. Or if your phone explodes and has to be replaced. Or you had a particularly complex call and had to take an extra five minutes for the documentation. Etc.) At out particular call center, this was accomplished by the agent filling in an Excel sheet with times, reason codes, etc very easy and basic and then at the end of the day you’d email the whole thing to your supervisor who would then kick it to WFM. Somehow, despite the fact that we were a tech company and these were help desk agents, this task was OVERWHELMINGLY COMPLICATED. The pushback we got was astronomical. It got to the point where the supervisors started printing out the form, handing it out to their agents, collecting the handwritten forms and filling out the excel sheet themselves. (Why didn’t they just train the agents to fill in the excel sheet? because they sucked at management.) naturally, the supervisors who were doing this blamed WFM for “all this extra work”.

    Fourth example:
    I once had to print forms out accessible only from one system, then fax the printouts *back in to ourselves* so they could show up in the other system. We then had to shred the hard copies as it contained PHI. There was apparently no way to transmit this information without going through the physical copy and a physical fax machine. We couldn’t, for example, email a screenshot. We went through reams of paper as tall as me doing this. I got paid for a day’s work though anyway.

    I’m sure others here have even better stories, and I want to hear them!

    1. Perfectly normal-size space bird*

      Apparently binder clips are great to use for cable management when you run out of the various types of cable ties.

      I’m not sure if this counts, but at OldJob, I desperately needed a printer stand. My desk had no room and I was tired of having to pick it up off the floor to print something. But there was no spare furniture and I couldn’t get approval to buy one. Then I discovered stacks of lattice in the landscaper’s shed and clamps and an unholy amount of wood glue in the maintenance room. So I built a printer stand using only lattice and wood glue. It wasn’t the most structurally sound piece of furniture and I held my breath whenever I had to open the paper tray but it somehow held up. I took it with me when I left that job. It’s now a plant stand.

      1. Donkey Hotey*

        Yes on the cable management. Most office desks are so thin, you can use a thick binder to clamp onto the desk and then nest a second clip (with the prongs removed) to route the cables.

        1. Nea*

          You can also use the same configuration to turn binder clips into a sort of hook at the end of a shelf. Clip the binder clip to the edge of the shelf, flip back the bottom leg, and leave the top leg sticking out.

          Now hang light things off of it, like headphones, scissors, etc.

          1. Perfectly normal-size space bird*

            The other thing I use binder clips for is for hanging completed puzzles. I have some puzzles that are faux vintage travel posters to different planets that I saved. I put two back to back and sandwiched them between sheets of plexiglass. I used large binder clips to clamp the edges together, with the top clip glued to the two pieces of plexiglass. The legs of that clip hang off a hook on the wall and when I want to change which one is on display, I just flip it around.

    2. Marianne*

      I was cleaning out an old office supply cabinet, and brought home one of those older metal expanding file things, knowing I could use it for …something. Turns out it’s perfect for drying/storing pan and plastic container lids, and expands for all different sizes!

    3. Nea*

      My best office hack is leveraging the Microsoft Office autocorrect to spit out full commonly-used phrases from a shortcut. Start the shortcut with something unique – I always use a period – to keep the system from exploding common words and you can turn:

      “.rev” into “Please review the attached material”
      “.ta” into “Thank you very much for your time”
      etc.

      1. Princess Scrivener*

        YESSS! I was a tech writer in my last job and I had at least 50 of these MS Word word-replacement rules, since what I worked on had phrases I used over and over.

      2. A Girl Named Fred*

        … You’re a genius. You might have just saved me from a bunch of copy/paste templates I use daily – which, while not necessarily hard or time-consuming in themselves, do add up. If I could just type “.spiel1” and have it autofill…. I need to experiment later, lol

      3. addicted to books*

        I do something like this, too! I have to answer/direct emails that my organization receives in its general information inbox. We get a lot of inquiries about the same things–a series of events we host, amenities we offer, requests for bookings, etc. Instead of re-typing or hunting through a document to copy/paste, I created a bunch of Outlook email signatures. Now all I have to do is write the greeting, select the signature, hit send and *boom* all done. Half of these responses are several paragraphs!

        I tried to update them to use the automatic form responses on the web-based Outlook, but they were too long. :(

      4. Lady Alys*

        There are various little utility programs that will do this across your whole system, not just in Office – I use an older app called Beeftext but there are more, for both Windows and iOS.

    4. Artemesia*

      I used to design research questionnaires and of course they have to be dead obvious. Things that make total sense to my organized mind did not necessarily work and sometimes we had to do much longer things rather than have a brief concise chart for example to fill out. And then long things are daunting too. ALWAYS had to test run a new questionnaire because what confuses people is often astoundingly not obvious to me.

    5. spiffi*

      I can’t think of anything in our office – but somewhat related:

      1) my brother set up a server in our basement – it was running email and websites. When he needed to add more hard drives, he didn’t have any brackets to install the drives properly – so he put Archie comic books in between the drives to keep them wedged in and secure. That machine ran MANY small business emails for a decade or so :D

      2) when we shut down our office, we cleaned out a bunch of equipment, and I brought home a handful of extra long computer power cords – always useful! One day a german shepherd puppy showed up at my front door – looking to make friends! He didn’t have a phone number on his collar, and there was no owner nearby – so I let him in and started looking for something I could use as a temporary leash, so we could go for a walk and find his person. I ended up using one of these long computer power cords – looped the middle around his neck and held both ends in one hand – we walked around the block and were able to return him to his person :D

        1. Jay (no, the other one)*

          When we were in college the couch in the common area was missing a leg. We used several large books that had clearly not been read in years as a substitute. That was the sofa with a “firm foundation in the classics.”

          1. catlady*

            In grad school, an ABD 18th century-ist who had been there forever used a copy of Clarissa (the longest novel in the English language at over 950k words and 1500 pages) as a doorstop. And these were ancient, solid wood doors, so they took a lot to stay put!

          2. not nice, don't care*

            I used a (withdrawn)bound periodical volume from the 1890s as a monitor stand for a while.

    6. Project maniac-ger*

      I used to work at a university alumni association and we’d use old alumni directories as monitor stands, shelving, door stops, and other furniture. It actually gave the place cute vibes but we did it because we were afraid to ask the office manager to buy anything since she was the human version of 80 grit sandpaper.

      Stapler removers (the hinged with teeth kind) open up key rings easily and allow you to keep your nails intact if you’re cranking out keychains. Wait, do people use keys to get into their offices anymore? Is this antiquated advice?

    7. Reluctant Mezzo*

      The cancer center here gives names to their little robot diagnostic carts (it comes with BP, oximeter and other Diagnostic Stuff, along with the charting laptop). One is R2D2 and the other is C3P0.

    8. KatherineJ*

      Ok, you reminded me about the 2 label makers currently in my desk. One needs new batteries but my old supervisor didn’t want to get new ones. The other has to be plugged in but old supervisor couldn’t find the cord. Ironically, old supervisor wanted me to label dataloggers but I have learned if you specify the location in the software that the name appears on one of the displays. Somehow am still saddled with 2 unusable label makers.

  8. Interview Woes*

    For people who have worked with hiring agencies, is it normal for the company they are hiring for to not be allowed to ask about things like gaps in resumes, previous jobs, etc during their interviews with candidates? I’ve recently started training for a new position that’s involved interviews and hiring and was told not to ask about anything not directly related to the position we’re hiring for. Obviously I’ll be doing what I’m told but this is new to me and I’d like to calibrate expectations about how such things work in general.

    1. I should really pick a name*

      That sounds odd.

      I’ve never heard of a placement agency dictating what you can ask. Your company is the one who hired them.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      It could be that this external recruiter is just explaining your company’s policies to you…

    3. Bast*

      It almost sounds like they are trying really hard to tiptoe around so someone does not ask an illegal question, or anything that may be perceived as potentially problematic.

      1. Betty*

        Yes this was my read too. And/or that they’re trying to push you to use a more standard set of interview questions across all candidates (which is good/best practice) but going a little too far in that.

      2. anon_sighing*

        Yeah, I think they’re basically just telling them to stick to the job role and if they have questions about “other jobs” or “gaps” to ask them in that context – “how many years experience do you have doing X? Can you give an example you’ve used it in your work?” It keeps people on the beaten track…because as Betty mentioned, it’s very to to go from “question about gap” > “information you probably do not want to know and get you in trouble if the candidate presumes you made a decision based on it.”

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

      Wow that seems really odd. I could see maybe not asking about gaps in resume because it could lead to questions about parenting, illness etc that could make someone unconsciously biased against the candidate. However you sort of have to ask a candidate about their other jobs. How are you going to gage their work if you can’t ask about their work history?

      I’m wondering if something has gotten lost somewhere. Like they told people that you legally can’t ask someone if they have a disability or are married, etc and it snow balled into you can’t ask a candidate anything that’s not related to the position.

      I would ask more questions about this if I were you.

    5. Policy Wonk*

      In government we are required to ask everyone the same questions, so we have to create a list and have it approved by all hiring panel members. All questions are supposed to be directly related to the job. I always include some very open-ended questions like starting the interview with “tell me a bit about yourself,” and ending with make your case – “why should I hire you?”. People who are nervous about info on the resume – gaps/job-hopping – will usually take the opportunity to address them in one or the other.

    6. Interview Woes*

      Really appreciate the feedback. The person who brought it up was my supervisor, not the recruiter, and I was told the concern was not the question itself but that we have to be careful with the recruiting agencies. I was given a list of questions, but then told to it was fine to ask questions that weren’t on there. Seems this wasn’t really a pitfall I should’ve foreseen for those reasons, but could become one for others.

    7. Throwaway Account*

      I worked for a city. They severely limited what we could ask – well beyond the typical legal issues. And we had to read the questions to each applicant so that it was exactly the same each time – we could not even add clarifying questions like “tell me more.” People have funny ideas about the law and hiring.

      I have a very intelligent friend who is a hiring manager and has worked her way very high in several orgs and yet she is convinced that it is illegal to check references the applicant did not give you – like if you know someone who knows the applicant, she thinks it is illegal to ask them about the applicant.

      1. lady*

        I worked for a SUNY college for a while, and we were prohibited from doing that– they even had a rule against googling the candidate. We were supposed to evaluate their candidacy strictly using the materials they submitted in the application and their answers to the pre-approved questions. It was all part of their equity initiative, to undercut things like old boys clubs and professional networks that just perpetuate privilege.

    8. JSPA*

      some states and countries don’t allow you to ask about incarceration on forms, or are passing those laws (“ban the box”). I’m wondering if they’re bending over backwards / taking it a step further to make sure it doesn’t come up organically? Ditto that they don’t feel obliged to share family information (pregnancies, elder care) or health information to explain gaps.

      Which strikes me as a little short sighted because you could always hold the gaps against them, even knowing nothing about the cause. And I think it’s usually fair game to expect someone to have a thought-out answer to questions about gaps.

  9. Anon for this*

    I’m basically in the position of the employee from the short answers earlier today- unproductive but does good work when I can make myself do it. I’ve been applying for new jobs, but the tech field is tough right now. I also work remotely, and I know I’d feel more connected if I went into the office an hour away, but I can’t usually drive because I get migraines almost daily.

    Basically, I think I’m burned out and bored, and I don’t know what to do about this. Any advice?

    1. Cabbagepants*

      I’m in a similar place, and I don’t really know… but can you drive a short distance to a library and get a change of scenery? or let yourself off the hook to be productive all day and instead let yourself be “off” and doing something nice, even if it’s during business hours, in the times when you would otherwise be unproductive but feeling obliged to sit at your desk?

      1. GythaOgden*

        I think that’s playing with fire, though. If OP’s performance problems are noticeable to their boss, taking off to do that during business hours will probably be noticed and count against them.

        Sorry to be blunt but if someone is paying you to be available and/or productive, you need to do that at the very least. Taking a PTO day or half day would be better than just bunking off while you’re supposed to be available, but this could come back to bite OP on the butt big time.

    2. CatLadyEsq*

      Hey friend, I get bad migraines too. Emgality absolutely turned my life around. If you’re getting migraines also daily, my first thought is to talk to your doctor about that and get that sorted asap. There are tons of new meds out there. My migraines went from 14-17 days a month to 0-3. It changed everything… my mood is better, I have more energy etc. I have lost weight because now I actually have days where I have the energy and focus to work out. I eat better because now I have energy and focus to cook healthy meals. You may already be on top of it with your doc, but just wanted to toss that out there in case it’s helpful.

      1. Anon for this*

        Thank you. I’m kind of on Emgality, but with a lot of 6 month gaps bc I can’t get to the doctor enough and they don’t do telehealth. The doctor is also 30min away

        1. I'm A Little Teapot*

          This is the problem then. Figure this out, get on the meds and stay on the meds consistently.

          1. GythaOgden*

            Yeah, I think this is important because you presumably work with screens all day and thus eye issues may also be in play. (When I started getting really bad migraines when playing video games, I went to my optician and got glasses again. It cost me £80 but it was absolutely worth it to enjoy my games, not to mention everything else. The other thing more recently was that my current pair of glasses was digging into my ear because they were too tight, and even after I got that sorted, the ear abrasion was still being exacerbated by not being left to heal, because I obviously only took my glasses off for the eight hours I was in bed. A tiny rubber ring round the arm to lift it off the ear helped enormously as it gave the abrasion time to heal up. Not being in basically constant pain helped my mood substantially, but you do often have to take action you’d rather not take.)

            My migraines still happen but they are much more treatable now I’m on sertraline/Zoloft. It makes sense as that’s an anti-anxiety drug and presumably relieves the physical strain on my brain as well as the mental angst, in a similar way to beta-blockers and other things that lower blood pressure (even including ginger tea, which tends to work TOO well for me and puts me to sleep).

            An hour+ round trip may be frustrating every so often but it would make your life so much better and maybe allow you to be more motivated at work. If the only thing stopping you is a semi-annual trip, then you need to just do it.

        2. M2*

          This. Make an appointment with your doctor asap. Can you go on leave or take PTO until it is sorted? Hire an Uber or ask a friend to drive you if need be. Also, if you call and ask to speak directly to the doctor’s nurse and see if they can please squeeze you in they usually can in that week or the next. You just need to say it’s an emergency and talk about daily migraines and you need to be seen ASAP.

          I agree with the above poster. There was a time years ago that I was having daily migraines and went on medication. Changed my lifestyle and then with doctors supervision went off them and by some miracle I only get them occasionally now. If they came back frequently I would go back on medication. (I went off them because I wanted to get pregnant and didn’t want to take any medication while pregnant). Coming and going off the medication I believe makes it worse so speak to your doctor as soon as possible.

          I was not productive when I had daily migraines. It was awful. I am so sorry for you. If you can maybe see a neurologist? Sometimes your primary doctor can call and get you seen asap. This needs to be your first priority.

          I really think once your migraines are better your life will be better.

          Do you have those glasses to wear when on screens ? My spouse has them and swears by them. That may also help.

          1. Doc McCracken*

            I get migraines too and had them well controlled until I hit 40 and everyone just kept saying it was hormonal. This was extra frustrating because in my job, I comanage migraines with other providers. I use Aimovig, a once a month injectable. It helped tremendously! After getting out of the ditch, I worked on identifying triggers more in depth and have been off Aimovig for 2 years before having to resume it again due to a very stressful situation in our family. If you don’t already have them, the blue light filtering glasses are a helpful tool to help with the light sensitivity.

    3. Law Bird*

      The guy in the letter only did his work when he was reminded to do it or had a supervisor chasing after him. Do you have regular meetings with a supervisor? If no, set them up. That makes you more accountable, you want to get things done before that weekly meeting.

      1. Anon for this*

        I have daily status meetings with my team, and weekly status meetings with the other devs, but I don’t have a supervisor who knows my work. (I technically share a manager with 20 other people, but she doesn’t even remember what team I’m on.)

    4. also anon*

      YMMV, but when I faced a bad burnout situation I actually wound up on antidepressants after talking to my doctor. Could be worth a screening for whether “burned out and unmotivated” is actually depression…

    5. Donkey Hotey*

      Same boat. We’re only supposed to be in the office two days a week, but I’ve started going in for a third. (I understand that this isn’t an option in your current setup. More general empathy than advice.)

    6. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Getting near daily migraines seems like a root cause here. You’re probably just trying to get through each day while in pain or dreading being in pain, so the bare minimum is an achievement. All which is to say, whatever treatment you’re doing for migraines is clearly not working. And yes, easier said than done, but getting the migraine situation under control is critical.

      1. Generic Name*

        I agree with this. It sounds like you have a health issue that is very understandably impacting your ability to do your job. You’re not just lazy or unmotivated. Heck, I intended to turn on my computer last night to make up some time, but I had a (normal tension) headache, so I just closed my laptop and said “nope, not tonight”. Does that make me lazy? No, and neither are you.

    7. Bunny Girl*

      I’m normally what you would call a pretty hard worker, but I’ve noticed when I’m deeply unhappy somewhere and need to move on, my wheels really start to wind down. Sometimes it’s temporary. Like I love my current job but this week I’ve been deeply unproductive. But it came after a couple weeks of really heavy work and I think it’s just a sign I need a rest and have already resolved how to fix things for next week.

      But when I can’t change the course, I realize it’s time to sail.

    8. Anonymous Koala*

      Can you afford to take some leave for a week or two? When I start feeling burned out and bored it’s a sign that I need to take a vacation. Also it sounds like the migraines are really hampering your productivity, so taking some medical leave to work on treating them may do wonders for your motivation.

    9. Nesprin*

      Go get your migraines treated. Seriously- botox and the newer drugs can make a huge difference.

      1. The Real Fran Fine*

        Truly – Qulipta saved my life after taking it once a day for nearly two years. I’m off it now and rarely get headaches, but on the super rare occasion it happens, I take one Indomethacin capsule and it’s over pretty quickly. Indo did eff all for me when I first started getting migraines, so this is huge progress.

    10. Surrogate Tongue Pop*

      I am the manager of someone like the short answer person today and as a manager, I have the following sentiments for my direct report (barring any medical needs/accommodations, which if they contact HR for them, I’m more than happy to ensure they get what they need and completely abide by the criteria of the accommodations, however to-date, nothing on that front):
      – I end up having to somewhat micromanage them, when I would prefer not to, but I am constantly reminding them they have tasks on our task board, with deadlines, and myself, my boss and the team REALLY need to see progress. If I leave it up to them as an adult with 30 years of work experience, they will find ways to not do the task, so then I reach out and provide even more direct guidance, basic requirements, even some ideas for them to take and run with. I would say they are taking up 20% of my work week.
      – I have several other people to manage, and this person is taking up so much of my bandwidth, that I feel like I’m losing out on time with the others for coaching, career, development and such.
      – It’s not only the hard skills and tasks, but also the soft skills (and attitude) that need honing, so while we’re working on that, it is taking time away from the work I need to do as well.

      While I am taking steps to see what we can do about them overall (switch roles, PIP, and so forth), the key here is that the time one individual is taking away from my work and the the team’s overall success, as well as depriving me of the ability to devote more equal amounts of time to the others, it’s a lot.

      I hope you do find some relief for your migraines as the debilitation from them is brutal and that you find a role and environment that suit you to a T. Good luck!

      1. GythaOgden*

        I have a colleague like that. Thankfully, because as an admin I serve management rather than the rank and file, I don’t interact with her much, but her line manager, who I do serve, was surprised how I got one task done in about half the time that she did…so of course those tasks now come to me rather than to her.

        They are trying hard to move her into a role where she would do better rather than outright fire her, because of the bureaucracy involved in doing that (and how it’s gold-plated in the public sector!) but it’s a wonderful cure for imposter syndrome to see how you measure up to others doing similar tasks. I had to coach her on something and she kept telling me she couldn’t enter a particular thing in a particular column, but she couldn’t do that because the column was locked for editing and she had to use another part of the spreadsheet altogether. It was painful to do that when I could have had the job done in the time it took to convince her which part of the form she was looking at. I try my hardest to give people the benefit of the doubt and act cheerful and positive, but it’s really hard with her. And it frustrates me because she’s a nice person, just not right for the role she’s in.

        So OP…if you’re dropping balls for your team or taking up bandwidth from your manager it kind of needs to be to shape up or ship out. (There’s another saying but it involves words that we try not to use here so that’s the best way I can say it.) You’re burnt out, which is frustrating and sad and I was totally in your place about nine months ago. But skiving off while you’re expected to be on without taking PTO or neglecting to treat your migraines (which could be symptomatic of something else, from eyestrain to …the dreaded c)…you’re just going to spiral and end up having to leave on someone else’s terms.

        You can’t change others but you can change yourself. At some point it does take a bit of willpower to sort it out. If you know you’re the office slacker and you know why you’re like this, then getting the health issues sorted out is probably the first step, particularly while you have your health insurance from your job.

    11. Not that Jane*

      Hubby, also in tech, was in a similar place with burnout and health problems (not migraines, mostly sleep issues & blood pressure) and was able to take a pretty long medical leave to address it. Now he’s been back at work for a month or two, new meds on board, and is thriving again. So if it’s possible for you, I’m on Team Medical Leave. Good luck!!

    12. DJ Abbott*

      I think daily migraines are enough to demotivate anyone, even without other factors. I see you mention sporadic medication. As other commenters mention, maybe work on getting that more consistent. I don’t own a car and have taken Uber to the doctor many times, it’s totally doable.
      Sometimes the food you eat or the stuff in your environment can cause headaches. Maybe look into that too?
      I also have a chronic health condition, and I’ve made very good progress by doing my own research and analyzing my symptoms and causes. Maybe you can do that too.
      Good luck!

  10. BleepSheep*

    Have you guys ever wanted to leave a job because the space itself was just SO bad?

    I’ve been in the same field for 15+ years, always had my own office or cubicle. Now I’m sharing an open office where you can hear everything and it’s driving me up the wall.

    When someone used to sit beside me, they were so close I could reach out and touch them from my seat easily.

    I often would like to have 4 papers on my desk at once…nope the desk is so small they don’t fit. I struggle to fit my coffee, mousepad, and a single piece of paper on my desk.

    I have client calls, they provide the cheapest $15 headphones possible and won’t approve different ones.

    How would you explain this sort of thing if you were to leave for this reason? It’s tough existing in a space where I don’t feel like I have enough room to do my work.

    1. Sloanicota*

      Yes, I left a job mostly because I couldn’t stand the open office cube farm anymore. Weirdly, I had been there for six years, always in a cube farm – my irritation ratcheted up and up over time, plus they twice moved my department and the new location was always somehow impossibly worse than before (it was clear there was another much more favored department whose space was a lot better). I took literally the first job I could get when I’d finally had enough – this was before WFH was widely embraced in my field and I was grateful for even the possibility of some days working from home.

    2. Anecdata*

      I am looking for similar reasons (it’s a literal warehouse they put up cube walls in!) and I do not bring it up in interviews at all. Just “looking for the opportunity for more professional growth and excited about [pivot to talking about something I like about the possible new job, not why I want to leave the old job].

      1. Throwaway Account*

        What Anecdata said. But if the space is important to you, you can ask about it later in the process. The truth is, you could find a place with amazing offices that moves to a cube farm right after you start there.

        I once worked at an org with 2 locations. I found one, the newer one!, to be heavy and dark inside despite lots of windows. I found it oppressive. It was part of my motivation to move jobs so I feel the pain of the bad cube farm!

      2. JSPA*

        There’s two sorts of explaining here.

        The part where you explain it to yourself or close family? ” The space is so bad I can’t do my best work, And it’s slowly sapping my life-force”–totally an adequate reason.

        The part where you explain it to the person you’re interviewing with? What Anecdata said.

    3. Jamie Starr*

      I understand. Two jobs ago I had a small, but very bright office. It had huge windows on two sides and got so much sunlight that it was sometimes difficult to see my computer screen. Now I’m at a job I like, but my desk is in a windowless room/office. I work onsite every day and not being able to see any natural light or look out a window really depresses me. I take the subway to work and before the time change it felt like I never saw daylight because it was dark when I went to work, and dark by the time I left.

      I don’t need an office as nice as the one I had before, but I would really like to at least be able to see daylight. The thing is, most of the offices where I work don’t have windows so, while I have a senior level title, there are more senior level than me in the same situation. I’m biding my time until I can bring it up.

      1. Box of Kittens*

        I had a windowless office for awhile and the only thing that helped me survived was leaving for an hour for lunch. I’d sit in my car or walk just to get some sun.

        1. Jay (no, the other one)*

          There is one suite with windows in our building. It is occupied by a team that only works at night.

    4. Hotdog not dog*

      I once shared an office designed for a single occupant with 3 other people, which was bad enough before you considered that we shared an uninsured wall with the restroom. We heard everything, including whether the person washed their hands. Related topic, I refuse to shake hands with anyone since then.

    5. lost academic*

      That’s exactly what I would say. The working environment and lack of approved options to make it functional have caused you to find another opportunity. It’s possible that if you sit down with your manager and explain it very clearly and without caveats that they will make some or all of the necessary changes but assume that that won’t happen until at the very least you accept another offer and give notice. I would not get another offer to leverage changing the environment because it’s something that would be too easy to renege on. If you can’t work like this, full stop, make your exit.

      I do strongly encourage you make it crystal clear that the working environment is completely untenable and what the necessary changes would need to be to give them a chance to correct it.

      1. not nice, don't care*

        I did this when my workplace underwent a massive reorg/space change. It worked. It also helped that my workspace at the time was the worst in the entire building and I had graciously put up with it for years.
        I really lucked out and ended up with the complete opposite – a huge corner office with a water view and lots of privacy. But as part of that process I had some frank convos about my inability to work up to my usual standards in the space they wanted to put me in. Healthwise as well as basic professional functionality.

    6. anon_sighing*

      My work is remote and office space is shared & open and very limited (so you could come in and be shoulder-to-shoulder or have the whole place to yourself). If I had to come in, I wouldn’t make it more than a few months. I’m quite sensitive to things like this though – it’s very hard for me to work with distractions, little desk space, and/or feeling crammed in.

    7. Pizza Rat*

      I’m convinced open office plans were developed so office workers would suddenly become grateful for cubicles.

      I’m not sure how I’d phrase the reason besides trying to keep it vague. Maybe something like, “It was a challenge to get all the tools I needed to excel.”

    8. lady*

      Perhaps even more extreme: I’m seriously questioning whether to apply to a job if I see they use Outlook. I just CANNOT.

      1. DJ Abbott*

        I don’t know if you’ll be able to find a place that doesn’t use Outlook. Every place I’ve worked since the 90s used it.
        All Microsoft products are annoying and glitchy but I make outlook work for me, mainly by putting reminders in as appointments. I once tried using their task function, it did not work, and switched back to appointments. Otherwise, I don’t do much with Outlook except sometimes I flag messages about things I need to do and add reminders.
        The key to every Microsoft program is don’t try to fix it, that’s not possible. Work around the glitches and make it work for you.

  11. Former Govt Contractor*

    So at the end of our monthly department meetings, one employee gives a 10 minute talk (the “Teachable Moment”) about whatever topic that employee chooses to bring awareness and educate our team about something the employee is passionate about, or perhaps share something they do as a hobby in their personal life. We rotate each month, and this month it’s my turn. I’m considering discussing a surgical procedure I had 15 years ago that very few people are familiar with – biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch (“DS”), a bariatric weight loss procedure. Most everyone is familiar with lap band, gastric bypass and the vertical gastric sleeve, but hardly anyone has even heard of DS much less know someone who’s done it. It’s a fabulous tool which saved my life, and people should know about it. (Go to DSFACTS.COM for more info.)

    My reservation lies in the stigma that still surrounds obesity and weight loss surgery (“it’s the easy way out”, etc.). I THINK I am okay with putting myself out there and sharing this information about myself that no one knows as of yet, but I’d like some input from you guys. I have worked at my company for 8 years, and the team is wonderful – though I will share that I am the OP from last week who wrote in about a senior attorney poking me about taking self-defense classes, so there’s that! Do you think we have evolved enough at this point for me to share the fact that I was once morbidly obese and had weight loss surgery without facing professional repercussions?

    1. T. Wanderer*

      I’m glad you’re happy about your results! That said, I wouldn’t. This is the sort of things people will have Opinions about, and fatphobia is massively entrenched in our society. Depending on how you portray your decision, it could also veer into territory where anyone overweight listening feels like they’re being encouraged to get a medical procedure — which I’m sure won’t be your intention! but it’s not like we aren’t ALREADY inundated with How To Lose Weight (You Should Do That).

      1. CatLadyEsq*

        It’s lovely that you want to share this info with colleagues, but I tend to agree with the other commenters that it’s too murky and touchy an issue to get into. People have SO MANY ~*~oPiNiOnS~*~ about weight loss stuff, as well as about sharing medical info. I wouldn’t do it if it were me.

      2. Betty*

        I agree, if I were in the audience I would absolutely feel like this was a You Should Lose Weight talk and be pretty unhappy/upset about it.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I would find it very strange to hear about a co-worker’s surgery, no matter what the reason for the surgery or what type of surgery it is. If your goal is to raise awareness about weight loss surgery options… I’d argue that this is not the right place for that as that’s better suited to a hospital or doctor’s office. If the goal is to share something about yourself, then I would wonder why you chose to focus on a surgery, especially one that happened a long time ago. I’d feel equally weird if a colleague opted to tell us about his life-changing ACL repair and rehab, for what it’s worth. I’m not an especially private person and I believe in sharing interests with colleagues, but I don’t want to hear about their medical procedures. Regarding this particular surgery, I am also overweight and this would hit me as a, “I did this and so should you,” even if that’s not your intention.

    3. Anecdata*

      To be honest, I would be uncomfortable if a colleague was sharing their personal medical info in a context like this. It’s not that it’s shameful, but it’s not work info imo. Same with eg. a colleague sharing their personal experience with mental health treatment, or the details of their chemo regime, or going through IVF. I know you said people sometimes share personal hobbies, but are other people talking about medical info, or is it more the kind of personal info you might share in small talk or in a icebreaker (eg. “here are all the kinds of mountain bikes” or “I know a ton about 17th century textile production”)

      1. Pretty as a Princess*

        This is what gives me pause as well. I would also discourage someone who had a knee replacement or LASIK from doing the same thing. I just would not want to be in a meeting about a coworker’s medical procedure.

      2. Former Govt Contractor*

        These talks are not work-related. They are topics of the employee’s choice, about anything they wish to talk about.

        1. Pistachio*

          they are work-related because they are taking place at work, during a work meeting, with work colleagues who are there to work and presumably don’t have a choice in attending the talk, as it is part of their working day.

        2. BubbleTea*

          There are presumably limits though – I can’t imagine someone giving a talk on S&M or the consistency of their bowel movements, for instance. I feel that weight loss surgery is much less far over the line than those examples but it’s still over it, because it’s such an emotionally laden topic.

        3. Despachito*

          But the other employees are a captive audience.

          OP: glad it worked for you, but as your coworker I wouldn’t want to hear about it.

        4. Winni*

          Really? Anything? There are no guidelines on appropriate content? Has anyone else previously shared anything as inappropriate for the workplace as you are proposing, or is this you trying to push a boundary?

          Because if your workplace has any sense at all, there will absolutely be restrictions on content (if not an outright ban on these talks) in the not too distant future, should you be unprofessional enough to go ahead with this topic!

