open thread – March 8-9, 2024

It’s the Friday open thread!

The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on any work-related questions that you want to talk about (that includes school). If you want an answer from me, emailing me is still your best bet*, but this is a chance to take your questions to other readers.

* If you submitted a question to me recently, please do not repost it here, as it may be in my queue to answer.

{ 1,132 comments… read them below }

  1. Anonynon*

    I have a job hunt question! Basically, do I keep up my job search in this circumstance: I am about to start a part-time temporary job. It’s a job that matches what I want to do, so it’s really a great opportunity (I’ve been working very little in the last several years due to some health issues, so this is me getting back into the workforce, basically, while changing careers). It’s a longer term temp position from this month until about September at least.

    But I am also looking for a full time permanent position. I know hiring can take months, so I’m not sure if I should suspend my full time job search while I do this temp job? Or do I suspend it for awhile and start it again in the summer, when the temp job is coming to an end? There is also a non-zero chance that this temp job could lead to a permanent job. It’s with a huge organization. But I really have no sense right now of how likely that is.

    Added to the complication is that I am looking solely for a remote or very hybrid (like 1 day in office per week) position, so my pool of possible jobs is already smaller and more competitive.

    1. LCH*

      i wouldn’t suspend. but i would only focus on applying to positions that really, really interest me.

      1. Tio*

        Same. Focus while you’re comfortable, and be slightly more picky about what you’re applying to, but apply. Plenty of places drag their feet in hiring temps, and if you do get a FT offer near the end of your temping, that might push them to hire you as well. Companies get FOMO too!

      2. Sloanicota*

        I agree, while I have this great new opportunity I’d only be applying to things that are 100% fit. And then the closer I get to September the more open I’d be to applying to more options. I’m basically in this situation right now (my current job is perfect at this moment but likely to go downhill in the near future) and that’s how I’m approaching it. It has taken me a full year in the past to secure a new job I was really excited about – but that’s my field/niche, I think it varies widely.

      3. Zephy*

        +1. Don’t stop looking, but now that you will have *some* income coming in, you can afford to be pickier about where you apply.

    2. Nea*

      Don’t give up the temp! It will give you experience to put on your resume, maybe a reference, maybe even an in somewhere in that org or with “someone who knows someone.”

      That said, don’t give up the job hunt entirely either – I work in an area where they are *always* hiring and it can still take up to 4 months to find a slot for me.

      So the answer is – do both. Do the temp job and do job hunting for an hour or so every day, or on your off days, or whatever works on your schedule.

    3. Artemesia*

      You want a full time job; you don’t have one. Don’t suspend the search at all; a temp job should never take precedence and as you note, the hiring process is long enough that you probably would complete this anyway. Meanwhile you are working and that is a good platform from which to be searching. You have a job; it is in the field you want; but you need a full time job and so are looking. Strongest possible situation to search from.

    4. Despairingly unemployed*

      Similar boat here where I applied to some part-time positions, too soon to hear anything, of course, but even though they’re not temp I would keep applying elsewhere.
      (Part of me is convinced the “problem” with my resume right now is the lack of current jobs, but… “the market,” sigh.)

    5. uncivil servant*

      Only apply for jobs that you would quit the temp job to take, but keep applying.

      The best leverage for turning the temp job permanent is to have another offer, so it doesn’t even necessarily preclude taking a permanent job at your current employer if you like it.

    6. JR 17*

      Would you quit the temp job for a full-time offer, or would that burn a bridge you aren’t willing to burn? If the former, keep searching and be selective (for now). If the latter, you could focus on informational interviews, networking (including within your new company), and polishing up your resume, then jump back into full-scale in a month or two.

    7. Momma Bear*

      I’d keep looking, working what you have, and take the possibility of a FT position into account. IF it shows up, great. IF it does not, you have not wasted time on a maybe. Down the road you could also say, “I have this offer” and see if they can cough up a real FT position for you where you are (vs vague promises). If not, you know that it was never going to be a real thing. What you want to find will take time, so don’t put it off.

    8. Dancing Otter*

      The possibility of a temp worker leaving before you’re done with them is the natural consequence of using temps.
      Don’t stop looking, and don’t feel obligated to stay through September if you find something sooner.
      But as others have said, you can afford to hold out for a really good fit, now that you have some money coming in.

      1. Momma Bear*

        Agreed. Temporary is on both sides. I had a temp job where they came to us one morning and said today was our last day. I’ve had others where I left because I needed to return to campus, nevermind that the job was not “done”. September is a goal, not a requirement.

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

      Keep searching. You never know when something comes up. And the company you are temping for will (or should if they are any good) understand that a temp worker can leave early.

    10. DependsOnTheContract*

      It may also depend on the terms of your contract. Some contract work is at will, but some contracts have specific requirements around how you can leave. Make sure that it either indicates a set number of weeks notice or that the job is at will. Otherwise, depending on the specifics, you may be obligated to stay until September and even with long hiring processes it’s unlikely someone with an open position now will wait that long.

      If the contract does not have this spelled out it’s okay to negotiate.

      Good luck!

    11. Ms. Murchison*

      It depends on how much you need money and how important the organization where you’re temping is. If you need money, keep job hunting. If you don’t, you could opt to wait until closer to the end of the temp job or keep job hunting but set your availability date at the end of the temp job. While it is completely understandable to leave a temp or part time job for a full time one (we all have bills to pay!), you risk burning bridges at the temp job’s organization if you leave early. So, as AAM so often advises, you have to weigh the risks and benefits of your unique situation.

  2. Cheryocam*

    TL;DR – how do you change career?

    I’ve spent close to ten years working up a ladder that is very clearly named [job function] assistant, [job function] officer, [job function] manager… and I think I may want a total change.
    Obviously my network is all quite job function focussed, and the new thing doesn’t really have a clearly advertised way in, other than get recruited as a brand new graduate. How do I get answers to questions like, what sort of job titles should I be looking at? What kind of level would be right for me? What experience do I need to make the most of and what’s less relevant? Other than cold messaging on linkedin which, from years reading this site, I’m pretty wary of.

    Everyone says it’s normal to change career in your 30s but I can’t help feeling like it might be totally impossible and I’ve pigeonholed myself forever…

    1. Anonynon*

      Can you comb your Linkedin connections for anyone who is connected to someone in your target job? And then ask them to introduce you? Or are there associations for people in your target job that you could join – on Linkedin or otherwise?

      1. Yeah...*

        There are often complaints on this very site about being asked to make an introduction to someone, but it’s an idea.

        1. Cyborg Llama Horde*

          I think it’s a matter of specificity (and works better if the person you’re asking knows and likes you). Cheryocam isn’t being advised to ask, “Can your friend get me a job?” but rather, “I’m considering switching careers to daffodil cultivator, and I see that your sister-in-law works in bulb cultivation. Do you think she would be willing to talk to me about what sort of roles I should be targeting?”

          1. Lily Rowan*

            Totally this — an introduction with a specific question is great! And spread your net wide in looking for connections.

            Not exactly the same, but when I was relocating for personal reasons, I asked everyone I could think of if they knew anyone in my field in the new area. I didn’t get a job out of it, but I had some great conversations.

            1. Lily Rowan*

              Oh, and my point was, people were really willing to meet me, and I was surprised who had connections — someone in a different part of the country and a different field, but had a friend from fandom who was a great contact for me.

          2. Cat*

            I am looking for a professional temp job – a month or two at the most. I am a teacher, looking to expand my skills into other areas. As a result, I am considering temping for the summer. I am thinking something that where I could transfer presentation skills or instructional design. Are there any job boards that specifically target temporary jobs for professionals? The ones I have found don’t really seem seem to have temp jobs, even though they advertise as such.

        2. JSPA*

          True but a lot of those complaints focus on entry-level people / students who are reaching out fairly randomly, have no clue how much time they are sucking, don’t do useful prep work to find out anything in advance, have no questions beyond, “can you help me get hired” and then fail to send even the most basic of thank yous.

          Or “sexy” fields where they’re seen as the gatekeeper, and what’s supposed to be a chat about the field turns into, “here’s my manuscript / portfolio / demo, please look / listen.”

          Or people saying, “I’m happy to do a few, but someone is imposing on my time by promising it to seemingly random third parties.”

          Cheryocam isn’t a noob to the world of work, brings actual skills to the conversation, has ideas about a small set of alternate fields that might be a good fit, is asking on their own behalf, and presumably knows to say “please” and “thank you” ( And to do so even if the answer is, “so sorry, but I can’t help with that.”)

          So they’re already past the most common stumbling blocks.

    2. Nea*

      Do you have the assets to be able to take night classes, or take a week or two for training? I switched jobs in my 30s twice – once from office manager to teaching assistant at the place I was training, then again to tech writing when I picked up TW jobs for one of my professors.

      Ironically, I was taking training for a completely different subject that promptly became irrelevant to my career…

      1. JanetM*

        I switched careers accidentally by requesting to take a training course.

        I was an admin assistant. One of the Associate CIOs sent information to the division listserv about a Project Management Professional review course being offered by the local chapter of PMI. I figured, “We do projects in my department, and this training would look good on my resume,” so I put in an order request.

        Less than a week later, the CIO offered me a temporary position in the Project Management Office to work with system owners to develop security plans.

        Seven years later, I’m working on moving up to a Project Manager II position.

    3. Linda*

      Is there a professional association for your target field? I would start there, see if they have any new member groups or mentorship programs. I’d also look for blogs and other social media related to your target field. Lurk for a while and see what you pick up.

    4. WantonSeedStitch*

      Definitely informational interviewing (either reach out to people you know in the field, or if you don’t know anyone, see if any of the people you know have contacts) and any kind of education you can get on the subject if possible! It might help if you can name the field you want to go into–there might be people reading this blog who are in that field and who have suggestions specific to it!

    5. EMP*

      Do you have a higher ed network or similar that you can search for people in your desired field? Or if not hire ed, some other “thing in common” network (my FB parents group has a careers chat, for example). In general cold emailing on linkedin isn’t always great but if you have something in common like graduating from the same school, and a specific reason not just “obviously angling for you to hire me”, I think cold messaging/emailing is appropriate in this case!

      1. phototrope*

        I agree, depending on your field, cold messaging can be totally fine. You want to sound like a reasonable person and make it clear that you actually want information (and not just be handed a job on a silver platter), but that shouldn’t be a problem for you!

        I get cold LinkedIn messages from students/people new to the field on a pretty regular basis and I almost always agree to a short informational conversation (other people might prefer to respond in writing – I know some colleagues who have a sort of canned FAQ response for these sorts of things – but talking on the phone or zoom is always my preference). The messages I get are usually along these lines:

        “Hi, I’m ___ and I’m interested in becoming a ___. We both have a degree in ___ and I see we have a few connections in common. I’d love to learn more about your path to becoming a ___ and ask a few questions about how to get started in the field.”

    6. Keeley Jones, The Independent Wonan*

      I transitioned careers in my 3. It took a bit and some jobs were more lateral moves, but after a few years I got where I wanted to be.

      What do you want to do? Is there any part of your current job that has transferable skills? And absolutely do not discount soft skills. What helped me make the move into a new career is that I’m someone who loves variety, constant learning, changing. I had applied for a role but the recruiter after taking to me thought I’d be better in a different position that was open. It had a lot of technical skills I did not have and he assured me my soft skills of being able to handle ever changing priorities was a huge part of the job. The tech stuff I could (and did) learn.

    7. Policy Wonk*

      Hard to say without knowing your field, but look at government jobs. In USAJobs read the descriptions to see where you have appropriate qualifications. Job titles are pretty standard in the government and aren’t always a good indicator of what the position entails. I caution that government hiring can take a long time.

    8. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      If you find a solution, please return with an update. There are days where I’d give my right hand to get out of Programming without a divorce and spending a half-decade homeless.

      1. A Girl Named Fred*

        I don’t meant to hijack Cheryocam’s thread, but, as someone who is considering career switching INTO some type of programming, would you mind sharing what kinds of things make you have those days? IE, what should someone considering the field be aware of or prepared to deal with as part of it?

        1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          The big ones are:

          Tribal Knowledge (e.g. The database is called “Fluffy” because that’s the owner’s daughter’s deceased favorite cat. It’s written down in the “Manhattan” database because that’s where the cat was buried. The password to the database is etched in the tombstone).

          Requirement inflation when trying to change roles (aka Sr. Devs Only) (e.g. This entry level role pays $15/hour and requires 5 years experience each in these 10 languages. Plus “other liabilities at discretion”).

          Empires & fiefdoms (e.g. Joaquin owns the Sales database. Tim owns the Sales application. Jimbo owns Accounting. Mikhail owns Personnel. They might as well be on different planets; if your task involves any interaction, you’re building out specs from the Tribal Knowledge and writing and maintaining middleware from scratch).

          Agile.

          Programming could be an amazing career, but it’s devolving into locking yourself into a dead end unless you job hop every other year to build your alphabet soup and make the right choices every time. The next bullet of the month is aimed at your head.

          1. A Girl Named Fred*

            Ahh, that makes sense. Definitely some stuff for me to think about – thank you for sharing!

            1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

              You’re welcome. Best of luck to you whichever route you end up taking!

          2. Tau*

            Agile.

            That one gave me a sympathetic wince. I actually genuinely enjoy programming and have managed to avoid a lot of the other problems you mention so far (touch wood!) but after multiple years of wondering whether we were just all too stupid to implement this Amazing Workflow Process To End Them All properly, I’ve come to the conclusion that Scrum is just… not my thing. Like, at this point there’s no functional difference between “it’s bad” and “it’s good but I have never seen it implemented correctly and doubt I ever will”. Also, some aspects of Agile are nice ideas in the abstract but just don’t work in the environments I’ve been working in.

            And I do hear you about the rat race of new technologies. This is something that makes me vaguely nervous, because… I’m enjoying the constant learning now, will I really keep doing so until retirement? Should I try to find the right “departure” tech stack where I can stay there and work for companies that will stick with an outdated system (the COBOL method of job security)? And why, why, why inflict the constant churn of tech stacks on us and then still require “X years of experience in Y” in job ads? It’d be a lot easier to manage if people just accepted that a senior dev with experience in a similar language or framework can pick up a new one pretty rapidly and not go “oh, but you only know Java, we can’t consider you for this Kotlin job”. (Shout-out to my second job, which didn’t do this and allowed me to jump out of the .NET ecosystem – I was a bit worried I’d be stuck in Microsoft land for eternity, extra worry on top because all the frameworks I’d been working with at that first job were ancient.)

            1. Cedrus Libani*

              On the positive side, there are a lot of us making careers of those “dead ends”.

              My husband is a software engineer, a lifer in an old-school tech company with an ancient and notoriously awful code base. It’s straight C (too old for ++, #, et al). Newbies are considered genius-tier if they’re ready to make commits by their second year on the job; normal people take three years. He’s been there 20 years, one of the elders who knows the tribal knowledge, and the company pays him what it’s worth to them to keep him around.

              I’m a subject matter expert who can write passable code, in a field where that’s not a core competency and most people can’t. I work for a company that makes analysis software for that field. I make prototype-quality scripts: here’s what goes in, here are the expected outputs, this is the logic. My job is to make sure the logic and the outputs are correct, because I’m the subject matter expert. Basically, I generate test cases. There’s a separate team of developers that rewrites these prototypes as optimized, robust, customer-facing software. I’m not a trained software engineer and wouldn’t be qualified for that job.

              You do kind of have to pick your spot. A less happy story: a relative was a legit world expert on something that was big in the 1980s; I think it was Lotus Notes. Had a big house in the hills over Silicon Valley, a trophy wife, and companies lining up to beg for the chance to pay him lots of money. It went to his head. I’m not sure he’s learned a single new fact since the 1980s, never mind a new tech stack…and the rest of his career has gone about as well as you’d think.

            2. Reluctant Mezzo*

              There are companies out there still using Titan for inventory control, so some poor IT has to learn that obsolete process, or someone next to retirement who started work with it decades ago can find a niche.

          3. aubrey*

            Your tribal knowledge example made me laugh-wince, I recently lost an argument wanting to name a new database something reasonable and now it and various associated functions/tools are named as a series of nerdy jokes. Now I need to explain this whole thing when onboarding anyone, SIGH.

            1. Cedrus Libani*

              Yeah, it’s a menace. My current company insists on “creative” names…derived roughly 50% Greek / Roman mythology, 40% comic books, 10% assorted other. I can’t keep any of them straight! If you’re lucky, there’s an “obvious” connection (e.g. the blood banking projects are all named after vampires), but the usual case is you ask WTF and receive a fifteen-minute shaggy dog story that explains why this project vaguely reminded someone of this Marvel character. Knock it off. My brain is full. You’re allowed to call it by a boring, descriptive name!

    9. Coffee Protein Drink*

      Check with your local library. Many libraries have job-related resources. They may also provide access to educational opportunities. My library allows free access to LinkedIn Learning, for example.

    10. hi there*

      Think about the transferable skills you’ve gained on your way from assistant to manager. Look at job ads and job descriptions for the new field, and figure out the new vocabulary you need to describe those transferable skills to potential hiring managers in the new field. Seek out Reddit, Facebook, or LinkedIn networks for the new field so you can broaden your understanding of the way folks talk/think. And like several others have suggested, finding a volunteer position and/or a training course would further prepare you for making the case to leap from [job function] to new field.

    11. Water Lily*

      I worked with a career coach on this. Here’s what helps: you need to find an ally- someone who will really root for you and is willing to take a chance on you. You’re going to want to find someone who can say “sure, maybe you were a great llama groomer, but you’d make a great teapot designer.” They have to be ok with you having a long runway to get up to speed and they have to like you enough to give you some of the additional coaching you may need. So the hard part is really finding that advocate or that ally.

      So how do you find that advocate? Use a network. Then once you find someone that might be a good ally for you, they really need to root for you. How do you start that? Easy. Just find common ground: you went to the same university, you both like film noir, you both went to the same summer camp as kids: find that common ground and let your connection grow a bit.

      It worked for me. Kinda. Found an ally. Got common ground. Got an interview.

      Good luck!

    12. Caramellow*

      I 100% flipped careers in my 30s and I think it is easier to do now than when I did it in the 80s. First identify what you’d need in terms of formal credits or certifications. If that’s a barrier, start taking a class and working up your credentials. If there are conferences in your desired field, look to see if that would be a networking possibility.

      One source of help for me was a local university. Even though their program wasn’t a good fit for me, their admissions folks gave me hugely valuable help in breaking down the needed credits into bite sized pieces I could handle. Good luck!

  3. Applesauce chairs*

    Does anyone own one of those specialty office chairs for kneeling, sitting cross-legged, etc.? Thinking about getting one to add to my home office (in addition to having a standard chair and an adjustable desk for standing). Any tips, brands to avoid or seek out, or other suggestions would be appreciated.

    1. dude, who moved my cheese?*

      I don’t but have always coveted them, so I’m interested in what other people have to say. However, someone in one of the open threads recommended using yoga blocks as a footrest if you’re always crossing your legs. I got some and they are phenomenal. I’m short and they’ve made sitting much more comfortable.

      The best price I found was at Everyday Yoga which gave me a popup for 15% off my first order. I also like doing yoga, so two birds one stone.

      1. Please remove your monkeys from my circus*

        Another option: I’m also short and sit cross-legged or otherwise contorted because chairs never fit me. In part because of advice here, I got a desk chair meant for kids. It’s not the most stylish thing, but it’s significantly more adjustable than “adult” chairs and can be made to actually be the right proportions for me. I still sit curled up like a cat most of the time, but sitting correctly is at least an option for me now.

        1. Reluctant Mezzo*

          Yes, this! I have a kids’ Tablemate table for my laptop because I don’t sit that far from the ground and standard desks are always too high, which means I will need a footrest if the chair is adjusted correctly.

    2. DannyG*

      I had one for several years. It worked fairly well in rotation with a high end office chair and standing. When I moved in ‘22 I didn’t have room for it and likewise my new home office wouldn’t work with it, either. I would suggest trying before buying if you can, as some are adjustable, others not (mine). Especially on days when I got in a good walk before starting it seemed to help my back and legs more than just sitting.

    3. WoodswomanWrites*

      If you’re looking at the kneeling chairs–meaning the ones that have your knees folded with your lower legs resting on a cushioned platform–beware if you have any knee issues. They put a lot of pressure on your knees and one of those chairs resulted in a torn cartilage that required surgery.

      I suggest doing a search on YouTube where a lot of physical therapists have videos. Look for the ones that they recommend.

      1. Warrior Princess Xena*

        I’ve used the kneeling chairs before, and in addition to knee problems, I have found that they can pull on your skin and/or leg hair in a way that can be unpleasant after a few hours if you’re not used to it. I think they’re good in rotation with a regular chair, but I don’t know that I’d switch to one full time.

    4. Anything but an office chair*

      I currently have a Sleekform kneeling rocking chair. I’ve used other cheaper kneeling chairs and this one is way more comfortable for me. I sometimes use it in true kneeling position, and other times unhook my legs so it rocks back to more of a stool. I pair it with a sit/stand desk, so switch between kneeling and standing on a balance board throughout the day (and moving to my Poang lounge chair for reading and editing tasks on my tablet). These options all help alleviate sciatica-ish pain exacerbated by traditional office chairs, and I also just like the ability to rock/spin/fidget a bit while I’m working. I’m an academic with my own office, so quirky office setups don’t draw much attention here.

    5. juliebulie*

      I’ve had a few kneeling chairs. There are some issues with these things:

      – Even the simplest ones tend to cost more than a regular chair of better quality.
      – Most cannot be adjusted to your satisfaction, if at all. If you are especially short or tall, you might not be comfortable.
      – The knee pad tends to wear out quickly, though you can probably replace it if you’re handy.

      Despite those problems (I am fairly short) I have owned more than one. That tells you how much I like them, at least in theory. But I don’t have one anymore. After I got rid of the last one, which was totally uncomfortable, I decided not to buy another unless I can try it in a store.

      So that is my advice. Do not buy unless you’ve actually tried that specific model. You can’t necessarily tell by looking.

    6. Still*

      I got a Stokke Wing second hand (comes up if you search for Wing Balans Ergonomic Chair by Peter Opsvik for Stokke) and I don’t love it. I’m short and I hate that you can’t adjust the distance between the seat and the knee rest, it feels too big for me. I’ve tried putting down a pillow or a folded towel to decrease the distance but it’s not optimal. My butt starts hurting after a while because of the angle. It’s okay for kneeling but I was hoping I’d be able to sit cross legged or in a lotus position and it does not work at all, because of the spacing and the angles. There’s basically only one position that it works for and it’s not all that comfy, so after a while I start fidgeting, try to perch on it sideways, etc. It’s fine for now but I’m definitely looking to replace it.

    7. Roland*

      I regularly sit cross-legged at my chair, never knew they made chairs that were meant for it. I just use a chair that’s wide enough so it’s not a problem. My current office chair is a Mira 2 (Herman Miller) and I love it. Pricey but you can get good deals on ebay.

    8. DefinitiveAnn*

      Nothing works as well for us fat people, but the kneeling chair I used (mumble) years ago was a nightmare. The padding kept slipping down and I ended up scooting down the seat part as my knees sank under me. Maybe it was a cheap one. But never again.

    9. Ally McBeal*

      I’ve had my eye on a Pipersong Meditation Chair for at least a year and am thisclose to spending my annual wellness stipend on it.

      1. Working on my Night Cheese*

        I have been wanting this one too! I just can’t bring myself to spend the money. Hopefully it will be on sale on a Prime day or something soon.

        1. dude, who moved my cheese?*

          Check Facebook marketplace! There are a handful in my area. If I ever want to go Herman Miller I’ll probably look there first.

    10. Morgan Proctor*

      I have one. I coveted a Balans chair — they are pretty much the gold standard of kneeling chairs. If you want to shell out $$$$, they come in different sizes for differently sized people.

      But I actually got my kneeling chair on Craigslist for like $20. I found it extraordinarily comfortable on my back for just sitting. Unfortunately, there was some arm extension issues when I tried to actually use it as a desk chair. Typing just gave me excruciating arm pain, and that tendonitis lasted for MONTHS, even after I stopped using the kneeling chair.

      So, it was a good experiment, and again, it’s super super comfortable just for sitting, but it didn’t work for as a chair to use at a desk with a computer. I am 5’2″ and very petite.

    11. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I have a kneeling chair.

      I’m slightly too short for it, so if I spend too long in it my coccyx complains. But that’s a good prompt to take a screen break anyway.

      I rock a lot while I’m working, and it accommodates a good amount of squirm. I have pretty good posture anyway but it encourages it (if you slouch forwards you slide off, if you slouch backwards you tip over).

      Spouse has a sit-stand desk and we’ve added a foot hammock underneath for when he’s sitting to add another fidget/squirm option. Like having a step or block, but dynamic.

  4. Collie*

    Newish manager here! One thing that’s important to me as a managed employee is to know my supervisor is actually acting on concerns I bring up and not just paying lip service. Now that I’m on the other side, I see more acutely that it’s not just not just about a desire to respond (or not) to concerns, but the restraints placed on you from others.

    For example, if my team wants safety training but I don’t control the budget/planning process for trainings by any means and those who do have decided not to move forward with such training, what can I do? “I hear you,” only goes so far and I know it. What are ways I can respond to my staff when I can’t get what they want, especially when I feel that what they wanted is warranted, that doesn’t leave them feeling as if I’m dismissing their concerns with empty scripts and shrugs? *And* how can I do that while remaining at least somewhat diplomatic in the portrayal of those who are roadblocking? 

    This goes for more trivial things like process preferences that have been dictated in other ways as well as more serious issues like emergency response training (timely or at all).

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      I always have appreciated managers who are as transparent as possible. You don’t have to call out Mr. Roadblock by name, but you can explain things like budgeting limits or what decisions are out of your hands. And make sure you do address concerns when you can. Show that you have their back.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          I’ve had managers who do, and that’s enjoyable, but sometimes they can’t for Reasons.

    2. But Not the Hippopotamus*

      I think it depends a bit on the situation. A few things that come to mind…

      One thing is to tell them you DID raise it (“I raised the concern about inadequate safety training in the leadership meeting last week.”). Another is to leave out some of the inner politics (e.g. “I was told it’s not in the budget for this year” doesn’t say who or why). Offer whatever you can (try to get it in the next budget cycle, have team-internal trainings where people share best practices they’ve found over time, even ask for ideas on stop-gap measures from the team).

      When I feel most listened to is when the reply is more substantial and tries to address the issue (not necessarily a particular solution). And if there’s nothing to be done, just an acknowledgement of the situation goes a long way. There’s a big difference between “I hear you” and “I hear that the office space makes it hard to have private meetings and that’s frustrating. I have spoken with leadership and it looks like things are unlikely to change.” Even more if it feels like SOME kind of effort is there. E.g. “Do you think it would help if we got some white noise machines?”)

      1. JSPA*

        “I’ll ask again early in the next budget cycle, but this wasn’t the only reasonable ask that’s going unfunded in this cycle, and realistically, those other asks will also be in competition in the next cycle.”

        I think you CAN ask, “is there a more limited option at a fraction of the cost that would address the majority of your concerns?”

        Maybe it’s the right to park in the customer lot after 5, if staying late.

        Or a light and hidden panic button on the corner of the building by the alley.

        Or the right to walk away from a client / patient if they’re flailing wildly, and you don’t have backup.

        Or a small stipend to take the self-defense course of your choice.

        Or the use of a conference room for a free (nonprofit-offered?) mini-course on CPR and first aid.

        Or say that you will designate three meetings in the next 6 weeks, with voluntary attendence, to discuss which room(s) and route(s) would be safest, in case of an armed intruder, and that you will be there, and will bring donuts.

        However if the process itself is unsafe, that may well rise to the level of approaching OSHA, if your chain of command refuses. (Or a journalist.)

        Obviously, it’s stressful to it be a whistle blower. But eventually someone will blow the whistle, or someone will get seriously hurt (beyond the company’s ability to buy people’s silence or otherwise bury the evidence, legally or otherwise). At that point there will be an investigation. And then you’re either going to be found on the right side or the wrong side. Better to be on the right side BEFORE someone gets hurt.

    3. HR Exec Popping In*

      I find it is helpful to focus not on the want, but the underlying issue. So they want safety training. What is the issue? And then explore with them other solutions to solve the issue given whatever constraints there are. In this example, I would like to be able to provide safety training, however we are unable to do that right now. So how else can we address the safety concern? Brainstorm ideas like assigning a safety lead to each shift or whatever else could be an option. The point is to engage them in the process of developing a workable solution within your control.

    4. Rex Libris*

      Personally, I’m just straightforward with my employees, while phrasing things as diplomatically as possible. “I brought up X, but unfortunately the (budget, group consensus, overall plan, whatever) didn’t allow for it. If I see a chance to change anything, I’ll bring it back up.” It seems to work fine. Reasonable people will understand that any given manager won’t win on every issue.

      1. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

        Speaking as an employee, the difference between a manager conveying (in whatever words), “I agree with you that X would be a good thing, I just can’t make it happen,” and a manager not conveying that they think X is a good thing (especially if they conveying that it’s a bad thing or pointless), is the difference between night and day. One is about real world constraints, and I’m enough of an adult professional to realize I won’t get everything I want, all the time. The other is about values, and I want a manager who shares my values.

        So that’s what I try to give my employees: as often as possible, a sense of when I agree that what they want is reasonable and I would make it happen if I could.

    5. WantonSeedStitch*

      You can let them know what you’ve done to try to address their concerns, and you can relay the reasons that were given to you by people higher than you for not acting on it. I always feel better knowing that my manager advocated for me, even if they were not successful. So something like “I brought your concerns about the invoicing process to the A/P department, but they said it’s not possible to change the way we invoice for widgets because our accounting system requires us to do it this way. I understand it’s frustrating, but the the technological limitations of the system are something that are out of their control too.”

      1. WantonSeedStitch*

        Oh, and it’s important that you don’t go too overboard by bad-mouthing the people making the decisions. So “I asked Mary if we could buy this new tool, but she said no. I know she’s a tightwad! She just doesn’t understand how much this could help us” would be right out.

    6. Tio*

      This is really common for first time managers. Really focus on what you can and can’t tell them. As a manager, you can’t tell them everything you know, of course, but you may be able to break this down into digestible pieces. For the training example, can you tell them that there’s no room in the budget/schedule for it right now, but you’ve asked the higher ups and you’ll revisit it later. For process changes, can you say something like “This has implications for other teams (if true) so we can’t change that right now, but we’ve voiced our concerns and ideas above us, and I’ll continue to bring it up with them when I see opportunities to.”

      And really, that last half of the sentence is key. While some changes may be a hill to die on for some employees, a lot of them want to know you heard, thought about what to do about it, and brought it up to higher levels. You don’t need to be specific about who is blocking it or why, in most cases. That’s where you start to get into finger pointing, which isn’t great for the team in many ways.

      If you have a good boss, they might be able to help you write out a couple scripts specific to the asks too, in terms of what you can and can’t share, especially know you’re a new manager. You can also relay to them how strongly the team feels about these specific concerns and when you think they can be realistically revisited – like you found as a new manager, your manager probably knows things they can’t tell you! The onion goes deep. But they may be able to suggest a timeline for revisiting that specific case based on things they know. And not all of their concerns are going to be made equal, so some things are probably just going to have to be dropped, and you can tell them that you don’t see it changing in the near future.

    7. House On The Rock*

      Others have had good ideas here, but one thing to keep in mind is that it’s human nature for staff to bring any and all peeves to a new manager in the hope that they will be able to make headway where a previous manager couldn’t/wouldn’t. So yes, absolutely hear their issues and look into what can be done, but also recognize that much of this probably isn’t exclusively on you to solve and may have been ongoing for years. You are just the most recent person to hear it. So don’t beat yourself up if something isn’t realistic or you can’t make headway!

    8. Medium Sized Manager*

      Naming what you have done helps: I shared your concern with leadership, and this is the decision that has been made. Being proactive about things that are in your control also helps build trust that you aren’t just saying whatever, you mean it.

      If it’s an issue of limited budget or resources, talking about the impact also helps: I know this would be helpful for the Llama Painting Division, but it would not have an impact on the rest of the business, so they have chosen to prioritize x that impact the whole company.

      Part of it is also you getting comfortable with them not liking the outcome. “I understand this is frustrating for you. I have done x, but this is the decision made and won’t be up for review until y (if it is something that can be re-reviewed)”

    9. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      As others have said, I think it’s appropriate to tell them that the issue is budget constraints that are out of your control. I like to think I’m a pretty reasonable person, so I’d understand that you don’t have control over every decision. Raising the issue to whomever it is who said no is taking action on concerns that come up.

      When appropriate, it’s also not wrong to tell your reports that you agree with their concern. Agree = think it’s a reasonable thing to raise and discuss. Because you’re right, just saying “I hear you” or something similar isn’t great. Feels like I’m being blown off. I’d much prefer a manager telling me that they agree that X training would be great for the team, they raised it with the decision-maker, who unfortunately said no. But it’s something you support revisiting in the next budget cycle, so if you don’t bring it up yourself, they’re encouraged to remind you.

    10. Cat Lady in the Mountains*

      First question is do you agree with the concerns being brought up? Especially for trivial things, but also for big things you disagree with or are skeptical of, explain your thinking and be clear with them about what you may be persuadable on and what isn’t going to change.

      if you do agree, but it’s out of your sphere of control to act on – I think it’s possible to be transparent in a diplomatic way much of the time. If it’s true, framing things like “I know it was a tough decision for [[person who controls the budget]],” and sharing as much rationale as you can. Don’t promise to keep advocating if you don’t actually want to do that.

      You can also redirect folks to things in your or their sphere of control. like, “in the absence of formal safety training, do you have any suggestions about how we could accomplish X goal that you wanted the safety training to accomplish?”

      This is also culture-dependent and riskier, but over time you may find instances where there is enough trust for you to let folks in on the internal politics and/or express your own feelings more directly. In some companies that would be seen as a real no-go/insubordinate. In my company, I can say “I really disagree with this decision, I think it should be in the budget and [[decision-maker]] is not hearing me. I’m frustrated, but I’ve done everything I can and they’re not changing their mind. I truly have no clue why.” I wouldn’t start doing this until you have very established relationships with your direct reports and your boss/senior colleagues, I wouldn’t do it with anyone whose discretion I didn’t trust absolutely, and I only go there when it’s really important for someone to understand my position and the more complex politics. (Like, “my superstar performer is frustrated to the point where they might quit, I need to let them know what’s really up so they can make the best decision for themselves.”)

    11. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

      There’s so much good advice in this thread!

      A few more thoughts. First, be generous in other ways with your staff in places you can, as this builds goodwill that bleeds into the situations where there isn’t much you are able to do. What are the things directly in your control where you can help – make it easier to take PTO or be flexible with WFH arrangements or cc your boss on a “nice job with xyz” note to the employee etc. Then when they thank you for your support in those situations, you acknowledge this is something you CAN do for them, even though you didn’t get anywhere on that other thing.

      Second, don’t be afraid to acknowledge that you have to decide when to use your own capital. As others have noted upthread, you can’t share everything with your staff and that includes whether or not you are able to push for every suggestion from the floor. That said, you can sometimes acknowledge that you face limitations too. The broken computer system is going to be around for a few more years before there’s an upgrade and in the meantime, there is only so much you can do about it. If there is a policy change you’re pushing for but you will need to choose the right moment to raise it with a prickly executive or you’re waiting for another manager to jointly present something, you can often acknowledge that it is a concern you share and are working toward, but the timing isn’t right and they have to trust you’re working toward it as part of a bigger picture that needs careful approach. Maybe you can’t sell HR on training for the whole team but three months from now there’s a window to make a webinar happen and that becomes the win. Assuming you occasionally do come through on that kind of stuff, it can help to offer a slight window into the fact you have to do a little politicking elsewhere.

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

      I think being honest and really showing that you care helps a lot and giving reasons why you can’t do something.
      Using your example of the training. Go to your employees and say ” I understand that you wanted safety training, and I believe its really important too. I brought it up to the budget committee but they have decided to not give us those funds. I’m going to try and reach out next quarter to see what I can do about getting this funded. In the mean time is there anything else I can do for you?”

      I think you will be good if you are empathetic, explain the reasons something is not happening, and if you can, try to get a time frame for a resolution. And try to find other ways to help, like looking for alternatives.

    13. Hillary*

      There’s a lot of great advice here. I’d add one thing – learn your org’s cadences. Understanding them can make you much more effective as a manager. Like how budgeting for next year formally starts in September, but we’d better get team alignment in July and propose asks to our bosses in August. Or promotions need to be submitted in December for action in March.

    14. AcademiaNut*

      As a manager, it’s also important to calibrate things by individual employees, and the type of concern. You’re thinking of things from your view as an employee – someone who brings up reasonable concerns, and is understandably frustrated when they don’t seem to be addressed. You’ll get employees who bring up reasonable concerns, where you can address it, or give some context as to why it won’t/can’t be changed (no money, required/forbidden by law, logistically impractical, actually a personal preference rather than an actionable item, not a priority for upper management, is being worked on but is takes time, it’s annoying but that’s just the way it works…). Learning context can help the employee grow, even if they can’t be given details.

