open thread – April 19-20, 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.

{ 941 comments… read them below }

  1. Anon for Reasons*

    I’m stepping into an acting director role next week. The prior director was fired earlier this week. We worked closely together in my current role. We’re connected on LinkedIn and frequently like each others posts, so we’ve pretty well trained the algorithm that I see all her stuff and vice versa. Of course, I want to celebrate my new role and make it public. But I also want to be respectful to her. While there were good reasons she was fired, I like her and respect her and certainly don’t want to rub salt in the wound of being let go. What are folks’ thoughts on how soon is too soon to update my LinkedIn? Or am I overthinking this?

    1. Traffic Engineer*

      Does being acting director include an actual job title change and compensation boost? If not, don’t bother updating LinkedIn.

      1. those are not the droids we're looking for*

        LinkedIn is about reflecting your career, not salving a predecessor’s feelings. Update it.

    2. Caramel & Cheddar*

      How long are you going to be in the acting role? I’m incredibly lazy with LinkedIn so I probably wouldn’t even update it at all, but if you know you’re going to be in the role for 6+ months or if it’s super important for your LinkedIn to be updated for work-related reasons, I’d wait a couple of weeks if you’re concerned it might come across badly to her to update it too quickly.

    3. RivahGal*

      I would imagine she understands that someone will have to take the role. In your shoes I would probably reach out privately to let her know in a week or so and then update afterwards. Just so she does not learn it on social media. Congratulations and good luck in your new position!

    4. Josie*

      Dang – I accidentally posted this as a standalone comment – sorry everyone!
      Truthfully, I think you’re probably overthinking it!
      If she’s a reasonable person she likely saw this coming from a way off – and if she will hold it against you personally, then that’s her problem. If she’s able to, she might even be pleased for you.
      That being said, I’d probably hold off until you’ve been in the role for perhaps a week – I know it’s superstitious but I wouldn’t want to jinx anything by announcing it too early!

      1. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

        I agree; I’d wait until you’re doing the job before posting it but it’s relevant information. Think about whether people will need to know to contact you instead. You don’t need to make it a long post just that you’ll be stepping in at an interim basis.

        Keep an eye on what the former director does too as they may want a bit of time to figure out how they want to communicate the change.

    5. Lucia Pacciola*

      You could always message her directly first, let her know it’s coming, and soften the blow.

      1. Silver Linings From Dreamland*

        That’s probably what I’d do- so she’s not taken aback by your new job announcement (even if you choose not to make a separate post about it, Linkedin will still notify your connections if they have that notification type turned on).

    6. H.C.*

      Personally, I would wait until the one-month mark before updating. If you’re only holding the acting role for less than that, I don’t know if it’ll make any difference professionally (& on your LinkedIn/resume/etc). And that month should be a sufficient time buffer to soften the blow by the time your ex-colleague catches wind of it (i.e. she should know you’re not updating that title AT her.)

    7. Aitch Arr*

      You can update your title on LinkedIn without the stupid party graphics. Toggle “do not notify” when you add a new title.

  2. PX*

    Commentariat. I need your best success stories, tips and recommendations for applying for senior/stretch positions.

    I’m taking a leaf out of my sisters book who articulated well when leaving her previous company that it felt like they had put her in a box and didnt see/think she was capable of doing more. I’m seeing a lot of that in my current position (and so many other frustrations) so I’m leaning into my mantra for 2024 which is go big and ask for what you really want. Which in this case means that I need to be more ambitious when applying for roles (and try to hit that 6 figure salary for the first time!).

    So tell me about a time you applied for a position that seemed wildly out of reach but you got it. Tell me how you refreshed your CV to highlight all those transferable skills. Or how you stretched one small project into sounding way more impactful during an interview (because you know you can do the thing, but maybe you just havent been given the chance!)

    And if you’re a UK based hiring manager, what can I do to make sure you dont pass me over for not having direct experience (only slightly joking!) :’)

    1. Caramel & Cheddar*

      I feel like this is where your cover letter will come in handy? You can tell a story there about your potential for bigger things better than you can in your actual resume.

    2. KT*

      I think this is when a strong cover letter comes in to play. If you are applying for a stretch position then you really need a strong cover letter to sell yourself to them and outline what qualities you have that will transfer to the roll you’re applying for.

      Good luck!

      1. Ama*

        Seconding — I have successfully applied for stretch roles and really relied on my cover letter to make my case. (For example, for a role where they wanted experience with a software I did not have, I had a paragraph citing examples of times I had learned software on the job quickly and while having to direct my own training.) I think a lot of times for stretch roles if you can make the case that you are comfortable figuring things out on your own it can ease concerns that you’ll need a lot of training to get up to speed.

        1. PX*

          Great point, will definitely make a note and see where I can highlight this – the getting up to speed part is often my favourite part of the job (I love to be challenged and have lots to learn)

          1. GythaOgden*

            Same here. My NHS org really works hard at professional development; two of our estates coordinators (junior managers) came straight from domestic team leads. I was noticed by our Talent Acquisition team and given a chance to talk to an internal recruiter who thought I was too junior for a role I applied for but showed potential in other ways. By their deeds shall ye know them — it’s clear that the org is really serious about getting colleagues what they need to advance and putting them forward for different experiences, secondments, utilising me as a clerk who has time to write thorough detailed minutes of contentious discussions across teams and so on.

            Best of luck — let us know how it goes. I know the feeling and I know it can be a real slog, but I also know how good it feels to be engaged with what I’m doing and how much those two years of frustration were worth it in the end to find the right sort of niche for myself. Go out there and nail it!

        2. GythaOgden*

          Same. I got a stretch position internally as well by networking within my old job and actively signalling that I wanted more professional development and to move upwards. Part of that I had to do on my own time — becoming more familiar with packages like Excel — because of the lack of access to stuff at the front desk. But part of it was really looking around for anything that could promote me as capable of something more than just reception. I futzed around with Coursera, not because it would necessarily look good on my CV but because I wanted to self-upskill, and I was handicapped by a long commute sapping my limited energy, but I made it in the end.

          It took a while but I’m six months into the new role now and it was worth every second of it, even the tears and heartbreak moments. I’m not ashamed to say that being flexible in my old role got me into one that allows me to show what I can do, but I think you’ve also got to walk the walk to a certain extent — dredge up any examples from your personal life where you, say, managed a project (I used experience of setting out large, complex needlecraft projects and my essay-writing composition techniques at uni to illustrate how I’d go about co-ordinating projects within work, and how at a horticultural show a few weeks prior to the interview I’d been confident enough to step into an ad hoc supervisory/team-building role to get an assembly line of sorts going so a group of three or four volunteers weren’t all acting over each other) or took initiative if you don’t have those experiences in your working life. (It’s also a good idea to cultivate the skills in your personal life that you want to use in your working life. You can’t put them on your CV, but they are more useful in interviews to show initiative and growth even when you’re not being forced to by your boss.)

          I think it’s about making yourself noticed in a good way and not just being a wallflower. In the feedback after the interview (after being given a verbal offer — hiring moves fairly swiftly in the UK IME) my new boss said she’d wanted to see me ‘come out of my shell’. I can definitely be a bit passive at work, particularly if I’m bored, and I show everything I’m thinking, so I took that as a signal that she wanted someone who could push the envelope and be curious and active, and I’ve really made an impact on the team’s efficiency since starting in November. I’m trusted to be discreet enough to handle HR minuting, I’m assertive enough to get managers to do my boss’ bidding, and the team itself is cohesive and balanced, which is great because there are a lot of moving parts and a lot of things to keep an eye on and it could get overwhelming if they tried to do clerical work themselves. Something is going to suffer, and because of the need for record-keeping to be detailed and honest, having me happy to do all that while they focus on bigger picture issues is liberating for them.

          I think the main thing is to milk the UK public sector hiring process for all it’s worth. As neurodivergent with a career that far undersells my actual abilities due to the rocky time I had in my twenties, it’s been really useful to have the long essay-style applications for even low-level jobs because I can tie all my bits and pieces of life experience together into a coherent whole. It was really worth being thorough.

          Additionally, I say ‘public sector’ because the way the NHS is run these days, it’s like a microcosm of working society as a whole. We have any kind of job within our aegis you could imagine and from my personal experience, it’s a hugely supportive environment where you can advance and will be given the tools to do so. If you’re in England like I am (because each home nation runs things a bit differently), look at the commissioning support units (CSUs), which perform the bulk of the administration/IT support, the ICBs (integrated care boards which are responsible for commissioning, contracting, accounting and so on) or adjunct organisations like NHS England, NHS Property Services (can truthfully say they’re awesome) or the Care Quality Commission, whose application form included a focus on your experience with practical aspects of DEIJ as a commitment that we’re all making to the patient community at large. Large hospitals are also run as their own trusts independent of some of the orgs above (not, one hopes, of the CQC!), so places in the south I’m familiar with like the Royal Berkshire, Frimley, Royal Surrey Infirmary, North Hampshire (split between Basingstoke and Winchester) and the big London hospitals are their own villages in an employment sense and need a whole range of colleagues to make things happen. The community hospitals are run by separate trusts but they are still large local employers.

          The pay isn’t massive but it’s higher in the adjunct organisations because they’re run as separate companies wholly owned by the DHSC rather than on the centralised Agenda for Change NHS pay structure. The CQC offered me an interview right after I’d accepted the internal job, so I at least did something right on the essay and I also have an org that I might target in the future. I really enjoy facilities management because it keeps the more traumatic elements of healthcare at bay — and having become way more familiar than I’d like to have been with the cancer side of things through my husband’s illness and death, I really couldn’t go directly into that kind of support work without being constantly in tears. He got the best care we could possibly give him and his illness just outran everything the Royal Marsden could throw at it, and I’m pathetically grateful to a lot of hospitals for that care, but at the same time I’d rather be ordering screws and leafblowers and air-conditioning unit installation than syringe drivers and catheters.

          So to get back to the original question, the space provided on those forms gives an advantage to articulate people who have a lot to give but less formal experience with it. I’d definitely look and see if there’s anything going where you get the wider opportunity to sell yourself on a personal level and demonstrate work-adjacent skills that you can implement in your private life. It’s a format that benefits me quite a bit, so give it a go and best of luck :).

    3. Resident Catholicville, U.S.A.*

      I don’t know if I can give you specifics because my resume has stayed pretty much the same (except for tweaks here and there to clarify based on what people find confusing) but just the whole concept that Sheryl Sandberg popularized that men apply for jobs when they’re 60% qualified for them as opposed to women who apply when they’re only 100% qualified really changed my mindset of what type of jobs I’d apply to. Obviously I wouldn’t apply to be a neurosurgeon since I have an English degree, have worked in retail and office jobs, and am only slightly more qualified to perform surgery than a grapefruit…but I definitely can look at a job description and have confidence that I can apply for jobs in fields I have no background in, just based on things like, they’re looking for someone who can work with databases, has experience with customer service/vendor relations, etc. In fact, I point blank told my current employer in the interview, “No, I have no experience in manufacturing- you will need to teach me your methods and terms- you’ll have to teach anyone you hire those things. I will learn them- but you’re looking to change over from one database to another and I’ve done that multiple times at a few jobs. You’re looking for someone who knows the basics of office work and being polite to customers and employees and can be a Jill of All Trades in the office? I’ve crosstrained to cover multiple people’s jobs- sometimes at the same time.”

      Also, when Sheryl Sandberg compared a career to that playground equipment that looks like a dome with intermittent blocks and rungs you climb on where you can climb all over it in any direction you want? And you don’t have to view a career as a strictly ladder, up only affair? That helped because I could tell interviewers, “Yeah, I spent 7 years in trucking- but here’s why I think I’d love your manufacturing job, even though I have no experience in it.” And when an employer tells me, “There’s corporate ladder to climb, there’s no ‘advancement’ here,” I’m fine with that- as long as I’m making good money and feel useful, I’m genuinely happy about it.

      1. Texan In Exile*

        Exactly! I have used the phrase, “It’s about the verb, not the noun.” Look at your skills out of context – the ability to learn quickly, the ability to form productive working relationships with people you have never met in person, the ability to get a group of people over whom you have no authority to work together toward a common goal – these are all soft skills that cannot be taught but can be used in almost any work environment.

        1. PX*

          Yes! This is actually a great point as there’s a job that’s got me excited where I look at it and go, I know I could do it even though its a completely different industry. But lots of the soft skills stuff would be highly relevant and are things I’ve gotten lots of compliments in my current job for – but somehow are things I never quite know how to emphasize/articulate in my CV or cover letter. You’ve given me something to think about!

          1. Texan In Exile*

            Here’s some samples of what I have used in resumes and cover letters that have gotten me interviews. Maybe they will give you some ideas.

            Career summary: Marketing manager with international marketing, communications, project management, finance, and operations experience. Former Peace Corps volunteer and military brat who went to ten different schools in three different countries who can quickly establish good working relationships virtually to achieve results across languages, cultures, and time zones.

            Resume (I guess it’s OK to include quotations on a resume – like I said, I have gotten interviews with it)
            • Defined value propositions for internal and external programs. One VP wrote, “I really like it! You have a great way of making a boring subject sound exciting.”
            • Increased support for internal initiatives such as certification programs by developing messaging and designing and implementing multimedia campaigns. The product manager said, “You have an amazing ability to cut to the chase and storytell on value.”

            Cover letters:
            * I am a storyteller. I write stories that get attention and engage readers and drive traffic. I can make almost anything, including machines and algorithms, interesting. Not to brag, but I found someone in my Buy Nothing group to take ten years’ worth of old Airliners magazines that my husband couldn’t bear to put in the recycling. Commenters have said, “I’m just saying, I want you to write all the posts here…” and “Your captions give me LIFE.”

            * I create good working relationships quickly with people I have never met in person and support them to work toward a common goal. I have not met most of the people in the projects above – we worked online using Google Suite. At [former jobs], I successfully worked with people all over the world via email and Skype.

            * I am skilled at interpreting between technical and non-technical people – I started college as an engineer and then changed to English (not the best decision, in retrospect). I am a strong writer – I was selected three times to be a Community Columnist for the [local paper]. And, although this always amazed my very focused-on-one-thing-at-a-time engineer boss, I can juggle about a million different projects at once without dropping any of them.

            Good luck!

            1. PX*

              Aaaahhh this is SO helpful! Thank you so much for sharing, it’s given me a great place to start from but also validated that the sort of phrasing I had in mind isn’t too much (an eternal challenge, how to sell yourself but not feel like it’s too much).

              Appreciate you taking the time!

            2. GythaOgden*

              Those are awesome. I used examples in my interviews such as planning a cross-stitch project. At the scale I do them, they’re basically rendering photographs in thread and require fifty colours to be assembled before starting. I never missed a deadline at uni, because as soon as the class was over I started brainstorming the essay topic and gathering materials and references. (Much easier in my postgraduate studies than in my undergraduate — ten years made all the difference in electronic availability of readings!)

              I don’t put these things on my CV but it’s where putting the effort in on the cover letter and in the interview gets you much further than just relying on work to provide you with examples.

      2. Tio*

        When I came onto my current employer, which could have been considered a stretch position for me, I also told them point blank “I know your type of company uses a certain kind of software as industry standard and I have no experience with it. However, I am ready to learn and certain that my general knowledge and fast learning will serve me to learn it very quickly and historically when learning new softwares with position changes I have done very well with it.”

        I think the key is to anticipate some potential hurdles and show you’ve thought about it, you know why it might be a challenge, and here’s how you intend to overcome/mitigate it. Just one or two things, though, you don’t want THEM to think it’s too much of a stretch.

    4. Josie*

      I’m a UK hiring manager! And I’ll echo what the other commenters are saying here – strong cover letter. And transferrable skills. It doesn’t really matter what role you’re developing those skills in as long as you get a chance to use them. Finally, personality often goes a long way – professional demeanour, quiet confident, competence. It’s a tough game but the right employer will see you. Best of luck!

      1. English Rose*

        Former UK hiring manager here! And transferable skills can come from your personal life/volunteer work or whatever, they don’t have to be from your professional experience.
        Plus, research companies carefully and try to establish what their ‘pain point’ are and how you could contribute to solving them.

        1. Mztery123*

          I don’t have anything to add to what commenters have already posted, but I agree it is crucial that your cover letter should focus not on what you don’t have, but how what you do have will address their issues and allow you to get up to speed quickly. And this experience can come from outside of your former job rules – life experience, personal or travel, experience, etc. As long as it is super targeted and you’ve done your research.

          1. PX*

            Thank you for this encouragement! If there’s one thing I’m good at its definitely getting up to speed quickly so definitely a thing to highlight actually :)

      2. PX*

        Thank you for chiming in because last time when I was applying for jobs I mostly skipped them to be honest. I would do the short 1 paragraph blurb that there is often room for, but not the full on letter.

        Think I’ll spend some time over the next week or two drafting some paragraphs I can have as standard and then be ready to adjust as needed!

    5. Cabbagepants*

      I think your mindset helps.

      1) don’t say no to yourself. so in an interview, be truthful, but don’t downplay or bring attention to your own limits.

      2) play up your strengths. your resume is a marketing document, not accounting if everything you’ve done. it’s ok if you give 4 bullets to the coolest 10% of your work and 1 bullet to the rest.

      3) if there is anyone who is familiar with your work, have them read over your materials before you submit them. I did this for my spouse. we don’t work together but I’ve heard enough over dinner to be able to help him worksmith and play up his strengths.

      good luck!

    6. Busy Middle Manager*

      More than ever, the specific industry matters, if we’re going to help. So many industries are shrinking or having hiring freezes now, so any advice is null and void. I work in software stuff and there is no way that any wording or trick is getting anyone a job now, only specific technical skills AND convincing the company there is a need and hiring someone is better than losing money. You’re going to have to build the “stretch” on some sort of technical skills base. What is your technical skills set?

      1. Krakatoa!*

        I see a lot of people getting snapped up quickly in the software world. I keep hearing it’s tight, and it does seem tight to break in or move from one junior position to another. I think companies want a “known quantity” more than they want even the most ambitious quick learner. The latter certainly had its day, but I don’t see hiring managers willing to play fast and loose anymore.

        There’s so many industries where breaking in is difficult, and getting your first few jobs is difficult, but mid+ people are stable and coveted. I guess software has become one of those industries now! Makes me sad for people trying to get started! It can be so discouraging. And I see so many people pouring their time into bad advice from self-proclaimed gurus and misguided projects that few hiring teams will take seriously. Or maybe I just haven’t encountered businesses that hire based on that advice, maybe they’re out there.

        But at least for now there’s still a high demand for people with a medium amount of experience. OP has transferrable skills in her industry, so if its anything like ours, she can potentially sell herself as someone with experience just looking to stretch!

    7. Hanani*

      I parlayed “I’ve done Project before myself in pursuit of a totally different credential” into a job at SmallOrg where I was supporting other people doing Project and identifying new versions of Project. Held SmallOrg job for 18 months until budget cuts eliminated the position, and then parlayed those 18 months into a job at a LargePrestigiousOrg supporting a specific group of other people doing Project. So one route is to start somewhere smaller/less desirable where they can’t afford to be so picky and move up from there.

      By comparison, a friend of mine in a different field needed 7 years of experience to get a job at LargePrestigiousOrg. I think it is somewhat field-dependent.

    8. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

      This is a really great place to use the cover letter well. I upfront selected components of the job that by looking at my resume wouldn’t seem covered and provided a bit of relevant alternate experience. Not too much, you don’t want to point out everything you lack.

      Requirement – expert in LlamaGroom Database software –

      I have a proven ability to become proficient in new software with very little oversite. I trained myself in TeapotDesignPro, and within 2 months, I was not only proficient, but am now asked to train new users.

      And then use the letter to also say what strengths NOT listed as a requirement might be relevant.

      Also if this is not working, volunteer – while it can’t necessarily go on the resume it is often easier to get a leadership role at a nonprofit that relies heavily on volunteerism and if you can make changes there you CAN feature that in the cover letter and talk about it during the interview. At my last volunteer job I got to lead a team, manage projects, overhaul systems, create policy, etc.

      1. GythaOgden*

        I’d say systematic volunteering could go on a CV. I wouldn’t give it as much weight as a full job, and we’ve gradually dropped the ‘Other Interests’ part of the UK CVs that seemed a bit alien to US people, but a focused and sustained volunteer job that developed relevant skills (such as working on the till at a charity shop — an incredibly difficult thing to actually get to do, because they obviously have to trust you to get it right and not to dip your hand in, and there’s usually a rotation of people so everyone eligible gets a go) is a bonus.

    9. CrashTestHuman*

      The best way in for a situation like that is networking. If you can, ask someone you know at the company to recommend you. Former colleagues can convey that you’re capable of doing the job you’re looking far better than any resume/cover letter.

  3. I'm A Little Teapot*

    Auditors – anyone using Thompson Reuter’s Checkpoint Edge for audit documentation? Would really appreciate anything you can tell me. My firm is looking to switch from the desktop based Smart Practice Aids to possibly Checkpoint Edge. We would be exporting forms for inclusion in our audit workpapers (in Caseware).

    1. BetsCounts*

      following this thread- we need to switch from Smart Practice Aids this year also! My prior firm used Knowledge Coach and although it was a little overbearing I would definitely recommend.

  4. Tradd*

    I’m a customs broker. I’ve posted before. My work is affected by the Baltimore bridge collapse. I think I mentioned that one customer was on the phone screaming about his freight at 6 am the day it happened, waking up one of my company’s owners. Didn’t care about the dead people. But they’ve gotten their comeuppance and it’s sweet. Their stuff is going into NY for the time being. They bring in food items and FDA has put a number of their containers for examination, so they have to wait to be able to distribute their product. Hehehe. They’ve imported this stuff via Baltimore for years, but FDA NY doesn’t care. Entry ports for both CBP & FDA are essentially little fiefdoms with their own procedures. Different ports can have totally different procedures.

    1. The Other Evil HR Lady*

      The bridge collapse and loss of life was very sad.

      That said, your job is super interesting! I don’t know that I’ve ever thought about what happens when food is imported from other countries. Fascinating.

      1. Tradd*

        Absolutely super interesting. People are always floored at what you have to do to get shipments into the US, let alone food!

      1. Tradd*

        Yep. When I found out, I laughed out loud in the office. Coworkers were happy about the karma thing, as well.

    2. Venus*

      Does the customer have any ability to contact FDA NY? I have to wonder if that’s really a coincidence, or if the customer tried to bully them into not examining their containers and got the logical consequence. Either way, I’m pleased at the result!

      1. Tradd*

        Some customers WILL try and bully FDA but it never ends well for them. But that’s not the case in this situation. These were the first food containers since the bridge collapse (they also bring in non-food items) and knowing how FDA works after decades in the industry, I knew exactly why FDA had put these food shipments on hold – NY FDA wasn’t used to seeing this cargo. FDA Baltimore is used to seeing it and NEVER puts it on hold.