      3. Kay*

        This. It has nothing to do with judgement, fatphobia, etc. It has to do with the fact that in absolutely no way do I want to hear about any medical procedure, let alone from my coworker. I am extremely squeamish and just reading the OP’s example has made my stomach queasy and my muscles tense. I would hate to have to try and sit through more of this, especially with the added weight of trying to convince people that I’m turning green because the thought of bodily fluids is like kryptonite, not weight loss opinions.

    4. HannahS*

      I’m sorry, I think it’s a bad idea. It makes you too vulnerable. The stigma against fat people and people who use medication or surgery to facilitate weight loss are still very present–just look at the conversation around Ozempic! I wish things were different.

      I’d also think about the general appropriateness of it. Not everyone is comfortable hearing about surgery or medical subjects at work, and some people may have deep-seated issues around food and weight that would cause your talk to be painful for them.

      If the purpose of these talks is really “a subject you’re passionate about” or “your hobby” then it sounds to me like this is meant to be a personable, team-building exercise. If Tom gets up and talks about his passion for knitting for ten minutes and Aliza talks about how she volunteers at the animal shelter, then getting up and trying to educate people about a surgery that saved your life (or something comparable like having gone to AA for ten years) is not in keeping with the intention.

      1. Awkwardness*

        It makes you too vulnerable.
        That would be the main point. If the context were different, like you were volunteering for a cause oder excited about research because it was something you did a paper on during your studies, it might be different. But disclosing any kind of personal medical info should be done very carefully in my opinion. There is too much of being stigmatised in any way.

    5. another fed*

      Honestly, you also don’t know who has food issues (even those aren’t about being fat) so I wouldn’t go there. Plenty of us do not want to know medical details about our colleagues generally, in part because we want our own medical information to be private, and this obliterates the personal v professional lines completely.

    6. Venus*

      I love medical stuff and used to watch surgeries when they were on TV, but I really don’t want to hear medical info from coworkers.

    7. Bast*

      I can see Senior Attorney “Back in my day, we just did good old fashioned diet and exercise. I think it’s because we walked to work uphill both ways with no shoes, 20 miles each way and then ate homecooked meals. People these days want everything fast…” etc, etc. I have a colleague who had gastric bypass years ago, and FWIW having seen her journey I know it is a difficulty surgery with a long recovery, many unanticipated issues that can crop up, and it is not the easy way out, BUT considering what you told us about Senior Attorney, it seems there may be some people who may have a decidedly negative view to chime in with. What other topics have people brought up? I’d use that as a guide.

    8. Donkey Hotey*

      Glad it worked for you, and please don’t. For me, it has nothing to do with weight stigma and everything to do with “Please don’t tell me about your surgery.”

    9. Pistachio*

      I understand your motivations, but I don’t think stigma and potential repercussions are what you should be considering here. There may well be people listening who have issues with food, or weight, and would find hearing this very difficult. How would it be different to someone standing up and talking about the great new diet they went on? I mean, of course I do see why it’s different, but it could still come across as “I recommend this great way of losing weight”, which is completely inappropriate at work. I don’t want to hear about my coworkers medical procedures or really to be thinking about their bodies at all.

    10. Yorick*

      I definitely would not want to hear about this at a work meeting. Any surgery/medical issue that isn’t related to our work, and especially this as a fat person.

    11. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      Having had weight loss surgery myself, I don’t think this is a good idea. Not because of fatphobia or people thinking surgery is the easy way out (you try having your stomach reduced to the size of a banana, or your digestive tract rerouted–there is nothing easy about it!), but because personal medical stuff just isn’t a good idea in a meeting people aren’t choosing to opt into.

      I personally don’t hesitate to mention I’ve had weight loss surgery when it is relevant to the conversation (people commenting about weight loss or why I’m only eating a small amount of the delicious food they’re trying to get me to eat more of), but there is an entire internet out there for people to look up specific surgeries if that is something they want more information about.

    12. EA*

      I don’t think the issue is with the professional repercussions for you, but rather with how this talk will make others feel. I can’t imagine a situation in which this talk is useful for your coworkers; either they don’t need weight loss surgery and it’s just an awkward and irrelevant topic to hear about from a coworker, or they are obese/overweight and might feel like this is a “you need to lose weight” talk – not good at all. I’d say skip it and find something else to share that others will be interested in and not risk making them feel bad about.

    13. Tammy 2*

      I lost a friend to complications from bariatric surgery and it would be really hard on me to have to hear about this topic in the workplace, whether we were talking about the specific procedure she had or not. I also have a general aversion to body/weight loss/diet talk at work and think it’s reasonable not to want to sit through that in a mandatory meeting.

      Honestly, I think I stand up and leave. Please don’t.

    14. Generic Name*

      I would feel so uncomfortable hearing the details of a colleague’s surgery (any kind of surgery). Both from a TIM perspective, but also because that kind of talk makes me feel queasy/faint. I’d have to leave the room.

    15. Policy Wonk*

      I would be squeamish in a discussion about any kind of surgery (I cringed as a colleague told me about his root canal!) so I would recommend against, without event getting to the discrimination issue. But I would love to hear about your self-defense classes if you took them, especially if you had a tip or two to offer.

    16. Come On Eileen*

      I have a similar stigma (I think) for a completely different thing – I’m a sober alcoholic. I got sober 10+ years ago. When I was first getting my feet wet in recovery, there’s just no way I would have talked about it with colleagues or at work. But now, ten years later, I will share when it’s appropriate and I have zero shame about it. I will verbally acknowledge that there is a stigma, rightly or wrongly, around addiction, and that the more we talk about it and get it into the open, the more people understand it’s just A Thing that hits some of us that we have to deal with. Anyway, if that helps, great. If I were in your shoes then yes, I’d consider this part of my history and an interesting tidbit that I could help people understand.

      1. Tammy 2*

        Did you intend to draw a direct comparison between substance addiction and being overweight?

        1. Tammy 2*

          Actually–never mind–I do see that you call it out as “a completely different thing.”

        2. anon_sighing*

          The general comparison would be between talking about recovery from addiction and weight loss surgery, not being overweight. Comment OP is proposing to present on a lesser known weight loss surgery, not being overweight in general.

          But this comment/misinterpretation is the perfect example of why Comment OP should not present on this topic at work.

        3. RagingADHD*

          They do share the commonality of being stigmatized medical conditions that also carry a lot of personal emotional complexity.

    17. Busy Middle Manager*

      I truly don’t see that as the stigma, I think some people have a visceral reaction linked to confusion of sorts; you have to do all of the right things before the surgery to lose weight, so why do you need to then get the surgery? At least that’s the question I keep hearing after My 600 Pound Life came out. Also some of us know people who were never the same health-wise after weight loss surgery, so some of it will be fear that anyone who gets it will be vomiting the rest of their life and having all sorts of “unrelated” health issues.

      Also does everyone like this off-topic type speech? What was the impetus for that? I can only speak for my job but we have so much agenda and things to upskill people on that it’s a constant struggle to get meetings shorter and we’re always ending in what feels like the middle of the meeting

    18. anon_sighing*

      I wouldn’t, but I understand your enthusiasm to share something that worked for you, especially if it really helped you live life fuller. You’re right, weight loss surgery is a really fraught topic but I think it’s less to do with people thinking it’s the ‘easy way out’ or stigma (frankly, people are so fatphobic, I have trouble feeling that ‘easy way out’ is the average person’s take and more the fitness buff and diet crowd perspective). I will be honest, if someone came to a presentation on “Teachable Moments,” characterized by 1) bringing awareness to something and 2) educating the team about something that person is passionate about, or 3) sharing hobbies, with a presentation about weight loss surgery, I’d be taken aback.

      Would this be in line with other presentations? Because if the one the week before was about bird watching and before that it was about saving the whales or something, then this is really out of sync. Frankly, if anyone at your firm would be considered fat, they may take it as a “take a hint” thing or “I did it, so why can’t you?”

      Beyond that, it’s uncomfortable to hear about people’s surgery and it has limited applicability to people, so they would just be hearing you talk about your surgery. I’d say the same for someone who wanted to present on Botox – I think it’s a great thing, but it sounds like an advertisement and it may be triggering to some.

    19. Auins*

      I would be EXTREMELY uncomfortable at being expected to listen to such a talk in a work meeting, and would find it highly inappropriate. Not because you used to be fat, but because this is a workplace and unless I am in the medical field I would never expect to have to listen to information on anyone’s surgical procedures as part of a work meeting! That’s so deeply uncomfortable and inappropriate that I am squirming right now.

      If I was at that meeting? I would walk out as soon as it Gd and clear what topic you were choosing to talk about. And then I’d be taking my concerns to my manager and HR.

      No. Just, no.

      1. carcinization*

        Huh, I’m not the OP and I’m not in the medical field either. At the last large team meeting at my work, one of my co-workers presented about her college-aged son’s struggle with and recovery from Guillain-Barré syndrome. Again, not the same thing as a weight loss surgery, but I did find it helpful because one of my family members could start showing signs of this syndrome and I might know a little better how to help them! I guess the perceived appropriateness of discussing medical matters and procedures varies even in non-medical workplaces!

        1. Tansi*

          I’m glad it worked out for you. I would have thrown up in that meeting!

          It’s not just about the workplace, it’s about people. And respecting them. And their rights not to be forced to listen to traumatising content.

    20. Socks*

      Echoing the “don’t do it.” Work isn’t the place for raising awareness about any sort of weight loss procedures.

    21. My Brain is Exploding*

      I would do 10 minutes on self-defense classes: what they are, why they are needed, what is taught, etc.

      1. BubbleTea*

        Given the context of the weirdness from the manager about self defence, this topic could seem pointed and courting drama (to be clear, it shouldn’t be – but the manager shouldn’t have reacted the way he did and he did it anyway).

      2. Mostly Managing*

        oh I love this!!!

        It’s relevant to nearly everyone, unlikely to be triggering, and given the history….
        Perfect :)

      3. Former Govt Contractor*

        Adding a note that I would never do this, it would decimate any remains of my relationship with Senior Attorney.

    22. anon for this*

      I am so happy for you that you were able to find something that worked for you, and I’m proud of you for keeping it up.

      That being said, I would also consider standing up and walking out of this talk, and I’d probably also start to spiral, and have a really rough few days until I was able to pull out of it.

      I’m sorry – I don’t want to seem negative, or seem like I’m piling on – but this would be a horrific experience for me.

      It’s great that you want to share your experience, though, and I hope you are able to find ways of doing it that aren’t at work. :)

    23. RagingADHD*

      I’m happy for you about your results, but even a short comment like this does come across rather like a sales pitch (particularly with the website included).

      My concern would be that your coworkers would feel even more that they were a captive audience being pitched on something they did not want or need. This may be too personal a level of passion.

      1. Tio*

        Yeah, I kind of felt a bit of a sales pitch vibe in it. I think part of the problem is that because it was so important and life changing to you, there’s no real way to talk about it without it sounding like a sales pitch, and that’s going to be uncomfortable.

        The petty part of me wants you to do your ten minute stand up on the new self defense class you’re taking now and why it’s so important though :)

        1. Jaydee*

          I’m fat and would hate having to sit through a presentation about weight loss surgery for work.

          But I’m the petty, petty bitch who would start the slow clap that turns into a standing ovation at the end of your presentation about self-defense.

    24. Pummeled by PowerPoint*

      It sounds like it worked out well for you. That’s great!

      That said, please don’t choose this topic to talk about in an office setting, for all the reasons in the comments already and more.

      As a fat person, I would feel like I was being evangelized at and be extremely uncomfortable. Think of how many letters we’ve seen in AAM that talk about people policing other people’s bodies and judging them on food choices. The stigma is still out there and I think this would add to it, despite your intentions.

    25. JSPA*

      Too triggering for too many other people, for any of many reasons (weight; surgery; discussing bodies at work; implicit and explicit medical advice at work…).

      This strikes me as a topic that really needs to be opt-in. Not something that is sprung on a captive audience.

      Between Potential blowback FROM fat phobia; potential blowback FOR presumed fat phobia; Risk of someone fainting or puking because you’re talking about a major surgical intervention; and being judged for risking that?

      All I can say is that if this is standard “what we share at work” fare in your workplace, your workplace has some mighty wobbly boundaries, and pushing them further is not going to make the workplace healthier.

      Plus the guy who was problematic about your self defense classes, because he thinks women of [insert description here] are never attacked? I suspect he is going to be only more aggressively problematic if he can triangulate those opinions with his opinions regarding body size / weight loss / voluntary surgery / anything else that clearly really matters to you.

      Magic 8 ball says, “outlook not so good.”

    26. Starbuck*

      Joining the chorus of people saying this isn’t a good fit for a talk at work. Not just for your own sake, but for the sake of others – please don’t.

    27. Nesta*

      I would not choose this as a topic. I am a larger-bodied woman with a history of eating disorders, and it would make me feel self-conscious at best and totally triggered at worst to hear my colleague give a talk about this.

    28. RussianInTexas*

      I really do not like the whole concept of the “teachable moment” that is not work-related in general. This is a work meeting, not therapy.
      And especially medical stuff. I don’t want to know this, and I don’t need to know this.

    29. Former Govt Contractor*

      I am so grateful for this site and all the helpful comments! Thank you for all the perspectives I had failed to consider. Needless to say, I will have to come up with a new topic!

    30. JustDont*

      As someone who is overweight because of medical conditions and likely will always come across as fat to observers, I would be extremely upset if I encountered something like this in a work environment. You are proselytizing this procedure without knowing whether it is appropriate or not, triggering or not, etc. And, yes, you are proselytizing, and your attitude is entirely offputting. Who are you to judge what I need to know about weight loss options? How do you know people interested in weight loss are unaware of this? The way you talk comes across as everyone who knows about this will clearly want to do this immediately; if they haven’t done this it must be because they don’t know about it. That’s not true and horribly insulting and comes across as fat phobia.

      There’s a reason folks generally don’t discuss medical things at work, especially at widely attended meetings.

  12. T. Wanderer*

    Does anyone have any success stories about bringing concerns to management as a group?

    My team recently switched companies, and NewCompany has a pretty bad PTO policy: 15 days, including sick, no rollover. We negotiated up to 20 days at onboarding. A member of our team just announced a pregnancy, and found out that there is *no* paid parental leave policy — and his state doesn’t have one, so he’ll be back to work immediately.

    We’re all pretty upset about this! We’ll have 1-year meetings with the CEO/CFO in summer, and the current plan is for everyone to bring the same concerns about PTO+leave to the table, and see what happens.

    1. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

      At a previous job, after a couple of us had a bad experience with a lack of parental leave other than for a birthing parent (I adopted my son, and a guy on my team’s wife had a baby) we convinced them to provide more equitable parental leave. It was too late to help either of us, but was good for anyone coming along later. Basically they needed to see some top performers basically ready to leave over the situation (I was able to quietly negotiate for more leave; I don’t remember about the other guy) to be moved.

    2. TCO*

      It wasn’t quite an organized group campaign, but my (small) company did drastically increase PTO a few years ago because so many of us told them that their policy was no longer competitive for new hires. People just kept bringing it up: when negotiating offers, when discussing their first annual review, when talking with their supervisors (who then raised it to leadership), when having babies, etc. until it changed. In the past few years we’ve added better PTO across several categories of leave including parental leave.

      One thing that helps here is that we have a committee focused on staff benefits and culture. When considering new policies, they research what our competitors offer and draft a proposal to present to leadership. You could request a small committee be formed to review best practices in your industry.

    3. Busy Middle Manager*

      Yes. Only thing is we didn’t barge into their offices in a group, we did it back to back, separately, and made sure the other people actually said what they said they were going to say.

      Both cases involved coworkers who looked busy and professional on the outside but they weren’t doing much and were causing huge bottlenecks and being snippy behind closed doors when upper management couldn’t see it.

      so yes it happens, remember only the “nightmare manager” stories make it to the internet since “boss did the right thing” stories are boring to read

  13. No more IMs please*

    Lately the company I work for has been hiring contractors who IM me pretty involved questions.

    Most people who are internal will send quick IMs like did you see this email/ my Outlook has been weird so double checking. Or will you be available to join a meeting?

    But the contractors tend to ask things like how does this process work? Or can you give me background on this? Things that are better in an email where I can include screenshots, tables, bullet points, etc and organize it with proper punctuation.

    It could be that our corporate cultures are different so they may be accustomed to long IMs but I find them distracting and annoying and makes cc’ing my boss more difficult.

    Do you have any suggestions on how to deal? A lot of times I will reply in an email and just IM ‘I sent an email’ but instead of responding to the email, they keep IMing.

    1. A non-mouse*

      If your company hired them, I think it’s within your rights to ask them to email you the question so you can do it due justice in the response. Just say it’s too complex an answer for IM, please email you the question and you’ll reply once it hits your inbox. This has the added benefit of filtering out all the questions that aren’t actually critical. Just be clear about the best way for them to work with you to get the critical information they need to do their jobs.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Tell them to email you. If they send a long IM, ask them to please email you instead and cc your boss. Tell them twice, then stop responding to their IMs at all.

    3. Reba*

      Reply with “Moving this discussion to email” and do your thing. I also prefer to keep detailed discussion in email since I find it easier to go back and find things later. You are allowed to exercise this preference!

      1. Ama*

        This is what I do. I’m in nonprofit and my coworkers in our fundraising department have a bad habit of asking me questions in our chat that would take multiple paragraphs for me to answer (also I really like to have anything I tell them in email because there have been instances when they’ve edited language I’ve given them to make it mean something completely different and I like to have a record of exactly what I told them if that blows up). So I just say “that’s a complicated question, I’ll send you an email about it in a bit” and then I do that.

        That said they usually stay in email once I introduce email — if they went back to chat I’d probably ask them to keep things in email.

    4. just here for the scripts*

      In teams you can take the IM and email it to yourself/others. Does your system allow for this?
      Do you ever reply to them via IM that you need the question via email, rather than just modeling that behavior and hoping they catch on?

    5. RagingADHD*

      Stop hinting and say what you want them to do.

      The first couple of times, copy-paste the IM into an email and start your reply by saying, “Please use email for questions like this, as it’s a more suitable format for complex answers.”

      After a few rounds of that, just reply on IM with “Please email me this question,” and don’t give them the answer until they do. They will either start emailing or find the answer for themselves another way.

    6. NormsAndExpectations*

      Most companies I’ve worked for prefer the IM or group chat tool du jour for most communication. Email is for automated messages, group mails, etc. This is particularly true if folks are not colocated. Chances are pretty good that they’re conforming to their norm.

      That said, unless they need an immediate answer, no reason not to ask for email if you prefer it (not just hints like replying via email) and they can easily send it. But you need to be explicit about it and understand that it may take some time to adjust. I know I have 30 years of IM first communication habits; I have to really think about it if I need to send an email instead for some reason.

  14. The Dude Abides*

    I’m at my wits’ end with our IT department.

    I had an employee start 2/1, and they came over from a different unit within my (state gov) agency. The day they started, I put in an IT ticket to have their permissions updated so that they could have access to the areas necessary to do their job.

    Normally, this takes 2-3 days at most. Two months in and several condescending emails from IT later, it’s still not correct despite their attempts to say otherwise (and I send over documented proof it’s still borked every time they ask us to verify that the task is done).

    Compounding this is the fact that the state IT agency is in the process of taking over IT for all agencies (mine included), and they know next to nothing about our ancient (still coded in COBOL) systems.

    I’m doing my best to bite my tongue, but IMO they’re upholding the stereotype of feckless government employees.

    1. HonorBox*

      Is there any way to escalate this to your boss? You’re going on 2 months, and with limits on permissions, the new employee isn’t able to fully do their job. Two months is a long time, and maybe your boss can help with the log jam.

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

        Yes time to hand this off to superiors. We had a smilar issue a while back, as soon as my director was CC’d on the email and responded everything magically worked.

        1. The Dude Abides*

          Boss is looped in on all recent communications. It worked wonders last time this happened, but not so much this time. Boss also has muuuuuuuuch bigger fish to fry right now from other units.

          Boss is supportive me re: extending the affected employee’s probationary period due to the issue.

    2. Brownie*

      Being gov IT and also being subject to our IT help desk I’m sending you all the sympathies. Usually in these situations I end up looking to see if it’s one or just a few of the IT staff and if I can have the ticket (or a new ticket) routed to a different person. The other thing that seems to work well is a ticket with a note on it like “New employee requires permissions in order to meet a high priority deadline set by very high manager on VHM’s pet project” with a CC on the ticket to both my manager and the helpdesk’s manager. I’m pretty sure the latter is what helps, they don’t care what my manager thinks, but if I’m looping in their boss they start caring.

    3. JimmyJab*

      My state-gov IT is equally incapable of fixing user issues per my many, many years in state gov. Just commiserating!

  15. Sweet Clementine*

    I finally have a new job! I came to a new job last year after being recruited by my hiring manager, who left a couple months later to pursue other options. It was quickly clear how full of bees my workplace was (it’s a startup), and I started looking for jobs basically 6 months in.

    After a very frustrating season ( with multiple close calls, a very lowball offer, being ghosted after final rounds, a few male interviewers being extremely condescending- which broke my spirit) I got two offers! I negotiated (thanks a lot to this blog!), got a 33% hike from the first offer, and finally signed it!

    This blog has taught me so much about professional norms, as a female poc immigrant in a male dominated field, which is invaluable. It has taught me to know my worth, and be fearless in walking out if something isnt acceptable. Thank you very much!

  16. AskingForAFriend*

    All, I’m curious how others would handle something that I discussed with a counterpart with a different company yesterday. He’s been having a difficult time with an employee who has been very outspoken regarding a political cause. My friend has received calls from political leaders in the community who are upset, not with the cause but with the tone the employee has taken when addressing them. While my friend’s company is not in politics, there is some political influence when it comes to some of their work, so he’s had to talk to this employee about their approach multiple times. Not that he’s censored them, but just reminded them that the tone is very important. Additionally, this employee just told (not asked) my friend that they need to work at home an additional day each week because it will be better for their family’s needs. The business doesn’t need butts in seats, but adding an additional work from home day could cause some issues because there is need for collaboration and there’s no way to provide the same benefit to everyone else who might also have family needs. And recently, the employee has been bad mouthing my friend in a public way.

    Fast forward to yesterday… the employee turned in their two weeks. Then proceeded to email my friend’s bosses outlining several “problems” that have prompted them to leave the business. Very generalized “problems” like the business has become too political, they don’t feel safe in the workplace, and that this employee has been a sounding board for other employees who have left the business over the last several years as well. But again, nothing specific.

    One of the bosses forwarded my friend the email as a heads up. My friend is considering a reply to that boss requesting that they follow up with the employee to gather specifics. He is wary of the overall message because it does seem a little like sour grapes, given that there have been the conversations about tone. But he also wants to know if he’s doing something that makes someone (or several someones) unsafe. My friend is well thought of by the leadership in the business and there have been no instances of complaints. But he also has a very strong moral compass and wants to be sure he’s not doing something unconsciously that is creating an environment that makes someone feel unsafe.

    Does it make sense to ask for a deeper inquiry, for my friend’s protection and (his words) to protect the business from any liability should there be specific things? Or is it better to chalk this up to someone with a bee in their bonnet and let it go?

    1. Sloanicota*

      Honestly, this sounds like the best possible case to me – an employee who was giving you trouble has voluntarily decided to leave! – and I would just thank them for their comments and go on about my day, assuming there’s nothing illegal in the allegations that might come back to bite you in some kind of lawsuit.

    2. ferrina*

      It really sounds like someone with a bee in their bonnet, but unrelated to this, your friend should be regularly providing avenues for their direct reports to voice concerns.

      1. Doing regular 1-1 to check in on general wellbeing, including office culture, workload, and any other issues that may arise. This could be weekly or bi-weekly.

      2. Having regular skip-level meetings between the direct reports and their grandboss (friend’s boss). If someone isn’t comfortable with their manager, sometimes they will be more comfortable talking to the grandboss. It’s also a great time for them to ask more about company strategy and get facetime with the grandboss. These can be done quarterly or biannually.

      3. Annual 360 reviews. This means that part of the manager’s annual review is that their direct reports review them on their management. Reviews should go directly to the Grandboss who should share the aggregate results (no quotes or “Someone said X”). This allows direct reports to give feedback as anonymously as possible, while the Grandboss can flag anyone that has a unique perspective (either because they have a bee in their bonnet or something is going strangely with their situation, possibly bullying or due to their role)

      Your friend should also touch base with their bosses to make sure that the bosses have the full story with this particular employee.

      1. AskingForAFriend*

        These are good suggestions and mostly happen. The boss’s bosses aren’t on site which makes the skip-level meetings a little tougher, but I’ll make the suggestion to him because that’s an easy thing to set up. The employees are all acquainted with the boss’s bosses too, so those conversations would be more comfortable than with some random person they never see.

        The interesting thing about your last sentence too is that my friend met with his bosses the day before the resignation and outlined the challenges and what he’d done to work through the challenges. I think the largest concern my friend has is whether he’s done something that he’s not even aware he’s done that made someone feel unsafe.

        1. ferrina*

          Sounds like your friend is doing all the right things!

          I like that your friend is concerned- it shows that he has consideration and empathy. There’s always a risk that he unintentionally did something that made someone feel unsafe, but that’s always a risk in human interactions. It’s a sliding scale- some things are blatantly going to make someone feel unsafe (see Dave from yesterday’s update letter), but sometimes you can be the gentlest person possible and someone will feel unsafe anyways (due to personal trauma or societal messaging of “this type of people are scary!”).

          If your friend is getting positive feedback, he shouldn’t let guilt drive him. Of course, it’s always good to continue to evaluate our own actions and continue to improve communication skills, but sounds like he’s done due diligence on this particular thing.

    3. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      This sure sounds like a winged-insect-in-hat problem to me.

      The resigning employee has posted his vague complaints – unless your friend has a good enough rapport to be able to suss out something more significant, I doubt this would be productive.

      But, he could certainly respond to his boss with a question – “Do you want me to do anything about any of this? Find out if there’s something particular and actionable about (topic X) or (topic Y)? I’m willing to devote Z hours to this, if you think it would be good for the business.”

    4. Glazed Donut*

      I’d have a meeting with the exiting employee but not take anything he says as a directive to change without additional layers of conversation, as ferrina has mentioned. The departing employee likely has a lot of angry/upset/misplaced feelings, but after he leaves you’ll miss the opportunity for feedback, and there may be a grain of truth or helpfulness in what he says. I don’t think anything he will say will go far to shed light on illegal activities or protect the company – but it can help improve workplace culture down the road.

      1. AskingForAFriend*

        Makes sense. Nothing that would come from the conversation would be illegal given the very vague statements, but my friend is genuinely interested in how to make the workplace better if he’s doing something that he’s not even aware he’s doing.

        1. BikeWalkBarb*

          Exit interview is a good idea for anyone leaving for any reason. They have a chance to be frank when it won’t cost them anything. And if there were a genuine misunderstanding your friend could at least attempt to clear it up to mitigate later external comments or glassdoor postings, although no guarantees in what sounds like a departure that can’t happen too soon.

    5. DottedZebra*

      It depends what political thing the employee has been talking about. If the employee was speaking out against racism or homophobia and your friend told them they need to be nicer about it…yeah, that would make me feel unsafe.

      1. AskingForAFriend*

        In this case it was nothing like the examples you mention. It was something well outside of the control of the local government. We even talked about a scenario where someone was leading the charge for local fair housing or something like that and how his response would be different to the employee.

        The tone conversation was more about “hey you can’t stand up in public meetings and call out an elected official in a nasty way because they’re not answering an email. You can lead the charge you’re passionate about, but remember that honey attracts better than vinegar.”

        1. Starbuck*

          I’m confused why this employee’s political activities that sound like they were happening outside the workplace (right?) with people who don’t work at the company became a workplace issue – why are these community members going and complaining to the employee’s company/manager? Why did the manager take on that problem? That seems wrong.

          To me it sounds like there should have been some boundary setting there in the organization – like, ‘Hey [community member] I hear that you don’t like how Employee disrupted the public meeting (or whatever it is) but that sounds like an issue between you and Employee and it doesn’t relate to their work, so you shouldn’t be bringing this to me.” I kind of feel for the employee here, but maybe there’s more details or I’m not understanding the connections?

    6. AskingForAFriend*

      Update: Talked to my friend and his boss is reaching out directly to the departing employee, since technically my friend only knew of the email because it was forwarded on to him. His boss is going to ask for specifics from or a meeting with the departing employee to discuss the concerns. He said he wasn’t sure if the employee would take the grandboss up on the opportunity, but at the very least, the offer has been made. Grandboss understands why my friend is concerned and wants to do what’s right for the business and for my friend (who is well thought of by leadership) but also isn’t going to try to force the conversation either.

    7. Starbuck*

      “He’s been having a difficult time with an employee who has been very outspoken regarding a political cause. My friend has received calls from political leaders in the community who are upset, not with the cause but with the tone the employee has taken when addressing them. While my friend’s company is not in politics, there is some political influence when it comes to some of their work, so he’s had to talk to this employee about their approach multiple times.”

      Am I understanding right that people like the city council or mayor or whatever other public figures are essentially tattling on this employee to their workplace because they don’t like this person’s tone in, what, public meetings? Is the employee doing these activities in the name of the Organization, or just as themselves? Because honestly I get why the employee would feel, uh, bullied by these politicians and not protected by their employer! This seems bad? Like messy small down style drama. Unless I’m really missing something, it seems wrong to me for a manager to pass on the feedback of these ‘political leaders’ to their employee. If this bad tone was happening as part of their actual work, that would be very different.

  17. CityMouse*

    Just a rant. The number of people who think it’s acceptable to be rude to anyone they get on the phone is just completely unacceptable.

    I am so tired of the rudeness and my supervisors doing absolutely nothing to help.

    1. Sloanicota*

      Oh lord I feel this, and I have actually noticed the flip side too (I find it harder to be patient on the phone than it used to be). I think part of the problem is the greatly increased wait time and more robots before you get to a person, if you ever do. It means my patience is exhausted before I start talking. I’m so sorry you’re baring the brunt of this kind of thing though. It truly isn’t you they’re upset with but I know it’s hard not to take it personally.

      1. HonorBox*

        Oh I feel this so hard. I had a pharmacy reaching out to me for awhile for a specialty prescription. I’d get the incoming call, then be immediately put on hold. I once waited for 25 minutes on hold to talk to someone. When they were the ones who placed the call. I tried to stay calm when I finally got to speak to someone but I did tell them that especially because they’re making the outgoing calls, there has to be a way to fix this because of course people are going to be frustrated by the time they speak to a human, and that’s not fair to that human.

      2. CityMouse*

        The thing is, I’m a staff attorney, I get direct line calls. No waiting, no transferring. People just don’t like the law and take it out on me.

    2. Bast*

      I can really piss already angry clients off refusing to give the reaction they want. I can have someone scream at me and speak in a completely normal, “how about that weather” voice that would be the same whether you just screamed at me or were perfectly pleasant. I am not sure how they think that screaming at someone is going to achieve what they want, but as someone who really doesn’t attach emotion into a lot of conversations, but approach tends to be “Okay, it sounds like the problem is X. To solve X, I can do Y or Z, and here are the likely outcomes.” This is just the way my brain tends to work. The people who actually want a solution tend to calm down. The people who just want to scream and shout and abuse someone get angrier because they want to also draw you in emotionally and either get you to cry, or scream back so they can “ask for the supervisor.” The latter people do not want a problem solved, which… it baffles me, but you get plenty like that. It’s totally not acceptable behavior either way, but at least I can understand the first group.