      But you’ll also get employees who have wildly unrealistic ideas about how work works, or not understand the difference between not liking something, and something being a bad idea (I dislike filling out travel paperwork, I also understand why it’s needed so I don’t complain about it to my manager). And people who complain a *lot* where you need to find a tactful but effective way of telling them to concentrate more on doing their work, and less on complaining about it.

      So keep an eye on the types of complaints, and who is making them, as you learn about it.

    15. DJ Abbott*

      Don’t just say “I hear you”. Our manager does that. It’s an automatic response. She’s not a good listener, and she has made it clear she doesn’t care what I have to say. I hear her saying it to others and think, “yeah, right.”
      Listen and connect with what they’re saying, and be as honest and transparent as possible. Personally, I would like to know if the manager I’m talking to can make the decision and if not, whether there are other steps we can take to help move it along.

  5. WorkerDrone*

    I have two questions that are kind of related, looking for professional and (importantly) warm scripts.

    The first is, I have a whiteboard outside my office door to write messages on. The issue comes when I need to be available for potential emergencies to arise, but I also need to be left alone to concentrate on a task outside an emergency. “Please do not disturb” doesn’t work because then people don’t interrupt me when they really need to and should, but anything short of a firm message like that means I’m constantly getting people knocking on my (closed) office door for things that are really non-urgent and could wait an hour or two while I finish what I am doing.

    I am looking for a professional but warm way to phrase: “I am here, but please don’t bother me unless it is REALLY important.”

    Partially related, I need a script to stop strangers from walking around my desk to look at my computer screen.

    My office is in a high-visibility spot and it’s common that someone lost will pop into my office asking where the conference room or someone else’s office is, or how to contact someone else.
    The issue comes when I don’t know someone’s office location or phone number, I’ll let them know I’ll look it up. Most of the time, the person kind of just hovers in the doorway. But twice now, I’ve had someone rather swiftly circle behind me to look at my computer screen while I’m looking up that info.

    I very much need people to NOT do this. What’s on my screen is basically always confidential. I also personally find it invasive and rude, but even aside from that, there is just not enough time to close out my tabs (losing my place in my workflow) and minimize my work and prevent someone from seeing that info.

    Can anyone suggest a good way to word this? People will just knock on a closed door, see above, so I really need words as opposed to actions like shutting my door.

    1. oh geez*

      How many people are on your team? I have a small team so I started saying before I closed my door “I’m doing some focus time, but you can interrupt me for an emergency like XYZ.” After a while I stopped saying it, and they now know the difference between blocks on my whiteboard noted as “Meeting” (don’t interrupt at all) and “Focus time” (interrupt if really needed”

      For #2, I’m in a similar situation, and I always quickly say “Oh yeah, stay right there and I can look it up for you.” I’m also not above very quickly throwing my hand up to stop them and saying in a bright tone “Ope, hold on right there, I’ve got too much pulled up on my screens to share, but I can look it up for you.”

          1. Donkey Hotey*

            Gotta ask: do you pronounce this to rhyme with “hope” or is it “oops” without the s?

            1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

              I’ve actually done it both ways. At least in my experience, “Oop” sounds a little more self-deprecating, like maybe I should’ve been more clear that you shouldn’t do wha you’re about to do, while “Ope” is “let me stop you before you stick your foot in it, bless your heart.”

              1. House On The Rock*

                I’ve been on this earth for more than half a century and have rarely had something resonate with me so deeply. Thank you for quantifying the difference in pronunciations of “Ope” and the intent behind them!

              2. Ally McBeal*

                This is perfectly explained. “Oop” means it’s my bad, “ope” means the issue is on your end.

            2. not nice, don't care*

              In Cascadia, also a region where this term is endemic, we say ‘ope’ to rhyme with hope.

      1. WorkerDrone*

        Small-ish team but the worst offenders are all higher up than I am, and I’ve found telling them this stuff goes in one ear and out the other.

        Your second script is great, thank you!

    2. Lyn*

      Do you have a visitor’s chair in your office? You could ask them to go ahead and have a seat while you’re looking up the information for them. The chair would be opposite you, of course.

      1. Momma Bear*

        I thought that, too. Red – don’t disturb. Yell0w – disturb only when necessary.

        I have a door, so if it’s closed – don’t bother me. If it’s cracked, people will knock before entering. If it’s all the way open, come on in.

        I also agree with the chair. Please do remind folks that you work with sensitive information and they need to have a seat/wait before seeing your screens. Also, if there’s a less-inviting path to behind your desk, change how your office is set up. For example, face the door vs being sideways along one wall.

    3. MsM*

      Maybe a stoplight system, and use the whiteboard to explain how to interpret it: green = come on in, yellow = emergencies only, and red = do not disturb, period?

      Also, if you don’t have a privacy shield, might be a good idea to invest in one. It may not completely prevent people from trying to peek, but it at least sends an extra signal that they shouldn’t be.

    4. ecnaseener*

      For the whiteboard, something like “Focus time – please email unless it’s an emergency. Thank you! :)”

        1. Reluctant Mezzo*

          I’ve done that before with a paper sign–‘my deadline is 4 this afternoon, I will be happy to help you later’ and it worked very well, since I only did that once a month.

    5. londonedit*

      Would one of those privacy things that goes over your screen help? I know ideally people wouldn’t follow you round to your side of the desk, but at least if they do they won’t be able to see what’s on your screen.

      Otherwise I agree that something like ‘Focus time: interrupt in emergency only’ might work, as long as you also separately communicate to your team what sort of things constitute an emergency. I’d have a chat with them and say ‘When I’m focusing on work I might need to put a ‘focus time’ message up on my whiteboard – that means I’d rather not be interrupted, but if it’s something like the CEO on the phone or you need me to sign an urgent document, please do knock on my door. If I can’t be interrupted at all, I’ll put ‘please do not interrupt’ on the whiteboard’. Just make it clear what the messages mean and with any luck people will get used to it.

    6. Princess Peach*

      For the whiteboard, the convention in our office is to write something like “focused work – email me”.

      For people coming to see your screen, perhaps you can head it off by saying “wait right there, I’ll write it down for you.”

    7. My Useless 2 Cents*

      #1 – could you put a time frame on the “please do not disturb” – like “please do not disturb from 1:00-3:00 unless absolutely necessary” or “need to concentrate from 1:00-3:00, if an emergency, please knock”

      #2 – I don’t know if you can totally stop it. And yes, it’s invasive and rude. But could you add something to waiting by the door to your typical script. Like a friendly “wait right there a second and I’ll look up So-and-so’s office number”

    8. But Not the Hippopotamus*

      I would say something like “10-11: Focus block” It lets people know when you are trying to focus and importantly, for how long (in case you forget to erase when done, so people won’t go “oh, that was earlier” etc.).

      I think for immediate team members, you can let them know what kind of things to interrupt for as well, which should help.

      As for people walking around, try changing it to “just a moment” instead of “let me look that up” and see if that helps. One implies “wait” the other has the word “look” in it, which may signal people to want to see something. I’d be interested in results from this experiment.

      1. WorkerDrone*

        That’s another great idea – don’t tell them I am looking it up, just tell them “just a moment” instead.

        If I get results I will update some other Friday!

    9. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

      Can you meet with your team to talk about this, so everyone is on the same page as much as possible? Something like, “Team, I’m going to be using the board outside my office to update when I need focused time. When FOCUS TIME is written on the board, please only knock for emergencies. I will stay on top of making sure the message is current, so you can trust what it says. If anyone has any concerns, let’s talk one on one.”

      Another option might be to write “This is my focus time, please send me a teams/slack message for anything urgent.” And don’t respond if someone knocks. If someone walks in anyway, just stop them and ask them to re-read the sign. Be consistent. Don’t forget to update the board, or it will quickly become pointless.

      For the screen issue – if it’s really that serious, and you’re working with confidential info, you have standing to ask people to stop and not approach your screen. A simple “Sorry, I have confidential information up, please have a seat over there and let’s chat” is warm but unequivocal. If you don’t have a chair on the other side of your desk, get one.

      You will probably get pushback from at least a few people, but change is hard. Good luck!

      1. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

        I second this. In my role I sometimes get communications after hours and I want a text or phone call, not an email, so I am not forced to constantly check for messages but will be alerted if something needs my attention. It works, but it’s something I regularly reinforce with my staff and need to spell out multiple times with new employees. The most success I have is with the message “you may think you are bothering me with a phone call. In fact, I prefer the phone call because I find it less disruptive. Can I count on you to contact me with a text or call since I won’t see an email or Teams message” because this names the biggest barrier to it happening.

        In your case, you want all the people on your team to understand what the bar is for bothering you (X and Y would be urgent enough to interrupt, but Z would not) and then enforce it. If someone comes into the office for Z, in the moment or shortly after you say “It seems like this could wait a few hours. In that case, I won’t be doing it now because I’m in my focus time. Next time something like this happens, please wait until I open my door again.” Depending on the person you may want to add “Of course if it had been an X situation, that would be something worth interrupting me for” because you want to be sure they wouldn’t wait on something urgent.

    10. EMP*

      Can you just stop looking stuff up for people? i.e. is there someone else you can redirect to in those cases? “Sorry I don’t know but [receptionist/assistant/office manager whose job this is] might, his desk is to the right”

    11. Buggy Crispino*

      I know you don’t want to take the time to minimize windows, but if you can’t stop someone before they get to your side of the desk “windows + M” will minimize everything – quick way to keep them from seeing something confidential. Once you move them away from your computer screen “windows + shift +m” will reopen all the windows at once.

      1. Annony*

        “Windows+L” could also be used to bring up the lock screen and quickly hide all information.

    12. GrumpyPenguin*

      Is it possible to make them a list of things that define as “emergency”? A former manager of mine had one and I found it helpful. Make sure people know which processes to follow.
      Like “In Case 1, follow procedure X, if that doesn’t work, do Y, then Z, if none of these work, come to me.”
      Of course that list can’t be complete and it only works for some cases. If you have a lot of unique things where you have to decide and handle them personally it won’t work.

      1. CL*

        I had a list of what constituted an emergency that evolved over the years as certain circumstances that were emergencies but hadn’t been on the list came up.

    13. GrumpyPenguin*

      I’ve had the same issue with people coming to stand behind me and potentially looking at confidential information. When they entered my office, I stood up and physically blocked them from getting behind me. I put on a big smile and told them in a warm tone: “Please wait over there, I have confidential stuff on my screen.” while raising my hands. When they backed off, I sat down to look up their info. Sometimes you have to do it really obvious for people to get it.

    14. JSPA*

      “Confidential records. Unless you are reporting a fire or other emergency, do not knock or enter.”

      You could also post (with their approval) the phone number for the contact person in the departments people most commonly need, not on your door, but on the wall nearby (not so near as to suggest you are a person- to-ask).

      And/Or a clear map, with a clear “you are here,” and public-accessible areas highlighted. Ditto.

    15. JJ*

      One other suggestion is that if you are trying to get staff used to when they can/can’t interrupt and someone knocks and interrupts and it clearly ISN’T an emergency, I would resist the natural tendency to just deal with it because it will only take a second. If you judge it to be something not very urgent, I’d simply reply that I’ll get to it at whatever time is appropriate. It would help clarify the message and train people about what you mean.

    16. WhyIsEverythingBananas*

      For the whiteboard, what about simply “emergencies only”? You could even put a time window e.g. “11-1 busy, emergencies only please”. Since it’s a whiteboard, if there’s an alternate contact for a less-emergent but still important thing, you could include that too!

    17. GreenShoes*

      A little late to the party… but I had an office that had no windows and for a time the only coffee maker in the office. I established a convention that if my door was shut tight then I didn’t want to be disturbed (usually this was for confidential phone calls) but if my door was closed but not latched it was code for “I’m doing something/on a call but feel free to come in and grab a cup of coffee”

      It worked pretty well

      Since you have an actual msg board I’d go with something like “Urgent/Critical issues only please… will be available after 2pm for everything else”

    18. Wow, really?*

      If you are on a Windows computer, you can go back to your lock screen window by hitting the Windows key plus the letter L.

    19. Alianora*

      I have two chairs in my office and a second monitor angled so that I can see it and so can my visitors. Visitors sit in the chair, and I can pull anything I want to share onto the second monitor.

    20. Ellis Bell*

      Is there any glass in your door or by it? You say you’re highly visible. I would use the whiteboard for communication. So, you can really thin, light whiteboards that you can hang up like a shop sign. On one side the message should say; “In meeting, do not disturb (write any urgent messages on the reverse)” with a hanging pen to allow this. This only applies if you’re unlikely to check email, but this way you can see any messages and triage them from your seat. As for the looking at your screen, behind your desk, I’d be tempted to rejig furniture or site something like a large plant so it’s so it’s not easy to go straight from the door and around you, or get privacy screens to give you time to redirect people before they’re right behind you: “Oh sorry, could you stay there; I have confidential items up”.

  6. And on International Women's Day*

    I need help with softening my written and language so I don’t come off as threatening to extremely fragile egos
    Specifically with – 

    (a) When my boss and grand-boss don’t want to commit to decisions that I need in order to do my job. I then have to bring this up to them multiple times, even in a nice way, but they don’t want to make decisions so anything I say to get clarification is seen as frustration on my end.

    (b) Sometimes I’ll ask my boss a question in Slack, and he won’t respond to it. How do I re-ask the question in a non-threatening way?

    (c) When my boss or another (male and superior) colleague say incorrect information and I try to nicely correct it (I have to handle it with kid gloves), how do I correct them in a way that they won’t take the wrong way? Again, very fragile egos from them who will automatically tell me, “you seem annoyed” when I try to clarify and re-explain something.

    I’m (mid-30s woman) newish (under a year) to a remote first company. My department skews male, and I report to a few men. Unfortunately, I’m learning there might be some sexist stereotypes they have around how women “should” behave. They are conflict avoidant and dance around issues instead of trying to find solutions. Since I’ve started I’ve been very careful with remaining respectful, professional and smiling, but it seems that their egos automatically determine I’m “headstrong” because I have a more direct communication style then them. Even when I try to get clarification if I’m approaching something the correct way or what I could be doing differently, my bosses’ don’t correct me or bring up concerns.

    I listened to some of the podcasts on here about tone, but Allison’s recommendations are pretty much how I talk. It’s just that my immediate bosses still take any type of directness as pushback. Leaving isn’t an option right now, and I want to learn how to navigate this.

    1. But Not the Hippopotamus*

      Eww! Sorry you are dealing with this. I’m having to un-learn some of this, so here’s stuff I’m trying to NOT do (which might be what you have to do in your situation)

      Putting some transitional words/phrases around things. Like “Hey, I was wondering…”

      For having to ask again, “Sorry if this is a repeat question, are we good to go on the Llama report?” “I hate to bother you, but do we have a decision on the Llama report? I’m getting pressure from Marketing, so I wanted to check in.” Sometimes I’ll outright make up a tech problem (extreme cases only). “Did you see my question earlier? I asked if we’re good to go with the Llama report, but my computer connection has been weird today and I think some messages didn’t send.”

      1. Banana Pyjamas*

        YMMV. I found this phrasing to be fine in conversation, but when you put the niceties in email people tend to read right past the question. I adopted the suggestion down thread of using strategic punctuation to great effect.

    2. Tio*

      This is kind of dependent on the people, but here’s what I’d do in general

      (a) Hello all, I’m kind of stuck until we have a decision on X. I won’t be able to move forward with project Y until that process gets ironed out, so please let me know when you’ve made a decision. Until then, I’ll work on Z, and Y will be on hold. Let me know if there’s anything you’d like me to reprioritize! (this isn’t going to get them to make a decision, but I’m pretty sure there’s no magic words for that.)

      (b) I usually use “Just circling back on this” or “Friendly reminder”

      (c) This one is tough, fragile egos sometimes can’t stand even a gentle breeze. But if I think they’re delicate, I say something like “I had heard that this was (correct information), was I given the wrong information?” Problem with that is that they might say yes, and then you have to either let it go or it’s going to end up a direct confrontation.

      The problem here really is that people who don’t want to cooperate just… won’t cooperate. The problem isn’t necessarily your tone, but if they don’t want to hear what you have to say, they’re going to find a reason not to. Same if they don’t want to be wrong about something.

    3. HR Exec Popping In*

      A) Let me know if you need any additional information on (decision). I recommend we do XYZ because of ABC. If we don’t determine next steps by DATE, then (whatever) will happen. Thanks.

      B) Let me know if you need additional information on this.

      C) Really, I always thought it was XYZ? Another option is, It used to be XYZ, when did it change to ABC?

    4. nonprofit worker*

      If most of this is written communication, strategic use of punctuation helps, e.g. Hi! with an exclamation point, and avoiding periods at the end of messages (I know this is kind of ridiculous, but it really does come off as more abrupt when someone says “Hi, can you send over the report please. vs. Hi! Can you send over the report, please?”. I also admit to using emojis in some contexts to soften digital communication. I refuse to preface everything with sorry, though!

      If boss isn’t replying on Slack, I’d reflect on why – is he just bad with Slack? Is it because the question isn’t appropriate for that platform (i.e. it’s more complex and should be emailed)?

      Business-y jargon like “Just want to circle back on this” might work, but I would say do not use “friendly reminder,” because at least for me it feels passive aggressive and frankly just annoying. I also think reminding of the deadline or the task within a greater project could help, to give a reason why you’re sending reminders.

      On the incorrect information, I’d correct people how I’d like to be corrected – not saying things like “Actually, …” at the beginning or making a big deal out of it, and operating under the assumption of good faith. I also try to only correct people when it’s really necessary to the work content. For example, my boss often mispronounces the names of things, but since it’s not really a big deal for my understanding, I just let it go.

    5. JSPA*

      “If I don’t get guidance from you by Tuesday on the size of the widget order, I’m going to order 1.5 times as many as we ordered 9 weeks ago. We’re going through them fast, and there’s a price break for ordering that number.”

      Oddly, correcting something with a grin and a quick word lands as less corrective, and less tense, than a gentle, drawn-out correction. Or re-state it as correct, without pointing out that it’s a correction. Basically, treating it like a spoonerism / spoken version of a typo. (They said 30K in 2022 and 15K in 2021, when it’s the opposite? “[look down at notes] yes, 30K in 2021, dropping to 15K in 2022.” Chances are they think that’s what they said, in any case. )

      If you must correct, you can make it an update or recent clarification. (“turns out we sold 30,000 widgets in 2021, and 15,000 in 2022; the numbers must have been reversed in one of the reports, so I sought clarification.”)

      If your boss is being loudly and lengthily wrong, and you don’t want to spend the capital needed to correct them in real time (calling them clueless and bloviating to their face) you can say to the person or people on the receiving end: “That’s a summary we use, but the details are a bit counterintuitive, so I’d like to send them along after the meeting.” Then do that, without editorializing.

      And…y’know… This stuff may not get better, because there may be a darn good reason why the people above you remain disproportionately clueless people, with fragile egos, of a certain social demographic, who are threatened by audibly competent women. Stay long enough to figure out if there’s space for you to be competent there. If not, move on.

    6. MissBliss*

      Are any of the things you need from your boss and grand-boss things that you can make a recommendation on? Does it work to give them options? Such as:

      “Hey Boss, we need to select our new tech solution by March 30, or else we won’t have time to transition before our current vendor sunsets Software A. I did some research and my recommendation would be Software C.

      Here are some of the options I researched:

      Software B – One of the fastest growing companies, acquired Competitor 1 and Competitor 2 recently, however they do not have phone based customer support which I think is essential given our work.
      Software C – A highly regarded system that may be a little outdated but does the job. It is expensive. They have extensive customer support based in our country and even have the ability to provide on-site support if needed. Their roadmap also suggests that they will be upgrading the system within the next 24 months.
      Software D – I keep getting sales calls from Software D and they are decently priced, however, their capabilities mostly seem like a replacement for Software A and not the upgrade that we have been looking for. If we are looking for a budget solution that keeps our current functioning, Software D would most likely meet our needs. However, it could leave us needing to transition again in 2-3 years when we’re ready to rollout Big Project.

      In my role, I often need to do the legwork in order to get my boss to move forward. I use this approach whenever I can. However… my boss doesn’t always read all the way through the email, so if you’re in a similar situation, this might not work. But I’ve done this and it has worked in the past!

    7. RVA Cat*

      As Allison often says here, you can’t care more about the work than your bosses do.
      Assuming there are no safety or legal issues involved, let them be wrong. Get it in writing if it affects your work. But honestly you may want to put all that energy you’re using to manage their feelings into moving on to a better-fitting job.

    8. not technically in academia*

      Hah, I was just talking to my girlfriend last night about how I (a naturally direct, blunt woman of color) have somehow made all my career advancements through “managing up” and learning to exercise influence without systemic/institutional power—I spent quite a few years at a PR agency with a boss who was absolutely magic at getting difficult clients to do what we wanted, and picked up a few things here and there.

      Massive caveat that all of these are going to depend on your cultural/work context, of course; this is just what I’ve personally had good results with in the past.

      A: Never tell them what to do, just provide options and (non-confrontationally) lay out consequences. The exact wording will differ based on urgency and scope of decision, but I’d try something like, “Hi Boss, do you have a second to talk about DECISION? I see two options here: we can go with OPTION1 and then CONSEQUENCES1, or we can go with OPTION2 if we’d rather CONSEQUENCES2.” [insert dithering response from Boss here] “Thanks for bringing that perspective. With that in mind, does it make sense to move forward with OPTION1?”

      B: “Hey, just following up on this—I know you’re busy, so I didn’t want it to get lost in the shuffle!”

      C: “Oh—actually, [FACTS]!” in a very casual tone is a good default. Depending on context and relationship, you might frame it as “Yeah, it does look like ABC, but…” or even “Ah, I see you noticed XYZ! Turns out it’s not ABC, but…”
      (if they say you seem annoyed: “Do I? Wow, I didn’t realize that’s how I was coming across! How odd!”)

      I power through by acting as if everyone is being extremely reasonable and collaborative, and can often confuse them into going along with it until I mysteriously produce the answer to all their problems (which I have defined for them by that point). It takes a lot of patience and a little practice to dial in on the right level of enthusiasm.

      90% of my approach centers around giving people a “safe” place to get all their feelings out. I am not actually a naturally empathetic or touchy-feely person at ALL, but I know how to fake it so that other people can process their emotions without being put on the spot and feeling pressure to double down on a position.

      The other thing is: if time/capacity allows, it may be worth going the extra mile to make sure people feel individually heard. I deal with a lot of tenured academics, and I’ve found it effective to approach them one-on-one for feedback/input as if you’re asking their advice. Once you’re in that conversation, you can subtly communicate the primary considerations around an issue and guide them towards suggesting the solution you’d have gone with anyway.

      And of course…it’s ridiculous that you have to deal with this at all, but unfortunately IME this is really, really common albeit to varying degrees.

      1. Banana Pyjamas*

        I have had a lot of success with A and B. A does require some disengagement IME. When doing A, I have found that if they are leaning toward the less desirable outcome, reminding them of the consequences often successfully redirects them. When it doesn’t redirect, it does give you the opportunity to work through the consequences in advance.

    9. RagingADHD*

      When I have to “Southern” a superior with multiple reminders, I take the line that following up and reminding them of things is part of my job description, and remembering things is not part of their job description. (Of course, I had a long history of working as an EA where that was literally true).

      I try to structure follow ups /reminders as a regular part of a standing check-in meeting, where we go over a list. “Okay, next we have some outstanding items here I need to get your feedback on. First, have you had a chance to think about X? What would you like to do / do you think we should do about that?” Or if it’s something I have an opinion on, I’ll make sure to include that. “It seems to me that Q is the best course, why don’t I go ahead and start on that?”

      And then if they still haven’t decided or won’t give an approval, I’ll say, “Okay, I’ll flag that to check back with you next week. Now, how about Y? What are your thoughts on that?”

      So they know I’m keeping track, I will keep asking, and when. I think some people bluster and push back when they feel put on the spot. This kind of setup lets them talk about their thought process rather than just having to say yes or no right away.

      For incorrect information, I’ll say, “Oh, I was under the impression that Z. Has there been a change? Let me look that up to make sure. Well, it looks like the most recent listing does still say Z. Have you received different information?”

      There’s an element of playacting, but you kind of have to pick your poison — is it more work /mental friction to be overly deferential, or is it more friction to bang your head on the wall? People are going to make different choices, but due to the early training I had in indirectness, for me it’s quite easy to slip into so I don’t mind.

    10. Student*

      You leave for a different job. This isn’t a problem where you can finesse your delivery, use the right magic words, and suddenly have a breakthrough. This is a problem where your bosses will not let you do your job, very likely solely because you are a woman.

      There are other jobs where people won’t treat you like this, at least not as extensively. Go find them.

      1. RVA Cat*

        This, plus the bosses are bad at their jobs. Whether it’s intentional sexism or Dunning Kruger, the clowns are running this circus.

      2. not nice, don't care*

        And document document document, in case any of this garbage rises to the level of actionable. Sometimes filing an EEOC (or relevant agency) complaint can shake things up.

    11. anon't*

      Yikes. What a terrible waste of life energy. Sounds infantilizing and soul-killing. I’d have a hard time not going full Klingon. Have some ‘headstrong’ boys.

    12. Hillary*

      I love not technically in academia’s advice. It sounds like a lot of this is in writing? If that’s the case try to do more on video. Everyone reads written tone based on their own mood, not actual content. I aim for a couple things:

      1) don’t apologize unless you actually have something to apologize for

      2) give them an out. Not in terms of responsibility, but so they don’t have to acknowledge they’re in the wrong. A breezy “just circling back” works wonders, “actually, did you know…?”, “funny thing, x is actually xxx now”

      3) passive voice is your friend, as is casual language. depersonalize requests (not I need x, x needs to be done), then read them out loud in your least friendly voice. how do they sound?

      4) on the casual language thing, open with a friendly salutation (Happy Friday! Hey there!), use emojis, and close with thanks, cheers, etc.

    13. Banana Pyjamas*

      I don’t know from your examples if this is happening, but are you sending multiple questions at once? Some people just can’t process that.

      I collaborated with a person in another department that was like that. If I asked three questions, they would answer 1-2. My husband is the same way. I find it best to ask one question at a time. It does delay a bit since you need to wait for an answer before asking your next question.

    14. Quinalla*

      Adding warmth to your written communications goes a long way. If emojis are acceptable, they are the easiest way to do this, but if they aren’t, the punctuation suggestions by another poster help a ton too. I also will add “Thanks!” to the end of pretty much all emails, that makes it come across as much more warm and friendly. Also a “Hey Bob!” at the start goes a long way as well. Do NOT water down your message, but add warmth around it, it helps.

      Verbally is easier since you have tone of voice, expression, etc. to go with it. I make jokes quite a bit to help folks feel warm, self-deprecation is something I used a lot in the past too, but am trying to not use at all anymore as it has other negative consequences, but sometimes can be a reasonable move with a real touchy person.

      I must be doing something right though as I’ve been told by a couple people I can tell someone they are wrong and make them feel good about it :P

  7. Reference Check??*

    I have a question that’s so basic I’m ashamed I don’t know, but .. I always thought the “best” references would be your last three supervisors. However, this has really gotten me into a pickle in the past – first, it means asking some people to be a reference in three different job searches, years apart, which just feels like way too much. Second, relatedly, I was in one of my jobs for a long time, so the two prior supervisors are from too long ago / when I was far more junior, so I don’t want to use them. Do we think it’s okay to use two supervisors at the same job, if you were promoted/got a new manager? If you use one (most recent) supervisor and two peers or other contacts, does that look fishy?

    1. LCH*

      i thought this too and therefore have been using some super old references! interested to see answers.

    2. FashionablyEvil*

      I always prefer references that are more recent (e.g., has worked with the person in at least the last 5 years). I think two people from the same company are fine; also good if you can provide a mix of people who knew you in different capacities (e.g., supervisor, peer collaborator, direct report).

    3. Feral Humanist*

      I tend to use folks who know me well — that generally includes at least one supervisor but often also peers and colleagues and sometimes well-respected mentors from my field with whom I’ve worked a lot over time.

    4. Donkey Hotey*

      Short of an ouija board, there’s no way they could contact my this most recent supervisor. Go with someone who’s seen you work more recently, even if they are parallel to you. In my last search, I used the supervisor of an internal team I supported who really enjoyed my work.

    5. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      I do NOT have experience conducting reference checks, so take this with a healthy dose of skepticism:

      Similar to your resume, your references should be people you select to help honestly and candidly showcase your strengths. So it doesn’t have to be your last three supervisors. Two supervisors from one job works. And *senior* peers work if they can speak to the quality of your work directly.

    6. EMP*

      I think it’s way better to use recent references over all supervisors when previous supervisors are from 5+ years ago. They probably can’t speak well to your work anymore which is the whole point of references. I think peers in that case is fine.

    7. Rory*

      I have definitely used former co-workers/peers if they were on a professional level and they had good knowledge of my working abilities. Honestly references don’t always get called, so it doesn’t always matter that much. If they wanted only supervisors, then they would ask for only supervisors.

    8. StressedButOkay*

      If I were to leave my current job, my previous managers are so distant from me that a) I don’t think I have updated contact and b) I don’t think they could recall how well I worked 10+ years ago.

      For this current job, I used my previous manager from that job, a current coworker and a former coworker from that job. I never had any issues with those being my references. So I think if I were to job hunt, I would most likely rely on colleague references again simply due how much time has passed for my previous managers.

    9. WantonSeedStitch*

      As a manager, I’ve been asked to be a reference for former employees for at least a couple of job searches after they left our organization. I had no issues with that. If the person was a good employee, I’m always excited to help them further their career. If they weren’t great, I figure it’s still only maybe half an hour of my time at most.

    10. But Not the Hippopotamus*

      When I can trust them, I have used people who previously supervised me at the company I’m looking to leave. Then my current manager doesn’t know and they get somebody more recent. I usually also give the reference something similar to what I put below, so they have context:

      Mable Marblesworth – supervisor at Current Company from 2/20 – 11/22
      Max Maxwell – team lead while at Past Company

      I’m technical, so I often have managers who don’t understand what I do, so I’ll also list (technical) or (non-technical) with them. I will put team or project leads, if appropriate, because they can often speak to my work better than my managers. I’ve even put a client (when I was the team lead and my manager was clueless).

      1. Dogbythefire*

        Completely off-topic. Just wanted to say your user name immediately had me quoting that book which I read so many times to my kids!

    11. BellyButton*

      2 bosses ago would be 10 yrs for me, and my skills and job have grown past where she is now. If she were to be hired at my current company I would be her boss. Nothing she could say would be all that meaningful now. Don’t limit yourself to only past supervisors/managers. It can be someone you worked with even outside your team! I think those are some of the best references.

    12. Alex*

      Your last three supervisors would be great, but also not possible for a lot of reasons you list. I had the same kinds of problems and explained the situation to my potential employer–I used some very old references, peers from current jobs, etc. They did end up accepting them and it worked out fine, even though they specifically requested at least three supervisors.

    13. Glazed Donut*

      I wouldn’t put anyone from over 5 years ago as a reference unless (1) it was required to list prior supervisors for all previous positions and/or (2) if I had been in contact with this person regularly since leaving.
      In my field–and how I approach this–a reference can be a supervisor, peer, etc. I try to put people down who I’ve worked with and who I feel can give good and accurate information as to my work performance. This may also vary by the type of role I’m applying to.

    14. HR Exec Popping In*

      Don’t worry about the company, go with your most recent bosses – even if in the same organization.

    15. higher ed teaching*

      In my most recent job searches, I used references according to the context. Sometimes that’s older peer references; sometimes newer peer and supervisory references. I tended to have a peer or two I worked closely with as well as some supervisors and mixed it up. This got a little harder when I had a supervisor retire and go off grid and another who didn’t know my work and a grand boss of the retired one who f2f seemed okay but I didn’t trust.

      One job, I asked directly how important supervisory references were because while I could give one, they didn’t know my work most relevant to that job. They groused but agreed that coworkers who knew my Llama Language work were better than my Duck Speech Writing supervisors for that job. Of course I later found out they were desperate enough for employees that ultimately it could have been anybody who’d answer an email, so grain of salt…

      But I employed the same tactic when my Llama Speaking appointment ended and it worked well. I was offered positions for most interviews I had; a combination of interview and application advice I used from here, but also having strong references.

      as far as being too much– I’ve written references for two former grad students who adjuncted under me 10 years ago now for every career job they’ve applied for. I don’t mind a bit! They are good people and good workers; they don’t abuse the privilege (I’m only writing them for specific jobs I can speak to, not every additional job they work to make ends meet in the summer). I do the same for some other undergraduates.

      A hint for how I’ve handled multiple references for similar purposes: I always ask for an updated resume and I use a fairly standard template outline that I can fill in specifics. So the letters or online forms really aren’t that onerous as it may seem. And when I don’t get that updated resume, I send a positive but bland letter that lets the job know I don’t know what they have done recently.

      I used to have some similar concerns but now that I’m on the other side and have some insight, it makes it a lot easier to navigate my own needs. I hope this helps and good luck!

    16. CL*

      My company requires at least two supervisor references. (I hate the policy.) I’m fine seeing two supervisors from the same job as they will have had different management styles and experiences.

    17. hi there*

      Oh, man, I’m struggling with this in just browsing job ads. Many are requiring 5 references up front with the initial application. FIVE! I’ve worked only two different jobs in the past 15 years, equal lengths in small company and tiny nonprofit, so… that doesn’t really work for me. I have good references but not five of them that would be meaningful or diverse.

      I think I’m going to use my current (outgoing) supe, current Board Chair, supe at a side-gig I have, and maybe two peers in other organizations (where I have direct inter-agency collab tasks). Quite the pickle, I agree with you!

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

      I’ve never heard of this rule before. As someone who has been on hiring committees and helped with reference checks we typically want to see a supervisor from a previous job, and we want to see someone you worked with. The most recent is better. If you are currently employed we can understand why you wouldn’t include your current supervisor, but someone you worked closely with would be great.

      What doesn’t help is personal references, like family friends. They don’t tell us how you worked with them. Once had someone give their parents next door neighbor as reference ( this was NOT a young person). They fixed some things a few times but it didn’t tell us anything about how they would work with the public or how they took directions.

    19. Wow, really?*

      I lost touch with my previous supervisors except for the one who go let go the same month I did l, so for my other two references, I asked former coworkers who knew my work history and were easy to get in touch with.

      I checked with them while I was getting my resume up to date so I could confirm their contact info.

      My forrmer company also uses a phone numbepwople can call to verify previous employment.

    20. RedinSC*

      I try to use recent references when possible.

      For my last job, supervisor, colleague and one of my direct reports. So I had my manager, a person on the same level as me that I work with, and someone I supervised.

      If you don’t want your current supervisor to know you’re job searching, use your next most recent. (I’ve done that, too. And she was from 12+ years ago, though).

    21. NotAllBosses*

      As long as you have one boss using others for references is fine. I would look for folks you worked with in different ways, preferably from more than one company, but if you’ve been at the same place for many years it’s okay to use only folks from that job.

    22. Quinalla*

      Recent references are more important I think here. Most do expect you to have one supervisor reference unless you are leaving your first job for your potential second, but three is A LOT to expect. I do think supervisor references are weighted more highly for sure, but if they aren’t recent, recent peers are a good substitute IMO.

  8. Corporate Fledgling*

    Does anyone have advice for working with a boss/leadership that is disorganized and demanding? I’ve been working on my own lifelong journey towards organization, I’m improving but still a ways to go. I’m now in a situation where I have someone I’m reporting to who spouts off ideas/directives whenever we’re together but then like 75% of them she never mentions again. Our check-ins end with an overwhelming list of to-dos for me based off these ideas, and it has been hard to prioritize when I don’t know what she will actually want me to have done by the next check-in.
    She’s not the type of person who is self aware, and not super open to feedback but I was wondering if any of you had some good questions I could ask to better assess if it’s something that is actually important/I need to follow-up on vs. something she’s just spitballing. I think she would be offended if I asked that directly based on my interactions with her.

    1. Lyn*

      Can you “sum up” the tasks she’s throwing out at the end of your meeting? Something like – “okay, I’ve got A, B, C, and D tasks you would like me to work on. I’m thinking A would be top priority so I’ll start on that right away. What about B and C? D seems to be something I’d hold off on until A is done for sure.” And then see what kind of response you get from her.

      1. Banana Pyjamas*

        This has worked really well for me in the past. Is there a leadership team you report to, or is it just one person? I reported to a leadership team in the past, I found that one person was more reasonable than the others, so I would go to them individually as needed. They didn’t have the power to make decisions or change my work individually, but they were excellent at managing up and getting the higher level team members to change directives.

    2. Charlotte Lucas*

      I’ve worked for someone like that. It did not get better. (To be clear, my last manager was somewhat disorganized, but very self-aware and more than willing to answer questions about priorities. And she relied on staff to help keep her on track as needed.)

      If someone is disorganized, throws tasks to you without explaining the priorities, and not open to questions, they aren’t interested in helping you succeed (or succeeding themselves).

      Personally, I would be looking for a new job. I’ve been down this road before, and the scenery is terrible.

      1. Corporate Fledgling*

        So luckily I only have to interact with this person for about 1-3 hours a week, and the other benefits of the job currently outweigh this piece. But if things changed from “mostly good but one annoying part” to “mostly annoying and some good” I’d definitely start looking. I do think it’ll be easier when I’ve been around longer and can “speak her language” and know more of the clues for what is important/spitballing. I’m just so new and don’t have the context at this time.