        1. Tio*

          Exactly! CBP/FDA algorithms flag changes like that. Whenever we do a new type of item, or start bringing things into new ports, I’ve warned the purchasing team to build in time for FDA stops.

          We’ve had to reroute some things but Baltimore is not currently a huge port for us. However, we were literally debating making it a major lane right before the bridge collapsed…

          I’m really glad to be on the importer side for this, I am so beyond jerk clients who don’t care like that.

          1. Tradd*

            I had considered moving to the importer side, but I realized I would probably be bored quickly. I have lots of variety on the broker side.

            1. Tio*

              Depends! I did have some concern about that, but I think the key is finding an importer that does things you’re interested in. Since I was the same as you, I ended up going for a major retailer who needed a compliance head, and since they’re a retailer they do a little bit of everything, which is enough to keep me interested! I also deliberately ignored jobs that seemed like they’d be too repetitive – I declined recruiters looking for a compliance head for a steel company, for example, because steel is boring to me. It’s all the same thing over and over. (I also didn’t want to do 10,000 mill certificates lol)

              That said the job itself is interesting in other ways too. I get to play around on the big projects for regulatory updates like FMSA traceability and MoCra and the CPSC pilot, and they’ve been fascinating to implement

    3. Kimmy Schmidt*

      I work at a Maryland university. Less than 12 hours after the collapse, faculty were asking how this was going to affect our budget.

      1. CeeDoo*

        I worked at Raytheon (defense contractor) during 9/11, and there were people who were seeing dollar signs before the second tower fell. It was awful. Some people have no empathy at all.

      2. one mississippi*

        The world does not end merely because of a maritime disaster, and most organizations cannot bracket the difficult questions for a week to let everyone catch their breath. Nor does asking how a maritime disaster affects you mean that you cannot simultaneously be mindful of the victims.

        1. Tradd*

          Waking up the owner of your freight forwarder at 6am, barely 5 hours after the bridge collapse, screaming about your freight would indicate you ONLY care about your freight. The customer has continued to be very pissy to me about everything since the bridge collapse. Sends me emails bellyaching about the extra $800 per container he had to pay for trucking from NY to Baltimore. I hear about it daily. I’m sick of it.

          1. one mississippi*

            That you’re sick of it is evident (and probably understandable). It doesn’t follow that the customer is wrong to care about delays in shipping what may be, what, a few million dollars worth of goods? You’re the broker and the point of contact for complaints.

            1. Tradd*

              I don’t handle their transportation. A different department does. I just get their stuff through CBP and FDA. Yelling at me for shit I have no f*cking control over does not make me kindly disposed toward you. And other customers in the Baltimore area not behaving like spoiled, entitled brats.

            2. Plate of Wings*

              Yelling at your contact in the face of a disruption is wrong! Trying to escalate so forcefully is disrespectful and it won’t get results.

              I agree it might be fully decoupled from their sense of empathy and humanity for those who lost someone though. But acting like that in a professional situation is not excusable.

        2. OrdinaryJoe*

          Very good point… I had friends trying to get to their dying father’s bedside on 9/11 from New Mexico to Chicago and while they were very sad about NY and DC (and PA), they were more sad about their 55 yr old father who was rapidly fading and getting there and to their mom. They didn’t make it and ended up driving out that afternoon when it was clear it was going to be a few days :-(

    4. Knighthope*

      Baltimore-based customs brokers were quickly on my mind after the collapse. My Mom worked for one there for years. The average person does not realize what they do or how important those roles are. My thoughts are with you.

      1. Tradd*

        I’m based elsewhere but have lots into Baltimore. Thank you. It’s added needless complexity to an already complicated job.

    5. Database Developer Dude*


      To myself, I was being a Karen *about* the dead people, musing aloud as to why they hadn’t recovered the bodies first thing, and thinking very unkind thoughts… until it was explained (on the news) why they couldn’t just go get them.

      I can’t even wrap my mind around not caring about the dead people.

      1. Tradd*

        After Katrina, I had customers complaining bitterly daily about why the port of New Orleans wasn’t open and operating yet.

      2. Tradd*

        Yes, I have an acquaintance who is a commercial diver and explained how dangerous the bringing up the rest of the bridge was going to be.

      3. MR*

        Why couldn’t they just go get them? My initial reaction was they’re recent immigrants and non-union, so of course they’re not a priority! Willing to hear if this was not the case.

        1. Tradd*

          Massive safety issue for the divers, as it was explained to me. When the bridge collapsed, it was like a cage around the vehicles the workers were inside. There is so much broken, sharp metal that it’s very dangerous for the divers. They have maybe 1ft visibility. So much particulate in the water that they can’t use lights. Like driving in a blizzard. The guys on the barges/boars have sonar and are directing the divers via very detailed verbal instructions.

          1. Tradd*

            The divers working now are commercial divers well used to dangerous work, but this is even worse. There’s also current to deal with.

        2. Generic Name*

          I think the issue is that some of those lost are under wreckage and debris, and weren’t accessible until salvage operations began. My company is involved in the cleanup, and our internal newsletter mentioned that all work stops as soon as a body is found so the body can be removed quickly and safely.

        3. Observer*

          Why couldn’t they just go get them?

          It sounds like you haven’t followed anything about this mess, at all. What the others said is correct. And keep in mind that just trying to move the debris is hugely dangerous and could cause even more damage if all does not go well. The whole pile is like a house of cards where if you take the wrong card, or even just shift it, the whole thing will come crashing down. Except that in this case it’s tons of steel and concrete with lots of jagged edges. So that’s hard in perfect conditions. And the conditions are faaaar from “perfect”.

    6. Momma Bear*

      I am with you on the schadenfreude. Their lack of compassion is horrible, but sadly not unexpected.

    7. President Porpoise*

      I’m a pretty high level customs compliance manager at a pretty major company. The Baltimore bridge collapse was a terrible situation, and I feel awful for everyone who died and their families – and also for everyone who is scrambling to figure out alternative routing and clearance. It’s not so easy to shift ports, as Tradd says. Port directors have so much flexibility, even with the supposed ‘standardization’ offered by CBP’s centers of excellence for various industries. I don’t work a lot with FDA, but yeah, they are not the most flexible agency out there.

      After the collapse, we had to do a really quick analysis on how this might affect our freight and make adjustments accordingly, but I cannot believe that some idiot had the gosh-darn nerve to chew you out for a delay on a container going through that port. Actually I can – I’ve been in this industry long enough and dealt with lots of internal company folks who don’t understand what it takes to get something across a border.

      For what it’s worth, Tradd, if you do decide to make the shift to importer compliance, it’s not all boring! Just get in with a big, varied company and it will keep you busy/entertained for years, I promise!

      1. Tradd*

        Speaking of borders, dealing with truck shipments down from Canada is easy peasy. Anything from Mexico is a cluster. Massive cluster. Any Mexico broker I’ve dealt with is incompetent. Unable to answer simple questions. And Mexico makes it much more complicated because they require a Mexico broker to clear a shipment on the export side before a US broker can clear it on the import. Thankfully, it so freaking complicated that CBP pretty much requires a border broker to do it. Yay. I did it once. Never again.

        1. Tio*

          Ooooooof I feel that so hard. We had a broker at my last place we subPOAd to because it was too much hassle the few times we did it. So much back and forth and conflicting information and claiming we didn’t do something or did something wrong we knew we didn’t. “CBP says the entry number’s not on file!” YES IT IS

          1. Tradd*

            And sub POAs are no longer allowed. This was in the 19 CRR 141 (I think) broker modernization thing.

        2. President Porpoise*

          Mexico is no picnic, but I wouldn’t say it’s the most obnoxious, from a regulatory perspective. They’re no India or Brazil…

          1. Tradd*

            I deal a LOT with India. All the danged paper documents they still courier halfway around the world because their banking system is still paper based. I get sent paper docs even when they’re not needed. Ugh.

        3. one mississippi*

          Please stop attacking Mexico in this way.
          I used to work in international trade in DC. Dismissing all Mexicans involved in border trade as “incompetent” is a ridiculously broad brush.

          1. Tradd*

            I said the ones I’ve dealt with were incompetent. Did I say all Mexicans involved in cross border trade? No.

  5. Burned out librarian*

    Database folks, especially those with non traditional career paths – how did you end up in your position? What do I need besides solid SQL and Python? Any resources/advice?

    1. Caramel & Cheddar*

      Camping out here because I have SQL but not Python but am looking at going in this broader direction.

      1. Bee*

        Learn python! I’m a data analyst and product developer and python has made enabled me to do so many cool projects. It’s really fun and visually pleasing, if you like aesthetic code lol.

        I learned it through a traditional path a decade a go but didn’t use it and lost the knowledge. I picked it back up for a project two years ago and I’ve learned what I need as I go and I’ve found it’s a lot easier to retain things that way. I’m now so comfortable with it that I use it for queries instead of SQL, even though the SQL would be half the typing.

        1. Caramel & Cheddar*

          Did you re-learn it using any specific courses online? There are so many of them that it feels a bit “pick one, it doesn’t matter”, but that’s probably not the case.

          1. Peanut Hamper*

            I’d say “pick one, and if you don’t like it feel free to drop it and try a different one”.

    2. Not a dba*

      Not a DBA but I look after the database amongst other things. It probably depends where you end up but cloud computing skills are becoming essential so I would look into that.

    3. Cabbagepants*

      not me but my husband made the transition from history PhD professor to marketing researcher to business analyst to now full time data analyst. he did a bunch of online courses and the Google cert in SQL and R but was hired to mostly do SQL. since online certs don’t really count much (sorry) the thing that got him the job was all his previous research experience. having a very targeted resume and cover letter, as well as capstone projects and experience with quantitative analysis, were crucial.

    4. ForestHag*

      Depends on the role, but I would say basic knowledge of general IT infrastructure and cloud computing – there’s a lot of free cloud “foundations” certs out there that don’t take much time or effort to go through. SQL, Python, but also business analysis and some project management – don’t need to be an expert, but having some of the “softer” skills like knowing how to analyze a problem, come up with a solution architecture or flow chart, understand the functional and technical side of things and their respective impacts, and good customer service skills are important. When I hire, I look for people that demonstrate solid critical thinking and problem solving skills over the ones with technical skills. I also look for a willingness to learn new things – if someone tells me they don’t know something but are willing to learn, I am much more likely to hire them than if they try to BS their way through an interview. I’ve hired several database admins, data analyst, and date engineers, and for me, attitude is more important that skills. Most of the products and tools these days have automated a lot of the coding and infrastructure tasks, and it’s not too hard to learn how to use those tools, but you do need to know the “why” behind it all and the “when” to use something.

      I ended up in my current position (manager of data warehouse, analytics and integrations) first as technical support for a learning system app, then dabbling in SQL and learning how to write reports, then I was a business intelligence analyst, then ETL developer, and now I am the manager of the team. I have a BA English, and the function I serve is interfacing between the business and my technical team, supporting them in their development efforts through functional guidance and whatever else they need. They have deep technical expertise and are wizards, but they don’t have as much business/functional acumen, and rely on me to fulfill that role.

    5. DataWonk*

      My jobs have had one foot in light SQL/data engineering land and another in various scientific management roles with titles jumping from ‘automation engineer’, ‘data engineer’, ‘associate scientist’. I ‘only’ have a science bachelors and worked with a lot of lab automation which led into writing instrument/sample data to databases.

      I’d say cloud computing skills and tool knowledge (and how to keep costs down, e.g. no surprise costs on workflows that run often) is key.

      The other side of it is getting to know business needs. Fintech is different than mfg is different than biotech. Learn the business workflows and what they ultimately want to report on. I was lucky to be the 1)data producer, 2) data shepeherd, 3) data consumer in most of my roles so I knew the ins and outs of each step and if there is a lot of crosstalk between teams, that leads to time and money wasted.

    6. House On The Rock*

      My spouse is an embedded database programmer in an administrative department at a large university. He was originally a liberal arts major who fell into some continuing education programing classes after graduating college and found he loved it. He did a few different certifications, although I think now those are not considered necessary. But much of it was on-the-job learning after picking up the basics in class work.

      I manage a quasi-technical group at the same university and when I hire I look for SQL and Tableau – in many jobs it helps to understand both the back end data structures as well as the customer-facing visualization. I also fell into data analytics after leaving a PhD program and taking a job in survey research, with a healthcare/population health focus.

      One thing that could also be helpful is gaining specific subject matter expertise that differentiates you from other “pure” developers. Being a bit more niche in say healthcare or finance can help make up for less robust tech skills.

    7. A.P.*

      I know you said “database folks” but these days that covers a really wide spectrum of jobs which may or may not overlap: database administrator (DBA), data modeler, data analyst, data scientist, etc.

      I was a DBA for many years before switching careers, but that’s more related to configuration and management of a database and managing infrastructure.

      If you’re coming from being a librarian position, I’m assuming you’re more interested in data analyst-type roles which tend to be more business-oriented, although the title can vary based on company and industry.

      In addition to SQL and basic programming competency, I would add that good math skills are key. Especially a working knowledge of statistics. Other tools that people use in the field are R, Tableau and SAS among many others, but it can be hard to gain experience with these unless you’re already working as an analyst.

      Also, it’s worthwhile to become familiar with Excel’s advanced features. Because somehow, no matter how many advanced tools you have at your disposal, it always seems like you end up with pivot tables in a spreadsheet.

    8. Festively Dressed Earl*

      Mr. Earl is a non-trad career path software developer who’s usually working with Oracle but isn’t a DBA. He suggested PLSQL with the disclaimer that he’s only done backend. Since he learned that on-the-job, he doesn’t know of any internet resources.

      My two cents: The fact that he’s good at picking necessary skills up on the job is a selling point for him; he’s flexible and adaptable. If you’re in the same boat, leverage that when applying for jobs.

    9. MissGirl*

      I went back and got an MBA specializing in analytics. I did as many internships as I could. I was working in book publishing

    10. sara*

      I’m a software dev who works with a few teams of various database folks and got here in a non-traditional way for sure. I’d start learning about one cloud platform at least (Google and AWS are the ones we use)? Also maybe see how you like some NoSQL databases or big data.

      Also try to find other people with non-traditional career paths to see what companies they work for. I’ve found that places that have already hired folks like that will be more open to hiring more.

    11. Raia*

      Data analyst here – I started at a general office job with a music degree taking a udemy course on Excel, then stretching to work with a data specific team. From there I learned SQL, some data cuz programs, and now after 6 yrs it’s looking like I need to get on the Python train. I like Alex the Analyst on YouTube as a resource but any video course that you like should work. My advice is if you stay excited about solving the problem and learning new things, promotion paths will be open!

    12. Observer*

      What do I need besides solid SQL and Python? Any resources/advice?

      Theory. Make sure you understand what relational database design is and how it works and then how that maps to SQL. Also the limits of relational design, and when to step back from being a purist. It also helps to understand a bit about other types databases.

      1. A Person*

        +1 to this – either read some books or find a course so you understand the terminology and considerations.

    13. fish*

      Use your subject matter expertise. Start digging into your work system when it fails. Bug the IT department to show you a little more at a time, so you can fix it yourself. Eventually, you will know *your* system extremely well, and pick up new tips and tricks. Then you can apply that knowledge to another system.

    14. Silver Linings From Dreamland*

      Data engineer here- used to be a data analyst but that path never aligned with my interests. I just like writing SQL queries a lot more than any sort of visual analytics.

      I studied computer science in college but graduated while the recession was still ongoing so that may be a factor in what took me so long to get to where I wanted to be professionally.

      Technology is moving at lightning speed these days- SQL continues to be strong but having working knowledge of at least one “programming” language like Python is going to make you stand out when applying for jobs. Cloud and AI are red-hot areas for learning right now and fortunately, almost all the major providers have some free or low-cost training materials available.

      What I’d honestly recommend, provided you have the time and resources to do so, is to read up on a bunch of different topics/tools to discover what you’re most interested in and what you’re able to understand the best.

    15. Qwerty*

      For non-traditional paths, consider looking at postings for product analysts and see what other requirements there are as it might be an easier stepping stone than going straight to tech. Product teams are starting to realize they need their own people who can do a bunch of DB queries and reports without having to rely on the dev team. Those roles are usually successful as non-traditional path, because the product analysts need to also be product focused, which requires a lot of non-tech skills like communication and documenting processes. My stereotypical view of a librarian feels like a good fit. If you want to keep moving towards the tech side, the devs at the company are often happy to help teach and mentor. Then eventually you help out with some small bugfixes and eventually slide on over.

      If you want to straight for Data Engineer, look into how to set up integrations / ETLs. Understand how to work with the Cloud vs On Prem systems. In addition to SQL, you’ll need a solid understanding of databases like migrations, indexes, etc.

  6. Thomas*

    How candid should I be in my performance review with my manager? I do feel that I’m underperforming but I might just be holding myself to too-high standards. I’m in England so I’m unlikely to be sacked at least but I wouldn’t want to torpedo my prospects by being too honest.

    My previous role didn’t do formal reviews so I’ve no good experience of it.

    1. Combinatorialist*

      I probably wouldn’t say you think you are underperforming, but I would talk about what specific areas of growth you are interested in. Then you can go either way depending on the vibe you get from your manager (assuming you also talk about it). So I would say/write I think I did really well in X, Y, Z due to success in A and B. Next year, I plan to focus on growing in V and W to achieve more in C.

    2. Ms. Norbury*

      I’d start by trying to find concrete evidence for your feeling you’re underperforming, because, as you said it yourself, it might simply not be true. Are you clear on what your responsibilities are? Have you received any feedback at all (from both your manager and other people in the company), and what did that look like? Honestly, if you’re not leaving things undone, missing deadlines or getting frequent corrective feedback about things you’ve done before, you’re probable at least meeting expectations.

      Which brings the question… I understand from your question that you’re somewhat new to the job, is that the case? The feeling you’re getting might simply be the uncomfortable awareness that you’re still finding your feet in some aspects of the job (it’s a feeling I admit I’m very familiar with). You can use this performance review to explicitly ask your manager if they’re happy with your learning curve and clarify their expectations for your role, so that you can more accurately assess your own work mving forward.

      1. RedinSC*

        I agree with this SO MUCH! In any mostly normal work environment if you were underperforming, you would have heard about it. Your supervisor would hopefully give you corrective actions to take.

        I think highlight things you’ve done and learned, and ask how you’re doing in their eyes, are there things you should focus on. AND if you feel you have more bandwidth, that could be part of your discussion.

        I really think that that learning curve feeling Ms Norbury explains is in play here, so don’t sell yourself short.

    3. Jenna Webster*

      I would generally suggest that you let your boss bring up underperformance as an issue. When she does, you might say that you’d like to hear more about why she says that and what she would like to see differently from you, and then engage in that discussion and focus on how you can get stronger. For your part, focus on what you like about the job and about how you think you could develop your skills.

    4. HonorBox*

      Focus on areas where you HAVE succeeded and then highlight the areas where you could possibly grow. Don’t phrase it in a way that highlights underperformance (even if just by your own standards) but that highlights interest in getting better. Something like, “I have found that I’d like to upskill in the following areas (list them) as I think it would allow me to do my job even better. Are there ways you see that I could build those skills?”

    5. Goddess47*

      Pick one or two specific things to ask your manager about. “I’m not sure I’m doing my best on X, can you give me some pointers on how to do it better?”

      Your manager may be happy with your work, which means you are not underperforming, and you’re putting too much pressure on yourself. If you are truly making a mess of things, I would hope that would not wait for a formal review and would be brought up closer to the event.

      Think positive! Good luck!

      1. Jay (no, the other one)*

        I wouldn’t use negative language. “I’m interested in feedback on how I can improve at task X/build skills for abc/move ahead.”

        1. Tio*

          This. Don’t assume your manager views this the same as you. I have a report who’s always way harsher on herself than I believe she’s doing, and while she’s gotten better, it can be a little tiring to remind her no, actually, I think you’re great and that problem you think is a problem is not really a thing to me.

          Ask for some general feedback, including any areas you could use improvement on (without specifying you think you are underperforming) and see how it goes from there.

    6. Generic Name*

      Absolutely DO NOT say that you are underperforming. For a couple of reasons. One, if you are doing just fine, saying that you aren’t might make your boss start scrutinizing your performance and finding fault where there was none before. Two, evaluating your performance is your boss’ job, not yours. You likely don’t have the perspective your boss has to evaluate how you are doing compared to the standard. I personally hate the charade of “rate yourself and then compare with how your boss rated you” that many companies do during performance evaluation. It feels like a mind reading exercise. If you aren’t asked to rate yourself, don’t do it. If you are, I suggest rating yourself mostly as “meets expectations” and if you feel particularly strong in 1 or 2 areas, rate yourself 1 level higher.

    7. Sneaky Squirrel*

      My philosophy has always been to only talk about how excellent I am as an employee, with examples of tasks I’ve done well, and to let them prove to me that I’m not. Give yourself the highest rating and let them tell you if they think you deserve otherwise.

    8. CatLady*

      Start with a *quantitative* self assessment. List out all the things you did and try to identify good metrics for them. As in shipped 100 teapots with a loss rate of .05% – down 0.1% from last year. Take the emotion and the qualitative evaluation out of it and as someone else said – let your manager bring up if *they* think you are underperforming.

      I’d also recommend altering your mindset. When I do my self-assessment I am thinking – here are all the ways I’m awesome and why you want to give me a raise!

      1. Miette*

        Second this. When I was last a manager, I had an employee who did this, and attached his list of accomplishments to his self-assessment every year. This not only aided his own assessment it reminded me of all the things he’d done, which was invaluable in my own evaluation of him, especially when I wanted to make a case for his promotion.

    9. Artemesia*

      NEVER say you. are underperforming. Always phrase it as an area you’d like (more training in to improve your skills, more challenges in this area to hone your skills, something that makes you sound eager to learn and contribute). If you know you are week in a skill area, find some options for improvement that you can request support for . And in the review also focus on where you are doing well. I do XYZ well, I would like to develop my skills in A further and would like the organizations support for this program I found.

    10. CrashTestHuman*

      Early in my career, I had a boss throw a self-review back to me, saying, “You’re being far too critical. Let your manager give you criticism.” I don’t 100% agree, but he was at least partially right that the written self-evaluation is a chance to highlight your accomplishments rather than failings.

      I do think it’s healthy to be candid in informal conversations, however. If you’re struggling, they need to know how to help you (this will vary based on the quality of the manager, however). The written self-review should lean more towards what you accomplished, while still being truthful.

    11. Qwerty*

      Try to use concrete items more than opinions. Talk about how you thought A went well, how working on B improved your skills with C, how the D project went well but you’d like to have completed it faster or that you feel more attention to detail would have prevented the E mishap.