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

      As someone who worked 5 years in retail and another 5 years in call centers I hear you.

    4. AngryOctopus*

      My old job actually fired a guy who, among other things, called a help line for a piece of equipment we’d be having issues with, and he TORE into the rep he got the moment they answered. This poor person had no idea who he was or what was going on, because he didn’t identify himself or tell them he was calling about an ongoing problem. It was one of the final nails in the coffin for his employment when others reported his behavior.

    5. Panicked*

      I feel this! I reached out to a candidate for a phone screen (which was scheduled!) and when I asked for him, I was met with “F*** off, B****.” He called me back and said it was his son who was playing around. Then he emailed me and said it was his coworker who was getting spam calls. Needless to say, we’re not moving forward.

    6. Glomarization, Esq.*

      It’s a shame your supervisors won’t help. When I did this kind of thing for a legal services non-profit organization some years ago, we were empowered to say things like, “Sir/Ma’am/Miss, I’m trying to help you, and if you continue to raise your voice (or: use abusive language, or whatever), I will have to terminate this call.” Taking the calls was stressful to begin with, and the organization was protective and didn’t want people to burn out even sooner than they otherwise might have done because of abuse.

    7. Busy Middle Manager*

      More info? I want to agree but I used to have to deal with AT&T and they ran the phone system in my area (even if you have Verizon or someone else) so they knew they could give horrible service and you couldn’t do anything about it Let me tell you, by the time you got someone on the phone, and then gave the full story, and then had them pretend you had the wrong person….you needed to a saint to not get uppity after a while. Especially when you had to call in multiple times for the same thing or explain how a phone line install should work to someone in the “tech” department. I also had cases where I’d place an install order and i’d here the rep typing in all of this stuff; then I’d call back and another rep, after a 20 minute wait, would say they didn’t see any of the notes I was talking about. Stuff like that happened alot

      1. CityMouse*

        I am a staff attorney for an organization. You call ne directly, no menu. People get hostile because they don’t like the legal answers I give them.

    8. goddessoftransitory*

      I feel this soooooo much.

      I answer the phone for a living, and it is crazy sometimes how people can’t seem to get it through their heads that I am A) a person and B) doing a job.

  18. Amber*

    I interviewed about 2 weeks ago for a position, they said they should have a decision by last week, I mentally added a week to that. During the interview, they also mentioned that HR is backed up and it might take a bit. Since it is now the end of the second week since the interview and already a week past the stated decision time, do I reach back out to see about a new timeline or give it one more week since they mentioned they are behind? Interviewed for an internal promotion, so am still working while waiting to hear back.

    1. AskingForAFriend*

      I’d give it another week before following up. They gave you some additional information about HR being backed up, so I wouldn’t jump to follow up too soon. Since it is internal, you have an opportunity next week or early the following to perhaps bump into someone in the hiring process and just inquire casually rather than formally asking.

      1. Amber*

        Internal was maybe the wrong word; its still at FedEx (where I currently work) but it is in a different warehouse. I’ll still wait a little longer; I was leaning toward that anyway. Thanks for the confirmation!

    2. ferrina*

      If you’d like, you can do a gentle check in. Or you could give it one more week. Either one should be just fine.

    3. Sloanicota*

      Honestly, my personal belief is that if they are going to hire you, they’re not going to forget to reach out, so it really doesn’t help you to “poke” them unless you actually have new information that might affect their trajectory, like another offer.

      1. Generic Name*

        Totally agree with this. If they intend to give you an offer, they will reach out to you on their own timeline, which is almost certainly longer than what you want, unfortunately. I would argue that employers who decide who to hire based on how much following up they do likely aren’t great places to work. I would only follow up if you have another offer and you let them know and ask what their anticipated timeline is.

      2. Amber*

        That’s part of my thinking too. I was trying to remember how long it took to hear back about the other positions I’ve interviewed for and I can’t (Covid skewed any time frames I used to have lol).

    4. lost academic*

      Don’t bother following up with them – the projected timeline is surely just a guess AND they already know HR is backed up. Nothing you do will change anything for them and it won’t change anything on your end. I’d say the only reason to reach back out at this point is if you need more information because their offer/timing would impact accepting a promotion at your current position or some similar time dependent action.

  19. saleslady96*

    Possibly a silly question, but one that’s been rattling around my brain this week. I work in a sales role that involves sending customers arrival dates for deliverables and deadlines for payment. Typically, I write dates in the mm/dd format (for example, June 1st would be 6/1). A certain weed-related date is coming up, and I will almost certainly need to inform customers of deadlines and arrival dates that fall on that date.

    Should I modify the way I write that particular date? I might be overthinking it, but I’d rather exercise too much caution than make a customer question my professionalism.

    1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      If it will make you feel better, go ahead and write it differently. I wouldn’t notice the change nor the connotation and suspect most people wouldn’t.

    2. Mid*

      Don’t change anything about how you write the date. Most people won’t notice it at all, and the few that do might just be more likely to remember the deadline. It’s no different than when you have to show a total of $33 + $36 and get $69. No one is going to think you’re unprofessional for writing a date or a number.

      (Also, I strongly prefer that all dates are written with the month spelled out, just for the record. I work with too many international groups, so dates are written so many different ways, and the first 12 days of the month are always confusing when you have some people using ddmmyy and some using mmddyy and then you also end up with some doing yyddmm and yymmdd and it’s a mess. Also some people refer to weeks of the year instead of date ranges. Which is even more confusing. If you write out the name of the month, it prevents a lot of confusion for dates.)

      1. YetAnotherManager*

        +1 to both of Mid’s points!
        It’s absolutely not unprofessional at all, but I always spell out the months for clarity’s sake. Even though I don’t regularly work with international groups/orgs, I have enough international colleagues and clients that I’d rather eliminate any potential uncertainties. You never know where someone grew up/went to school/has family and might have a mental blip where they forget to read dates the US way this one time.

      2. Awkwardness*

        Everything about your second paragraph.
        OP, better safe than sorry. Thanks for being so considering.

    3. Rick Tq*

      April 20th is a Saturday this year, so you should be safe for another year. Just typing something is due on 4/20 isn’t remotely unprofessional IMO, it is just a date.

      Nobody really cares about Pi day (3/14) or Star Wars day (5/4) for two other examples, they are just coincidences.

    4. WantonSeedStitch*

      Yup, overthinking it! As long as you’re not making jokes about it, there’s nothing unprofessional about using a date.

    5. RagingADHD*

      Unless your clients are all in middle school, this is not a problem. The entire world does not shut down every year on 4/20, any more than it shuts down on 6/9 or 3/14 or 9/11 or May the 4th.

      1. GythaOgden*

        Or even April 1. Although that is my friends’ wedding anniversary, and they decided to go to the Scilly (pronounced Silly) Isles on their honeymoon as a result ;). They made jolly sure to say their vows after midday as well.

        It’s a bank holiday this year anyway though so no silly shenanigans will be had at work.

  20. Myrin*

    I would like to hear from people who had a similar situation before but especially from people in sales how to best handle this:

    For a year now, I’ve been in contact with a woman from a company selling high-scale scanners. I’m an archivist and we could definitely use such a scanner and while the city I work for is very rich and could absolutely afford one of these, I still have to get multiple rounds of approvals, vet offers carefully, and, above all, present the idea in front of a committee which only holds a meeting once a year in autumn to approve big spendings like this.

    The saleswoman in question knows that and I told her in October last year that I definitely wouldn’t be able to draft a proposal for 2024 given all the other much more pressing matters I had to deal with so the absolute earliest we’d be getting such a scanner would be 2025. Nonetheless, I said yes to a demonstration provided by her coworker because I genuinely AM interested in the product. Both the demonstration and the guy were great – I especially appreciated that he was incredibly open about cost and individual circumstances – but I also have to admit that a tiny part of my brain thought “oh phew, thankfully this is over and done with now so she won’t contact me again”. But, lo and behold, she’s been calling me again for the last week although I was out both times it happened.

    The thing is – this woman is very friendly and personable. I can 100% see why she’s in sales, she is approachable, remembers stuff I told her, very warm and genuinely enthusiastic about their product. I also understand that she would probably get a commission if we closed the deal, and seeing how these scanners cost up to 15,000€, it probably wouldn’t be a small one, either.

    However, her continued attempts at contacting me have actually made me want to buy from them less. I simply don’t appreciate telling people “yes, I might be interested in the future but I’m not right now” and getting a “okay, so I’ll call you again in three months?” as a response; no, I will be contacting you once it’s relevant, geez! At the very least, I’m still waiting for two other estimates, but I also simply have more important and current things to work an – a scanner like that is great to have but it’s not a priority compared to like fifteen other things I need to spend money on.

    So, knowledgeable people of the commentariat:

    What do I tell her once I’m on the phone with her again and she’ll invariably want to know why I haven’t closed the deal yet? Again, she’s very friendly and the company is definitely one I want to maintain a good relationship with, but I’m finding myself at my wits’ and with her not-overt-in-any-way-but-subtly-still-there pushiness. I have no problems with being direct but I’m lacking the words and expressions I want to use here, so does anybody with experience have ideas?

    1. Anecdata*

      This is par for the course for sales unfortunately. It /might/ work if you try s very straightforward “I’ll be looking at this again in October, can you reach out then, and not before?”

      But really, you need to find a way to make her easier to ignore. Stop taking calls and ask for email only? (and, you do not need to respond to every ‘just checking in’ email). Because this will happen with every sales demo you see, even if you talk this particular person into chilling on the follow-up

      1. Myrin*

        Oh, I definitely have ignored her in the past (my phone has a nice button where I can mute the ringing as soon as it starts) but it annoys me on principle that I even have to. But yeah, I figured that it’s just par for the course for the profession.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      “Hey, I appreciate the demo and other information. Unfortunately, there’s no way to get this into the 2024 budget process. But if you get back to me in (month) 2025, there’s a solid chance we could get it into our plans for that year.”

      tl;dr: Don’t call me, call me in 14 months.

      Sales people know how to manage their calendars for this. Especially for really high-$ products.

      1. Myrin*

        Ha, I said almost the exact same thing last year and she respected that and actually even called again a month after she’d originally said. I guess I’ll just use the same strategy again, then.

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          I went through a similar thing with a sales guy for a product I was very definitely going to buy but had to wait for approval from the big boss, which just kept getting pushed off. It was so frustrating because I’d definitely told the guy I wanted the product and that I’d be running it by big boss, but he kept calling for updates and I’d be like, “Still waiting to meet with big boss, please don’t call me, I’ll call you.” Then one day he SHOWED UP AT MY OFFICE WITH COOKIES to…I dunno, persuade me to absolutely definitely buy the product we were already going to buy? As if a package of store-bought cookies would make me say, “Oh wow, I was going to wait until big boss had some open time in her extremely busy schedule but now that I have chocolate chip cookies, I shall force my way into her office the next time I know she’s here!” It was so bizarre.

          TL;DR: maybe you could convince your persistent salesperson to send you cookies?

          1. anon_sighing*

            When salespeople show up unannounced at work or home, I wonder, “What the hell are you thinking?” I get they’re trying to corner people in a place they can’t get away from, but it’s so creepy and a sure fire way of saying “wow, these practices give me pause. Someone else is out there who wants to sell me something and maybe I will go with someone else.”

            1. GythaOgden*

              Yeah, they do that. I got my fingers burnt a few weeks ago and now have one of those ‘we do not buy at the door’ signs up and a Ring doorbell camera. I got my money back through the bank’s compassionate approach to victims of scammers, but it taught me a massive lesson about not being too trusting, particularly now I’m working at home all day.

              Sales calls are a fact of life. On reception we gave them the bare minimum of courtesy, never gave out anyone’s phone number and never put them through. Telling them that the people they were trying to reach only took correspondence by email was our main method. Personally, I no longer have a landline and have a phone that can screen calls from numbers I don’t recognise. I am a bit like the crow with the piece of cheese in Aesop’s fable, so I cut them off at the pass rather than entertain any foxes out there. But it was a weakness being at home all day and I did fall victim, so now I’m increasing my vigilance in general.

    3. HannahS*

      I generally just tell people, “Thank you, but actually I’ll contact you when we are ready to make the arrangements.” The other possibility is to tell her when you actually want to speak with her again. “Thank you, Carol, for checking in. We remain interested in [product] but as I said, we won’t be able to purchase one until 2025. I’ll tell you what–I can tell you now, I won’t be able to move forward until at least November or December 2024, so why don’t you put it in your calendar to get back in touch with me then? I’ll do the same, and that way we’ll be sure to connect at that point. Yes? Wonderful! I look forward to hearing from you again in November.”

    4. Ashley*

      I agree with the others about giving a clear date months out.
      Also, if she calls you direct before then you don’t need to return the call. If is going through someone else to get to you make sure you tell them you have told you not to contact them.
      I have people saved in my phone and muted just to avoid their calls for products I have said this doesn’t renew until X call me a month before. I also have refused calls from some vendors and while it annoys those that answer the phone I have explained I refuse to reward bad behavior because I have told them I am not interested and they keep calling.

      1. Myrin*

        Thankfully, I’m the sole person in my role and the only one with any knowledge about or relation to this at all, so at least the calls don’t reach anyone else.

    5. Tammy 2*

      If she does a lot of business with government agencies she should be used to this, and she also probably has a pretty high tolerance for people being blunt with her.

    6. anon_sighing*

      Is there a problem with saying, “I’m interested in the product and working with you on getting one, but our budget priorities aren’t on a new scanner. It would be better if I reached out to you when the possibility of purchasing the scanner is more in view.”

      The reason she is contacting you so much is because you aren’t saying ‘no’ – the tactic in sales is to be pushy until someone says ‘no’ clearly and firmly. Otherwise, it’s a potential sale.

      1. Myrin*

        I mean, it is a potential sale, just not at this very moment and until I’ve compared it to the other offers.
        And I did say almost exactly what you proposed the last time we spoke.
        The demo with her colleague was after that and I honestly thought that would be the end of it; I was very surprised to see her calling again, actually, but I definitely don’t know enough about how sales like this work internally to know their procedures.

        1. Mighty K*

          By agreeing to the demo, you made yourself look more interested in buying it, especially if you sounded positive at the demo. I definitely wouldn’t have expected it to go quiet after accepting a demo!

          1. Myrin*

            I meant “quiet” from her in particular – I thought her coworker who was in charge of the demo would be my point of contact now but like I said, there’s a lot I don’t know about this whole procedure yet.

            And like I said, I am interested in buying it but I also made it clear to her that it’ll be half a year still until I can make a decision (which is the reason I was surprised to see her number; she has so far been respectful of my stated schedule).

            There are only three companies nation-wide who make these products and it’s absolute standard (and, quite frankly, necessary) to participate in a demonstration like that, so it’s not like my accepting it should mean a huge step forward for her – you have to get a demo before deciding one way or another. But she’s probably viewing this through a much more sales-y lens, you’re quite right about that.

    7. Rick Tq*

      She is getting pounded by her management to turn the demo into a sale *this* quarter and really has no choice but to call you if she wants to keep her job. I’m on the reseller side as a technical sales resource and I see this behavior constantly. Senior management always wants to hit the (optimistic) sales numbers each month/quarter so they are always demanding the sales reps see if an order can be completed sooner.

      You’ve been direct about your schedule, just hold firm when she pings you and don’t take it personally.

    8. WantonSeedStitch*

      “I’ve told you repeatedly that I CANNOT make a case for purchasing the scanner at all this year. I’ve marked my calendar with a reminder to get back in touch with your company in 2025. Please don’t contact me again, and don’t have anyone else at your company contact me either, until then.” If you really want to, you can add, “I really do look forward to working with you, but I need you to understand that this IS NOT going to happen now.” Then reroute her emails to your junk folder and don’t pick up when she calls.

    9. Myrin*

      Thank you, everyone, for your suggestions – there’ve been some especially good ones which I’ll be sure to use! (And they are all generally similar to what I’ve said before, so I’m glad to see I was leaning in the right direction before.)

    10. Sortasalesy*

      I’m not on sales but in a role where I have to do business development. She likely has to report – frequently – on all of her leads and probably has to show that sue is following up at least every x weeks or months. I’m sure she’s heard you but due to the requirements placed on her by her internal policies or processes she may be required by the company to document she stays in touch.

      It’s annoying but that may be part of it.

  21. bobbles*

    My org did layoffs this week and was hugely insensitive and disrespectful the whole time. I love my job and I love my coworkers, but my enthusiasm about working for the org is just shot.

    1. Shandra*

      FWIW, a past employer of mine abruptly fired several employees in the same department. In fairness, some of them merited being let go.

      I knew that one casualty, Mel, had been on the firm’s hit list for a long time anyway. After the group exit, I learned that for unrelated reasons Mel’s big boss Ash had also been fired.

      I think the original plan was to stealth lay off the employees one or two at a time. Once Ash was gone, Mel would have been next and the official reason – if needed – would be that Ash left and Mel’s position was no longer needed.

      However, Mel and Ash had a major shouting match in the office before the firm was ready to cut Ash loose. So there went the stealth approach.

  22. Tradd*

    I need some suggestions. I’m active in my community and known as a successful professional, or businesswoman as the old school folks call me. Anyway, I get a lot of women around 60, give or take a year, looking for work advice. I’m stumped. They have been out of the workforce for a while, some for decades. Their partner has suddenly died and they need to support themselves. They were not married to partner so not eligible for benefits. They stayed home to raise their kids years ago and never went back to work. Some have been out of the work force for 20-25 years. They have various health issues that make working an in-person job difficult. They think a remote job will solve all their issues. The problem is that the only work they ever did was minimum wage retail, restaurant, cleaning jobs. They have no education past high school. Their computers skills are scarce or non-existent. I brought my laptop along and they have massive issues with basic MS Office skills (sending an email, using Word, don’t know Excel). They can barely navigate a Google search. They can post on social media from their smartphone, which is about the extent of their tech skills. Even if they got training, I seriously doubt they would be able to get a remote job with no work experience. I’ve recommended they check with local community college and local senior services agencies for training possibilities. I’m terribly afraid they will get scammed by fake WFH jobs. The situation these women are in is totally outside of my experience and I want to be kind, but realistic and practical with them. Any ideas?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Local libraries also have office-tech classes too, which might be a lower barrier to entry than community college.

      1. Tradd*

        There are job training programs for seniors, which are sometimes at community colleges. That’s why I recommended that.

    2. Miss Cranky Pants*

      AARP has a senior job services training thingy in certain locales; it’s designed specifically for folks like this who need re-training/training in modern office/work environments. https://www.aarp.org/aarp-foundation/our-work/income/scsep/

      I referred a friend to it but don’t know if he ever followed up. They basically get practice and experience in what looks to be mostly social service agencies.

      Your senior services rec is a good one too. Yeah, they may not even know enough to be on guard about fake WFH scams. Ugh!

      You’re kind to want to help.

    3. Justin*

      I used to work at a senior center and taught these women classes, same situation mostly.

      It’s not gonna be fast, but you might point them to some basic tech classes for seniors.

    4. Jm*

      Have they been to the local Job Service ? In our state it’s the unemployment office , Iowa Works ( unless with the state government reorganization it has a new title) which should have retraining resources. ( off topic, but how on Earth did they NOT know that a woman must be able to support herself?)

      1. Tradd*

        Thanks for the unemployment office suggestion. I’d not even thought of that one. I have NO clue about why they aren’t able to support herself. I remember the quote from Anne of Green Gables, where Anne’s adoptive parents wanted her to get her teaching certificate, as they believed a woman should always be able to support herself.

        1. pally*

          My parents raised me to believe that I needed an education of some sort to help support any family I might raise. That would be alongside my husband. And, just in case something happened (divorce, untimely death of spouse, etc.).

          However, while acquiring said education, I was scolded by many people (teachers, an ex-boyfriend, people in my social circle, neighbors, a few interviewers for jobs I applied for) that it was not my place to earn the money. That was the man’s job. Therefore, I was taking away a spot at my local university that was meant for a man. The man needed the education to support the family he would someday have. I did not.

          (I won’t even go into how these same people made sure I understood that women are less intelligent than men, hence education is doubly wasted on women. Don’t get me started!)

          I’ll be 60 this Easter Sunday.
          The 1970’s and 1980’s may be over, but there’s still plenty of fallout from the mindset that must be dealt with.

          1. Tradd*

            I’m in my mid-50s. I was never subjected to this mindset. My father did have a bug in his brain about me teaching, but he never understood I didn’t have the temperament for it! I’m single with no kids, so I have to support myself!

            1. Tio*

              These mindsets tend to often be more heavy and prevalent in certain regions. My mother wasn’t subject to it, but definitely some of her peers would think along these lines.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        I would bet they thought they could “if they had to.” And the years went by, and suddenly everything about work and life was radically different than anything they’d ever dealt with.

        The main problem is usually that child rearing/homemaking is the longest hour-wise and least appreciated job on the planet. Nobody goes in expecting to “lose” two decades plus of their lives as far as professional experience is concerned, but that’s what happens.

        Hell, anybody who planned to go back to work “once the kids were a little older” only to find any work they could do was earning less than daycare cost knows that even a couple years out of the workforce means getting back in becomes a game of Calvinball that they are increasingly too tired to play. And then bam, it’s all those years later.

    5. pally*

      I’m in their age group. But employed. So not quite in the same boat as they are.
      Some ideas:

      Networking. Yeah, I know, everyone they know is not working either. But they have friends, spouses, relatives, etc. Might see if there’s a Meetup group for job seekers. If there are older workers in that group, this might be an avenue for networking.

      Volunteering: if they can put newly acquired skills (like from community college classes) to work in a volunteer setting, that can beef up the resume. And this can provide some networking opportunities as well.

      Some community colleges, adult education centers and the like offer job search classes. That might be a way for them to learn current practices in job searching. And if the class is aimed to older workers or folks who haven’t been in the job market for a long time, so much the better.

      Here in California, I’m seeing the local community colleges reach out to the business community to help with connecting job seekers (i.e., those who have gone through a degree or certificate program) with open positions.

      Yeah, WFH sounds ideal, but there are scams out there as well. And WFH won’t protect from age bias in hiring either.
      Really, they do need to bone up on how to use a computer. That’s something employers won’t take the time to train them on (“next candidate please!”). So push the education avenues.

    6. Maggie*

      This isn’t work related but in some states if you are considered common law married for 10+ years you can get SS benefits from a deceased partner. This is a really hard one because the answer basically amounts to “go back and make many different choices over the last 30 years” as totally harsh as that sounds. My company is very age diverse and open to hiring older candidates, but they would need to be able to work outside the home regularly and have basic tech skills. My mom is in a similar age group and it’s hard to get hired even when you have tons of experience! I mean shoot it’s hard for anyone these days I suppose…

    7. Pretty as a Princess*

      I think you are suggesting the right things, but maybe a thing you could do is put together a quick form email (or whatever you might give them) about how to identify and avoid scam “jobs” and “job training”.

      Wait – add one more thing to your repertoire. Specifically suggest that as part of all this seeking training/ed, that they take a class for seniors on online safety. Lots of senior centers and libraries offer programming like this. The next county over from us is home to a major city, and the county even has a list on its website of presentations that their team can schedule for seniors about things like identifying and preventing cons, etc. If they are trying to do something like learn some basic computering skills to use as part of an office job, a good introduction to cyber/online safety will be hugely beneficial to them.

      It sounds like you frequently give advice to folks – maybe you would feel better if you had a ready to go doc that you can hand people with links & tips? Break it into sections maybe by topic or source (county/department of aging programs, stuff offered by the library, stuff at the local community college, list of local temp agencies). You may already have this and if so I apologize. You sound like a very kind person.

      1. Tradd*

        FAB ideas, thank you! I don’t have a sheet of resources, but I will definitely put one together. The senior online safety class is one I never thought of. I’m quite techy myself and keep my stuff locked down and know how to spot scams, but someone without any tech experience would likely click on the wrong thing and then – uh oh!

        1. Pretty as a Princess*

          Yes – or fall for the “we will send you a check to buy equipment for this new job blah blah” scam.

          I moderate an online community for parents at a university. EVERY year we have more than one parent whose student falls for this. These are tech-savvy kids but they are not world-savvy about how tech can be a vector for scams.

          Universities tend to have some good stuff online about cyber safety for their students, so you might want to see if there is a page at a local university that shows different types of scams/phishing stuff you might want to include that.

          1. NotSoRecentlyRetired*

            +1000 on avoiding the scam to buy your own equipment. My roommate nearly fell for that one. They even sent her a check electronically and she deposited it. But she didn’t have enough to buy the equipment and we were going to put it on my credit card. Fortunately, I backed out of the plan when they wanted the money via money order or paypal. Too many levels of obfuscation for me to accept.
            We’re both in our early 60s. Both divorced with different life situations. I had supported parents who were adamant that I get a college degree; her father didn’t believe in higher education for his daughter. I’m comfortably newly retired and own a home 70% paid off; she’s job hunting again and fighting to collect unemployment money.

    8. Zona the Great*

      Not advice you asked for but can you connect these ladies to young women as a case study of what happens when you don’t become independent? What a frightening situation to be in!

      1. Tradd*

        I will definitely use the stories of these women’s experience. I don’t even know if they’re going to have enough work credits for social security. If people choose to not get legally married, they should at least make an informed decision on how it could affect them later.

    9. StressedButOkay*

      Point them in the direction of groups that are specialized for this! AARP specifically has a whole thing about getting back into the workforce. Dress for Success isn’t just about the clothes but they also run workshops on how to get back into the workforce, too.

    10. anon_sighing*

      They have been with their partners for decades and raised kids, but they didn’t get married at the courthouse to anticipate benefits?? It sounds like these relationships weren’t fleeting ones. I guess speculating is too little, too late and the coulda, shoulda, woulda considerations don’t help (or maybe they can be learning lessons for others).

      They need to take into account 1) what their health issues will allow and 2) how much they want to learn for a remote job. People sometimes are VERY unrealistic and can be “choosy beggars.” The first thing they should do is review any public resources they can access while they search for a job because eating and secure housing is tantamount to their health staying stable and being able to work. With 25+ year gaps and no skills, it may take a while if they think it’s just “get a remote job” (with no tech skills??)

      I don’t know what city you live in, but keep your eyes peeled on where older women already work (in my city, it’s the library as library techs or assistants). Something low impact and “offline” might be a good starter as they build skills.

      1. Tradd*

        I’ll be very honest, I think they have very unrealistic expectations. They heard about remote working from the news and everyone on social media or whatever during the pandemic and think it’s easy peasy. They don’t account for the reality that remote jobs have really gone away with many companies wanting people back in the office, plus they seem to have their heads in the sand about how their lack of computer skills is going to play into things. They and their families are very blue collar from everything I have been told. An actual office job is sort of beyond their collective experience. People with college degrees are almost mythical creatures.

        1. GythaOgden*

          Yup. There’s plenty of hybrid jobs out there, mainly because people understand how to do it now but do have legitimate needs for in-person collaboration or the kind of soft productivity that comes from mingling together. I seem to have lucked out on a totally remote job and if I’m going to be in-person anywhere, I’m allowed to go up the night before and stay in a hotel due to my disability and reliance on public transport. However, my job supports an entire region (three UK counties and a bit either side) so there is more of a need for general flexibility and longer travel times and that means that 90% of the time I’m completely remote.

          But that’s actually fairly unusual from what I can see.

      2. Kendra Logan*

        OT: I don’t know if it still does, but at one point a small suburb of my major city offered its own form of domestic partnership. People weren’t required to be locals or even state residents to get the certificate.

        One couple halfway across the country, a man and a woman with two young kids, got the certificate so that she’d be eligible for his benefits. I don’t know why they didn’t just get married.

    11. BikeWalkBarb*

      This is so sad. I’m 61 and can’t imagine being without skills. Thank heavens my mom was raised with “be able to support yourself before you get married” from my grandma who married at 18 and didn’t hold a job until after my grandpa died when she was around 54. (Went to school, got her LPN, worked at the local hospital for years–pre-computer era)

      I love someone’s suggestion of the resource list. Your local YWCA may have some resources and classes to offer here too.

      It won’t solve their need for income but I wonder about volunteer opportunities where they might be able to start building some newer experience to put on a resume, with apologies to the nonprofits who now have a volunteer who can’t use a computer but maybe one of your other computer-savvy volunteers will take on a coaching role. They can practice on a backup copy of that database or spreadsheet you keep meaning to prune of all the deadweight from change-of-address notices.

    12. Just hoping*

      this is a longshot, but it’s an election year- if you are in the US is worth having them check with their local elections offices, which might be ramping up and need people.

      1. WellRed*

        Not such a long shot. Good suggestion. Honestly, with no skills, I think some of these women need to be steered toward retail and cashier positions. WFH is flat out unrealistic. Computer training is all well and good and I hope they follow through, but the learning curve is gonna be steep and some may never become proficient enough. One suggestion for people with basic computer skills. Temp, part time work at places like HR Block. It’s too late for this year but my 71 year old mom did this a few years back and loved it. She had basic office and computer skills. Look for other seasonal pops, depending on location: motel or resort help, garden center, ticket takers, tourist guides.

        1. WellRed*

          And don’t pull the wool over your eyes thinking you’ll always be taken care of. I don’t understand the rationale for not marrying for just this reason but either way, make financial future plans. PSA rant over.

          1. Tradd*

            I get the impression that the finances for these women, even when their partners were alive, were very tight. Paycheck to paycheck. Some folks never make enough to save for an emergency fund, let alone retirement.

        2. Tradd*

          These women have health issues (back, leg, foot problems) they tell me that make standing for more than 10-15 minutes a problem. If they didn’t have these issues, they’ve been able to find something in retail, etc. The health issues are why they think the WFH jobs are the magic pill.

          1. Lyra Belacqua*

            This sounds like a lot of people in my extended family (rural?) While the other suggestions are great and worth putting into practice, I’d also give yourself permission to let go of any guilt you feel about not being able to help more. I’m sure it’s incredibly frightening to these women to have no net, and they may not be in a position to hear that WFH jobs—frankly, sedentary jobs generally these days—are not realistic without computer skills. The library is a great place to start for computer stuff, but it should also be able to help connect them to resources like food stamps and support for paying utility bills in the meantime.

            1. Tradd*

              I don’t have any guilt over these women’s situations. I’m not one for trying to fix people beyond my control. I can offer resources and if they choose not to take advantage of them, I’ve done what I can. These situations are why I push young women to at least get some sort of a certificate in something useful from their local community college.

          2. Anecdata*

            If they could do office work in person, definitely worth trying – lack of computer skills will still be an issue but the competition is less fierce for in person work

          3. allathian*

            Call center jobs, some of which can be done from home.

            If their moral sense can take it, sex work on the phone. It doesn’t require any physical effort and can be done from home, as long as you can do a sexy voice. That said, perhaps these have gone out of fashion? About 20 years ago I saw an interesting documentary about a woman in her 60s who did this. She talked dirty with her customers while doing quiet chores like ironing and folding the laundry. I don’t remember any more because it’s been such a long time since I saw it.

          4. Potoooooooo*

            To me, this would be a disability that could be solved with having them be allowed to sit in a chair or stool, which is reasonable enough that cashiers should be allowed to do it as a general rule, but for whatever reason we’ve decided that it’s forbidden in the US.

        3. goddessoftransitory*

          I agree. It sucks to have to do physical labor heavy/standing for long periods jobs in your sixties, but it sounds like that’s what they’re going to have to go for.