    3. BellyButton*

      She is a speak to think person. I would recommend you capture the “to-dos” send them to her in an email and ask her to clarify which was brainstorming and which are you to move forward with.

    4. ABC123*

      Phrasing is important! You are talking about her behavior in a negative way. It definitely sounds frustrating, but it also sounds like that interpretation is coloring your view of your options. I might recommend trying to come up with ways to be a bit more understanding and compassionate. It might help you be able to reset your own internal framing so you can get to the root of the issue in a neutral fashion. For example, instead of disorganized, she might be overwhelmed. If she is overwhelmed, pushing her to commit more time to clarify things might not work, but perhaps it would be good to try sending an email summary of the assignments from your meeting and your progress. That might keep her up to date in a simple way and let her course correct if needed.

    5. HR Exec Popping In*

      I think letting her know you are trying to work on your prioritization and need her help. You can get her help a few ways. 1) summarizing what all you are working on and asking how her new tasks should fit into that list. 2) asking for clarity on what is a “go do” vs. a “I’m just thinking out loud”. I find many bosses don’t realize when they mention ideas they sound like “tasks/assignments” to their staff members.

    6. I Can't Even*

      I have learned that this type of person is not open to feedback, they just want to hear “yes”. What I do is say “yes” but then send a follow up email summarizing what was spoken about and ask if this is correct or if there is something that I missed so if they come back later with different information I can show them the email.

    7. In My Underdark Era*

      had a capstone professor just like this who made my team’s experience…harrowing. a few of the things we tried:
      – “this is out of scope [for this sprint/project/task]”
      – “focusing on that would take too much attention away from [obviously more important thing]”
      – “to clarify, is this something you want implemented this [timeframe] or something to investigate doing later?”
      – “do we want to commit to this before [high priority thing] is done?”

      that guy also did not take feedback well so we used a lot of softening language, and as deadlines got closer would drop some of it and be more assertive. I think the assertive tactic was slightly more effective. that said, we still couldn’t get him to drop 90% of his ridiculous requests and managing them was practically a bespoke role on the team that we’d take turns filling.

      frankly, the most effective tactic for handling it was to agree in the moment, do the absolute bare minimum, store the results away in case he actually followed up, and never bring it up again. it’s not a GOOD practice, but it’s basically how we managed to get anything substantive done.

    8. Sharon*

      Keep asking for the top three things you should prioritize. If you get a new thing, remind them of the previously agreed priorities and ask where the new one should go on the list.

  9. Anon (and on and on)*

    I have a friend who’s boss refuses to let her work at home when her kids are off school unexpectedly. The rationale is that the company’s PTO policy gives “more than enough time for everyone,” so she should take those days off. My concern is that this could be considered discriminatory against disabled people under the ADA, since they’re more likely to max out their generous – but finite – PTO banks. The policy definitely stinks, but I’m not sure if it rises to a legal issue. Any thoughts?

    1. Rachel*

      I think your friend should read what the ADA protects without reading into the ADA what she wants it to protect.

    2. Sloanicota*

      I’d be surprised if “use leave for childcare” violates a law, as long as nobody else gets to work from home when their kids are there or if she’s the only one not allowed remote work. Sadly, in most places within the US, there’s very little “right” to paid vacation leave. A lot of jobs offer precisely zero. So I suspect saying a policy ‘unfairly depletes my PTO’ is unlikely to fly, but I’m not a lawyer, and California particularly may be different.

    3. JadziaSnax*

      Prior to the pandemic my workplace had a hard “no work from home ever” policy that definitely hurt me from a disability standpoint – I think if I’d have pushed harder I could have gotten accommodations but I never tried, and in a post-pandemic world I *suspect* if your friend pushed it from a disability standpoint they’d have to give in. I’m not sure what the grey area is around kids/family members, though (i.e. if one of her children has a disability that results in them being off school more frequently, etc), and legally I unfortunately don’t think she has any recourse if she’s just asking for it because her kids sometimes get off school unexpectedly. It’s a sucky, sucky policy though.

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I’m no expert on the ADA, but I imagine if someone needs a WFH accommodation for a disability, they would go that route (formal accommodation) and PTO doesn’t necessarily play into that. As in, not allowing WFH as a general policy barring formal accommodation does not strike me as inherently discriminatory.

      1. GythaOgden*

        Yup. There are a lot of jobs that do, either formally or informally, require some in-person time or most of it to be in the office. I work in facilities management, and while I am allowed to WFH and have accommodations for when I have to be in the office (e.g. if it’s not my normal site but something further away, I can book travel and a hotel through the corporate travel website and come up the night before), in general, you can’t do a lot of our work fully remotely. (I support a management team and they are very diligent about being on site, I think because a lot of people they supervise are obligated to be on-site because of what they do, so face-time for them is crucial in the sense of optics alone let alone it being a lot easier to see what’s going on and what needs done.)

        It would be a little bit absurd if RTO was considered de facto discriminatory because the law has to cater to thousands of different businesses all doing different things with different requirements for the job at hand. Additionally, a /right/ to WFH that only about 30% of the workforce can ever exercise doesn’t really make much sense at all. Like, many disabled people, myself included up until November, work jobs that require in-person work, so it would be very awkward for me to claim that I, as a disabled receptionist, should get to work from home. Because then If just not work at all and the org would have no reason to keep me on at all.

        It may be best practice to entertain WFH for those who could but making it a right, given the demographics of who can generally work from home versus who can’t, would be a tad regressive in terms of the broader working rights agenda.

        I also don’t see how the situation in the OP fits into the ADA either. A lot of WFH policies ask workers to have sufficient childcare and to take PTO if needed. It would certainly be generally necessary here in the UK and enforced for people who can’t work from home, so I see it rather more as a privilege of having a particular kind of job than as a basic legally actionable right.

    5. WellRed*

      I’m confused and feel like you’re mixing two completely different concerns together. It sucks, but preferring employees not to wfh to watch their kids is something employers are allowed to prefer. ADA has nothing to do with childcare accommodations nor should it.

    6. anywhere but here*

      My guess would be that in order to make that case, the person bringing up the problem would have to be someone who has a disability and is impacted due to that. “This policy applied universally would impact disabled people,” may be true, but for all you know, the boss/company would offer a person with a disability the option to WFH – just not anyone else.

    7. ecnaseener*

      Under ADA, a person could request WFH as a formal accomodation, and the company would need to discuss alternatives if they didn’t want to grant that one. But I don’t think there’s anything in ADA about not being able to have any policies that disproportionately impact disabled people, it’s just you need to accommodate them.

      If the company cares about DEIJ, that would be the better angle to take than the bare-minimum legal compliance angle.

    8. MigraineMonth*

      That’s not how ADA accommodation works. A company is never required to give a *particular* accommodation, just to work with the individual to see if there’s an accommodation that works that isn’t an undue hardship for the business. That might mean WFH (specifically for that one individual, not for the entire office), but it might not.

      Or are you thinking of FMLA? That just protects your job, it doesn’t mean you don’t have to use up all your PTO/go unpaid.

    9. Maggie*

      It’s definitely not illegal to make someone use PTO when they need to stay home with their kids, whether they have a disability or not. The policy sounds inconvenient and depending on their ages potentially unnecessary, but not illegal.

    10. Jenny*

      I don’t quite get the angle that it would be discriminatory.

      But I do understand not allowing people to work from home if they are also taking care of kids.

      1. New Mom (of 1 7/9)*

        Not having any childcare ever while WFH? Bad. For a one-day only thing? Seems unnecessarily harsh to me.

        1. GrumpyCat*

          The PTO is there for the one-day only thing though. OP seems to be suggesting that this is more frequent than that, or otherwise there wouldn’t be a concern about maxing out the generous PTO.

        2. HonorBox*

          While I agree that it sucks to have to use PTO, and may be very inconvenient for the employee and the business both, there are too many factors to consider when determining how is could work in some cases and not in others. Age of child(ren), are they ill and need more regular care, is school / daycare closed, why is school / daycare closed. It is easier to just say that a person needs to take PTO than to try to determine which situations might allow for an employee to be able to productively work from home.

          1. GythaOgden*

            Yeah, and in addition to that, even with a legal minimum amount of PTO that we get, it’s generally understood that you’re not getting 20 days of going-away-to-the-beach holiday every year — you’re getting some time that can be used for life things you can more or less plan and some time to go away and have fun. (In fact it can be really annoying how much can get eaten up when you’re in an in-person job and you need to be at home for a delivery or to meet workmen or whatever…but them’s the breaks, and it also underlines how people who can WFH do get certain privileges that others don’t have — we don’t have to take days off to wait in for the fibre broadband guy and can thus use other PTO days for more fun things than someone without that kind of job.)

            It gets to the point of ‘to them that hath shall be given’ and IME the dust from the pandemic is settling with hybrid working probably being the most likely way forward. It makes a fantastic difference for me to be able to WFH but it does mean those of us who do it need to remain cognisant of where it actually increases inequality rather than decreases it and act accordingly.

      2. Double A*

        I think it depends on the kids. I can and have often worked with my 5 year old at home. When I have to stay home with my 2 year old, I take the day off (I work remotely always).

    11. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

      A disabled person always has the option to request ADA accommodation, which can be WFH. These are granted on an individual basis according to the specific needs of the disabled person. Childcare is a separate concern and doesn’t fall under the legal umbrella of ADA.

    12. WantonSeedStitch*

      You’re right that it’s a pain, but it’s not illegal. Now, if they were doing something like approving WFH for men in that situation but telling women that they needed to take PTO because they assume men can still focus on work with kids at home but women can’t? That would be bad. But if they’re saying no one can WFH while caring for children, that’s not an issue.

    13. Anon for This*

      Where I work the policy is pretty clear that telework is not a substitute for childcare. If you are caring for children you are not working. Kind of depends on how old the kids are. If we are talking six/seven or younger, the boss is probably right. If you are talking middle schoolers who are independent but can’t be trusted at home alone, then requiring PTO seems excessive.

    14. Gyne*

      How old are the kids? If they are young enough to require some amount of parental supervision, it might be that she can’t really “work” from home effectively on childcare days. It’s really hard to answer the question of whether this is fair or discriminatory because it depends so much on the particulars of her job and the frequency of her absences and so on.

      1. Head sheep counter*

        This is where I land… I’m confused by the ADA portion of this question. Parenthood isn’t a disability.

        1. fhqwhgads*

          Yeah there’s either some major misunderstanding in that part of the question…or I donno….are they trying to say that a disabled person will have other reasons for already using up their PTO quickly, so then when one of these one-off kid-specific days comes up, they’re more likely to not have any left and be SOL? Because the argument from the company was “we have generous leave, just use it”. So OP is saying “but it’s not so generous if you’re disabled” or that this is disparate impact or something? It’s still neither here nor there given the facts of the situation they presented…but that’s the closest explanation I can think of that doesn’t involve not knowing how the ADA works at all.

          1. AcademiaNut*

            I think that’s the argument – a disabled person is less likely to have spare PTO to spend on snow days or when the kids are sick because they use it up on their disability.

            I suspect that argument wouldn’t fly, given that there’s no requirement in the US to provide PTO at all, which definitely impacts people with disabilities or chronic illness. I’m not sure what accommodation ADA would provide for a company that offers no PTO, but I’d expect it to be more along the lines of unpaid time off without getting fired, or schedule flexibility, than providing PTO.

        2. JSPA*

          They’re arguing that because,

          [scenario 1A] a hypothetical disabled person with kids would have less time to use as needed for their disability, due to using it for childcare,

          that using leave for childcare in general [scenario 1B] somehow transmutes into a disability issue, due to that hypothetical-but-reasonably-foreseeable possibility.

          (It doesn’t.)

    15. Ginger Cat Lady*

      Is your friend actually disabled? Or are you throwing out a straw man argument here?

    16. Yes And*

      My advice to your friend is malicious compliance. If she is off, she is OFF. No phone calls, no emails, no Slack, nothing. If the company’s policy puts her off the clock for those days, she is off the clock. Period.

        1. GythaOgden*

          Yeah, my boss is great with people who try to connect to even the general chat channel when they’re supposed to be off. I’m impressed, because she finger-wags anyone who even starts typing, let alone posting, into the Teams chat.

    17. Disabled Dad*

      I think you do not understand the ADA, disability in the workplace, or discrimination, and probably need to educate yourself on issues before you start making statements about them.

    18. House On The Rock*

      It’s not an legal issue for an employer to require staff to take PTO when something keeps them away from work. A person who used up all of their PTO for illness, doctor visits, etc. would have options like FMLA, short and long term disability, etc. If they are disabled, they could request accommodations to WFH or flex their schedule per stipulations in the ADA and the recommendations of their providers. It’s also true that many employers require the use of vacation time prior to extended sick/disability leave kicking in.

      None of this has to do with taking time off for childcare (or other commitments). Even if the WFH/PTO policies are being applied inconsistently, that’s not an ADA issue.

    19. RagingADHD*

      No. This is not a legal issue in any way.

      The only class of people this would disproportionately impact would be people with kids, in that they are the only people it affects at all.

      Someone with a bad bout of flu, someone with family who live out of the country that they want to visit, someone who has to go to court a lot (such as a messy divorce), and someone who is just unlucky enough to catch every crummy virus all year — all of them would burn through their PTO quickly and have to juggle it to watch their kids when school is cancelled. None of those are disabilities.

      If a person has a chronic illness or disability that causes them to miss a lot of work, they wouldn’t necessarily use PTO. They could either get intermittent FMLA, or arrange an ADA accommodation like flexible hours or regular WFH.

    20. Saturday*

      Employers don’t have to anticipate what accommodations someone might need in the future and then set their policies for all employees accordingly.

      The point of ADA accommodations is to be… accommodating. And to respond to individual needs as they arise.

  10. Catered Lunch*

    I’m organizing a catered lunch in my department of 20 people. Food and beverages (already ordered) will be delivered to our workplace and offered buffet-style, so that guests can serve themselves and then we’ll all be sitting at a large table.

    What are your thoughts/tips/best practices on helping this event go smoothly?

    A few of my ideas are:

    Pre-set the table with paper placemats, napkins and utensils (less items to carry around)

    Set main dishes and sides on one table, beverages and desserts on another table a distance apart (to help avoid crowding)

    pre-cut cake and set out slices on individual plates (we’ll likely put out a number of pre-cut pieces, and also allow folks to cut their own piece if they want to)

    Have to-go food boxes available for attendees

    1. Texan In Exile*

      “Pre-set the table with paper placemats, napkins and utensils” (LOVE THIS – that’s one of my pet peeves re buffets)

      Or, at the least, put the napkins and utensils at the end of the buffet line instead of at the beginning. That way, people don’t have to hold them while they try to dish up food.

      Pull the food table out from the wall so you can have people going down both sides. That means two serving utensils for each dish, but you will double your throughput!

      I love your ideas! Process people of the world applaud your efforts.

    2. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      Have extra utensils/napkins somewhere, not just the ones you have laid out beforehand. People drop utensils, spill things, etc. and need extras.

      If there is ice for the drinks, put the ice in the cups right before the event starts, or as it’s starting, not too long before. If you’re having soda, maybe just put the cans directly in a cooler so they don’t need added ice. Make sure you have a non sugar option besides plain water.

      Include labels with possible allergens in front of each food item.

        1. Catered Lunch*

          Good idea – we obviously want everyone to have their fill during lunch with the group. The to-go boxes are my idea for helping to disperse with any extra food, and make it easier for folks to take some home with the.

      1. Ama*

        If possible, this is very helpful (although with 20 people less essential). I would add — if your group is likely to stand around and try not to be the first one to go through the line, don’t be afraid to ask a coworker to be the person to start things or even do it yourself if no one else will. (The groups I plan meetings for are always very bad about this — sometimes I just get the food myself to kickstart things.)

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        With at least two sets of spoons, tongs, serving forks so there isn’t constant bottlenecking as one person, then the other across the table, uses them.

    3. Dry Erase Aficionado*

      Invite team members with dietary restrictions to go through the line first.

      1. Spacewoman Spiff*

        This is a great idea! Whenever I’m at a conference I try to sneak away to the food line early, to be sure I can actually get a meal…and this approach would relieve my anxiety about going hungry.

        I think it can also help (if you have the space) to set up the food for folks with dietary restrictions on a different table, so the omnivores don’t beeline to the veggie option…which they tend to do, because I think they view it as a side dish for everyone, rather than the one thing some of their colleagues can eat.

    4. WhyIsEverythingBananas*

      Announce at the beginning what you need to re: serving size and seconds – once everybody’s been served/served themselves, it can be helpful to announce time to go up for seconds if folks so desire. With the to-go boxes, include that in the beginning logistics announcement, but mention the time/prerequisite for those boxes being available. E.g. “Once everybody’s had a chance to eat their fill, I’ll put some to-go boxes out at 12:45 so that folks who want can take home some leftovers to reduce food waste. I’d ask that people limit themselves to one box each”.
      Also, good to have signage or a statement mentioning any food allergy or dietary restriction stuff, no need to call out a specific person for this. “These items are vegetarian, this one is vegan, and that one contains peanuts”.

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

      I think the table should have napkins like a basket. I don’t like the idea of utensils and the pper place setting on the table. That feels more formal to me. I would put the utensils by the plates & skip the placemats. Can you get the silverware that is wrapped in a napkin already? that makes things really easy.
      Yes to everything else. If you have room to have some pre cut cake do that but also allow people to cut their own. Sometimes people might want a smaller piece, and feel weird about cutting one that is already on a plate.

    6. Contracts Killer*

      Put out a bottle of hand sanitizer at the front of the line, people are gross.

      Make sure all dishes have a serving spoon/fork.

      Bring aluminum foil and/or spare to go containers to pack up leftovers. After everyone has been through the line and a bit of time has passed, announce what will happen with the food – it will be taken to the break room, people are welcome to take some home, it’s being donated to a shelter, etc.

    7. Advice from the Bride*

      Put expensive higher-value food at the end of the buffet, not at the beginning. I did a buffet at my wedding and I made the mistake of putting the steak tips at the beginning. People who got their food first took a LOT of the steak, leaving very little for those at the end of the line. I served myself last, and luckily I don’t like steak ;)

    8. Jaydee*

      I really like the idea of either pre-setting the table with napkins and silverware or having those on the tables (eg a pile of silverware and a stack of napkins on each table) so folks don’t have to carry those while they dish up their food.

      I also like arranging the foods somewhat separately like you described. That’s how it was at my old job (which had a phenomenal potluck culture) and it did help keep the line moving and make it easier for people to go up separately for dessert after they set their main plate down or after they finished their main food without having to wait in the main line.

    9. Nightengale*

      preset tables with napkins and utensils would be amazing for me. I use a cane and can usually serve myself from a buffet and carefully carry a plate in my free hand. . . so long as there is no silverware bouncing off it. I often end up stuffing the silverware in my purse or a pocket if my female event-professional clothing miraculously runs to pockets.

  11. Donkey Hotey*

    Does anyone else just -KNOW- when it’s time to go? Every job I’ve had, there comes a particular day when I can almost physically feel when my last ounce of care evaporates (or, more likely, bursts into flames.) For me, that day was Thursday. I’ll still go to work and I’ll still do the job, but in my heart, I’m already updating my resume.

    What’s disconcerting is that in my career, I’ve gone from 14 years at one company, to 5, and this one just turned 2. I’m over 50 and -now- I worry about being seen as a job hopper.

    1. Sloanicota*

      FWIW I don’t think you look like a job hopper with this track record. Here on AAM I’ve heard the standard is “multiple one or two year stays” – you don’t even have one, because by the time you are actually going to interviews it will be well past two years even at your shortest term job. I also think the standards for job hopping changed, although there are some fields/roles where people, especially more senior people, may still be expected to have longer tenures.

      Re: when you know – yes, I often get that “penny drop” feeling that this job isn’t good for me any more and it’s time to go, frequently followed by a new lightness that these things won’t be my problem any more (and then, for me, followed by a heaviness that the job search is so much longer and more painful than I hoped, but I’m sure that’s field dependent!).

    2. MigraineMonth*

      Not even close to a job hopper. Job hopper is generally a pattern of only jobs of <2 years (though that can vary some based on what field you're in).

    3. EMP*

      I wouldn’t see you as a job hopper. I think you’d have to have 3+ jobs in a row at 2 years tenure for me to think hm, this person may only stay 2 years and hesitate at all to hire for that reason.

    4. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Agreeing with others that job hopping is about patterns.

      I’ll add, in some fields/career tracks, I can see why time in one job would dcreases with increasing seniority and career progression:

      1) Less willingness to put up with BS
      2) More seniority means more influence, so you can come in and have an impact (hopefully a positive one) more quickly than earlier in your career. Then, you may decide you want to tackle a new challenge elsewhere.

    5. Rory*

      Does your engagement in your job ever bounce back if you hang in there long enough (and maybe make some changes to how you’re doing your job)? I’ve found that in my jobs I’ve had multiple moments where I reached an “I hate this job, I don’t care anymore” mentality, but I’m usually able to bounce back after a few months. Also, can you pinpoint why you think you reached your limit at this job faster than the others? Is there something about it that doesn’t suit you well? It could just be a bad fit, and doesn’t necessarily mean every future job will be a dud after 2 years.

    6. But Not the Hippopotamus*

      2 years is not job hopping. Now, if you do 2 years, 2 years, 2 year… I’m going to think you’ll leave in 2 years, but that’s not a show-stopper for lots of positions. But you had 14 years, 5 years, and 2 years. That’s not the same at all. Especially if you have a compelling reason to leave. Like:

      – no room for growth
      – change in work, management, or team
      – family change (not compatible with prior job)

      Generally, if i see that pattern, I’m going to think “this person seems to gravitate towards longer stints” and see you as a NON-hopper.

    7. Charlotte Lucas*

      I agree with the others: not job hopping. I would assume that last one just wasn’t the right fit.

      In high school, I knew a guy who had 14 different jobs in about 9 months. It was kind of legend, and I always mentally compare other “job hoppers” to him.

      1. Glazed Donut*

        Yep. The day you think to yourself “wow. I can’t keep doing this job” or “I really hate it here” there’s no convincing yourself otherwise! And the longer you stay after that, the more the attitude slowly seeps out when you don’t want it to, at least for me.

    8. HR Exec Popping In*

      You are not a “job hopper”. You would have had one somewhat (but problematically) short tenure company. Don’t over think it. I wouldn’t look at timelines as an issue at all. In fact, that you stayed at one employer for 15 years and other for 5 is great!

    9. Anax*

      Yup. With this job, it was one bad meeting where I was told “we don’t care about your disability, we’re ok with our disabled employees losing their jobs, because on-site meetings matter THAT MUCH.”

      It’s my last day today, and even though I don’t have a new job lined up yet, it’s such an enormous relief.

      (And yes, I’m suing, of course. The wheels of Civil Rights Departments grind slow, but… hopefully exceeding fine, too.)

      Good luck. It’s so disheartening to keep going through the motions even though your heart isn’t in it.

    10. Don’t make me come over there*

      My mom said she used to have a dream that told her when it was time to go. In the dream, she’d be at a party with her coworkers and everyone but her was having a wonderful time. It only happened two or three times, but I’m sure it brought things to the attention of her waking brain that she might have been ignoring.

    11. MissBliss*

      Yes, and I can even tell you the date of the time I decided to leave my first job, because it was also the day I had my first date with my husband! Entirely coincidental. When you know, you know.

    12. Cherry Ames*

      Are you me?! your second paragraph almost described me – though in my case I have been with the same organization, just changed roles (though around, that is in many ways like going to a whole new company)!

      I’m over 50, 14 years in one role, 5 years in the next, and my current role is 2.5 years now. This one I am planning to stay in for another year or so. I know what you mean about knowing when it’s time to go…..in my role currently, I actually might considered moving on about now, but in my case, there are certain perks to this job that are not readily available elsewhere, so I find that makes it worth it in the overall for me to stay another year.

      I will note also, in my first role, I actually was ready to move after about 8 years or so….it just was really hard to get an opportunity to move back at that time (around 2008 or so), and I ended up staying until 2016.

    13. JSPA*

      That’s not entirely like what burnout feels like, to me. Whether the last straw (on which the feeling fixates) is job, relationship, house, activism, or even hobby is a hard-to-pin-down combination of momentary stressors, longer term stressors, health conditions, lack of sleep, proximity to other peoples’ mid life crises and life-changing events (the list is long).

      For something that’s otherwise been a positive, it’s worth working through the list (and taking some vacation, and maybe getting a physical, if you’re feeling a bit dragged and ragged, more generally). If the job was only ever meh-to-middling, no harm starting the process of moving on.

      But do give yourself a little space to “un-know” that deep knowledge if it comes to seem more like a health status update than a message from your inner self (or the universe) in a few weeks. (Mine tend to be urgent metabolic problems masquerading as moments of intellectual clarity.) Not because of job hopping (this… isn’t) but because life is complex, and the readouts our bodies give us are inadequate to that complexity.

    14. Generic Name*

      Yep. I definitely had a moment at my last job where I was just DONE.

      To your second point, no, no hiring manager will see you as a job hopper. Literally everyone I’ve seen post on this site worrying about being a job hopper is actually a job hopper. Honestly, I think your 14-year tenure alone proves that you are not a job hopper. Even if you stay at your next job for 6 months. You clearly have the ability to stick around in jobs.

    15. Mill Miker*

      Every spring, like clockwork. I think it’s the weather for me. This year the spring weather came early, and so did the urge to just walk away. (I do not always act on this urge, I’ve had a couple multi-year stays).

    16. Far North*

      Yes. My final straw happened today and now I feel like I have the career equivalent of cabin fever.

      I agree with others who say you don’t sound like a job hopper. I’ve had exactly one hiring manager question me about “job hopping” (1 year in retail followed by 2 years at a small engineering firm, but in 2 different roles because I’d gotten promoted quickly.) His questioning was a huge red flag that I was too inexperienced at the time to recognize. Those jobs are also no longer on my resume because that was 25 or so years ago.

    17. Agreed*

      At one desk/computer job that was tough, when I was 8 months pregnant I went to lunch nearby at a fast-casual order at the counter place, and I saw a sign there that said “now hiring”.

      I actually thought, maybe I want to work here, that would be fun.

      And then I thought, what?!

      Yes, it was all down hill from there.

    18. Quinalla*

      Yes, I had that moment at my previous job (which I stayed at for 13 years) and realized I was DONE. I was on PTO to move into my new house and had prepped for my PTO and left detailed instructions on how to wrap up a couple things since I was out for a week. The instructions were completely ignored, I got a nasty phone call from one of my peers who thought he was 2nd in command to our boss (small company ~12 people), but wasn’t. He hadn’t followed my instructions, had redone about half of the work I’d done unnecessarily. I came in for about 3 hours, started with what I had done and wrapped up the project and went back to my PTO after explaining to my boss what had happened. Boss kind of just shrugged and was like oh well, that’s how that dude is. I was DONE after that BS and starting looking for a job immediately, found one very quickly and went from 65k to 85k as surprise I was also underpaid.

      As for you OP, not a job hopper at all. I would assume the 2 year stint was not a good fit or bait and switch or something, someone who does 14 then 5 isn’t a job hopper even slightly.

    19. Green Goose*

      I was at my previous job for almost a decade and I started out loving it and considering it a “dream job”, which evolved into me liking my job but certain repeat issues starting to grate after a few years. I think by the seven year mark I was feeling like I was in a “golden handcuffs” situation because my salary was higher than almost all of our competitors so whenever i perused job adverts there was much more responsibility for either the same pay or less.
      I ended up staying two years past the point I would have if it weren’t for having two kids in two years near the end of my time there. I had accepted that the things I didn’t like were not going to change and were negatively impacting me inside and outside of work so I waited until my youngest was six months old and then started applying places.
      At my new job I’m not enamored with it the way I was with my old job at the beginning so I feel like I’ll just stay here a few years and then move on.
      There were definitely a few AHA moments during my last two years at my old job that reinforced my decision to leave. Being expected to work inhumane overtime while heavily pregnant, new leadership who were getting paid obscene amounts of money and not really… working?

  12. Cherry Garcia*

    Can anyone recommend language for explaining that I was let go because my org’s new leadership was cleaning house? It hasn’t happened yet, but I’ve seen multiple high-performing colleagues get fired or pushed out and I’m sure I’ll be in the crosshairs soon. I’m searching but I’m not confident I’ll land a new job before that happens.

    1. MigraineMonth*

      I’m not fluent in corporate, but can you say you were laid off (I’m assuming it was a layoff not firing?) because of reorganization due to new leadership?

    2. MsM*

      I think “the new leadership team decided they wanted to go in a different direction/bring in their own people” is probably fine. Doesn’t say anything about your own competence.

      1. JSPA*

        I like “leadership shuffle.”

        Or if you interview after they let you go, I think you can throw the light shade and light bragging of, “new management immediately turfed out a dozen top performers, so I assumed I’d be next.”

    3. Artemesia*

      We had new leadership come in and bring a lot of staff with them and so 12 of my peers and myself were let go in this leadership shuffle.

      ?

      Don’t use ‘clean house’ because that implies new leadership got rid of the deadwood. You want the idea that they had a team they brought in and so current staff was let go.

      1. Tio*

        Yeah, this is the most succinct and still true. I wouldn’t really question that if someone told me that.

    4. Rex Libris*

      “A new leadership team implemented a reorganization that led to a number of cuts among the staff.”

    5. HR Exec Popping In*

      This is not uncommon. Once you say that the company brought in new leadership they will understand. I would say something like, “After the company brought in several new senior leaders, they have decided to take the business in a new direction and are making several staffing changes to align with that change.”

    6. HonorBox*

      I think that if you simply state that new leadership made changes to staffing, affecting X colleagues, that’s all that is needed.

      This is not unlike a new college football coach coming in and bringing members of their former coaching staff. The offensive line coach who was there wasn’t doing a bad job. The new coach just wanted the people they have worked with before.

  13. Hiring Anon*

    We’re trying to hire a bookkeeper, and our first attempt didn’t go well. We’re looking at other elements of it, but I’m also wondering if the job title is too old-fashioned. Is there a modern synonym for “bookkeeper” that would be more attractive to job seekers?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Where does this position slot in? What other finance-related jobs do you have? And what kind of degrees or other qualifications are you looking for – BA Business enough, or do you need a CPA?

      If all you have is a CFO and this person, then you might try something along the lines of “accounting and finance generalist”, which is a term I’ve seen on job boards.

      1. Dancing Otter*

        I would assume “accountant” meant a degree in accounting. If I were hired as an accountant but assigned only bookkeeping duties, I’d be out the door again before it stopped swinging.
        Full charge bookkeeper might bring in more experienced applicants.

    2. E*

      If it’s a lower level job (more like just paying bills & sending invoices) then Accounts Receivable/ Accounts Payable Coordinator may work.

    3. E*

      If it’s a paying bills & creating invoices type position, then Accounts Receivable/ Accounts Payable Coordinator might get what you are looking for.

    4. But Not the Hippopotamus*

      I agree with the other comments and will add to search for job titles (on job sites) with terms like: finance/financial, accounts/accountant, etc. and see what pops up. You’ll get an idea what are the more common terms, but possibly also what distinguishes them.

    5. HR Exec Popping In*

      Agree with the other comments. Depending on the level and responsibilities, consider:
      Financial Analyst (broad financial role)
      Accounts Payable/Receivable (if the job is primarily about paying and receiving payments)
      Accounting Manager/Associate (keeping the books)

    6. HR Exec Popping In*

      Finance(Financial) Analyst/Manager – generalist financial role
      Accounting(Accountant) Specialist/Manager – keeping the books
      Accounts Payable/Receivable Coordinator/Specialist – pays and collects $

    7. M2RB*

      You could use staff accountant or general accountant; accounting generalist (as suggested above) could also work.

    8. Hiring Anon*

      Thanks for all the ideas and the breakdown of what kinds of roles are called what! We’re looking for someone with experience, no degree required. The person will be keeping the books for our department within a larger organization that has a centralized accounting department. (It’s a slightly complicated structure; trust me that we do need someone tracking our money for our department, although only part-time.)

      1. Peter*

        In the UK we’d probably go for Management Accountant and be looking for Accounting Technician qualification or equivalent experience – not sure if that helps you in the US though!

  14. Junior Dev (no longer Junior)*

    What does a software job search look like in $CURRENT_YEAR? I am fortunately seeing more places not even ask for cover letters, I’m pretty good at writing them but it’s really time consuming. I assume everyone else is doing them with ChatGPT now.

    I’m a front end developer at my current job and I’d do that again, or full stack or backend, or try something else like mobile app development. I started using TypeScript by making a new project in it at work and it’s going pretty well so far. I have been working in the industry for about 8 years but there was a lot of job hopping early on; the two jobs that lasted more than a year were one at a big corporation that lasted about 3 years, and the current one has been about a year and a half.

    It seems like tech jobs have dried up over the past year or so. I’m fortunate to still be employed but my job is pretty toxic. I’m thinking of doing something like sending out one resume a week as consistently as I can but I don’t know if that’s a good strategy or not. I ask friends if their workplace is hiring and nobody seems to be.

    I’m trying to get away from an environment where deadlines, projects and deployment practices are always changing based on dumb drama among the higher-ups, and it’s unpredictable enough to cause a lot of stress; my department head is also a jerk and he writes crappy code that I then have to work around (no, he should not be writing code). I don’t know what questions to ask to make sure I end up somewhere better, or what to say when asked why I’m looking—of course I can say something generic but I’m thinking giving a bit more detail might help screen out similarly toxic places.

    Does anyone still care about Leetcode? Do people actually look at GitHub profiles and what are they looking for?

    1. EMP*

      As someone currently facing final round interviews in a job search, the biggest downside of doing that kind of rolling, one a week style, is if you hit 2+ things you like who interview you, you may wind up on very different interview schedules and have to pass on something you’d otherwise take because of timing. If you can muster up the energy, I’d try to do a serious look at indeed, linkedin jobs, etc, and find everything you’re really interested in right now, and apply. If none of those work out, wait a few weeks and do it again (maybe lowering your expectations in subsequent rounds depending on what you’re seeing available and how desperate you are to leave). Once you have a template resume and cover letter, it’s pretty quick to apply to a bunch of stuff all at once.

      1. Junior Dev (no longer Junior)*

        Are you reusing the same cover letter? How does that work? I always write a new one per job.

        1. EMP*

          I have a generic coverletter template that I customize per job. I used askamanager to draft it, especially this post:
          https://www.askamanager.org/2022/04/heres-a-template-to-make-writing-cover-letters-easier.html

          Since I’m applying to a specific type of job, even though they are different jobs, my experience tends to be relevant in specific ways, so I don’t think repeating some paragraphs (with minor tweaks where appropriate) is a downside in this case. I’ve gotten a pretty good response rate at least! A specific example is I included a paragraph about my technical communication skills in all my cover letters, because it’s something relevant that did not fit well on a resume.

        2. Lily Rowan*

          I’m not in software at all, but when I was looking for jobs similar enough to my current job, the middle paragraph of my letter stayed basically the same, since it was about my skills and talents. The opening and closing were a little specific to the job I was applying for, but the core of the letter didn’t change much for years.

    2. MigraineMonth*

      It’s been about three years since I was searching, but I have worked at a FAANG, and I am currently employed as a software dev. Here’s what worked for me:

      * If you’re pretty good at writing, a cover letter can be a good way to stand out. (Make sure there’s a way to submit it before writing it, though; some application portals don’t even allow it.) Don’t do ChatGPT; AI won’t be able to say anything interesting about you.

      * I have no idea what Leetcode is.

      * I don’t have a GitHub profile, I have never contributed to an OpenSource project, my StackOverflow score is zero and I have never written a programming blog. I am not an eSports champion. So far as I know, that hasn’t held me back.

      * Keep asking friends/former coworkers, but applying to posted openings is how I’ve gotten all my jobs. If one application per week is the sustainable level for you, keep doing that. Do keep track of the positions/companies you’ve already applied to, though.

      * When asked why you’re looking, give a generic response. Calling your current workplace toxic (or implying that it is) will raise flags about you as a candidate. Even trying to be vague (“frequent shifts in direction”, “unpredictable workload”) won’t help because those are so subjective; the places that think they have those issues are the ones with the mildest form.

      * If you want to avoid another toxic workplace, it’s up to you to ask questions during the interview, connect with people who work at the company outside of interviews, etc. Make sure you have at least one conversation with the hiring manager.

      * Job hopping is less of a concern in tech than in other fields, but you’re going to want to be able to name *accomplishments*, not just duties, for all the jobs you put on your resume.

        1. EMP*

          My company uses Bitbucket, but I think what’s relevant is not having public or personal contributions on GitHub that you can link a hiring manager to

        2. MigraineMonth*

          My previous jobs all used proprietary repositories, actually!

          My current org does use GitHub, so I guess I technically have a work profile there, but there isn’t any public info any company I was applying to work at could see. I know some people have “code I’ve written” from personal or OpenSource projects that potential employers can look at, but I’ve never done that.