      Performance reviews need to be more than just a judgement on someone. Ideally the manager turns it into a productive conversation but it goes better if you help them too. It is a lot easier to have a candid conversation if you say “I feel like I take longer than expected to turnaround tasks” vs “I feel like I’m not meeting expecations”. Then the manager can explain that you are fine and here’s their expectations OR they can agree and offer advice on how to get back on track.

      Also remember that even high performers have stuff to improve on.

    12. Sara K*

      What are you hoping for from your manager? Reassurance? Confirmation? There are better ways of getting that information which the other replies to this have noted. Dig into what it is that makes you feel like you need to mention ‘underperformance’. Are you feeling challenged by the work? Talk to your manager about any work related obstacles or difficulties that are causing you to feel challenged. A good manager will want to work through those with you to help you meet the challenge. Are there a lack of metrics that you can measure your performance against? Some jobs are like that but it’s also ok to ask your boss to provide more feedback on the work you are doing so you can measure how well you are doing it.

  7. Tully*

    I started a new job six months ago  and I am struggling. Can I get a gut check on whether I’m being reasonable? I have always been a high performing employee and I feel like I’m failing here everyday.

    The issues: my boss provides either non-specific feedback, or hyper-specific micro-managy feedback (you missed a comma on the third page this first draft 5 page document). Between him and the owner, I also often receive contradictory feedback (he tells me to delete, the owner tells me to expand). 

    We have a morning team meeting every single day, 5 days a week, which I have never experienced before. They aren’t productive meetings, and the boss typically calls me 1-2 additional times during the day for things that absolutely could’ve been an IM instead. But he DOES utilize teams messages also. If we get a client email, I get the email AND a teams message from my boss informing me about the email. This constant communication drives me a little nuts, and makes me feel like I always have to be available.

    I was also brought on board to help improve backend processes as well. I’ve written up thorough evaluations of what we need to do to improve and they’ve gone nowhere in six months. My boss looks at them, says thanks, and then lets them languish. When I bring it up again he nods and says he’ll look again and never does. This has happened 4+ times and it’s getting awkward. 

    The owner is cold to me and clearly doesn’t trust me to do front-end work when she reviews it so I do not have an ally in my boss or above him.

    I have never worked in an environment like this where I am constantly criticized for little things, never given constructive feedback on big things, and where I have to be hyper-online to respond to the whims of my manager. Have I just lucked out so far in my career? I am doubting whether I can succeed here, but also whether I can continue to be in this field if other workplaces are like this.

    1. Generic Name*

      Your workplace sounds like a micromanage-y nightmare. It’s a them problem. It sounds like they are making it impossible to do the job they said they brought you on to do. I think this is a “your boss sucks and isn’t going to change” situation.

    2. Also Anon Here*

      This doesn’t sound to me like you’re failing — it sounds like this job is a bad fit. You aren’t getting enough substantive feedback and too much little-stuff feedback, your boss’s communication style stresses you out, you get contradictory directions from the owner and your boss, and one of the major projects you were brought on to do (I assume this is major? It sounds major) is going nowhere with no indications that it will ever go anywhere.

      I think you can update your resume, find yourself a new job, and shake the dust of this place off your shoes in good conscience, before it makes you even more miserable. (I wouldn’t like this job either.) Use this as an experience in what you don’t like in a job, and in the future do your best to screen for places that aren’t like this.

    3. Cabbagepants*

      sounds like your current workplace is a cold mess of people who don’t know how to manage, either people or workflows. T Barring some extraordinary circumstance (like final draft before publishing an advertisement to a copywriters associatin) pointing out a comma on a draft document just screams “I don’t know how to lead or contribute so I’m going to try to put down you to prove my worth.”

      1. Also-ADHD*

        In teams I’ve worked in, we definitely looked for commas in documents like SOP etc, but that’s not really work feedback. It’s just easier to edit stuff you haven’t been writing, so more pairs of eyes is helpful. I’ve definitely had teams where my boss edited for me or I edited for my team, because my field is pretty collaborative (so is a lot of tech, where it seems like OP is), but shouldn’t be a big thing. It’s just normal review. It sounds like OP’s boss gives it like a criticism, but it also sounds like this workplace sucks and the boss is a micromanager. But I think checking documents for commas is fine. It just should be like “no big deal”.

    4. Burned Out and Ticked Off*

      Comments on grammar on first drafts are just infuriating. I am hopefully leaving a current situation that is like this. It’s either no feedback at all or complete micromanagement. I’ve been asked why did I waste so much time on creating a near final draft of a document a week after being scolded for showing a draft document. I’ve been called on a Friday evening because I missed an extra “the” in an email to a client and he wouldn’t let me off the phone and kept asking why I made that mistake. I’ve also been called on a Saturday to be scolded for file names being too long when previous feedback was my file names were too short. The only way I got the calls to end were to apologize profusely and make myself small and agree that I was careless. Anyone that knows me knows I have a high attention to detail and if mistakes like that are being made it’s because I’m overworked and understaffed (both true of the last years here). And also, I’m human and simply make simple mistakes at times. We all do it.

      It never gets better and this nonsense really impacted my mental health and confidence. I’ve tried managing up and have spent far too much time trying to figure out how to make the boss happy. Nothing is ever enough. Start looking now for a different place.

        1. Burned Out and Ticked Off*

          Waiting on an offer… fingers crossed as I have spent almost a decade here.
          It really never got better.

    5. MrsPookie*

      Do you work for my boss? Sounds it. Sorry this is happening. Trust your gut. If you know you do a good job-its them, not you. I wouldnt stay at a job like that- they sounds draining.

    6. yeep*

      OMG, hello from the future. This was exactly my situation in 2020. I started applying to jobs after a year. It’s not you, it’s them. Get out!

      1. Momma Bear*

        I had a job where I was there for a couple of years before the new PM arrived. My first major interaction with him was for him to nearly completely redline and rewrite a report I had been writing successfully for 2 years, and make changes that I knew the client specifically didn’t want. He also once kept me online working a file over lunch – my team went to eat without me and came back and I was still stuck on that one file. I knew very quickly the PM did not respect me, my skills, or my time and got out of there as soon as I could.

        OP – start looking. If anyone asks, it was not a good fit/not as advertised. In the meantime, I’d ask directly whose instructions are the ones you should follow if there’s a conflict. Get it in writing and go from there. Let Boss and Manager duke it out when necessary.

    7. RLC*

      I was in this situation in 1997, only 6 months into position. Took a significant pay cut to get out (different org, same field), worth the financial impact to save my mental health. I recommend getting out as soon as possible.

    8. Quinalla*

      Ooof, sounds like you’ve landed somewhere with folks that don’t know how to manage. It is definitely a them problem. I doubt it is the field, just these specific bosses.

      As for can you succeed – maybe? You probably have to stop caring about some things – the back end changes for instance. You can’t care more than they do, but I would just make it part of a routine to ask if there is any progress on the backend updates. Just make it very matter of fact, it’s not awkward on your end anyway, you just need to know if you there is anything further for you to do yet.

      On the contradictory feedback – can you get your boss and owner together and ask them together what to do when they give you contradictory feedback? Or in the moment when they give it to you (or in an email if you aren’t having a conversation) “Thanks for the feedback! I have one question then I’ll get it picked up and out by X. Owner gave me X feedback and you gave me Y, how should I proceed?”

      I do think you’ve lucked out if you usually get great feedback – TBH most people are terrible at giving good feedback!

      As for the owner being cold and not trusting you – hard to say where that is coming from, but just keep doing great work, hopefully you can build trust there.

      Not terrible if you decide to just start looking.

    9. goddessoftransitory*

      It sounds to me like these two people are fighting a proxy war with you as the stand in. This is a super fun game called “No Matter Who Wins, You Lose.”

      It couldn’t hurt, at this point, to schedule a one on one with each of them for an “update” on who’s covering what (like commas in things) and what timeline they want for these projects; but honestly, it sounds like it’s time to brush up the resume’.

    10. JPalmer*

      1. Boss push and pull. “I have gotten conflicting advice from other boss, I am going to send you both an email so I can have clarity on how to proceed”. It’s great to make it each other’s problem, rather than yours. No sense getting yanked back and forth, or told you’re doing bad work. Using the word clarity is helpful. If they don’t want to do that, say you’re just trying to reduce friction and it’s clear they have a vested interest. If they don’t mind you taking the reins you can tackle this problem how you see fit.

      2. Too much communication is a distraction and kills productivity. Boss needs to learn about flow state breaking and needs to ease off. Exerting more control won’t produce better results.

      3. Process improvements: “Hey, I wanted to check in, I wrote up all those reports and I haven’t seen us taking any steps to address the important issues, are we committed to addressing issues and making improvements?” The downstream idea you want to get across is that it’s harming the business, and people will bounce if it isn’t done. You want the path of least resistance be to improve the problems identified. Don’t make it a ‘Your work vs the company’ problem, but a ‘You and the company vs the problem’ issue.

      4. Owner coldness: Being candid and asking about their opinion of their judgment and if they trust you to do your job. You can follow up with “May I ask why you hired me if you do not trust my judgement or want to provide me the opportunity to solve the problem with oversight.” Like no sense beating around the bush for 6+ more months or what not. This sounds like the vibe since it’s 4+ times where your improvement lists have languished in a drawer.

      Sounds like they’re generally pretty dysfunctional. You want to solve the problems and they are not empowering you to do that. They should either empower you or you should move on.

    11. Plate of Wings*

      It feels so hopeless when you are tasked with proposing a backend process/system overhaul but have no authority past the proposal!

      Others in the thread make great points and this might be a bad fit. But you sound like a capable high performer and you might want to stick it out for any number of reasons. If you do, you should put all of your energy into getting your proposals out of the proposal acceptance phase and into the execution phase.

      Once one of your ideas is underway, you might experience a break from the micromanagement because you will be the expert and owner of the project.

      Since the owner sounds like they are not aligned with your (micro)manager, you should try making your next moves directly to them, obviously with your boss in the loop. Make it so your initiative makes your boss look good to the owner! Give them credit for helping you make these proposals!

      To get things from planning to execution, I sometimes need to start the execution myself. A few extra hours to get a working demo ready, or to get some of the dreaded legwork already underway, has served me very well. The languishing proposals thing is so common, and that’s because no one wants to put personnel on the next step. It’s not for everyone, but I sometimes take the next step on my own just so its not languishing anymore. Then there’s more likely to be buy-in from above.

      This doesn’t always work, but it’s good resume experience if you end up looking :)

  8. Shopping is my cardio*

    How do you tell your manager that he/she is not managing enough? Story: I work in a department of about 15 people and we use a common system to track information. We have been told repeatedly that adding info in real time is a job REQUIREMENT, no exceptions. The information is used by our team but also other teams and the information needs to be current and correct. We have 2 coworkers that fail at this over and over and over. They claim that they are too busy (they are not) or that the system is too convoluted to use (it is not). This affects how the entire team is perceived by other departments. Myself, and other people, have brought it up to our manager multiple times and his/her response is to either email the entire team about it or make an announcement at our team meeting. Of course, the biggest culprits then probably think that everyone is failing at this task and they make no effort to get better at it. How do I politely tell my boss that she/he needs to address it directly with them? like sit down with them and tell them that this is not optional and they must do this. My boss is not very good at receiving feedback so I don’t know what to do. Ideas?

    1. fine-tipped pen aficionado*

      Probably not what you want to hear but it doesn’t seem like you have the power to do anything. You can ask your manager if they’d be willing to address it privately with the people causing the issue, but it seems like they’ve already done all they’re willing to do on the topic.

      If you think they might punish you for suggesting they do something differently, I wouldn’t bother raising it again at all. The potential reward does not seem to outweigh the potential risk.

    2. Ama*

      Unfortunately I’m not sure you can — you can flag for him that they still aren’t using the system properly, but if he doesn’t respond well to feedback I think telling him *how* to manage is just going to go poorly for you.

      1. Shopping is my cardio*

        I agree with you. I think the problem comes from a fear of being direct and clear – it is easier to make a general statement than actually sit down with the problem employee and address it directly.

        1. Tio*

          This is a very common bad management trait – and unfortunately unlikely to change unless they actively want to, which it doesn’t sound like they do.

    3. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      Your conversation should not be telling the manager what to do or how bad they are at doing their job, rather to do a problem-solving conversation with them about the feedback that you are hearing about other departments etc. Get your work done, and forward every complaint directly to the boss without commentary. Know your productivity/accuracy rates and feel free to ask for clarification the next time he makes an announcement – “Just for my understanding, I’ve got a real time entry rate of 97%, do you need improvement from there, or am I ok?” and maybe “Gee, I’ve got a pretty good system for up-to-date data entry, I’d be happy to share it.”

    4. Caramel & Cheddar*

      I experience this regularly from the other side (e.g. the other teams that need the info to be current and correct) and I always tell the director level person on my side that this should be considered a performance issue and they need to raise it with the director of the team that’s not doing the data entry correctly. Ultimately Director A never talks to Director B and I’ve decided I can’t care about it more than they do.

      But ultimately if you see your colleagues’ lack of data entry affecting your own work, you can use Alison’s time honoured “When Fergus doesn’t do X, I can’t do Y. How would you like me to handle that?” approach. But it sounds like Fergus’ work doesn’t necessarily impact you, just that of people on other teams, which makes this trickier if the people on the other team’s are not in turn doing this with their own managers.

    5. Accidental Manager*

      When reading I this, I was wondering if it came from one of my staff. I have a similar situation where I believe I’m not coaching my direct reports enough-and some need it more than others. So from the managers point of view, I would say to you, I am glad you came to me with your concerns and want you to continue to do so. Give me specific examples of how this is having an effect on your work or the work of others. I can use them in my conversation with the employee. Keep in mind, the tone of my response will likely match that of your feedback. And what I won’t share is that I’m also frustrated, there are other things being addressed as well and you may not be aware of everything going in the situation.

      1. Shopping is my cardio*

        I appreciate this so much. My manager wouldn’t be responsive to feedback so unfortunately I feel like it is a lost cause for me. But if I could talk to him and be completely honest I would say that a manager should not be afraid of giving direct and clear feedback to people. A specific problem with an employee won’t be solved by making a general statement to everyone in the team, instead it needs to be said specifically the person who is not performing the task. I do think my manager is afraid of actually managing and speaking to people so that won’t go well.

    6. Fried pickles*

      Are there employee-specific stats that could be shared so the 2 offenders can see explicitly that they are the problem? Also, (with your own data in hand), can you talk to manager after the blanket emails about what you need to do to improve; if they (presumably) say you’re fine, you could point out that it’s confusing to get department-wide requests to improve if the request doesn’t apply to you?

      1. Ainsley Hayes*

        +1. At a previous position, the office/HR manager would make sweeping comments to the 4 admin team members about X, but never provide specific examples, even when asked to. Two of us worked in a specific area, and we both agreed it was very frustrating because the problem seemed to be happening at the beginning of the process, not the end where we were. We both asked to be notified of the specific incident as/when it happened so we understood “in the moment” and could make the correction while the example was still fresh. That never happened, and we just continued to get vague reminders.

    7. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

      You can’t make your coworkers do their job and, sadly, you also can’t make your manager do his – your coworkers should enter the info and your manager should address it with them directly, but if they won’t they won’t. I think it’s worth trying that “problem-solving” conversation another commenter mentioned (“Gee, boss, it’s so weird but the emails to the whole team don’t seem to be working, is there some other way we could address this? I know Bill and Ted pretty well, I bet they’d respond to a one-on-one with you”), but otherwise I think this is a “not my monkeys” situation. I sympathise, it sounds super frustrating.

  9. Cee Es*

    Could readers or Alison suggest some AAM post that highlight some great workplaces?

    In my circle of acquaintances, a few folks kept running into “bad bosses” and quit searching altogether. The women could vent that their bosses promoted men first and left them behind. Some lamented the large number of applicants for openings and blamed nepotism. Some told me how the employers were “evil”. Some told me how no workplaces fit their “ideal”.

    They could easily find some questions from AAM that supported their arguments. I’m sure that Alison’s aim for AAM isn’t for folks to support their anti-work sentiment but to navigate their workplaces and careers successfully. In addition, it’s harder to get truly great workplaces to get recognized. The bad news have more traction.

    1. Stuart Foote*

      I think the nature of any advice column selects out the accounts of good workplaces/situations because the people working there don’t need advice. Also, it’s tough to find perfect workplaces–I’ve had bosses who were really remarkable people and I learned a lot from who were total assholes, workplaces where workers had good life balance and realistic expectations that were extremely boring and paternalistic, places where the managers were nice and understanding but the official policies and benefits for the workers were horrible, etc. Also a great workplace for some people is a horrible one for others.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      There was an ask the readers question titled “can we talk about GOOD companies for a change?” from April 20, 2023.

      There’s also a “how to tell if you have a good boss” post from December 19, 2016.

      I’ll link to both in a reply to this comment.

      1. Irish Teacher.*

        Ah, that “can we talk about GOOD companies for a change?” was the one I was thinking about and couldn’t find. We posted at the same time. So I don’t have to continue looking for the link.

    3. Irish Teacher.*

      There was a Thursday Ask the Readers thread about good workplaces one time. I’m struggling to find it now, but I’ve found a couple of others: “Let’s talk about functional workplaces” and “Stories of the greatest bosses of all time.”

      I’ll post links in a reply to this and if I can find the one I originally meant, I’ll post that too.

    4. NaoNao*

      “Updates” often have really feel-good endings–new jobs with significant raises, much better working environments, and so on. I’d search “updates” first and see if any of those meet that criteria!

    5. Tio*

      Generally, the reason that you can’t find as many (if any) good workplace stories is because advice columns are for problem solving, and good workplaces just… don’t have many problems to solve. So using an advice column to point out that all workplaces are bad is like going to a swamp to prove that all water is undrinkable.

    6. Janet*

      One of the best managers must be the one whose (estranged) family member had violated an employee. Such heart and thoughtfulness!

      1. Hlao-roo*

        Post title is “I manage someone who was terribly harmed by my family … what do I do?” from February 21, 2017 and there was an update posted March 2, 2017 (for ease of searching).

        I agree that letter-writer was a very thoughtful manager!

    7. nnn*

      I think your premise is wrong. Advice columns are about problems, not situations where everything is good.

    8. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

      I don’t really understand your point. Are you friends looking to AAM for advice in solving their work problems? Or validation that their situations are hopeless and to give up? AAM is a site for giving advice to help with work problems, not to “recognize great workplaces.” Perhaps your friends should try Glassdoor.

      Also it sounds like your friend lamenting that no workplaces fit their ideal needs to recalibrate their expectations. No workplace is going to fit an ideal. That’s unrealistic and immature thinking.

    9. Parakeet*

      This sounds like you are uncomfortable with your friends’ dislike of the wage labor relation. Which is fine, you get to be uncomfortable, but I don’t think it’s realistic to expect AAM to “fix” that. For one, that’s not the role of an advice column. For another, no matter how many links people give you (and they’ve given you some good ones) your friends can still cherry pick. And they’re probably not going to suddenly change their worldview because of a few columns about great workplaces.

  10. Frustrated in fleming*

    query for you all, I originally was interviewing for a slightly higher level position and ended up being offered the lower level position in my company. I was pretty desperate for work so ended up taking it and as soon as I started both the manager and assistant manager started talking about promoting me. they gave me a timeline of about 6 months before the company would let them do it. I’ve talked in my one on ones with both my manager and assistant manager about moving me up over the past 6 months and they have given me goals which I’ve hit and lately started saying there’s one person above them that they need to run it by and then they could. I messaged my manager yesterday to ask for a firm timeline and she responded that she just gave the job to someone from her old job and so there are no more spots for me and I’ll need to wait until someone who currently has the position leaves. I am a little extra frustrated because this new person has been in the workforce for 2 years vs my 8 years and I’ve put in so much extra work for them to show that I deserve this position. I’m thinking about sending the following to my assistant manager but would like a second (or third or fourth) set of eyes

    Hey! After reflecting more on managers’s message I wanted to reach out to you and get your opinion.
    I feel like I have gotten a lot of mixed messages over the past few months. I feel like the last conversation I really had was that we were waiting for higher level exec to get back to her normal work schedule and then there would be a conversation with her about moving me into a new role. I don’t know if that was true or I misinterpreted something that was said.
    I don’t like to be needy or overly proud but I genuinely think I have done a good job and try to meet every need necessary for the role.
    I’ve done the math, I’ve made company $150,000 since I’ve started. I have gotten glowing feedback from customers and truly believe that I made their experience better. I have tried to go above and beyond doing other people’s jobs when are they sick (I give specific examples here I’m not going to share. I honestly feel that a lot of the new rules brought by higher level company are removing my favorite parts of the job and I’m willing to deal with it if I genuinely think there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. But now after manager’s message it feels like we are full and so the expectation is that I’m going to wait an indefinite amount of time until someone leaves at which point we will talk about if promoting me makes sense. I guess I don’t know if wanting to keep me in my current role is just easier than having to replace me or if manager just wants to prioritize bringing in her former store people first.
    I guess I’d genuinely like to know if you think manager has the intention to promote me anytime soon. Or if you or she thinks I’m best suited for the role I’m in.

    Happy to talk this through in person if you prefer, I just had an easier time communicating this through a message than I would with a 1:1

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      This is a conversation, not an email. I know it’s better for you to write things down, but in your position I would take the points you make and present them in person. And this needs to be a discussion with your direct manager– if that’s not the assistant manager, then you are addressing the wrong person. The question is really about how there was an open position, your manager and asst manager had spoken to you about promotion, and someone else was hired– you want to know why you weren’t considered for that position and if there’s anything you need to do to ensure you will be considered for promotion the next time a position opens up.

      1. FashionablyEvil*

        Agree–the email may be helpful for focusing your thoughts, but I would make this a conversation. (Just FYI, there is a lot in your message that I wouldn’t put in writing.)

    2. Natasha*

      Don’t do this. No good comes from the way you have framed the message. There is no position available, your manager won’t un-hire the person they did.

      In short your manager is a jerk – they strung you along to get more out of you, but didn’t honor their promise. Continue to excel (to build a strong CV entry) while putting out feelers. Is there another team/location in your company you could move to? Or another company overall?

      At most as to speak to your assistant manager and frame it as “I was under the impression ….why was I passed up and what can I do to strengthen my candidature for the next promotion”.

      1. Artemesia*

        This. You didn’t ‘misunderstand’ anything; you got screwed over. You have to choices — put your head down and do your best and eat it or — do that while doing everything you can to find a job elsewhere.

        The fact that they discussed this with you repeatedly and then screwed you is quite different than if it has been discussed months ago where the manager might have forgotten about it. I used to have to clean up after a department head who made casual promises, often that were impossible to deliver on — but this doesn’t sound like that.

    3. Hlao-roo*

      Take this part from your message “I’ve made company $150,000 since I’ve started. I have gotten glowing feedback from customers and truly believe that I made their experience better.” and rework it into bullet points for your resume!