    13. Texan In Exile*

      And with this sad tale, I will put in another plug for making a will. Even if these couples didn’t get married (despite having children!), they could have had wills leaving everything to each other. I know this doesn’t solve the social security problem but it would at least give the survivor something.

      (And life insurance! Lord have mercy how are these women supposed to support their minor children if the men don’t have life insurance?)

    14. Can't Sit Still*

      You can use the search term “displaced homemaker” along with your location to find local resources. Most of the helpful programs were shuttered due to “welfare reform” in the 90s, but there may be state, county or city resources still available. Also, local colleges or universities may have displaced homemaker programs.

    15. Despachito*

      Another long shot – if they had been homemakers for such a long time, they could perhaps be best qualified to work as home cleaners/babysitters? I assume that they would likely be pretty efficient in this.

      However, it depends on their overall attitude to work and learning, and from what you write I am a bit afraid that there might be a problem with this.

      1. Anecdata*

        Along those lines, the school districts near me are desperate for 1:1 aides/special education paraprofessionals. It doesn’t require a degree other than high school or GED; and some kids need physical assistance but some do not. Also bus drivers – and the district pays for the training you need to get a commercial license.

      2. Trade*

        Cleaning jobs are some of what they had done in the past. They have health issues with doing it now.

  23. Dr. Doll*

    Seeking advice on working with someone with an anxiety disorder. She is the most knowledgeable and competent person on our project team (by far). Her anxiety seems to manifest in racheted-up perfectionism and desire for control, plus physical ticks like loud laughing with an expression that looks like she’d rather be screaming, and a lot of quick heavy breathing. She gets medical care and is very responsible in trying to manage her disorder, but it definitely spills out.

    I respect the hell out of her and want to be a good colleague to her. I *can’t* be as good at the job as she needs/wishes me to be. I know that her anxiety is not my problem. How do I tell when it’s the anxiety talking or I am really not being good enough at the job? (Always my first mental choice is to think, I’m not being good enough at this, so now I’m anxious!). Or are there other things I could do to be a good colleague even if I can’t be a good enough one?

    1. Panicked*

      What feedback are you getting from your managers and other colleagues? What are your metrics? I’d use those as a good gauge as to your performance. As you said, her anxiety is not your problem to solve or assuage. Just do your job to the best of your ability. I’m sure that by thinking of things you can do to help, you’re already miles ahead of most!

    2. Mid*

      It sounds like you two are peers/similar levels, versus her being your supervisor, correct?

      If so, it might be helpful for the two of you to get lunch/coffee together and just address things directly. Ask her what helps her and how you can be supportive on this project. And of course, you don’t have to do everything she asks of you to help her manage her anxiety! You’re her coworker, not her boss or her doctor. But, also let her know how you’re feeling, because someone consistently making you feel like you aren’t good enough isn’t a great situation to be in!

      Before this conversation, definitely reflect on your own feelings and reactions, and figure out how you can also manage your own anxiety about things. Think of the feedback you get from other coworkers, managers, clients, etc. You can also ask her directly if she has feedback for you. And this conversation could likely help both of you improve your working relationship (not that it’s currently bad, but it does sound like her anxiety is causing yours to increase, and that can quickly become a cycle where both of your anxieties are feeding each other, and no one wants that.)

      This isn’t the most “professional” approach, but building up camaraderie and social connection might be the best way to help both of you in this situation. Anxiety loves to take the unknown and run with it, so addressing feelings head-on can be the best way to clear that up, even though it can feel awkward.

      If this is someone who you report to, instead of a more peer relationship, I’m not sure this approach will be as appropriate.

    3. Awkwardness*

      What sprang out to me is your understanding of being a “good colleague”. At first I thought it was about being supportive, but then it became about her competence and you “being good at something”.
      You are not only a good colleague if you are knowledgable, but also if you are kind, honest, have good communication skills or stick to your deadlines. Let yourself not be convinced otherwise!
      Also, it is not on her to determine how good you are in your job or how good she wants you to be. This is on your manager to assess.

    4. Project maniac-ger*

      I’m glad that you’re so empathetic to someone who is struggling, but she’s not being kind to you if she’s making you feel like you’re not good enough. I think you’re trying to put her oxygen mask on in the airplane before you put yours on, and that’s not a good idea. Ask your peers and/or manager for feedback. NOT “am I a good worker?” But pointed, work task- related questions like “should I have gone more into detail about tail fluffing at that Project Poodles update meeting?”

  24. TheBunny*

    How do you guys deal with a boss who is a perfectionist? Not just a perfectionist, but also abusive?

    Example: my boss asked me to write an SOP for something, so I did.

    I put quite a bit of time into it. It came back with about 45 edits. Things like…put an extra space around this – and indent 6 lines instead of the standard 5 on the document, or add (or remove) things like italics, bold and underlines.

    She did make about 3 content changes, adding in things she wanted different. Fine.

    My issue? She then put a call on my calendar for RIGHT THIS SECOND and essentially berated me for turning in substandard work.

    She commented that I must know it’s substandard as I was saying “ok” when she pointed out the errors so it’s obvious I see them too. No. I was just acknowledging I saw what she was talking about wanting changed. At one point I said I think a lot of the changes were style based. She replied (wish I was kidding) that it was clear it wasn’t good work because the blue squiggly grammar lines from Google were still in the document. What? Sometimes passive voice IS what I want!

    She ended the call saying what I sent her wasn’t “quality work” and challenging me to disagree with that.

    This is NOT feedback I’m used to receiving. In fact after this I called my old boss to see her thoughts on my work quality…and she laughed at the idea that what I turn in isn’t good and often excellent.

    My current boss wants me to be her. She has zero ability to acknowledge that something that is different than what she would do could possibly be correct.

    I’ve talked to the other person who reports to her and she experiences the same thing, and to the same degree, so it’s not just me. Heck we just spent an hour on a Teams call a few days ago going through 3 documents line by line for anything (like using square not round bullet points…wish I was kidding) that she might have issue with. Is that really the best use of time? I think not!

    So… how do I deal with this? Don’t say find another job, I’m working on that, but need advice in the interim.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Ugh. My sympathies.

      Only 2 pieces of advice:

      1) It’s not personal. Repeat that over and over again. She’d do this with anyone, not just you.

      2) You can’t make a perfectionist like this happy. She’s doing it partly for control. If you could read her mind and do it the way she wanted, then after she saw what you wrote she’d go back, on the fly, to wanting round bullets instead of square, just so shed have something to berate you about.

      1. ferrina*

        100%

        This isn’t about you or your work. If this was about your work, she’d give direct guidance about style/voice. Instead, she wants to berate you. You cannot make a person like this happy. There is no “good enough” for this person. It’s not about you- this person would find something wrong with anything and anyone.

        Good luck on the job search!

        1. TheBunny*

          Thanks. She’s definitely not giving guidance. Just saying the work isn’t quality and making a bunch of style based edits.

          And then on a subsequent draft (thanks Google Doc version history) she will change her own changes!

          It’s never direct or anything I can take action on. What the heck am I supposed to do with feedback that it’s “not quality”?

          She is always saying she wants to be able to rely on me as her right hand, but I’m learning that means I need to be her, which isn’t attainable even if I were inclined to try.

          1. JustaTech*

            I’m so sorry. There was a manager like this in my group for a while (not my boss) who nearly drove her very smart report to the breaking point because she (the manager) didn’t want to have a direct report with experience and opinions.

            The only thing that “worked” (before she left for another company) was to have her only direct report be the youngest and most junior on the team, who didn’t have a set writing style or anything yet, who she felt she could “mold”.

            Is there any way that you can get out from under this manager without having to leave your job?
            It’s good that your team mate also knows that your boss is completely unreasonable – can you be each other’s support as you try to let her bonkers edits slide off your back. (I say try because I would have a *very* hard time doing that.)

            1. TheBunny*

              Unfortunately, there is nowhere else I can go. It’s a small company and this is the HR team.

              I actually have more experience than she does. I don’t care about that, but I am starting to think she is applying the expectation that since I have more experience, I will know what she is thinking and do it. She tells me to take ownership and somehow there are things wrong with those tasks too. Which is confusing, as if I am owning them, shouldn’t they be right when I think they are? Apparently not, LOL

              1. Starbuck*

                It sounds also like she may be very insecure and finding ways to downgrade you because of that. I don’t think there’s much you can do, unfortunately, except try to leave or perhaps appeal to reason from management above her – but I wouldn’t bet on that.

                1. TheBunny*

                  She is definitely insecure. She also exists in perpetual fear of losing her job, and I’m sure that’s part of it…but it’s still awful.

          2. A Significant Tree*

            “She is always saying she wants to be able to rely on me as her right hand …”

            The siren song of the abusive boss. This is no more true than her feedback about your “not quality” work. She’s never planning to rely on you, there will never come a time that you’d be good enough in her eyes. More importantly though, you don’t want to be her, or more like her, and it sounds like from previous manager’s feedback, you don’t even need to change your work product. I have to think this micromanaging manager is focusing on the tiniest things because she has almost nothing to offer on content, so either you’re spot-on most of the time, or she’s out of her depth, and most likely both.

            It’s a good thing you have a connection with your coworker so each of you knows it’s not about you. That’s great for day-to-day keeping things in check, but since your manager has a say in your performance evaluation, it might help to get out in front of the criticism you’ll likely see. Do you have any kind of relationship with your boss’s boss? I think there’ve been past letters about how to phrase things like asking for support in interpreting your boss’s comments. Outline the problem (“manager is telling me my work is subpar but she isn’t offering actionable critiques and I’m unsure how to proceed”), talk about what you’ve tried “I’ve asked for clarification but she only speaks in general terms and isn’t able to give me specific examples where my work falls short, other than some minor style differences”), show the paper trail of changes and reversed changes (“As you can see, she doesn’t seem to have an issue with the content of my work, only these style choices”).

            1. TheBunny*

              Thanks, I am learning the right hand comment, which she made in the interview process, should have been a giant red flag, or at least a caution to ask more questions. But water and bridges, so to speak.

              I have only been in this role for 6 months. My previous boss was my manager for 5 years, so I definitely took her reaction (literal laughter) as a much more truthful assessment of my work than the current boss and her 65 billion edits.

              She will occasionally edit content. But even then, it’s often to condense or add to what I already said. Rarely does she add anything new to the document, and when she has, it’s been “I think we need to do this instead of the current thing we are doing” which is actually somewhere that she should be adding, but it’s few and far between.

              Unfortunately, the company is small enough that the grandboss is not going to be able to assist or likely willing to step in, truth told, he is also like this and she gets beat up by him in pretty similar ways (other coworker says she has gotten worse since new grandboss joined) so I think a lot of it is reaction to her fear that he is going to have issues like these. Doesn’t make abuse ok, but I know where it’s coming from.

                1. TheBunny*

                  Yes. At least that’s what I gather. She has said that she deals with a difficult boss and is trying not to be like him. (Epic fail there.)

                  I actually do think she means this. I just think she’s so terrified she’s abusive in her desperation to make sure she doesn’t lose her job.

                  Not an excuse and not a justification. Not at all. It’s her job as a manager to not abuse her employees…that’s baseline. She’s missing the mark. And she’s turning 2 high performers into people who want nothing to do with her or this job.

        2. TheBunny*

          Oh and she was annoyed at me for not putting something in an outline format. She said she started the outline at the top so it should have been clear that was what she wanted.

          Nope. She told me to take ownership of the task. I didn’t think it needed an outline format. I did ask her after that debacle to please let me know if there are any “musts” for a task that she will consider the task to be incorrect without.

          She said she shouldn’t have to explain all those and that it would be basically doing it herself. Aren’t we already at this point?

      2. Slow Gin Lizz*

        My hard take: she’s doing this 100% for control, not just partly for control. Bunny, I read another AAM comment last week that I loved and it seems so appropriate here: “Instead of pointing out the dust in my house, why are you not worried about yours that’s actively burning down?” Is it possible your terrible boss is only focusing on these things because she’s pretending like she’s doing soooooo much work but actually isn’t doing anything she’s supposed to be doing? And that she really likes manipulating people? (I mean, that part seems pretty obvious, doesn’t it?)

        I also suggest grey rocking, as others suggested below. It’s suuuuuper hard to do, because inside you will probably be really angry, nervous, and your heart will be pounding in your chest with ever beratement, but if you can stifle your emotional reactions in her presence, you will gain back some of your control.

        Story time: a colleague of mine (let’s call her Jen) told me recently that our terrible leadership-level exec (let’s call her Mary) decided she wanted to edit, over Teams, a two-page letter we were sending out last year. Which is already weird, right? Editing things as a group is an exercise in frustration, IMO. But anyway, Mary met with Jen for SEVEN HOURS to edit this letter. *SEVEN FREAKING HOURS.* Jen is a saint. And from what I’ve seen of Jen (we don’t work together much), I think that she is a natural grey-rocker, so whatever Mary’s trying to pull with Jen isn’t working very well.

        Anyway, Bunny, I wish you the best of luck with all this. With terrible Mary I have tried to see myself as an anthropologist who is observing her, but that’s also been pretty hard to do. Not reacting emotionally is really hard but I hope it helps you to know that it’s not your fault, whatever she’s blaming you for. Take strength from your past boss who said your writing skills are excellent and know that she is the correct one here, not your terrible boss. I’m guessing your current boss wouldn’t know a good writer if Barbara Kingsolver knocked on her front door. I hope you can get out soon!

        1. TheBunny*

          Thanks. She does seem to get angrier whenever I say anything she thinks even slightly contradicts her, so the grey rock might help. Can’t make it worse, sadly.

          She’s also said a few times that she’s open to feedback and that she loses sleep at night if she upsets people. I think those are lies she tells herself.

          The day after the berating she made it a point to say she wanted me to know she values me on her team, sees me staying, and doesn’t see that changing in the future. I said I know that. She replied “oh if my boss had said those things to me I’d be worried for my job.”

          Looooong Pause.

          I said I figured she would be direct with me if she wanted me gone. She’s also absolutely terrified of losing her job. She goes into every meeting with her boss telling us “you may have a new boss in a month” so I know that’s part of the control issue.

          I honestly don’t care if she wants to revise things…just don’t berate me for not doing it exactly how she would and she can have a much fun as she wants.

          1. Slow Gin Lizz*

            She’s also said a few times that she’s open to feedback and that she loses sleep at night if she upsets people. I think those are lies she tells herself.

            I’d be willing to bet real money that these are lies she tells other people because she has observed empathetic people saying such things and noticed that people with empathy are very sympathetic to people who say such things.

            I agree with Pretty as a Princess’s thoughts below that it’s a broken system, but I’m also getting big “manipulator who lies and has no empathy!!!” vibes from her. See also gaslighting – changing things back to the things she already changed it from and asking you why you would make such changes.

            Any chance you could go to your grandboss or even your grandboss’s boss on this? I recently read a book about how to deal with people like this (unfortunately the book title includes a mental health diagnosis so I won’t include it here but it’s by Martha Stout if you are interested in finding it for yourself). It has been unbelievably helpful for me. One of her suggestions is to go way above the head of the bad person, because if you just go to that person’s boss they might get really defensive since they probably hired that person. But this is a very bold move so if you’d rather just get out, Martha Stout says that’s absolutely, perfectly, totally fine. You should protect yourself above all.

            1. TheBunny*

              Yeah. Going above her isn’t going to get me anywhere as she’s not this person to others… just those who report to her.

              I like the company and the people… who aren’t her…but it’s just not something I can stick out and I don’t see it chanfing.

              1. TheBunny*

                *changing

                As for being manipulative, check.

                She’s also…ridiculous. There’s an anecdote I’ve heard that happened before I was there (but I trust the source) that her child’s school called and told her she needed to come get her kid because he’d just bitten another child. Her reply? I shouldn’t have to deal with this. With what I’m paying them they should handle it.

                She also got mad at me for working remotely when I wasn’t feeling well because they’re was an onsite event and she had to rearrange her personal plans.

                That conversation started with her saying that she’d decided not to put documentation in my file (thanks?) but that I was her right hand and she expected me to ne there when she couldn’t.

                I replied I was taking antibiotics for an infection and they made me too dizzy to drive safely. She backed off at that point…but to even consider threatening someone with a write up for being sick?

          2. JustaTech*

            Oh good grief you are working with my old team mate. I am so sorry!
            The emotional and manipulative insecure nonsense was just the most frustrating cherry on the sh*t sunday – whenever one of her peers would try to talk to her about her obnoxious/abusive behavior she would turn all red and cry and say she was trying, but never with any specifics and her next document edit would be even worse.

          3. goddessoftransitory*

            Oh my Lord. If this woman projected any harder she could get hired at a movie theater.

            And yeah, those aren’t lies she tells just herself.

            1. TheBunny*

              Thanks for the chuckle.

              And the support. I know she’s nuts but it’s incredibly gratifying to see others call it out just from things I’m sharing that she’s said and done.

        2. TheBunny*

          And she definitely likes manipulating people. I won’t rehash it here, but in another comment I put what she said to me the next day…and it was essentially her trying to tell me not to worry about my job after the day before… because she values me. DO YOU? REALLY????

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            I mean, she does in the sense that running you off and having to hire someone else will probably play into her boss’s similar behaviors, but yeah, no. If you value people you don’t threaten and belittle them.

      3. goddessoftransitory*

        This. There’s no magic formula that will appease her, because she WANTS to nitpick. She probably sees it as being a “good, thorough” boss. The worst thing you could do is produce a document with no errors.

        1. TheBunny*

          It’s impossible to do this. She corrected something in a document I sent that was literally copied from a document she had approved.

          I think she’s terrified of losing her job and is clinging to control because she thinks it’s how she makes sure her boss is happy. But I’ve also seen her crying after meetings with her boss…so…you’d think she would know treating me this way means she will be doing all of my job soon.

        2. TheBunny*

          This resonated with me. I am 100% ceryain she would say she’s nitpicking and being thorough. My coworker and I have discussed more than once that our boss lacks the ability to recognize anything that isn’t exactly as she would have done it to be correct, accurate or good. She can’t fathom it’s right if it’s not what she would do.

    2. Typing All The Time*

      It sounds like mostly a formatting issue. Can she create a format guide or keep your revised work as a reference tool?

      1. TheBunny*

        I tried formatting this SOP exactly like a previous document. Some of the corrections she made on this one were too changes she’d made on a previous one.

        Heck I can see the revisions on the Google Doc. She is changing what she already addressed with me…that she changed herself.

        So going to say no on that.

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          Wait, she changed what you did on this one to things she’d edit out of the last one? Do I understand that correctly? If so, I stand by what I said in my previous comment, that she’s doing this for control and no matter what you do she’s going to berate you. (I mean, you already know she’s abusive, right? This is what abusers do. Sigh.)

          Grey rock grey rock grey rock. My boss and I keep having to remind ourselves of this with our terrible Mary. But wow it’s hard.

          1. TheBunny*

            Yup. I literally copy/pasted sections that were the same for this document and the previous.

            She made edits to those areas. Heck on the current “not quality” SOP document I can see her changes and she is making edits to her own edits on this one too.

          2. TheBunny*

            And yes. She’s abusive and I’m fully aware of that. It’s actually why I’m leaving. I don’t care if she wants to edit into oblivion everything I do. Defeats the point of having me do it, but that’s her circus and her monkeys. I care that I’m berated and abused. That I won’t tolerate.

    3. Feisty Manul*

      Since you mention you’re already working on another job, this sounds like a situation for grey rocking. Keep all interactions as short as possible and as devoid of emotion as possible. Make the changes she wants, but don’t respond to her “challenges.” Instead of “ok”, maybe “I will make that change.” If she wants to spend hours on formatting issues, let her–clearly she thinks this is an important use of time. You may privately think she’s bananapants crazy, but around her, be cool and polite, don’t take the bait, and continue to plot your exit strategy.

      1. TheBunny*

        I like this idea. “I’ll make the change” isn’t refusing to follow her directions, but it’s not validation of them either.

        Thanks for this suggestion.

    4. Donkey Hotey*

      I empathize.
      For the million quibbly edits, it’s a case of water and ducks. They’re the boss, they have feelings. It’s not your document.
      For the berating, that’s the hard part. If it’s a place you intend to stay, I’d ask for a definitive style guide and, if they stare at you blankly, begin assembling a “this is my boss’ style.” My current boss hates what we call “unsupported this” statements; “this” must always be followed by a noun. Will they say it’s a rule? No. Will they ding me for it every time? Yes. Do I now do a word search before submission? Also yes.

      Good luck!

    5. Pretty as a Princess*

      I am so sorry. I have a client behaving this way that I am working on being able to fire at the next opportunity.

      Someone posted last week about Sick Systems: I would recommend you google that (I’ll try to nest a post with a good link) and do a quick read. This is because it is NOT about you at all, and there’s unfortunately no rational person logical motivational way to deal with someone like this. When I saw this written down and described in this way, it weirdly made me feel BETTER because I have felt like a failure as a manager not being able to wrangle this client out of how he abuses my staff. (Unfortunately I can’t just fire him midstream.)

      Then repeat in your head as others said – “It is not about me. This is not about me.” and kind of try to dissociate from it. You are now the Starship Enterprise. Your shields go up. The photon torpedoes bounce off your hull.

      Good luck in your job search. I am rooting for you.

    6. Busy Middle Manager*

      I am 100% on your side, your manager should have better things to do. Also manager doesn’t seem to understand SOPs. They usually end up being if someone quits or is fired and you look at it a few times if you can’t figure the thing out yourself and that’s usually it. Or you just skim it for passwords or something. So it doesn’t need to be formatted like a book going to print.

      As per how to handle it, push back lightly on everything. “How did you even know it was indented that many times, why would you check for that.” “The SOP is for people who are new in the role and there is zero chance they will be dissecting it this much.” “How can you say it’s substandard when you didn’t change any of the content, only some formatting? Surely no one is looking at the formatting?”

      In addition to that, focus on excelling in areas of your job that are not document creation and editing stuff so you have something else to focus on.

    7. Abusive Boss, never again*

      I had a toxic boss like this. What worked temporarily for a colleague was directly addressing the behaviour and also documenting and going to HR. But only temporarily. She got out, I got out, and a third colleague is job searching.

      The remaining colleagues are men and for whatever reason do not get picked at nearly as much, from what I’m told. Seems the only way to permanently not be bullied by this boss is to be a man.

      In short, get out. Unless you can get her out.

    8. starsaphire*

      For a short-term solution:

      Can you “be inspired” with the idea to create a department style guide? (Style guides standardize things like spaces for an indent, size/shape of bullets, etc.)

      Tell her, with a big fake smile, that you’re trying so hard to learn how she wants things done, and so here’s a style guide based on edits she’s made to your docs in the recent past, and if she could just take a look at it and make sure it’s exactly what she wants…

      Note that this won’t actually help, but it may give her pause for micromanaging things like bullets, and may force her to find other things to focus on.

      The other posters have already pointed most of this out, but it’s clear she’s running scared, and trying to find a way to shed blame when those above her figure out that she’s incompetent and not doing any real work.

      And for what it’s worth, I’m sorry that this is happening to you. Your boss sucks, and it’s not your fault. At all.

    9. Pizza Rat*

      Yikes!

      While you’re dealing with her, I would ditch “Okay” and say “I understand,” and “I’ll change that,” to indicate that you heard her and understood her nit-pick.

      Does your organization have a communications department that sets certain standards? Some place I have worked for do, and if you have those style rules you can point to, that could be of help. The shape of bullet points? Ye gods and little fishes!

      You could ask her to share a document that she thinks is done perfectly so you can model your work on that because, the way you understood how to do it isn’t want she wants.

      Good luck getting away from her. I know the job hunt is awful.

        1. linger*

          Write one, it’s the pro-active thing to do.
          Then get her to “correct” it for content only. Since this is your document, you get to set that limit.
          You then get to point out later when her own corrections don’t follow the guide she signed off on.

    10. Wordybird*

      I have a C-suite person who does this to me (and everyone else) all the time. I like to remind myself that it is not personal to ME but personal to THEM. I imagine what it must be like to be so emotionally dysregulated as to be so heavily invested in the usage of hyphens that I would delay a project over it. I imagine that their life must be rather difficult/chaotic/exhausting because if they overreact and sensationalize different grammatical choices, how do they (re)act when something truly bad happens to them? I feel sorry for them (after I get done rolling my eyes and thinking some unkind thoughts).

      1. TheBunny*

        Yeah. I get there eventually too. It’s just so toxic. I’m literally sitting here delaying sending something to her because I don’t want another round of abuse. That’s an issue as I can’t just not do things because I’m so afraid of dealing with her.

        Even when she makes changes to what I say, I can’t think of a time is been because I was incorrect with my info. I’m doing my job she just doesn’t see it.

    11. Dris*

      I deeply sympathize. I had this boss and honestly my advice is to get out ASAP. I became extremely warped by working with her and burned out BAD (in fairness, COVID hit 4 months into the job which made her perfectionist and micromanaging tendencies, somehow, even worse). It took me – I kid you not – 2 years(!!!) to recover. I’m not saying that’s what will happen to you, but I can say unequivocally that staying will cost you in ways you may not anticipate.

      As for how to survive until you escape? Do your best to dissociate your feelings and self-worth from interactions with her. Pretend you’re in a play or researching a novel or something. And if you want to have a little fun, try deliberately adding harmless mistakes (like the bullet point shape thing) for her to catch. Think of it like being a zookeeper providing enrichment activities to captive animals who need the stimulation.

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          Haha, me too! But as tempting as it might be to add in mistakes to see if she catches them, I wouldn’t recommend doing that because then you’re playing into her mistaken belief that you’re bad at your job (which we all know you aren’t). Being the bigger person, knowing you are in fact good at what you do and that you are miles better than she is at what you both do, will be much better for you in the long run.

          But I totally understand the temptation, boy, do I. The number of times I’ve wanted to do it with my terrible coworker are astronomical, and whenever I am the most tempted I have to step away from my computer for a few minutes so that the urge will go away. Making the urge go away usually involves a lot of swearing and wanting to punch things.

    12. BikeWalkBarb*

      Awful awful awful. All the sympathy for dealing with someone who needs to make more productive use of her time and learn how to provide clear directions and actually give ownership. “Bring me a rock! No, not that rock, another rock.” Ugh.

      As someone who writes and edits a lot, both my own and the work of others, and who sometimes backtracks on changes to my own work I’m wondering if it helps to think that changes on wording and going back to an earlier version aren’t necessarily any reflection on either of you or abusive. Parts of the document changed and what didn’t flow originally now would fit fine, so yes she’s going back to her own wording because she liked it in the first place.

      The formatting tweaks are BS micromeanies unless you’re doing something weird that requires a lot of overrides to work consistently in the document. Word autoformatting can be a bear and if someone has made my life miserable as a co-writer or editor/reviewer I too have been known to fix something to cut down the number of steps involved. (Not that I’d ever call them on the carpet or be this awful, period. I’d note what made it hard for me to work with and we’d talk about what would work better in future for both of us. I sure as h-e-whatever wouldn’t be counting the number of indent spaces, I’d expect you to use the tab key, paragraph style indent setting, or some other automated business.)

      I often go to ManagementCenter-dot-org for resources. They have some good stuff on managing up/sideways and aligning expectations complete with scripts or worksheets. If you want to invest any energy at all, maybe help your coworker who will still be there when you go, and maybe even have an occasional win you might look at those.

      Repeating back everything she’s directed and then flagging the unanswered parts is a tactic within this. “You want a report about X with a deadline of Date/Time. You haven’t specified a particular format so I can make decisions about formatting, correct? Or do you want to specify a model for me to follow or develop it yourself? OK, you’re going to develop it. In order to write the report in your format I’ll need to have it by Earlier Date or we need to shift the deadline. Which of these works for you?”

      You’re pushing all the detailed decisions back on her; they’re her own poopy diaper to handle. This way she feels the power and control she apparently needs and boy, has she told you everything and doesn’t that feel good for her? If she says “Oh no, I want you to make this yours,” you list *what that means you own and will decide* being very explicit. “Great! I’ll write the report, select the format I think will be most effective and consistent with other materials like this, and when you review it you’ll be looking at content, not format. That way I can address your feedback on content and meet your deadline.”

      Early-slice draft might also be helpful. “I’ve started on this report. When we agreed on format and deadline we didn’t discuss the level of detail so I’m sending this to you for an early look on the approach I’m taking. If you don’t have any feedback by [near-term date/time that keeps you on track for the deadline but you’re giving her a realistic time frame, not trying to do to her what she does to you] I’ll know I’m on track with what you want and will move it along to I can meet your deadline.”

      All deadlines are hers. Responsibility for timely response is hers. You write a follow-up email summarizing the items agreed to in the discussion with the same “This is right unless you say otherwise by Date/Time” wording up top so it can’t be missed. You quote her back to herself; reply threads are so handy here. Silence equals assent and you make that explicit; no “I didn’t hear back so I thought it must be okay”, it’s “I noted in the email I sent Monday that I’d need to know by noon Friday or I couldn’t stay on schedule; it’s now the following Thursday and I kept going so I can meet your deadline. I expect to send the next-stage draft by Date.”

      This is a lot of work, but if it slows her roll a bit when you’re listing and capturing every last detail she wants to weigh in on, maybe there’s a glimmer of light in there somewhere for her.

      Again, this is awful, she’s a bad manager, and you will celebrate the day you give your notice. Be sure to give an exit interview if they ask–offer it if they don’t.

      1. TheBunny*

        I don’t actually care if she changes the wording. Go for it. Each person has a different writing style. If she wants a document to read differently than I wrote it, fine. But that’s a style choice and NOT anything indicating I didn’t present “quality work”.

        Where I DO get annoyed is when I literally copy a section on something word for word from a previous document she edited and get told it’s not quality. Lady, those are literally typos words, formatting, all of it. It really just tells me she us picking to pick at me and not for any real reason.

        And…you’ll appreciate this…I can’t send her anything in “draft” form. She gets mad if I give her anything that isn’t a final copy fully ready for her review. I tried that once and was reprimanded for not sending her a complete final copy. The kicker? I was new and she asked me for a “draft” of the document. So…shudder…I sent her an actual draft. First and last time. I also once sent her a document that was fully edited but not on company letterhead. She refused to look at it until I resubmitted on letterhead.

        Last time she asked me if a project was “fully complete and the final version for me to review” I decided not to reply “yes your highness”.

    13. Chauncy Gardener*

      Wow. I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this. She sounds like a lunatic.
      I guess just grey rock her as much as you can, because this has not one thing to do with your work or your competence.

    14. JPalmer*

      Some folks are abusive and controlling because they want to take their emotions out on others.

      Some options:
      I recommend 0, 1, 3, maybe 4 and 6.
      If things are really bad, I recommend 7, 8 and then 0.