    3. Sweet Clementine*

      I’m software engineering adjacent, and have been in a similar boat as you (job hunting from a toxic job, with little traction). Leetcode definitely seems to help, as I have had multiple leetcode style interviews. For finding jobs, my best approach has been to look for folks who are hiring on LinkedIn, and reach out if there is a fit.

    4. Anax*

      Also a coder here, early thirties, currently job-hunting.

      Agreed, jobs have kind of dried up lately.

      This is pretty vibes-based, but this is what I’m seeing here in northern California – a lot of upper management are pushing RTO and believe that some positions will be hard to fill in the short term because people aren’t happy to work in-office, but people will give up and accept RTO when they realize every workplace is doing it. I think it’s going to take about 9-12 months for them to realize that the ‘wait and see’ strategy isn’t working well and those longstanding job vacancies are starting to cause mission-critical issues.

      I think a lot of companies and agencies also are waiting to see how the election shakes out, frankly, because no matter what it’s going to have a huge effect on the economy and certain markets specifically.

      Sorry, I’m not enjoying it either – today was my last day at my job, because I’m disabled in a way that makes RTO a big issue, and I haven’t been able to get HR to approve a reasonable accommodation. (Believe me, I’ve tried. I’ve already filed an EEOC complaint and have a lawyer helping me with it.)

      I think occasional resumes are probably a good idea, though I would do cover letters if they’re asked for. I know a lot of state jobs in my area ask for a “statement of qualifications” (basically, a 2-page essay) SPECIFICALLY to screen out casual candidates who don’t care enough about the job to put in that effort. I would not be surprised if other companies are doing something similar – other tech folks are noticing the market too, so they’re probably getting more applicants than usual.

      For why you’re looking – if I were in an interview, I would frame it like this: “My previous position required me to react quickly to changing priorities and new projects. While I learned a lot about being agile and flexible there, I’d like to work on the kind of larger, long-term projects this position hasn’t given me much opportunity to work on. I think a strong vision for the future and a willingness to invest in infrastructure and processes is the foundation of a strong IT department for decades to come, and I’d like to be part of that work.”

      Basically, as always, try to frame your past experience as positive and focus on how you’re excited for the next step. Followup question might be, “What are the biggest priorities for your team in the next three to five years?”

      If they don’t have a solid set of planned projects for the next few years, it might not be the kind of team you want.

      I’ve never used Leetcode, and honestly, I see a focus on GitHub profiles as a red flag. It can be useful to see what someone’s real code looks like, but unless working on opensource projects is actually important to the job, you’re only really going to have work on GitHub if you’re doing a bunch of unpaid work in your off-time. Ugh. I wouldn’t worry about it; I’ve never had anything on there and I don’t think it’s hurt me.

      IT job-hunting is honestly largely a numbers game, because there are so many subspecialties and technologies and everyone’s looking for the perfect fit. It can’t hurt to brush up on a few of the most common technologies right now – maybe take a Udemy or Coursera course if they’re cheap/free – just so you can use the latest buzzwords, and refresh your memory on the technical language which doesn’t come up much. (I memorably once could not remember the word “selector” when talking about CSS, and kept having to call it a “thingy”. Oof.)

      But… yeah, just send out resumes. I normally target 2-5 per day when I’m job-hunting while also working full-time – but most of my apps lately involve a couple pages of essay questions, so that definitely slows things down.

      I also make a point of job-hunting in “non-sexy” industries – government, banks, insurance. I’ve found those often don’t expect me to be *passionate* about coding, just that I be able to do the job. A lot of sexy tech jobs really want code to be your hobby and your life as well as your job, and… nnnnope. I have other passions, this is just a job. I have found that can help with applications as well, because the “non-sexy” jobs often get a lot fewer applications, especially if they aren’t very good at advertising online. Looking up the websites of my local Big Boring Employers directly has worked out well for me.

  15. Dovasary Balitang*

    Very recently, IT updated the basic password requirements to be 14 characters minimum from the previous 7. However, the password change function does not inform you of this change when it rejects your password—it just prompts you to reset your password again in a never ending loop without any helpful guidelines. I had to open a helpdesk ticket for clarification. During the time my ticket was open, IT said to me that they, “thought increasing the minimum characters for password would only cause user complaints and decided to just deal with it individually,” rather than sending out a mass email clarifying the new password requirements. Am I strange in finding this not a best practice? Can IT folk weigh in?

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      Not IT but a comms person who often deals the tech issues. This is a terrible practice! People need to know password requirements. And not telling them just wastes everyone’s time.

      I can only assume they aren’t getting enough tickets. But if you have group chats at work, I strongly encourage you to share the new password requirements with anyone who might listen.

    2. Rick Tq*

      IMO the best practice is to have the length and complexity standard listed on the change password screen AND you should have received an email announcing the new requirement.

      If the change came from the Chief Information Security Officer that office should have sent out the announcement and fielded any complaints. IT ops doesn’t make the rules they have to enforce.

    3. BellyButton*

      That is just lazy. Most password requirements are even spelled out- every place I have to log in for work shows the requirements when it tells you it is time to change your password. How annoying!

    4. Choggy*

      I work in IT, and we also implemented a 14 character minimum password (that includes at least one Uppercase letter, one lowercase letter, one number and one symbol), but we over communicated this to the user community weeks beforehand. Most users *got* it but we still have those who always have an issue when they attempt to change their password. All communications to external consultants and vendors also contain the password complexity policy very clearly. Your IT department caused unnecessary frustration by not telling the user community of this (very important!) change. I really wish there was a way to include the
      password complexity policy when users are prompted to change their password, but it’s not possible at this time in our environment.

      1. Lady_Lessa*

        As a user of various sites, I greatly appreciate knowing the password standards. I don’t like guessing what will and will not be acceptable.

        +1000 for being proactive.

    5. Llellayena*

      My “favorite” password change instructions are the ones that list bullet points of requirements that get checked off as you type the new password. Did I get the uppercase? Yup! Oh, I missed the special character! What I REALLY wish was that the password requirements would pop up when you put the wrong password in. If I use “password” for one thing and “Password$” for something else and forget which one is which, knowing that website A needs a capital and special character will help me remember what I was using without having to go partially through the password change process.

      1. HonorBox*

        Agree that these are the very best password setting systems! I love being able to see that I’ve checked the boxes.

        1. Peter*

          On that note I found a site (from a new vendor) where apparently a question mark doesn’t count as a special character…
          That caused significant confusion!

      2. Random Bystander*

        I like those, too (the lists that get checked off/turn green).

        One thing that I do to help with the passwords is that I put a little clue in the bookmark for the site. I have a set of thirteen that I rotate through, so I will have in the bookmark:
        [website] A! where A is the first letter of the password and ! is my special character; another website will be [website] a (no capital letter or special character, but a is the first letter of the password), and so on through all the bookmarked sites. Then when I have to change passwords, I go back in to edit bookmarks so now that one is [website] B! It’s just enough of a hint that I know all the rest I need to fill in, but no one would get it just from my DIY password hint.

    6. Pita Chips*

      IT Project Manager here. I personally think that’s bananapants, but I have run into some IT people that don’t think communication is a high priority or their job.

      1. Loreli*

        And often those IT people think their users are stupid because they don’t have the same know as the IT people do. They don’t communicate, and they’ve often got an arrogant attitude when working with users.

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

      not IT but this sounds terrible. There should at least be some guidance when resetting your password.

    8. Flor*

      Unrelated, but I love your username! I adored those books when I was a teenager.

      And yeah, maybe I’m being cynical, but that sounds like a thing they did to make their lives easier (by having fewer complaints) without considering the impact on the business as a whole of people getting locked out – and what happens if someone waits until the last possible moment to change their password and now can’t even get into the system to raise a helpdesk ticket?

  16. Underpaid*

    Has anyone who works in federal government ever had experience with acting in a much higher position and negotiating higher pay? I was asked to fill behind someone in an acting position for 6 months and only after I agreed did I find out that I would not get a bump in pay because that’s apparently not a thing they do in government. I figured oh well, it’s only 6 months. Now it’s been almost 18 months and I’m likely to continue in this position for at least 1-2 more years. The man previously doing this job before me (a woman) made 50% more than I did, which feels problematic. I’m burned out and feeling bitter about doing twice as much work with way more stress for no additional pay, and I’m wondering if this really is just something you’re expected to do in government or if I’m getting short shrift here.

    1. BellyButton*

      I don’t know about government, but in the corporate world, this isn’t ok. This is no longer a temporary job. It has been over a year, that is permanent and they need to make it so. I don’t know who told you no, but you need to escalate this to HR.

      Good luck!

    2. fine-tipped pen aficionado*

      I’ve never been a fed so grain of salt but there’s no state or municipal employee in my network whose government org doesn’t have concrete and strict rules, including a bunch of tedious paperwork, about interim pay increases. Even folks who aren’t getting an interim title can be eligible for interim pay if they’re picking up duties outside their job class’ typical responsibilities or above the average workload for their job class. We do either 5 or 10% of the median pay in the band the interim responsibilities came from.

      1. fine-tipped pen aficionado*

        Caveat that making interim increases has to be covered within your existing fiscal year budget and making them permanent typically requires a more complicated budget process.

    3. Winstonian*

      at my last job, municipal government, this would be something that would be presented to the board for approval, and was fairly routine when needed. typically the position that they are interim for was already built into the budget so the money is accounted for.

    4. TX_TRUCKER*

      I used to work for the federal government. We had a very structured “interim pay”. It was always 5-10% above your existing pay, with no consideration of the pay band of the position you were covering. It was an easy approval process. But there wasn’t a standard interim process for all Federal agencies.

    5. Fed*

      Whoever told you that’s not a thing the federal govt does was a lying liar who lies. I work for the federal govt. Every time I’ve seen anyone act in a position higher than their own, they get the pay that comes with that position. I acted as my branch manager for 3 months and received the associated pay increase. The only time I haven’t seen someone be compensated for acting is if it’s less than a pay period. You’ve been acting for 18 months?!?!?! No, no way.

    6. The Dude Abides*

      State gov here

      During the five months that I covered duties that were assigned to the vacant manager’s position, I logged the amount of time I worked on those duties and was paid at the manager’s rate for those hours.

      You’re getting the shaft, and suggest reaching out to HR and/or a union rep.

    7. +35 years working for Uncle*

      Speak to HR. If I recall correctly, being officially detailed for more than 90 days requires that you get the pay of the detail position. However, they often have outs based on what type of status employee you were hired as, such as Temp Not to Exceed.

    8. Scott*

      Current Fed here. I think it is largely agency-dependent but as *Fed* stated, it’s certainly not prohibited. I’d bring this up with your manager and HR because it sounds like your department or agency is getting cheaper labor at your literal expense.

    9. Anon for this*

      Spouse is a Fed who was in a similar spot. Spouse is male fwiw. Spouse went in pretty mad when discovered and said some harsh things and I don’t know if there was a lasting salary bump but there was a five figure bonus that helped.

      1. Underpaid*

        Yeah I don’t think this is BECAUSE I’m a woman that I’m getting paid less but like I said, it just feels like bad optics. Last year I was told I would get a bonus and they did give me a bonus of a few thousand dollars, which isn’t nothing, but it feels kind of crappy when the guy doing the job before was making around $80k more than me.

  17. FricketyFrack*

    This is mostly just a vent. I’m supposed to be listening to my job’s mandatory harassment training, but I had to stop because the guy who runs it every year is…aggravating at best. He had this whole thing this year about an employee (at another org) who had screensaver that said “skinhead girl for life” and asked how people would feel if they saw it. After 20 minutes of blah blah blah, he basically said, “oh she wasn’t racist, it was about a song, so we should be open to getting more information.” K, easy for the white guy to say and also, maybe we still just don’t have skinhead stuff at work?

    Anyway, it drives me crazy because he’s literally in every privileged group he can be (cis, straight, white, upper middle class, well-educated, all things he’s disclosed himself, not assumptions). NONE of the scenarios he presents are related to his personal experience. It’s always, “I mediated a complaint about ___ and here’s how they said it made them feel,” as if he now totally gets it (and as if people are always 100% honest with the attorney involved in a work dispute). Can we get some other perspectives in the chat or what? I’m so tired.

    1. BellyButton*

      Ick!!! All of it is ick! I am sorry you have to sit through this. Ugg. If there is any kind of survey after be honest about it! Even if you have to wait for the annual employee engagement survey I would bring it up there.

      1. FricketyFrack*

        I plan on it, but I guess our attorney and the HR director are buddy buddy with him, so I don’t have a lot of hope of anything changing.

    2. MigraineMonth*

      Sorry, I’m over here trying to figure out what a “skinhead girl” is. The history of male “skinhead” culture is confusing enough (pretty sure it started with men of Jamaican descent on the English docks, became punk and then somehow become neo-Nazi). I have no idea where women with shaved heads fit in, given the strict gender roles in most Nazi/white supremacist movements.

      Also, that training sounds annoying as hell.

      1. FricketyFrack*

        Yeah, it’s a complicated history for sure, and there are skinheads actively fighting racism, but they tend to be extremely upfront about where they stand. Asking people to try to figure it out at work seems so inappropriate. I don’t even necessarily buy the stated explanation because it feels way too similar to all the subtle ways groups like that try to find out if you’re part of them while leaving plausible deniability.

        1. WellRed*

          Yeah in this day and age at least in the US, skinhead is just a big negative connotation. Your harassment training sounds like big FU to the notion of such training. Please bring it up where you can.

        2. MigraineMonth*

          Totally agree.

          The racist dog-whistles are (intentionally) innocuous-sounding and change fast enough that bystanders can’t always keep track, but the correct response to being told you’ve used one is to 1) apologize; 2) stop using it; 3) (optionally) curse racists for always ruining everything. I want my “OK” sign back!

    3. Yes And*

      This guy in particular sounds pretty terrible, but I want to gently push back on the implication that leading an anti-harassment training requires being a member of some marginalized group. The flip side of that coin is putting all of the labor of combatting harassment and bigotry onto marginalized people.

      1. anecdata*

        Well that example took a surprising turn — I was sure it was a “she said it was just song lyrics she liked, but it’s still not ok at work, because ‘intentions aren’t impact'”.

        So yes, you are right to be frustrated, and if a mental round of “bad training bingo” helps you get through it, bingoooo

      2. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

        I didn’t read that implication into this – it was more “clueless racist statement that shows he doesn’t understand impact vs intent delivered by someone in the highest -privilege-level groups” in how I read it.

        In other words, he doesn’t even have a (visible) marginalized identity that would maybe nudge him toward examining the concept of privilege and his own bias/blind spots.

        1. FricketyFrack*

          Exactly – when people said they’d feel unsafe, he was like, “yes, skinheads are known for white supremacy, which is wrong, so that’s fair,” but he was still pushing to ask questions and try to understand the other side, which is SUCH a privileged suggestion. Definitely spoken from a place of confidence that he’s not the target of that hate so it’s fine to just have a little convo about it.

          Later, there was a scenario about a male employee backing female employees into corners and asking questions about their romantic lives, and it was like, “Joe means no harm and has no clue that his behavior has drawn complaints.” And the facilitator was like, “herp derp he’s oblivious.” In my experience, men that do that are not oblivious, they just pretend to be when you get upset so they can get away with it and try to make you look hysterical. But the facilitator has never experienced that, so…

      3. FricketyFrack*

        Oh I don’t disagree, and I think there’s a lot of benefit for some people hearing from their own demographic that certain behaviors aren’t acceptable, even to other white/cis/whatever people. But we NEVER hear from anyone else. I’ve worked her for 7 years and he’s been doing the training that entire time. I would just love for there to be a variety of voices.

        1. tokyo salaryman*

          Would you be willing to do those trainings though? Because I’ve been at smaller companies where the trainings are run by volunteers – and unfortunately, even if those volunteers aren’t great for whatever reason, there’s no one else willing to do it.

          (Of course, it’s different if your team has a dedicated training team/HR for these, or could provide some incentive or benefit in case of volunteer trainers)

      4. linger*

        What would useful training look like when the presenter is a white cishet privileged male?
        Presumably there have to be case studies directly drawn from a range of minority perspectives (ideally with direct quotes), and including at least some examples where the recommended action is some accommodating behavioural change among the majority, with some detail about how management can best direct and support those changes.

        1. linger*

          (Which is to say: even if you’re stuck with the same white dude as presenter, are there specific weaknesses in his approach that you can identify, and specific improvements you can ask for?)

    4. MigraineMonth*

      My onboarding was led by a black woman and still managed to be so bad I sent personal feedback asking her to reconsider her methods and examples. Highlights included:

      * When giving an example of sexual harassment, she decided to engage people by selecting people in the class to be harassers and harassees. On the one hand, I appreciate that her example had a woman harassing a man. On the other hand, as a SA survivor, I did NOT appreciate her saying, “So let’s say [MigraineMonth] is touching Jack in inappropriate and unwanted ways…”

      * When talking about the process for requesting disability accommodations, she felt it was important to share examples of people with disabilities who were thriving in their jobs. Rather than someone who worked for our company, she decided to share the inspiring story of the man with a developmental disability who worked at a local restaurant and was really good at wrapping napkins around utensils.

      1. Cicely*

        Yep. I’ve been in the same boat. It’s way less about ‘x’ person in ‘y’ group not being the greatest choice to lead these sessions, and much more about whether particular individuals, no matter their backgrounds, perceived privilege, etc. are capable of leading those sessions.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          There’s a very successful and respected colleague on my team who’s really open about the disabilities he has due to MS and the accommodations he requires. Of course, he might not be the best onboarding example either, as he’s also very open about the fact that my employer refused to put a door-assist on our office until after he was trapped inside the office during an unplanned fire drill.

          My employer, btw, provides services for the disabled.

  18. JadziaSnax*

    Does anyone have advice on how to deal with being ill/disabled and having it disastrously affect their first week of work?

    I have a chronic illness & came down with COVID a few weeks ago, the combination of which resulted in a flare-up bad enough that I had to take off my third day at my new job, and was still out of it enough yesterday that I completely missed a meeting that I was supposed to be at. I had no intention of disclosing any of this to my boss so soon at the job, but I feel like I’m starting off on a horribly wrong foot and don’t know if I need to acknowledge it more than I already have? (New boss was very understanding when I explained why I wouldn’t be coming in on Wednesday, and no one commended about the missed meeting yesterday, so ….. WHO KNOWS).

    1. Artemesia*

      I would think the COVID which is known to sometimes have extended effects might be the way to explain this. But you might want to go ahead and nail down FMLA protection since with a chronic condition this may come up again.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I don’t think FMLA would come into this because JadziaSnax is so new, but I do think it would be helpful to have a frank discussion about accommodations if there’s a chronic condition at play. Even if it doesn’t get to the formal route. If your boss is a reasonable person and you’re new, I see it as helpful to explain that you have a condition that may require last-minute days off.

    2. WantonSeedStitch*

      If you haven’t yet mentioned the meeting to anyone else, let the person hosting the meeting know: “I feel so bad about missing yesterday’s meeting! I’m still recovering from being under the weather. Can you please share any minutes with me? I’d like to brush up on what I missed and see if I have any action items.”

    3. LCH*

      i had a bad allergy attack that gave me a sinus infection for my first week at current job. i still came in, but had terrible head cloudiness. so a lot of my initial orientation to the workplace is not stuff i was able to retain. i think i just looked a little bit like an idiot for awhile and just kept reminding people i was pretty sick my first week, could they tell me again about ____.

    4. MigraineMonth*

      I would apologize for missing the meeting yesterday and explain that I hadn’t fully recovered from my illness Wednesday. (Or blame Outlook, because it is awful and never seems to alert me when it’s supposed to.)

      Also, would it be so bad to disclose to your manager? Yeah, the timing sucks, but you deserve accommodations for your disability last week, this week and a year from now.

      1. LCH*

        we just switched to Outlook and yes! i have to set to many extra reminders in order to notice when things happen.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          Why do I get alerted 15 minutes before the meeting, and when I tell it to snooze and alert me when the meeting starts, it never alerts me again??

    5. HR Exec Popping In*

      This actually happened to a new hire I brought on last year. It was just bad timing. The good news is when you are new, you actually have many chances to make your first impression. People aren’t going to hold being sick against you. As long as once you are feeling better you are able to show your true self. I hope you feel better and don’t worry about this. Focus on getting better.

    6. M2*

      Just had someone come back after a 7 month paid leave. The second day they came back one of their kids came down with Covid so they had to stay home with their kid then they got Covid. Then another kid had an ear infection. You get my drift. Anyway they were out for more than 2 weeks and used their PTO but then I told them to WFH another week (we are hybrid) so they could rest and it wasn’t a big deal.

      This person also before going on leave had only been on my team for 3 months but had worked in our organization but another department for a couple years. So I knew of them in a way but had not really seen their work. I’ll be honest the first three months I wasn’t impressed but when they came back I thought new slate. So far they are doing a lot better and after speaking to them it seems like their other department was less understanding about such things.

      Since you’re so new I don’t know if FMLA comes into it but once it does I would do that paperwork and just say Covid or the flu or something. People understand and don’t want that coming into the office.

      I have found the last couple weeks the worst for sickness at least people I know.

      Feel better!

    7. Mad Harry Crewe*

      Definitely tell your boss what’s up. “I got COVID right before starting and it exacerbated a condition I usually have under control” isn’t unreasonable (or if you don’t want to bring your chronic thing into it, just “I got COVID and it’s having a longer impact that I hoped it would.” Then, “I’m definitely not performing at the level I would like to be at a new job, and I’m taking xyz steps to make sure I’m on top of things.”

  19. Another Manic Monday*

    I have been on a healing journey for the last few years and have found myself to be in a pretty good place in life. I have completed a gender transition and during that time I have received nothing but love and acceptance from my family, friends, neighbors, church community, etc.

    I also have a very nice non-supervisory government job, working full-time from home, which also pays really well. My supervisors, coworkers, and management has been very supportive of my transition and have allowed me to take plenty of time off from work to undergo extensive medical treatment. Common sense says that I should never leave this job because it’s basically a unicorn and the holy grail of government jobs.

    Yet, I want something more and different. I’m 50 years old and I have been stuck in this career field for my whole adult life. I have heard my inner voice whispering to me about moving on to something greater than myself — a calling. I wrestled with that thought for a while and then decided to just go for it.

    I found out last week that I have been accepted to seminary. I will be leaving this really nice government job to pursue a Master of Divinity degree with the intent to become an ordained minister and a hospital chaplain. I am grateful for where I am in life today and I feel blessed. I want to spend the rest of my life helping others in their own spiritual and healing journeys.

    I will be making less money and the work will be harder, but in the end, I think it will be more rewarding for me and give my life a greater purpose.

    1. Donkey Hotey*

      Well done! I’m very happy for you and your new trajectory. Best to you, going forward. (And sitting from experience, chaplaincy burnout is A Thing. Start building your cope and support strategies now so that they are ingrained habits by the time you need them.)

    2. WantonSeedStitch*

      I just want to say that I think the idea of a trans hospital chaplain is super awesome. I can imagine it would be a great comfort to trans patients to be able to have a spiritual conversation with someone who they know FOR SURE will be supportive of their identity!

    3. Charlotte Lucas*

      Congratulations and good luck!

      I looked at my calendar and noticed that Easter falls on the International Transgender Day of Visibility this year. And I loved the symbolism of rebirth coming together in two holidays.

    4. Kit*

      +1 to how great it will be for trans people in the hospital to have your support and ministry there. Also, just as a cisgender person and person of faith (Catholic, FWIW), whenever I may be hospitalized, I’d love to have your ministry, too! I bet you have a lot of experience navigating the discomfort/dissonance of, “why is my body like this when my mind and spirit say this is not me?” I’m a young woman who could be in a hospital giving birth some day, and I worry about being in such a vulnerable state and being reduced to my reproductive organs and losing myself as a person. I’d be comforted to have a spiritual minister who gets that that’s hard and also that there’s a way to go forward as your whole self, the WHOLE self God created you to be. Not that there aren’t cisgender ministers who can counsel well—empathy can certainly be learned—but many would assume I should feel only joy that my womb could bear fruit, as if “Use womb!” was my sole God-given purpose. I’d be relieved to have you at my postpartum bedside not making those assumptions! With your experience, both personal and professional, AND a master of divinity, you’re going to be a force! A force we need in the world! Godspeed!

    5. Kesnit*

      A friend of mine’s spouse is a AFAB, male-presenting enby hospital chaplain. I’ve never seen them at work, but from their posts on FB, they are loving their job.

      Best of luck to you!

    6. Moths*

      Congratulations on your work through this healing journey. I just want to add that a friend of our family decided at 60 years old to retire from his previous work and to enroll in seminary to complete a Master of Divinity. He became an ordained minister at, I believe, 63 years old. As far as he’s shared, it’s been a change that he hasn’t regretted and while he knows he won’t be doing this role for the multiple decades that someone might have who was in a position to pursue it younger, the fulfillment he’s getting and the impact he’s able to have on the lives of others is completing a call that he’s felt for a long time. I wish you well on this next journey and have no doubt about the love and peace you’ll bring into the world.

    7. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

      Congratulations on all these successes! I love hearing about career shifts that happen later in life and this sounds great for you.

    8. GythaOgden*

      Well done and good luck. As someone in the UK public sector healthcare system, once working primarily with people providing community mental health services rather than general physical hospital care, chaplains are worth their weight in gold. There was one interview conducted printed in our monthly employee magazine that really got to grips with the difference between genuine spiritual beliefs and mental illness in patients that was heartwarming to read, particularly because someone got it wrong when I was being treated for mental health issues while simultaneously trying to engage with my own spiritual purpose in life. They interviewed a range of chaplains and patients about their experiences, including shamanic practitioners, who were able to analyse non-mainstream practices which often get written off as delusions or, ironically, misidentify mental distress as simply unorthodox spirituality. The guy gave a really good breakdown of what red flags would be waving for him if someone talked about their faith in dangerous ways, and what shamanic practitioners actually considered more disciplined and focused practices.

      In a society like mine which finds things like this uncomfortable to talk about for fear of being too on the nose, it was refreshing to see someone bring it to light in such a compassionate way. We Brits don’t like overt shows of religiosity, and it did unfortunately show in some of my assessments as a patient before I complained that my case notes seemed to mix my religious faith up with the unfortunate delusions for which I was getting treatment.

      So if you’re wanting to go into healthcare chaplaincy in particular, it’s really awesome — we need more understanding of that kind of thing so we don’t accidentally conflate more unorthodox expressions of spirituality or religiosity with delusions.

      Best of luck and let us know how you get on.

  20. matcha123*

    I’m about 2 years into a new place. My direct supervisor has been supportive. My teammates have been great. There’s a lot to learn. It’s difficult, but a much needed improvement over my former job. My supervisor is close to retirement and has said that they would like me to step into their role.

    I’m flattered they think I have that ability, but I have never really been interested in leadership roles. My supervisor makes a lot of quick decisions, knows a lot about the company, etc. That’s not to say I don’t ever want to learn those things, but I don’t feel like it’d be possible in a year (their timeline).

    I know a lot of people in general would want to move up quickly in a company, but I feel more comfortable in supporting roles. Do you all think it’d be better to just try and see, or suggest something else…or just tell them straight that I want more balance in my life and a managerial role isn’t for me?
    I’ve never been in this position before and I’m feeling anxious. They aren’t asking me to give an answer or anything like that, but they’ve said that I am the one they see as most suited to the role.

    1. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

      How much do you trust your supervisor to give you advice and be discreet? If you have a good feeling about them in this regard, sit down and talk with them about your concerns. Your feelings are valid – management roles aren’t for everyone, and they definitely require different skills than IC roles.

      If it’s just a matter of you feeling a bit anxious about the timeline, but wanting to learn and take it on, then they can probably suggest some professional development resources for you to help improve your skills and get ready for a transition. If you really don’t see it as the right move for you at all, be honest about that. Good luck!

      1. matcha123*

        They are pretty laid back. I don’t think they’d be angry with me or try to sabotage me or anything like that. But I’m sure they’d feel disappointed.
        I’m still pretty new and this is someone who’s been with the company for some 15 years and who I think was quite eager to step into a higher role. I will have to talk with them more, definitely. Thank you for the advice and encouragement.

    2. BellyButton*

      It is ok to not want to be in leadership. You can also talk to your manager and figure out why they are suggesting this transition for you. You can also start dipping your toe into, if they are open to preparing you for the role over the next year. They should have a clearly mapped out timeline to be including in you in higher level meetings, to coaching you, etc. You may also look into leadership/management training.

      You CAN say you aren’t interested in that kind of you role. You can say you are better suited for support roles and that you want to keep developing in the kind of role you are in now.

      Good luck!

      1. matcha123*

        My supervisor is getting close to retirement age and they feel that I’m in a better position compared with some others who have been their longer. It’s not really a position anyone is in competition for, but as the newest member to the team and as someone who typically shies away from positions of power/leadership, I do feel conflicted.
        Thank you for the advice. When they brought it up in my evaluation meeting recently, I didn’t say anything. I didn’t say “no,” either. We will definitely need to talk more.

        Thank you for the advice!

    3. dot*

      Honestly I would really suggest giving it a try and seeing how you like it, if you feel like it’s something you would have the ability to turn down in the end if it didn’t suit you. I’ve felt the same way you do for a long time but over the past eight months or so I’ve been stepping into more of a leadership role under the mentorship of my boss. It’s going way better than expected and I’ve actually found I enjoy it. I’ve learned so much more in this time than I thought I would. It may come easier to you than you think.

      Balance has been my biggest concern as well. Even though my new role has been more work and stress, my company doesn’t have a culture of a lot of work past 40 hours so it hasn’t felt unmanageable. And as I’m getting more comfortable it’s felt easier. Ultimately up to you but I think it’s an experience worth trying out. And if you don’t like it there’s nothing wrong with that, but then at least you know.

      1. matcha123*

        Thank you, yes I definitely have those concerns. The team does get along pretty well, and when the supervisor does eventually leave for retirement, it will be a big loss.
        A part of me does think that giving it a try wouldn’t be a terrible idea. At least then I could say with more certainty that it’s not a role for me.

        Thank you for the advice!

        1. BigLawEx*

          Try it. Seriously. You have a year of being coached/mentored where you can take a good look at whether you’re suited. Did you like the meeting they pulled you into? Find it interesting? Please think before saying no.

  21. Schedule Headaches*

    How does your workplace approach hours, timekeeping, and schedule flexibility for salaried workers? My job uses a hodgepodge of methods–we submit timesheets every week and are supposed to stay at 40 hours, but we’re all full-time exempt. It’s not super clear when we need to use PTO (say, to take an appointment or to leave early when they stayed late recently) versus when salaried employees can just stay on top of their work and know the time comes out in the wash.

    For context, some folks have coverage responsibilities and others don’t. Working outside of a standard 9-5 is pretty common for events, but most people have a “standard” schedule as a starting place. We have a lot of people who are new to being salaried, so questions keep coming up. Everyone seems to be acting in good faith, but it feels messy. How does your workplace (or a good workplace) handle schedules, timekeeping, and variation for salaried (exempt) folks?

    1. Donkey Hotey*

      Following. Because I’m in the same boat.

      Team members will take an afternoon to get their hair done and give lip service to “touch your desk and it counts for the day.” And at the same time, they start later than I do and leave before I do.

    2. anywhere but here*

      If you’re expected to make up hours / use PTO every time someone is under 40 hours, your organization is abusing the exempt classification. The whole point of not paying overtime is that if a person works less than a full week, they don’t get docked. (Legally they can require PTO for any hours under 40 worked, as long as they pay you, but it is very shitty.)

      It doesn’t make sense for your org to have everyone formally tracking their hours when they are exempt, unless the hours are billable and need tracked for that purpose. But really, as long as everyone is on top of their work, it’s fine to set “This is the general schedule you’re expected to work, it’s okay to take off early if you worked late (no PTO required), and it’s okay to flex your time or take a few hours if you need to get something done during the workday (no PTO required). Just make sure you communicate about your availability and make sure you and your manager are on the same page.”

    3. StressedButOkay*

      We’re fully salaried as well – we keep timesheets since we have different projects we need to code time for but for everything else we’re pretty flexible.

      1) We have core hours that everyone is expected to have their hours overlap (I think it’s 10-3) but people can pick when they want their day to start/stop and it doesn’t have to be consistent as long as the team is made aware.
      2) We have a lot of periods of time of high volume work that might end up seeing a lot of late hours so if someone needs to step out for an hour, no need to use PTO. Or folks just work a bit later.
      3) If someone worked late, we encourage them to get those hours back as soon as they can (or see above). If I’m taking a few hours on a Friday, I might just work late one night if I have work so I don’t have to take PTO.

      Basically, we ask that everyone makes sure they’re available when most of the company is to be in meetings/collaborate (we’re remote) and just alert the immediate team if they’re stepping out/away.

    4. Rory*

      If a lot of people have questions, has anyone tried asking their supervisor or HR about it? I’m sure there is an expectation, even if it’s not well communicated. Is there a policy book you can refer to?

      My exempt salary jobs have handled this in multiple ways. One job I had only required PTO if you missed a full day – if you were able to work even a couple hours, but then had to leave early or something, you didn’t have to take partial PTO. This was also a preference of management since they would rather calculate PTO in full day increments. It was also an understanding that during busy times (we had very high seasonal swings), people would work as much as needed, which often meant 6 days a week and working longer than 8 hour days.

      My current job is much more rigid about it, but still doesn’t require PTO for everything. If you work at least 5 hours in a day, and need to take the rest off, then you don’t have to use PTO. Any absence of 4 hours or more would require PTO.

    5. Friday Person*

      Roles vary so much in my workplace that there really isn’t one standard practice…a lot of it comes down to individual teams or managers. We do have unlimited PTO.

      Personally, I have baseline core hours that I default to if there are no outside needs/conflicts, but it varies so much from week to week that I absolutely do not bother maintaining a set schedule or counting hours. In general, my trade-off is that I’m generally expected to be reachable and to jump in on nights/weekends when needed, and in return I have a pretty reasonable amount of flexibility during quieter times. We do have a form for requesting time off, but I generally only use it when I’m planning to be wholly unavailable for at least a full day.

    6. Engineer*

      So my company does billable work, which muddies the waters a bit, but here’s how we tend to handle things.

      If you’re salaried non-exempt and need to take some time off for an appointment or similar, you have the option of making up time in the evenings/weekend or using PTO. Most managers are lenient if you’re only short by a half hour or hour and will let you charge that to a project, as long as it’s not a reoccurring issue.

      If you’re salaried exempt, then you still charge to projects, but you’re only charging the 40 hours. This evens out over the long run, because some weeks you’ll be working 50+ hours trying to get everything ready for a submittal, and then the next week things are light.

      So it does ultimately come down to good faith time keeping and managers staying alert to the habits of their employees. My company has built up a good culture of responsibility and accountability – no, really, it has – so this has worked well for us.

    7. Charlotte Lucas*

      I have worked multiple jobs that report to the federal government. In some a couple cases, even exempt staff have had to report their time, because we need to let the feds know how many staff hours were spent on different programs.

      On the other hand, my current job does comp time for salaries employees who work extra hours. And we’re discouraged from working more than 40.

    8. Irish Girl*

      My company has clear polices on this. We have a PTO tracker for everyone but the timesheets are only for non-exempt employees.

      Here are the 2 big items, PTO and sick time (ours is 1 bucket) and we are expected to track that in the system and there are a bunch of different buckets to pick from

      PTO should only be taken in full or half days for exempt employees. Exempt employees do not need to use PTO for personal absences that are less than a ½ day in duration. It is expected that exempt employees meet their performance expectations.

      PTO for sick time may be taken in hourly increments by exempt and non-exempt employees. As a practical matter however, exempt employees will generally only need to record Paid Time Off (PTO) for sick absences that is a ½ day of absence or greater.

    9. RussianInTexas*

      We are fully salary exempt but we log in times for the morning check in, lunch check out, lunch check in, evening check out daily. You have to have 40 hours total, and with your assigned schedule, we are coverage based and have to work the standard business hours. You can have your timesheet show more than 40 hours, but if you are consistently less, you will be put on notice. No flexibility of “staying late/leave early” is allowed.
      Now, I work from home, and I can go to a doctor’s appointment or short errand without taking PTO.

    10. BellyButton*

      We are all 100% remote, have unlimited PTO, and are very flexible. Our rule is that if you are going to be gone for over 4 hours, you log it as PTO. If you are going to be unavailable for a couple of hours, just mark it in your status on Slack, and let your immediate team know. I don’t really care when people work as long as they are responsive during the bulk of the day and they are getting their work done.

    11. Irish Teacher.*

      I’m a teacher, so technically I have a 22 hour contract, but of course those are only the hours I spend in front of a class. They don’t even include my yard duty or the time I am expected to cover for other teachers (the latter is about a class once every week or two).

      There is no tracking of hours, though of course, it would probably be obvious if one of us didn’t show up for a class, but if a class is on a trip and we don’t need to cover for the teacher accompanying them or as a learning support teacher, if I am one-to-one with a student and that student doesn’t show up, I am free to do whatever I wish. If it is last class, I can leave early.

      It’s obvious when we have to take PTO, since obviously, we have to take time off if we’ve an appointment when we have a class. However, I have tried to arrange some appointments for the times when I have a couple of classes where I am either off or off but supposed to be available for subsitution in a row and in that case, I just inform the deputy principal that I can’t cover at that time (since like I said, we only have to cover one class every week or two but have to be available for four classes a week, it’s not a big deal. I mean, it might be if somebody was unavailable on a regular basis and constantly had “appointments” for the less desireable times to cover like 1st or last class, but once or twice a year, nobody cares).