      Now that you have a job that pays you and aren’t desperate for work (like you were during the job search that landed you here), I think it’s a good time to start applying again (if you aren’t already).

    4. WellRed*

      Whenever I read a letter like yours where managers start saying things like, “oh we should promote you, we just need time, we just need to run it by someone, we just, we just…” I want to scream it’s not happening! I’m not sure from now his if they ever had the authority to promote you into the position.

      1. A Significant Tree*

        Same exact reaction here – I lived this for multiple years, always hearing “in six months” or “when you achieve (insert moving goalposts).” I was already doing the higher level work but somehow it didn’t count for me and I watched equally or lesser qualified men get promoted ahead of me. Promotions were possible, but apparently not for me. So when I was offered a higher-level job that paid more, that’s what I left for.

    5. Educator*

      This sounds frustrating, and I am sorry. I think it might be helpful to consider two aspects of your framing.

      First, as a manager, I always try to make it really clear to my team that no one is entitled to a promotion–it sounds like they did a bad job communicating this, but it is true. My job as a manager is to look out for the organization’s overall success. I mentor, support, and challenge my team, but when it comes time to promote, my first loyalty is to the big picture rather than one individual. It is totally reasonable that they are assembling the best team they can, even if it does not feel that way to you. Waiting until a position opens to reconsider you is very normal.

      Second, there is a lot of conjecture in your message–about why they hired some else, about their intentions. None of that is helpful, because you don’t really know. The facts are just that they talked to you about a possible promotion and then hired someone else.

      I think it is a great idea to talk with them further about it (in person, not via email), but you need to be clear on your goals for the conversation. They are not going to tell you what happened or commit to a new timeline for promotion. This conversation should be about what you can do to be more competitive next time. Six months is a really short time to even learn to do your current job well, so I would definitely come in asking for feedback. You run the risk of looking too focused on moving up, to the detriment of your current work, if you come in another way.

    6. E*

      I agree with the others that this should be a conversation not an email. But when you have the conversation try to cut out verbiage like ‘I don’t want to be needy’ and the ‘I feel’ and ‘ I guess’ language, especially if you identify differently than the majority of your coworkers (like a female in a male dominated industry). Stick with facts and your accomplishments instead. You will sound more confident when presenting your arguments.

    7. FricketyFrack*

      Is this retail? The last time I worked in retail, I was promised that I was totally super duper gonna get promoted to a position more in line with my experience, but they just had to hire everyone at a lower level first. I trusted it and busted my ass for the first several months until they promoted someone else and I realized it was a lie to get me to take the crappier job and be happy about it. I got a better position by leaving. If I were you, I’d skip the entire conversation because they’re not likely to be honest, get my resume updated, and start looking.

      If it’s not retail, my answer might change a tiny bit, but honestly, I’d still probably recommend looking for work while you’re not desperate. It sounds like you have some good achievements to put on your resume, so this job isn’t a loss or anything.

    8. Parenthesis Guy*

      Make sure you trust the asst manager before having this convo (and convo not email) with them. They very well may tell the manager about this if you do it wrong, and you could get in trouble.

    9. kriscross*

      Do not send this email. Do not send this email. Do not send this email.

      I REALLY understand where you are coming from here. However, if I was the manager I would read this email and not even know what to address first. And, I would definitely wait and address it with you in person.

      You don’t know what’s happening behind the scenes. Yes, it’s unfair that they lead you along a little. But, this email is like you’re having a whole conversation and filling in what you think the manager thinks at every point.

      Just ask to meet with your manager to talk about what you can do to put yourself in a good position for promotion.

      If you send this email, your anxiety will go through the roof from the moment you send it wondering what/when the response will be and you will have to sit with that.

    10. anon_sighing*

      This is an email written out of frustration – sit with it but do not send it. It’s much better to talk this out in a 1:1, if you’re going talk about it.

      I have gotten to the point where I tell people to just walk away and make the best choice for them — which means searching for a new job in case bringing this up has negative effects. It’s never too early to start the job search and get the ball rolling. Worst case, you’re writing withdrawal from candidacy emails. Best case, you have options when you need options.

  11. Dina*

    A question for any writers and editors out there! What’s your advice for making progress on a writing assignment when you’re dreading it?

    Part of my job is content writing (mostly things like blog posts, short articles, web copy, etc.), which used to be some of my favorite things to do. Now, I’d rather do anything other than my writing assignments. I’ve had a lot of meetings and general communications support heaped on my workload, which makes it hard for me to find adequate chunks of time to focus on writing, but that’s a separate problem. Right now, I have a deadline looming for an 800-1200-word post that’s the first in a series to be written over the next several months. I’ve outlined the piece, but I’m stalled there. I don’t think the topic’s terribly interesting and I generally don’t think the story will end up being that great. BUT I still need to get it done, of course!

    1. Not-So-New Mom (of 1 8/9)*

      Hello! I’m thinking of looking for a new job on or shortly after my maternity leave. (Any day now!) I asked for a transfer to a new department at the beginning of the year and the pace in the new department is faster than I’d ideally like and think I want to handle down the line.

      My company pays 100% of my health insurance premiums, I do co-pays and anything beyond that. I’ve heard that sometimes people have to pay them back if they leave the job on maternity leave or soon afterwards? Is that a thing? There’s no way I can ask my own HR department about this, right?

      1. Not-So-New Mom (of 1 8/9)*

        Ah, crap, nesting fail! Meant to be its own post of course. My deepest apologies!

      2. RagingADHD*

        All the policies related to health insurance should be in your employee handbook and benefits documentation. You can certainly ask HR for a copy of the documentation if you don’t have access to it – that should not raise any flags, as being on maternity leave implies you are likely to have health insurance questions.

      3. Sunshine*

        Probably not. I think the only time you would have to pay back anything like this is if you signed a contract saying that you would pay it back if you left before a certain amount of time.

    2. call me wheels*

      Have you ever tried the ‘write or die’ sites? I use the free version the v2 I think, it can be helpful for just GETTING SOMETHING DOWN in short bursts when you need to. And then you can edit it once you’ve got something.

    3. Diane Remains the Same*

      My go-to when I can’t find the muse is to throw a bunch of s#!t on a page. Literally stream of conscious thoughts about what I know and how I imagine the structure should look. If I don’t know information, I literally put — FIND INFORMATION ABOUT XYZ AND HOW TO USE IT. If I can’t find the right word, I put a placeholder with a word I know isn’t right, but is kind of what I want to use and flag that too.

      It’s a way to be mildly productive, even if I know it’s not the most successful version. Sometimes it jumpstarts the writing process. Sometimes it confirms why I’m having trouble jumpstarting the process. And at the end of it, I know I can use it as a crutch if I have to finalize something quickly.

      1. WellRed*

        Yep. Literally start writing (and you don’t have to start at the beginning). I’ve had sooo much trouble getting down to writing lately but once I finally do it, I ask myself what the problem was. Solidarity!

        1. Karo*

          I never ever ever start at the beginning. Intro, conclusion and headline are the last three things I write, in that order. If I write them too early I feel locked into them even if the piece winds up taking a slightly different bent.

          1. Another freelancer*

            Agree with Karo. Do you have any quotes from a source or some relevant facts that can be woven into the story? Throw it in the doc and take it from there. You might surprise yourself because you may start connecting the quotes and facts into a cohesive narrative!

            I also try to time box. Put on a timer for like 45 minutes and just write during that time. Don’t worry about making it pretty, just worry about writing something down. And yes to the comment above about making notes to yourself as you write about facts to find/check. Now is not the time to slow down your process with fact-finding. If you’re like me, you’ll get distracted with the fact-finding and stop the actual writing. Good luck!

      2. Dust Bunny*

        This was basically my method in college: Write literally anything I could think of about [topic], walk around the block, and then come back and treat it as the world’s worst revision project. For some weird reason, it was easier to “rewrite” than to come up with something new. Even though it was new and I was rewriting literal stream-of-consciousness blather. It still worked.

    4. RagingADHD*

      I just keep making the outline more and more detailed and filling in notes, until at some point it flips over into drafting without my realizing it.

      I also play binaural beat music, eat a lot of crunchy things, and complain loudly (to myself, but out loud). It was very useful when I realized that complaining while I do things actually helps me get them done.

    5. WantonSeedStitch*

      Maybe start writing a sentence under each outline point, increasing the granularity of the outline? Ex–going from:
      1. People are giving birth later
      2. People are buying houses later
      3. People are retiring later


      1. People are giving birth later
      a. Median age for giving birth in U.S. up to 30 in 2022
      b. Decrease in younger women giving birth
      c. Increase in older women giving birth
      2. People are buying houses later
      a. Wages are stagnating while COL increases
      b. People can’t save enough for a down payment
      c. Home prices are rising higher than other prices
      3. People are retiring later
      a. Few jobs offer a pension benefit
      b. More people drawing on retirement funds early to afford a home
      c. College costs plus having kids later means paying for kids’ college for a longer time

      In other words, just try to do a bit at a time to flesh it out. Get all the info down. Then make it pretty.

    6. lizjennings87*

      I do the “set a timer for five minutes” thing and begin that way. It’s usually a trash start. But that’s OK because I then have something to improve on. I can usually get the first draft out in that session. That said, writing about an uninteresting topic is hard. Especially when you’re drained from other work that’s less focused on your area. I get it!

    7. RivahGal*

      Been there. It is helpful if you can find ANY aspect of the subject engaging, as likely your readers may also find it dry. Anecdotes, relevant quotes, example stories, short interviews, anything that can help you find some (any!) enthusiasm for some aspect of the piece can help kick start the process and improve your results. Also, minimizing distractions, setting timers and promising yourself some reward when it is completed can be motivating. As an aside, treating my ADHD was the best thing I ever did to overcome writers block & that feeling of dread that accompanied my extreme procrastination. Good luck, you got this!

    8. I edit everything*

      I sympathize! I have found that committing to working on the dreaded project for a certain amount of time–long enough to get something substantial done, but not so long as to be intimidating, which for me is around 45 minutes–often helps me get past that block. That amount of time is long enough for me to get into the right zone, and I often end up just blowing through the endpoint of my work block.
      Small rewards can also work: If I get X words written today, I’ll stop for ice cream on the way home. If I get X done by Y time, I’ll be able to take the dog to the park. Or whatever motivates you.
      For me, today, if I get 30 pages edited, I’ll feel OK going to a baseball game with my family.
      On that note, I’d better get to it.

    9. giraffecat*

      My job also includes a significant amount of writing and I sometimes find myself in a similar situation where I would rather do anything else than write a particular article. I think the saying about discipline being more important than motivation is key. Motivation can come and go and you can waste a lot of time waiting for motivation to kick in. But, if you practice discipline, you can continue to make progress even when you are not motivated to do so.

      For me, this means that I have to create a designated time to only work on that task and nothing else. I block it off on my calendar and don’t let myself do anything else during that time. Even if I am only able to get down a couple of sentences, the act of pushing through my lack of motivation is enough to build up that discipline. Then, next time I sit down to write, maybe I get up to a paragraph or two. Once you’ve built up that discipline, the motivation may come later once you start to feel a sense of accomplishment at making some progress.

    10. anotherfan*

      Just start the thing. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it doesn’t have to ring any bells, it doesn’t even have to be immediately coherent. Just get something down in your word doc. Even if your first words are “this is going to be a blog about salt-water taffy, which is boring,” at least you’ve done something, and you can modify it from there. Don’t write in paragraphs if that’s what the problem is — make an outline and then fill it in with more words. You have to get over the idea that you need to be engaged or passionate or whatever to write. You have a deadline. That should be all that really matters. Frankly, that’s all that matters to your editor.

    11. Karo*

      I have a very similar job and a very similar issue with writing some longer pieces! (In fact, I’m writing this instead of working on a pillar page due today.)

      What helps me is committing to just getting a few sentences on a page. They don’t have to be good sentences, they don’t have to be related to each other, and half the time the sentences end with “I need to say something here about why XYZ but words bad.” If I’m still not feeling it at that point, I work on something else for a little bit and come back to revise my previous dreck or write a few more half-sentences of it. It won’t write the piece for you, but a lot of time getting that first sentence down is half the battle, and the revision process helps me write more and more.

      Good luck!

    12. Generic Name*

      I write technical documents, so fortunately it doesn’t have to be fun or entertaining to read. I normally start my documents with a brain dump/bullet points of that I want to say, what is most important. Then I’ll re-arrange into an outline format, then I’ll go back and turn my notes/bullet points into actual sentences. Then I edit, and revise as necessary.

    13. Forrest Rhodes*

      Strong agree with WellRed: A piece isn’t necessarily written in the order it’s read—that is, starting with page 1. I’ve worked with highly successful writers that start by writing the ending of the book (or the Conclusions section of the paper).
      Start with whatever section is uppermost in your mind, or the one you’re most familiar with, and work section by section. You’ll put the sections together in order once they’re written—and re-reading them in order will often make the perfect page 1/section 1 obvious. (There’s a connection to Anne LaMott’s “bird by bird” theory here, too.)

      Another strong agree with lizjennings87: My kitchen timer is one of my most important writing tools. I set it for 20-30 minutes, promising myself that when the timer goes off, if I feel like stopping, I’ll stop. Almost always, the result is that when the timer rings I’m enmeshed in the writing and have the momentum that keeps me in writing mode.

      Also, I think your outline is a great starting point—it breaks the article down into bite-sized pieces (so to speak). I’m convinced that you’ve got this assignment covered!

    14. Double A*

      This actually sounds like the perfect use case for AI. Feed AI some of your outline, and then when it spits out bunk, maybe that will motivate you to edit it and write it so much better.

      AI is only bad when it’s used as an end. When it’s a means to help with the writing process, I think it can be useful.

    15. Siege*

      Get words on the page. They can be crap! They can be your outline! They can be “the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog”! Having words on the page helps with the getting-started part. Also, I find it’s useful to have a printed or hand-written version of the outline so that you’re not flipping back and forth between screens – for me, if I have an outline on the page I’m working on (that I’m expecting to use, not one I’m putting on there to get started with) going back and forth between two screens in the same program is very disruptive because that’s the kind of thing I usually do when I’m copying info or comparing two documents, so it knocks me out of the flow of writing. A piece of paper to the side that I can glance at is actually helpful.

      Also, your mileage may vary on this and I’ve only ever done it once in a professional capacity with a coworker but there are meetups and the like that do body doubling, which could help. The downside is that with something like Shut Up And Write, there’s an expectation you’ll introduce yourself, and the intros tend to take anywhere from 5-10 minutes depending on the size of the group. But I’ve definitely seen plenty of people working on work in those Zooms.

    16. Grandma to three cats*

      Lots of good advice here! I didn’t see one of my tricks, which is to change locations. I don’t know why it’s easier to write in the coffeeshop, but sometimes it is. Good luck!

    17. Regretful Regina*

      My advice won’t work for everyone but when I hit the tipping point of “it’s more energy dreading and putting off this hated task than it would be to just go do it” I go to a Mexican cantina, bring my laptop, and do it over lunch with a margarita.

    18. Dina*

      Thanks to all for the advice! I really appreciate it. I’m already starting to try out some of these ideas and I’ve managed to get some writing done today. It doesn’t help that the deadline is one I set, so I know it’s moveable, but I’m determined not to kick this can down the road :)

    19. Parakeet*

      I split it into bite-sized pieces. My to-do lists are full of daily to-do items that things like “Draft at least 1 paragraph of XYZ article.” I’m currently working on editing and revising something that’s more than 60 pages, and my to-do lists are full of daily “edit at least 1 page” items. YMMV on what counts as a bite-sized piece, so adjust this for what makes sense with your type and pace of writing.

      This is how I finished my dissertation and it has served me well since then.

    20. Donkey Hotey*

      I’ll add a nuance to the “just start writing” advice. When faced with a giant block of TBW, I tend to get stuck and stop. What I’ve found is that if I skip to a part that I do like, the act of writing gets the juices flowing and I can circle back to write the more difficult parts later. So, find a particular sub section of your outline that you do enjoy and write the heck out of that first.

    21. Alternative Person*

      Lots of great advice already offered, a lot of which I already do.

      To add another, one thing that really helps me is a minimum word count. The writing doesn’t have to be great, but if I set a target of X number of words per Y amount of time (400 words per day is my sweet spot for most things) I find I get at least something on the page.

  12. C*

    How have you folks decide whether to take a job offer or keep interviewing? I’ve been told I’ll be receiving an offer for an internal transfer with a raise, but I’ve also been talking with a recruiter for an outside role that would pay better than the transfer. But it’s hard to find info about the culture and such because it’s a small company with almost no reviews on any jobsite. (I have a coworker in the department that offered me a transfer who’s vouched for them).

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      The best way to get an idea of a company’s culture is to speak with people at the company, for starters. But it sounds like you haven’t even interviewed at the outside company? You don’t have an offer from them? You can always take the transfer AND keep interviewing– bird in the hand and all that.

      1. C*

        I don’t trust the interviews as a source. They’re always trying to project a better version of themselves. I have no connections with the company to get the inside scoop, is what I mean.

        I can’t take the transfer and keep interviewing because that would screw over my coworker.

        1. Venus*

          Can you explain to the coworker that you need more time?

          I wouldn’t trust an interviewer either, but it’s fair to ask to meet with the people you’ll be working with, and you can talk with them.

        2. AvonLady Barksdale*

          Then… take the transfer? If outside sources are that important to you and you have none, then why consider it at all?

          As far as screwing over your coworker– I get that, and I put a lot of value on being collaborative and leaving a good impression. But sometimes stuff happens. If you’re unhappy at the company then keep looking, but there’s no reason to stop job searching after a transfer. It can take ages to find the right job.

          1. C*

            I’m more trying to ask the broad question of what factors other people have considered when deciding whether to take an offer or keep looking — I don’t know how much I should weigh the lack of info versus higher salary and what other factors I might not have considered. I *am* still interviewing while waiting to see the formal offer, so I should have more info by the time it comes through, but once it does, I want to be sure I haven’t overlooked something important

        3. Hot Dish*

          Can you request to do a tour of the potential company if you haven’t already? Perhaps that would give you more info if it’s a feasible option.

          1. C*

            Bit late, but I’m a remote worker, so not sure that applies. Thank you for the advice though

      2. Venus*

        I wouldn’t keep sending out applications after taking the transfer, but following up on interviews that come up after the transfer is fair. Agreed that you need to talk with people at a company.

    2. pally*

      Why do you have to choose between them?
      Can you take the internal transfer job and continue to find out/interview for the external job?

      If the external job doesn’t pan out, you have the transfer job. If the external job DOES turn out to be a good opportunity for you, take it. You can explain that it was an opportunity that fell into your lap and was too irresistible to turn down.

      You have to do what’s best for you. No one else has your best interests at heart except for you. You owe it to yourself to explore new possibilities when they show up.

      1. C*

        Replied above as well, but I can’t take the internal transfer and then keep interviewing because it would blow back on my coworker, who recommended I apply and who I believe has vouched for me. I respect him a lot and don’t want to do that to him.

        1. quercus*

          That makes sense to be concerned about your coworker’s reputation. But I’d say talk to him first to make sure it would be an issue. After all in some places, the fact that you got a better outside job would be seen as evidence you are hot stuff, so you coworker’s reputation might rise.

          1. Plate of Wings*

            This is how it would go in my experience. The coworker was on the money, yes there’s a disruption, but he comes out ahead.

    3. Blue Pen*

      Aside from getting a good grasp on the work environment, culture, and benefits, IDK, honestly, I go by feeling. If I turned the position down, would I regret it the next day? If not, that’s my cue to keep looking. And even though I’m thinking about my immediate next step, I also try to look a few years ahead: how is this position going to get me to the next thing? Will it get me to the next thing? Last year, I turned down a much higher paying job (at a director-level) that, on paper, should’ve been the dream job. But something didn’t feel right to me during the interview process, so I declined. I don’t regret it at all, and while I took an individual contributor role instead, I’m extremely happy here and see a world of potential for me to grow and develop at a pace—with a team—I’m more comfortable with.

    4. Mr. Cajun2core*

      A good environment is much better than nearly any amount of pay. If you really like the culture in the internal transfer, stick with that. Unless the pay difference is drastic and/or you don’t like the culture in the current place, than just stick with the internal transfer.

    5. Glazed Donut*

      I was in a similar position a few years ago – an internal offer to move into a role more aligned with a (somewhat) recent degree I’d achieved.
      I said no. I was definitely interested, and it would have been a slight raise, but I felt like I had to talk myself into it. I knew the work-life balance would be awful, and I’d always feel behind/overwhelmed, even if it was moving me closer to some End Goal Role. A few weeks after I said no to that one, another role came up that was an easy Yes for me. It was a gut feeling.

    6. anon_sighing*

      I’m not a huge risk taker – moving up with a raise in a context that I am familiar with would be ideal vs a devil I don’t know and can’t find out anything about.

      However, I don’t see why you can’t take the transfer and see how things play out.

  13. I need a new job*

    Recently confirmed a panel interview for a new job and in sending the logistics, the coordinator sent me the wrong date and time (a week earlier than what they had initially suggested). So clearly someone will be interviewing the week before me. The question I had is — if they proposed dates to each candidate without discussing availability (which is what happened with me), would a later date mean that I may be at the bottom of a top 5 list? Just wondering if it’s an indication of my chances. (I realize there might not be an answer to that!)

    1. Millie*

      I wouldn’t read into it. When I was on search committees, the chair would just go down the list and pick times that worked for the interview panel. It could be alphabetical, it could be based on when your application was submitted, etc. I don’t think the interview being the later time slot is indicative of your chances.

    2. C*

      I wouldn’t even be sure that someone else has an interview the week before you. I just had a recruiter accidentally suggest the 18th when they meant the 11th, it can be easy to mix up which week row to look up on the calendar

      1. I need a new job*

        That make sense, except both the date and time were both off. My interview is in two weeks in the afternoon, the other is next week in the early morning.

        1. CTT*

          I accidentally sent an invite yesterday for the wrong date and time (so wrong that it was actually in the past by the time I sent it). So either I’m the only person in the world who’s ever made that mistake, or it was probably a mistake and don’t read anything into it beyond that.

    3. Rex Libris*

      Here, it would likely just be the order in which we received the original applications, if anything.

    4. Roland*

      > So clearly someone will be interviewing the week before me

      I don’t follow… And even if that were the case, I think the rest of your question is still reading too much into it. And if you were correct about the rest, that still wouldn’t be information that’s actionable in any way.

      Good luck with the interview.

    5. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

      I would read NOTHING into that. They’re probably just going down the stack in some random order. Alphabetical, the orders the requests came into the scheduler’s inbox, some internal ID, whatever.

    6. Another Hiring Manager*

      In my experience, probably not. The more people on the panel, the harder it is to get them on the calendar, so the time to interview all the candidates in that round might be spread over multiple weeks.