      0. Get a different job.
      1. Grey rock is effective. Not giving emotional energy she can use as fuel. Do this if you need to keep this job for longer. Some folks do get angry when you don’t ‘escalate’ your emotions when attacked.
      2. You can draw attention to her process and how she is berating you for things (that you are basing off your previous work that she has OKd), this might get her to reconcile if it is a recent change that she’s like it. Doubt it.
      3. You can minimize changes “We only have X time until deadline” or “I have Y other work item to still accomplish” and then focus on “What are the most important changes to make first”.
      4. You can try just ignoring certain changes that are really minor and hope she won’t notice. Do this if she has a lot of things distracting her. Some ‘Just a tweak’ folks don’t actually remember all their suggestions.
      5. You can express that you feel she isn’t providing a constructive environment to improve. When she berates you, that stunts you, rather than helps you do better. You can draw attention to her previous feedback as being a reason your work is ‘not improving as much as it could’. This could be perceived as you attacking her… because she’s doing her job very badly.
      6. You can draw focus to how you have different work styles, and you need her to accommodate to how you work more to get better work out of you. (Her work style is toxic, yours hopefully isnt, you don’t tell her this part)
      7. You can get in the habit of recording some meetings under the guise of “I want to make sure I capture your feedback so I can best act on it”. Some folks will be less avidly toxic when they’re being recorded.
      Minor note: Back those videos up to your personal device (in case of firing) so you can prove abuse/harassment/shitty management later.
      8. You and your coworker can go over your bosses head or to HR. Expressing that this pattern of behavior is a liability to the department/company can get them to take your side. You and your coworker BOTH doing this shows there is more of a pattern and risk to the company. Keep in mind how much political capital she has, is she a rockstar employee despite being toxic? This works WAY better if you have 7s recordings and a good paper trail of incidents and treatment. Keep emails/messages she sends you, keep recordings, keep document comments that shows her pattern of abuse. It is the best if you get the moments where she got a little bit heated and was extra mean with comments like name calling, sexual language (like calling you a B-word), or talking about your appearance, you have WAY more leverage to get change to happen. Your company has a legal obligation to not cultivate a hostile work environment and to address harassment. You want to align you with the company on fixing this issue, and her as the problem.
      9 If you do 7 and 8, you can then try to transfer to elsewhere in the org. Do this if you like your job/company but not your boss. 7 and 8 can make this way more likely to be successful.
      10 You can try to get her fired. This is NOT worth the effort, it requires tons of documentation and isn’t a feasible outcome unless she is generally disliked and there’s skeletons to find and bring out.

      Think about the actual changes you want to see happen.
      Are there any actual changes that might happen that would make you happy?
      I think the best one is probably a change of job.
      Sticking around will result in you spending a lot of effort trying to get this person to change and they will change very little if at all.
      1 and 3 are the best things to do until 0 comes through.

    15. Project maniac-ger*

      So I’ve read your replies in this thread, and your boss is gross. Her boss is also gross. This is an objectively bad situation.

      But we can’t just walk out of our crappy jobs in a blaze of glory, so I’m going to try to give you tips to survive:

      Do things to YOUR satisfaction. You’re an adult with lots of job experience, your ex-manager thinks highly of your work, you’re fine. She’s gonna have changes no matter what, and always trying to anticipate them when she’s this unhinged is an exercise in futility. It’s gonna be the same amount of edits (and insanity) no matter what you do.

      I like the comment below about pretending you’re an anthropologist- I take it a step further. Manifest being a zoo patron and seeing the giraffes eat their own boogers with their long tongue and the monkeys pleasuring themselves with banana peels and ooh and aah because humans don’t do that! Emotional detachment to the point of seeing your boss as a silly animal.

      That whole “you might have a new boss in a month?” Manipulation. Nasty. She has proven she will say anything to self-serve, so her word is meaningless.

      I’m sorry, stay strong, it’s not you, this will be funny in a few years.

      1. TheBunny*

        A few years seems right for when it will be funny.

        I appreciate your comment about doing things to my satisfaction. It’s just really hard. I take a lot of pride in my own work. I looked (my husband suggested doing this when he got home today) and from draft to final, the document I write today to send to her has 300 edits. I don’t just toss things together and send them off.

        But not being able to feel pride in my work and accomplishments is draining me.

        And yes. She’s gross.

        1. Sally*

          Can you turn off autocorrect in Word? At least that will eliminate the blue squiggly lines under the “mistakes”.

    16. TheBunny*

      Thank you to everyone who commented. Sometimes it’s nice to know you aren’t the problem and that it’s really as crazy as you think it is. I appreciate all of you!

    17. Part time lab tech*

      That’s a really hard place to be. I’ve lived with someone like this.
      I reiterate what others have said. It is not about you and it wouldn’t matter what you did, she would find fault. She soothes her stress by picking you apart.
      It helped me talk through incidents with an outside person every couple of weeks (a psychologist in my case) as well as to journal incidents. When I reread those it was so obvious that they were venting and being unreasonable in the way they were talking even if the initial complaint was legit.
      It wasn’t about negotiating a solution, it was about blaming all of it on me so they could be the good guy, so they can justify their control and I am too off balance to take up space.
      A Machiavellian one (but also kind because her boss is abusive). Reinforce your boss’s image of herself and her boss so she finds a new job. (Her boss is so mean, your boss works so hard and deserves better, suggest EAP if there is one)

  25. UV*

    Anyone else dreading the upcoming initiatives for “Autism Awareness/ Autistic Acceptance Month”? So many puzzle pieces, so much blue. Any luck convincing a school/business/organization to at least follow Autistic community preferences if they insist on doing something?

    1. Mid*

      I like to keep a list of local organizations ready for things like this, to be able to easily suggest resources and places to support.

      I try to keep them local, so it can be framed as “instead of working with Big Problematic Org, we should try to support this smaller local organization, since we’d have a much bigger impact there!” which people are more likely to go along with in my experience instead of pointing out how terrible XYZ organization is. (Looking at you, Autism Speaks, pretty much all big cancer “charities” as well as most big charities for kids, firefighters, and disabilities.)

      If you know your workplace is going to do something for the month, you could approach the person in charge early and offer up some suggestions as well as a quick summary of why this approach should be changed. Some people have made really great explainers/summaries already, so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel or come up with framing and phrasing on your own.

    2. WantonSeedStitch*

      Yeah, we didn’t have any initiatives, but we did have HR sending out a “learning bundle” with links to learn more about autism. One of those links was for Autism Speaks. I emailed the person who sent it out, saying,
      “I am glad to see autism awareness being discussed, as neurodiversity is an important part of diversity within the workplace. That said, I feel I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that pretty much every autistic person I know—and I know quite a lot of people who are on the spectrum, and who have children on the spectrum—has a lot of misgivings about Autism Speaks. Below is a link to a flyer that has some good information about why. I might suggest checking out the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network, an organization led by autistic people for autistic people, as an alternative.”

      The HR person was really grateful and said someone else had pointed out the same thing. Since then, she has included ASAN in the learning bundle in subsequent years instead of AS.

      1. Zephy*

        I’m glad that conversation went well for you. I work for a company that thinks being allowed to wear jeans on Fridays is a special privilege, so some exec sends an email every Thursday to tell us whether we can dress down on Fridays, and to keep it ~*fun*~ they’ll theme the email around some obscure holiday – like they’ll literally google “March 29 holidays” and just copy and paste the first result from obscureholidays dot net or whatever. Well, one year “April 1 holidays” spat back autism awareness and the exec just copied and pasted a bunch of garbage from AS. I sent an email very similar to yours, and the exec’s response was to come down to my office and tell me what a piece of shit I am for daring to imply that she hates autistic people, and explaining that the obscure-holiday dress down Friday emails are just a bit of fun and why do I care so much, she doesn’t, she just grabs the first Google result and calls it a day. Good stuff. She doesn’t work here anymore.

    3. Fluff*

      Similar to Mid’s advice, I recommend give them ton of resources, on line and local or in the state. Add info or links to sites which quote ND / uplift ND voices.

      I know some in leadership may resist not including the X org. Political reasons, behind the scenes stuff, board members, community boards, etc. Your excellent resources can then overshadow the puzzle org. It also may help to not get the one high ranking people’s radar (those who follow the “I know what is good for our ND employees and it is X org.”).

    4. Anon for This*

      No suggestions, but feeling your dread. My son is a person with autism (and he hates the puzzle pieces and the organization they are associated with). He thinks this is all about making neurotypical people feel good and doesn’t help the neuro-divergent at all.

    5. Nightengale*

      Yes to the dread

      At work, no.

      In my professional society (we specialize in the care of neurodivergent kids) yes. 6 years ago, I did a co-presentation with other disabled people and had to get special permission to refer to ourselves as “disabled.” Last year, a past president referred to someone as an autistic activist from the conference platform. I cried tears of joy.

      At work, I’m openly neurodivergent/disabled at work although not openly autistic. My workplace (a huge health system) has an employee disability group and a “neurodiversity solutions” hiring program. Our disability group just discovered person-first language as this new great thing. Someone posted about it like it was a new thing and I posted about identity first and people were like “huh.” Someone deeply involved with the neurodiversity group (but I don’t think neurodivergent themself) keeps misusing “neurodiverse.”

      But I shall keep trying

      But I wi

  26. JustaTech*

    What is a diversity statement supposed to be as an applicant?
    I don’t tick many “diversity” boxes (I’m a woman, and I have ADHD, which I don’t particularly want to disclose) and the position is in the lab, not working with the public. So how do I show a commitment to diversity (which I am genuinely for!)?

    Does anyone have any resources or examples of “diversity statements”?

    1. overeducated*

      You could talk about ways you try to contribute to a diverse and inclusive work environment. Like if you’re in a university setting, helping to train diverse students for science careers; if you have any hiring input, commitment to hiring diverse candidates; or just ways you try to improve your own behavior and awareness, like seeking out training on unconscious bias or cultural sensitivity.

    2. Box of Kittens*

      I would say something like, you’re looking for opportunities with companies who share your values and show a commitment to diversity by implementing *insert specific programs that matter to you* or something similar. Not to be defeatist, but in my experience companies do a lot of lip service with diversity programs so I’d do the same back to them at the application stage and then ask about their programs in an interview stage if it’s something that genuinely matters to you. The interview will tell you more about how the company aligns with your values anyway.

    3. A llama*

      Try googling the Berkeley diversity rubric and looking at the resources that come up. A lot of ( especially academic) institutions use that as a standard for evaluating diversity statements. Basically they are looking for evidence that you are aware of challenges that underrepresented groups face, have some experience working with such groups ( not necessarily being a member of one) and have some ideas of how to create a positive culture/ remove barriers for members of such groups. If you can touch on those three areas, you should be good.

      1. JustaTech*

        Oohh, that’s super useful. I actually have a Master’s from Berkeley in a field that can have a lot of intersection with DEI – to the point that my generally progressive parents complained about my graduation speaker’s talk about systemic racism (her journal articles are part of the curriculum and I thought were excellent). (MoOom, it’s Berkeley, what did you expect?)

        Thanks!

        1. A llama*

          Sure! I found it really helpful in writing my own diversity statements, so im happy to share the knowledge! Best of luck!

    4. vicuña*

      I’d like to gently encourage you to reframe the box-ticking mindset; I personally do “tick a lot of boxes” but while my social identities can *potentially* give me a little extra perspective boost on related issues, they’re not at all a substitute for a genuine commitment to diversity. I know that’s not what you meant to imply, but it might help you to know that when I’m on the hiring side, I certainly don’t consider any axes of marginalization to be a default point in the “thinks critically about diversity issues” column. Although strong candidates may be able to speak about how their personal experiences have informed their worldview/approach, it’s always much better to bring up concrete examples of actions taken.

      I really like the Berkeley guidelines that A llama mentioned, and would also add that “activities” could include things like standardizing inclusive language on documents, regularly adding alt text on images, or other things that might not seem as flashy or impactful—but still demonstrate that you’ve actually thought about putting your values into practice and can recognize e.g. accessibility issues even outside the context of a DEI training video.

    5. anon_sighing*

      These statements usually also say how have you demonstrated a commitment to diversity and what you will contribute to a diverse workplace. I don’t think it’s meant for you to list all your “differences.”

      I do think it’s annoying these things are graded on a rubric, if that’s truly the case as described by other – that’s so completely against the point of DEI, it’s comical. “Marginalized candidates have a hard time operating in the status quo already, so let’s be more equitable – time for a graded personal essay that’s on an invisible rubric! ;) Adding additional hurdles will surely be the right thing.”

      1. JustaTech*

        Ok, serious question: if I’m an IC who doesn’t interact with anyone outside my organization, and doesn’t get any say in things like hiring, how do I “demonstrate a commitment to diversity”?
        Like, I joined the ERGs? But one shut down and the other one I’m a passive participant (because I don’t think it’s useful for me to speak up in the BIPOC ERG).
        Or do I talk about a commitment to diversity in like volunteering?

        1. RussianInTexas*

          Kind of in the same boat here.
          I am just an employee in a smaller company. I have zero influence of hiring, policies, business contacts, or literally anything else. The company has no initiatives, or groups, or outreaches, literally, it’s a company of 40 people that manufactures things and sells them wholesale.
          I work with outside customers, and I have no idea if any of them are marginalized or minority, because I communicate with them via e-mails and purchase orders.
          I have no energy or time for any volunteering.
          I would be completely lost if asked for a statement like that.

          1. Tio*

            Can you do some reading about things like unconscious bias and treating people equally and pull out some of the information you learned there as a commitment to self educating? Can you commit to behaviors or mindsets that you will use when interacting with people you come across who are minority, like your physical coworkers or anyone you might come across should you be in meetings? How can you support colleagues and others who may be facing bigotry around you?

            DEI isn’t just about hiring and outreaches, or knowing X amount of minorities. A lot of it is mindset, so talk about how you’ve broadened your horizons so that you treat people you across better and fairly. And you may not be interacting with people much now, but what about as you advance and change positions? What tools and thought processes can you talk about that would serve you if you did?

            This is not specifically at you, just a general answer to your question to the best of my ability.

        2. kt*

          Do you take some measures to ensure you’re citing the literature in an unbiased way if you’re writing papers? That is, work to make sure you’re not just citing the Grand Old Man and skipping all the Grand Old Women, people of color, students, folks outside the US?

          Have you spent time thinking through your approach to ethics? If you’re in medical lab work, there is rectifying the unethical or unsavory ways of obtaining medical samples. If you are in archival restoration of anthropological collections, do you have an ethos with which you approach the conflict & harmony of cultural and religious beliefs when it comes to “artifacts” that have been “gathered”? If you’re in a computational field or work with AI, there are data ethics and so on.

          How do you treat your colleagues?

          Do you do any mentoring or outreach? The volunteering stuff you mentioned?

          There are several ways to go with this. I have mixed feelings about diversity statements — often I feel there is “elite capture” going on where once again the person from the typical background who also knows the “right” thing to say gets disproportionate benefit, while the person from the marginalized background who talks about their extensive work for communities gets dinged for not being serious about research, just like daddies get weird amounts of credit for walking a baby around the block and mamas are seen as uncommitted to work. But anyhow. To me, the aim is to demonstrate, “I’m thoughful and not an asshole. I have some sensitivity to difference in the workplace and getting the best out of my colleagues and teams.”

          (To practice what I just preached about citations, Elite Capture is a great book, very short, by Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò. The concepts he explained in the book totally opened my eyes to how so many systems work, from academia to non-profit work to environmentalism to … When approached with a good heart, diversity statements make sense, but the things I’ve seen….)

        3. Project maniac-ger*

          Commitment to diversity, REAL commitment, is the small things. It’s keeping communal spaces clear so folks with mobility issues can easily access the spaces they need. It’s using easily readable fonts. It’s being kind and supportive and helpful to newcomers. It’s educating yourself on resources available so that you can help yourself or others. It’s noticing problems and being the one to escalate them (bystander effect). It’s educating yourself on a marginalized community when you hear about them in the news. You’re probably already doing some of these things, they’re just not branded with a pride flag or BLM hashtag.

          Sorry I got on my soapbox there – I just get sad when people think they’ve got to be a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr to call themselves inclusive. It’s a lifelong progression with a lot of wee baby steps.

        4. JustaTech*

          Thank you all for your really helpful answers! You’ve given me so good ways to think about all of this.
          Tio, kt and Project maniac-ger, thanks!

  27. Justin*

    Some wins:

    1. Made a pitch for collaboration with some other departments and it went over very well and now I’ve got full backing on some real exciting new work!
    2. Might actually have two people on staff to support me this summer (and one of them after that). I’m usually a one-person team so that’s exciting too.
    3. My book is available for pre-order (being an author is one of my jobs, technically) and generating plenty of buzz as I’ve mentioned. I really hope it’s meaningful to people, as there really doesn’t seem to be much out there about us neurodivergent people (or, students in this case) of color.

  28. Hotdog not dog*

    I’m feeling very satisfied today! Yesterday was my last day in an impossible role (team had dwindled to next to nothing and I was covering a workload that should have been 5 or 6 people.) No exit interview (my interim manager was on pto- she was one of the extra jobs I was covering).
    Today I heard through the grapevine that I was the straw that broke the camel’s back, and they are planning to hire 4 – 6 new people for the team. I’m so happy for my former coworkers that they won’t be left holding the bag! I’m also happy that starting next week I will be making nearly twice as much money for far less work. I credit this site for encouraging healthy work boundaries and not falling for “we’re a family! we need to pull together for the good of the company!” nonsense. The wisdom Alison and all of you have shared over the years paid off, from my realization that it was time to go, job hunting, interviewing, and negotiating. Thank you all!

    1. Generic Name*

      Isn’t it funny that the companies that grossly overwork you also grossly underpay you? I left a job that they posted 2.5 FTE positions for and got a $35k raise at my new company. Congrats!

  29. Nota Bene*

    Meeting notes question: It is normal to include in the meeting notes discussions about topics outside of the pre-meeting agenda, right? In our staff meetings if a topic is raised outside of the agenda it is never in the after meeting notes which are distributed to anyone who was unable to attend the meeting. I find this frustrating because some of the topics which come up in meetings are important and we receive information about acting on issues. If you are not in the meeting you don’t learn about the issue or the solution.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Uh, that is not normal.

      “Any new business?” is an agenda item that has existed forever.

      1. ShysterB*

        Every agenda I create for any meeting always has a catch-all bullet-point for “Anything else?” or “Other?” or something similar. The key is making sure the person charged with creating the minutes knows that this means they need to include that “anything else”/”other” discussion, but at least it gives them a prompt/reminder to do so.

    2. AskingForAFriend*

      I think it is odd not to include any off-agenda topics that come up. Sometimes conversations spring up as the agenda-ed topics are discussed, and if you’re memorializing the meeting so others can be aware of what is everything that is talked about. There’s no sense in keeping and distributing notes if you’re not providing all the information for those who can’t attend.

    3. Glazed Donut*

      Meeting notes should reflect what was discussed in the meeting, including topics not originally on the agenda. Very normal, and I don’t think you’d be seen as an outlier for bringing this up.

    4. Pine Tree*

      You should totally bring this up. I had to do this at my job after I was dinged for not knowing about something that was brought up in a staff meeting when I was out of the office. Boss told me to read the notes – and I pointed out that the issue WAS NOT IN THERE. I had, in fact, read the staff meeting notes just to make sure I didn’t miss anything! Ugh.

    5. anon_sighing*

      No, this is weird. Everything discussed in the meeting should be in the notes. Does the note taker have unclear instructions in these cases, do they think it’s unimportant side chatter/on your plate to note, or do they have trouble keeping up with things that weren’t on the original agenda?

      I find it much harder to take notes on things that come completely out of left field that have no other context when brought up, but I still try since those who know may have their memory jogged by them.

    6. BikeWalkBarb*

      I work in active transportation so we don’t put things in the parking lot–we put them on the bike rack. If something wasn’t on the agenda and needs follow-up it will be in the notes with the name of the person who’s on point to take action, whatever that looks like.
      Agenda topic: Debrief staff retreat. [Notes on all the content-y substance-y things]
      Action item/owner: ABC will survey us on snack preferences before setting the next time/day/location. These will be taken into account for the break room purchasing too.

      (Had to hark back to some of the fun conversations in past threads here; I don’t have a break room or a budget for snacks in it if I had one so we have zero fights on that front.)

    7. fhqwhgads*

      Unless the off-agenda thing is completely off-topic and not work related, it should be in the notes. Agree with everyone who says “new business” is totally always an agenda item and if it gets discussed it should be in there.

  30. Typing All The Time*

    Seeking your advice on this issue. What do you do if you get the feeling that a colleague doesn’t specifically want to help you? Someone within my networking circles has offered to review resumes to aid us in job searches and set up scheduling appointments via Candidly. I went in and scheduled an appointment with her with two days notice of the day/time beforehand. She canceled it the morning of but didn’t say why. I wrote to her and asked if everything was okay. She replied in a huff saying that she had to go into meetings and would be in touch. She had blocked two full days on her calendar. I haven’t heard back since and I’m wondering if I should find another person or service.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      If a person is doing you a favor, you have to accept that sometimes things come up and they may have to reschedule. While she should have dropped you a note saying she had to reschedule, it sounds like she just got really busy, which happens. If her reply was simply, “I have to go into meetings and I’ll be in touch,” that’s not huffy. As to whether you should reach out to someone else, you certainly can, and you can also get in touch with this woman again (after a week or so) to reschedule.

    2. Bast*

      It doesn’t hurt to reach out to someone else, but it’s also not unthinkable that her reaction had nothing to do with you. If she suddenly has a bunch of meetings/assignments/other crap that was assigned to her that she wasn’t expecting, she may suddenly be feeling rushed, stressed, , not too pleased at having to cancel meetings and replan her week, etc.

    3. ferrina*

      Is this her job, or is it a favor? If this is a favor and she offered it to a lot of people, she might be overloaded. Maybe more people than she expected took her up, or maybe her work got busy, or maybe life got busy. It happens. If you want something that happens on your schedule, you’ll need to pay for it. But if this is a free favor, then be flexible with her! Work with her to find a better time- if she needs an extra week or two and you can live with that, then cheerfully say that another week or two is fine with you. This might be a lower priority for her if it’s a favor that she’s doing. Again, if you want this to be a higher priority you’ll need to pay for that.

      fwiw, when someone has to cancel last minute on me, my response is usually “No problem, I hope everything is okay! Let me know when a better time will be.” People move meetings and priorities in my organization all the time, and I certainly don’t take it personally! And I’ve found that the more considerate you can be about it, the more they are willing to circle back and do future favors for you. I don’t say “you canceled- is everything okay?” Because if everything isn’t okay, they may not be up for talking about it. And if everything is okay but too busy, sometimes the phrasing can read as “the only reason you canceled on me is that you are not okay, so you are not okay, correct?” (exceptions if you are in a role where the person should not be cancelling on you- if you are the boss or boss’s boss, for example).

      1. Typing All The Time*

        Thank you. It’s been now over a month and I haven’t been in touch and I’m not sure if I should follow up again.

        1. ferrina*

          I think you can send a gentle follow up. Maybe something like:

          “I hope you’re doing well! I realized that we haven’t been in touch for a while- this month has flown by! If you are still available, I’d love to get feedback on my resume! Would that be possible, or has that window passed?”

          If she doesn’t respond, then she’s probably too busy to deal with this right now. Or she could dislike you personally, but there’s really no way to tell and I’ve found it’s more often that the person is busy with their own life rather than spending their energy in animosity.

    4. anon_sighing*

      > “She replied in a huff”

      Unless she spoke to you, this makes no sense and it’s projection. I mean, she could have ghosted you but instead promptly replied to you message. Maybe she got busy unexpectedly but thought she would have those two days free? Are you speculating it’s “you specifically”? Did others get services after you or something? Do you have a reason to believe this is personal and not “I was doing favors, got busy, and it slipped my mind”?

      If you’re paying for this, yes, go find someone new. This is bad service. If this is a favor, why not just reach out again to ask if the offer was still on the table?

  31. Matchbox*

    How do I get people to stop insisting on making phone calls to answer questions that only require answers of a few words?

    I work for a large retail chain. I monitor the change deliveries our stores log receiving from our armored carrier, and submit shortage claims when it looks like a full or partial order is not delivered. We typically get credits for the shortages with no issues, but occasionally the armored carrier will claim there was no shortage. (Sometimes it looks like there was a shortage because of various mistakes a store makes, but it is a false shortage.) At that point, I reach out to the store’s manager and assistant manager via e-mail, explain that I submitted a shortage claim, and ask them to confirm if there really was a shortage, and if so, to confirm what was missing.

    Most stores answer the e-mail with one short sentence, but some respond with “call me, and I can explain everything,” or they leave me a voicemail saying they want to explain what happened. This always leads to a couple days of phone tag. When I finally talk to them, they explain the mistake they made and apologize. Sometimes they admit they could have just e-mailed me about it. It’s incredibly frustrating to me.

    Should I add, “I don’t need a phone call with an explanation of what happened, I just need a quick e-mail response” to my e-mails? Is there a better way to word it?

    1. Jm*

      You need an email for written confirmation of the resolution. Even if they call- tell them to put it in print for proof or quality control. This returns the problem to them

    2. Anon for This*

      I tell people I need the paper trail. Without it, the matter won’t be closed.

      In my line of work, people who want to answer your e-mail on the phone generally are avoiding putting things in writing. Sometimes for a real reason, but more often because they have a long convoluted excuse for why they didn’t follow procedure which led to a problem, but it really wasn’t their fault…

      1. JustaTech*

        Or they’re terrible typists who have never figured out how to do business any way other than over the phone. My FIL is like this – fully half of his replies to business emails (as a small business owner) are “call me”. He can only barely type and he doesn’t think in text.

        Which is no excuse, and if he’d ever had a boss after the invention of email he would have had to learn to just write the sentence rather than having someone call him. (He is *very* good on the phone/ in person.)

      2. anon_sighing*

        > people who want to answer your e-mail on the phone generally are avoiding putting things in writing.

        Bingo. They want it taken care of as opaquely as possible if someone goes in later to check. Granted, some people may just be awful at writing out things/it takes them a long time to translate a jumble of thoughts into words but it does no one any favors.

    3. Tio*

      “All explanations must be emailed for recordkeeping purposes, thank you” at the end of the email. If they call you after that, don’t call back; email, say “I received your voicemail, but I’ll need a written response. Please respond to this message with the explanation mentioned.”

  32. Feisty Manul*

    I recently made a career change where I went from a somewhat senior position with a lot of personal autonomy and breadth (non-people manager, but definitely tasked with working with teams of people in a directive role) to a more junior one in a different field that’s much more focused on a single aspect–an aspect that I absolutely love doing, incidentally. In my previous role I was expected to be very proactive–when I needed something, I was expected to ask directly and act on it. New role is very different–I am expected to get direction through my manager, with a sense that doing something proactively might mess up the allocation of work to the team. I’m generally fine with this, but sometimes there are grey areas. I don’t want to be That Person who comes off as thinking they know more than people who have been doing things for much longer, but at the same time I do have a bit more experience with some aspects of the job than most people in the role (although very aware of the areas where I still have a ton to learn). I want to use my knowledge for good (and to benefit the team), not evil. Suggestions?

    1. Ashley*

      What is your rapport with your manager and co-workers like? Can you spell it out for your manager about your background and ask them about some of the gray areas and how you can find that balance better? Alternatively if there is a co-worker how seems good ask them how they handle they handle some of those areas.

  33. Tired and in Pain*

    Update from last Week:

    I got some funding to start going back to university part-time (which alleviates one set of worries), and am currently applying for a scholarship for the rest of the degree costs. It’ll let me figure out some of the accommodations I need for how my brain now works, retrain for something less likely to put me in environments that aren’t working – I don’t think a regular office is ever going to really work for me, and my best ‘civie skill’ translation was an EA, previously – and keep me partially off the DWP’s radar for a bit longer. (On my group of benefits, I can count studying against requirements that might otherwise have me in inappropriate work environments! I hadn’t realised that.)

  34. Faith in the Workplace*

    For background: I work for a small state agency that runs like a non-profit organization: 100% grant-funded with oversight from a Board of Directors. A public agency running on public funds, state and federal. We have one grandboss and three teams: each with a team manager, one to four team members, and seasonal interns that double our total workforce. We have two offices at different ends of our service area, spend a lot of time in the field, and are free to work from home or elsewhere within the service area.

    Grandboss is young, smart, ambitious and works very hard – all traits I admire. She also has a steamroller personality and often lets ego get in the way of what is legally right (there are examples other than what I’m writing in on today). On top of this, she is strongly faith-based which, in and of itself, is not unusual for our conservative pocket in a liberal state. However, she has a history of bringing it into the workplace, and being open about how her faith colors her different expectations for men vs. women.

    I am one team manager and have navigated to a place where our interaction is minimal (my program is a low priority for her) and keep my small team (two F/T team members and an intern) as separate as possible. Recently, one of my team members, a project manager (PM), left for another position. I’m wondering if, now that they’re gone (if I got permission from PM), I could speak with grandboss about issues PM had with working here.

    Early in PM’s short time with us (six months total), grandboss invited her to a church social event. Grandboss mentioned it to me offhand, and told me PM had randomly asked about her church; which I found highly unlikely. I asked PM under guise of asking about weekend plans, and learned that in fact, grandboss had approached PM when they were alone in the office and specifically asked what church they attended. I told PM to not feel pressured to go. I followed up the next week, and PM let me know their dad had researched the church (way to go, Dad!) and learned it has anti-LGBTQ teachings. At that point, PM shared they are queer and that they told grandboss they were sick and couldn’t go. I thanked PM for sharing, said I would keep their confidence, and to please stay open with me about any concerns. From then onward, I made sure I was present for any in-person meetings where grandboss would be, which wasn’t difficult since we tend to work apart.

    Back to current day: we had an exit interview with grandboss that went well, and then PM and I met for breakfast on their last day. PM was candid at breakfast and shared grandboss had made them so uncomfortable that they didn’t even like being in their presence (all-staff meetings, occasional office meetings, etc.). I don’t think this was a primary factor in their leaving, but I know it made leaving easier.

    Given that another team leader who is openly out shared they worry about being held back due to grandboss’ religious beliefs (they don’t know about PM’s issues), and my concerns about having this situation come up again with any new hire, I’m wondering about any value in bringing this up with grandboss. I suspect she would push back on her own rights to her faith. Despite my researching, I can’t find actual statute on what makes this wrong in the eyes of the law; I just keep finding protections for those who want to express their beliefs in the workplace. Are we in a grey area here? To grandboss’ side, she hasn’t openly stated any discriminatory beliefs (that I know of), but it’s not hard to put two and two together for the potential.

    She also doesn’t have a history of taking criticism seriously. Some months ago she pressured my other team member into asking his family for an inappropriately large favor to the agency, which they declined. It all happened very fast and at the time, I knew some of it, but not the whole story. The poor guy was very upset and I ended up apologizing to his family on behalf of our agency once I learned the full backstory. I brought it up to grandboss and she was very dismissive.

    We are so small that grandboss is HR. The only next level is the Board of Directors, and knowing them as I do, I think this is too nuanced for them. I don’t like that staff feel uncomfortable and that they have to hide their personal life. I also fear grandboss’ behavior surrounding their faith (amongst other issues) is exposing the agency to a potential lawsuit. I am actively searching for a new position as this is not tolerable long-term, but any guidance for what I can do in the interim would be greatly appreciated!

    1. Ashley*

      I don’t think it is worth mentioning to the Grandboss because I honestly don’t think they will think they did anything wrong. At best if you have a relationship with some on the BOD you could mention it there. What part of the country you in I think will also matter on most of this. Unfortunately, there are many state governors / legislatures that love the kind of behavior your Grandboss is exhibiting. Unless you are in a more liberal area I think bringing it up will just put a target on your back.
      The best thing you can do is try to make sure the Grandboss doesn’t have direct access to your employees.