      Probably not relevant to your situation, except in the “so long as we are at work when we are needed – when teaching – and get a good job done, nobody cares whether we stay late to lesson plan or come in early or do it at home or what.”

    12. ThatGirl*

      My department is not coverage based, though sometimes people act like it is. But we really have a lot of flexibility – there are no time sheets, nobody is tracking our hours worked, PTO is for half or whole days off, and if you need to leave early/come in late for an appointment you do it. And you have a 10 a.m. appointment and that means you need to work a little later that day, cool, but nobody is *watching* to make sure you do.

    13. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Mostly manager discretion. Salaried folks’ timesheets all say M-F 8-4:30 with a 30 minute lunch by default, and most of us (in my division at least) hew more or less to M-F first shift. On my team, they start anywhere between 6-9am and default to an 8 hour day. Our policy requires that PTO be taken in 4-hour increments. For my salaried reports, if they’re going to be out of touch for 2 hours or less midday on an occasional basis, I assume it will come out in the wash. If they’re taking more than that, or if it’s a standing weekly appointment or similar rather than a one-off, then either PTO or flex-time can be an option, depending on their preference. I have one salaried 0.8FTE team member who works 4x8s, and sometimes they flex their day off from their usual day to another day of the week to allow for appointments or whatnot without taking PTO, and that’s fine too. Basically they’re in their roles because I trust them to do the job, and I don’t have time to micromanage their time keeping as long as everything’s getting done properly :)

    14. Rara Avis*

      I’m salaried exempt working in education. So we have a combination of times we have to be in the classroom and then all the other work that has to get done. Our timesheets show 40 hours, 5 8-hour days, every week of the year, whether we actually work or not, so our salary is spread out through the year to cover vacation. We don’t have to take sick time if we are out fewer than 4 hours, so I can miss a class for a doctor’s appointment and not take sick time. We only get 3 PTO days a year and you have to ask permission to take one. (I’ve never been told no for things like home repairs, but someone asked for one and said it was to play a new video game for their birthday, and was told no.) It becomes pretty obvious if someone isn’t doing the work.

    15. Parakeet*

      Salaried, exempt, have to bill time to specific funding pools depending on the work (and we have to report back to the funders).

      We have two timesheets a month – regardless of how many days are in the month, the last day of the first timesheet is the 15th and the last day of the second is the last day of the month. We have a 37.5 hour workweek (a new thing; it was 40 until recently). As long as we’re in meetings and such that we’re needed for and not abnormally holding up other people’s workflow, we’re free to flex our time across the pay period. So for instance I can flex my time as I like as long as it’s meeting the above playing-well-with-others criteria, and I don’t have to work the same number of hours every day, but my timesheet for March 1-15 will need to end up averaging out to 7.5 hours/workday.

  22. Orange Line Avenger*

    What do you do when a new hire seems to not fully grasp the terms of the job? We have admin roles that are effectively jacks of all trades and responsible for all kinds of random tasks. There is a new hire on my team who is struggling overall with the role, but seems to take particular issue with working on tasks she regards as trivial. For example, she volunteered to assist a coworker with a last-minute project, and then was upset that it turned out to be stuffing gift bags for an event. Several times she’s come to me to complain about a particular task she worked on, and it’s clear from her framing and body language that she’s expecting to hear “that’s a ridiculous waste of your time” but there are only so many ways I can say, “yes, that’s part of your job” before I start tearing my hair out.

    Side note, this employee is also complaining about being bored and underutilized…

    1. Tio*

      I would address the overall complaining and the expectations fo the job in a one-on-one conversation. Allison’s scripts generally go like this: “You’ve seemed really frustrated with some aspects of the job, like (specific examples, like the gift bags, give at least 2-3). I want to be clear that these are standard functions of the job and that won’t be changing. I’ll need you to complete these, and I can’t continue to hear pushback or complaining on these aspects because they’re not going to be going away or changing anytime soon. Given that, do you think this role is the right fit for you?” Then if she accepts that and continues working but tries to complain again, come back to this. “This is the kind of pushback I was talking about when we talked before. These are standard job functions you’ll need to perform. Has anything changed since our last conversation?” and then if not, “Ok, so this will be part of the job. Again, I can’t continue to hear pushback on this. Do we both understand that expectation?”

      Something like that, anyway.

      1. Orange Line Avenger*

        Thank you! I’ll have to try some of that language. Part of the issue here is that I’m in a role akin to a team lead, where I have some leadership and mentorship responsibilities along with coaching and training, but I don’t actually give performance reviews or have hiring and firing authority (I should have been clearer about that initially, my bad!)

        I haven’t named the pattern of frustration over normal parts of the job, so that’s my next step.

        1. Mad Harry Crewe*

          As a team lead this should still be in your purview to have both of these conversations. You should have this person’s manager looped in by convo 2 at the latest, just so they know what’s going on, but if my team lead says I need to do something differently, I do it differently.

    2. Rory*

      Have you had performance check ins with this new hire to go over these things? It sounds like you need to have a meeting and lay it out there. “I’ve noticed that several times when asked to complete a task that is more simple, like stuffing gift bags, that you have complained about it. I know that those types of tasks may not be the most stimulating, but they are an expected part of this position and won’t be going away. There is also opportunity for your involvement on more interesting projects, which we can talk about, but it doesn’t take away the fact that some simple admin duties are always going to be required of you. Is this something you can get on board with?”

      1. Orange Line Avenger*

        I was unclear in my original post, but this person doesn’t report to me, although I am responsible for her training and (some of) the day to day management. Most of our conversations have been ad-hoc and informal, so my next step is definitely going to be getting more explicit about the pattern.

        Part of the issue with this new hire is that her frustration with normal parts of the job are actually an impediment to being assigned more interesting and complex work. I’ve addressed that in other ways (“your reputation is important, and you should cultivate a trustworthy and responsible Professional Self to build trust in your abilities so you can get pulled into more projects”) but I haven’t explicitly connected these two things.

        Thank you!

        1. Rebecca*

          Utilization isn’t just about how many hours she fills with work. It’s also about how her skills are utilized. If all her tasks right now are boring and do not use her more complex skills, then of course she is feeling bored and under utilized!
          I’m getting a real sense of wanting her to earn more interesting and complex tasks by first building trust with others by doing the boring, low skill tasks. Back away from that mindset. All you get that way is a bored, resentful employee. Plus, who wants to build a reputation as the person who will do all the shitty work? That is a form of trust building that will hold her back long term.
          Instead, make sure she has a mix of complex, interesting tasks and simple, boring tasks. To paraphrase Lorelei Lee, it’s as easy to build trust with a complex task as with a simple task.

    3. WantonSeedStitch*

      Address the pattern. “Several times now, you’ve expressed your unhappiness with duties like stuffing gift bags, doing X, and doing Y. It’s understandable that not all the tasks associated with your role here are going to be your favorites, and I don’t expect you to pretend that they are. That said, I want to be clear that these tasks and similar ones are absolutely part of your job, and are going to remain so. You don’t have to love those tasks, but I do need you to cut out the negativity, accept that these are jobs that need to be done, and do them with a good attitude. Is that something you feel you can do going forward?”

      1. WantonSeedStitch*

        Oh, and I might add, “when I consider stretch projects for people, things that might mean a little more challenge and responsibility, I usually only offer those to people who have shown me they have a good attitude towards their existing work. If you want to be considered for projects like that, it’s important that I see that from you.”

        1. Orange Line Avenger*

          YES, thank you! This is part of the issue — admins in the pool can be assigned work by a lot of different people, so part of getting more interesting tasks is about having having a good reputation as helpful, knowledgeable, etc. The complaining is definitely doing some damage her credibility with her peers and other work assigners (and I’ve spoken to her about that) but I haven’t explicitly said that there could be a correlation between her reluctance to help out on “dumb” tasks and the lack of more substantial work.

          1. M2RB*

            If you point out that correlation, that will hopefully cause her to make a mental switch. For me, earlier in my career, once I understand that my poor attitude about review notes was causing partners and managers to not give me more challenge work, I got my act together. It wasn’t easy for me but knowing the impact of my attitude on other assignments made me WANT to be more polished.

    4. fine-tipped pen aficionado*

      Seems like fundamentally a bad fit. You might want to have a really frank discussion with her about the requirements of the job and that the tasks she finds uninteresting (I don’t like the framing as trivial) are not negotiable. If it’s true and you’re open to it you could consider adding work that is more interesting to her, but if you can’t take the boring stuff away she should know that and you should invite her to make an informed decision about whether she belongs in the role. And she should know that if she chooses wrongly you might eventually have to choose for her.

      I’d also reflect on the hiring process and see if you could improve on your communication with the next candidate about the day-to-day experience of this role.

      1. Orange Line Avenger*

        I mentioned it upthread, but I’m in a tricky position where I’m responsible for training and some day-to-day management and coaching, but ultimately lack hiring and firing authority. This is a situation where I was presented with a new hire who seemed promising initially but is seeming to chafe at the less interesting (I think you’re right, that’s a better framing) so I think part of my next step needs to be looping in my boss and getting more explicit with the new hire about what is and isn’t realistic within the role.

        Thank you for responding, I think you’re right on the money about needing to communicate more explicitly during the hiring process.

        1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

          Definitely lay out explicit expectations for her role and in parallel loop in your boss to let her know the issues with this new hire.
          She might decide to step in personally and have a talk with the new person, maybe laying the groundwork for a PIP or even deciding she’s not worth further coaching and letting her go if she’s new / still in her probationary period.

        2. fine-tipped pen aficionado*

          The perils of starting a reply and taking ten years to finish it… Anyway, good luck and keep us posted! You’re in a tough spot but it’s great that you’re taking such a thoughtful approach to it.

          1. Orange Line Avenger*

            Thank you! I do think she has the capacity to succeed in the job, but I think she’s struggling with the ambiguity of working on tiny pieces of bigger jobs with very little context. When she doesn’t have context, her default framing seems to be “this is unimportant, why am I being asked to do this?” From our other conversations, the “pointless” tasks make her doubt the more-concrete work she does, which contributes overall to a feeling of imposter syndrome.

            I think it’s a mindset thing, and I’m hopeful that she can make the shift or else find something else that suits her a bit better. There is a fair amount of controlled chaos and “hurry up and wait” in this setting, which can make for a really challenging environment, so there’s no judgment from me if someone decides it’s not for them!

    5. BellyButton*

      I feel like you must have hired the person I had to let go last fall!!! She was exactly the same. She didn’t like the nature of the role, it was just a horrible fit for her. Her role was a central role that supports multiple areas of the business, which can seem chaotic to someone who isn’t used to receiving requests and tasks from so many different people. She complained abut everything and got some really bad and outdated advice for her mom, which led to her asking for things that aren’t standard and left us scratching our heads.

      I gave her the feedback and coaching over several months, but it was clear she was unhappy in the role and we were all frustrated with her. She wasn’t making any changes to her attitude or her odd requests, so ultimately we had to let her go.

      Sometimes people aren’t well suited! I coached her hiring manager on what to look for differently this time and her hiring manager came through and found an absolute rockstar. We are all so much happier.

    6. Busy Middle Manager*

      I started loads of in-depth projects by doing the low level part of the work, got myself in the room with access to that data, and eventually spoke up about issues I saw. I know it sounds bootstrappy but it is still a common way to outgrow a purely admin role. Tell her that. Even ‘low level’ stuff can get you connected with other people and teams

  23. Need some perspective*

    My job (which I like) has gone through a lot of upheaval lately. Some changes are outside our control, some are good, some appear short-sighted & harmful, and some amount to painting over water stains – they don’t address the root cause and won’t last.

    There’s lots of frustration over the last two issues, and the bosses are trying to address it in various ways. They’ve scheduled a Day of Ritual to purge ourselves of old hurts and habits. We’re supposed to do a voluntary, tangible thing to symbolize letting go of the past and moving forward.

    I hate this. So much. It reminds me of years of church camp and the pressure to make some dramatic, visible gesture of repentance. My sins included existing while female, writing fiction unrelated to God, and having ambitions beyond marrying a pastor. So… this might be entirely my own hang up? I’m not trying to offer commentary on Christianity, just explaining that this one-time job thing is knocking up against some religious trauma and might be causing an overreaction.

    I think the optics are bad though and amount to telling a bunch of frustrated people “Get over it already!” If anyone brings up one of those metaphorical water stains after the Day of Ritual, I suspect it really, really won’t go over well. Regardless, I can’t do much about it. The Day is scheduled, and I’ll quietly opt out. Then I’ll keep my head down afterward and let the water stains be someone else’s problem.

    How would you read this in your own job though? Could it be a useful exercise? A silly but harmless exercise? Am I burning way too much emotional energy on something meant as a positive, voluntary ritual?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      So not everyone is going to have a visceral reaction like you are having.

      But I, personally, would not be able to roll my eyes far enough back in my own head, and I wouldn’t be able to go along with this silly, emotive, woo-woo ‘ritual’ either.

      1. fine-tipped pen aficionado*

        Completely agree. While I do think there can be value in dedicating time to address grievances directly and transparently in a group setting if the goal is to allow folks to make an informed choice about whether the environment is still a good fit for them, that doesn’t seem like what’s happening here.

        I think you’re right to be skeptical. No matter what they intended, what they’re doing is making work issues into personal issues and making you address your feelings about them rather than the issues themselves.

        Alton Brown’s Evil Twin is correct that your reaction is probably stronger than other folks’ will be, but it’s not unfounded and you probably aren’t the only one. If you do talk to coworkers about it, I’d recommend leaving the religious connection out of it. Not that there’s anything wrong about that, just that it’s likely to reinforce the personal feelings vs real issues dynamic happening here.

        1. Need some perspective*

          My religious past is wildly dramatic, so I’ve never brought it up at work and never intend to. I haven’t mentioned my distaste for this planned ritual to anyone either, although my expression might have said volumes when they announced it…

          Mostly I’d like to see if I’m overreacting in my own head, or if I can quietly feel solidarity knowing that some of my coworkers might find the whole thing similarly off-putting.

          1. fine-tipped pen aficionado*

            Can confirm: it is the situation which is out of line; not you. Good luck with this, Perspective! Let us know how it goes.

    2. just here for the scripts*

      Is it possible to make not taking part in such activities be the voluntary tangible thing you’re doing? If asked, you can say something like “yup, done it and moved on.” If pressed for details you can always say “I’ve moved on—don’t see how talking about what I did to do so is proof of moving on”

      If not, sounds like it’s time for a sick day

      1. Mockingjay*

        I’ve used leave to skip a day of “team building” exercises. One of my smartest decisions at ExToxicJob.

    3. Charlotte Lucas*

      I am getting really caught up in the name. Are they actually calling it a “Day of Ritual”?! That just feels so inappropriate to me.

      But nothing says you can’t have an urgent need to be elsewhere that day.

      1. Need some perspective*

        Haha, I changed the name because I know a couple of my coworkers read AAM to some degree. It’s not “Day of Ritual,” but it does have an official title which includes both alliteration and rhyming.

    4. WantonSeedStitch*

      OMG. I have none of your history or trauma, but this sounds awful to me! I agree that at best, it’s “suck it up, buttercup.” Moving on after changes takes time. I feel like asking people to try to focus on the things within our control and the change we’re empowered to make is reasonable, and asking people to come up with solutions instead of complaining about problems is also reasonable. But this plan of your bosses is super weird. And I say that as someone who actually DOES a ritual like that now and then–voluntarily, privately, and unrelated to work in any way.

    5. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      WUT.

      No, absolutely no. I have none of your history and I would still be cringing. I’m cringing just reading it. I would be thinking of ways to skip it altogether.

      Work isn’t a therapy retreat! This plan reminds me of bosses who throw pizza parties and do team building instead of do things that actually build cohesion, like good leadership and fair compensation.

      Yes, you can absolutely know that other coworkers are also rolling their eyes at this.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Same here, down to my first thought being “No, absolutely not!” This is performative action at its emptiest. I would guess the only reason management is doing it is it was suggested by an outside consultant – an employee suggesting this would probably have been laughed out of the room. They should just do what every other company in turmoil does – deliver branded merch with a new catchy slogan, something about “A Brand New Day!”

        (Although, one could argue that having a massive paperwork bonfire or acting out the printer destruction scene from Office Space are certainly tangible acts that fit the brief…)

        1. Need some perspective*

          LOL, I’d definitely consider attending if we got to smash a printer.

    6. Irish Teacher.*

      Honestly, it sounds manipulative (and patronising) to me. “We are going to fix your illogical hang-ups that cause you to disagree with us and then you will have to stop criticising the changes because we have fixed all your psychological problems that are causing you to have criticisms.”

      What they are doing isn’t addressing the issue. It’s trying to shut people up and subtly imply that there is something wrong with them for complaining, that you all need to “let go of the past and move forward,” when…that is kind of the question they should be addressing. Should they be moving forward or have you all legimate criticisms that mean some of them should be reversed?

      I don’t think workplaces have any place trying to “help people move forward” anyway. They aren’t going to know any more about psychology than anybody else, in most cases and aren’t there to “counsel” or “parent” their employees, but they certainly shouldn’t be doing it when the problem people have is with them.

      They should be addressing frustrating by listening to and acting on complaints. Now, that doesn’t mean changing things to appease those complaining because not all complaints are correct, but if a significant number of people are complaining, they should be trying to see if any adaptations can be made, not trying to act as the “adult in the room and teach the employees how to admit they are right and do what they want.”

    7. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      “Day of Ritual” – Oh bloody hell.
      My eyeballs would roll out of their sockets if subject to such silliness.
      Is your workplace normally Woo Central, or have the recent problems caused a collective brainfart among TPTB?

      1. Need some perspective*

        They brought in a third party to help address some of the issues. I’ve been largely unimpressed with all this person’s suggestions, and I believe this is another of their initiatives. Usually we’re fairly practical and definitely not into emotional expression or symbolism.

        1. Lady_Lessa*

          I’m fairly religious, but that Day of Ritual would cause me to run the other direction. To my Christian ears that sounds like it has overtones of Indigenous/pagan religions. If you could, could you quite by accident have that day off?

    8. Kesnit*

      So your workplace has had ongoing issues that have caused multiple people to have trauma responses? And they expect a single mass “ritual” to solve everything for everyone?

      Whisky Tango Foxtrot!

      I say that as someone who had trauma at his last job. I’ve been out of there 6 months – but still had issues to deal with regularly for 4 months after. I am FINALLY to to the point now of feeling like I will actually be able to move on and eventually put everything behind me.

      1. Need some perspective*

        The trauma is just me, and unrelated to work. Most of the problems are pretty standard issue – communication struggles, people feeling undervalued, etc. It’s not insurmountable, and I know some of the leaders’ frustration stems from dealing with messes that former employees left behind.
        But I still hate the whole performative Move On RIGHT NOW dammit thing.

    9. Gin & Soda*

      I think this is rather violating and a workplace is overstepping to schedule this ritual. I stand beside you in the loathing of it.

      Some personal history: A therapist of mine suggested I perform such a ritual to help me let go of some trauma. Her suggestion was write a letter, tie it to a balloon, and let it go. The big differences here, though: 1) this was voluntary on my part 2) the person recommending it was a trained professional who understood something like this is a deeply personal choice 3) I did it by myself for myself, not as a performative thing.

      The more amusing part is the letter was too heavy for the balloon, so I burned it in an ashtray and scattered the ashes.

      1. Need some perspective*

        Yeah, that’s about the level of what they’ll be doing. The proposed ritual itself is inoffensive and not overtly religious in nature. It’s the performative pressure and the subtext of “get over it” that I find problematic.

        I’m glad for the vindication from these comments though! Thanks all! Glad it’s not just me, even if I am especially sensitive to this type of thing.

    10. Generic Name*

      Whenever I get irrationally angry over something small (or at least something that doesn’t seem to bother other people), it’s a sign that something is amiss in general with things in general. Either in a relationship, or a job, or whatever. In my last job, there was an incident that made me incandescent with rage. It was objectively shitty, but I was livid. That was my sign to move on. So maybe your response to the situation at work is a sign to you as well. Maybe not necessarily a sign to move on, but a sign that something is out of balance for you and a change is needed, whatever that looks like.

      Regarding that Day of Ritual, unless your whole company comes from a culture where “ritual” is very prominent, it strikes me as cringey at best and co-opting/appropriating at worst. And I agree, management is trying to sweep problems under the rug and make people shut up about it.

    11. goddessoftransitory*

      NOTHING fires off my “nuna bizness” and “I think I can decide when I’m done being upset, thanks” rockets simultaneously quicker than nonsense like this.

    12. BigLawEx*

      Feels a little ‘gaslighty’ to me. Like this day will make the problems disappear. (We know they won’t). So then if you or someone else brings up anything again, they can frown and talk about how the past is past…

    13. Nightengale*

      No no and a side order of no. One because nothing gets my goat more than being told how to feel about something (due to neurodivergence maybe? And two, because this feels religious/spiritual to me. (And my background is basically minimally observant Jewish person who has voluntarily been to some Pagan rituals.)

    14. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

      I’m not averse to ritual-ish things, but this one would still feel wrong to me, because of the context where the problems are actually not fixed: “some [changes] appear short-sighted & harmful, and some amount to painting over water stains – they don’t address the root cause and won’t last.”

      Under the circs, the ritual itself sounds like an attempt to “paint over a water stain” with the leak still coming in.

  24. Baby on Board*

    I just started my second trimester and I’m going to tell my office that I’m pregnant next week.
    It’s a small office (less than 20 people),
    I’m planning to ask my big boss’ admin for 5 minutes at the end of the weekly management meeting, and say “I have exciting news, I’m expecting and due in X month! I’ve spoken to my doctor and she agreed that I can safely keeping doing ABC”

    Then from there, feel out telling the rest of the office at an all staff or person to person, I’m not sure – Same with clients and consultants.

    I’m sure there will be plenty of other conversations about details as my pregnancy progresses, but is there anything I should mention or ask at this first conversation?

    1. Frankie Bergstein*

      Why would you announce it in a work meeting – I’m confused. Are you sharing details of your leave or anything related to work? If not, I don’t think it makes sense to talk about this in a work meeting and definitely not at the beginning.

      1. CTT*

        On the flip side, this is how my team shares that news (or anything involving a long-term leave), as part of our bi-weekly project planning meeting (although usually the boss/leader is given a head’s up beforehand).

      2. Baby on Board*

        The all staff is a weekly “here’s what’s up around the office” kind of thing

      3. Tio*

        Because it’s an easy way to get the info, that everyone is gonna notice soon, out without setting up 15 different meetings?

        That said, I would only mention it to clients in more individual settings.

      4. Hiring Mgr*

        If Baby on Board knows the people in the meeting well, it sounds like a perfect time to announce.

      5. Generic Name*

        I’ve seen people announce pregnancies in staff meetings. It was a small company that touted being family friendly/work-life balance, so it wasn’t outrageous.

      6. Antimatter*

        Because some people aren’t robots and actually like their coworkers and care about them as people?

    2. Rory*

      Really the only thing coworkers or clients need to know is how it will affect your work and when/how long your leave will be – so if it currently doesn’t affect anything, then there’s not much else to share.

    3. WantonSeedStitch*

      I might consider letting your boss know 1:1 before the meeting. In that meeting, you could add a reminder that you’ll be taking time for medical appointments regularly, and that you’ll do your best to give them as much heads up as you can about your availability. In the meeting, I would say that letting everyone know generally when you’ll likely be on leave is helpful, but that’s about it. (e.g., middle of X month through end of Y month).

    4. DisneyChannelThis*

      I think that sounds fine! You know your office culture better than any of us online. And it’s a lot less gossip behind your back if you’ve said it to everyone once.

    5. Baby on Board*

      To answer a few questions

      I want to tell people because:
      A) it’s kind of a big deal for me, and I make small talk with my coworkers about weekend plans, etc. I don’t want to keep track of he knows, he doesn’t, did I mention working on the nursery?

      B) we have a social office, no one would care if I’m not drinking at an office event, but we sometimes do activities that I might need to sit out

      C) I’m already showing (or bloated) so no need to hide this

      D) for clients in particular, I do some field work that will be slightly affected- thinking wearing a mask more – so I’d like to get ahead of any rumors/gossip

      1. BellyButton*

        We are 100% remote so these announcements usually go on our company wide slack channel.

        Congratulations!

    6. nonprofit worker*

      I have gone on maternity leave twice. If you haven’t told your immediate supervisor, I would definitely do that first. In my case, I told my supervisor and “grand boss”, then told my immediate team, and I let everyone know once I was ready for it to be public news, but I never did a mass announcement. I would not announce it at an all staff; if anything, send an email once you’re starting to prep for leave. I know a lot of people who’ve struggled with infertility and loss and prefer to be emailed that sort of information. With clients and consultants, I would only inform them before your leave or if your absence will affect a project, so probably much closer to your due date.

    7. DrSalty*

      The only thing I’d say is tell your immediate supervisor first. But all people really need to know is how it will affect your work, so sounds good to me. Congrats!

    8. A Manager for Now*

      I actually just kind of told a couple gossipy folx and my manager and let the mill do it’s work rather than tell individuals.

      Once I started getting ready for leave, I did bring it up at most of my planning sessions/meetings with customers or critical people as “Hey, wanted to let you know as we look to the next [month/two months/use the timeframe most appropriate for your workplace] I’ll be out on maternity leave, with [person filling in] stepping in while I’m out.”

  25. Ella Minnow Pea*

    I manage a small team of about a dozen, and I’m having a hard time keeping their morale up when company morale and my own morale are in the toilet. We’re understaffed and overworked, and upper management has no interest in solutions other than “do more with less.” There is no positive feedback from higher-ups, just things we could all do better, cheaper or faster. Lately I’m feeling anxious and depressed, and like I’m doing a mediocre job in a field I have always been very good at. I’m not in an immediate position to leave, although that could become an option in the future. Have you been through this situation? How did you cope with the stress and general suckiness?

    1. Rick Tq*

      Management has given you a fixed amount of resources. Stop trying to do 100% of the work with 50% of the resources and burning everyone out. You and everyone you manage should do a full day of work then go home. Full stop. No more overtime.

      As long as *their* KPIs are being met your upper management has no incentive to get you more resources or reduce your workload.

      1. Ella Minnow Pea*

        I’d be all about that. The problem is that we’d be called out for low performance and not going above and beyond. (Yes, it’s a toxic environment.) Insufficient time and staff are not considered acceptable excuses. I’m trying to get to the point where I am less personally invested in the work and more detached from it, which is hard for me.

        1. Tio*

          Can you write out the tasks you’re doing, how long each tasks take, and map that to full time employees? Give them a very visual look at what you do and do not have time for, and explain that your time is maxed? It might not help, but it might if you can explain it in such concrete terms.

            1. Tio*

              That’s what I did (in healthy companies) whenever I was positioning for a new FTE position. One thing to note, just make sure that your estimations are in line with what your team are actually accomplishing. Don’t put estimates that show things shouldn’t get done that are getting done already. But one other thing you should have is time built in for PTO and coverage. If you don’t have that, show them that if this person gets sick and goes on vacation, this chunk of things don’t get done this day. Companies pushing for things like this like to pretend that everyone is going to work every day and then freak out when someone is gone and things start falling apart because they have no one to cover (Read Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell for more on this)

  26. Pinkie Pie*

    Job hunt question: my professional career in Human Services spans 2 decades, with a combination of federal, state, and private employers. 1 spent 18 months at my first employer in 2 positions in 2 locations. I spent 14 months at my second employer, 8 years at my 3rd, 5 years at my 4th. If start to job hunt after 7 months at my 5th, will I seem like a job hopper? Because that day is rapidly coming….

    1. londonedit*

      With 8 years and 5 years at your last two jobs, I’d say definitely not in terms of job-hopping. Earlier in your career it’s more expected that you’ll move around, because you’re often either feeling out what you want to do, or moving up the ladder in smaller increments in order to get to the next proper level.

      While I don’t think you need to be concerned about job-hopping in terms of people thinking it’s a pattern in your employment history, I do think people will ask why you’re looking again after only 7 months. So just make sure you have a solid answer for that, whether it’s ‘I hoped the job would allow me to do X, but unfortunately the company has had to scale back their X work, so I’m looking for a position that will allow me to develop my skills in X as planned’ or whatever. Reasonable people will understand a reasonable explanation, especially if you pivot to discussing something that excites you about the new job – ‘I’m really looking to develop my skills in X, and unfortunately it became clear after a few months in Y job that opportunities in X weren’t as forthcoming as I’d hoped. That’s why I’m particularly interested in this role – I noticed on the job description that there is plenty of opportunity to get involved in X, and I know from my research that you’re a company that’s expanding work in X, which is something I’d love to be part of’.

    2. DrSalty*

      Absolutely not. Job hopping is staying 1 year or less for like the past 3 jobs. Since you’ve got those 8 and 5 year tenures I would not worry.

  27. Hedgehug*

    If Alison happens to see this, or anyone in HR or flight who might know.

    I’ve always been curious how is it legal to make flight attendants work without being paid?? They only get paid during the actual flight, so all the work time of being early to the airport, the debriefings, checking and boarding, it’s all unpaid. How is that legal!?

    1. cactus lady*

      It’s the same for pilots, too, and on cargo airlines as well as passenger. They are only paid once the aircraft door is shut. I have no idea how it’s legal but it certainly isn’t right.

    2. Rory*

      Flight crew are generally exempt from the overtime provisions of FLSA. Paid work hours are usually set out in the collective bargaining agreement.

    3. WAG*

      I don’t know for sure, but my guess is that they are getting paid at least minimum wage, even when you count all the time they are working, so it doesn’t violate the wage and hour laws.

      Also, I would guess there is a union and the arrangement is the negotiated result.

    4. HR Exec Popping In*

      I don’t know anything about flight attendants, but I believe most are unionized. That means all of the terms of your compensation, benefits and work conditions are dictated by the union contract. So that means this is what the union has agreed to in the bargaining agreement.

    5. TX_TRUCKER*

      Most flight attendants are unionized. Their contract calls for being paid by the flight length, not hourly. Similarly, long haul truckers are paid by the mile and not by the hour.

    6. Siege*

      Under the Portal To Portal Act of 1947, which amended the FLSA, employees are not required to be compensated for preliminary or post-liminary activities: ie, flight attendants are hired to staff the flight and assist customers, they’re not hired to walk through the airport and check in through security, so that time is not required by federal law to be compensated.

      Portal to portal can be interpreted differently. If I recall correctly, it originally came about because miners were being required to clock in once they got to the face they were working, not when they entered the mine, and there could be significant delays getting to the working face. The Act established that, unlike other cases of waiting time, the time from entering the adit to arriving at the working face could be compensated (but did not require it). But generally your travel to the worksite is not compensated.

      That said, most flight attendants are unionized, as others have noted, and I would assume that their bargaining teams have expressly bargained other benefits that compensate for this time.

    7. Kt*

      To all the folks commenting that “they’re union,” this is explicitly what the flight attendant unions have been picketing about. They argue that this requirement is not legitimate and they want to be paid for the time they’re assisting people at the gate and while boarding.

    8. Treena*

      Google the deregulation that Carter pioneered in the 1970’s. It led to depressed wages for airline workers. Also google the Railway Labor Act, which is the federal legislation that regulates airline workers and prevents them from striking. This is the primary reason nothing big changes for airline workers, they’re not allowed to do much about it (striking).

      But there’s also a privileged undercurrent–unions don’t advocate changes because the more senior flight attendants like it this way. In case you didn’t know, international/long-haul flights are considered the “elite” jobs that only senior FA get. These wages are largely why.

      Say there’s a minimum of 3 hours of unpaid work/flight. If they need to “fly” (ie fly time) 100 hours/month for their wages, it’s easier to do that with 10 ten-hour flights, which amounts to 130 hours of work. Junior FA who work domestic/short-haul flights, say 4-hour flights…they would need 25 four-hour flights, amounting to 175 hours worked for the same 100 hours of flight time. It’s the typical “I had to work my way up and so should you.” crud we see all over about every social issue.

      (I would post links but don’t want to get held up in moderation) If you’re really interested, there are quite a few youtube channels run by flight attendants who share a lot.

  28. The Other Sage*

    Does someone else have after a job interview “nervous energy”? Each time I tend to think the Interview was a catastrophe, and everithing went bad and I need a while to calm down. What helps is go take a walk, btw.

    Advice is welcome, but I want to know if someone else has this.

    1. Friday Person*

      I think this is overwhelmingly common in the wake of a stressful situation where you’re being to some extent personally evaluated.

    2. t-vex*

      My first post-college job interview (20+ years ago) I missed my exit driving home because I was all hopped up reviewing it in my head.

      Last night I had a hard time falling asleep because I was thinking about the presentation I had given earlier in the day.

      I find getting some exercise helps divert the energy to something more useful.

    3. pally*

      For sure! I have to schedule interviews in the afternoon (after 3pm). It’s hard to get to sleep in the evening after an interview. Can’t stop the brain from turning things over and over and over. Awful!

    4. WantonSeedStitch*

      I had nervous energy like that after my last interview, even though I thought it went well (and it turned out I was right). It was just a lot of jittery energy like I get after any kind of performance, whether it’s giving a presentation, dancing, or meeting someone I really want to impress! Deep belly breaths and grounding meditations help me. I envision all that jittery energy flowing out of my body, into the floor, down into the foundations of the building, and then into the ground where it dissipates. Then I do something that makes me aware of my physical body, whether that’s closely looking at all the details of my hands, stretching, or eating.

    5. Charlotte Lucas*

      Had a job interview just this week. Then had a meeting where I met a new staff member. She probably thinks I’m always that hyper. So much adrenaline!

    6. Hedgehog in a ball*

      Oh absolutely! I have to pace out my nervous energy, hug a stuffed mammoth, and run around pretending to be an airplane (with sound effects!).

    7. allathian*

      Oh, absolutely. A job interview is a performance, sort of. And like any performance, it takes a while to come down afterwards.

  29. New Mom (of 1 7/9)*

    2 weeks ago(?) I posted about my nanny not throwing toilet paper in the toilet, but instead putting it in the (open) trash can–common in her country of origin but I find it gross in the US.

    My passive-aggressive self really did not want to discuss this, and left a little post-it note next to the toilet in her 1st/my 2nd language (which we practice daily) saying “please put the paper in the toilet.” I hoped she’d see it and get it and we would never, ever have to talk about this. To my absolute dread and horror, she talked to me about it face-to-face and it mildly distressed her! She said that she was a clean person and she never flushes TP, because of the pipes. I told her we’ve never had issues with the toilet clogging in our apartment, and also since we’re renting I wouldn’t pay for a repair anyways. What about her wipes she brings herself, she asked? I said if they’re flushable, flush them; if not, then those are OK to put in the trash can. It was extremely awkward for me.

    The issue ended up accidentally resolving itself because I use plastic drugstore bags as trash can liners, and I ran out. I guess I’ve been better about remembering my reusable bags. I took down the little post-it at the end of the week and, thank you Lord, this has not come up again, nor have I noticed anything amiss in our trash can.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Wipes should never be flushed. Even if they say “flushable”. Same goes with tampons– those aren’t flushable either. You’re renting, sure, and you don’t have to pay for pipe repair, but what leads to that pipe repair will leave you with a bad situation and an unusable toilet for however long it takes the landlord to handle your repair.

      But besides that, good on your nanny for addressing you directly. This may have been an uncomfortable conversation for you, but put yourself in her shoes– instead of approaching her and allowing her to listen and ask questions, you left a note. I would have felt so embarrassed had I been on the receiving end of that note. Use this as a foundation for speaking to her directly in the future.

      1. Decidedly Me*

        We didn’t have to directly pay for pipe repair when there was an issue caused by another apartment, but you can bet they increased rent for all units due to “increasing costs”….

        1. M2*

          It’s not just about your pipes flushable wipes and tampons hurt the entire sewer system and wastewater overflowing into waterways. Don’t ever ever ever flush flushable wipes or tampons. There’s an entire thing about it in D.C.

          It can also cause backup. You don’t want poop in your unit even if you don’t have to pay for it. And landlord may be able to say it was negligence on your part to flush that!

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        Yes, this. Google “Fatberg” for what can happen when too many wipes go down the pipes.

    2. anywhere but here*

      Even in the US, this is something that can vary – I grew up with a system that couldn’t handle tp, much less wipes or tampons. I think just being clear that the system can handle X things and they are designed and rated as safe to flush should be sufficient.

      I also highly doubt that you’ll end up in with tampon/flushable wipes causing toilet problems in a rental situation unless the plumbing is really old. Any moderately intelligent landlord is going to make sure that a plumbing system can handle commonly flushed items without breaking down. If tampons/flushable wipes/etc were going to cause problems with the system, you’d know.

      1. New Mom (of 1 7/9)*

        I actually put “tampons” and “flushable wipes” in totally different categories in my head! Tampons are supposed to expand when they hit moisture, it makes sense that they could cause clogs. I don’t think a wipe would expand in the same way?