      With me, I review resumes in the order I receive them from HR, and I reach out to the ones I want to interview in that same order.

    7. Quinalla*

      Order interviews are scheduled generally don’t mean anything.

      And yes, could very well be that they just messed up the invite – I am guilty of messing up day and time myself on calendar invites, but either way, order scheduled is very likely random, whatever order names were in a list (alphabetical, whatever), etc.

    8. Ainsley Hayes*

      I would not assume anything about order of interviewing. It could just be availability of both candidates, or a genuine typo.

  14. Josie*

    I think you’re probably overthinking it!
    If she’s a reasonable person she likely saw this coming from a way off – and if she will hold it against you personally, then that’s her problem.
    That being said, I’d probably hold off until you’ve been in the role for perhaps a week – I know it’s superstitious but I wouldn’t want to jinx anything by announcing it too early!

  15. No good deed*

    When “Fergus” was about to lose his job due to restructuring, I battled management to create a position for him in my team. When he later mentioned his wife was struggling with job search, I reached out to my professional contacts, helped review her resume, and she ended up in a fantastic role.

    A few days ago I accidentally came across Fergus’s Facebook messenger on his work computer where he complained about me. He made fun of the scar on my face and my teeth among other comments. I closed it before reading further and never mentioned it to him. He seems unaware he left this chat open. But I was, and still am, upset. I didn’t realize he thought so poorly of me after all the effort I put into helping him.

    Is there a way to set aside my personal feelings of dislike towards Fergus? I am struggling with the idea of doing anything else for him beyond just not being rude.

    To clarify, I know it’s normal and healthy to complain about your manager. it’s just….I went above and beyond for this guy and what he said was personally hurtful.

    1. RivahGal*

      Ouch. This is hard. I don’t think you can un-see what you now know, nor should you try. In your shoes I would pull way back from any unessential relationship with Fergus and politely but firmly be unavailable for any future “favors”. You now know who he really is, all you can do it treat him accordingly. You didn’t deserve that and please know it is a much bigger reflection on him than on you. Don’t let his character shape yours- keep on being awesome and showing up in the world as a good human, we need more like you out there.

      1. RVA Cat*

        This. I also wonder if he’s ashamed about needing your help and deflecting that onto you. That’s not okay but it’s yet another reason this is about him, not you.

    2. RagingADHD*

      I don’t think you have to pretend to like him, or go out of your way to give him any more extra help. Just manage him fairly by the book, as you would anyone that you got stuck with but aren’t bff’s with. I think “not being rude” is perfectly sufficient.

      He sounds like a user. It is one thing to occasionally vent about your manager’s decisions or approach. But insulting their appearance is immature and meanspirited.

      1. ferrina*


        Fergus sounds super awful! Making fun of someone’s appearance is awful, especially when this person is going out of their way to help you!

    3. Hlao-roo*

      I know it’s normal and healthy to complain about your manager.</i.

      I think it's normal and healthy to complain a bit about how your manager manages your work, but not normal or healthy to complain about their physical appearance!

      "[Manager] has me working on so many projects this year I feel like I'm being pulled in a million directions at once!" = normal

      "[Manager] is so tall and skinny they could star as the beanstalk in a Jack and the Beanstalk movie" = mean, uncalled for, not normal, all around rude

      I'm sorry you saw those comments (and I'm sorry Fergus made them in the first place!). No advice on how to handle, just want to point out that there's complaining about your manager in a normal way and complaining about your manager in a rude and hateful way. Fergus is in the second category.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        Italics fail! Just meant to italicize the first line that I copied out of the original post there.

    4. WellRed*

      It’s normal to complain about your manager but he’s made it mean and personal. What grown ass adult makes fun of a scar, for fk sake?

      1. 867-5309*

        THIS. I will b*tch about a boss’s management style or actions at work but it has never occurred to me to be like, “Oh. That limp he has.” (Note – my former boss does not have a limp. I just picked something.)

    5. sheworkshardforthemoney*

      I would stay professional and keep any personal issues out of the work relationship. If he asks for help with any kind of favour, politely decline. It’s unlikely that he will notice any change in your demeanor towards him because he’s a user and you will only be on his radar when he wants something. And people like him will always want something.

    6. HonorBox*

      On his radio show years ago, Jim Rome cautioned listeners/callers that “personal appearance isn’t show fodder.” And personal appearance shouldn’t be fodder for any type of conversation like this.

      You can’t unsee what you’ve seen. You don’t have to like Fergus. You don’t have to do Fergus any favors. You just have to be a fair manager to Fergus.

    7. Kay*

      You have learned a valuable piece of information about Fergus. That an employee would think something like that, put it in writing, on a work device, about a boss and someone who helped him AND his wife? Wow.

      Maybe there was a reason he was on the chopping block in that last restructuring. He would be the first on mine if I knew I had an employee who behaved like that. This should give you serious pause, and you should keep an eye out for ways this will come out in other areas.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I agree. You know this and don’t have to factor in past favors when something similar comes up.

    8. chili oil*

      One question to ask yourself: why did you go out of the way for Fergus? Did you need his skills? Did you feel sorry for him? Are there other people you wouldn’t have put yourself out for, and if so, why Fergus? Why help his wife? Would you do that for everyone you know? He is clearly a jerk to mention physical appearance, but why did you do so much for him/his family?

    9. Chauncy Gardener*

      Yeow. I literally gasped a little when I read what he said. What the actual heck??
      Take a big step back from him and just be fair manager. You now know something really important about this guy.

    10. Coffee Protein Drink*

      It’s normal and healthy to complain about a manager’s behavior, not their appearance. That’s just petty and rude.

      Fergus has shown himself to be an absolute twit so of course your feelings about him have changed. When you interact with him, focus on his work. If you think you might be being too rough on him because you dislike him, loop in someone you trust about his work to check yourself.

    11. anon_sighing*

      Complaining about your manager is not insulting their personal appearance. You’re too nice about that — he’s being a jerk. That said, my motto is: “Even if you did a nice thing for a bad person, you did a nice thing because it’s the right thing.”

      I don’t think you *need* to put your personal feelings aside. You can 100% stop doing things for him; just do what you’re planning to do: manage him and try not to be rude.

    12. Part time lab tech*

      I am wondering why you did so much for him too. Did he use charm on you? Did he kiss up because he definitely kicked you when he thought you couldn’t see. I will say I think he should be not promoted into any position managing people because he is mean spirited and charming enough to hide it. I’m sorry, it feels like he used you.
      In case any one thinks I’m being too hard on him, think about the best people you know and ask yourself, do you think they would have been rude in this manner to someone who helped them?
      Secondly, just because Fergus thinks like this, doesn’t mean other people are critiquing your appearance. He is focussed on appearance, other people are focussed on kindness or practicalities or safety.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I agree that Fergus should NOT be considered for managing people–his skills are, well, nonexistent. If this is how he talks about someone who saved his job and helped his wife, how will he treat other people who are under his management?

    13. IT Manager*

      “Complain about your manager” means things like they make you work too much overtime or they don’t give feedback or something.

      Not personal comments nor slurs about your body. How extremely rude, and yes – ungrateful!!

      I don’t see why you would ever go out of your way for Fergus again, having learned this about him. I’m so sorry.

    14. linger*

      If Fergus’ work computer was just lying around unsecured (which is a serious issue in itself), you might not have been the first to have found it. So there is perhaps a remote chance that another coworker opened that thread in his name. And maybe that is something you could tell yourself to be able to give Fergus some grace in further dealings when managing him.
      You could of course mention the work computer security issue, without mentioning exactly what you found open, and see just how panicked Fergus gets…

  16. RivahGal*

    This is a new one for me, maybe you all can offer some advice.

    I was hired as a “Senior *title*” team member a little over a year ago in a small-ish department that handles essential financial functions for a large corporation. I have done a great job by all measures with frequent awards, recognitions, a hefty performance bonus and increasing responsibilities. I love my job!

    While my role is different and broader than the 8 other team members in the dept, there is some overlap. And in that overlap area, I am consistently one of the top performers (if not the top performer). My teammates lately have not been taking this well and went to our manager to ask if the process could be changed essentially to slow me (specifically) down on these tasks. My manager implemented the requested change, which has had an immediate negative effect on our group’s overall performance. She explained that she know it was a bad idea but that she needed to “make everyone feel heard”, and that she expected it to be temporary until the data revealed the results.

    My take is that we all have the exact same opportunity to complete these tasks, and I have even less time available to do so than they do, so why throttle me when I am clearly doing a great job (and by association making the entire department look good.) I have never before essentially been told to “do less” and it’s kind of messing with my head. Any thoughts on how I can handle this?

    1. ferrina*

      That is utterly bonkers.

      To recap- your teammates were jealous that you were getting more done than them, so they asked your manager to put in place measures to slow you down, and your manager agreed! Rather than actually, you know, manage the situation, your manager took the past of least resistance that she knew would lower the team’s productivity. Everyone in this situation (beside you) is being super weird!

      For what to do- first, know that you did absolutely nothing to cause this.
      Personally, I’d spend a bit of time getting to know my coworkers so I know which ones are trying to undermine me and which ones I can trust (if any). Beyond that, it all depends on the politics and power dynamics. You might be able to ask HR or senior staff for advice, but that could also backfire tremendously. You might be able to see if you can change your job to either not include the overlap responsibilities or assume all responsibility (or only have you and the people you trust doing those responsibilities, so there is no point of comparison for the jealous people), but that really depends on what those overlap responsibilities are. I’d also mentally put a time limit on this job- this is such weird dynamics that I’m wondering what else is going on.
      Good luck!

    2. A Significant Tree*

      Your manager is being ridiculous. It sounds like the classic “my coworkers suck but my manager is the real problem here” situation. She should not have entertained the suggestion that she KNOWS is bad – when the data comes in, it’s not going to prove anything to the team that they don’t already know, it’s just going to make her look ineffective for fixing what ain’t broke.

      I’m assuming you’re the only Senior, and the rest of the team are the same level one below Senior. Better solutions might be to have you lean more into the non-overlap areas that only a Senior can handle, or to give you clear boundaries around a specific cut of the overlap that most aligns with your Senior title. That lessens the direct comparison to you that your team seem to be frustrated with. If either of these seem reasonable, is that something you can broach with your manager?

    3. Kez*

      I don’t know the specifics of the process change, but if it’s related to how assignments are handed out, maybe the hit in the department’s response speed is worthwhile for an increase in experience for the more junior team members? I’ve had instances in the past where a junior team member would objectively take longer to complete something, but I handed it off to them so that they would build the skills to get faster over time.

      From a managerial perspective, it’s risky to have a team which heavily relies on the super-speed of a single member. If you had to go on leave for a month, how well could your colleagues cover the proportion of work that you currently handle?

      If this is a ticketing system, junior colleagues might also be waiting on tickets only to have you jumping in on the only tickets they are qualified to complete or the stretch skills they want to practice. It may be a case where colleagues have been feeling like they can’t do their job because your “help” is preventing them from performing and growing as they expected in the role.

      Different managers, organizations, and people have differing opinions on whether that kind of frustration would warrant a change, but I could see a reasonable case for asking you to take more frequent breaks and let the junior team step up to the plate.

    4. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      This is in the category of “plat stupid games, win stupid prizes”. I would just get this documented in writing and then go about your day. One of a handful of things will happen: the data will emerge and it will be reversed, the data will emerge and it won’t be reversed and ultimately questions will be asked higher up, or the data will get covered up / not discovered because the manager is a pushover. You won’t be able to convince manager so the best thing to do is put yourself in the best position for when this comes out.

    5. not nice, don't care*

      Why do shitty managers always ‘make everyone feel heard’ only when it’s harmful. My spouse’s manager does shit like this, but usually to make white cis het xtian males feel heard over everyone else.

    6. Qwerty*

      Let’s take you out of the equation and pretend you were no longer involved in that task. Would the metrics of the team pre-process change still be better than post-process change if they were handling all of these tasks entire on their own? Or could the post-change metrics be an adjustment period that gets better with time?

      Putting you back in – consider whether you taking all the tasks in this overlap area could have a negative effect for your coworkers. They can’t get the consistent experience to improve if you are taking the lions share. Or is this a task that they like doing and now they have lost part of their job that they like? Or a good “clear my head” task that is no longer available so they are just stuck with the monotony of their other workload? Are they worried that one of their jobs will be cut or that they’ll be held to your output standards when you are on vacation? Try finding a reason other than your coworkers are jealous – pretend you like them and that they are reasonable people, and then look at why a reasonable person might have a problem with the current set up.

      The argument that you all have the “exact same opportunity” is not true. They have different jobs and the non-overlap tasks are not the same. So they might not feel that they getting the same opportunity due to timelines or effort levels for their other tasks.

      Actually, re-reading the first sentence of that last paragraph feels really off to me. Consider whether there may be an ego (or perception of an ego) that your teammates are dealing with. Is anyone else able to shine when you are in the room? You’ve heard that the majority of your team has an issue and the response kinda boils down to they should happy that you are awesome. When one person is making the department look good, people don’t think that the department looks good, they tend to think one person is saving the department from a bunch of low performers, which tanks morale for the rest of the team.

      Finally, if you are a superstar, maybe this isn’t the best use of your time? Is there meatier stuff they can give you? Or can you find ways to help your coworkers accomplish this item faster on their own? It doesn’t have to be your speed – a small improvement multiplied over several people will outweigh just you being slowed down.

      Your boss is handling this terribly. She should not have told you that it is a bad idea only implemented to placate the team – that only increases the divide between you and everyone else.

      1. GythaOgden*

        Yeah, it’s like me in class. At both school and university, my hand was always the first one up. Eventually, my teacher said, yes, I know YOU know. I want to hear what others think.

        So yeah, you might want to ease back on the throttle a little bit yourself. In some situations like this, there can be a comfortable division of labour, like on reception I was the clerical person and my colleague was more of a people person. But it meant I struggled a lot when she was off dealing with the maintenance side of the job as I didn’t take on my fair share of those aspects of a facilities role. It’s like when I offered my clerical services to a new manager on our team and she politely declined because she wanted to be able to put through purchase orders of her own to get a feel for how the system works internally.

        This may feel like tall poppy syndrome, but management has a duty to their entire team. It can definitely be annoying at times, but I’d use some of your capacity to be a team player and help others up to speed as well as focusing on your own metrics.

    7. goddessoftransitory*

      Okay, to be blunt to your manager: ridiculous ideas do not need to be heard.

      These people can be as jealous and petty as they like; if they want your recognition it’s not your job to do worse at your tasks, and it certainly isn’t your manager’s to throw artificial obstacles in your path!

      I would escalate this, pronto.

    8. RC*

      This just reminds me of the scene at the beginning of Hot Fuzz, where Simon Pegg’s London coworkers are basically just so annoyed that he does his job better than anyone else they force him out. And “I know this is a bad idea but let’s do it anyway”? Wild.

      Start diligently documenting what the “data” are showing re: the bad idea? Can you push back on the changes as being unnecessary? I don’t even know what I’d do there.

      1. linger*

        It seems odd to think the proposed change is directed specifically at you (that it will impact you disproportionately). Could this be a quality vs quantity issue? You are clearly invested in the quantity/speed side (possibly you can take the quality as given). But is there some quality issue introduced by (or, when others attempt) shortcuts you are able to take?
        If the data is tracked in aggregate, there will be a reduction in average task speed whether or not you are especially affected, and this does not make sense unless there is a quality issue to be resolved.
        If the data is tracked at an individual level, it will be fun to see if the change also reduces task speed for the other team members. That would be sufficient evidence to reverse the change — unless there is also some resulting increase in task/product quality.

  17. Not-So-New Mom (of 1 8/9)*

    Hello! I’m thinking of looking for a new job on or shortly after my maternity leave. (Any day now!) I asked for a transfer to a new department at the beginning of the year and the pace in the new department is faster than I’d ideally like and think I want to handle down the line.

    My company pays 100% of my health insurance premiums, I do co-pays and anything beyond that. I’ve heard that sometimes people have to pay them back if they leave the job on maternity leave or soon afterwards? Is that a thing? There’s no way I can ask my own HR department about this, right?

    1. No Tribble At All*

      You can ask your HR department for the handbook. You can frame it as general questions about leave. You could also ask “if there’s restructuring/I’m laid off while I’m on leave, how does that work for the premiums?” and hopefully they’ll say something about all types of quitting the job in general.

      I think for mine I had to work at least one day after my leave. So you might have to do that.

      Congrats & good luck on getting that last 1/9th of the way there!!

    2. BellyButton*

      That is typically for when you aren’t getting a paycheck and they are covering the premiums that come from your paycheck. If they already pay 100% there shouldn’t be anything for you to payback.

      Maybe someone else will have direct experience with this and post.

      Good luck!

    3. GythaOgden*

      No advice — I’m in the UK so at a considerable remove — but my fingers are crossed for you and I’m sending you good vibes for a successful birth.

      1. Not-So-New Mom (of 1 8/9)*

        Thank you! I’m “full term” now (37 weeks out of 40) so just waiting!

    4. TX_TRUCKER*

      Is your maternity leave actual “maternity” leave or is it a “disability” leave ? If it’s disability leave, there is a higher chance that you may need to pay it back. The answer totally depends on the type of insurance your company has. If your company knows you are pregnant it’s totally okay to ask about the disability policy details.

  18. Cpb*

    I’m asking a personal curiosity question but for a business reason.

    Has anyone ever self taught themselves another language? Or two? Or three?

    I work for an amazing US company that is as “American” as can be. However we were geographically in a melting pot area with many different backgrounds. It’s truly something wonderful to see. I’ve noticed our company is frequented by mostly English speaking customers but I’ve counted 3-4 other languages/ cultures making up some of these customers. Our company is small and form family like relationships with customers. Is it weird to want to learn the basics in conversations to say hello to a few people? I’m by no means a linguist but I’d love to ask how their vacation was? Family? Weekend?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I learned French by immersion, with help from new coworkers.

      My company bought 50% of a French company, sent me to work there as tech liaison. It was a real struggle at first, but eventually I was pretty passable at casual conversation, and could even do technical/business conversations. I could read pretty well, but formal writing I never quite got (French spelling & verb tenses are a major pain). It took me about 4 months to feel somewhat comfortable with clients, if I had somebody else from the company with me, and then after 6 months I could go solo.

    2. ferrina*

      Yes, people have self-taught other languages. My great-grandfather taught himself several other languages by translating the Bible from one language he didn’t know into another language he didn’t know. He also worked as a translator for the court system, eventually in these languages that he self-taught.

      I think it’s a sweet thought! And there’s plenty of resources out there, so you don’t need to go it alone. Duolingo has a free version that is quite functional, and there’s a ton of great language resources if you’re willing to pay a bit. If you are in a city, you might be able to find language-practice meet-up groups as well.
      Just be open to the idea that your customers may decline to speak to you in that language. Some people are delighted by being able to speak their language to someone who is learning, and some people prefer not to.

    3. Admin of Sys*

      I absolutely suck at it, but know friends who have managed to pick up conversational levels of spanish. They generally all say that duo lingo isn’t great, babble is pretty good, and nothing beats in person classes and lots of practice. That said, they all get a lot of positive feedback for even trying, so I’d say go for it!

    4. Other Alice*

      My go-to is Duolingo to learn the basics, and then watch some films/shows in the original language with translated subtitles. Listening to native speakers is amazing for picking up some useful phrases.

      1. ferrina*

        Watching films/shows with dubs is a great idea. I also love listening to music in the language. There’s also some bilingual musicians who will sometimes do both English and a second language within the same song.

        1. Rekha3.14*

          If you can stand it, Disney movies in other languages. For the songs because you may know many of the lyrics in English, but the stories are usually really familiar so you don’t have to focus on understanding the story, too.

          or short episodes. My daughter’s French teacher suggested Bluey. Kids shows tend to have some easier language.

      2. Panicked*

        Yes! I am currently learning German and I follow a bunch of native German speaking content creators on Instagram and Youtube. I especially love cooking ones, as I can see what they’re doing and get a general understanding of what’s going on, even if I don’t recognize every word.

    5. Mark This Confidential And Leave It Laying Around*

      A great resource I don’t see mentioned is television, specifically the ads. If you have access to shows with the ads in the language you want to learn, these are gold. They’re short, they’re focused, and they are idiomatic, so you’re learning how people actually may speak rather than a very formal idiom. And no swearing so you won’t accidentally pick up an extremely vulgar way to say hello!

    6. Lily Rowan*

      This may be obvious to everyone but me, but being able to ask how the weekend was is easy — it’s understanding the answer that is hard! (Witness me in Mexico asking for directions with fine grammar and understandable accent, and not being able to follow what the nice person told me back AT ALL.)

      1. BikeWalkBarb*

        So, so true. My brain can construct the grammar going out; my ear can’t hear the breaks between words coming back in from a fluent native speaker.

    7. European pragmatist*

      Yes! It is very possible and any language you learn will enrich your life.

      I knew four languages already (Latvian, Russian, English, and German) and taught myself Korean, which is very different from the four. Having all the sentences end with a verb did quite a number on my brain but it was sooo rewarding when I finally got it.

      In general, learning a new language takes a lot of time. Most people who start the journey don’t get very far because they lose motivation. If your motivation is solid then I have no doubts you can be successful because there are tons of resources and language blogs you can use on the internet.

    8. Flower necklace*

      I teach high school ESOL, so I learned Spanish to communicate with my students. I started off with Duolingo and online classes, but I didn’t really improve until I started speaking with my students. It was difficult at first, but now it’s second nature for me to switch between English and Spanish.

    9. Parakeet*

      I’ve found that Duolingo for the basics, plus reading or listening to simple texts and shows or doing simple correspondence in the target language once I have that base, works reasonably well. Though I am much better at learning to read and write than to speak (this was true when I was a toddler learning English, which is my native language, too!). I have a couple of incarcerated pen pals who speak non-English languages that I’ve learned well enough to read what they write and write letters back with vocabulary help from Google Translate. That kind of real-world application is good practice.

      I hear meet-up groups are useful but haven’t done one myself.

    10. allathian*

      I learned English by immersion when we lived in the UK when I was 12. I’d studied it for two years and had some very limited basics. I went to school and learned quickly. We moved there just in time for the school year to start, and by Christmas I could manage in class and do my homework without extra assistance, although I had private tuition in English once a week, provided by the school. At the end of the school year I got an A in English. I’ve estimated that I learned about 50 words every day we were there.

      I do recognize that I had a few advantages: my family of origin is bilingual, so my brain was used to more than one language, I’d learned just enough that I could at least tell people what I didn’t understand, and I was very motivated to learn, as it was the only way to understand what others were saying and to communicate with other people.

    11. TX_TRUCKER*

      I can say hello and other very basic phrases in multiple languages thanks to DuoLingo. I mostly self learned French with Rocket Language and other self study.