    2. Glazed Donut*

      I would 100% not mention this. I understand where you are coming from – you want everyone to feel welcome to be themselves and not let religion cloud assignments, thinking, comfort, etc – but you’ve laid out pretty clearly that this won’t move the needle at your workplace.
      It’s not your place to mention anything about departed PM’s LGBT identity, or how the church GB goes to is anti-LGBT, or how these together may have contributed to the PM’s exit. In PLENTY of workplaces, exit interviews shed light on maybe 5-15% of the actual issues, and that’s to be expected – if the workplace cared to address issues earlier, they’d have those processes in place for that. I think it won’t hurt you to start documenting if you aren’t already, but unless something really egregious crosses the line (ie GB refuses to hire someone BECAUSE of gender or disability) then you’re just stuck.
      FWIW, I worked in a gov’t office and everyone who was fired over the course of a year was either openly liberal (in a conservative state) and/or Black/Latinx. But, because the big boss had other nit-picky reasons for firing, there wasn’t anything I could do. Pointing out the pattern when she had Reasons was useless.

    3. anon_sighing*

      There’s a lot of overstepping happening here. This is essentially a work situation and work inappropriate behavior. Unless you have reason to believe people are being treated differently because a protected (or even unprotected, honestly) facet of their identity, you need to just address the overstepping and pushiness. Otherwise, you can get the EEOC involved and there are other avenues to pursue, particularly if you’re stewards of public funds (these grants usually have stipulations attached to them).

      Yes, your boss’ right to freely practice their religion is protected – however that religious freedom doesn’t include discriminatory actions – it just means they can pray at their desk without punishment. Discrimination protection is primary concern here. Unfortunately, your boss inviting the former PM to their church social doesn’t fall under that banner but I think it’s beyond weird for a boss to invite ONE coworker to an out-of-work event – it raises the concern of preferential treatment and why they were singled out.

      > Given that another team leader who is openly out shared they worry about being held back due to grandboss’ religious beliefs

      Is this a realized concern or does it remain a perceived one for now? I am only saying this because bringing this up to grandboss shouldn’t be your first priority – it should be being an advocate for your coworkers and ensure that grandboss treats their employees fairly despite their religious beliefs. What does promotion look like for this colleague? If you know this, you can map out a path and document, document, document.

      Bringing this up to grandboss, if all these concerns are real, would only make the workplace more unsafe because now they’ve gone from “doing what they always do” to “being attacked for my harmless faith.” Documentation is your friend in a situation like this, as is being direct but framing these as workplace behavioral issues divorced from the cause of the root cause that you cannot address (religion).

  35. JustA___*

    I am applying for an internship and being asked to complete a statement on diversity, of “what diversity in [field] means to me.” I’ve not been asked for one for any of my other internship applications, and I have some idea of what is being looked for (e.g., elevating marginalized voices, seeking community input, following antiracist practices, etc.), but is there anything I should keep in mind?
    For example, if I volunteer with a group that does voter registration and supports voting access, would it be worthwhile to mention that in my statement?

    1. Fluffy Fish*

      i think you’re part-way there.

      those are specific actions to increase diversity but you’re missing the part about why diversity and encouraging diversity in that field is important.

      “For example, if I volunteer with a group that does voter registration and supports voting access, would it be worthwhile to mention that in my statement?” yes – but tie it to the WHY. why is increasing voter access important.

    2. Elsewise*

      I’d say yes, IF you can articulate how voting access relates to diversity in your field. Even if it’s something simple like racism is bad -> antiracism -> voter suppression and racism -> voting access.

      In my experience with these sorts of statements, most workplaces are basically looking for someone to say “yes, diversity is good and I like working to make my workplace a more diverse and inclusive place (optional but ideal: and here’s how)”.

      1. JustA___*

        thanks, I think I’ve been connecting that part in my head, but will make it explicit in the statement.

    3. Pam Adams*

      I think so, yes. Especially, if you can tweak it to ‘being sure diverse voices are being heard.’

  36. The Cay, sort of*

    I’ve literally waited a whole day to post this! Yesterday’s post about office stuff that’s “sacred” and how teachers hold on to things “just in case” stuck with me. Some of us snatch up out of date books (like The Cay) and hold on to them because we can’t get new books- standardized testing has taken over, and we’re pushed to read short stories and articles that are so bland it’s staggering, all in an attempt to get passing scores on tests that don’t really assess much beyond your ability to think like a test writer. Some of us teach problematic books not as if they *aren’t* problematic, but instead use them as an opportunity to address a lot of problematic things: this book was written in ___, and character A is problematic because __. How do we think this came to be, and how can we be on the lookout for similar issues in other pieces of literature, and how can we use what we learn here through this literature to make the world better? There are very few of us teaching in a vacuum, relying on a lesson plan from 1974, blissfully ignoring our students’ needs and realities. Some of us actually go against district directives to teach novels at all. If you get a chance, speak up loudly in your local school district: let’s get modern, powerful novels into the classroom and help children develop their ability to analyze literature and connect it to their lived experience! Let’s help shape an education system wherein no one lives in fear of throwing something out because they’re pretty sure they won’t get useful replacements!

    1. JustaTech*

      A few years ago I was volunteering with some high school kids in a soup kitchen (literally in the kitchen) and I asked them what they were reading in school – I figured that was an easy and neutral topic, since it’s not even “what are you reading for fun” or “what’s your favorite book” – it doesn’t have to say anything about *them* they might not be comfortable with.

      I was blown away that these kids (who I assumed were in high school since they were working with knives without a parent in the kitchen) said that they don’t read books in English class, they just read handouts. “Like, poetry and sonnets and stuff?” “No, just handouts.”

      I told them I was shocked. Like, yay not having to read the ossified old stuff (eff you, The Scarlet Letter), but that it was replaced with *nothing* was just jaw-dropping.
      I read a ton, and while the only school book I’ve ever gone back to re-read was To Kill a Mockingbird (though I might try Their Eyes Were Watching God again), I still think that it was good to read those books (even The Scarlet Letter, A Separate Peace and Tess of the D’Urbervilles).

      So, yes! I stand with you about getting real, strong, hard books in school!

  37. Nicosloanica*

    How have you seen sabbaticals work well? Are they viewed more as a recruitment strategy or a retainment strategy? I just saw some job posts that featured them, but they wouldn’t be much of an enticement to me if it’s something like one six weeks paid sabbatical after seven years on the job (and yes, I realize that’s probably just a normal entry level every year in Europe, don’t come at me!!). Also, what’s the overlap with parental leave – do people just end up using it for that?

    1. Rara Avis*

      My father was in academia. He got a year-long sabbatical (but paid for a half-year) every four years. (That seems crazy now.) the idea was that professors would use the time to do research at another location, work with people in their field. So I did Kindergarten in England and 4th grade in Hawaii. After that the family felt it would be too disruptive to pull the rest of us out of our lives so he did stay-at-home sabbaticals with shorter trips to collaborate with others.

      I think there were expectations of producing work — the sabbatical was only a break from teaching — so using it for parental leave wouldn’t be possible.

    2. PseudoMona*

      My company offers a 4 week paid sabbatical after 5 years of service, then one every 3 years after that. The sabbatical is definitely viewed as a retention strategy, since you have to wait 5 years to qualify for it.

      The sabbatical is promoted as time away from work for employees to recharge, and are very well respected (it would be a major faux pas to expect any work from an employee on sabbatical).

      In the past the sabbatical was not allowed to be used as part of parental leave, but that rule has been relaxed since COVID. Two of my group members added their sabbaticals onto their parental leaves, so it would appear to be up to individual manager discretion now.

      1. Nicosloanica*

        Is it the stated expectation that you will take all 4 weeks continuously? And it’s on top of the other leave you already get?

        1. PseudoMona*

          Yes to both of your questions.

          The sabbatical is 4 weeks off all at once, and it is in addition to our normal leave allotment.

          I think tacking on additional PTO at the end of the sabbatical to extend it is officially prohibited, but again individual managers may allow some leeway there.

    3. Texan In Exile*

      My husband had a three-month sabbatical – after I think five years? – at a former employer. He was planning to use it to relax and travel but visited his parents for two weeks instead and then listened to them complain about how he wasn’t spending the rest of the time with them.

      The next year, he took an unpaid leave of absence (but kept his benefits) to run for the state legislature.

    4. Wordybird*

      I’ve only work at one place that did sabbaticals, and that was a small faith-based nonprofit (but was affiliated with other similar nonprofits within the region). Two of the three C-suite-level employees had been there for 20+ years and were allowed to take a 3-month sabbatical every 5 years. They were married to each other so they usually did not take the entire 3 months off together but would overlap their time to have 4-6 weeks off at the same time. They were strongly encouraged to apply for national and local grants related to a project they might work on or a place they might travel to during that time so that the nonprofit could use the grant money to offset the costs involved in paying others to take on their work. I don’t know if the sabbaticals were a huge factor in keeping them there for 20+ years but it was part of their overall (very generous) compensation package that was a retention factor.

    5. fhqwhgads*

      We get a 7 week sabbatical every 7 years. It’s meant to recharge. But we also get 12 weeks paid parental leave, four weeks vacation, a largeish-for-the-US number of sick days. I think someone would need to come back to work for like, at least a week (I forget the exact wording), between parental leave and sabbatical or vice versa – unless there were some sort of surprise medical thing where it’s like…you thought you’d be back for a month in between but hey baby’s early or other “it wasn’t planned as a way to extend” situation.
      In some ways they treat it like a recruitment strategy but for the most part it’s treated like and intended to be an anti-burnout thing.

  38. Peanut Person*

    Short version: my sister’s new supervisor has asked her, “are you happy here? If you’re not, we can try to find you a position you like in another dept.” How concerning is this?

    Long version with details: my sister recently moved a couple states away for her first career job with a federal agency. She started in Nov, and has a standard year-long probationary period.

    She has expressed to me that her trainer is not helpful (he will explain processes three times, she still doesn’t understand, and then she submits work with mistakes). She told me that the last new person in the dept took 9 months to fully train. And the department is “toxic,” but she has no examples as to why she feels this way.

    Since November, she has taken two (separate) full weeks vacation to return home, even without PTO on the books. (They do a system where you can bank overtime hours to serve as PTO instead.)

    She also has told me multiple times about visiting the career center and expressing that she’s heard negative things about her specific dept. She had already talked about wanting something else.

    Her supervisor had a check-in with her the other day and asked, “are you happy here? Is there another department we can transfer you to that you think is a better fit?”

    Thoughts on that? I am concerned it’s code for “you’re not succeeding in training, so rather than fire you, maybe we can transfer you.” Or is it some genuine concern for someone who moved to a new area for a job?

    (Note: I’ve tried to remove my personal biases from this question, because I have my personal opinions of her personality and ‘vibes.’)

    1. Maggie*

      I mean yeah…. It sounds like they don’t want her in the department but don’t want to go through the process of firing. But it’s not at all impossible they genuinely mean what they’re saying. It’s hard to know, but she should definitely consider herself on notice I would think!

      1. Peanut Person*

        I think so too. It’s hard for me to decipher without understanding more of the supervisor’s personality and the way he manages.

    2. DottedZebra*

      It does sound like they are trying to be nice and help her find a fit instead of firing her. If she isn’t understanding something in training, it’s up to her to make that clear and get more help. And someone new on the job taking two weeks of vacation in the first four months while also not being very good at the job would signal to a manager they may not be happy and committed.

      1. Peanut Person*

        I thought the same thing about the vacation time. Plus I don’t know how she is filling up her OT hours if she’s not even fully trained…

        I encouraged her to speak about the training, and she’s so passive that I’m not sure she ever will.

    3. Fluffy Fish*

      I mean she’s making it very very very clear she doesn’t want to be there. Her supervisors question is a reasonable one based on that alone.

      I know when we love someone, sometimes we want to save them from themselves. But usually we can’t – they’re going to do what they’re going to do. And sometimes the hard lessons are needed.

      Perhaps you check-in with your sister next time and ask if she’s looking for advice or just wants to vent. I suspect it’s the later.

    4. lost academic*

      Yes, that’s what that really means but also from what you’ve said that’s an appropriate thing for someone to tell a new hire who’s not working out – in the best possible way if keeping them and expecting improvement seems unlikely.

      Maybe the trainer really isn’t helpful and that’s a problem that could be remedied, but maybe it’s not – my brother worked for a federal agency with a similar setup (yearlong period, training, quotas, but a large number of people were let go before they hit their first year who didn’t make the cut) but in his case it wasn’t a division that would have offered a transfer out, they’d have just let that person go by 11 months in.

      She wants something else and they are offering to help, so win win.

    5. Policy Wonk*

      Unless the career center promises confidentiality, they probably told her boss that she is unhappy and looking. If not, the boss has obviously observed her behavior. In either case, it looks to me like they are trying to be helpful. In the federal government it can take so long to hire people that if she looks like she has potential but is not a good fit for the role, a transfer elsewhere would make sense.

    6. anon_sighing*

      This doesn’t sound like a training issue, not gonna lie. She is running on rumors. She can’t articulate what’s wrong. She’s not interacting with the trainer, who by her own admission is explaining things three times, so she’s not coming up with solutions to make trainings more attune to her understanding (for instance, what does she get? What mistakes has she been making? How can she fill the gap between what’s being absorbed by training and what isn’t?) She thinks because it took the last person 9 months that something is wrong (it’s usually a minimum of 6 months before anyone is “fully trained up,” even when things go well – it’s the nature of a new place and system). She’s been at this job for 5 months and has already taken 2 weeks off.

      I think she may have buyer’s remorse from the move. Maybe homesick? This offer from her boss seems rather genuine, because I’d just let her go if I was toxic and didn’t care. But they’re doing them a kindness by relocating them after all the trouble of moving, I suppose. Or maybe they see potential but they just weren’t a good fit. It’s hard to tell without more information.

      She doesn’t wanna be there though and that’s kinda it. I would tell her to sincerely layout what her struggles have been and begin a conversation about staying in a redefined position that matches her skill set and level or moving to a new place. I, however, doubt moving will actually help the underlying problem (which I think is homesickness).

      1. Peanut Person*

        Yes, you nailed it. I excluded the non-career backstory, but yes, she has a particularly unhealthy attachment to home.

        And I can’t really get a straight answer out of her whether she truly likes the job or not, because she always circles back to: “I don’t like this town” and “I want to be remote so I can move back to [home state].”

        (I dont imagine she is verbalizing this to her coworkers, so it didn’t seem relevant to the supervisor’s comment… except if he has any intuition, it’s probably obvious.)

        1. Tio*

          She may not have verbalized the homesickness or desire to leave to him, but she is probably showing her general displeasure for being there in her attitude. When there’s something deep like that, it tends to leak out no matter how good we think we are at covering it (See also: Secretly hating someone, “secret” crushes/relationships, etc). And for a government agency, training is probably pretty standardized; I agree with sighing that the training is probably not the issue here

    7. WellRed*

      Do you have to keep talking to your sister about this? Ultimately it’s up to her to figure it out and it sounds (reading between the lines here) like there are a few other issues as well. At the least, maybe allow her to vent for five minutes than tell her times up and change the subject.

  39. kjinsea*

    Does anyone know a reputable editing/book proposal service? I’ve written a nonfiction book that is pretty complete, but I’m intimidated by the process of trying to get published. I’m happy to pay someone to help me craft a proposal for a publisher or agent, but I am leery of picking someone who might not be good this. The book is about parenting (I’m a child therapist) if that helps.

    1. anon_sighing*

      Do you have a publisher in mind? It might be helpful to look at their website to see how they accept submissions and work from there.

      Hopefully a published author chimes in. The process of connecting with an agent feels fraught (probably because I’m over suspicious of people who take the money and do nothing, preying on people’s dreams-types…)

    2. Books R Hard*

      Congrats! You wrote a whole book!
      Now time to do your research on agents and proposals. There’s soooo much info out there on how to get published — I don’t recommend paying for a service at this stage. Jane Friedman is one good resource.

      If you’re set on paying someone (again, it is not necessary and totally possible to do on your own!) then Kevin Anderson & Associates is one legit firm I’m aware of that offers resources for book writing proposals.

      (Note: I work in publishing but am not an agent or acquiring editor.)

      1. Books R Hard*

        also re: the comment from anon_sighting, if you’re looking to get traditionally published, an agent is what you want. You should never pay a literary agent, that is scam. Agents submit to publishers and negotiate on your behalf, and only get paid a standard percentage of your earnings (ie, they only get paid when you get paid).
        A good agent is incredibly valuable and worth their weight in gold!!!

        If you’re looking to get self-published or are ok with a small press with limited distribution, then you don’t need an agent. Which is ok too! But depends on your goals with this book.

    3. dude, who moved my cheese?*

      hi kjinsea! I used to work in publishing.

      first start by looking at recently published books that are similar to your book. check out where they were published and who the author’s agent was (the agent is often named in the Acknowledgements section).

      you can either go direct to publishers that take un-agented submissions – they tend to be smaller – or you can pitch agents who will help you craft a proposal for publishers. if you’re intimidated by the process, an agent will be invaluable. they will also help you navigate things like editing your manuscript and negotiating a contract with a publisher. they’ll have a lot of experience and advice.

      you should just need a pitch letter to start querying agents – not a full proposal.

      re: anon_sighing’s comment, you shouldn’t pay your agent upfront – they take a commission from advances and sales. not all agents are created equal. when you’re looking for an agent remember that you’re interviewing them as much as you’re trying to get them to accept you.

      let me see if I can find some online resources about this. there used to be a large publishing community on twitter with tons of advice so take a spin around there and see what you find.

      1. dude, who moved my cheese?*

        I am seeing that you are expected to have a proposal. Sorry about that! It’s been about a decade. However, there are a lot of templates online. If you do want a writing coach and it fits in your budget, pick someone who has a good track record of similar books, and treat finding them like a two-way interview process.

        I thought this was great, esp regarding what makes a good agent: https://janefriedman.com/find-literary-agent/

        also – https://www.tiffanyhawk.com/blog/how-to-find-the-best-literary-agent

        https://katemckean.substack.com/p/query-letters-for-non-fiction/comment/47626006

        And this: https://www.sfwa.org/other-resources/for-authors/writer-beware/agents/

    4. MaryLoo*

      Check out “How I Write” by Janet Evanovich. (author of the Stephanie Plum series and others) . She includes lots of info on finding a publisher, etc.

  40. namey name name name*

    Not a question, but could use some cheer-leading.

    Last summer my department announced that we’d be relocating to a red state halfway across the country in 2025. That’s my cue to nope out, but I’m hoping to find an internal role in a more local blue state office.

    A reasonable option was just posted yesterday for the first time since the announcement. But it would be a stretch, more so than I’m usually comfortable with trying for. I talked with my manager about it today and we both independently brought up the research about how women hesitate to apply unless they fit most of the requirements, while men tend to have a lower bar. Given that context, we both agreed it’s worth throwing in an application and seeing how it goes but I am firmly outside my comfort zone.

    1. Fluffy Fish*

      Applying and interviewing even doesn’t mean you have to take the job, right? You’re just exploring an option.

      You have time to learn about the job and if you get an interview that’s an opportunity to learn more and decide if its a fit.

      Do you normally have a hard time learning new things? I’m guessing you’ve learned new things constantly in your career, even some that came from out of no where, and you’ve done just fine.

    2. Donkey Hotey*

      As a mediocre whyte dude, I hereby share my confidence with you. You can do the thing!

    3. pally*

      I vote-do it! Especially if it is a role you would like to “grow into”.

      Some roles they will be more than happy to take the candidate who expresses a genuine interest in doing the role- and the willingness to learn- over the one that possesses all the skills.

    4. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      DO IT! You’re probably going to be great, and the stretch will make it fun!

    5. A manager, but not your manager*

      If it makes you feel better, think about it as opening doors for other women later. Sometimes it’s easier to go for the job/ask for the raise/sell your experiences on the resume if you think about how you’d advise someone else or how you getting the job could make it easier to advocate and mentor for people in the future.

      I didn’t have the normal qualifications for my last job, but I met the majority of the requirements. The recruiter wasn’t sure and tried to offer a title that was an easier sell but a worse fit. I held firm and asked for her to show the hiring manager and it worked out because I got the job. I was the only woman in tech management at our company and (as far as we could tell) our parent company’s entire North American branch. That gave me some opportunities to advocate for marginalized engineers during my time at the company that a guy might not have, and that couldn’t have happened without applying to something outside of my comfort zone.

      If that helps, use it, if not, apply anyway–you don’t have to be changing the culture to “earn” an application, it’s just what I ended up falling into. All you’re doing at this point is starting a conversation that could be a good match.

  41. Just a Teacher*

    I finished my doctorate this time last year and I need some advice about applying for a job.

    2 years ago a professorship at a preferred program became available. I was in the middle of my dissertation but was super excited about it. The only caveat was that it was a clinical professorship and not tenure track. I was super excited about it but I met with the head of the program and she told me (in confidence) that a tenure track position would be opening up the next year and that she would prefer to have me in that position but I could apply if I wanted to. I did. I was interviewed but did not get the position. She told me, again, that she didn’t think this was the right fit, so apply for the next opening.

    Fast forward a year. I get my DR and I apply for the new position. In the meantime, the university gets it R1 status and the college gets a new head who has no experience in my niche field. I am strung along for months but eventually get a courtesy interview. (I am a brand new doc so I don’t have a huge publication or research history but was in the field for years so a lot of practical experience.) They eventually close the position without filling it because they can’t get what they are looking for. The department head tells me she is sorely disappointed but the decision come from higher up.

    Well, now they have opened a THIRD position I could apply for! It is again in my niche field but doesn’t require a doctorate and isn’t tenure-tracked or even technically a professorship. Should I bother applying again? It is so much work and emotional investment and they sure do seem to not want me!

    1. overeducated*

      Apply. In almost all circumstances I’d say you applied twice, they don’t want you, move along…but that’s what I said to my spouse a few years ago about a university that had rejected them twice already. Fortunately they didn’t listen, and got the job the third time. Academia is weird.

    2. Antilles*

      I’m fully outside academia and can’t speak about tenure track or your niche or doctorate requirements/non-requirements, so think through how that might affect your answer.

      But from an outside perspective, I’d say to apply again. Three applications over the course of 2+ years isn’t too many. Especially since they’ve apparently changed leadership in that time period.

      I wouldn’t get your mental hopes up too much for this role, but the time span is enough that I don’t see any reason to avoid applying. Worst case, they say no and you’re in the same spot.

    3. CoffeeIsMyFriend*

      apply if you are interested in the position.
      I’m not surprised you didn’t get the tenure research based one at this stage of your career since they are now R1 and higher ups can be weird – especially right now with budgets being reexamine

      and good luck. the whole thing is exhausting!!!

    4. anon_sighing*

      Exhausting, but do you wanna work there and do you feel that role could be pivoted into something else? Are they doing this as a bait-and-switch – if your field is that niche, seems weird they have a non-doc role for it (also three positions within 2 years)?

      > The department head tells me she is sorely disappointed but the decision come from higher up.

      This person isn’t a reliable source of information and I wonder if they’re even a decision maker because it seems weird that she keeps telling you to apply, just to string you along.

      > the university gets it R1 status and the college gets a new head who has no experience in my niche field.

      Why would the head of the college need experience in your field? That’s the department’s purview. This person’s job is to spearhead the research arm of the college for the university. There are also other researchers in your field, presumably – many of whom also want tenure and may be farther along in their careers. That said, I don’t even think it’s normal for fresh grads to get tenure track positions – especially with weak publication history, but I am not sure what your field is so maybe I’m off-base here. I’ve seen a lot of people in clinical professorships, research professorships, or non-tenure track assistant professor positions then transition or move institutions.

      I’m not telling you to aim lower, but I do advise being realistic on what value an R1 institute might see in your without a lot of classic academic products (papers). I would be somewhat disappointed in that department head as well because they had to know the conversion to R1 was coming along with the tenure position. Honestly, it’s probably why they offered the tenure position at all — to attract a solid mid-career researcher to the institution who would come with grants and connections. The department head should have know that being a “good fit” on a networking level would no longer be how things would operate (if that’s how it worked before).

      This position may be a good starting place, although that clinical professorship sounded like the best middle ground. I wish emphasis on real world & practical things was more (I’ve seen people fail to make full professor when their productivity deserved it and be stuck at associate professor because their work was community-oriented so they weren’t a publication/citation machine).

      1. Just a Teacher*

        I was being vague. The new department head is over the entire Teacher Education department whereas I would be in a smaller, more specific special education subset. The person who encouraged me is the head the program that is in my niche area.

        They have this role because the tenure track position was never filled. This would be doing a little of that (the teaching side) and a little of the clinical professorship side.

        I agree that I am not remotely qualified for the tenure track position! I thought the clinical professorship was a better fit for the place in my career but my field is extremely small with only 5 universities in the country offering the program, and me being one of only 1100 people in the world with my credential so her telling me to apply wasn’t way off base. What changed in that year was the job description and the emphasis on research vs teaching. I do not have the heavy research background they were after for sure!

  42. As Close As Breakfast*

    How do you deal with paralysis in moving forward with tasks at work? Basically, when I don’t already know what to do next I just don’t do anything.

    I was, as I’m sure many of you can relate to, a classic 90s type-A, smart, and overachieving student. School was easy, kindergarten through graduate school in engineering. As a result, I don’t have the best work habits and absolutely freeze up when I don’t know what to do.

    Unfortunately, I work as a high level design engineer and this is causing me endless issues.

    I’m mid-career and sometimes look around and wonder how the heck I’ve ended up where I am. A manager and designer and IN CHARGE OF THE THINGS.

    But I can’t get out of my own way! If answers or solutions don’t come to me immediately, I freeze up. When I don’t know what to do next it’s like my brain literally stalls and I just start scrolling through the internet as a distraction.

    For me and my job, lets say it’s things like designing new self-filtering tea pots. Where I’ve been designing tea pots for years and I understand how filtering works. But adding this feature is new and not something I’ve seen or have starting references for. So when I sit down to do it, if my mind doesn’t automatically throw out an answer/idea, it’s like my brain just sort of breaks down? All thoughts stop, my palms start to sweat, and ultimately I flip to a browser window and head off to read random non-work related stuff on Reddit or wherever.

    The only thing that seems to push me beyond this point is when it piles up to the point stress takes over and fuels me through. I want to do my work without having to reach a point of stress and hecticness in order to overcome these moments! I just don’t know how.

    I’m not even sure what I’m asking. I can’t ever seem to find exactly what I’m looking for on the internet. For me, I think I need to understand why this happens in order to move passed it? The psychology of what’s going on so I can figure out how to move forward in these moments.

    Anyone have any advice or resources like articles and books that might be helpful?

    1. ferrina*

      I’m ADHD, and there’s a great video on the YouTube channel How To ADHD about The Wall of Awful (I’ll link it in a reply to this comment).

      Basically, the Wall of Awful is a mental wall that we build up around Doing The Thing. It’s not that the Thing is hard, it’s that there’s a giant Wall in front of the thing. So before we can do the Thing, we need to scale or dismantle the Wall.

      Personally, I’m a really tactile person, so I find that when I start writing/sketching some ideas down, it helps. Sometimes I’ll set a timer for 5 minutes, and for that 5 minutes I’ll write/sketch whatever crap comes to mind about the Thing. I fully expect that these 5 minutes will be a waste of time, but that kind of takes the pressure off. These 5 minutes are just spent warming up my brain, not actually being productive. Similar to how professional athletes still stretch before every game. I will also talk aloud to myself about somethings (though it helps to work from home before you do that). Sometimes just getting that forward momentum will get your brain locked into the task.

      Also- practice failure more in low-stakes situations. Do things that you are bad at. Do things that will make you look ridiculous. Sign up for a class where you are the oldest/youngest person there. Since you say that part of the problem might be that you are used to things coming easily, practice being in low-key situations where things don’t happen easily (like me trying to stay on beat in every dance class I’ve ever taken). Desensitization might help.

      Hopefully this helps! Sorry if this advice misses the mark (see, failure is always an option! and that’s not bad, that’s science!)

      1. Shiny Penny*

        The Wall Of Awful concept has been so helpful for me, too!
        The approach that’s been working for me is to carefully break down the unbearably awful task into tiny micro tasks that, individually, are NOT intimidating— which gets me moving in the correct direction, and then momentum might build up.
        “Tweak the task until it doesn’t feel like punishment.” I’m not sure where that quote came from (quite possibly a commenter here!), but I have it posted on my wall.
        So currently, for instance, I am NOT choosing an electrician to fix my kitchen light fixture. Instead I have tracked down my password to our local Angie’s List equivalent. Then it seemed easy enough to make a list of a few electricians that seem promising. Monday I plan to call a couple and ask about rates and scheduling. I am carefully NOT choosing an electrician! But by only looking at a series of individual trees, I am not freaking myself out about the deep dark forest.

        1. 1,000 Snails in a Lady Skin*

          wow I love this advice! not OP but also someone that struggles sometimes with this and this approach seems so helpful

    2. EMP*

      this sounds like the same kind of anxiety/ADHD loop I’ve gotten stuck in before. You’re not alone and you can break the cycle! It’s really uncomfortable but you’ll (probably) get used to it the more you do it. For me, knowing it’s rooted in anxiety and not pure distraction helps a lot because anxiety mitigation tactics are different than focus tactics.

      Some strategies:
      – give yourself a short time (20-30 minutes) where you HAVE to work on the thing, with the permission to just delete everything you did if it’s not good. Repeat a few times until stuff that’s OK enough not to delete comes out
      – write down all the possible bad things that could happen if you design the thing and it’s ineffective, then how you’d move past those things (my guess is it will be non-issues like, “we revise the design”, or fallacies like “boss will think I’m dumb” – and if you have a hard time moving past the latter that’s something techniques like CBT can help with)
      – brainstorm (make it clear to yourself these are NOT final ideas and they can be stupid), then take some to a trusted peer to talk over

    3. Sherm*

      You might want to check out “Overcoming Anticipatory Anxiety: A CBT Guide for Moving past Chronic Indecisiveness, Avoidance, and Catastrophic Thinking” by Sally M Winston and Martin N Seif, and see if it speaks to you. From my perspective from here, it sounds like not coming up with an answer to a work problem immediately causes a surge in anxiety (maybe because you are not thinking “perfectly”, or are afraid that you will never come up with the answer), followed by avoidance. The book is about such anxiety-avoidance loops and proposes ways to overcome them.

    4. Generic Name*

      It’s okay to sit and think about potential solutions. Or to talk to a trusted colleague and bounce ideas off one another. The more complex the problem, the less likely it is that you or anyone else will have an answer right at the top of their head. I’ll mull over problems when I’m doing other things (like in the car, or walking, or washing dishes). It might help you to write out the problem either longhand or type it in one note. Gather all of the knowns that you have and then try to define the unknowns. Can you get more information on an unknown, or do you have to make an assumption? And so on. That’s what I do to figure out a solution to a sticky problem, and it’s really helpful.

      You’re used to blasting through all the easy stuff and knowing the answers. Now you’re at a level where you have to really work to put your talents to best use, and that’s awesome. I work at an engineering company, and I love seeing them get together and solve engineering problems. It’s really cool to watch.

      If you want to do some internet research or bibliotherapy, you could read about problem solving and creative thinking.