      2. Rosie*

        But tampons and “flushable” wipes should never be flushed. They might not cause a problem now but they might down the line. It being a “rental situation” does not change that. Sure it might not be her problem to deal with or pay for, but that shouldn’t mean she have free reign to do whatever.

    3. Hlao-roo*

      Adding my voice to the “do not flush any wipes or tampons” chorus (toilet paper is OK, it’s designed to dissolve in water). Wipes/tampons and such might not cause problems in the local plumbing (the plumbing of the house you are renting), but they do cause blockages and issues in the larger sewer system (at pipe junctions and at wastewater treatment plants).

      For awkward conversations generally: they’re uncomfortable! But you survived, your nanny survived, the nanny changed her behavior the way you wanted her to–this sounds like a success to me!

    4. M2*

      Flushable wipes are not flushable! This drives me crazy. Google flushable wipes and sewers. They are destroying sewer systems in many cities and cashing backup. It is awful for sewer systems you’re and the general one and the environment. Never ever ever flush any kind of wipes or tampons for that matter!

      Just because you are renting does not mean you should not take care of the sewer system! Flushable wipes clogs pipes!

      Also if it’s gross just put a bag in there and ask her to throw the bag away at the end of the day. Put a dryer sheet underneath the bag. Easy.

      1. Rosie*

        Agreed. Not sure how renting has anything to do with this. Sure you might not have to *pay* for it if something happens, but definitely does not make it right.

    5. Spacewoman Spiff*

      Ahhh, like everyone else said don’t flush those wipes! Even if you won’t have to pay for the repair, they are so bad for pipes and the sewer system!

      For tp, in future…can you just not put the trash can in easy reach of the toilet? After my Peace Corps service my mother was getting pretty upset about me throwing the tp in the trash can. Finally my father stepped in and told her to just move the trash can, because it was just muscle memory causing me to do this. Not the exact scenario you’re describing, but it might help. (Unless she starts bringing wipes in which case…please reverse course and tell her to use the trash.)

    6. Roland*

      Why not just get a trash can with a lid? Like everyone says, you shouldn’t flush wipes, so instead of making her flush them because the can is unlined, just get a lid.

    7. EA*

      Maybe it’s just because I live in a place where you don’t flush anything in the toilet and always have to tell visitors what to do, but it’s really not that awkward to me. I guess a little because it’s poop adjacent, but it’s basically just saying, “this is how things work in this house.”

      Good for her for addressing it with you because the passive aggressive post-it was not the way to go about this! I hope this helps you reflect on it and hopefully move toward being more direct in the future. I’ve had to have some awkward conversations with my kids’ nanny, but I try to think of it as helping to set her up for success. At the end of the day, you’re her boss and she deserves direct instructions about things you expect her to do as an employee.

  30. JustaTech*

    DEI question:
    Can anyone recommend resources or books for how to do DEI well?

    This week I attended our monthly POC ERG group meeting (I am a white cis woman) and I was frankly a little concerned when, after the business of the meeting was concluded, I listened to my department’s VP not-exactly-joke that because the department’s program manager had missed our diversity potluck, our facilities head’s sisters should cook him a whole batch of samosas. (Our facilities department is a group of one, and he is pretty new to the role.)
    I was like, why are you asking women who don’t even work here to do extra work?
    This VP then said that the diversity potluck (which he contributed to personally) would have been “better” if people had given “presentations”. I have no idea what he meant by that (get up an talk about your culture?) but given that the people in charge of this group at this site are generally lower in the organization’s hierarchy, and are currently very overworked, this felt like yet another example of asking minorities to do all the work of DEI.

    What makes this extra weird and a more delicate situation is that the VP in question is himself a POC, and has shown in the past will not take any criticism of how he handles DEI stuff well.

    So, does anyone have any suggestions for resources that could gently nudge him to see that it is wrong to dump all the DEI stuff on the two Black people in our org (especially since most of our org is Asian)?

    1. Jay (no, the other one)*

      I’ve done some work in this space and have found it almost impossible to “nudge” people into understanding. Lots of BIPOC folk have internalized mainstream standards in the same way that many women have internalized patriarchal beliefs. This guy has already shown you he doesn’t take feedback well, at least on this issue.

      I would look for allies before I approached this and would absolutely not do it alone. Honestly, I probably wouldn’t do it at all. But you asked for resources. Most books are aimed at white folk – I’m white. The two I’ve found most helpful are “Race Talk and the Conspiracy of Silence” by Derald Wing Sue and “So You Want to Talk About Race” by Ijeoma Olou. Sue’s book is more of an academic work about facilitating these conversations. Olou’s is probably more what you’re looking for.

      You also could go at it from the other end by reaching out to the folks affected and asking what they need.

      1. JustaTech*

        Thanks for the book recommendations. You’re probably right that it’s not worth trying to change this guy, and I’ll admit that the reason I haven’t offered to help do the work he’s asking for is that I don’t want to take on extra work that won’t be counted towards anything at review time.
        Or rather, any *more* extra work that doesn’t count towards anything.
        (The real problem is that the ERG and the “culture” committees and the social committee have all shrunk to the same group of like 5 women and the head of facilities, and I’m really tired of all of it.)

  31. fine-tipped pen aficionado*

    Hey fellow ADHDers!

    I have a question for those of you living cube life. Have you ever used/seen anything effective for indicating that you’re in focus time outside of having your headphones on? People often can’t see my earbuds in and I don’t like using over the ear headphones at work because my office is already too hot and they increase my temp.

    My office is not loud, I don’t get an enormous amount of interruptions, and everyone is very supportive of any changes I need to make so that’s not a concern. Just trying to figure out what kind of system of notifying folks without breaking focus might work.

    1. Ella Minnow Pea*

      How would it go over if you made a sign for your cube entrance that said “Focus block, please interrupt only if necessary”?

      1. fine-tipped pen aficionado*

        I think it would go over fine! My cube actually has a half wall on one of its sides though so I’m trying to figure out how to make sure traffic from two directions can see it. Probably should have said that earlier! I think a sign at the front of the cube and the suggestion from EMP below might work in combination with each other!

    2. EMP*

      I saw someone once use those retracting badge holders to make a “rope” across his cube entrance with a sign clipped to it saying “please do not disturb”. It was the size of a piece of string but it got the message across and he was obviously still right there in case someone did really need his input.

    3. DisneyChannelThis*

      I saw a tik tok where everyone had tiny colored flags on their cube (so visible both directions), green meant I want to talk, yellow meant working but can be interrupted, red was dont interupt me.

      1. fine-tipped pen aficionado*

        Oh that’s a good idea! It would take some time for folks to learn but I’m lucky to work with people who are willing. Some of them might adopt the system with me!

    4. My Brain is Exploding*

      When I was in grad school, my roommate and I had “study hats.” Wearing the hat/visor meant no interruptions!

    5. Helewise*

      So funny you mention this today – I just ordered a plastic sign holder that I’m going to use to indicate if I’m available or not.

  32. CherryBlossom*

    TLDR: Managing the office kitchen has me at the end of my rope

    I was brought on as an Office Manager for a growing start-up that had never had a dedicated person in this role before. For the most part, I’ve been given the freedom to manage things how I see fit, and I’ve really grown into my role. My manager has had nothing but praise for my performance, and I’ve been given more responsibilities to match.

    But I’m now bogged down by the insistent requests/demands for the office kitchen. It’s not just emails and DMs; I’ve been cornered when I’m alone, I’ve been called at odd hours with “emergencies”, I’ve been followed around the office. My manager has my back, and has been helping me document everything. But no matter how much I, my manager, and the higher-ups clarify that not all requests can be accommodated, I’ve been hounded for everyone’s pet snack.

    My breaking point came this morning, after a repeat offender sent a public slack message directed at me that was cruel and dismissive. Not the worst thing I’ve heard, but very much the straw that broke the camel’s back. It’s taking everything in me to just not cry at my desk right now.

    My question is: How do I bring this up with my manager? I’m demoralized. This is supposed to be a minor weekly task that’s turned into a Snack War I never wanted to fight. I don’t have the authority to tell people to stay in their lane, and I’m tired of deflecting people who can’t accept the office kitchen isn’t going to have everything they want. Any advice would be so appreciated!

    1. StressedButOkay*

      Honestly at this point, I think your office needs to stop offering snacks. That sounds exhausting and it’s eating up way too much of both your actual time and your mental/emotional energy! Take what the most recent person has said and sit down with your manager – it’s either time to stop stocking snacks or time to stock only, and ONLY, X, Y, and Z.

      And the message needs to come down from above you.

    2. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Forward the message to the manager, tell them that this is just an example of what you’re dealing with. Ask them to communicate to the office as a whole that this is the single process to request specific snacks (insert singular process which is reasonable and manageable), no requests will be considered that are entered outside that process, no exceptions. Then, the worst offenders (name people specifically) get a personal email/conversation telling them to cut it out. Then, future offenders get further talks/discipline.

      Or just discontinue office snacks altogether, because clearly they can’t be trusted to behave appropriately.

      1. Panicked*

        I agree! Set up a process and do not let anyone deviate from it.

        I’d also put limits on snack refills. My office buys snacks once a month, on the first. If you run out by the 16th, you’re out of luck until the 1st. Then our office manager only has to deal with it once a month and since expectations were set, doesn’t hear any complaining about it throughout the month.

      2. JustaTech*

        Yes!
        Because people are being unreasonable (and they are being unreasonable and you should not have to put up with this at all), your manager, or possibly *their* manager needs to say “This is the procedure for requesting snacks, there is a budget so not all requests will be able to be accommodated, anyone who deviates from this process and harasses Office Manager will have their snack requests denied.”

        And then it should be enforced. The threat of “we can’t have snacks because Jack was a huge jerk to Office Manager about the buffalo jerky” will hopefully apply enough social pressure to get people to back off.

    3. WhyIsEverythingBananas*

      Along with other responses, which I totally agree with: I recommend something like having a set list of snacks on a set rotation, and post it. The manager can communicate it out to everybody and explain that requests for different snacks will only be considered once per quarter (for example). At this point it sounds like it would be fair for that message to come along with a stern all-staff note included saying something along the lines of “If this policy is a problem, you need to speak with me and not OP. Snacks are a perk we all enjoy and while we would like to be able to continue offering them, that will not be an option if harassment of OP persists”. If your manager has your back, I think you need to ask them for stronger intervention here. This is ridiculous!

    4. Anon for This*

      How often do you order snacks for the kitchen? Say it’s weekly – assign a rotating list for people to do that week’s ordering, and direct all complaints to that week’s person. They will quickly learn that it’s not as easy as they think.

    5. WellRed*

      If your manager truly has your back then either they will do something Very Quickly or will have your back when You speak up. I’d certainly call out the repeat offender to your manager. How did they manage the kitchen previously?

    6. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      Forward this hurtful EM to your manager so she sees what you are suffering. She needs to stop this nonsense and reduce the snack options.
      Maybe she could send a group EM warning that anyone being rude or unkind to you in their snack requests will automatically have all their requests denied for 3 months.

    7. HonorBox*

      OP, you say that you’ve been given freedom to manage how you see fit and that your manager has your back. Take them at their word and proceed with something like the following:

      Put together a reasonable plan for ordering snacks. I presume you have a sense of the type of stuff that goes over well in the office along with some “pet” snacks that a few people prefer. Build a schedule for yourself so that you have a sense of what you’re ordering and when. And then offer a way that people can request items. Maybe that’s by email. Maybe there’s some post-its in the kitchen that people can use. Whatever you prefer that isn’t going to cause you to too much extra work. You can add those to the rotation as you see fit (or not). Then show your manager the message you got on slack and your plan. Tell them you’d like to start with this because you’re spending far more time on snacks than you should be. Ask them to help you roll it out with a threat of no more snacks if your process is violated.

    8. Helewise*

      I think I’d respond to the Slack with a message that you and every other person in the office deserve to be treated with respect and that this isn’t okay (I’m sure someone else here can come up with a better script for that). And tell your manager what you said here – that you’re being hounded and subjected to nasty personal attacks because alleged grown-ups didn’t get their snackies (that’s probably not the script to use either).

    9. Non-profit drone*

      Time to stop the snacks entirely. They’re behaving like whiny brats, and when brats are whiny, stuff gets taken away from them. “The company will no longer be purchasing snacks due to unreasonable behavior. Feel free to bring your own.”

    10. CherryBlossom*

      Firstly, I’d like to thank everyone for their kind words and advice. This situation has gotten out of hand and I’m doing my best to deal with it. The most frustrating thing is that we’ve already implemented a lot of what you’ve all suggested! I’ve outlined an “essentials” list I stick to that accounts for both preferences and dietary restrictions. I order at strict regular intervals. We have a ticketing system for non-IT issues where all sorts of requests are made, but that’s now been flooded with snack requests. Whoever said these are whiny babies throwing tantrums about their snackies…dear lord YES.

      And now, a mini-update of sorts! My manager saw the public slack message and DM’ed me to let me know she’s escalating the situation to her higher-ups. She’s also coming to visit from the head-office, so I hope I’ll be able to ask her to speak to some of these people directly. Fingers-Cross this situation gets resolved for me peacefully next week.

  33. Unemployed and Getting Twitchy*

    I was laid off about a month ago and have been job hunting ever since. Once or twice a day, I comb LinkedIn and a few industry-specific job boards for new listings. If anything pops up, I spend some time customizing my cover letter and then applying. Because I have several different versions of my cover letter to pull from, updating it to tailor it to the job listing doesn’t take me a ton of time. I’ve also connected on LinkedIn with a few recruiters in my field; none of them had anything for me at the moment, but they all provided helpful feedback and at least now I’m in their “Rolodex” if something comes their way that they think I’d be a good fit for. But none of this takes a lot of time, which leaves me with most of the day free to just sit around and quietly freak out. I feel like I should be doing more, but I honestly don’t know what. What other things can I or should I be doing?

    1. just here for the scripts*

      Hone or update your skills? Linked in has courses (used to be Lynda) and so does coursera (the latter offers certificates too although for a fee)

      1. Another Use of the Identify Spell*

        My public library has Lynda/Linkedin Learning access for free. Even if Twitchy’s library doesn’t have that, they will have other resources that might be useful. As others have suggested, those useful things might include classes/books/videos that are not job related to make this phase of life more fulfilling instead of stressful. If you’ve been avoiding the library because of overdue books (some people feel massive embarrassment over this completely normal thing) you have time to find them, finish them, and get back in good standing. Librarians would much rather accept apologies and possible late fees than lock you out entirely for one or two things!

    2. EMP*

      Possibly you could look for local networking opportunities but tbh it sounds like you need to disconnect from the job search (of which you’re doing plenty) and find something else to do. Take up macrame? Walk around your neighborhood? Bake sourdough?

    3. CherryBlossom*

      Work things to do: Do you have any contacts in your network to reach out to? Just a simple “I’ve been laid off, and thought of you while I was job hunting. If you have any leads, please let me know!” to put feelers out can help with that itch to be productive. You can also do this socially, if your social circles have connections to your field. Volunteering is also good, especially if it’s in anyway related to your field.

      Non-work things to do: If you have a hobby, skill, or interest you haven’t had time to really pursue, now’s the time! You may not have this amount of free time again for a while, so have some fun! Easier said than done, but it’ll be good for your mind to have a designated “non-work” task.

    4. WhyIsEverythingBananas*

      Are there any conferences, chamber of commerce networking events, or even webinars you could go to? Are there work-related volunteer opportunities you could take on? Sometimes there are mentor-matching type opportunities available, or chances to exercise your specific skills to support a local nonprofit, etc. (depends on your field/industry of course).

    5. Helewise*

      In addition to the other suggestions, find a place to volunteer. It’ll keep you social and engaged in something meaningful, which really helps in keeping your head in a good place during a job hunt.

      1. Another Use of the Identify Spell*

        It may also give you things to talk about in interviews that demonstrate soft skills or flexibility in industry-related skills. You will also probably learn a lot more about what that org does, even if it is closely related to your job field. Even if it’s not immediately useful for your current situation, it will still be good to have a wider group of friends/acquaintances and learn more about the world.

        “I used my history of researching client leads to help identify and narrow down the most likely sources of funding for Laptops for Seniors. This let volunteers focus on those grant opportunities and not feel overwhelmed. The whole experience gave me a new perspective on how people of different ages search for and access services that will be valuable in future marketing campaigns.”

        “Volunteering at the food bank has introduced me to some really wonderful people and given me more insight into the local community. When I’m back to working full time, I plan to still fit in time there because I feel like I get at least as much from it as I give.”

  34. I'm A Little Teapot*

    Accountants/auditors/those working with entities which use fund accounting: what general ledger systems do you know of which would be suitable for small government entities in the US?

    My firm has a number of clients who are looking to replace their GLs. Some are on really, really old systems which no longer are supported. Most are on quickbooks. Systems I’m aware of: Tyler Technologies Infinite Visions, MSI (might no longer be a viable option), Casselle, LOCIS, SmartFusion. Just hoping to get other options to look into.

    1. callmeheavenly*

      When our previous software dropped payroll support a few years ago, we switched to BS&A, which is okay but definitely not great. Our runner-up choice was MIP Fund Accounting, also looked at AccuFund which seemed kind of clunky but might be okay.

      1. I'm A Little Teapot*

        thanks! I haven’t heard of AccuFund or MIP. And had forgotten BS&A. More options are good.

  35. Rara Avis*

    There’s a fun (optional) thing I usually do at work every year that I can’t do this year for medical reasons. I’m still expected to attend and watch the thing even though I can’t participate. I’m having a hard time because it represents all the other activities I can’t do right now — basically all my fun, community stuff — exercise classes at the Y, my hobby musical group, this work thing. My life at the moment is pretty much work and medical stuff. I think if I were to attend, I would have a hard time avoiding breaking down and crying, so I’ve accepted a medical appointment that conflicts and been excused from attending. But I can’t escape all the hoopla about the thing — it’s all anyone talks about for the week leading up to it. I can’t take time off or WFH because I’m burning all my leave on medical absences, so I need words of encouragement for being happy for others and not raining on their parade. I think advice I’ve read about AAM about changing the subject and moving on to other work topics is what I need to do — but it’s going to be really hard in practice.

    1. WhyIsEverythingBananas*

      Can you be honest with a least some of the coworkers? I think you can say to some you’re closer to “It’s such a fun event! I feel really sad this year that I won’t be able to attend [for medical reasons]. How about them [local sports team]?”
      Tactful coworkers should get the read that you don’t really want to be part of conversations about the fun event. Non-tactful coworkers…probably not much you can do :(
      I hope your medical issues have a positive resolution upcoming.

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      If you really want to explore shifting your mindset, look up daily gratitude practice.

      Can you focus on looking forward to this thing again someday? Glad you have good doctors, hopeful that medical appointments might lead to recovery, etc.

      But make sure you did allow yourself time to grieve for the current lifestyle changes too. Put on a sad film, eat ice cream and cry on the couch. Your emotions are real. Shoving them down won’t make them go away. Acknowledging them and experiencing them is the only way to let them go.

      1. Rara Avis*

        I’ve found that watching Jurassic Park movies represents my mood these days — watching dinosaurs wreck stuff feels good at the moment. The daily gratitude is helpful — I’ve done it before, and I should try it again.

    3. RagingADHD*

      Can you come up with a “for public consumption” version of your feelings and practice it?

      Something like, “Geez, I look forward to this all year and now I’m laid up and can’t participate. It’s killing me over here!”

      Articulating things in a casual or even slightly humorous tone can help you emotionally distance yourself. It’s still your truth, but it’s your truth from a few steps further back. I think people can appreciate how you feel, and not feel like you rained on their parade.

      1. Isabel Archer*

        I love this. “Your truth from a few steps further back” sounds like a good approach for job interviews as well.

  36. Pharmgirl*

    Hi all, I need some help with wording. I took over as supervisor of a team early last spring. The team was very short staffed leading to stress among the team. Early summer, a high performer asked about getting a raise. He made his case, and I took it to my manager & HR. They did a review and we were able to bump up the whole team, plus offering a retention bonus.

    Some backstory on this role – it is a very entry level role, and high turnover is expected. We pay more than the industry average, for a much better quality of life. But the trade off with that is without those higher stress job duties, there’s less room for growth and only so much the job is going to pay. Eventually, people move to different departments or different companies. On top of that, this is a role that requires licensure with the state – we provide the training, but it’s a job requirement and if you don’t get the license within a year you legally can’t work in this position. It’s pretty common for us to end up hiring for those without this license – the job is just too entry level for those with experience, though sometimes we do get experienced employees who like the stress free environment.

    While we were always actively hiring, we started getting a flood of applications in the fall and we are finally fully staffed (possibly overstaffed!) with a truly great team. This was my first time giving out performance reviews and I really wanted to recognize the team that I had. I think I gave almost everyone an exceeds expectations, with the lowest merit raise 4% and the highest 6%.

    About a month later, I’ve had 3 employees ask for a raise. I wish I could give it to them! I’ve already asked my manager and HR, but considering the mid-year raises they gave last summer, the merit increases we just did, and the fact that we already pay more than most similar companies in our area, this time they’ve denied the requests.

    One of the employees has been here less than 90 days, and came in without experience or the license. They are doing great in the role, but still in the training course for the license and have asked for more than experienced, licensed employees in the role. The second employee has been here just under a year – came in without the license as well (which they did just receive) but was otherwise very productive (probably the most productive member of the team at the time of reviews, and I gave them a higher raise). This employee has also made it very clear they are leaving in the middle of this year (moving for family). The third employee has been here about 6 months – also came in without experience or a license (just received this also), but also did really well in the role and received an increase on the higher end.

    Both the last 2 employees also scored themselves pretty low in the self review, but are referencing their current (2024) performance to justify their request. If it was later in the year I might have had better luck, but when they’re asking barely a month after the previous performance review/merit increase, management turned me down. Any wording on how to explain this to the employees when I have to tell them I can’t increase their pay right now? I’ve been lucky and this is probably the first truly difficult conversation I’m going to have as a supervisor.

    1. EMP*

      I’m confused – someone has been at your workplace for under 6 months, already got one raise, has poor self reviews, but is expecting another raise?? That seems very unusual and I’m surprised they even asked. And it sounds like you even requested a raise for them and were denied?

      I would just tell them that – that you suggested they receive raises but because of their recent raises/the company compensation schedules they aren’t eligible right now. No other explanation needed. But if it’s relevant, I would address their poor performance, if it was actually poor and need addressing. If it wasn’t actually poor performance, I’d coach them on self review expectations.

      1. Pharmgirl*

        They rated themselves low! I rated them higher as they are doing well, but I believe this is the first time they’ve done self reviews or had a merit increase (young employee). Thank you for the guidance, honestly I just feel bad that I have to say no, but I know I have to just do it.

        1. EMP*

          ahh makes much more sense if they are new to the workforce/these types of jobs. I think it’s a kindness in that case to explain why they aren’t eligible for a raise right now and give them some clearer expectations on the norms around performance reviews. For example, you can look out of touch if you rate yourself poorly but still ask for a raise!

      2. linger*

        If this is a position with a steep learning curve, then low self-evaluations may be accurate assessments of past performance, from employees looking back after gaining certification and so presumably now being more consciously aware of the requirements. And this is a good thing insofar as it demonstrates learning. So the conversation about level-setting for self-evals may need to explicitly address what time period should be included, and should be part of a wider conversation about what the employee has done to improve their own performance, with those moves also being factored into the self-eval.

    2. MigraineMonth*

      My suggestion is to give them as much of this information as you can: Here is the industry average for the role. Here is the range we pay for the role, including for people who have been here for at least a year/who have already earned the license (we encourage you to discuss this with your coworkers!). Here is how often we review for raises, and how much you are likely to get if you stay for at least a year.

      Finally, here is why I/we are turning down your request for a raise. If you don’t think this role/pay is sustainable for you long-term, here are some possible paths to promotion.

    3. ferrina*

      Your company probably has a set policy around raises- for example, most companies won’t give another merit raise less than 6/12/18 months after your last merit raise. If these folks got a merit raise a month ago, it is waaaaaay too soon to ask for another one.

      The other thing is that merit raises are based on sustained performance, not good work for a month. It’s pretty naive of these employees to already be asking for a raise.

      So I’d say: “We just did merit raises, and we won’t be looking at those again for at least another 6 months. Of course, I’m happy to talk about it again later on.” (the last sentence is for the employees that are planning on being here in another 6 months).
      Ask your boss or a mentor with management experience to role-play this conversation with you.

    4. Josh Lyman*

      Do YOU think these employees deserve raises again now? As a human who likes the humans on your team, you’d probably give them all infinite money if you could. As a leader in your business, you need to think about whether their compensation makes sense based on skillset, performance, seniority, and market value.

      Reading through what you wrote, I think it’s wildly out of step that any of these people asked for an additional increase so soon after the initial merit cycle. I suspect they’re all very early in their career? Sometimes entry-level workers need help understanding timing norms like when it is appropriate to discuss comp. If you didn’t do it this year, next time you deliver merit increases clearly articulate that this is the annual increase, when they can expect their next increase, and what scenarios might make sense to revisit pay earlier.

      The team receives high salaries compared to market, for better work-life balance, and it’s a desirable team to be on (lots of applications). You did a salary review last year that raised pay across the board, and then you gave the whole team 4-6% merit increases on top of that. To me, it doesn’t sound like your team is underpaid. And it sounds like if you have low-mid performers leave, you could backfill them easily because your role is appealing in the market.

      I would approach the conversation with your team members by laying it out much like you did in your initial comment:
      1. Last year we did a salary review for the full team and raised compensation for the full team.
      2. I’m confident that our team’s comp is competitive compared to our competitors, and [COMPANY] prides itself on better work-life balance for this team than industry average.
      3. I was thrilled with how this team came together toward the end of last year, and as recognition for that high performance we gave you an X% merit increase.
      4. We typically do salary increases on an annual basis as part of our merit cycle, so the next time you’ll be eligible for an increase is [DATE].
      5. IF the company typically gives a pay bump once the employee achieves licensure, you can also talk about revisiting comp then.
      6. I do want to be candid that the amount you’re asking for is at the top of our band, and typically only high-performing senior team members who have been here for [X amount of time] are eligible for that pay.

      For the employee who’s planning to leave in 6 months, I’d tweak the messaging a little bit to reflect that she won’t be there for the next merit cycle. But also – for you as a leader – it would be VERY unusual for any company to give an out-of-cycle increase to an employee who is planning to leave within the next 6 months. You can and should be clear and transparent with your employee in this case when they initially ask for the increase.

      1. Pharmgirl*

        Thank you so much, this is really helpful! Yes as humans I would love to give them more money, but based on the role and their performance I do agree it’s not the time considering they just got them.

  37. Bbbbbbbbb*

    Changing careers in your early 60s: HOW ON EARTH?

    My job is being faded out (and the company seems on the verge of collapse; recent layoffs among other things and warnings of more to come in the summer), and my skills are not relevant anymore in the marketplace (not enough tech in my arsenal to compete w the younger, more savvy; I’ve tried to acquire–my brain doesn’t work that way).

    To complicate matters: I never really got very high up in any org for a recruiter to “shop me around” (yes, I know of temp agencies)–an older worker without leadership skills (or wants) to place me.

    I can’t go into debt with a back-to-school masters… I am at a complete loss and feel like “we” are the overlooked, older worker bracket being left behind.

    Any words of wisdom much appreciated.

    1. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      Is there any field adjacent to what you do that you could try wading into at an entry/mid level? You’ve got to have at least some transferable skills after decades in the workforce, even if your exact technical skills aren’t current.

      1. Bbbbbbbbb*

        I have gone to multiple career transfer meets… “oh you should work in X field!”–I am already IN that field.

        I should have added: I can’t afford to drop income into entry levels– where I live especially;

        I was out of work during the pandemic so lost 2 years of income/affected retirement and amounts contrib to soc sec allowances… and did all the relevant searches then too…

        and sadly no, there is no adjacent field — it’s “Creative”–you either have the tech know-how or you don’t. AND I have family I am responsible for.

        Hence me writing here….

        1. Doc McCracken*

          Not sure where you are located, but in our state (Pennsylvania) there are career offices that offer job searching help and different training options for displaced workers. A friend who is just a few years younger than you is being paid to train as a truck driver after his employer closed up shop. His main goal was to find something he could tolerate for the next 8 years until he reached retirement age.

    2. pally*

      Newer (start-ups even) and smaller companies (and I mean real small) are more welcoming to the older worker. You’ve acquired a lot of varied skills and that’s what is needed cuz you’ll wear multiple hats (think “jack-of-all-trades but master of none”).

      1. pally*

        And, smaller companies are less likely to want the manager types. They want the “doers”.

      2. Bbbbbbbbb*

        Um… not in my experience. Start ups want younger that they can push around. They won’t even consider older workers due to salary expectations.

    3. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Look to the supply chain – the qualifications and experience you have will familiar to your suppliers and your customers, and you’d be familiar with their goals and challenges. You’d be able to talk very easily with them. For example – the dispatcher for a trucking company turning into the receiving manager for a warehouse.

      1. WestsideStory*

        I think this is good advice – if by chance you routinely are in contact with your company’s suppliers, vendors or clients. It’s not always easy to go from vendor side to client side, but one argument is that you already can “speak their language” which can be a plus no matter how old you are.

        Alison offered this script earlier this week: “Please keep this between us for now, but I’m beginning to think about my next move and am looking for ____. If you hear of anything that you think could be a good match, I’d really appreciate a heads-up.”

        Perhaps you could adjust this depending on your field?

    4. Geeyourhairsmellsterrific*

      I don’t have any words of wisdom but am wondering if there are other jobs in the same field that you would be qualified for. So, adjacent jobs in the same creative field as opposed to the same job in an adjacent field, I guess.
      Or could your skills be used to train newer people, obviously not in the technical skills needed but are there other skills needed? Your years of experience may be worth more than you think.

      I changed jobs (but not careers) at age 60 a year ago, and it’s been a little challenging at times but mostly fine. I hope you find a good answer soon!

    5. WellRed*

      Is your role creative? Or is it a role in a creative field? I’m guessing it’s the role itself in which case if you don’t have updated tech skills (say the latest in graphics and web design software for a magazine designer) then I feel ya! It’s scary. But if the role is more supportive or something it may transfer to other fields.

  38. Four Years*

    It’s around 4 years now since a whole lot of people got sent home to work from there for a while. How are you all doing? Are you still remote and loving it? Done with it and glad it’s over? Never got the chance? Mixed feelings?

    1. Four Years*

      I’m still remote and have now switched jobs to a company that has no office near me, so now I have no coworkers that I’ve ever seen in person. (Some of them are in India, so not like I’d ever see them in person anyway. It occurs to me that having worked for companies where some people were in India before has helped prepare me for this.)

      Before the pandemic I would never have believed that I could work from home successfully, but now I never want to go back! I’m astonished by how much mental energy it turns out I was giving up by commuting. I’ve been able to put some of that energy to work by volunteering in my community.

    2. t-vex*

      Hated working from home, was very glad to be called back to the office after a few months.

    3. Alex*

      I switched jobs since then, and loving it. When we got sent home at my old job, it was pretty much permanent, and in fact two people on my team, including my boss, moved out of decent commuting range. That was GREAT because I had no interest in socializing or seeing anyone on my team in person lol! And our work was largely independent and done through email so there was no downside. When I switched jobs, the expectation was set that we were in the office 2 days a week, which is mostly OK (I’d prefer fully remote, but it’s not awful). It’s also really flexible and chill so if for some reason I ask to stay home extra days one week, I always get approved.

      Remote work is so much more humane–no commuting, I can set the temperature at what I like, etc. Love it love it love it. Can’t believe I wasted so much of my life commuting before! (In my area, an hour commute is normal/average/necessary for most).

      1. Rosie*

        I also can’t believe how much time I used to spend commuting. On a really good day it was ~35 min, typically ~40-50, but if I HAD to be by a certain time I would allow over an hour. Also time-saving – not having to shower and get ready every day. Even though I wasn’t one to spend a ton of time most days getting ready, it still took at least 30 min.

      2. Cicely*

        Right with you. I work from home 2-3 days per week (and could do so fully) and I LOVE it. LOVE it.

    4. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

      I got sent home in March 2020 and, after a bumpy transition (that included adjusting to school from home for my then 2nd grader), fell in love with the lower stress level. We were compelled to return to the office about 15 months later. I hated having to go back. It was a good company in many ways, but the butts in seats mentality was strong with upper management.

      I left that company in the summer of 2023 for a fully remote position with a much smaller company, and haven’t looked back. WFH is so much better for me. I do miss going into the office sometimes, but I get to meet with my team face to face about once a month, which is nice. I never get tired of having my own bathroom, or being able to flex my daily schedule to go to the store, gym, run errands, etc. If I’m feeling too crappy to get dressed but OK to work, I don’t have to burn a sick day. I’m not crammed cheek to jowl with a bunch of other people in a smelly, ugly office. And the best part is that I’m home when my kid gets on and off the school bus every day.

    5. ruthling*

      Been hybrid for a while and it’s way better than having to deal with commuting and inane office conversations every day. Plus commuting has gotten worse and so has my energy level, so I’m not sure how I would handle being in the office every day. I’m currently doing laundry while I work, and sitting in a sunny spot rather than the dismal cube cave of my office and loving it.

    6. ferrina*

      Work mostly remote, and loving it! I’m in the office about one day every other month, but it’s about an hour commute, so love having the extra hours in my day-to-day. It’s a bit lonely sometimes, but I’m getting better about joining other social groups and doing more events near me.

      Fully caveat- I was hybrid before the panini, so there wasn’t much of a work shift for me.

    7. Admin of Sys*

      Still remote, make it into the shared (hotdesk) workspace about once a month, and will stay remote unless I change companies, since there’s only about 40 desks for 200 employees in said office.

      I still miss being around people, but since the office is mostly empty except for the monthly meetings, it’s not worth it. My home office is nicely appointed these days, and we do video calls often enough I’m not starved for interaction during the work day.

      I’d be against going back full time if we could – I like the super short commute of ‘down the stairs’ and not having to worry about paying for parking / bringing the laptop in / etc. But I wouldn’t mind a hybrid scenario if other folks were actually in the office to talk to.

    8. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      I desperately miss my remote, and later, hybrid, work. We all had to come back full time in 2021, and it is not fun knowing I could have a much better work/life balance if people weren’t obsessed with the optics of butts in seats.

      Like, I don’t miss the early days of Covid, especially not pre-vaccine–they were terrifying–but I really, really miss WFH.

    9. MigraineMonth*

      I resigned from my job in January 2020 (hindsight really is 20/20) and was hired a few months later at a job that was temporarily remote. After a year of insisting that we’d eventually return to office full time, then a year of insisting we’d eventually return hybrid, we were granted full-time-remote status.

      I miss gabbing with colleagues, but nothing can beat rolling out of bed 10 minutes before I’m supposed to be at a meeting and getting there on time.

    10. Josephine Beth*

      I’m in education, so it was a horrible, high-stress transition to remote work in 2020. However, I quickly learned how much I loved getting rid of a my multi-hour commute, and have since moved into a new role that is about 90% remote. Being able to go into the office or see clients in person a few times a month while doing the vast majority of the work from home is pretty much a perfect balance for me.

      Something I’ve noticed that’s key for me, though, is that I spend a lot of time in virtual meetings, so I’m still interacting with people most days. That connection to colleagues and clients is important to me, so I can’t imagine I’d be very successful in a WFH job that was more solo work.

    11. Choggy*

      We have to come in the office 3 days a week but I don’t see everyone holding to that policy. My limit is 2 days in office max, so I try to be creative to get that extra day at home. It’s my last year since I’m retiring, so I have less f’s to give at this point.

    12. Rara Avis*

      We went home from school on Thursday 3/12 and didn’t come back in person until August of 2021. Remote school was SO HARD and almost all of us were very glad to be in person. I feel like we’re beginning to come out the other side in terms of the effect on the kids — this is their third year back and things are beginning to feel normal again.

    13. WantonSeedStitch*

      Still almost entirely remote. I go into the office quarterly. I’m perfectly happy with this for the most part: I have a 3-year-old who is in daycare/preschool three days a week. Being at home means I can be here to help get him out the door when he goes and have more time with him when he is done. When he’s here, I can have lunch with him. I can also do household tasks in little chunks now and then as my work allows. I live in the southern part of a major metro area, and my workplace is in the northern part–and I don’t drive. Getting to my office either requires an hour and a half with walking and public transit (which is pretty crappy these days) or a $40-50 app ride that can take an hour sometimes in bad traffic. That’s each way.

      Do I miss going into the office? Yeah. But actually making that happen on a regular basis would require so much hassle that I am super glad I don’t have to. I do appreciate getting to see my coworkers in person when I go in for our very few required days.

    14. Desk Dragon*

      I’ve been fully remote since 2017, so the only major change for me has been that the quasi-mandatory, twice-a-year team-building/social events were suspended for a couple of years and are now highly optional for anyone who’s not local to the physical office. As an extreme introvert who’s easily distracted by people moving around/talking near me, WFH has been pure bliss. I know a lot of my co-workers are happy to be back to at least hybrid, though; I’m in admin support, but the nature of the work our researchers do tends to select for extroverts.

    15. juliebulie*

      I’m still remote. I could go back to the office, but they’re hotdesking now, and if I can’t be comfortable in the office then I don’t want to go in. Most of my coworkers are remote anyway.