  19. TheBunny*

    I’m in an awful job (abusive micromanager who is afraid of losing their job and berates the team) so I’m looking for a new opportunity as I just can’t stay in this role. (Unfortunately transfer to another team isn’t possible, the company is too small.)

    The issue? Aside from this manager (and the person they report to who is oddly even more abusive so going to them isn’t an option) I love the rest of the people I work with.

    Were it not for this manager I wouldn’t be looking. They have actually been out the last couple of weeks and instead of being overwhelmed or overworked covering for them, it’s actually been great.

    The manager isn’t going anywhere. The job won’t get better. Talking to them got me nowhere as I’m told they need me to be “their right hand” when actually I’m supposed to read their mind. But I’m struggling to stay motivated in my job search.

    Add in that I’m searching while working so it adds complexity to my availability (luckily the role is hybrid so there’s that assistance with interviews…which I am getting, I have 3 today) and I’m just struggling.

    I KNOW I need to leave (being berated until I agree with my boss…after 20 minutes of abuse…that because I didn’t do a task *exactly* how they envisioned it, it wasn’t “quality work” isn’t sustainable) but how do I stay motivated when the abuser isn’t there (they should be back next week) and job searching is not fun?

    Sorry to be so negative. I’m just really struggling here.

    1. ferrina*

      I’m so sorry. That’s such a tough situation to be in. The job would be great….were it not for this one major, unchangeable component.

      I found that setting a minimum time limit for my job search helped. Maybe decide that this week you’ll apply to 3 jobs or spend 4 hours searching, or whatever you need. If you want to do more after you’ve hit your goal, great. If not, also great! Pick a goal that you’d be happy saying “yeah, that was a light week but I moved a couple things forward”.

      It’s okay to enjoy a good situation while it lasts, but you know it’s only temporary. I think you can do a light week and only do a little job searching, knowing that you’ll be much more motivated when your boss returns soon.

      1. TheBunny*

        Yeah. There’s definitely that. I’ll be all sorts of motivated once they are back, that’s for sure.

        But that’s exactly it. The job would be great aside from this huge wall that’s not going anywhere.

    2. BellyButton*

      I am so sorry. And be negative here, get it all out so that you interview well. When I was trying to leave toxic place I was so beaten down that I was not interviewing well at all- which is typically never a problem for me. I usually nail interviews, but until I was able to pull myself out of the head space I was not getting any offers.

      Good luck!! And remember those horrible managers are not a reflection of you.

      1. TheBunny*

        Thanks. That’s what I’m trying to avoid, getting so beaten down it comes through.

        Luckily I’ve been able to speak about liking my job in interviews. The company is in financial trouble so I have an easy reason for leaving that allows me to discuss the job in positive terms aside from that.

        But it’s making me not want to leave because it’s only one part that’s awful. But it’s AWFUL.

        1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

          Well yeah, when there is no shark in your swimming pool it’s a great place to swim with a lovely view.

            1. goddessoftransitory*

              This house would be a dream if it wasn’t on fire. Ugh, the worst.

              Soon you will have a better house that is not on fire with no sharks in the pool.

    3. ecnaseener*

      How to stay motivated while the abuser isn’t there: reflect on how damn nice it is not to be dealing with abuse and imagine how much nicer it’ll be when you’re permanently free!

    4. Generic Name*

      Hey, I feel you. I was at a company for over 10 years. Lots of great coworkers. I left for reasons that don’t have to do with most of my old coworkers. Yes, it was hard thinking about leaving the team, but you know what? Lots of companies have great people. My old company loved to harp about their “unique culture” and really played up the relationships. But no company has a monopoly on great coworkers. I’ve been with my new company for over 6 months now, and I love my new coworkers. They are also great people. Don’t stay at a job you’re unhappy with out of fear that you won’t get on as well with new coworkers. Many/most workplaces have at least some stellar humans. :)

      1. TheBunny*

        Thanks. This helped more than you know. And you are right. I like people at this job…I’ll like people at the next one too.

        I think it’s just all of it. I’m definitely noticing I’m reacting to the abuse. I generally love feedback but on my way into meetings with this manager my heart is pounding like it’s an unplanned pop up meeting with the CEO included. That’s not normal.

    5. Josephine Beth*

      Oh, I feel this! I absolutely loved my old job, loved the work I did, had an amazing team, the whole package. Except… my boss was an utter nightmare. I wanted so badly to stay, to keep doing the work, but I was turning into a shell of myself, and worse, started finding myself acting more like them at work. I also loved when they were away (although in all the years we worked together, they NEVER took a vacation where they didn’t call multiple times to check up on us…even when they went to Europe for 2 weeks).
      I started small, just looking at jobs I thought might interest me and having a few people look at my resume. I highly recommend this – after years of what can only be called abuse, I was really selling myself short on describing my skills and accomplishments! Eventually, a colleague in another department heard about my discreet inquiries and said she’d been hoping I’d be interested in joining her team at some point.
      It’s been about 18 months. In that time, I’ve been promoted to the job title Old Boss told me I’d never be qualified for, taken on some significant new challenges and been successful, and generally feel like a much better, more productive, happier human. I miss my old team, but my work intersects with theirs occassionally and when I run into Old Boss, I am reminded why I left.

      1. TheBunny*

        Wow. Great to hear from someone who escaped. I’ve only been in the role for about 6 months. I hate having a short tenure on my resume…but I just can’t remain and be abused.

        I know the boss is stressed. I do. But I’m not into excuses for abuse. And it’s bad.

        We had a meeting right before they left and they asked me what I was working on. I read them a list I have of theb19 different things that are in process. I have short details.

        The response from the boss? Ok…but what are you actually working on. SAY WHAT?

  20. I edit everything*

    Early last week, I applied for an admin support job at our local state university. I know it’s too early to expect any kind of reply (if I ever hear anything at all), but I am wondering what the hiring process is like in academia, for a relatively low-level job. The work is going to be primarily school-year centered, rather than year round, so I’m wondering if they’re aiming for a start date relative to the fall semester, or other target. Also any clues to what to expect for the process generally that might differ from a regular office job.

    1. WantonSeedStitch*

      In my experience, all hiring in higher education takes a long time! I’ve never known any university to be able to move things along very quickly on that front.

      1. Rex Libris*

        This. If you would normally expect something to take days, expect weeks. Weeks, expect months. My spouse once received a job offer as an assistant professor five months after already beginning a different job at another university.

    2. Millie*

      The timeline can really vary by department, but in general hiring processes in higher ed take forever. I’ve always worked in admin support roles in my university and have been on several hiring committees for similar roles. Hiring committees take a while to review candidates and call for interviews, then bring in for a second interview… etc. It can take 1-2 months from the time you apply before you will receive an offer because of all the levels of approval needed. But from my experience, typically 2-3 weeks after you apply, you should hear a response either way if you are moving forward or not.

    3. YNWA*

      If it’s school year centered you might be hired to come in a few weeks before the academic year starts to get caught up, but more than likely, it’s for the fall semester and hiring will go on for a long while.

    4. Natasha*

      Universities are slow, so be patient. However, very few roles will be term time only (not entirely impossible but rather unlikely). You may have more to do in certain periods and less in others, but there is a lot of admin in the back ground outside of term. This is more so the case if the university offers a summer term (many do have summer classes available for students – less, but still there).

      1. I edit everything*

        I know the job is year round. I was wondering more about hiring timeline than work schedule.

        1. Pretty as a Princess*

          This also depends on whether the team you are applying for is a student-facing/student serving function. If it’s say a research institute operated by the university that does not serve students, things like graduation or spring break wouldn’t slow you down. But in general, universities do seem to move a little more slowly in their hiring for non-academic positions than the private sector moves for those same positions (admin, IT, accounting, etc etc).

          1. I edit everything*

            It is student facing (working with the program that allows high school students to take college classes). I know they are very busy right now, because the newest batch of high schoolers just got their acceptance letters in the last week or so, so there’s placement testing, orientation, and registration going on right now. So I wouldn’t expect anything serious to happen for a while. I’m just impatient.

    5. Admin of Sys*

      Universities tend towards slow and additionally, many of them are currently doing end of semester type things. At the very least, I’d expect it to take until after graduation. That said, school year centric jobs are also going to avoid onboarding people during the beginning of classes, for similar ‘too busy with other stuff’ reasons. So I’d be unsurprised if they didn’t finish hiring until after finals processed, but I’d expect them to finish up before summer session kicks in.

      1. AFac*

        We’re 3 weeks from the end of the semester, so yeah, nothing until then.

        It may take another few weeks after that because at least for us, we go from graduation to doing paperwork to wrap up this fiscal year/plan for the next fiscal year, which is also a time nothing gets done.

    6. knitting at the baseball game*

      As everyone else has said, hiring at universities can be extremely slow. An example: the first job I had at a university took six months from application to start, and 1) it was an entry-level position and 2) I was their first choice for the job.

    7. not nice, don't care*

      Just piling on to add ‘suuuuper slow’ to the mix.
      I’ve been on hiring committees for faculty that took almost a year to make offers. We lost so many amazing candidates.
      Staff positions usually go faster, but my spouse is waiting for post-interview news 3 weeks today, so it really varies. I know my university has lost most of its HR staff over the pandemic and couldn’t replace them until recently due to hiring freezes etc. which slowed things down even more.

    8. Scholarly Publisher*

      The last time we hired for a lower-level job at my workplace, several weeks passed between posting the job and inviting finalists to interview. After the interviews, the hiring manager made their pick quickly, but it took another month to finalize all the paperwork and make the hire official. The folks who weren’t selected to interview wouldn’t have gotten the rejection email until up to three months after they’d applied.

      In other words, keep applying for jobs and don’t expect to hear anything anytime soon.

    9. I drink from the keg of glory*

      I’m a department administrator at a state university and supervise a staff of 12. Hiring always takes longer that we’d like it to for admin jobs. My schedule isn’t typically contingent on the academic calendar. Delays happen because each step takes time and many other central departments are involved. Our HR recruiter does an initial screen of resumes then sends them to me as the hiring manager. I review and create a top list and then my Director reviews that. Sometimes I do a phone screen with the top tier of candidates and then we then typically schedule 3-4 in person interviews. Depending on the job, it can just be us two interviewing, but often there are additional staff members involved in the interview process. All of these meetings take time to schedule. Once we’ve selected our final candidate, I then check references (typically three). The timing on this is dependent on the availability of the references. We also have to submit a request for approval to the Dean’s office for the salary rate we want to offer. Once approved, then the offer gets made to the candidate. If the candidate negotiates, then we have to go back to the Dean’s office for approval of the new rate. Once a candidate has accepted, then the hire goes back to HR who initiates the hire in our payroll system, which requires approval from the department, Dean’s office, the Compensation office and central HR. None of this is quick. Hiring is also just one facet of my job managing department operations. I have constant interruptions from faculty, staff and students daily and have to carve out time specifically for the hiring process.

      The above timeline also doesn’t account for all of the work and approvals needed to to get the job posted in the first place. In the past few years some of the jobs I’ve filled were those of staff who retired after 40+ years. I had to completely re-work or create new job descriptions from scratch and fight to have pay bands increased. Sometimes the union is involved which can further delay an already lengthy process…

      1. Pam Adams*

        My state university is similar and hiring teams don’t see resumes until the position closes and HR has screened them.

    10. JelloStapler*

      Higher education is a snails pace, so don’t be scared if you don’t hear back. It’s not always even your manager, it’s often HR.

  21. ferrina*

    Since AAM regularly gets questions about correcting names, I just wanted to share this quick story-

    I was out with my elementary-aged son at a park and he saw a schoolmate. He calls “Hi Elizabeth!” She waves and continues on. A minute later she comes back and pokes him in the arm. “My name isn’t Eliazbeth. It’s Emma.”
    “Oh, okay,” my son says, looking embarrassed. Emma shrugs and wanders off.
    A minute later he turns to me and says “Mom, can I go play with Emma?” He had mentally corrected her name and quickly moved on to the more important things. Emma welcomed him into the game, and the two of them happily played on the playground with a couple other friends.

    Correcting names/being corrected on a name doesn’t have to be a big deal. It’s so simple even kids can manage it. When adults make a big deal about it, that’s not because of the name, that’s because of adults making things weird.
    *names changed in the story.

    1. Elsewise*

      I had an extremely funny interaction like this a few weeks ago with an external partner at work. We had a normal introduction (“Hi, I’m Elsie”/”Hi Elsie, I’m Fergusina”.) A few minutes later, someone else arrives and she says “This is Eliza!” I shake hands and say “It’s actually Elsie,” but she’s on to something else and doesn’t hear. A little later, she’s giving direction and says “over there by Eliza” and is off too fast to be corrected.

      Well, about twenty minutes later, she pulls me aside, face completely stricken, and says in a horrified voice: “Eliza, I just realized, I think I called you Elsie earlier! I’m so sorry, I promise I know your name.” When I very gently explained that, actually, my name *was* Elsie, she looked like she wanted to spontaneously combust.

      1. Siege*

        I get so frustrated with this. My name is spelled unconventionally and everyone misspells it and then when I correct them they get super embarrassed about it and usually share their embarrassment with me, which is irritating because I don’t actually want a big performative dance of embarrassment, I want you to spell my name correctly because I want you to act like I matter. It’s easier to just not correct people, which leaves me feeling resentful.

        Adults make things weird that don’t need to be weird, and negative emotions are usually the cause. Just let things be neutral, it’s fine.

    2. My uterus is rocking like it's 1864*

      My name is often misspoken for Jan, Jean, Jane. So I like to use this little reference:

      My name is Jenny, as in Jenny 867-5309.

      So many people know the song , they laugh and they remember.

        1. Ainsley Hayes*

          As a fellow Jennifer, I smile every time I see your username.

          I go by a shortened version of Jennifer with a unique spelling that is pronounced Jen but could look like Jenny.

          The senior VP at a previous job always called me Jenny (verbally). Not a hill I was willing to die on so I just rolled with it.

          It was quite funny the day the other VP looked at him and said “Who is Jenny?”

          SVP: (looks at me, then VP, then me, thoroughly confused….)

          VP: “That’s JEN, not Jenny.”

    3. Our Business Is Rejoicing*

      I am frequently called by part of my last name, which is hyphenated. The first part of the name (my “maiden” name) sounds like a woman’s name, but is spelled differently than the usual (and in fact, I’ve seen men use it with that spelling). So what I frequently get is people thinking my surname is my full name (without the hyphen), and then calling me the woman’s name that is spelled differently.

      I gently correct people when it’s in person, they will apologize, and usually it doesn’t happen again. Where it gets weird is in email correspondence. Sometimes I’ll sign a message with my first name and people will reply and address me with the part-of-my-last-name-that-sounds-like-a-first-name. Correcting it feels awkward there, because it’s usually in the context of a discussion about a work matter, and it seems strange to take time to correct this (especially with other people on the cc list). My full name is in my email signature, and I pointedly sign replies to these sorts of message with my first name–but I’d love to hear what others do. Should I send a private email? I know it’s not intentional, but having spent a good part of my life being mistakenly called by my surname fairly regularly, I might be a titch sensitive about it.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I get that too, except the half of my hyphenated last name that they call me because it could be a first name is actually the second half of it that I took from my husband. So if I’m Red Reader-Taylor, my email address is “rreadertay@wherever” and they call me Taylor. I don’t even know.

        1. Hot Dish*

          My issue is simply that my name gets misspelled all the time (there are multiple ways to spell it), and my experience is that no matter how many times I sign my name correctly, certain people just don’t notice. YEARS like this! It doesn’t matter that much in the moment, but it IS annoying over time. Also when it ends up misspelled on semi-important documents/ID badges.

          1. Rain*

            I have a non-English middle name that is spelled in a less common way (think “Sophia” but spelled “Sofia”). And I once had a clerk at a government agency not just argue that I was spelling my own name wrong (despite the paperwork I had, including my birth record, spelling it “my” way) to the point that I had to get their supervisor involved so that my name was spelled correctly on my marriage license.

            (The supervisor was a puzzled as I was, which was nice, so I didn’t feel quite so crazy.)

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        This happens to me all the time! I hyphenate as well, and Husband’s last name is also a woman’s common first name, so I get called that as my first name a LOT.

    4. EMP*

      This is great!
      I had a similarly easy interaction last year with a coworker who was using a nickname for me. I pulled him aside at one point and said that I prefer to use my full name at work. He apologized and that was the end of it, full name from then on! You really do only get the bad examples in an advice column like this.

    5. Laura*

      We called my older son by a diminutive of his name (think Tommy instead of Thomas) starting as soon as he was born but when he turned 5 he declared that Tommy “wasn’t his real name” and he would only answer to Thomas. The kids he’d been in daycare with for years switched with no problem. But 6 years later we still have adults in our extended family who forget and have to be corrected.

      1. Our Business Is Rejoicing*

        This happened to me as a kid! I declared when I was about 6 that my name was my full name, not the diminutive form (think something like Karen – Karey–full name was the same number of syllables as the nickname). Everyone got on board (on my dad’s side, it might have been that that nickname had been used for one of his sisters who died young, who I was sort of named after.) There was one uncle who could get away with the nickname, and did so until he died, well into my late 40s.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          I don’t mind my immediate family using the diminutive of my name, but it feels way, way too personal for anyone but them to do so. Like, I would feel weird even if my husband used it. You basically have to remember me as an infant for it to be okay.

      2. Hot Dish*

        Interesting! Our kid has a long first name with many nickname options (think Elizabeth). We call her Beth. Daycare decided to call her Libby (it made sense in the context of how it started), and I’ve never pushed back on it–at this point, it’s years. You’re making me think it’d be interesting to try. I figure it will go away when she starts school. She knows she has her daycare name as well as her long name and the name we call her.

    6. BigLawEx*

      I think the hardest thing (lately) is email autocorrecting! I have a friend named Rachael. Every time it autocorrects and does it several times before it ‘takes.’ I hesitate to add one letter differences in names because I *do* want it to autocorrect other possible misspellings. Honestly, I wish email could be set to ignore proper nouns like Word can…

      1. GythaOgden*

        A couple of phones ago the autocorrect AI noticed I’d misspell ‘said’ as ‘saud’ because of the way u and i are arranged on the keyboard. I got a whole lot of adverts for trips to Arabia until I got a new device and trained my fingers not to tumble anything else.

    7. GythaOgden*

      Children’s brains are more malleable than adults’. While it may seem so easy a child can do it, there are lots of things that are easier for them to do because of a still developing body. A common one is picking up languages quicker, but a physical one is bones healing more completely after a break. I was born with a very slight club foot, unnoticed for 30 years but discovered by a podiatrist after I found walking miles up and down a cruise ship unusually exhausting on my feet. The doctor looked at it and said there wasn’t much they could do because if it had been caught when I was a child, they could have moulded the foot back into position and it would have healed quickly. But as an adult, they would have had to break the bones and reset them. It had to happen anyway, because I’m a clumsy twit who left too many books on the stairs, but as an adult over 40 at the time of the accident, I’m probably going to be lame all my life. I’m getting physiotherapy to ease some of the problem and get atrophied muscles even from before the accident into better health, but adult bodies and minds are harder, not easier, to mould.

      So yeah, while I agree with the sentiment, a child’s brain is more elastic than an adult’s. It’s why we default to familiar terms (like calling our internal post Transcare because that’s what it was called 20 years ago when my colleague started working with them but it’s now known by a different name) and why it’s not necessarily done deliberately or maliciously. Having done the same dance with my Anglo name with people who I see only every month or two and certainly got mixed up myself, I’m not inclined to fingerwag people about it too much.

      The flip side of it is to be good at remembering the names that stand out. But because this is a bigger issue of psychosocial/neurolinguistic development, I think it’s actually the reverse of what you’re saying.

  22. Elelel*

    Is this normal?

    My coworker is in charge of scheduling our conference space and helping people who use it get access to the space and otherwise organized. This is approximately 30% of her job. Most reservations are internal, but we occasionally rent the space after hours to members of the public for a nominal fee as a community service. We’re similar to a museum, in that the space is nice but not the first thought for weddings (new building, nothing like the Met).

    When my coworker was hired it was explained that she would have to move her schedule around to do some weekends, which she is perfectly fine with. The problem is that she is forced to take a random weekday off within the same pay period to avoid overtime. This sometimes works for her but can mean that she loses a weekend day with her kids (custody is 50/50) to gain a midweek day when the kids are with their father.

    Is this a normal way to handle this sort of thing? It feels very unfair, but I (and my coworker) know nothing about the event planning industry. They could give her time-in-lieu during a different pay period but the conversion rate would be 1.5x the hours and the powers that be are unwilling to do so since they see the weddings as non-essential and a small favor we do for the community, and consider the warning during her hiring to have been proof that she was okay with the situation. She is hourly non-exempt and paid…okay for the position, although it is quite good for someone with her experience (almost none).

    1. ferrina*

      This is pretty normal for non-exempt positions. If the non-exempt employee is going to work additional hours, often the company will find ways to change the schedule to bring that employee back under 40 hours. And no, usually a company is not willing to do a 1.5x conversion rate, because then they get fewer hours out of the employee (so if she worked 45 hours in Week 1, she would only work 32.5 in Week 2, for 77.5 hours in two weeks instead of 80). And since she was told about this before hiring and agreed to it, she can’t really go back on it now.

      I’m really sorry your coworker is struggling with this- that’s really hard to arrange custody with non-9-5 w-F work schedules. Unfortunately, what she’s proposing won’t be accepted by the company.

    2. Bearbrick*

      That format is super normal in jobs that require work on Sat/Sun. Many industries do not have a traditional Sat/Sun weekend and schedule employees for midweek and/or non-consecutive days off: hospitality, events, any type of retail, entertainment, etc…

      Addressing it through time-in-lieu would be unusual and depending on the locality/her exempt status, might not be allowed. Legally she may be required to have 2 days off per calendar week (or the company may require it themselves to ensure she doesn’t go into overtime).

      If it’s not working for her due to the kid situation, she could propose hiring temps for the occasional weekend needs if the company is open to it. I’m a little confused though- it sounds from your comment like she was aware of the schedule when she was hired. Did she have a different impression of the frequency of weekend work or think it could be optional?

      1. Elelel*

        When hired she was given the impression that if a particular weekend didn’t work for her schedule she could turn it down, but that’s turning out to be difficult. she was also let to believe that her office hours would be more flexible than they are, such as if she works on the weekend she could come in an hour late every day that pay period instead of taking off a whole day.She’s fine with the frequency, and would be much more okay with even inconvenient weekends if they were internal or mission relevant, but it’s turning out that she’s losing two months of Saturdays during wedding season and then nothing the rest of the year. I don’t think management anticipated that things wouldn’t be spaced out.

        I appreciate the feedback though. It sounds like this is normal and it’s my expectations that are off. I’ve only ever worked jobs that are strictly office hours or retail type scheduling, whereas this is somewhere in between.