    5. Onwards and Forth*

      A couple of things:
      – Can you install a site blocker? I found that Facebook was my “go-to” site whenever something felt hard, to the point where the shortcuts to open a new tab and navigate there were almost subconscious actions. Blocking the site made me consciously stop and redirect every time I wanted to procrastinate.
      – Do the tasks you get stuck on involve sensitive information? If not, I’ve found using ChatGPT as a brainstorming tool / sounding board to be incredibly helpful when I’m staring at a blank page and don’t know how to approach it. Prompts like “I need to create [document/process] for my business, which does [XYZ] for target clients. Please ask me any questions you think are relevant to make appropriate suggestions, and then provide me with a structure / outline” work really well, as they help me clarify the goal I’m working towards. With the structure of the questions, I can then easily recognise what I do and don’t already know, and start to fill in the specific gaps in the structure provided. So helpful when trying to do new tasks alone, outside of my areas of expertise. There might be similarly helpful prompts for your own specific blocks, and talking to “someone” is often helpful in getting out of your own head and figuring out next steps.

    6. cat with thumbs (uk)*

      First off, I hear you, I resemble you, I sympathise with you. Here is what works for me: find the smallest, most immediate thing you’re stuck on and just work on solutions for that.

      Examples from my work:
      “I need input from busy persons A, B, C and D before I can make progress, but I’ll never get them all into the same meeting before October.” Solutions include: discuss by email instead, have a meeting with most of them and talk to any others separately, try arranging a meeting on the day of the big all department conference. You can also raise this problem in an initial email to the people involved and they will likely suggest a solution themselves.

      “I don’t know who I’d even ask about Z.” Solutions include: ask the longest serving/most relevant/most proximal humans in your office who they’d go to, email the general inbox or call the reception at relevant org, google-fu (YMMV), email your best guess with “apologies if you’re not the right person to direct this to…”, check the paper handbook that you never look at but probably does answer your question.

      It took practice, but I found that one my brain was used to the idea that we could do this iteratively as each new snag came up, each individual snag felt like less of a big deal.

    7. M2*

      Can you take breaks? You don’t always have to come up with the answer right away. I like to take short walks outside or switch up what I am going throughout the day.

      Can you block those sites? Maybe instead take a walk, do some stretches? Have some magazines or articles in your office and reach for that instead? Listen to a podcast?

      Would writing down a list help? A list of things you think you’ll have to do that week or day and maybe think of some of it outside of work?

      I have someone like this on my team and she asked me a list of what she needs to do each day or week. I did it for a bit to help guide her, but she’s a director so she really needs to know what she needs to do herself so I told her I was stopping and we could discuss during our weekly meeting. We have meetings to discuss and I am always there if needed. I give her autonomy to do her work (I am not a micromanager). Sometimes now she will leave at 3 or come in at 10 and come back online later in the night. Her work has been a lot better since she figured out what works for her. If the work gets done and it isn’t holding anyone up I’m ok with it. If it impacts the work then it will change.

      When I get stuck I put it away and do something completely different. I don’t know if this will help but good luck!

    8. NotSoRecentlyRetired*

      If the suggestions above don’t work out, consider a job where you’re not required to come up with design ideas. If you’re in a large company, have a discussion with the Quality Assurance Engineers. My experience is in Software Quality, so at my (government contracting) company I was required to review the Requirements, Design, and Test documents related to the Software, as well as the software itself for completeness, clarity, conciseness, and following of company & contract processes. Some of the HW Quality Engineers had the parallel role for the product being developed and the electronics inside the HW.

  43. Cat Lady in the Mountains*

    I’m a manager of an all-remote team that has one high-stakes week of work every year that intersects a major holiday. We give VERY generous comp time for the holiday work, and we only need 30% staffing, so I ask for volunteers, which always gets us enough coverage.

    This year, one member of my team wants to work from a vacation destination for those days. (she’ll be on vacation for the 5 days before and the 5 days after but wants to work 2 days in the middle.) My org allows short-term work from abroad with manager approval, and this team member has done it successfully for an extended overseas family visit during a low-stakes work period. But I am concerned about the high stakes of this time period, the fact that it’s in the middle of her vacation where she’d be working from a beach bungalow instead of a month-long-stay-with-family-where-she-has-access-to-an-office trip, and the fact that I have enough volunteers to staff everything with people who will be in their normal work setup where we know they have reliable wifi.

    She is pushing back because she wants the generous comp time. She’s insisting she can deliver quality work, but I just don’t see a strong case to take the risk of something not going as planned. (In my experience, everyone working from abroad has some hiccups their first day or two in a new place, and we just can’t afford that for the days she wants to work.)

    I try to be as flexible as possible but this is testing my limit. The way I see it, she could either take her vacation/travel literally any other time and work the week we need volunteers, or travel that week and not work, neither of which impacts the team’s workflow. She just can’t take her vacation AND work so that she gets the extremely generous comp time. But curious to get others’ takes – does this seem reasonable to y’all?

    1. Lurker10*

      I don’t think its wrong to say that for this one high stakes week a year you have to be working in office/ at your main working location.
      Its normal to have different guidelines/ expectations during certain parts of they year due to work requirements. It sounds like your employee wants the best of both, taking her vacation and getting the comp time, she has to choose.

    2. Mid*

      I think it’s perfectly reasonable, and you might be thinking too much about this! You already have enough staff to cover this, and that’s that. You don’t need her coverage this time. You don’t need to justify it beyond that.

      It’s also not unreasonable to not want employees working from a vacation destination, because as you point out, things go wrong. Beach resorts aren’t known for their stellar internet connections. Storms happen. Computer issues happen, and it sounds like she will be in a place where she couldn’t easily get them fixed if there is a problem. Also, interrupting her vacation in the middle for work kind of defeats the point of vacation! It’s reasonable to say that vacation time is vacation and you don’t want people interrupting their vacation in the middle for work. Vacation should be time away from work, period. And, no means no. You don’t need to convince her you’re right on this matter, it’s your prerogative as her boss.

      Moving forward, having a policy where people doing the high-stakes coverage must be at their home location (I know your team is all remote), and/or within a certain radius from a company office might be a good idea.

    3. TX_TRUCKER*

      We also have very generous compensation for those who work holidays. We don’t accept volunteers mid-vacation.

    4. Let us entertain you*

      If you have enough other people, I would turn her down. I would cite your experience with remote going wrong from other countries, that you have enough people, and the project/conference /whatever is already high risk enough and the team doesn’t need one more thing to worry about. Your job is to make this event happen with the fewest possible hiccups, not to please everyone who wants in. Be kind about it, but firm, and if she keeps bringing it up tell her the subject is closed.

    5. Generic Name*

      I think you can simply say, “We have enough coverage this year, but thank you for volunteering. Enjoy your vacation uninterrupted!”

    6. anon_sighing*

      > She is pushing back because she wants the generous comp time. She’s insisting she can deliver quality work, but I just don’t see a strong case to take the risk of something not going as planned. (In my experience, everyone working from abroad has some hiccups their first day or two in a new place, and we just can’t afford that for the days she wants to work.)

      This is annoying. You need to be firm and realize you’re the manager and that the “two-way” street ends at some point when the decision needs to be made: “We have enough people and coverage. You’re going to be on vacation and it makes no sense for you to work on it. My answer is ‘no,’ please enjoy your vacation fully.”

  44. Sabine*

    Hey all: I’ve been working a long time. I started ny current job a few months ago and the prior two jobs were held for almost 20 years total. I’ve generally been well regarded and thought of as smart and industrious. The problem is…I’m not. I did well in college and graduate school despite extreme procrastination, because I had a good memory and wrote and tested well. At prior jobs, I sort of coasted, but then would pull it together come crunch time, and my half ass effort more often than not looked as good or better to my superiors as some folks well planned effort (not always, but it wasn’t often enough to become a pattern or warrant any concern). I’d ironically actually do better when overwhelmed with stuff to do but my physical health would suffer from the stress.

    I also could sort of fake being smart by guessing or just speaking really intelligently but shallowly. So often I’d be secretly embarrassed by a conversation where I wasn’t speaking but realized I either didn’t remember or hadn’t even thought of the ideas or issues others raised because I hadn’t thought critically enough about it.

    But it feels like it’s all catching up now. My new job is full of smart, younger folks with lots of initiative, and I am afraid I can’t coast. I’ve gotten good reviews from my boss so far (except a weird one where I got dinged for interrupting him–I checked with objective others who never noticed [which I chalked up to older white male perceiving female poc as taking up too much verbal space]). But he’s a lot older and I don’t think really appreciates the drive, intelligence and initiative in the youngs around here.

    One of the new hires completed a project that I was sort of supervising her on and did way better work than I would have done. Which really highlighted the issue for me. I want a way to change literally 3 decades of bad habits. Is that even possible? Have any of you changed really ingrained bad working styles or habits?

    1. Some Dude*

      Ha, it’s me!

      I think that you are probably less flakey and lame than you think. Your coworkers probably think the same thing about you: They are on top of things and have great ideas, I wish I could be like that!

      So check your internal critic – is it accurate? Is it true? Is the feedback you get confirming that?

      What I’ve done is to work on my time and project management to be sure that I am covering all of the bases and not scrambling at the last minute.

      you also might not be super detail oriented, and that can be totally fine, because sometimes detail oriented people miss the forest from the trees, so being able to see the forest might be a necessary skill.

      But man, I feel the same. I’m gen x and I frequently feel like i didn’t have to work as hard as the kids today to get where i am, and have kind of coasted for a lot of my life.

      1. Ruby Soho*

        I feel the same way! I’m also gen X and I’m naturally pretty smart, and I learn very fast, so I can fool people into thinking I’m better than I am. But on the inside, man am I a mess. Most of the time, at least. I’ve literally made games out of trying to find short cuts that no one will probably notice, and will save me time, but still get the job at least half-assed done. I’m all about “it looks good on the outside, so I don’t care if the inside is a wreck”. Very shallow, I guess, but damn I’m good at it.
        I was diagnosed with ADHD at age 26, but never had it treated until I was 40. Meds help A LOT, but there are still so many bad habits that I just can’t seem to break.
        I’m curious to see what other commenters have to say about bad habits and working style. I could certainly use the insight!

    2. Generic Name*

      So you did well in school, have done well in your career for over 30 years, are well-regarded in your industry but you think you’re dumb because you don’t know everything/can’t answer every question immediately, and you work with young and enthusiastic people. I can really sympathize, because I feel like I just rush through and half-ass things and I should be more prepared for meetings or whatever, but when I look at things objectively, I meet deadlines, and people (including my boss) rave about my work.

      I’m not quite sure what the problem is, honestly. You have great folks that you supervise, who do good work. Are you thinking that you should go back to doing the work rather than overseeing it? Why? I think you’d bring more value to your company by using your experience (don’t undervalue that!) to harness and guide the young workers. Sometimes I feel like I do literally nothing but sit in meetings and give opinions and answer questions, and if anything actually needs doing, I get someone else to do it, but that’s because I’m a subject matter expert and a manager, and I have a team of smart people I work with, and it makes more sense to have a junior person do research or data entry or whatever. It feels really weird to have graduated from being a “doer” to being a leader. Embrace it!

    3. RagingADHD*

      It made a huge, positive difference to my work life when I just stopped caring about whether or not I was smart (or how smart compared to others). I worried about it so hard for so long that I burnt out, and now I just have zero fucks to give on that score.

      It would probably save you a lot of stress if you can make a practice of deliberately throwing those fucks away instead of waiting until the burn up and die.

      You are working with people who have cool ideas and insight. Learn from them. Be interested in the ideas. Plus them when you can. And get stuff done.

      Ideas are silver, execution is gold. If you have been working 30 years successfully, you know how to execute. Focus on that.

    4. anon_sighing*

      I am not trying to be mean because I could have written this up to 10 years ago. However, to help me break out of this mindset, I needed to tell myself that this is just an form of arrogance dressed up as humility and self-flagellation. You’ve essentially just said, “People think I’m a great worker but I’m barely trying.” Again, I have been there and I’ve said everything to the moon and back about “imposter syndrome” or whatever. If this isn’t an arrogance issue, it’s a low self-esteem issue. But thinking you should have the answer to every question is not a normal line of thinking — only arrogant people or those who feel someone will yell at them if they don’t have an answer think they should know everything.

      You’re also being incredibly inconsiderate of the people around you who’ve lauded those compliments on you. You’re being mean to yourself because even if you did it in crunch time, you did it and you did it well. The only person you hurt during those times was yourself because you didn’t leave yourself the time to do things in a manner that would have given you time to feel better about the quality of your work (even if it’s doing it and letting it sit there for weeks). The people who got the work were happy with it, weren’t they?

      > I’ve gotten good reviews from my boss so far (except a weird one where I got dinged for interrupting him–I checked with objective others who never noticed [which I chalked up to older white male perceiving female poc as taking up too much verbal space]). But he’s a lot older and I don’t think really appreciates the drive, intelligence and initiative in the youngs around here.

      You’re getting good reviews and the first bad habit to break is maybe not making assumptions that the feedback you got was out of line but rather something to work from. I used to do this, too, then I realized I do have a tendency to want to jump in and I do interrupt sometimes. So *do* you interrupt sometimes? Are you taking steps to actually confirm he was off base or making an assumption because he’s 1) old, 2) a man, and 3) white and therefore it’s automatically a microagression? Also, what does him not appreciating the drive, intelligence and initiative of the young people in the office have to do with his feedback to you? Either way, despite it all, you have good reviews and that’s all that matters. You learned this guy is sensitive to speaking time rather than your work itself.

      > One of the new hires completed a project that I was sort of supervising her on and did way better work than I would have done.

      Why are you even comparing here? You’re job isn’t to do that project, it’s the supervise it. The active comparison game is a bad habit to break. Just say “great work,” give good feedback, and realize that you know what good work looks like and that’s why you’re supervising. Also how would you have known the work you were going to do since you didn’t do it? Again, this doesn’t make sense.

      Frankly, you’re not a fresh college grad, early in their career and burning the midnight oil because you wanna be the supervisor anymore. You are the supervisor now. You’ve clearly advanced in your field. I don’t see a problem that maybe getting out of your head, understanding your priority (getting good reviews to keep your job), taking care of your health, and being objective wouldn’t fix.

    5. Meh*

      In addition to what the others are saying, consider this. The new folks are coming in with energy, enthusiasm, and fresh perspectives. You have the advantage of experience and context – their skills and success complement yours – they don’t negate your abilities.

    6. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

      Hi Sabine, you don’t have to change any bad habits because you don’t have any – your habits and processes worked well and successfully for you in your previous jobs! This new job requires some different habits, that’s all. Sounds like you are already presenting well at them, even though inside your brain you are going ‘Whoa, some of these people are smarter than me/know things I don’t.’ That is NOT a bad thing! You are smart ENOUGH for your job, which sounds like it has new and interesting aspects for you (apart from the ‘Don’t interrupt the boss aspect’ ).
      It’s never too late to learn some techniques to reduce anxiety though, which often underpins procrastination until adrenaline builds up enough to get you over the procrastination wall.
      You might like the site called “wait but why”, the author has written a lot on “why procrastinators procrastinate” etc, and has an engaging and friendly style.

  45. Mid*

    How do you balance asking for more work without looking like there isn’t enough work for me to do/offending people?

    I have a new job, and right as I was onboarded, there was a fairly major number of departures at my company. I’ve been assured that my job is secure and I don’t need to worry, but, I am worried of course. I was also hired onto a team that had been understaffed for about a year, so everyone was very overloaded and now they aren’t. But also, we provide internal support for people, so if a lot of people leave, there is less work for us to do. My hiring shifted some of my coworker’s work onto my plate and off of theirs, which was a good thing! But I also get the sense that some people might not be super happy with having work shifted away from them. I also think that the last person who was hired to this team was very new and needed a lot of training, rather than someone with experience who was able to hit the ground running like I was, and I worry I’m being read as somewhat of an upstart?

    My workload at my previous job was ridiculously high, and so I’m struggling to gauge what a healthy workload is. Currently, I seem to have a lot of down time at my job, and while it is fairly cyclical work, I think I have maybe 10-15 hours of work a week, at most. (I used to consistently average over 15 hours a week of OT at my last role, with some weeks clocking well over 30 OT hours, and I know that wasn’t sustainable or healthy, and I don’t want to work long hours like that anymore.)

    I want to ask for more duties to fill out my workload a bit more, but I also don’t want to be too vocal about not having enough work, because 1. I’ve gotten the sense some of my coworkers are really possessive of their work and don’t want to step on their toes by “taking” even more of their work 2. I don’t want it to look like there’s not enough work to justify my position 3. I don’t want to accidentally overwork myself because I’m used to an overly high workload and don’t know how to have a reasonable workload and 4. don’t want to make other people look bad (because I’m also getting the sense I might be a LOT faster than some of my teammates, who aren’t necessarily slow, I’m just…better at certain tasks due to the demands of my previous roles.)

    I’m thinking the best approach might be to just consistently volunteer to take on extra work when it’s offered, but I also tend to be more proactive than that, and when my manager asks about my workload, I don’t want to say it’s fine when I truly have capacity and time to take on a lot more.

    How do I strike the right balance between getting more work without seeming like I’m overstepping or there isn’t enough work to justify my position?

    1. Ruby Soho*

      Honestly, since it’s a new job, I would caution against asking for more work. As you noted, you risk taking on more than is doable, and when you’re new, it can be hard to determine what exactly is a reasonable workload. I’ve burned myself in the past by taking on more and more work in the beginning because I wanted to look good, but it’s never worked out well at all. If nothing else, take more time and when you get a better feel of the workload, and then maybe talk to your boss about taking on more work.

    2. Busy Middle Manager*

      A tale as old as time, it would really help to know the specific role in order to give actionable advise. Without that, I am going to assume it’s some sort of admin role, given the description of the workflow?

      The general answer is that continually asking to be handed projects doesn’t really work. Work usually overlaps with other work and it’s always hard to carve out neat little areas for unrelated people to work on, on your schedule.

      You need to generally become more skilled and knowledgeable and get access to more things, so you can generate your own work, and/or be ready to jump in when something happens.

      No clue what that means for your job, but are there laws governing your industry that you can read? Computer programs you can learn? Some database you can get access to? Maybe some unpleasant task you can take on that will be a lateral move that will expose you to more in general? I think if you know more generally, management will trust you more when doling out random projects.

    3. Black Cats Forever*

      In my experience, many jobs that start out light become heavy. Pace yourself in asking for new work. You may find yourself wishing you could give some of it back.

  46. anonanon*

    I want to get thoughts on some problematic things I’ve seen in the nonprofit sector in a field that is working to have more diverse staff and more staff with lived experience.

    I support having more diverse staff. It’s made me happy to see the field move away from hiring people from elite universities to being more open to candidates from different backgrounds, and having staff that are more ethnically diverse and better representative of the populations they serve.

    But.

    I’m also seeing a problematic focus on racial identity in hiring decisions that does not sit well with me. Some examples:

    Being told explicitly by a hiring manager that they couldn’t hire a white person for a role (because the department was majority white and they needed diversity).

    Having a leaders credentials called out in front of them by staff because they were white-presenting, and then having that leader have to explain that they actually were latinx.

    Having identities explicitly considered in hiring process (e.g. do we have too many latinos on staff? should we hire the african-american candidate who is less qualified because we don’t have many african-americans on staff?)

    A hiring manager told me that when their hiring process resulted in all-white finalists (in a very niche specialized role), they were strongly urged by management to go back to the drawing board so they could hire a person of color. Nevermind that the candidates of color in the initial search either declined to go further in the process or did not have the skills and experience of the white candidates, and it wasn’t the kind of role where you could level someone up. They had to fight to hire a white person for a technical, back-office role where their identity should have no bearing on their work.

    In one hiring process I was involved in, people literally said, “well, he’s white but he’s gay so he brings that” and “she’s latino AND disabled!” like that was a major win. Their identities were front and center in discussions of their worth as candidates over their actual work experience.

    This is at multiple organizations in my field. It feels really wrong to me, not to mention not legal. I’ve hired people of color for roles. I did so by broadening my field and focusing on experience and skill vs. educational background. I’ve never hired someone who was a black teapot maker. I’ve hired teapot makers who were black. I’ve also hired white teapot makers when their skills and experience were a good match and did not ding them because they happened to be born a certain ethnicity. I’ve also worked for amazing people of color and people of color who were the absolute worst because they are human beings and not magical creatures so to me identity is very much secondary to how someone shows up.

    Has anyone else experienced things like this? What are better ways to do this where we aren’t punishing or rewarding folks for their identities? I’m a white male so I’m perhaps more sensitive to this, and I fully recognize that in other fields candidates of color would likely have a much worse experience and be blatantly discriminated against. I’m not trying to contribute to the “white men are the most discriminated group in the US!” right wing narrative, but these are all things I have witnessed first hand that do not sit well with me.

    1. ferrina*

      Any time someone is reduced to their race, there is a problem. That said, it’s definitely a problem that disproportionately impacts POC. And often the quiet part isn’t said aloud- usually it’s stuff like “she seems too buttoned up to be a good fit” or “he didn’t gel well with the team, and I think this less experienced candidate (who just so happens to be white) will be a better fit”

      Hiring for diversity of life experiences is usually a really good business practice. It can be hard to screen for “what was your life experience, and is it too similar to someone else on the team” in interviews, so sometimes it will come down to things like “our team is majority white, and our life experiences over-represent white experience”. It shouldn’t replace work experience and skills, but be considered alongside it. I’ve been part of a hiring team where we were hoping to hire a man, because the existing team was all women. In that case, the fact that he was a white man weighed in his favor, because that was a group that wasn’t represented on our team (and of course he was well qualified for the role). So there are scenarios where yes, being white man makes you a minority and can add to the diversity (rare, but it has happened).

      1. Some Dude*

        I work in a female-dominated field and my being male has definitely opened some doors for me.

        I also agree that this mostly impacts people of color – I’ve had to fight to have people hired because people felt they weren’t a ‘culture fit’ in ways that were sexist and/or racist. It just feels like the focus has become almost exclusively on racial identity in a way that, frankly, is not good. And a lot of time it isn’t great for the people hired – I’ve seen fallout from people hired for their identity over experience in the past 7 years who then flamed out because they were not prepared for the role they were hired for. And when a woman of color flames out because they were ill-equipped for the role they were hired for, it feeds this narrative that women of color can’t be good leaders. Or that they were only hired for their identity. I’ve worked really hard in the hiring I’ve done to make sure that anyone I hire is hired because they are the best fit for the role and not because of their identity. And their identity may inform why they are the best fit for the role but I never want it to be the why.

    2. Rick Tq*

      Those explicitly racial hiring policies are a legal bomb waiting to explode. Somebody from legal needs to sit that hiring manager down and explain the impact of recent Supreme Court decisions on the legality of their behavior.

      1. A Significant Tree*

        The examples listed are extremely problematic, yikes.

        A company committed to expanding the diversity of their employees can do several things, none of which should involve cherry-picking candidates solely because they check a box. The expression goes something like “lower the barrier to entry, not the bar of performance.”

        Some things I’ve seen recommended: Do outreach to HSBUs and minority-serving programs and organizations. Present the opportunities where they typically haven’t been encountered before. Then, have HR strip information from the resumes/applications that could indicate gender, racial, or ethnic background. It doesn’t prevent unconscious bias from coming up during the interview process, but it should work to get a lot more qualified people through the first gate who might have been filtered out from the start, or never even knew to apply.

    3. DEI A.F.*

      I (cis-het white lady) have definitely been there in the nonprofit sector, and sympathize with every scenario you present. I think you’re on to the right track with a few of your observations that go further upstream in the pipeline than the interview and hire stage. Why did qualified candidates of color drop out of the process? Or, why were there no candidates of color in the applicant pool? Do job descriptions accurately reflect the required skillsets and certifications, or do they include arbitrary “signals” (education level is the most common one — good for you for focusing on experience vs. degrees.) Very importantly, how did bias impact the screening/hiring process? We are all biased, but some are more aware than others. Ultimately, as ferrina observes, what value does a different perspective (which can include everything from gender identity to geographic background to age) bring to the team/ organization? But these are all tough and complicated questions, not easy to navigate. Those of us with any form(s) of “advantaged” identity – including gender, race, politics, power position, etc. – are in a stronger place to speak up about these things, and therefore bear a greater obligation to do so. Keep up the fight!

      1. Elsewise*

        I totally agree with you. I think another thing to think of is retention. I’ve worked in so many nonprofits that really put the work into recruiting candidates of color, and then put no work whatsoever into dealing with ingrained cultural issues or protecting fundraisers from racist donors or paying POC equally, so all of the people of color they hire stay for like a year at most.

  47. H.Regalis*

    My boss quit and is working out their notice period. We don’t have an assistant manager right now either because that position has been open for over two years. This is public-sector, and anyone with the necessary experience can make 2-3x as much money in the private sector, so it’s hard to hire for.

    It’s going to take a while to hire a new manager, probably at least six months. I’m worried that we’ll get someone who’s a micromanager or a raging misogynist or something else awful. It’s also possible we’ll get someone who’s just fine. I’m just nervous about it, and now there are a lot of little things I’ll have to do that normally my manager would have done.

      1. H.Regalis*

        That’s a good point. I will likely be on at least one interview panel because they keep sticking me on those, so hopefully I’ll be able to spot anyone terrible.

  48. Domanda*

    I have a small feel-good story where I took a chance and reported something. It ended up with me feeling heard and respected and the company took positive steps based on what I’d said. I’d love to hear if any of you have experienced something similar.

    About 15 years ago I got connected with a company that builds and tours museum exhibitions around the world and they’ve contracted with me a dozen or so times to help with installing or packing up those exhibitions. It’s a fun gig but very occasional, so I typically do work for them only every couple of years.

    In 2022 they hired me to help pack up and reinstall a particular exhibition and they also sent one of their staff people, Brian, to manage the project. Brian turned out to be a real jerk. At first I thought he was treating me like I was an idiot because I’m a woman, but after making some discreet inquiries with the museum staff I realized that no, he was a jerk to everyone.

    At the end of the job I wrote to James in the home office and told them what I’d seen and experienced with Brian’s behavior. Since the company works in cities around the world, I told them that I assumed that no one from the home office had seen him in action but that I felt that his actions were potentially harming the company’s reputation. I also said that while I loved working for the company that I felt so strongly about this that I’d refuse further work if Brian was also going to be on site.

    Fast forward to 2 weeks ago. I had a conversation with James in which he told me that they’d acted on what I’d reported about Brian. They’d talked to their museum clients and gotten similar stories, and they’d talked to Brian and instituted some training and behavior assessment with him. Eventually he got annoyed and quit.

    He told me that in the context of how culture fit was really important to them and clearly Brian didn’t have that. James then went on to say that I *AM* a good culture fit for and offered me a full-time contract for the next year! I’ve been looking for work for a few months so this really couldn’t have come at a better time.

    This is all to say that it felt really good to know that I’d been heard, that my information was believed, and both the company and I personally am better off for having said something.

  49. funkytown*

    What would you do if an ex-partner had your work supplies i.e. monitors etc, still at their house (from before the breakup) and won’t respond to requests to get them back?

    1. ferrina*

      Do you have a friend who can get them for you? A third party that can get into the house and get your things?

      Do you have someone in HR or IT that can advise you? Sometimes IT is willing to write off certain losses (depends a lot on your company/equipment costs)

    2. Bearbrick*

      “If you don’t pick these items up by [date] they are going to Goodwill. Let me know what your plan is.”
      Send via text, email, voicemail, etc etc. then follow through on it. That is so immature and not your responsibility. Even if you have their new address, I wouldn’t messenger or ship them- you’d have to pay for it and if it’s big stuff like monitors it would be $$.

      Alternatively, if you’re still in touch with any of their close friends or family that are nearby: “Hey, I know this is awkward, but Ex left a lot of work equipment at my home and won’t return my calls/texts/emails/smoke signals. I need these items out of my home by [date] and it doesn’t feel right to donate them. Can I give them to you or ask for your help in contacting Ex?”

      1. Bearbrick*

        Wow, I completely read this backwards and thought your ex’s stuff was at your house. Reading comprehension is at 0 by Friday, lol.

        Mutual friends are likely your best bet, maybe with the same verbiage: acknowledge it’s awkward, and ask for their assistance in getting a response from the ex. If your mutual friends are reasonable people, I would think that they’d understand the request and try to help you.

      2. Slow Gin Lizz*

        I think Funkytown has the opposite problem, where they need the work equipment and ex isn’t responding to their requests to get the equipment. Which is a whole lot worse than having your ex’s work stuff at your house.

    3. H.Regalis*

      If it gets really bad, maybe small claims court? It’s your stuff and they won’t give it back. Sometimes even the tiniest hint of legal proceedings is enough to spook people into temporarily acting right.

      Otherwise, can you show up unannounced and be like, “I’m here for my stuff”? Basically make it more annoying for them to not give you your stuff back.

      1. Anecdata*

        And if you’re at all uncomfortable with the idea of showing up alone, almost all local police depts will meet up with you for this.

        1. H.Regalis*

          That’s a good point too. FOAF had to do that for when her abusive ex came by to pick up his stuff. Dude had broken into her house multiple times after they broke up. It got so bad that she ended up having to put a deadbolt on her bedroom door and slept with a loaded shotgun. Several uniformed officers with guns was enough of a deterrent for him not to try anything.

        2. JSPA*

          or if unincorporated, the Sheriff’s office may send a deputy along with you.

          Or if you want to get a bit more machiavellian, and you figure the ex just wants to screw you…hire someone to pose a “repo man” and go “repossess” it???

          Or seeing it belongs to the workplace, tell your workplace and let them handle the legalities of reclaiming it. ( That’s probably the smartest option, even if its uncomfortable having work up in your private business. After all their property is currently under the control of somebody who is not trustworthy!)

          In telling them I’d stress that you let them know the moment you figured out this might not be simple lack of responsiveness, and that he might try to use, destroy or sell the items.

    4. Betty Spaghetti*

      Call the police for a citizen assist. I’ve unfortunately had to do it several times. They’ll send an officer to meet you and help you get into the premise and retrieve your things.

    5. Generic Name*

      Are they your personal supplies, or are they owned by your company? If it’s your personal stuff, you might decide to just mentally write it off as a loss and a lesson learned if the total value isn’t a whole lot. If it’s owned by your company, I would talk to IT and ask if they have any guidance or suggestions.

  50. bette davis*

    When do you make the call that it’s time to give up on internal mobility?
    I work for a very large company (fortune 100) made up of about 10 distinct business units, and our company is outwardly very encouraging of internal mobility between these areas. With my manager’s support, I’ve been exploring opportunities in other units (similar jobs to my current role) for my next step. I’m starting to get discouraged because the interviews go really well, it feels very promising, and then I get a call saying they really like me and want to stay in touch, but they’ve decided to proceed with someone who is already within that unit. This has happened twice now with different units/roles. I’ve asked for feedback about how I could be a stronger candidate- the response is that they simply had a bench of promotable talent within the unit and wanted to prioritize those people.

    I completely understand that decision (I’ve been the hiring manager, I get it!) but I’m currently in interviews for #3 and wondering if all of the emphasis my company puts on internal mobility is just lip service/if I should even keep trying. I have applications out externally as well but the company has been really good to me and I’d prefer to stay. When do I call it quits?

    1. Some Dude*

      I can only speak to my experience, but sometimes you need to go somewhere else for a promotion. Sometimes they will always see you as Jenny from the block who used to make coffee for everyone or who made that one mistake at a meeting five years ago. It’s a little like going to a new high school to reinvent yourself. I’ve seen this numerous times where internal candidates were overlooked because management just didn’t have the imagination to see them as more than their current role. But your mileage may vary.