      I don’t love everything about being remote, but I do love that I don’t have to shower every day, drive, go to that crappy cafeteria, etc.

    16. JustaTech*

      Overall I’m glad to be back in the office – it helps me concentrate (I’m not in a room full of things I’d rather be doing all day every day), and I do have a lot of hands-on stuff I have to do in the lab. Also, my commute is super short.
      That said, I really wish my upper manager was a whole lot more chill about other folks doing WFH. They never try to do it when they need to be in the lab, but on all the days when we’re just writing or analyzing data, it is bananas to make them suffer through terrible commutes to do work they can do just as well from home.
      We’ve lost a whole bunch of people because of this performative “butts in seats” attitude and it’s horrendous for morale.

      (Oh…. I’ve just realized that my VP’s problem is that he is massively insecure! Ugh.)

    17. A Manager for Now*

      I was not part of the Great WFH Shift of 2020 but ended up taking an inter-company remote job 2 years later. Overall, it’s been good.

      Cons: I miss casual relationships with people not in my direct group.

      Pros: being able to take low stakes conference calls while walking my dog or sitting outside, not cramming laundry into my off hours, and being able to bring exercise back into my routine because I have time to shower afterwards instead of commuting.

    18. RagingADHD*

      I was WFH from before 2020 and was heartily sick of it by last year. I now have a job that is primarily in-office but WFH is allowed as needed unless there is some time-sensitive hands on task. It’s so much better for me. My work-life boundaries and overall mental health are soooo much better.

      I’ve even made a couple of new work-friends that have potential to cross over to real-life friends. So that’s great!

    19. Megascops*

      I was fully in office before covid, then fully WFH, and have had two hybrid jobs since then. I thought hybrid would be the best of both worlds, but I’ve found it more of a struggle than working fully in office was. It feels like I can’t ever get used to going in when I only do it once or twice a week, and regulating my sleep schedule has been next to impossible (already a struggle due to ADHD). But my hybrid offices have been louder and more distracting and less comfortable than my fully-in-office office (one had hot desking), so I need to WFH at least sometimes or I start falling behind. I’ve been thinking that I should try four days in office and see if that makes a difference. My commute is very reasonable (although not by AAM standards–where does everyone live that a half hour commute is long and horrible??) and I always find being at the office easier than making myself go to the office.

    20. Generic Name*

      I’ve changed jobs since then. My last company was very remote friendly, and moving the entire staff to remote was actually impressively seamless. I came back to the office at that job 2 days a week, but it felt rather pointless, as the small company was weirdly spread across multiple floors of multiple buildings, and hardly the folks on my floor rarely came in. Now I work a new job in absolutely gleaming brand-new buildings. Apparently the buildings were complete in like 2021, so there was a big “back in office” push. I’m in the office 4 days a week, and I actually really enjoy it. I’m able to focus better, and I’m happier and more energized my in-office days. I think I’m just very sick of my cold basement office at home.

    21. Remotely yours*

      I love being remote more than any other work thing I have ever loved. When my company started bringing people back, my manager told me the VP wanted me back in the office every day. I replied by looking at my calendar and saying that in two weeks I would be gone. All of a sudden it was “Our mistake, we meant one day a week.” I’ll never work full-time in an office ever again.

    22. Wordybird*

      I started COVID with a temporarily WFH job with a local organization (since it required reception duties, it could never be permanently WFH) and, as I suspected, loved it from the get-go. I transitioned to a permanently remote job in the fall of 2020 and have been remote ever since.

      As an introvert who has ADHD and anxiety, working remotely makes my life so much easier and efficient. I can manage my work and life tasks in ways that best suit me and switch between them as needed. I also am able to avoid work-related things that I hate: commutes, workwear/bras, and small talk. I work in a field that is not particularly common where I live and make more money than most local people with my skillset and experience. When one of my kids is sick or has an e-learning day, I’m already at home.

      Most importantly, working remotely while my ex works out of an office means that my kids go to the schools my house is districted for (vs. his) and even though I legally only have them 50% of the time, I see them all but 4 days a month during the school year since I’m home to make sure they get on and off the bus. My ex also benefits, to be fair, by saving a lot of money in before/after school care but being able to see my kids almost every day post-divorce is priceless to me.

    23. iglwif*

      I was already working from home full-time, continued to do so, was just laid off from that job in Feb, and am now looking for fully remote jobs.

      I am much happier and more productive at home and don’t ever want to go back to a noisy, distracting office and a time-consuming commute.

    24. allathian*

      I was fully remote from March 2020 to October 2021. Since then I’ve gone to the office a few days a month. Some of my teammates go in every day, others only when required.

    25. Nightengale*

      I’m a specialty pediatrician and was initially sent home to work remotely completely for a few months. Then started going in one day a week and then two and then three. Still doing a day a week of telehealth, which works well for the right patient/visit type and terribly for others. It’s also been a blessing now we can convert individual visits/days to video in case of patient illness or car problems, weather emergency or in one memorable case, nearby SWAT incident without having to cancel appointments completely. Note that some of these cases of patient illness are COVID – the pandemic is definitely not over and I am still masking at work for everyone’s protection.

  39. TheGrassIsGreener*

    This is something I’ve seen from time to time at work and (since it happened again), I’m curious how people handle this. We have a pretty flat org chart and empower our team a lot. Unfortunately, occasionally we have a junior staff member who think that allows them to share their thoughts and feelings too openly with senior management — frankly crossing into rude in some cases. If they worked for me, I’d have a conversation about professionalism at work, and involve HR if needed. But part of the problem is their management doesn’t want to get involved. It’s almost impossible for senior management to respond without seeming like they’re getting into a bickering match with junior employees. So I’m asking this just as a casual bystander who just witnessed this again. Is there any appropriate way to handle this if the person’s manager doesn’t?

    1. ferrina*

      How would you respond if this was a mid-level or senior staffer? Is that the same approach you can take with a junior staffer?

      Or there’s the concerned approach- walk up to them after the meeting and say “Are you okay? You were really rude to Alexa in that meeting, and that’s not like you. What’s going on?”
      Let the conversation go on until they are awkward (even if that’s just 5 seconds). If they get awkward, that means they picked up on your cue that their behavior was not okay.

    2. MigraineMonth*

      Is this a culture where you could have a conversation with them about professionalism even if their manager won’t, or would that be seen as impinging on their manager’s domain?

    3. OtterB*

      Depends on the topic, but this might be a place for the “That hasn’t been my experience” pushback. You don’t have to directly call out the rudeness, but you don’t leave the overly negative comment hanging in the air either.

    4. Doc McCracken*

      Depending on your relationship with the person who does it, you might be able to use the Big Brother/Big Sister Friendly advice approach. The risk here is if the person is not open to feedback, it would likely go badly.

  40. WhyIsEverythingBananas*

    I’m close to the end of a one-year contract covering a maternity leave. But, everybody keeps asking me if I’m going to be staying on – and my boss wants me to! The problem is…I don’t want to. I have a lot of reasons for not wanting to stay on (low wages, challenging mental health, major bait-and-switch on job duties that I would never have agreed to upon hire, and a number of other misalignment things). I’ve given my boss official notice that I will not be accepting his verbal offer to stay on.
    My trouble is that my final date is in two months – what do I say to everybody?? I am in charge of a lot of projects which will continue past my last date and the person whose leave I’m covering won’t be coming back as early as anticipated (where I live she has job protection for up to 18 months, so she has the right to extend this leave). So to some extent, it’s relevant to let people know…but I’m not sure who to tell, and when, because it feels like there’s an awful lot of unspoken norms here around what you can and can’t say to various people and I am super bad at figuring that out (I’m a very open person. I’m fine at confidentiality but I won’t know you need me to keep something confidential if you don’t TELL me).

    1. ferrina*

      To the boss: “Thank you, I’ve really enjoyed my time here. But long-term, I’m looking to do more [work specialty/better commute/different type of industry] so I’m going to explore other options.”
      The trick is to say you want something they can’t offer you. If they try to offer that to you anyways, “That’s really kind and I’m really touched! But I really can’t take this offer- there are a few things I’ve been working on in the background and I want to see how they turn out. I’m not ready to talk about it now, but as soon as there’s something I can talk about, I’ll let you know.”
      At least, that’s where I’d go. I’m pretty comfortable with polite lying as long as I have a script (and it’s not technically a lie- you’ve been working on your plan to gtfo, and you want to see how it turns out).

      For everyone else, you can wait until within a few weeks of your final date, then start bringing it up in casual conversation. If folks ask, same type of script- “I’ve really enjoyed my time here, but it’s time for a change.” if pressed: “I’ve got a few things in the works, but nothing I can talk about now.”

    2. Rick Tq*

      Can you just remind them of your end date if you are asked and leave it at that? If someone wants to know who will complete Projects X, Q, and W direct them to your manager.

      You are on a 1 year contract and you aren’t required to extend just because it is convenient for the company.

      1. GrumpyCat*

        yes, you don’t really need to give a reason. You had a 1-year contract and now it’s ending. You could just say “oh, I only took the job for one year, I’m not able to stay I’m afraid, I have other plans”. The fact that the contract was for one year doesn’t have to be kept confidential, so every time something comes up that relates to the time after your departure, you can just say “My contract ends on This Date, so you’d need to check with Boss about their plans for this project”.

    3. WhyIsEverythingBananas*

      I should clarify that I’ve already told my boss I won’t be staying on! I appreciate the comments that I don’t have to keep my end date confidential. I don’t want to make a big deal of it, but also probably need to start mentioning my end date to a few folks who may be affected…I’ve been holding off in the most part because I don’t know what the transition plan looks like yet.

    4. RagingADHD*

      You need to specifically ask your boss about transition planning for those projects, because it is going to take time to prepare for the handover if they have any kind of complexity.

      Presumably they will know (or are the one to decide) who you should be handing off to, and when to tell those individuals.

  41. Emily in Texas*

    The boss I report to is based on Canada, and I’m in the U.S. I’d love to hear suggestions from the Canadian readers on how to communicate better with my Canadian boss. He’s not a direct communicator, and he seems to have concerns about how I can come off abrupt. I’ve asked him for examples and what I need to do, but he wouldn’t tell me any specifics. I think this is likely a “him” issue rather than him being Canadian and me American, but I want to see if there is anything I should keep in mind or do in understanding a Canadian work culture.

    1. Caramel & Cheddar*

      I think it’s probably a “him” issue and that Canadian work culture is probably pretty similar to American work culture, but if for some reason it’s because he’s Canadian: do you have any Midwestern colleagues? Because that seems to be a close approximation for “Canadian” in that every time I see some sort of Midwest meme online, it immediately feels familiar to me as a Canadian (from Ontario, don’t want to speak for other parts of the country), e.g. jokes about what does “yeah, no” vs “no, yeah” actually mean. How do they communicate with others? Does it seem similar to what your boss does?

      There’s also the possibility that, assuming you’re a woman based on your username, your abruptness is you communicating like a regular person and him not being used to that given how many women consciously and unconsciously soften their wording for a variety of reasons when they communicate. Like, does he want you to use more exclamation marks to sound friendlier? Is this a criticism your male colleagues get? etc.

    2. Anon for This*

      I have worked with a lot of Canadians over the years, and to me they are a lot like Midwesterners – I come from the Midwest but now live on the East Coast. You need to start with chit chat, talk about their kids (or grandkids), sports team, or something else before you get down to business. If you dive right in to work as is more common where I live now, you will come off as abrupt. So even if you hate the social chit chat, start off that way. If you don’t know much about him, just ask about the weekend, or the weather, or something else innocuous.

    3. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      I have received this feedback before for myself! I prefer to just get down to business and it can make me come across as brusque. I love chit chat! Just not when I’m looking for that final data point so I can send in my TPS report.

      I think it’s even more important when you’re geographically separated from your boss. The normal coffee chit chat doesn’t happen so all you have is the work-related exchanges. AAM has a column I read recently about making your language warmer, as well.

      But I did take their advice and it goes over well. So emails are like:

      “Good morning! Hope you’re doing well. [and if it’s the first email of the week I may add something like “hope you were able to get out in this gorgeous weather this weekend; spouse and I had a great hike” or “sure was cold this weekend! Hope you guys are doing ok up there” or whatever to acknowledge that things are happening and they may be out having experiences in those things] … and then “wanted to check in about the x thing/here’s that last bit of data you were looking for”

      and end it with “thanks! Let me know if you have any questions, happy to jump on a call if needed”

      It makes people feel like they’re being talked to by as a human and treated as a human, not just a worker.

    4. WhyIsEverythingBananas*

      I’m Canadian, and I don’t know Texas culture to compare to, but I have to say the one time I visited the American South (South Carolina in this case) I found everybody SUPER friendly and hospitable. I would be surprised, if that’s the culture where you live as well, if there’s much of a “not friendly enough” barrier. I do think Canadians have a certain politeness/reserve/friendliness tone a lot of the time – think a more feminine communication style vs. masculine. It sounds like it’s a “your boss” issue mainly – and potentially a sexist issue too? Do you know if any male colleagues who report to this boss have received similar feedback?

      1. Also*

        As an American who has lived in NC, OH, CA (and other states) and had spent the last 10+ years in Canada I find there is a real enough difference that it has tripped me up.

        For example, I found that 99% of the time when my colleagues said “that’s interesting” or even “that sounds fun” they meant “I’m not going to do that”. If I persisted and unintentionally cornered them into saying the word”no” I was making them unnecessarily uncomfortable.

  42. Stripes*

    Anyone have any good news/job searching updates to share this week? Just looking for a bit of positivity during the job search slog!

    1. Susan Calvin*

      This barely qualifies, because I’m *not* searching, actually, but: sometimes, great opportunities DO basically fall from the sky (in the form of recruiters sliding into your LinkedIn DMs unexpectedly) – it’s still very early stages, but unless the guy is wildly misaligned with his client’s vision, this could be a real coup for me!

  43. Anoni*

    I’ve applied and am in the final stages of selection for a job I’d really like, except the travel requirements are too much for me (60%). I have a young child, and I just do not want to miss 60% of weekday time with them.
    Should I bow out now and remove myself from further consideration or wait to see if I get an offer and try to negotiate? I honestly feel it is unlikely that they will come down to where I’d want to be on travel (closer to 20%), and I don’t want to waste anyone’s time, but maybe it’s presumptuous that I should take myself out proactively?

    1. Alex*

      If you are willing to not take the job over this, I’d let them know now. Don’t wait to spring it on them at the offer stage, as that could sow some bad feelings if they see it as your acting in bad faith. Just be honest with them and let them know that the 60% travel requirement is a dealbreaker for you, and that you’d need something like 20% or less, so unless that is something that is flexible you’d like to bow out now. That gives them a chance to keep you in the running if they want but also doesn’t waste anyone’s time.

    2. ferrina*

      Since you’re already willing to withdraw, why not reach out now?

      I assume they explained the travel in the interviews. You probably have some idea of how negotiable it is (or non-negotiable). If it’s a core tenant of the job, they probably won’t be willing to negotiate at the offer stage or now.
      To be fair, I am partially think of this from the employer side. I’d be really annoyed if I settled on a final candidate and they asked to change a core tenant of the job (especially if this was the first I was hearing of it). It would definitely leave a better impression if it was brought up earlier. That is, if that’s a door that you care about being left open (and not every door is worth worrying about).

      1. Decidedly Me*

        Same here on being annoyed as the hiring manager! I had someone who mentioned wanting a higher salary than we were offering after one interview. We reiterated our range, also explaining that, based on her experience level, she’d likely land at the lower to middle part of that range. We asked if she’d like the continue given that information and she said yes. She makes it to offer stage and says she won’t accept anything less like top of range + $5k. It was very frustrating and left a poor impression.

      2. Anoni*

        While “ability to travel” was a key component, an amount was never clarified until I asked after my 2nd interview (the interview itself got cut short due to a scheduling conflict by the interviewer, or it wouldn’t have been asked in person). So, I was not approaching it in bad faith, as I have ability and willingness to travel, just not to this extent.

        1. ferrina*

          Ah! That makes sense.

          Yes, I’d reach out now. It makes perfect sense that this is a potential dealbreaker and you need to know if it’s open to negotiation. If you don’t say something, it sounds like it’s okay for you. If you do say something, then it shows that you are working in good faith and trying to find the best mutual fit.

    3. ThatGirl*

      I feel like that much travel is probably not super-negotiable. Like, whatever kind of role it is, the company has determined you need to be on the road that much. Bottom line is that you probably can’t talk them down THAT much.

      I am curious though – do you know what KIND of travel it is? Like, is it local/within an hour or two? Are we talking flights across the country every week? Are they meetings that could sometimes be on Zoom, or trainings best held in person? That would inform things too.

      1. Anoni*

        It is regional, but still would require flights (or 6+ hour car rides one way).

        The job description said “ability to travel” but had no amount. Travel was referenced in the interviews, but amount was never clarified until I sent the follow-up question, which is when the 60% was mentioned by email. So I did not apply or interview in bad faith — if anything, they were not transparent about the extent until now.

        1. ThatGirl*

          Sure, I wasn’t trying to imply that you went into it knowing and hoping they’d change.

          I think the other replies you’ve gotten are good – might as well bring it up now and drop out unless they say something really dramatic.

        2. OtterB*

          I didn’t read responses as saying you were currently operating in bad faith. They were saying to bring it up now, because if you continue to the offer stage and then bring it up, *that* may seem like operating in bad faith.

        3. GrumpyCat*

          You didn’t apply or interview in bad faith, and can withdraw at this stage while still remaining on good terms with the employer and potentially being able to get another role with them in the future. But, now you know that you cannot do this job with the amount of travel requested you need to let them know this, and withdraw. Continuing now seems pointless – like you say, it is highly unlikely that you could negotiate the travel down to the extent you need – and if you get offered the job and then say you can’t accept it with the travel requirements, you will leave the employer with a very negative impression and scupper your chances of a future role with them.

    4. Yes*

      I would withdraw and thereby preserve good feelings (your interviewers may pop up in the future as coworkers or bosses somewhere else), but also to open up interview slots for someone who really wants the job as-is. Your needs are too different from the job to negotiate. Hopefully something else good will come along.

    5. Time for Tea*

      I think what you want and what the company want are very far apart from what you’ve said, and 60% travel sounds very integral to the role. I don’t think either party would be happy if you accepted an offer there. If you’ve clarified that the 60% is an accurate figure, then I would bow out.

  44. Anon today!*

    I’m in the running for a job in a brand new division of an existing company and am wondering how to evaluate what it would be like to work there, given that I’d be the first person doing this job. The new division makes sense for this company–think a llama veterinary clinic that’s beginning to offer a llama therapy practice. I’m a seasoned large animal therapist, but most of my experience is with horses, not llamas. The person I’d be reporting to is a well-regarded llama expert who would be moving over from another division. They don’t have direct experience providing llama therapy, which is why they are interested in hiring me. What kind of questions should I ask/research should I do to figure out if this would be a good fit?

    1. ferrina*

      Ask about the vision for the department. What are the KPIs for the first 3/6/12 months? Is there a roll-out or set up plan? (i.e., will they be offering all services right away, or will they be phased in? how will they ensure the resources are in place?) Ask a lot about the boss’s management style- what do they want the work culture to be? do they picture themselves involved in the day to day, or just certain aspects, or do they want to be hands off?

      My favorite question- “What do you anticipate will be the biggest challenge for the person in this role?”

  45. midwest manager*

    What career guidance do you wish you’d gotten as a student and/or intern?
    I’m a relatively new manager in a non-academic university department, and I currently have a class of ’25 student intern. She’s expressed interest in going into my field, so I offered to have a more in-depth chat with her about her career at our next weekly meeting. While I know she’ll have done some prep, I’m not expecting her to come in with really focused questions.
    Does anyone have any advice or tips on guiding the conversation productively? I’ve done informational interviews before, but never with someone this early in their career, so I’m feeling a little unsure about how to make it truly valuable for her.
    (If it matters, my career’s been mostly in nonprofit marketing/comms/PR. Also, I’m assuming the school’s career counseling office is as useless and terrible now as it was when I was an undergrad here in the 00s.)

    1. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      Make sure she knows that she needs to do what is right for HER career, and not feel bad about leaving a job for a better one. That’s something my first read boss really helped me understand, and it has been such good advice for my whole career, and something I’ve tried to convey to my student employees.
      Also, that whenever she’s new to a job/role, to do more observing at first, and make her own conclusions about the people she works with, rather than simply listening to whoever befriends her first. Watch others for workplace norms, and until you have a good understanding of what those are, lean on the safer, more formal side when possible.

      1. Mztery123*

        I do this all the time for my students, and I would suggest that you ask her to come up with some questions. You would be very surprised how deep students can go when they have the opportunity to talk to a mentor.

      2. BigLawEx*

        Can I second this? A friend’s 24 year old daughter got this info from her first boss and it was priceless. It was all about doing what was best for her career every single time.

    2. pally*

      I wish someone had explained to me that that first job post-college sets one up for the next job and then the next job after that. All these jobs are stepping stones towards one’s goal for both a job you desire and a career as well. Don’t expect things to just ‘fall into place’ on their own.

      So think carefully where you want to end up and then find the route to that end.

    3. DisneyChannelThis*

      Prep on your end – How did you end up in your current role? Was this the type of role you wanted when you were an undergrad once or did you career take a different path? If you time traveled and were suddenly a college junior again, what would you do differently/what would you tell your own past self? What skills aren’t taught in the classroom but are helpful in your current role? How similar/different are classroom settings to your role?

    4. MigraineMonth*

      One of the things that surprised me about the work world is that my manager’s job wasn’t to help me succeed. My job was to help her succeed, and I needed to be a lot more proactive about asking for work, soliciting feedback and looking for the answers than I was when I was in school. (I also should have done far less venting in our 1-on-1’s; she was my boss, not my therapist!)

      Similarly, I expected that there would be an obvious “next step” career progression and that my manager would tell me, for example, which promotion to go for and what I needed to do to get it. Instead, the manager pigeon-holed me in a role that was convenient for her but didn’t give me opportunities for growth.

    5. Ashley*

      How office norms vary across companies and even business sectors. How to figure out time off for doctor appointments, putting in PTO requests, not giving into pressure to disclose to much personal information (so don’t say I have an eye doc appoint so next time it is an appointment for therapy or a job interview they won’t expect to know the type).
      Also reminding them they are interviewing the company as well and while we all sometimes have to take a job, try to avoid bad jobs as much as you can by asking about things that are important to you.

    6. MoMac*

      I conducted several of these informational interviews with senior undergraduates, although many of them involved discussions about graduate school. My goal was to give them an idea about the breadth of the field and the myriad jobs they might want to consider as they embarked on their careers. So it was a bit of an overview of the field and then how my own journey unfolded. I spoke about the pluses and minuses of different settings and how my particular quirks were and were not a fit for particular duties. Good luck!

    7. WantonSeedStitch*

      I’m also in a non-academic university department–are you in development, by any chance? In any case, I think some things that would be helpful to share would be:
      1) Explaining how the work that’s done in the office where they’re interning relates to other parts of your organization
      2) If the kind of work that office does is also done at other kinds of organizations, tell them about that, and about how it may differ from what you do there
      3) Talk about various kinds of entry level roles that exist in your office, even if they aren’t currently open
      4) Tell them about various kinds of career paths you’ve seen from those entry level positions

  46. Diane Has Everything*

    My department just hired a new director to replace someone who had left. We are a small department but we handle A LOT of work. So, I had high expectations as to what I thought the Director should bring to the table. Things like … rolling up their sleeves and getting into the mud with us; leading us and sharing their expertise and experience; having an innate curiosity about the work we’re doing and how we get things done.

    They have not taken on anything proactively. Outside of a couple of small one-off requests, they haven’t picked up anything proactively. The head of our department has assigned them a few projects in the 6 weeks they’ve been here. And while they have prepared material or worked on logistics, for the most part, they’ve delegated the execution of these projects to me and colleagues. My plate is extraordinarily full as I continue to run projects that should be picked up by the Director, but are too difficult to offload now as they’re so new. (This was a directive). I’m ok with it for now. But the Director has shown no interest in my work on these projects. We’ve had a couple of one-on-one meetings since they started and most of the meetings were spent discussing their projects and how to get them done. When I send emails to update them or provide information, they don’t respond.

    I have a decent relationship with my grandboss, but I also don’t want to look like I’m being petty. But, if things keep going the way they are, I’m not sure I’ll be able to keep up. We are definitely starting to drown and the Director doesn’t seem to have any sense of urgency around it. I don’t know how my grandboss feels about things. Rumor is she’s not happy. But, that could be wishful thinking from my colleagues.

    1. ferrina*

      “Hey Boss, Just checking in about the transition plan for Project X. When did you want to start taking the lead on that? I’m happy to bring you up to speed and start introducing you at meetings whenever you’re ready!”

      If Director hems and haws: “Okay, well I should also let you know that I’m currently overloaded. I can manage it for the next month, but I really need to get some of this work transitioned off my plate by mid-April/whatever date. It will probably take a week to get someone new onboarded into the project, and I want to make sure we’re factoring that in.”
      Then follow up the next week to see what their plan is “now that you’ve had a chance to think about it.”

      If they haven’t taken action after a couple weeks, loop in Grandboss. Exactly what you say to Grandboss will depend on what conversations you’ve already had with them. If Grandboss told you Director would work on Project X and the Director isn’t doing this, you can ask Grandboss about what the new plan for Project X is. If Grandboss is aware of the workload challenges, you can bring that concern- “I talked to Director, but she hasn’t given me an update on what the plan is to get my workload back to manageable levels. I was hoping you would have an update?”
      The trick is to ask Grandboss about strategies pertaining to your work, not say “Director isn’t doing their job”. Once you present the facts of your situation, Grandboss will have the info they need to know if Director is doing their job or not.

  47. Nona Selah*

    My daughter is a rising senior (in high school) and has already gotten herself a certification in cybersecurity, and is now working on the next level. Yeah, she’s driven. Anyway, she’ll be looking at jobs and internships in the next year or so almost certainly and my question for y’all is this – when building a “professional” wardrobe, what is expected these days for interview dress? I’ve read a lot of conversations here that lead me to think things are not quite as formal as they were when I was still interviewing. Not so long ago!
    What should a young woman in STEM keep in mind for future interviews and work places? She is NOT at all interested in fashion, wears athletic shorts & shirts all year round, no matter the temp.

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      For a young adult, I’d still go a little formal. Khakis or slacks (dress pants). Button down shirt or a collar polo or just a dressy shirt (shoulders covered, not low cut, no midrift). No jeans, no holes in pants. It’s more about conveying “understanding workplace norms” to your interviewer which for a high school-er still is in question. I’d hold off on getting a suit until she’s done growing, they’re pricey. For once she lands a job, jeans may be okay see what other people wear, but probably still need to expand the wardrobe to include some basic work shirts (no large graphics, no text, no ads). Shorts aren’t going to be appropriate for office type work, can do knee length to long skirts instead if really anti pants. Comfy sweaters can spoof hoodie vibes but read professional.

      Check out Woman in STEM programs, I remember back in high school I did a week long summer camp program as a rising junior that really shaped my career trajectory to this day. There’s a lot of neat stuff out there. WISE is one program near me, Women in Science and Engineering. Girls who code is another. Google your city + Women + Stem and see what pops up. Those type programs will not only help with skill sets, having peers into the same interest, but also career development. Hackathons are weekend events that she’d probably enjoy. Ask your local library too, they usually have a good pulse of what’s local options.

      It sucks that I have to say this but I’d also make sure she knows how to handle people being inappropriate. Talk about what to do if someone makes you feel uncomfortable (don’t be alone with creepy coworker, take your lunch break with someone else present if they’re being weird), talk about bodily autonomy (no you don’t have to hug anyone at work), inappropriate topics (“Oh I don’t talk about my dating life at work”). A lot of creeps will test boundaries on young people in intern type roles.

      1. Nona Selah*

        this is great, thank you! Yes, I’ve often talked about bodily autonomy with her – I can only hope she was listening. She’s been in self defense/martial arts classes for three years now, so at least there’s that, but yeah it’s the social part that could come as a surprise. She’s a POC as well.
        I appreciate it!

    2. Jay (no, the other one)*

      For interviews: something that suggests a suit and is not nearly that formal or structured. Black slacks, a sleeveless or short-sleeved blouse, flats, and a soft cardigan that looks that a jacket. The people interviewing her may well be in Tshirts and ripped jeans – I still think applicants need to look more pulled-together than the actual workers. She can get black slacks that feel like yoga pants or sweats – try looking for Betabrand on ThredUp to keep costs down.

      For work: if it’s a tech company her current wardrobe is probably fine (well, maybe jeans instead of the shorts). Khakis, polos, sneakers that are not trashed – basically what guys have been wearing for years.

    3. the tumpet*

      For cybersecurity, it tends to be more formal than the stereotype of casual tech, I think. I work in the field, though mostly for finance businesses, which may color my advice, so do take it with a grain of salt. Not necessarily a full suit, but definitely slacks and blazer is what I’d go with.

    4. A Manager for Now*

      I go with a navy pant suit and sleeveless or short sleeve blouse for interviews. I’m a little overdressed but I look younger than I am and find that it leads people to take me a step more seriously. I find navy looks slightly more casual than black, which can look more severe.

      Context: Engineer, corporate with a quality/technical expert focus, femme presenting AFAB but NB.

    5. Doc McCracken*

      You’ve already gotten some great suggestions. I started out in engineering as the only woman in my graduating class. Look for dress pants and jacket separates for interviews. For more business casual interviews the slacks can be paired with a well fitted solid polo shirt or collar shirt. A nice polo shirt made with performance fabric looks very polished and is very comfortable.
      Then you have the jacket if she needs it. For multiple interviews at the same place, changing up the shirt means not having to buy a whole separate outfit. Specifically look for performance fabrics that stretch and move within you. I’m plus size and love the City Pants from Torrid. Yoga pants that look like dress slacks would be a great option too. For interview shoes, look for great quality loafers. The most comfortable ones I’ve ever found were Coach brand. I normally don’t buy designer brands but these saved my feet being on cement floors all day. I have a brown pair and a black pair. After I wore a hole through the black pair, I bought a second pair on Mercari for $30. Having good looking shoes that are comfortable really pulls together the polished look. Look up capsule wardrobes on pinterest for more inspiration.

  48. June*

    I started a new job a month ago, and long story short I’m not sure it’s going to work out.

    I have always been a high performer, but my new manager has so far been hyper-critical about the smallest things (some of them I couldn’t possibly have known in my first 2-4 weeks) in a way that makes me think their expectations aren’t reasonable and they might never be. I’m going to try to ride it out, but I’ve become increasingly doubtful that this is just because I’m new.

    My question is if I start looking soon, I obviously should leave this job off my resume; but how do I explain what I’ve been doing in the meantime in interviews? And why I left my previous job. At what point do I put this job on my resume — 6 months? 4 months?

  49. Headphones?*

    GenX manager here. I have some Opinions about a work thing, and I’d like to know whether others agree, or whether you think I’m out of touch with modern professional norms.

    Our workplace has a role that’s general admin support–a good bit more than reception, but including reception in its duties. This person sits in our main open-to-the-public office and is the first person encountered by visitors and phone callers. Traffic is variable, but could not be described as heavy.

    I have always felt that people in this sort of front-line position should not wear headphones at work, because they should both be and appear to be available and approachable when people come in. Headphones give the impression that you are listening/paying attention to something else, perhaps won’t hear someone speak to you, perhaps don’t want to be disturbed.

    Agree/disagree? Thanks for your thoughts!

    1. Ella Minnow Pea*

      Another Gen Xer here. I agree that headphones could feel off-putting . I know lots of people who wear a single earbud, both for listening to audio content and making calls. Would that be an option?

      1. Be Gneiss*

        Xennial (if we agree that’s a thing), and I would say a single earbud reads completely differently than over-the-ear headphones, or even 2 earbuds.

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      Disagree.

      Millennial here. As long as receptionist is cheerful/welcoming (doesn’t glare and go ‘What?!’) and quickly removes headphones when people approach there’s not an issue. Especially a low traffic one where you might be sitting without anything to do.

    3. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      Millennial, and also disagree to an extent. A single earbud should be fine and convey that they are available. Also, plenty of receptionists wear headsets for phone answering, so something like that should be perfectly acceptable.

      Now, if they were constantly fielding people coming in, I might think differently, but if it’s variable, let the poor admin listen to some music on an earbud while they work.

    4. Caramel & Cheddar*

      I generally agree (also a Millennial, if that matters). I like Ella Minnow Pea’s suggestion of a single earbud so that this person can be listening to something and keeping an eye out for who might need help.

      Is a call-centre style headset worth using for this person? i.e. the kind with much smaller on-ear headphones and a visible microphone. When I see office folks in those they come across much more like someone is wearing them so they can be hands free at the computer while taking calls or whatever, but they might make the optics about this look better (because this really does just seem like an optics issue).

    5. A Girl Named Fred*

      In full disclosure, I am 100% biased here because I work in a similar role and environment and was able to wear headphones for the first year I was here, which were then promptly banned by my grandboss the first day after my boss left. For me, as long as the person is responsive, friendly, and getting their work done, I see no issue with headphones. If they’re actively answering the phone when it rings, greeting people when they come in or approach their desk (whichever is correct for your office environment), then I tend to think we should move past being concerned about appearances. By all means, if you notice that they aren’t getting their work done or are ignoring/not noticing people when needed, then it might be worth the conversation and/or headphone ban. But requiring it as a matter of appearances grinds my gears a bit.

      (Granted, I also used discrete bone conduction headphones rather than the over-the-ear gaming headset I use at home, so it was less obvious I had headphones on than it could have been. But still.)

      1. Be Gneiss*

        I always give open-ear bone conduction headphones a thumbs up because they are absolutely wonderful for listening to something while maintaining an awareness of what is going on around you. I also think those read differently than over-the-ear headphones in terms of feeling like I’m interrupting the person wearing them.

        1. A Girl Named Fred*

          Very fair! I was vaguely aware of their existence before this job, but when I got the job I explicitly went and got some because I knew of at least one other admin who wore them, and my direct colleague also wears them, and now I’m a convert too.

          (Unrelated/semi-related, I forgot to mention that I’m a millennial when I posted my original comment.)

    6. ferrina*

      Generally agree. I do everything I can to avoid disturbing someone wearing headphones. Some people suggest wearing a single earbud, but that also kind of weirds me out. I always wonder if they are listening to something else while talking to me.

      The exception is:
      1) If it’s a low traffic area and they remove their headphones and greet me, or
      2) if it’s a wireless phone device (with mic) and they proactively greet me.

      If they do wear headphones, they should be proactively greeting people as they walk in so they become more approachable (note- this is doable, even in high traffic areas. I worked at a food service job where we had to greet every customer within 15 seconds of them entering the shop)

    7. WellRed*

      Gen X. I think an earbud and welcoming smile/eye contact are fine. Actual headphones , not so much.

    8. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      A headset with microphone is what I would expect to see in that position – handsfree phone calls, but able to hear and see everything and deal with walkups.

      I think a pair of Beats or other large over-the-ear headphones would be inappropriate.

      1. Seashell*

        I agree with that kind of headset being appropriate. I would say no to anything else, including earbuds.

      2. RagingADHD*

        Gen Xer here, and I think this would be top choice, with a single earbud as second choice.

        Headphones and 2 earbuds are a really specific “I’m focusing, don’t interrupt me” signal, both at work and socially. They are often recommended here for that very purpose.

        I think 1 ear is a good compromise.

    9. Mark This Confidential And Leave It Laying Around*

      GenX. Agree. No headphones in reception unless it’s your phone headset.

    10. AnotherLibrarian*

      Millennial. My thoughts- Bone conducting headphones or one earbud are probably fine; however, people are trained not to approach people in headphones and therefore I think it behooves the person on the front line to be proactive about smiling and welcoming people over AND being hyper aware that appearances matter in this sort of thing.

      I have worked in many front facing public service jobs and I would never have worn headphones at the desk and I would have been shocked if I was allowed to. Being approachable is the Number One rule of front line customer service. But since this job seems to do more than that, I can see why some flexibility might be able to be extended.

    11. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      Headphones to me say “Busy/focusing, do not disturb”

    12. the.kat*

      Maybe this is just me being old before my time, but I’d almost rather have them wearing headphones than earbuds/AirPods. When I walk up to someone and they remove their headphones, they are present in the moment with me. If they’re leaving their earbud in, even if it’s just one, I always wonder if they’re trying to listen to something at the same time and are missing half of what I’m saying.

      1. HonorBox*

        I’m an Xer, and while I’d probably visually like to have someone not wearing large over-the-ear headphones, I’ve had situations with my children similar to what you’re highlighting and I think you’re onto something. Removing the headphones to be present with whoever is standing in front of them will be a better show of “you have my full attention” than leaving an earbud in, even if there’s nothing playing through it.

    13. Dancing Otter*

      What about the age/generation of the people with whom the receptionist interacts? Will *they* perceive headphones as a “Do Not Disturb” signal? After all, that’s exactly what visible headphones are when worn on public transportation, and have been for what, twenty years or more?
      In-ear or bone conduction, or even the one ear plus a microphone (old-fashioned switchboard operator look), are far less off-putting, I think.
      But I’m a Boomer, so I won’t claim to be “modern”.