        1. Bearbrick*

          Totally makes sense, what a bummer for it to be so different than she expected! I wonder if there is someone else on the team they could shift this responsibility to, like an intern (esp since it’s limited to a few months) or if they might be willing to hire a temp/freelance worker through a staffing agency for those weekends. She should be prepared for them to say no/decide if she still wants the job given those conditions, but she could certainly ask, note that it’s different than when she was hired, and see what they say.

    3. TCO*

      That seems pretty normal to me. If she’s working more weekends than she was told she would, that could be worth asking for some flexibility around. But otherwise, her custody schedule doesn’t really factor into her workplace’s needs if she said yes to working weekends when she accepted the job.

    4. HonorBox*

      I think it is very normal. It is difficult for a business to factor in every employee’s “life” around things like payroll. I think it would be really difficult to push back on this type of setup, given the fact that the 1.5x would be difficult for scheduling and because this was communicated to her in advance.

    5. Jamie Starr*

      This is completely normal. They are re-adjusting/flexing her weekly schedule so that she stays within 40 hours per work week. It’s not that easy to offer comp time (“time in lieu”). As you mentioned, it might then push her over 40 hours for the work week she ends up taking it, but it also has to be tracked and accrued on the org’s balance sheet because if she left before she used it, it would presumably need to be paid out (at the OT rate?). The only nonprofit I’ve ever worked at that offered comp time was the Smithsonian. And you only got comp time if you specifically requested OT be booked as comp time, rather than being paid OT.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        Isn’t the Smithsonian run by the government? The US government is exempt from rules about comp time, but for non-government employers, hourly and non-exempt employees cannot be legally be given comp time that transfers between pay periods.

        So I don’t think the employer here *can* offer comp time. They would have to pay her overtime for the weekend work. As she’s hourly, she’d then get less pay the next pay period. If she were salaried, it might be more complicated – she might need to get overtime one week and full pay the next, but I’m not sure.

        1. Jamie Starr*

          Yes, we are saying the same thing. The Smithsonian could offer comp time. Yes, it’s the government, but it’s also a nonprofit. Non-governmental nonprofits can’t usually offer comp time in lieu of overtime.

    6. Part time lab tech*

      I don’t think this is your responsibility to fix, even if it does suck for coworker. As the events concentrate over two months in summer, would it be possible to cross train someone so she’s doing every second weekend? Cross training is a good idea any way.
      Could the institution only take bookings every second weekend if it’s a community favour?

      1. Elelel*

        I absolutely agree that this is not my responsibility to fix! however, I’m the most senior person in our group and she’s looking to me for a sanity check.

        Unfortunately, while we are all trained to do this, she is the most junior and least critical person on our team, which is why they would prefer to lose her on a weekday over anyone else.

        I think pushing for booking every other week is the best way to go, since they really are a favor to foster goodwill.

        Thank you to everyone for your ideas and experience!

        1. BigLawEx*

          Not relevant now, but maybe in the future you can tell the prospective employee that it’s weekends during ‘wedding season.’ One weekend a month vs every weekend from May – September are two completely different things.

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            Also relevant: as community goodwill gets fostered, the space may be rented out more and more, and not just for weddings. So she may eventually have to revisit her hours/custody agreement if this is a long term job for her.

            Not to borrow trouble, but something to think about.

  23. First Timer*

    I am being laid off and, like the name says, it’s my first time. I was notified in February and my last day will be June 30th. I am currently looking for work but it is a tight job market where I’m at. I am most likely going to not have a job before my last day and go on unemployment for a bit.
    That said, how have people managed working during situations like this? My care and worries are gone. I’m semi-frustrated because now that I will be leaving, they suddenly want my projects to come to fruition (almost 2 years of pushback and delays). There have been a few days where I would have gotten my things and walked, except for needing a paycheck.
    So…any tips or advice on how to do get through this?

    1. HonorBox*

      Do what you have the ability to do in the time you have. That means you can show up at starting time, put in an honest effort on those projects, be honest about the status of said projects, and then go home when the day is over. Don’t put in extra hours. Get those projects as far as you can and then when June 30 rolls around, ensure you have enough information attached that someone can pick up where you left off.

      1. Donkey Hotey*

        10000% this.

        I was told I would be laid off while on vacation, came back, finished the projects I could and left notes for the rest. Walked out the door with a clean conscience.

        Good luck!

    2. Busy Middle Manager*

      I did this 10 years ago and kept doing normal work during the time, and even though I subscribe more to the “bootsrappy” mentality, in retrospect, if served no purpose either way, working hard or not. The customers I did hard work for left soon after anyways due to our restructuring, and all of my work was forgotten. I would do the bare minimum expect if there is an emergency, unless you’re in a special situation, such as retiring early and being paid very well and don’t want to screw over coworkers you like.

    3. Coffee Protein Drink*

      This happened to me a couple of years ago. What I did was ask my manager what the priorities were, finish everything I could, and document document document. My goal was not to leave landmines for my former management or my eventual replacement. Not for them, for my own peace of mind and because I might need a reference later.

      Bitching to my friends all the way, naturally. :)

      If you haven’t already, start reaching out to contacts to see if they have leads for you.

      If you don’t mind some pre-unemployment advice, I strongly suggest you stock up now on cosmetics, disposable razors (if applicable), menstrual supplies (if applicable), and cleaning supplies. If you are in an apartment where you have a card you load to pay for laundry, load it up! Unemployment insurance (assuming you are in the US) doesn’t pay crap (and is fully taxable), and all these things can really eat up your new low budget.

      Good luck!

      1. not nice, don't care*

        Super good advice to stock up!
        We live in an area with lots of power outages and extreme weather and it is so nice to have a month or more of critical supplies for any emergency, including income shrinkage.

    4. Loreli*

      You’re lucky they gave you several months notice. I’ve been through a few layoffs (high tech mergers & acquisitions) and they were all “today’s your last day”. For some, people were escorted to the exit. For others they let them go back to their desks, pack their stuff, and say goodbye to coworkers.
      As others have said, come in, do your work, go home. No late hours, etc. Polish your resume and start sending it out. Curtail your spending, save some money if possible. You have time so you aren’t in a position of being unemployed and taking the first job offer because you’re desperate.

      If you have health insurance, go do “everything” asap -annual physical, routine tests (for example, mammogram, etc). If you have dental, get your teeth cleaned and have any covered work done.

      If you have a flexible spending plan ( like one to which you contribute via payroll deduction), use up your yearly allowance so you can get your reimbursement. (need new glasses? Etc)

  24. Heffalump*

    We know that some managers are too wimpy to straighten out or fire problematic employees—but why? I’ll give these past posts as points of reference:

    In this case Alison gave wimpy management as reason #6 for why “Ken” hadn’t been fired.

    I’ve encountered a number of situations where management refused to deal with a bad employee. In “Can I teach a disorganized employee to be more independent?” I can understand the reluctance—it sounds like “Lenore” is a very nice person who’s just out of her depth. I wouldn’t enjoy having the tough conversation with her. I suspect there was a similar dynamic in Alison’s “I used to suck at firing people” post.

    I’ve had a few peers and managers whose level of nastiness approached or rose to Ken’s, and I’ve had a few others whose level of nastiness rose to unacceptable. In one case, the problem person had mission-critical niche technical skills that would have been hard to replicate in a new hire, so it was understandable that the owner didn’t want to fire them—not that that was an excuse. But the other people could easily have been replaced by better (both in technical skills and people skills) people.

    Other than the two situations above, I just don’t get why managers have qualms about disciplining (and firing, if necessary) toxic employees. I wouldn’t have a problem with doing it.

    1. Hazy shade of winter*

      Not everybody is toxic. It’s an overused phrase for not liking somebody or somebody doesn’t fit your niche or they make for a slightly uncomfortable workplace. People grow some tolerance!

      Sometimes managers are not adept at it or they don’t feel they have the skills to help a subordinate do better. I feel like management training is completely non-existent if not useless so our managers have a hard time doing their job. Then we fall to the floors to complain everything is toxic.

      If you wouldn’t have a problem with it, please don’t become a manager. You should always be concerned about the prospect of disciplining or firing an employee. You should think about that employee as a human being whose feelings, and livelihood, are at stake regardless of how they are in the workplace. This is a big responsibility and if you think you It’s so easy, you’re not thinking deeply about it.

      1. not nice, don't care*

        Not everybody is toxic, but when they are, they are, and no amount of denial or shaming can change that. In fact, more people should be making clear-eyed evaluations of toxic coworkers/managers instead of listening to folks griping about snowflakes/kidsthesedays.
        Maybe we’d have less toxicity in our workplaces.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      In the answer to the “why won’t my company fire my notoriously terrible manager?” post there’s a link to the “why won’t my company fire my terrible coworker?” post from January 30, 2018. The reasons behind wimpy management are spelled out more clearly in that post.

      This post isn’t directly related to your question, but I think the “I yelled at our intern” post from January 23, 2017 has a lot of interesting insights into management. In that case, what it looks like when a manager doesn’t know (or forgets) what power they have and how to use it.

      Most managers don’t have any training on how to be a manager, so that can lead to cases where a manager doesn’t know how to start the process of correcting an employee (and possibly starting a PIP if the employee doesn’t change/improve).

      I’ll link to both posts I mentioned in a follow-up comment.

      1. Heffalump*

        Yes, I well remember “why won’t my company fire my terrible coworker?” from when it first ran. My point is that sometimes none of the reasons other than wimpiness (belief that a member of a protected group is bulletproof, belief that a unionized employee is bulletproof, terrible coworker has juice with a higher-up, etc.) apply.

        @Hazy shade of winter: I’m retirement age (although not retired), and I’ve asked a manager to discipline a problematic coworker only a few times, so I don’t think I’m a snowflake. I know the difference between annoying and toxic. Sometimes a paranoid has real enemies.

        1. Hlao-roo*

          I took a closer look at the bullet points from the “why won’t my company fire my terrible coworker?” post and I agree that not all of them fall under the category of “wimpy management.” I think I would classify them as follows:

          * The person’s manager can’t bring herself to have a hard conversation. = wimpy
          * The person’s manager thinks it will take too much time and energy to find, hire, and train a replacement. = wimpy
          * The person’s manager feels sorry for them. = too much compassion
          * The manager is hoping the person will leave on their own. = wimpy
          * The manager misunderstands the law. = manager is misinformed
          * The person is protected by someone important. = manager is responding to office politics

        2. goddessoftransitory*

          Whenever I hear the “niche skills make it too hard” reason, I remember that Law & Order: SVU where a child molester was being protected by the government because he was one of a handful of people who could program or steer smart missiles and they “needed him” in the Middle East.

    3. Ama*

      I think there are a few reasons why this happens:

      – I think sometimes managers see having to fire an employee as a signal that they, the manager, have failed, especially if they were the person who hired that employee.

      – There are certain people who are just incredibly conflict adverse and can’t stand the thought of having any kind of potentially difficult conversation, so they just stick their heads in the sand and hope the problem goes away on its own.

      – There’s also a certain type of manager who will only act if they are directly impacted by an employee’s poor behavior. If the employee is being rude to other coworkers but not the manager, or not doing their job but other people are picking up the slack, they just don’t see it as a problem because their day-to-day doesn’t change.

      1. Double A*

        I don’t even think you have to be THAT conflict averse to feel squeamish about firing someone. We see on this site that when people are callous about firing people, they’re pretty much seen a sociopaths because that’s about what it takes to not care that you’re messing with someone’s ability to feed and shelter themselves. Most people do feel terrible about causing someone to lose a job no matter how much that person’s actions lead to that outcome.

        I think a combination of that and your third point explains a lot of it. A lot of times people with the firing power aren’t as directly impacts so it’s a lot easier to think it’s not that serious.

      2. Kes*

        All of these (those are probably the most common), plus:
        – Managers who want to be nice/their employees’ friend. The book Radical Candor touches on this – people avoid giving feedback, let alone letting people go, because it’s hard and they don’t want to be “mean”

        – Employees who are difficult/abusive and the manager knows any attempts to rein them in or let them go will result in an extreme negative reaction and is afraid of it, so the manager avoids doing so

        – Fears (whether or not they’re accurate) that the person will sue

        – Fears (whether or not they’re accurate) that they won’t be able to replace the person, whether because of organizational constraints or the difficulty of finding a replacement

        – There’s a lot of paperwork involved and the manager doesn’t want to deal with it. Or the manager is swamped and doesn’t feel they have time to deal with it

        – Manager wants to but someone else is the blocker

        – Manager is friends with the problem employee and/or is toxic themself so doesn’t see a problem with their behaviour

    4. Irish Teacher.*

      I can think of quite a few reasons.

      The first is that situations like Lenore’s, where the employee is a nice person but just not suited to the job or where the person is having personal problems that are having an impact on their work or their behaviour are probably far more common than the truly toxic people who are a nightmare to work with.

      Also, firing somebody is a huge deal. It can have a major impact on a person’s life, leading to them being unable to pay their rent or mortgage or not having health insurance or other serious repercussions. Now, obviously, in the situations where the person can do the job but is just choosing not to or is deliberately treating colleagues or clients badly, it is really they who are choosing to torpedo their life, not the manager, but the manager still has to be the one to make that call. I think most people would be reluctant to do that.

      Then, there is the reaction. In the case of truly toxic people, they are not likely to go willingly. They might erupt or try to bully the manager into changing his or her mind. They might make threats. They might try to manipulate the manager or gaslight him or her into thinking he or she is mistaken. It’s not quite the same, but I had a colleague who said he had to check the CCTV in the school because students lied to him so convincingly that they hadn’t done something he had seen them do that he began to doubt the evidence of his own eyes. And these were kids, 14 or 15 year olds. Adults would likely be even more convincing.

      And in the case of decent people who simply can’t do the job because they have chosen the wrong role for them or because they’ve been promoted beyond their level of competence or because they are stressed and can’t concentrate or whatever are quite likely to cry or look horrified, possibly even plead with the manager for a second chance. Especially in the case of people who are underperforming due to stress in other areas of their life.

      Managers are only human. Most people don’t want to deal with those reactions and they certainly don’t want to cause those reactions. Most people don’t like hurting others, even if those others “deserve” it and a lot of people who are fired don’t deserve to end up at risk of homelessness or in debt; they are often people who are just struggling with tasks they aren’t suited to. And yes, it is part of the job and managers have to consider the impact on the rest of their employees and on the tasks that have to be completed and on clients and sometimes firing people is unequivocally the right thing to do, but it isn’t easy. And as Hazy Shade of Winter said, it shouldn’t be easy.

      Plus, it’s a judgement call. At what point is somebody so bad that they should be fired? You’ve mentioned the two obvious examples, where somebody is poor at their job but a really nice person, popular with their coworkers and doing their best; this just isn’t the right role for them and the opposite, where a person is obnoxious and problematic but good at their job.

      And like I said above, some toxic people are good at gaslighting others and making them doubt themselves – “is he really bullying Jane or is she just over-sensitive?” “am I over-reacting to his sexist comments because I’m a woman?” “is she really bad at her job or did I just fail to train her properly?” Heck, we’ve seen people write in asking about stuff like this, because somebody has accused them of something so out there that they are basically thinking, “well, one of us is clearly completely out of touch and how do I know it’s not me?” Toxic people don’t care if they lie black is white whereas normal people tend to assume that most people are working from something resembling reality and want to do their best and their instinct is to try and fix things when somebody claims a problem.

      And with non-toxic people, well, there’s a tendency to think “they are doing their best. Maybe I should give them another chance. Am I being too harsh?”

    5. dear liza dear liza*

      Higher ed experience: “bad” employees are kept because they are making the people above them happy (usually by being ‘yes-men’) or because hiring is complicated. Not only can it take a very long time but in resource-scarce environments, there’s a very real chance the line for that person will be either eliminated or just left unfilled as a cost-savings measure. Often the manager decides it’s better to have a problematic-but-present person in the position rather than lose the position altogether (with a note that the work that’s needed to be done never goes away when the position does.)

      1. not nice, don't care*

        In my higher-ed setting, the toxic folks do their best to insulate their bosses from anyone who has valid observations about poor behavior. Our new dean thinks his toxic ass.t dean is just wonderful, but meanwhile she torpedoes careers, job searches, position upgrades, anything helpful to people she doesn’t like.

    6. Pretty as a Princess*

      I will also add a thing that people DON’T see, but is very real:

      The manager is trying to let go of a problem employee but the ultimate approval rests with a higher organizational authority preventing it. And team members don’t see any of that because the manager is (rightly) protecting the confidentiality of the HR process.

      (I am absolutely certain that people on my team have asked in the past why I didn’t just fire someone. I can’t answer those questions but I do try to lead my team in a way that people understand that if they have that question, there is something else going on that I have to exercise the discretion not to discuss.)

      1. This-is-fine.jpeg*

        +1, at my company it’s not the manager who has issues with firing, but HR!

        Several of the employees I was aware of who were on PIPs (one on my team and three on other teams, and for context this is a small ~100 person company) were BIPOC, and HR directly told me they were hesitant to fire my employee because they were concerned about a discrimination lawsuit.

        In my case, I had years of documented performance issues for this employee at a very basic, measurable level (not hitting deadlines, high amount of errors) and yet they wouldn’t let me fire her. When she failed a PIP they ended up moving her to another team.

        To be clear, I don’t agree with my HR’s reasoning, but neither me or my boss was able to override it!

    7. anon_sighing*

      I have been curious about this in a government context. Oftentimes, there are people you work around and not with…and they’ve been here for years, they’ve gotten newer and younger managers, everyone knows they don’t do their job well and seems to not know what they do with their time but they just go along with it.

      Frankly, it’s some kind of fallacy that it’s easier to keep them than to try to replace them so we should “find a solution.” But sometimes the solution is to let them go or talk about next steps in their career…but that’s a hard convo no one wants to have.

    8. MollyMae*

      It took the *right* manager after 10 years to get my notoriously awful (known to be that by many outside of our department too!) coworker, who had been on multiple PIPs over the years, terminated. The change I have felt without them constantly emailing and chatting every little thing they were doing *other* than what they were supposed to be doing is indescribable. I also think the weather turning to my favorite season has lifted my mood, but all their noise is just gone, my focus has never been better. I will be very involved in the hiring process to replace them, I was not when they were hired and I really have a good sense of who would fit in our company/department and knew the first week they were not a good fit at all, and only reinforced that over the 10 years. I blame the manager I had two managers ago; they would not do anything about the problem worker, but constantly use me as the path of least resistance and would also be downright nasty to me at times. I barely acknowledge that manager, even though they are still in my department.

    9. A few ideas*

      Managers are also usually someone else’s employee. If they are not trained and managed well, they will not automatically perform well, like anyone else.

      Asking “why don’t managers just handle all performance issues and fire bad people quickly?” Is like asking, “Why don’t under-performing employees just get better on their own?”

      With that in mind, here are some reasons I failed to give feedback or deal with performance issues:
      – I felt like there was a problem but couldn’t articulate it. I didn’t want to make it sound like the feedback was my own personal preference or based on my feelings.
      – There were bigger fires going on, and their performance issue was a smaller fire.
      – I thought I was being kind and understanding of their problems.
      – I liked them personally.
      – They were really good at appearing to work on my feedback while hiding issues.
      – No one told me there was a problem. I can’t be all places at once, and I only found out once it had been going one for a while.
      – There were cultural differences I couldn’t figure out how to communicate around.

      A lot of this can be chalked up to inexperience. Managers have to start somewhere; it takes years to get good at a job. Mediocre managers are just as prevalent as mediocre employees.

    10. Turingtested*

      I agree with what the other commenters state, but there are a few reasons people haven’t stated.

      In some companies it’s a lot of work to fire someone just for being a jerk. Compiling the evidence and paperwork; following up with HR; waiting around for further instructions and following those. On top of regular job duties it can be daunting.

    1. Elsewise*

      An email went out to all staff saying we’d be getting raise notifications soon and to talk to Payroll or our managers if we had questions or concerns. Someone reply-all’d to the entire organization to say essentially that she needed an urgent meeting with her boss because this was absolutely ridiculous and she was going to complain. About an hour later she responded again to the thread with a “sorry everyone, that was meant for my manager”.

    2. ABSC*

      The dreaded REPLY ALL THANK YOU CHAIN “Thank you!” “You’re welcome!” “Anytime, just let me know if you need anything else!” “Great, have a good weekend!”

    3. CTT*

      I’m in BigLaw and the firm-wide women’s group was looking for people to submit their ~female heroes~ for a newsletter and for some reason this really opened the reply-all floodgates. What made it especially annoying was that no one was looking at the other emails so there was a lot of “I hope I’m not the first one to mention RBG!” like, you are in fact the 20th person to mention her!

      It finally ended when one brave soul said “my hero are women who don’t use reply-all.”

    4. Jay (no, the other one)*

      When I was a contractor for a company that had hundreds of remote part-time workers and they sent out an informational Email and put everyone in cc: instead of bcc: A few people replied with questions and then the barrage started of people using “reply all” to complain about “reply all” and asking to be removed from the list and complaining about the increased number of messages complaining about messages. And of course the “out of office” messages that also ended up going to “reply all” for some reason I can’t fathom and HUNDREDS of messages complaining about that. I tried muting the thread and finally set up a filter to send everything to some other folder. It went on for weeks. And everyone on that list has a doctoral-level degree. I know education /= common sense. Still.

    5. Jenn*

      An email sent from an active duty Army guy to a distro of 10,000 people and it seems like every one of those people replied all. Govt email shut down for a few hours while they cleaned it up. The kicker? The email was about this dude’s wife’s illness. Bad day for everyone.

    6. Art3mis*

      I think the worst is people who either hit reply all to tell everyone to stop using reply all or reply all to remove them from the distribution list. I call these idiot races since they are racing to tell the rest of the company/department how much of an idiot they are.

    7. Sudsy Malone*

      On the flipside, one of my proudest moments in a workplace had to do with a potential reply-all disaster. It was a union shop, and as part of our contract, HR had to share new bargaining unit openings with union staff 3 days before they were posted to the public website. Usually this was just an email with an attachment of the job description.

      Then, a new hire came on board in HR. The first week she was on deck to do one of these emails, she a) sent them to all the union staff’s PERSONAL emails, not work emails, and b) did it with everyone CC’d, not BCC’d. Potential nightmare.

      And…out of nearly 200 people…not a single person replied-all. Not ONE. I’d never been so proud of my comrades. THAT’S solidarity, people.

    8. Generic Name*

      I’ve been at my massive fortune 500 company for 6 months, and I have not seen a single “reply all” disaster. I’m very disappointed.

    9. KT*

      When I worked for a large food and beverage management company, we had a corporate staff that kept a lot of the admin work off the GM’s/lower management. I always got Salty around the holidays when I’m in a restaurant busting my @ss so corporate can sit around and drink wine at home. They had the habit of sending out really sappy “thank you” emails to EVERYONE (700+) in the company. People insisted on replying all and of course there was zero work/life balance anyways so I am seeing all the emails come through as notifications on my watch…I can’t tell you how many times I ripped it off and chucked it down the line because I was so sick of it.