    2. ferrina*

      You can look externally and internally at the same time. Let yourself be really picky in external positions- it needs to be really good for you to leave the current company. Look around, see what’s out there, and take your time. Maybe an internal position will come through first, or maybe you’ll find the perfect external position first.

      Good luck!

  51. grrrlie_pop*

    I would love to hear any advice/success stories from anyone who has pitched creating a new job for themselves to their employer.

    I recently had a really disappointing situation where I was promised a promotion and told it was happening by a few people, and then it didn’t come for no real reason. After a few conversations, I think it’s safe to assume the team I’m on is (at least temporarily) not receiving any raises/promotions, and while I really love working at the company I’m at, I’m not really willing to stay on a team that is seemingly blackballed from growth opportunities or where I’m expected to continue performing at a high level but not being compensated for it.

    After mentioning to some trusted colleagues that I was starting to look for another job, they asked if I would be interested in moving to another team/position. I’ve been thinking for a while about wanting to do work that is sort of a blend between what I do currently and the work that a more technical team at my company does, so now seems like as good a time as any to pursue that.

    Its’s work that is badly needed and would benefit both teams and, I think, the company as a whole. I have a couple of people who are trusted by the people who would have to approve this that have said they would advocate for it and think it would be really useful.

    If you’ve done something like this before I would love to know what helped you do it successfully (or what you wish you had done differently if it wasn’t successful).

    1. ferrina*

      This type of job creation really needs a high level advocate. You can create the description, but you need someone really senior to agree and do the political/budget work of creating this position.

      It really helps to show how this position will meet existing gaps in the business, and I’ve also found it helps to show what sorts of KPIs can be expected at 3/6/12 months. When I’ve done this, I’ve made a PPT listing what the role would be in charge of, what the KPIs would be, what resources would be needed (if you need specialized software or support from other teams), what impact other teams would see, when they would see the impact, etc. If you can quantify anything, do- I tend to put hours of labor spent dealing with X (which the new role will solve) or any sort of monetary figures. I put it into a PPT format so the person advocating for me can grab my slides to argue their case to their boss. Have business reasons for everything, but be flexible- if you think this should report to Rose, but Rose wants it to report to Willow, it will report to Willow. Or if a VP wants to add an annoying function, you’ll have to take it. The job creation will be a collaborative process between you and the business- they likely won’t take it wholesale.
      Good luck!

      1. WantonSeedStitch*

        Very much this! A high-level advocate is super important, even before you start drafting the job description. Someone you trust who can help you spin stuff in a way that will make it appeal to the decision makers.

    2. Alex*

      I was in a VERY similar situation, and was not successful because I did not have the support of my boss. So I’d think carefully about how well your boss is willing and able to advocate for you. Would she be on board, or be an obstacle? That will make the difference.

      Ironically, once I left, they realized they desperately needed someone with the job description I had made. Because I was basically doing it, just not getting paid or credit for it.

    3. Plate of Wings*

      I have done almost this exact thing in a former job, quite a while ago. Here are some things that may have helped make it official:

      1. The number one thing was probably that I had a champion, my boss on the original team. She wanted this to happen for me because if her team member was seen expanding the team’s responsibilities, it would make her look good. She had a reputation for “innovating” she wanted to maintain. She left soon after my position was settled, I’m so lucky she went to bat for me. I was happy to make her look good however she asked.

      2. I worked hard to train other people who wanted to try the more technical stuff. This was highly visible, I celebrated the people I trained whenever possible. People saw an experienced person (me) impressed with the growth of the more junior people (them). It was extra work but it helped junior people and it probably helped me too.

      3. I did the job I wanted on good faith before my new position was created. It wasn’t promised, it was just on the table. I was up front that I wanted it and that an official role and more money was enough to keep me doing it. This meant I was willing to find a new job if it didn’t seem like my new position was happening. I think I did the job before it was official for 7 months.

      4. I could only take on work that didn’t need a lot of oversight, because the only new contributor was me. The results had to be obvious. So I didn’t work on features that got deployed to end-users, I worked on projects with end-dates and one-time deliverables. This was fine with me, it sounds like the same in your organization where there is a LOT that needs to be done! Pick the right things that make people sigh with relief!

      5. I asked for less money than I could have made elsewhere. Still enough that I was happy with it, but I didn’t ask for the going rate for someone with my experience. Just like getting your foot in the door in a new industry.

      So yeah, I went above and beyond on good faith that it would be rewarded. Of course they could have strung me along, and if they did I wouldn’t be leaving with the title I wanted, but I had good resume experience from the high-visibility projects. My champion, my boss on the original team, helped me figure out where I would have the most impact and be the most helpful. I truly think without her guidance I would have just been… a pain in everyone’s rear. I just didn’t have the instincts.

  52. Work Traveller*

    For those who travel for work a fair amount, do you pack your bags during work hours? I often pack on evenings or weekends but that is using my personal time for something that is for work. I haven’t been able to find any business related “literature” on how employees should approach this.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I used to do a lot of work travel. I didn’t really pay attention to that – a lot of the time, it was out Sunday night (or stay at the airport hotel Sunday night and out on the very first flight of the day) and then home Friday morning or mid-day. So my actual at-the-client’s-office time was less than 40 hours, but the impact on my time was more than 40 hours. And my dad taught me to be a really efficient packer, so I could get everything packed for a 5-day trip in about 10 minutes. So that 10 minutes wasn’t really worth accounting for.

      Now, if packing also includes getting a bunch of work stuff put together (brochures, manuals, equipment, training gear, booth stuff), then absolutely that was on the clock.

    2. Mid*

      My experience with work travel has been primarily in the context of doing scientific fieldwork, where you needed to get tools and equipment from the company to travel with, so everyone always packed during work hours. You’d typically pick up your equipment and then go home and pack everything up, including your personal belongings, the day before your work trip.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I don’t think there’s one answer but I also don’t think it’s a big deal either way. I suppose if I worked from an office it would be weird to leave for a bit so I could pack– maybe I would come in a bit late or leave a few minutes early or something. But I work from home, and packing bags is like putting in a load of laundry or walking the dog. It doesn’t take especially long and I don’t see anything wrong with blocking off a few minutes to do it if I have that time available in my day.

      But it also doesn’t take me more than 10 minutes to pack. I don’t really see it as a work task, just as a non-intensive chore. I certainly don’t expect to get paid specifically for packing time.

    4. Bearbrick*

      My job is travel based with some WFH and yes, I do. I think most importantly, my job has a lot of flexibility and is 100% a culture of “I’m done for the day when my work is done” vs “I’m done at a certain time”. It really depends on your unique situation and what is normal to your office/team.

      I typically schedule myself a WFH day before my trip to pull reports I’ll need, prepare training materials for the trip, etc. which takes about half to 2/3 of the day. The remaining time of that day I use to pack and drop my cat off to the sitter.

    5. K8T*

      I mean I may organize some items during a lull so if you can fit packing normally into your work day without delaying actual work then there’s no issue. However I think you’d have an incredibly hard time arguing for OT/payment for doing so outside of normal work hours since that’s just part of having a travel-heavy job.

    6. Antilles*

      In terms of packing my actual bags, I’ve never once paid attention to it. The 15 minutes at home of packing my suitcase is technically work time, but it’s a trivial amount and it’d feel weird to make a deal about it.
      However, I’ve always worked for companies which give a little bit of informal flexibility, so I just treated that as part of it. If they aren’t going to nickel-and-dime me over occasionally leaving early for a haircut or sometimes taking a lunch that isn’t 60.00 minutes, then I shouldn’t be nickel-and-diming them over spending a few minutes packing a suitcase.
      That said, any prep work for equipment, printing documents, making hotel/travel arrangements, etc is absolutely being done at the office on company time.

  53. Mystic*

    Hi everyone. I’ve been in a temporary supervisor position at work since the beginning of January. while people keep telling y, im doing a good job I did not pass the interview to make it permanent. part of the problem is I’ve been lucky enough to not have to deal with difficult employees, and when it does happen, I’d prefer a script or something to kinda fall back on. so I’d like to ask for any book recommendations or any assistance/thoughts on dealing with difficult employees (emotional wise, I’m most good at paperwork/performance wise)

    1. Bearbrick*

      I like the book Fierce Conversations and HBR’s For New Managers, as well as the AAM archives. Alison’s old podcasts are also great for examples of tone in tough situations.

  54. Alex*

    I’m hiring for the first time and I’m super intimidated, and not really getting much support from my employer. One of the troubles is that this is for a part-time, remote position that is very much “soft skills” oriented. I won’t ever interact with the employee other than through email, I’m not really sure what kind of person would do a good job or how I screen for that. I’ve never done this job myself, and am getting no information about how to go about hiring except that there was a very vague job description template and HR posted the job to our own job board and a few external places, and are forwarding the resumes to me. Other than that….I dunno? What questions to ask? How to evaluate them? I keep trying to ask people around me but am getting no real answers because no one wants to deal with this particular topic, and I just got handed it because I’m the newest. I’m totally lost! Any advice would be welcome!

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      OK, this is weird that they are foisting this on you. By “no one wants to deal with this particular topic”, do you mean they don’t want to deal with hiring, or they don’t want to deal with the tasks this person is going to do? Like you’re a llama grooming company, and everybody is in denial about disposing the manure? Because if so, that’s a big red flag about the company and your coworkers.

      Assuming there isn’t some weirdness about this position, is there already somebody else doing this kind of job – or somebody who used to do it and then transferred inside the organization? Can you pick their brains?

      1. Alex*

        “llama grooming company, and everybody is in denial about disposing the manure” is kind of more like it lol! I’ve been put in charge of managing all manure disposal assistants. Up until now that has basically meant assigning llama crap to different assistants, and I really only hear from them if one of the llamas….has diarrhea lol. Wow this metaphor got gross fast.

        I’ve never done any manure disposal myself, and if a llama has diarrhea I basically just try to figure out who is in charge of that llama, if it isn’t something that I can easily just fix myself, like giving the llama immodium. So like, I don’t really know what makes a great llama disposal assistant, how to assess them, or anything like that.

        There was a woman who was previously in charge of this task, and I tried to go to her for help, but she wasn’t super helpful. Just gave me a bunch of very vague answers. Also, how we were keeping track of this before was a complete mess–no one knew who was doing what manure disposal, some manure was just getting left places and no one knew about it, etc. It was a mess. So clearly she’s not really a great person to go to for advice.

        The main part of my job doesn’t have to do with manure at all, but rather, building llama obstacle courses for llama conventions. The manure disposal is just something that needs to be done so everything runs smoothly. No pun intended lol.

        1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

          Oh boy.

          So it sounds to me like everybody knows that manure disposal needs to be done, and knows that the company has been disorganized and inefficient in doing it, and instead of saying it out loud, they are all just muttering and looking at the ceiling tiles instead of fixing the problem.

          So would it be ok in your culture to say to your boss “Fergus, I know you just want me to hire this part-time llama manure disposal assistant, but don’t we have a bigger problem to address first? Because getting a 20 hr/week person on board is just a band-aid. And I need to know which way we’re going, because that’s going to affect who I hire.”

          1. linger*

            Yes, if there’s one term that *literally* describes how manure disposal should never be performed, it’s “half-assed”.

        2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

          Oh, and I missed something. You’re in charge of all the llama disposal people now? Can you talk to them? Find out from your coworkers which ones they think do the best job, and then ask them “I’m hiring for a similar position to yours – what are the most important things to make this job successful?” Ie, Alison’s Magic Question.

    2. Busy Middle Manager*

      Job title? Description? Duties. Just because it’s soft-skilled doesn’t mean it doesn’t have specific duties. Also what’s this artificial criteria that you only have contact via email? So it’s soft-skilled but no phone calls? That’s not sensible

  55. Silver Linings From Dreamland*

    I’m employed by a consulting firm (A) doing work for one of their clients (B). This is the client I’ve been assigned to for my entire time at A and it’s been a great experience overall but over the past couple of months, the work has been starting to feel a little bit stale/boring. A is super committed to having us learn new technologies but there’s been very minimal opportunity to apply anything I’ve trained on for the past 6 months. This is probably due in large part to B’s very rigid timeline and requirements for the rollout of their digital transformation.

    Around a month ago, I decided to update my resume for the first time in well over a year and browse through some job boards as more of a “due diligence” just to see if there’s anything out there that really sounds like a better fit for me and my current interests. I haven’t checked every day since I’m still holding out hope that the work with B could evolve to include some of the new technologies I’ve been studying.

    Recently, my manager (Max) told me about a potential new client (C) for whom the work would entail leveraging some of those new skills. As they’re not a client of A yet, what’s going to happen soon is a sort of trial/short-term-contract/”try before you buy” phase (I don’t know the details, duration or expectations yet but should find out by the end of next week) for which a handful of employees across A will work on a sample project for C and if C approves of the work quality, will sign an official contract with A.

    My dilemma is that this work for C (which I will receive additional compensation for) frankly sounds a lot more exciting than what’s currently on tap with B but will likely need to be done at off-hours. I value work-life balance and while I’m certainly willing to put in extra time as needed here and there, this is the first real serious after-hours commitment I’ve ever made. I don’t know about backing out at this point since HR asked me for a short bio to share with C. I was kind of taken by surprise when Max first brought it up and may have initially expressed skepticism before telling him what my preferred schedule is if I were to do so. Being in a different time zone than some of the other staff on the project could make collaboration outside of “regular business hours” a little difficult. I’ve been thinking that a scenario I’d prefer would be if I were able to do the work largely independently (at my own convenience) with say, only one meeting per week.

    Am I worrying too much about *possibly* feeling overworked? Obviously, I’m only going off of what Max told me as an example so I don’t know for sure what the exact expectation for me will be. On the other hand, I haven’t been too enthralled by most of the work required by B lately so if C is impressed by the output A gives them, then they’ll officially be partners and I’d be free to leave B for C (which would re-ignite my passion for my work again).

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      This is the nature of consulting. Proposals, and other business-development activities like this tryout, mean overtime.

      Now I don’t know your particular corporate culture, but if you do this extra work, there are two potential benefits for you: (1) if it goes well, you get to work for C and do the stuff you’re more interested in, (2) if it doesn’t go well, your management recognize that at least you’re willing to do more than just keep your head down, so you’re going to be on their minds and may get other opportunities in the future.

      The downside, of course, is (3) they think, yeah we can regularly work OP for 60 hours a week without a complaint. It think you’ve already hedged that a little with Max, but it’s probably worth being more explicit with him about that.

      But bottom line, you need to make the decision about whether work-life balance + boring work at B is better than overtime + chance to do interesting, cutting-edge work at C.

      1. ferrina*

        Alton Brown’s Evil Twin is 100% right. This is the nature of consulting- the interesting work can require that we put in extra hours. And the occasional extra hours are sort of the nature of consulting (though as ABET pointed out, some firms take advantage and expect you to work 60 hr/wk permanently).

        At this point you have to pick the trade off you are willing to make. Though if they included your bio in the proposal to the client, the firm will likely be annoyed if you refuse to work on C’s project. Especially if your manager had to go to bat to convince your firm and/or C to put you on this project.

  56. Need More Jelly Beans*

    Suggestions for navigating an ageist environment at work? I work for someone whose own age puts them in a protected class. Nonetheless, this boss “jokes” about the impact of age on their own ability and the ability of employees of a certain age to remember, process, hear, and use new technology. More concerning though is that this boss often directs us managers (all of whom are in a protected class due to our age) to manage our “early career” (in their 20s) direct reports differently than we manage our older and mid-career employees. On multiple occasions, one of us managers has led and completed a high profile project or initiative, only to be relegated to the shadows while the boss gives an early career individual contributor the opportunity to do the project presentation. (Readers, these are folks who contributed very little, if anything to these projects and do not have the experience or subject matter expertise to present about them). When the boss gives the spotlight to an early career employee, the boss will justify it by saying “giving young people a good start in their career is an important responsibility” and “it’s really important that young people get exposure”. The impact on us mid-career folks is significant – it’s hurting our careers! We don’t get opportunities to showcase our hard work to executive leadership, and we don’t get credit for our work either – the audience ends up directing praise to the early career employee and associating that person with the project. That creates confusion about the early career employees’ roles and responsibilities: they subsequently get calls, emails, and meeting invites for things that are outside their scope of responsibility and us managers have to run around trying to chase down invites, calls and emails and jockeying back into spaces where we need to be to do our jobs! This boss also puts intense pressure on us managers to hand off important responsibilities to junior staff to “give them experience”, but these are tasks that junior staff have no experience or subject matter expertise to manage. These are the kinds of projects that people typically get entire graduate degrees to do, and these junior level employees don’t have those degrees! Us managers end up having to work exponentially harder because we have to try to teach a skill someone normally learns in grad school, then basically ghost write and significantly rewrite the work the early career employees do, and all the while the boss raises their eyebrows at us in 1:1s about “trusting” and “empowering” early career people to do the work. When we let a shoddy work product move forward, it doesn’t help either. The boss is not a subject matter expert, so they think it’s great! These are public-facing projects though, and other professionals can see that the work is substandard, which reflects badly on the org (and me as a manager, if I’m being honest). You’d think if the boss was so into staff mentoring and development they would show the same courtesy to the mid-career managers, but they don’t. When we go to meetings with the boss, they do all the talking and presenting while we sit there feeling invisible. It actually feels like that’s what the boss wants: for the mid-career managers to fade into the background, do all the work, and make everyone look good, while others hog the spotlight and the boss enjoys being popular with their early career employees. I want to be clear that I go the great lengths to develop everyone on my team, and that I invest a lot of time and effort into providing opportunities to grow and develop. But I also think it’s just plain wrong to be expected to do that in a way that sacrifices and undermines my own career growth.

    1. Glazed Donut*

      Someone else may have a different take on this, but to me, it sounds like this job isn’t a great fit for you because of the misalignment with your idea of how the work gets done vs your boss’s idea.
      You say that the early career folks present on things they don’t know about, and that they are also the ones who get the praise– so maybe they do know about the things, or they are learning while prepping for presenting? Cause if it was really a blind situation, they’d be seen as fumbling through and there’d (likely) be a conversation with the boss about why these folk don’t know the material.
      I had a similar chat with a former colleague recently – the boss really loves investing in early career people. When I was there (and new), she said yes to all my conference/travel requests, and I had opportunities for all kinds of new projects (all my own work though). My colleague is a bit closer to retirement and the boss isn’t saying yes to any of her requests. I suggested she try to buddy up with a newer person and pitch an idea TOGETHER so they both get the benefit.
      Here, in your case, it sounds like you’re bitter, which is understandable! I’ve found it hard to reverse my own bitter feelings once they arise in work situations. Maybe you’d be able to re-frame, but it just sounds like a bad fit for you with this boss + your stage in life + what you want from a job. Maybe an internal transfer or a new position/org would help.

      1. Need More Jelly Beans*

        There is no prepping for the presenting or learning about the work for these junior people. They literally read presentations someone else (who did the actual work) has written. The fumbling through seems to be excused as nerves. I supervise these junior people closely and I am quite familiar with what they know and don’t know – they definitely don’t “know the things”. I appreciate you taking the time to respond; it’s kind of you to offer what you could but this advice does feel a bit “you’re the problem-ish”. None of us would say that to someone experiencing racism or anti-LGBTQ behavior at work, that they’re responsible for fixing it; ageism is also not something to tell someone to fix themselves. Looking for a transfer is something I’ve considered; I’ll continue to explore that as a possible option.

      2. Girasol*

        Is this a feature of your particular employer or is it the culture of your geographic area? I’d recommend voting with your feet – leaving for a better job – if there’s hope that other employers in your field might be less ageist. But if ageism is part of the whole local culture that might not work. Taking it to HR may be risky too though. If they are ageist as well then you might mark yourself a troublemaker. Ideally HR would be concerned that ageism is wrong and illegal, but they can be just as biased as other people, and the threat of a legal case is small because ageism cases are so hard to win.

        1. Need More Jelly Beans*

          Good question. It’s probably more about this employer than the part of the country where I live. I see what you’re saying about HR and the problems with proving ageism. I did some reading about the topic yesterday and I’m seeing that I’d need really good notes about instances of the problem, so at the very least I need to write things down and keep notes going forward. It doesn’t just affect me, to be clear – there are junior staff who are “early career” because it’s a second career for them, and they’re midlife as far as their age, but this boss doesn’t make these “career advancing” kinds of opportunities available to them. The boss just gives those opportunities to the twenty something staff (especially attractive folks). A few weeks ago I went to this panel for women’s history month where some prominent local women leaders talked about their career paths. Every one of them said they had a boss who was a supportive mentor, both while they worked for that boss and afterwards. As they spoke about that, I realized I’ve not had someone like that: so far they’ve all been bad bosses who actively block certain employees from opportunities and ultimately from promotions and more money. I’m nowhere near ready for retirement – career advancement and more money are really important to me. It’s a boss’s job to develop all their employees in an equitable way, not just the young, cute ones. I deserve to be treated fairly; I’m going to look for a better job.

      3. JSPA*

        People shouldn’t have to work around discrimination. I hope you wouldn’t tell person of [race, creed, color] to pal around with someone of [ Different race, creed, color] to be recognized… while thinking it’s somehow normal that they have to do this.

        Need More Jelly Beans, I think this merits having a talk with someone a couple of levels up from your boss. Focus on the risks of having people be treated as if they knew material that they have no clue about (especially if there are safety or legal risks as well as reputational risks) and on the time lost, getting people who know how to do the actual work, into the appropriate meetings.

        You could also point out that it’s very bad for early career people to be put in a situation where they are legitimately not qualified, and are told to fake it, or to blame their anxiety on imposter syndrome.

    2. Policy Wonk*

      In my view your boss is discriminating based on age, and you should go to HR about it. At the very least, call the boss out on it the next time he assigns someone else to present your work – that he is discriminating against you based on your age and hurting your career.

      And stop doing your employees’ work. When the boss tells you to give a project to an entry-level employee, give it to the person and ask them to keep you and boss advised of progress, have them submit all documents to both of you. Let the boss see your employee’s actual work product. No one is served by making it appear they do better work than they are capable of – and it could lead to the boss laying you off because the entry-level employee is cheaper.

      1. Need More Jelly Beans*

        Thank you, this is validating, and very helpful. I’ll give the HR option some serious thought – it really does feel like it’s reached that point. I also appreciate the heads up about my job security. Had not considered that until now. I have tried letting junior people do the work themselves so the boss can see what the actual quality is like. At times, that has had the unfortunate effect of me fixing suboptimal work product last minute, when I don’t have time to spare, like scrambling to fix things that could create liability issues. But I’ll think about how to do that strategically and maybe see if there’s a way to get someone besides my boss seeing that substandard work. My boss is not a subject matter expert and they enthusiastically bless the junior employees’ shoddy stuff.

      2. Despachito*

        Yes, this – if possible stop doing the work behind the scenes instead of the new employees.

      3. Rachel*

        This is a great example of how the legal definition of discrimination and the colloquial definition of discrimination are different.

  57. Dr*

    I’m a physician and need to get out of clinical work for my own mental and physical health. I can’t keep working so many unpaid hours (I often work twice as long as I’m paid for, partially because of the absolute flood of electronic messages from patients, but also documentation, prior auths, other insurance stuff, being on hold with pharmacies, etc.).
    I’m not even vaguely qualified for pharma/research jobs (or whatever “consulting” seems to mean) – I’m a psychiatrist. I feel like I’m out of options and I’m thinking about utilization review, which is to say, being the person who decides if insurance will approve the thing your doctor says you need. Is there a way to ethically take/perform a job that is widely regarded as inherently villainous?

    1. EMP*

      Basing this on secondhand experience of being a psychiatrist, but is any clinical work out of the question? The psychiatrists I know in private practice have much better hours.
      I would also look at teaching and see if you could move into more of an academic side of medicine.

    2. Fluff*

      I hear you – the “pajama time” for physicians is ridiculous and only increasing. Civilians (ok patients) often have no idea about this hidden work.

      1. Check out this Facebook group: Physician Nonclinical Career Hunters. Even just reading through the posts and stories can be hopeful. Many have made a transition.

      2. You may also find quite a few psychiatrists who have gone fully private and self pay, not taking any insurance. There are also UR type roles where you try to help hospitals get the insurance approvals. You may have more options.

      3. Please remember too that a career which works for you is not truly villainous. You cannot bear the burden of our (assume USA) broken health care system. Sometimes a job can be a job, not a calling.

      Hope that helps a bit.

    3. Retirement Pending*

      I feel your pain. Private practice MD who just last week decided to retire, because of the administrative burden. Fortunately I have reached retirement age. Hope you find a paid position where someone else does all that! Best wishes

    4. animal*

      Would you be interested in teaching at a medical school? Mine currently is hiring a vice chair of psychiatry. :D

    5. Gyne*

      Also a doc, and I have a colleague who went into utilization review for a hospital. She loves it and feels like she’s doing her part to help the clinical staff beat the insurance companies at their own game.

      I absolutely feel your pain regarding the unpaid clinical work. Being in private practice mitigates a lot of that, and as psych you could still retain a few patients and go to a cash only practice. I don’t think there are any psychiatrists in my town who take insurance anymore.

    6. Nightengale*

      the PA system is pretty terrible but isn’t going anywhere. Given the current system exists, having ethical and knowledgeable people involved would go a long way towards harm reduction.

      (am developmental pediatrician who is working all hours for patients and is pretty exhausted with medications being denied due to non-sensical checklists. Current one is a medication the child has taken for years but the child changed insurances. Their prereq list includes a medication that is not “contraindicated” but is not at all indicated for this specific patient. Having my request reviewed by an actual psychiatrist who actually read what I wrote would be really useful and improve patient care a ton.)

  58. Susie*

    Does anyone have today (Good Friday – Christian holiday) off? I’m newish to my company and I’m finding it overall to skew Christian… At the time I was laid off, exhausted and desperate for a job so I didn’t do much research because I needed a job so bad. There was a chat message within a Slack chat room the other day where someone said to someone else “have a blessed Easter!”. I made a cringe face so fast.

    I grew up Catholic, however I’m not religious (possibly agnostic), but frankly anything religiously Christian makes me super uncomfortable. Yesterday I signed my emails with “have a great long weekend!”.

    1. Rara Avis*

      My husband (public school teacher) does. I (private school teacher) don’t. (I’ve found that most public schools in the states I’ve lived in align their spring break with Easter and start with Good Friday .)

      1. PublicSchoolsAndReligion*

        I’ve never seen or heard of a public school that gives Good Friday off. Wow. I find it annoying enough that I’m forced to take Christmas off. Let me take my holidays off instead.

    2. Introvert girl*

      I live in a Catholic country and just wish people a nice Easter weekend. I myself am not Catholic and assume this formula will appeal to those celebrating Easter and those just enjoying the long weekend due to Easter.

    3. Silver Linings From Dreamland*

      My company’s closed today and it’s the first place I’ve ever worked or gone to school that did. Grew up Jew-ish so never celebrated it.

      Luckily, my immediate colleagues have mostly just said things along the lines of “enjoy the long holiday weekend/Easter weekend”.

    4. Busy Middle Manager*

      This is an area where there is a dichotomy between online and real life in my experience. I live and work in a very left leaning area, both large churches around me were packed last night. I went to one and could barely get a seat. Filled with people of all colors and nationalities and they said parts in Spanish and a few other languages. My job has some very left-leaning people in upper management and they are liberal with doling out paid holidays for everyone around religious holidays including Good Friday. We don’t have enough Muslims or Jewish people on staff to warrant getting those days off, but those folk are given loads of leniency to take time off because I always see them taking off around those times and everyone is fine with it.

      Put another way, I’ve seen loads of cases here where you’d think the person or company was atheist but they either weren’t or they were accommodating to religious holidays. I would also ask myself why you signed off on emails that way, I don’t even “sign” emails. Just maybe say “thanks?” It seems like you want to send a message to your coworkers, but do they care? I honestly don’t care if my colleagues are religious or not or are lukewarm in their religious or are celebrating a given holiday one year and not the next.

    5. Antilles*

      I don’t personally nor have I ever worked anywhere that does give us the day off. But the local schools are closed, so a lot of people in my office have taken the day as PTO for that reason.

    6. Ashie*

      Most of the government offices around here (southern USA) are closed today, which I find really weird and kind of troubling.

      1. callmeheavenly*

        lmao. as a government employee who has had A Week I was bemoaning earlier “if I have to live in this shitty right wing hell state [not southern though] why can I not at least get Good Friday off.” sigh

      2. Retired Accountant*

        I’m in South Carolina and everything is open here. Been to the doctor and the DMV. The golf courses are busy, otherwise it does not feel like a holiday.

    7. Bella Ridley*

      It’s a statutory holiday where I live. The most common sign-off is “enjoy the long weekend!”

    8. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      I live in the South, which is plenty Christian, and I’ve never had Good Friday off. Unless it’s an overtly religious company, I wouldn’t think much of it other than “yay, long weekend!”

      I don’t really see anything wrong with individuals wishing other individuals a good holiday, whatever the holiday, provided they know the person they’re wishing actually does celebrate that holiday, and no one is assuming everyone celebrates a given religious holiday.

      1. Anecdata*

        Regionally, I think of the northeast as most likely to have it off — it’s more a Catholic thing (and particularly the tradition of holding vigil 12pm-3pm, which is easier if you’re just off the whole day); and less a Baptist/Evangelical thing

    9. ThatGirl*

      My husband works in higher ed and the office is closed today, but it’s a marginally Christian (Protestant) university.

      I’m off today but only ‘cause it’s my birthday. :)

      1. WantonSeedStitch*

        Lucky for you your birthday is March 29 instead of February 29! (Happy birthday!)

    10. Pam Adams*

      In my state- California- today (or Monday) is the Cesar Chavez holiday, which is officially March 31.

      Si Se Puede!

    11. Anecdata*

      The NYSE is closed, so if you’re in a field where that matters it may be more top of mind to folks

      I think your sign off is fine, and if someone wished you a Happy Easter you’d be fine to respond with something like “oh, I’m not celebrating but I’m looking forward to the weekend” if you wanted to point that out (or not) — but feeling uncomfortable hearing someone else wish someone else a Happy Easter is probably something you’ll have to deal with.

    12. WantonSeedStitch*

      No, I work at a university that does not give any religious holidays off specifically. Even Christmas has now been subsumed into a winter break week. As a non-Christian myself, I’m relieved about this. Our daycare does take today off–I assume a majority of the people who work there are Christian, as they do Christmas and Easter crafts with the kids, though very blandly secular ones that don’t really go up my nose too much.

    13. RagingADHD*

      I used to, when I worked in firms that followed the NYSE schedule. It was just a business closure, like a bank holiday.

      I have today off because my current job gives every employee 2 Personal Observance days in addition to their PTO. It can be used for religious holidays, political or volunteer work, or anything you find personally meaningful.

    14. Filosofickle*

      My company has different holidays for every country we have a major presence in — so I (a US employee) don’t get it, but my Canada and Mexico colleagues do! Which made it a quiet day.

      I don’t want anyone wishing me a blessed Easter at work. That’s not cool. I’m used to Happy Easter, but would prefer nothing. Even being raised culturally Christian, Easter has never been observed beyond jellybeans with my friends/family in any area I’ve lived in so it confuses me when people ask what I’m doing for the holiday. Nothing?

    15. Dragonfly7*

      Yes, this is a new job, and the first time I’ve had off Good Friday in at least 15 years. I didn’t even get Good Friday off from school after 2003. It’s just a normal weekend for me, but a let people know to have a good “long weekend” as I would for any weekend there was a Monday holiday.