    14. BigLawEx*

      Gen X and I hate headsets. My experience coming into reception has been me waving or actually tapping/patting the person on the shoulder. I think both are rude, but haven’t figured out another way to get someone’s attention when I have a specific appointment time. This has happened in car dealership service, medical office, and entertainment (I’m in LA).

      1. Doc McCracken*

        Xennial here. one ear bud, an obvious phone headset or none at all. In fact, having to fight for someone’s attention, someone that I would reasonably expect to interact with like a receptionist, is a huge pet peeve of mine.

    15. GythaOgden*

      Unless it’s a headset connected to the telephone system, yeah, as a former receptionist, this is on target. You are paid to be available and that means being available.

      (Also most dedicated reception telephone headsets have only one earphone and a very visible mic, so they probably want to wear it over the ear that’s furthest from the person they’re serving. I wore mine over the right ear because people I was dealing with were coming at me from the left.)

  50. Busy Middle Manager*

    Anyone else in the middle feeling squeezed from both ends? I am in my 40s and I noticed companies not doing promotions anymore, even when older workers retire. And companies are not hiring lower level roles, so I have no one to delegate to. So I am doing high level stuff while also doing a bunch of “paperwork” and it is very stressful. Not that paperwork is hard, but having people follow up with you because you’re behind on lower level stuff that is impacting other people when you’re already working late on more complicated stuff? Demoralizing. Anyone else can relate?

    1. Hotdog not dog*

      I can very much relate! It’s why I’m starting a new job on April 1. Our company doesn’t replace folks who leave, they just shuffle the work around. I’m currently doing work that had previously been handled by levels both above and below along with the work I was hired for. It’s stressful trying to learn how to do my former boss’s job and also getting complaints that my TPS reports are in a stack instead of filed.

  51. Little Beans*

    I work at an organization that offers in-person services, but most support staff are able to work hybrid schedules. In the last week, I have been invited to several in-person events that I would normally want to attend but they are all on Fridays, which is a day that I do not normally go into the office (it is the day that the fewest staff go into the office). The events are optional but are potentially good professional opportunities to connect with colleagues. A part of me wants to go, but I am also a little frustrated that they were ALL scheduled on Fridays, which is inconvenient for everyone who was invited. Our office is located in a very high cost-of-living area, and almost none of my coworkers can afford to live nearby – we are all commuting from at least 30 minutes away so it’s not simple or easy for us to just pop into the office for one meeting. The people planning the events are high-level well-paid execs who can afford to live nearby (they live within blocks of our office). I am sure I am not the only person who would prefer a different day but I don’t want to be the only person who complains…

    1. Caramel & Cheddar*

      I think the commuting is a red herring here? Because if these events were all on Wednesdays, you’d still have to commute to them. Did they pick Fridays because they’re good for the people who require your in-person services?

      If the issue is that you’d have to go in on a Friday in addition to your other days, can you just swap one of your other days for Friday so that the total commute costs (time and money) are the same on those weeks? That’s what I usually do when I have to attend something on a day I’m not normally in the office.

      1. Little Beans*

        No, Friday is definitely the least popular day for in-person services all around, for both staff and our clients. I don’t know why they picked Fridays but I’m assuming it was the day that the most people had availability because there tend to be fewer recurring meetings already scheduled.

        I can’t just swap days because a) I already have in-person commitments scheduled based on my regular schedule and b) our schedule is set up to ensure coverage with someone in-person everyday, so if everyone switched to Friday to attend these events, then no one would be in on the other days.

        So the commute is the issue for me. If I had the magic ability to teleport, I would absolutely just pop in for the special event. But it takes me 90 minutes per day to get to and from my office, and I also have a pay $12 for parking (my employer doesn’t provide parking) every day I go in.

    2. ferrina*

      I would go to some but not all.

      If you know the person that’s organizing, casually ask “Is there a reason why they were all on Fridays? It would be great if we could do some on Friday, some on Wednesday or whatever, because otherwise I give up a telework day once a week.”
      I’ve been the person running the schedule, and it’s easy to not realize the impact of a certain schedule.

  52. Senioritis*

    I just learned that 10 years of experience means you’re senior level. But what do you count? Is it counted from time of graduation of college? Or grad school? Or in a certain type of role?

    I graduated college in 2014, so I guess I’d be considered “senior” which is freaking me out because I do not do “senior” level roles outside of consulting in my own business part-time. The rest I just like being an individual contributor, but job titles in my field usually do not have “senior” in them.

    Do I need to be showing that I’m “senior” somehow in my career right now? Like do I need to be applying for director level positions? I know that sounds silly. I just feel very “I need to keep up with the Joneses” right now since I learned I’m supposed to be senior level. There are days where I feel like I need an adultier-adult.

    1. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      It’s time in a given role/field, and it assumes you’ve been taking on increasing duties/skills/etc.. Just because you graduated 10 years ago does not mean you’re at a senior level in your field. And really, senior anything is much more about the expertise in a given role, not the time spent in it.

      1. ferrina*

        This.
        It’s time spent working in the industry, gaining an array of exposure and taking on different types of work (usually of increasing responsibility). Senior carries the expectation of “this person has enough experience that they aren’t working on theory, they are referring back to actual cases that they’ve led.”

        “Senior” will also mean different things in different context. A “Sr. Llama Groomer” usually denotes that this person is highly experienced and capable beyond what you’d usually see from a Llama Groomer. Sometimes “Senior” carries additional job responsibilities.

        Now, should you apply for Director roles, Senioritis? That’s up to you. Look at the job responsibilities for a Director. Does that look like something you want to do? If no, then no, ignore the people advising you to make yourself miserable. If yes, that looks enjoyable, then look at the job requirements. Do you have those? If you have 60%+, sure, throw out a few applications and see what happens. You can also work on trying to get yourself experience in the other areas that you may not have experience.

        Final not- avoid the words “supposed to”. Those are naughty words, not to be said in polite company. Live your life, and if you love it (and are filing your taxes on time), then ignore the “supposed to”s.

    2. Glazed Donut*

      It sounds like your field is wildly different from mine. In mine, senior refers to management responsibilities (leading a team) and subject matter expert status (which could come with 10 years’ experience but more likely 15+).
      In no way would I expect someone who is about 30-33 (10 years out from college) to be senior.
      Apply for director-level positions if that’s work you want to do. Otherwise, continue in your IC role and perhaps ask for raises as your work merits them.

      1. M2*

        This. I have had people on teams say “I worked in my role for X years so I should be a Director.” That is not how it works! It is about accomplishments and work product and how you have grown in the role. Some people move up quickly, some don’t, some don’t want to be a manager or director, etc. I am having an issue at my organization as I was promoted 2x and someone else in another department has not been promoted but is making a fuss because they have been here longer. Well, they aren’t good at their job and was almost put on a PIP, but went out on FMLA so now the organization is worried about the PIP even though it is needed.

        If you want a higher role you need to do the work for that role. You don’t just get it because you have worked for x # of years. You need to decide what you want in the next 2, 5, 10 years and start taking steps needed to make that make that happen. Don’t do it for others, do it for yourself.

      2. Senioritis*

        This is relieving to hear. I don’t know if it’s my field, or the “senior” people I’ve been talking to. I got that stat from a director at a big org within my field. She had said “Oh, you know you’re coming up to being considered ‘mid-career’ or ‘senior’ since your graduation.” (Graduation in this case meant graduating with a certain credential we all have to get to work in this field–I don’t want to get too specific in risk of id’ing myself–but like becoming a PA after your BS.) So there might be a different expectation in that way? Or not? It could be limited to the senior people I’ve been talking to.

        I just felt nervous that suddenly I had to consider myself “senior” and showing some kind of sign for that. Now I’m realizing (like many things in careers) it actually…doesn’t work that way. Or maybe even matter (to me!)

    3. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      It sounds like some external pressure is creeping in! Do you have a sense of whose voice that is?

      That also sounds like a very industry-specific statistic. Senior level to me means where you are assigned. Most people never get to (and many never want) senior level.

      Why would you need to do something that does not appeal to you?

      What are you afraid of missing out on?

      What are your values related to this? Mine are “I want my job to ensure I have enough money to pay for my basic needs and also some luxuries” and “I want to work on a good team”. If I have that, who cares? I’ve turned down two promotions because it would have put me in a senior position that had no work life balance.

      The whole point of working is to give yourself the kind of lifestyle you want; if you have a choice, why on earth would you let your work put your life in a place you don’t enjoy?

    4. Ginger Cat Lady*

      I feel like it should more more like “at least X years and has taken on responsibilities Y and Z is considered senior” (The number of years and responsibilities/skills will vary by industry)
      There’s no milestone where you “should” be anywhere. Lots of people are happy as individual contributors and have no desire to climb the corporate ladder, and if that’s you, then don’t worry about where people think you “should be” at this point. Are YOU happy where you are? Do YOU want to be doing more senior work or become a manager?

    5. Rick Tq*

      Any website that claims you should be a Senior X after a fixed number of years is one you should blacklist and ignore IMO. As others have said being “senior” can be a rank, a skill level, an age, or almost anything else where there are tiers of responsibility or pricing..

      When you try to “keep up with the Joneses” what you don’t see is they are one missed paycheck from bankruptcy and losing the fancy house and expensive car.

  53. Jessen*

    Does anyone have a script or advice for how to approach whewn you need to bring up someone else’s behavior at work? I’m having an issue right now where I’m the point of contact for something where the bulk of the work is being done by someone else. Sometimes they just don’t communicate with me or send out the results they’re supposed to, and then the end users get frustrated and complain that I’m not helping them. I need to raise that this has been an ongoing issue but I’m not sure how you’re supposed to bring it up. It feels like there should be a professional script for approaching “Stop blaming me for things I can’t control” in the workplace but I’m not sure what it is.

    1. Caramel & Cheddar*

      Who are you raising it with, the people blaming you, the people not communicating with you, or someone else? Because I feel like the script is different for each of these.

      1. Jessen*

        Someone else, I guess? I’m not even really sure who I would be approaching for this, I guess my manager? I’m being put in a position where my department is responsible for getting results to (external) users but we’re not getting what we need to do that. And the workflow design is based on the assumption that I send things to them and they get back to me and sometimes they just…can’t be contacted.

        1. Caramel & Cheddar*

          I think you need to tell your boss. Alison has lots and lots of scripts for this, but they usually boil down to describing the impact on your work to your boss and asking them how they’d like you to handle the issue.

          “Marketing didn’t get back to me about the TPS report even though I followed up twice. The clients weren’t happy with that. How should I handle that with the client going forward?”

          And then do this every time it happens. The key is to focus on how it’s impacting *your* work (i.e. being able to get back to the client) and the resulting client relationship, rather than just blaming another team. (“Client” here might be external or just internal, I can’t tell from your original post, but the point remains the same.)

    2. Rick Tq*

      Do you and Mr Silent share a manager? I’d bring up the lack of updates as a user support/satisfaction issue during a 3-way meeting.

      Before that meeting happens (or if Mr Silent goes silent again) tell the end users you haven’t been updated/given their results and that they should take it up with *their* manager.

      1. Jessen*

        We do not. It’s an issue with another department. The end users are typically external and my department is the one that they’re supposed to be communicating with.

        I don’t think I would even know how to go about scheduling a meeting for anything. The closest I’ve ever come is scheduling the occasional one on one call to go over some information. But meetings are something I rarely have any call to do.

        1. Rick Tq*

          Then bring the issue(s) up with your manager every time it happens for her to take up the line.

          It may be Mr. Silent is the last man standing trying to do the work of an entire department but his managers are dragging their feet getting more staff.

          1. Jessen*

            That’s kind of what I’m asking how to do? Every other job I’ve worked that was something you just…didn’t do. If you could even find management they didn’t care because most employees would be gone in 6 months to a year anyway (welcome to retail). The usual procedure for handling an issue like that was to find the employee and cuss him out yourself. That is obviously not how professional offices work but it’s not something I really feel like I know how to address.

            1. Rick Tq*

              Send a quick email to you manager right after it happens laying out the facts for that specific case.
              – External user didn’t get information on Project X as expected
              – You weren’t notified Project X would be late
              – Team Responsible for Project X did not respond to requests for updated schedule (if Mr Silent doesn’t reply to those requests).

              Oh, and keep a copy in a folder where you can find them. If you get down-rated on your annual review for poor external user satisfaction you can point back to those emails showing you reported the problems when they occurred.

              Good managers do NOT like to be surprised by issues that have been swept under the rug in my experience.

              1. HonorBox*

                In addition to this, I’d have an actual chat with your manager to highlight that this is an issue. Then the email that is suggested above is a perfect way to say, “per our last conversation, this situation occurred today…” then highlight whatever Mr. Silent’s role in the situation was. Didn’t respond to requests. Didn’t send deliverables and wasn’t updating progress. Hasn’t acknowledged existence of project.

                Not only does your manager not want to be surprised, your manager may ultimately have to account for things if this is an issue in how they’re evaluated.

      2. Ashley*

        I agree with this for internal people blaming you, but if it external folks ask your boss for script you can give people. Sometimes it is I am waiting on Mr Silent but I will remind him again. Unfortunately depending on your role and the power dynamics you can get stuck in this loop and sometimes it is something you have to accept in your role that you will take heat for stuff that isn’t your responsibility.
        Depending on who is blaming you and throwing heat changes coping suggestions. When I have been in position with outside folks I was in regular enough contact with folks that they started to pick up on it was X person in my office causing the issue and if I could have solved it I would have based on other experiences they had from working with me which helped me let me remember not my circus / not my monkeys.

        1. Jessen*

          So it’s partly frustrating to deal with blame from external users, but partly that our reviews and performance evaluations are based on our ability to get through these tasks quickly. Which can’t be done if I’m stuck waiting on someone else. I’m also sometimes when I do contact them I’m getting a lot of times where I’m told that they have no record of me sending them anything when it was sent over multiple times.

          Honestly I’m less concerned about being able to explain to external users, and more concerned that I’m not taking the hit for not getting tasks done or not communicating things that I did communicate. I don’t want my performance being evaluated based on my inability to get results from someone else.

          1. Rick Tq*

            That is why the first three rules are document, document, document. Copy all your sent messages to folders so you can find history easily.

            Regarding the “I never received” the previous 5 emails, your first resend should include an attached copy of your original message and have your manager CC’d as a minimum. Adding higher managers or his to the CC chain is something to discuss with your manager but may be required.

            I would also start a discussion on having a performance review based on another group’s effective delivery.

            1. Jessen*

              To be honest, given our email system, the “I never received” is actually believable. It’s a bit arcane and there’s a bunch of autoforwards and similar where it’s easy for something to get dropped.

              1. Car park*

                If emails are being legit eaten by the system, then a procedure needs to change so that either it gets fixed (ideally) or at least you know they haven’t received it. Like if they can agree to send a “request received” response to all emails, then if you don’t get one, you know you need to resend. Or they need a ticketing system, so if you don’t get a ticket number, you know the request you sent disappeared. Can you call or direct message/chat with the department? Do they have an admin you could check in with?

                For talking with your boss, I would say something like “boss, I am finding that department X is often not receiving our requests for Y information. It seems like often the system is deleting email requests. Since we owe these responses to clients, and our performance is judged on response times, what is the best way to ensure clients are receiving accurate and timely information and I am not being dinged for an error with our email system.”

                If the system can’t be improved and people don’t want to implement new processes, you may just have to follow up constantly on all requests.

    3. Ostrich Herder*

      Have you talked to Mr. Silent about this? It may or may not actually help, but it’s probably a good first step because I think that, if you bring this to your manager, that will be the first thing she asks you. If you haven’t, I’d suggest trying to be collaborative, acknowledging that he’s busy (even if he’s not) and seeing if there’s anything you can do on your end to ensure he’s able to meet the deadlines that are currently being missed.

      If that doesn’t work and/or you’ve already tried it, then I’d suggest going to your boss framing it as a request for advice, which cuts down on feeling like you’re complaining or tattling or anything like that. This is probably really frustrating, but if you can tell your boss that clients are unhappy because Mr. Silent is habitually late in the same way you could tell her an outdoor event is in jeopardy because it’s raining, and ask how she’d suggest you handle a contingency plan you’ll likely get better results. Even better if you have a few suggestions on how to handle it for her to weigh in on. (And any decent manager will read between the lines and understand that you’re ALSO saying none of this is on you.)

      1. Jessen*

        So “Mr. Silent” here is a group inbox where I don’t really know who exactly is supposed to be doing the work. Just that it goes to this other department. We don’t work on the same work site even if we were in the office. (If this all sounds rather obfuscated, it is. I work for the government.)

        I’ll be honest, most jobs I’ve had previously things like “this outdoor event is in jeopardy because it’s raining” were also things that you were supposed to consider not your business and management wouldn’t have appreciated having them brought up. I’m used to “do what you’re told and don’t bother management” being the default. I made a jump from largely blue collar low level jobs to a white collar office job and it feels like you’re expected to already know an entire new communication style but no one actually explains it to you, they just assume you know it already.

        1. Rick Tq*

          All the more reason to loop in your manager when requests sent to TheChoirInvisible mailbox never get completed. You aren’t tattling, and you aren’t out of your lane when you report that you aren’t getting responses to your requests.

          If nobody ever tells the people who manage the group mailbox there is a problem it will never be fixed.

  54. Mimmy*

    I know some variation of this question has been asked but I could use some help: How do you know when you’re just in an environment that is not a good fit or if you really can’t handle work in general?

    I’ve been at my current job as an instructor in a voc rehab program for just about 7 years. I’m not sure how I’ve lasted this long because I’ve never liked the environment. There are several reasons for this, but here’s a primary one: Our program runs like a school and our days are on a set schedule determined by admin staff. There are a lot of moving parts, so if even one instructor calls out or if something gets messed up, it can upend everyone’s day due to last-minute schedule changes.

    As you can imagine, the ability to be flexible is very important. I’ve always had difficulty with flexibility, but I have been working hard on that. I get overwhelmed and confused very easily and sometimes I take out my frustration on others (not our consumers though), which I am also working on. One issue I have is that I think some schedule changes can be avoided with more careful scheduling at the start and better vetting of students’ appropriateness for the program (I prefer to not give specifics to preserve anonymity). Our numbers have been low, which is bad for us, but it’s been easy to keep up with my work and not get overwhelmed as much.

    Herein lies my fear: I have been actively trying to leave this job for a long time. If you knew me, you’d think that I would love having my day structured for me. Well… not so much (as described above). I’m looking for something where I can have a bit more control over my schedule and not worry that another staff person’s absence is going to cause a snowball effect on everyone’s plans. I’m scared, though, that if I can’t handle frustrations with a relatively light workload, I won’t be able to handle a higher workload.

    Sorry this post isn’t making sense. Bottom line is that I’m trying to figure out: 1) if I’m just in the wrong environment and 2) what type of work I can truly handle (client/student-facing or project-oriented). I know what I’m interested in and have the aptitude for. I just sometimes think that I’m overestimating my capabilities: My heart really wants to do X and/or Y but my brain is saying “not so fast”.

    In your responses, please note that I recognize that I’m possibly not being realistic. Also, I identify as neurodivergent.

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Go ahead and try the other type of job. Worst case its awful, you have to stick it out for 12months and then job hunt again or go back to your old office. No one ever goes into a new job hunt thinking ” yes that new job would be 100% absolutely perfect lets go”, most people just apply to jobs (while employed) thinking “well the salary is nicer OR the commute is better OR it cant be worse than current job” .

      1. DisneyChannelThis*

        Second reply to add, is freelancing an option? Like my childhood violin teacher, she had the option to teach at the music store or seek out clients on her own. Store arranged appointment times versus she controlled her own schedule. Most her clients (myself included) were originally from the music store and we followed her when we left.

        1. Filosofickle*

          Freelancing is not something everyone can do but it worked wonders for me.

          Decades before I had a AuDHD diagnosis, what I knew was that I was always drained even though I really liked the work I did. After being on my own for awhile, I saw how much better my brain and body function when I work fewer hours on my schedule, work from home, and choose my clients and projects. There is still flexibility and surprise changes, but it’s easier to handle when I have more control over my day to day environment and how things get done. Unknowingly I built a life of accommodations and it changed everything.

          A while ago for life reasons I returned to a regular FT job in an especially chaotic/ambiguous environment, and I am headed for the exit. Everything every day works against my brain and it is killing me.

        2. Mimmy*

          I have been thinking about freelancing lately. Actually, after posting this, I’d forgotten that I had a thread a few weeks ago about this. I’ll post the link in a reply.

          As filosofickle described, I can see how it could be a way of building in a life of accommodations. You’re controlling your environment and schedule in ways that work for your brain and/or body. I’m asking myself more and more whether I’d be better off as a freelancer. I’m just having trouble with the idea that I may never be able to handle traditional employment. Plus, I have a niche Masters that I was really hoping to use.

          1. Filosofickle*

            It’s hard to look around and think, can I not have this at all? FWIW, I could probably handle a traditional job if:
            1) Permanently remote. I have that now and being in my nest and not having to commute helps a lot. We’re all remote, so there’s no “missing out”
            2) There was reasonable amount of structure, clear expectations, and a more predictable workflow. This does exist, just not in my industry lol.
            3) Work that was meaningful and enjoyable
            4) No more than 40 hours and ideally a few under — I have had a couple jobs that were 35-38 hours and even that made a huge difference.

      2. Neurodivergent Possum*

        I’m not sure if you’re neurodivergent but for a lot of us the worst case scenario is more like what Filosofickle said below: “Everything every day works against my brain and it is killing me”. This can lead to flaming out in really dramatic and stressful ways and years of rebuilding your self confidence, or jumping from one toxic job to another because you’re always desperate to move on. Just working a less than ideal job for a year and then moving on is often a risk worth taking, but for many of us the real worst case scenario is a bit more intimidating.

        And kudos to Mimmy for taking the time to think about how their brain works before making any big moves, that’s often the missing piece! I have confidence that you’ll figure it out. I also think that it’s maybe not that you can’t handle frustration “even with a light workload” but that you can’t handle frustration because the set-up is a bad fit for your brain, so you’re constantly under this (easy to overlook) source of stress. Kind of like if you were the only one who could hear an annoying high frequency background noise and then you wondered why everyone else had no problem focussing but you were always on edge. I love the idea of building a ”life of accommodations” and I think you’re off to a good start!

        1. Neurodivergent Possum*

          (This was a response to DisneyChannel, in case that’s not clear from how it nested)

  55. Job Hunting Woes*

    I realize there’s going to be no one answer to this question, but, in general, how long does hiring… take? I was laid off a few weeks ago and have been putting in applications. Do companies start to reach out to good candidates as the applications come in, or is it possible they won’t get to it until weeks or even months later? I’ve put in applications for positions I was dead-on qualified for and haven’t heard back, even as the jobs have been re-posted on career sites. I would understand if I was 1 of 50 qualified candidates and I didn’t make the cut, but I don’t understand it because it seems the team is still looking for more candidates, even though I’m already in their file. I’m sure there isn’t a way to do this, but I really want to be like “Hey! Take another look at me! Just give me a 10-minute phone screen and I bet I can convince you I’m at least worth looking into!” Sorry this is rambly. I’m stressed and frustrated. I guess I was wondering, for all of these jobs I applied to weeks ago, where I haven’t been contacted but haven’t been rejected, and the job postings appear to still be active listing, is there a chance of someone getting back to me at this point? Or do companies start working through their applications right away, so if I haven’t heard back by now, I probably won’t?

    1. Glazed Donut*

      In my experience, it varies by company. I’ve had some places contact me within 2 days of submitting an application, and others asked for an interview 4 months after the application was submitted.
      Some places want to wait 1-2 weeks before even reviewing resumes, while others may be required to have a minimum number of applications on file before moving forward. There’s really no way to know, unfortunately. Right now it’s a pretty tight job market with a lot of applicants and not as many openings.

    2. Hydrangea*

      This seems to be a common pattern these days for my friends who are job hunting. Applying to jobs they are well qualified for, seeing hundreds of other applicants noted, and then silence and the job reposted a few weeks later.

      I had a phone screening yesterday for a job I applied for in mid-January. They had reposted the job an hour after requesting a phone screen. I don’t know if they already interviewed a first crop of candidates and dismissed them, or if it’s not a priority. It’s a very strange market right now.

    3. Hlao-roo*

      Seconding Glazed Donut that different companies have different ways of dealing with applications as they roll in.

      For the job postings, I’m no expert on this but I think a company can set a job listing to “refresh” on a site like Indeed every few weeks or every month or so. It doesn’t mean a person is making a conscious decision of “I need to refresh the job posting, we still don’t have (any/enough) qualified candidates.”

      To answer your last two questions:
      Yes, there’s still a chance that some of these jobs might get back to you at some point. But the best way to proceed is as if you know they won’t. The companies contacting or not contacting you isn’t in your control. It’s tough, but keep your focus on applying to more jobs (because that is in your control). If any of these places do reach out in the future, it’ll be a pleasant surprise.

      Best of luck with the search!

    4. Alex*

      There’s no usual, there’s no rhyme or reason, there’s no way to see in from the outside.

      My last two jobs that I had took three-four months from application to starting the job. Maybe about three-four weeks between submitting an application and hearing something back for the first time. But if varies wildly and you really can’t plan for any standard amount of time.

    5. ferrina*

      It depends. Some companies look at them right away; others will wait. Here’s a few examples from my own days as a hiring manager:

      – I looked at application every other day, then after 2 weeks brought my top people to HR to call for screening interviews. I stopped looking at applications after that, but if the first people hadn’t worked out, I would have looked at the applications that came in later.
      – I looked at applications every day, but my boss froze the position and told me that I wasn’t allowed to reach out to anyone yet. This freeze lasted for 8 months where we had the job posted but I wasn’t allowed to reach out to anyone. Finally the job was officially cut and we took down the posting (the job was dysfuntional).
      – Resumes were looked at by several people before calls were made, so it was always at the mercy of the most-busy person on the committee. So it could easily be over a month before the candidates were called for an initial interview.
      – We were in the final interviews with the final candidates and the job posting was still live because no one had bothered to take it down yet. The re-post was automatic.

      Point is- job hunting is Schrodinger’s Cat. You both are being considered and are not being considered until someone actually contacts you (either to reject you or ask for an interview). I always keep a file on every place I’ve applied to- I keep the job description (always save to Word/pdf in case they take the posting down), my tailored resume and cover letter. I also keep an Excel doc on the status for each job- most of them sit at “Applied, no contact” and will never change. Personally, I’m a nerd, so I find it fascinating to look for trends in my (limited) data. It helps if you apply to jobs within a few days of it being posted, but there’s exceptions to everything.

    6. WantonSeedStitch*

      It varies widely. For myself, I think our HR waits until they have at least a few resumes for me to look at before sending them to me to see which ones I want to phone screen. Then they reach out and schedule the phone screens and conduct them. Then they get the results of the screens back to me. This may continue on a rolling basis after the first few. I let HR know who I want to bring in for interviews as I get more results back from them. I usually want at least three decent candidates to bring in, so I will generally wait until I get that. So it’s entirely possible you’re a perfectly good candidate but they haven’t gotten many applications yet, and are waiting to get more before reaching out.

    7. M2*

      My role won’t let us look at (most) positions unless they have been posted 30 days. At the 30 day mark we get the program from HR and can start looking at applicants. We flag them and then HR does the initial phone screening.

      Very rarely and usually if its an internal hire they post a role for 5-10 days and then take it down. I have only seen this a couple times.

      I would try and apply for roles the first 2ish weeks they are posted so people can read your information and get to you if for some reason they do the first screening around 2 weeks. I have known places that take months to hire, but usually because it is during a busy period or people are on vacation/ hiring manager is on leave or left.

      Try and diversify what you apply to and for. Can you ask around and use your network? My sibling was qualified for a role, but got an interview because a friend of a friend worked at that organization and she got an initial screening that lead to her getting properly interviewed.

      Good luck!

    8. Despairingly unemployed*

      I feel you D: I’ve been looking for nearly a year, and I consider myself lucky when I get rejection emails! So I try to follow Alison’s advice to apply and try to forget I’ve applied (except lately, where I check my app status daily, hah). Most of the time I get crickets :(

    9. Wordybird*

      It takes at least twice as long as you could possibly imagine it taking although YMMV if you’re applying for in-person vs. remote jobs. My understanding is that remote positions are receiving hundreds (or thousands!) of applications for every advertised role.

      When I was applying for in-person work, it usually took at least 4-6 weeks for a response, positive or negative. I was more likely to be ghosted than to receive a response at all. I never had a single HR person who followed through with any timeline they ever gave me; I would double however many days or weeks they said the next step would take. It was not uncommon to make it to the interview stage and then never hear from the company again or to receive a random auto-rejection email months & months after applying.

  56. Carrots*

    My boss is known for being tough and picks on people, but she seems to favor the managers. They’ll sit and talk in her office for hours and hours. She’ll yell at the rest of us to do work. She’s been in trouble for how she treats people- someone went to the union to complain about her yet she still has a job. Is this a “your boss sucks and isn’t going to change” situation? Is leaving the only option?

    1. ferrina*

      Apply the Sheelzebub principle- if you knew nothing would change, how long would you stay in this situation? 6 months? A year? Three years?

      What happens if you start applying? You don’t have to leave unless you find a new place that you are genuinely excited about. It’s much easier to find a healthy job and walk away from bad opportunities when you are comfortable staying where you are for a bit longer. And if things do improve where you are, then you can always stop your job search.

      You could try going to the union to complain, but be aware of how that might impact you. Some places are very good about confidentiality and you wouldn’t need to fear reprisal; other places practically guarantee reprisal. You should take the step that makes sense for you.

  57. the blob*

    this is more of a vent than a question, but:

    I’m on day 3 of a very rough bacterial infection that feels like the flu but has been prescribed antibiotics and oral steroids. (negative covid, flu, and rsv tests at the doc.) my brain is so foggy and my entire body hurts, and I haven’t been sleeping. we don’t have a set number of sick days but my job is fully remote, so it’s rare that people take more than one or two days in a row.

    I took wednesday and yesterday off because I just wasn’t functional. I’m still feeling awful today but I don’t feel like I can take a third day in a row (even though it wouldn’t affect anyone else’s work/deadlines). I was up at 4am (combo of illness + anxiety) searching AAM for scripts for asking for a third sick day in a row. (there’s not much out there!)

    when I asked my grandboss if our team building meeting later would be recorded since I’m disappointed to miss it, she suggested I call in from bed and just stay off camera. all I want to do is sleep but I feel like I have to work today for at least a few hours (including the team building). I’m so exhausted, I just want to cry and sleep.

    (just a rant — no medical advice please)

    1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      Oh that’s so awful, I’m so sorry. It’s so hard to be in need and so desperately tired, and then not have the support to do that.

      Honestly I’d either skip the meeting and say you slept through it/were in the bathroom if they pushed; or I’d dial in, turn the volume off and put the computer in the other room, and go to sleep. Then I’d tell them I fell asleep because I was so sick.

    2. WellRed*

      Please take the time off! You’ll get better quicker. Your message is you are simply too ill to work even from home. Even from bed. Also: anxiety scrolling at 4am is something to think about in relation to your job.

    3. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      “I’m sorry, I thought I was better but this bug has knocked me out. I will dial in on Monday”

    4. Ginger Cat Lady*

      Don’t *ask* for a third day off. Just tell them you’re still too sick to work and take the time off.

    5. WantonSeedStitch*

      I would honestly just TAKE the third sick day. Just say, “I’m still seriously under the weather and wouldn’t be able to function today, so I’m going to take one more day off. Hopefully with today and the weekend to recuperate, I’ll be feeling a lot better and ready to work on Monday.” I once took five days off in a row when super sick with a viral illness (like a cold on steroids, this was pre-Covid). DO NOT feel bad about it.

      1. Girasol*

        This! Don’t be tempted to be a martyr when you’re that sick. “Presentees” – people who work even though they’re sick – have been shown to make errors that take, on average, so long to fix that they might as well have stayed in bed and gotten better instead.

    6. Melissa*

      If you were a reasonable manager and human, would you want someone who felt as sick as you to take the day off? You deserve to be treated reasonably, so turn off your computer and sleep til you’re well.

  58. Willow Pillow*

    My team has significant issues with communication/organization/documentation. I am IT-adjacent so I would like to look into Agile/Scrum – any suggestions for reading/low-cost courses?

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      IMWO, Agile is more about keeping pressure on the employees to do something, be that good, bad, or f’ugly, so they have something to report for the next day’s Scrum, not about communication, organization, or documentation. It’s usually oral, too, so once it’s over, the information is lost (or at least inconvenient to dig back into if it’s recorded and needed later).

      Also IMWO, the only real way to tackle the documentation gap is via requirements and stakeholders; if they don’t care and will approve work without documentation, any other enforcement mechanism will get ignored or circumvented. Organization and Communication are things you need to screen for in recruitment; they’re not really something you can effectively coerce once someone’s established in their role easily.

      1. Willow Pillow*

        I’m looking for general resources to be able to adapt to my specific circumstances (which I’m not in a position to provide detail on). Anything you can offer there?

        1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          We might have to wait for someone who’s experience Agile done right to chime in. I can explain how to do Agile wrong (i.e. now not to do Agile), as that’s the experience that I have.

    2. Mop*

      In my experience, it’s more about changing the mindset around communication/documentation/organization than about the chosen methodology. Does the team feel empowered to speak up about issues? Or speak to other departments? Is documentation required for each task? Is it baked into the time allotted to complete the task? Is there time set aside to plan for the tasks, so requirements and expectations are clear in advance?

      Agile is a tool to ensure that all of those things are handled, but if employees don’t view it as a priority, or think it’s someone else’s responsibility, they’re not going to prioritize it over getting the tasks done. I would suggest asking the team for suggestions before picking a solution for them (Scaled Agile Framework was forced upon my company and went over like a ton of bricks).

      As for resources, I use Pluralsight. I think it’s $30/month (I have the annual subscription so I could be wrong about price). I’d do a search in there for Agile and pick the most popular course.

    3. Mill Miker*

      In my experience, the absolute most important thing for agile to go well is buy-in from the most senior people in the company. They have to accept that some of the decision making is going to be shifted down to the people doing the work.

      Agile is also faster in the “can more easily adapt to changes” sense, but not in the “do the same things faster” sense. You’re trading off detailed long-term planning in favour of being able to adapt.

      I’ve been in far too many “agile transitions” where it becomes immediately apparent that management wants the same (or more) work done, but to weekly deadlines now, and the agile processes are just exposing that the team is over-committed. Proper agile would empower the team to reduce their commitments based on priorities, but every company I’ve worked for has decided that for some reason their industry is an exception.

      I’ve seriously been told both “Well, we’re an agency. Agile is for product-based companies where they can just choose to drop things, but we have commitments to clients, so we have to plan long term and hit every deadline” and “Well, we’re a product-based company. Agile is for agencies where they can push back on clients, be we have direct commitments to our stakeholders that we cannot fail to follow through on”

      So yeah, #1 most important thing is that management buy-in from the very very very top of the company, or don’t bother.

    4. Girasol*

      Agile’s frequent short meetings are good for catching a problem early so that it can be addressed fast. If there’s a misunderstanding where one person thinks the team is building A and another understood that it’s B, or if the stakeholder wasn’t clear on what they wanted but now that they see what the team is building, it isn’t that, Agile is good for getting everyone back on the same page sooner rather than later. There’s a lot to be said for that. But if people resent the frequent check ins (some find them very annoying) and they don’t fully cooperate, Agile can be just as problematic as any other project management method.

  59. davisk*

    Can my employer dictate what i can do while on break? I am returning to work after having my second child, and have to pump twice a day. I try to take as short of a break as possible, but it is at least half an hour each time. The room they have set aside for a lactation room is lovely, but near a heavy traffic area and cubicles and i can hear people walking by. While i can’t hear the details of conversations, i can hear that they are happening. My worry is that people could hear videos or anything else i have playing on my phone while i am pumping, and assume the worst. Should i cut my losses and distract myself with quieter options or should i be fine doing what i’m doing? The last time i pumped at work, the lactation room was in an area that restricted phones so i read books instead.

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      How about 1 headphone on? Then you can watch videos without worrying about being heard. But honestly, videos playing in a lacation room is kinda clearly someone watching a video while pumping, they’re not going to think you’re hiding out to watch TV instead of working. Just make sure the noise doesn’t disturb anyone working nearby.

    2. XYZ*

      Use headphones, not because you don’t want people knowing you are watching videos, but because its rude to watch videos without headphones when you are in a place where others can hear.

  60. Margaret Cavendish*

    I was just re-reading “My coworker is blackmailing me not to take time off for my honeymoon” in the You May Also Like section. That was so dramatic, and it had such a satisfying outcome!

    https://www.askamanager.org/2020/03/update-my-coworker-is-blackmailing-me-not-to-take-time-off-for-my-honeymoon.html

    Except for one small thing. The letter was published on March 2, 2020, the resolution on March 4th, and the wedding and honeymoon were meant to take place in October. 2020. Now I feel bad for the OP all over again, because I bet he didn’t even get to go away after all that!

    1. WellRed*

      It’s so interesting to me to read letters from that period or slightly before like fall 2019. I read them and think, bet none if it mattered a few months later.

      1. A Girl Named Fred*