      It just felt like being the lowest man on the highest pole, if that makes sense.

    10. I'm Juror 13 and I say...*

      The best reply all was for the notice of my departure. My new boss, of 3.2 months, wrote a very vanilla and devoid of compliments departure email. Most everyone, unless fired or walked out, receives a complimentary, full of good deeds email. The boss added, “To allow Sheera to effectively transition please direct your questions to me.” The email went out while I was in a committee meeting, so everyone looked at me with disbelief at my departure and the boss’ email. The orgs massive reply, with compliments of my work, flooded into all our boxes. It was nice to see the support while also letting the boss know they were a douche canoe for doing what they did. Considering the boss didn’t talk to me after that email (they were mad? they’re just works of art?) I was fine.

    11. not today, thanks*

      Oh man, someone CC’d the US members of my department (about 2k people) on their email asking what to do about a cybersecurity violation notice (he’d tried to email his W-2 out without encrypting it, I think).

      We are the cybersecurity department.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Stuff like this does make me think “If I were a different kind of person, I could get a cybersecurity gig and be well on my way to world domination/ray gun in mountain hideaway time.”

    12. Zona the Great*

      I LIVE for a reply-all meltdown. I worked for a state agency and someone figured out how to email the entire state, all agencies, all personnel, all elected officials. Everyone. Then someone replied all that the person had emailed everyone in the state. Then someone replied that that person just replied all to the entire state and to please remove them from the list. Then another person said to remove them from the list. And then another said you’ve all been replying all this whole time and to please stop. It took half the day for IT to figure out how to shut it down. Best day of my entire tenure there.

    13. Agnes Grey*

      Not technically a reply-all situation, but at a former job someone (accidentally? subversively? alas I’ll never know) emailed a spreadsheet containing everyone’s names, titles, salaries and, iirc, social security numbers to the entire organization. The email was recalled within minutes but I remember hearing printers whirring all over my floor….

    14. Sparkles McFadden*

      Someone from the Public Relations department sent out a tout about a company-sponsored event that was going to be covered on network news, and she included the date and time the segment would air. A brand new employee Replied All to state that he’d love to view the segment with her at her home and asked for her phone number and address. He added that he’d be sure to bring some wine and cheese.

      Upper management sent out an immediate Reply All to the guy’s email, stating that such inappropriate behavior would not be tolerated. The dude got walked out of the building as right after that, but not before about 50 guys on the list took turns showing up at the new guy’s desk telling him what their favorite wine was and asking him to buy enough for everyone.

      1. linger*

        I can just about see that as a sardonic response to receiving an ad campaign seen as irrelevant (with reply all intentional, to make the reaction public). The coworkers sharing their wine preferences presumably took it in that light. But still incredibly ill-advised even for an employee of long standing, because management does not consider the campaign irrelevant and will not be predisposed to take it as a joke. And especially ill-advised for a new hire with no history of safe interactions to vouch for him, as the recipient in HR would have no way to distinguish it from a stalking threat.

    15. Betty Spaghetti*

      We had a department-wide email shortly after moving into our new building (old and newly renovated), stating that mice were a problem, the exterminators had been called, and in the meantime please don’t leave food around which attracts them. Everyone and their mother replied-all, complaining about the mice and how their food was being eaten. One notable woman was upset that she left out a bag of M&M’s, and included details on how many had been eaten and which colors. I stepped in with a reply-all, something about how I also love M&M’s and couldn’t blame the mouse for being unable to resist. All emails stopped immediately after that.

    16. Procedure Publisher*

      At my former employer, it was a Happy Birthday message that I believed ended up going viral outside of the company.

    17. Cordelia*

      I remember when the NHS email system got shut down completely by a reply-all storm in 2016 – somehow, an email was able to be sent to the 840,000 NHS email accounts, and then so many people started emailing saying they shouldn’t be on this distribution list, then lots of people emailed to tell other people not to email, etc etc. I just looked it up, the estimate is 186 million unnecessary emails sent that day. We couldn’t use email for days. Do we win??

    18. Random Bystander*

      There are these emails that come out quarterly (there’s a total of three, they’re slightly tailored, except they go out to all employees with email). About 99% of the information is either old news by the time I get it or irrelevant to my position. I manage to do the sensible thing and just delete them.

      But every so often, you get someone who replies all (to a distribution list, because someone messed up and made it possible to reply to the DL) “Please remove me from this list” … sorry, cupcake, you will be on the list as long as you are an employee, but this queues the cascade … “Please remove me, too” “Stop using reply all!” and so on until I have to turn off email (even though my supervisor wants it left on all day … because it is not unusual during these cascades to have 4-5 emails coming in *per minute* until someone manages to get the thing stopped (I have clocked 300+ emails in this cascade). You’ll get a few in the chain “here’s how to remove yourself from a list” (with screenshots), “here’s how to delete an email” (with screenshots), etc..

    19. Alternative Person*

      Someone accidentally added the wrong employee list to a generic notice e-mail

      Cue a flood of ‘please remove me from this list’ e-mails that continued for about two days, eventually devolving into a discussion about snacks.

      Two years later someone for some unholy reason managed to reply all to the self-same e-mail triggering another couple of days of reply-all nonsense.

    20. Don't reply all*

      An employee suffered a tragic death in their family, and a fundraiser was circulated to help with funeral costs. An executive asked what happened, and HR responded in explicit detail. Both used reply-all. Neither are employed at the company anymore.

      Same company, someone sent a past employee’s COBRA information to the entire company with a reply-all. IT managed to get that one removed from our inboxes within 10 minutes. I hope they got a nice bonus that year for catching it.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I can’t imagine working HR; the potential for a heart attack must skyrocket without notice every day!

    21. ElastiGirl*

      I was responsible for a Reply All cascade that I’m a tiny bit proud of.

      I was in the midst of a deep dive search for a new place to live back in the days when Craigslist was still a reasonable site for such a search. I reached out to a real estate agent who had posted an interesting listing—

      And immediately found myself on her unending email chain. Every day. Multiple random listings. She sent from multiple email addresses, so trying to block her was a game of whack-a-mole.

      I quickly realized she was stealing other agents’ listings and posting them on Craigslist as if they were her own. I asked multiple times to be removed from her email list. But the emails never stopped.

      Until one day, she sent an email using cc instead of bcc. Her email list was massive— about 600 people.

      I responded with an email telling her I had no interest in dealing with a real estate agent who stole other people’s listings and pretended they were her own (and I mentioned specifics). I asked why she was so shady as to use multiple email addresses. And I reminded her that I had already asked to be removed from her email list half a dozen times, to no avail.

      Oh, and I tracked down the actual Realtor she was associated with (something never mentioned in her listings), tracked down the emails for the Realtor and the office manager, and cc’d them.

      And then I hit Reply All.

      I got a couple of pissed-off emails from people lecturing me about how to use Reply All. But mostly I got thank yous from other people on the email thread.

      I never heard from the real estate agent again. And I never saw a listing from her on Craigslist again, either.

  25. Lily Rowan*

    Many years ago (pre covid), I wrote in wondering if I could ask my employee if she thought she was going to quit when/if her partner got a job somewhere else after finishing his degree. People jumped all over me, which is fine. Anyway, he stayed local until now, and she stayed in her job. She is still at my employer, but no longer reporting to me, but in the meantime, you can now work remotely, so now she’s keeping her job while moving across the country for his!

  26. Jazz and Manhattans*

    I’m looking for a new job as I’m not being used to my ability at my current one and have been doing a lot of thinking about my next steps. I have found that I like to be an individual contributor and would rather not manage people, I like managing things and supporting my team. It’s not that I can’t manage people, I have, I just prefer not to. The problem is, every company that I’ve worked for does not consider you a “leader” unless you manage people. I know that I have a lot of value and can contribute with the best of them along with developing strategy and programs. Think of being a project manager but also doing a lot of operations as well as developing strategy and programs. However, I’m constantly left out of growth opportunities along with meetings with senior leadership and leadership training because I am not in the group that manages people. What have people found at their companies or in their career? Can you be in a position where you don’t manage people but those around you and in senior leadership, acknowledge that you are a leader in your own right? Hopefully in my quest for brevity I am making sense!

    1. Hillary*

      Yes, to some extent, in some fields and at some companies. You mentioned project manager; category manager, program manager, or SMEs like lean, quality, marketing, real estate, or HR have these roles. Usually things where even a big company only needs a handful of people doing the job. I mostly worked at manufacturers, at those places IC roles topped out at senior manager or very rarely director. Technical track is fairly common at software companies – strategic product roles can be VP or SVP, but those folks are usually specialized experts.

      The part that isn’t great, strategy work (except some technical product strategy) is generally done by people with p&l responsibility, which means running departments and managing people. In bigger companies strategy usually ends up being a compromise between a lot of conflicting needs.

  27. Daria grace*

    I’m looking for advice on moving to a lower pressure job while staying productive.

    I recently left a job that was toxic in so many ways, one of which was high pressure almost all day everyday. To meet the inappropriate KPIs and tight deadlines we were constantly rushing things to avoid being reprimanded. I often ended the day with my head spinning from the panic and intense focus, my health suffered as a result.

    I’ve just been fortunate to get a job elsewhere. While there will sometimes be a lot to do in the role, it’s an organisation with a healthy culture, reasonable managers and work that is usually not requiring lightening fast turnaround. The vibe in the office is a calm one. This is of course amazing and I’m so thankful to have the job. I’m just worried it’s possible that after so long in a toxic environment I’ll struggle to focus and be productive without the pressure and urgency. Do any of you who’ve made a transition like this have any advice?

    1. Mad Harry Crewe*

      I think if you keep an eye out for this – slacking off because ‘there’s time to do it later’ – you’ll be able to build some structure into your time if necessary. If you find yourself leaving everything until the last minute, then scheduling it out might be helpful. But if you did good work before starting at the horrible job, I think you can also trust that you still know how to do good work without intense pressure.

    2. Hot Dish*

      I’ve been back and forth between the extremes and it can be tough when expectations and workload are so different. Figure out what you value about your own work conscientiousness so that you feel good about what you’re doing and try to build that into the new job. If nothing else, I find the suggestion to write down 5 things to get done today (or tomorrow if doing at the end of the day) and try to stick to that.

    3. not nice, don't care*

      I always have a stash of projects to work on, and if I feel like my motivation is slipping, I’ll start loading my calendar with times to work on them. It’s not always effective, but at least I get a nudge in the right direction.
      Other times of the year I am doing 1.5 times the work and I have to remember not to overload myself during quieter times.

  28. Amber Rose*

    Last week on Monday I filed a harassment complaint with HR.

    Last week on Friday I got the results back, and they basically called me a liar and a troublemaker.

    This week on Tuesday I got fired. 9.5 years down the drain. So much for being a rockstar.

    I already signed the severance agreement. On the spot, no lawyer. I don’t need any more people telling me why that was bad unless you’re offering me a time machine. I panicked and what’s done is done. The Justice Warrior in me wishes I could haul them into court and slam them with retaliation but the jobless person with a mortgage is basically happy with roughly 15 weeks of pay between termination pay and severance and vacation payout.

    I’ve got a trip overseas starting in 2 weeks so I’m not applying for jobs yet. I do have references lined up and my application for EI submitted.

    I don’t know what to DO. I feel adrift. My pride hurts, I’m scared, I’m aimless. This is hard. I’m glad to be out but I’m hurting too.

    What should I be doing right now?

    1. I edit everything*

      Find someone to give you a hug (or whatever your version of that is). Stand in the sunshine. Get some kind of physical movement. Go to your local animal shelter and see if there’s a dog you could take for a walk or some cats that need petted. Take yourself to a movie. Pick out something special to do on your vacation. Bake. Read. Rewatch your favorite movie. Be kind to yourself.

    2. Natasha*

      I am so sorry you had to experience this.

      What should you do know? Spend a bit of time doing the things you didn’t have the time or energy for while working. Revise your CV. Review the Ask a Manager cover letter advice and draft some sample paragraphs that you can tailor to jobs when you do apply. Depending on your industry consider reaching out to a recruiter. Tidy up your linkedin.

      Most of all, remember you did nothing wrong.

    3. ferrina*

      I’m so, so sorry! Big hugs to you (if you want them).

      Don’t blame yourself for signing the severance agreement. You were scared and stressed and in a totally unfamiliar situation. If you want, you could get a copy of the agreement and have an employment lawyer review it- sometimes these things aren’t enforceable. The lawyer could at least tell you if there are any options.

      Right now- be good to yourself. Take long walks. Have a leisurely reading session at a comfy coffeeshop or library. Catch up on video games that you haven’t had a chance to play (over the holidays I booked 3 days to just play a certain game for 12-hours per day. it was amazing). Have a nap. Paint something.

      And update your resume and cover letter. The first day may just be staring at the documents in terror. That’s okay. The second day may be writing a paragraph and writing random sentences that are unusable. That’s okay too. If job searching is scary, gently desensitize yourself to your resume and cover letter. Maybe have a glass of wine and re-write your resume to sound like you are the greatest person on earth. Then the next day, edit that. Prep a master resume that has any bullet point you might need for applying to jobs (my master resume is 5 pages long). The trick is that when you apply, you edit down your master resume until it is only 2 pages of the most relevant details. This is the easiest way to customize your resume for each application. Same thing with the cover letter- write the intro paragraph, closing paragraph, and six body paragraphs that each focus on a soft skill or anecdote about how amazing you are. Then when you apply, you’ll just use the 2-3 body paragraphs that are most relevant for that position. You’ll do some minor editing, but it’s much easier than writing a whole cover letter from scratch, and better results than not customizing at all.
      And this way when you get back from your trip, you know that you already have everything you need to start your job search.
      Good luck!

    4. Our Business Is Rejoicing*

      I got let go from a long-term job some time ago; was not fired but it was clear the company had changed and I was no longer seen as someone they wanted to grow. This was definitely a blow to my pride; although in retrospect, there were probably signs and I was just not feeling comfortable with the last manager I had, I’d resolved to muddle though it because of my long tenure.

      I got an excellent severance, and I told myself I was going to take several weeks off just to regain my mental health and really consider where I wanted to go next. I travelled, spent some time doing and enjoying a few things I had scheduled, and started to think about my skills and what I could really highlight from my previous experience. I shut the book on that previous position. I realized when I did that I had stopped caring about it or any of the people there, and again, even though I was (and still am) hurt, I was able to focus on looking forward.

      I ended up taking less time off because an opportunity came up for me that I ended up accepting, but I got to do all of the things I had planned on my terms without feeling guilty. It sounds like that’s what you’re planning to do. And I heartedly recommend not letting this company live rent-free in your head. A friend of mine sued a company for unlawful termination, and although he eventually won, it took two years (the company was very definitely trying to wait him out with their lawyers) and sent him into a massive depression.

      1. Amber Rose*

        That last bit was my fear. Do I really want to destroy myself over this? Or do I just want to go with “the best revenge is a life well lived” and move on?

        When I thought about it, I decided to move on. Yeah, a lawyer may have at least negotiated a better payout, but then I have to pay the lawyer.

    5. Stuart Foote*

      It seems to me that it still makes sense to talk to a lawyer. Just because you signed a severance agreement doesn’t mean the company is not longer obligated to follow the law. Obviously the fact it was signed makes it harder, but unless you’ve already talked to a lawyer there still may be ways to get some sort of remedy.

      Also, the person who drafted the severance agreement probably thanks and hopes they drafted an airtight legal document, but that isn’t necessarily the case. Having a lot of lawyers in the family has taught me that people who should know better can be extremely careless when it comes to drafting these documents and can leave themselves wide open to legal action, which could benefit you in this case.

    6. 867-5309*

      OP – I was in the SAME boat last summer. Except I consulted an attorney who told me I had a good case and STILL signed. I was exhausted. Like you, people still tell me I did the wrong thing and while they are probably right, there is no time machine.

      I disagree about updating your resume and such. Just breath. Take a week or two, enjoy your trip as best you can. Do not confuse self care with comfort – there is a time for drinking wine and eating insane amounts of bad food but rest, meditation, movement are what will make you feel better.

      Find and reach out to your four:
      – 1 person for veting.
      – 1 for weekly walks or some kind of movement.
      – 1 for weekly meals or coffee.
      – 1 for professional advice.

      If you have benefits for the next couple of weeks, leverage EAP. If not and money is tight, then contact BetterHelp or TalkSpace. I do not LOVE the only platforms for therapy but have used them myself when in a pinch and they did the job.

      Good luck.

      1. Hot Dish*

        Also, if you can’t do therapy, write. Get the stuff on your mind out of your head. It always comes out differently (in a good way) on paper/screen.

      2. Tio*

        I think people go too hard on people who don’t fight injustice, especially on the “keyboard warrior” internet sphere. They act like you just file the lawsuit and win quickly and everything is good.

        If you file the lawsuit, you’re taking the time to go to court, stress yourself out, spend the money on lawyers (And to everyone who says you should include lawyer fees in the suit – 1. that assumes you’ll win and 2. that assumes that you’ll get that if you win, and either way you have to pay upfront first.) and then people will hear about it and future employers may judge you for it.

        Is any of that fair? No, of course not. And companies definitely take advantage of the understanding that most people in regular jobs do not have the time, money, energy, or all of the above to fight them on their wrongdoings.

        So don’t beat yourself up about the severance and don’t let anyone do it either. If they just WILL. NOT. LET. IT. GO, ask them how much of your lawyer fees they were going to pay and see what they have to say about that.

    7. Jen MaHRtini*

      Depending on your age and location you may have a revocation period to “undo” your agreement, it’s usually 7 days.

      1. Busy Middle Manager*

        I mean, that could be a rule. Rescission laws exist. At the same time, you can’t rescind someone firing you, so I’m not 100% sure what you’d push back on? For more severance?

        1. former recruiter*

          It has to do with the Older Workers’ Benefits Protection Act if the terminated employee is over 40. If an employee over the age of 40 signed, you would have 7 days to revoke the agreement. The act also states you must give the employee a certain number of days (longer than usual) to consider the agreement rather than signing on the spot (forcing someone to sign in the spot = signing “under duress”).

          Of course none of us were there but maybe this helps someone else reading this. (Source: I’m getting my master’s in employment law. )

    8. jane's nemesis*

      I’m so sorry this happened! It’s extremely unfair, and I hope people stop trying to make you second-guess yourself.

      Can you get a massage or some other self-care type of pampering? Even just a mani-pedi? Something to help ease the stress and feel cared for/nurtured.

    9. Festively Dressed Earl*

      You did the right thing, regardless of people being awful. Be proud of yourself. I’m sorry this happened to you.

      Step one, read that sentence again.
      Step two, read the other comments again. The advice differs, but they all say that this sucks and it isn’t your fault.
      Step three, self-care. You already have your ducks in a row for your job search after your vacation, so start actively pursuing healing from the awful double whammy of harassment and injustice. Can a therapist take you on last minute? Do any of your friends have the bandwidth for a meetup or a call to vent? Is there anything that you haven’t done in ages because of lack of time/work stress? Basically do whatever you normally do as comfort when you’re physically ill or injured. I recommend a trip to the library for some popcorn books, a reading pillow, and a couple of slices of agege bread with jam. Alternately, try a playlist of Janelle Monae and Allison Williams combined with a beautiful day and whatever natural springs are in your area. (Ok, you wouldn’t do that if you were actually sick or injured but it’s still a good option.)

    10. Woodsii Rose*

      Amber Rose, from your posts here through the years you seem an awesome person. Hang in there – I hope you find mental space to be kind to yourself, and inspiration to create great applications for your next position. Here’s jedi hugs from an internet stranger in your corner.

    11. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      I was going to tell you “oh, no, don’t sign, bad idea,” but 15 weeks pay and not having to get a lawyer and sue them sounds like a reasonable option. How much would the chance of extra money be worth in your time and aggravation?

      Pity they aren’t getting their comeuppance, but that’s just how the world works sometimes. Not your fault.

    12. anon_sighing*

      I know it seems silly but it helps so much to write out your feelings, even if that’s writing the events from beginning to end and annotating them with your feelings. Pointing out what hurt my pride, when I felt betrayed, blindsided, etc, really helps me get all my feelings out.

      However, I would enjoy your overseas trip and it’s a silver lining in a way — very few people get that much distance between them and a bad situation. I would start applying now or just before you go on vacation to just get the ball rolling.

      Trust me. Even if you got a “neutral” response from HR and kept your job, you wouldn’t want to be in that place much longer. It would have given you more wiggle room to job hunt on your own time, but your mental health would have suffered, I fear.

    13. Busy Middle Manager*

      I definitely missed some posts but I’ve read some of yours and I thought the issue was a bad fit all around? A strict stuffy environment and people being critical and demanding a lot? I’m surprised you filed an official complaint. Some places are just like that. Especially (if I am thinking of the correct poster) if you are an Executive Assistant in a large corp in a large city.

      I don’t think those jobs are meant to last forever, I remember you not wanting to be there. It hurts and is emotional but you hated it there, and it wasn’t a good fit anymore.
      Severance was the “justice.” The internet and malicious compliance stories with drop-the-mic endings have people thinking there needs to be a specific thing that happens to make everything equal and fair, in every case. It’s not the way it works.

      Be happy you were let go with some cushion. I would not recommend a lawyer unless something really bad and specific happened. Again, I didn’t read every single post of yours and I can be confusing you with someone else. But from the name, I’m picturing you working with one or more Miranda Priestleys. Sorry but unless there were a few very specific and egregious examples, some people are just strict and “detail oriented.” It’s not harassment or a hostile environment even if it feels a little like HS antics and feels hostile, using the vernacular meaning of the word loosely.

      Try to mentally unwind a bit and not think about working for a few weeks at least!

    14. Sharpie*

      Be kind to yourself. Go on a walk in the woods. Dance in the rain. Hug a dog or pet a cat. Binge your favourite TV or Netflix show. Forget to set your alarm on Monday. Watch YouTube videos on random subjects.

      You’re out of a toxic workplace, you’re going on holiday – enjoy it! Make the most of your trip!

      Make a plan for what you want your job search and next job to look like. Re-work your CV and when you start looking, look for jobs you want to do.

      All the hugs from an internet stranger who’s also job hunting.

    15. goddessoftransitory*

      Taking a deep breath and congratulating yourself for getting away from that shithole and those awful people. They showed you who they were and they don’t deserve you. Seriously, from your descriptions that place will probably fall apart, and sooner rather than later since this is how they handle issues.

  29. NeonDreams*

    I’ve passed a year at my newspaper job! I really enjoy it and feel like it was made for me. I plan to stay for awhile longer. Not sure what that looks like yet.

    When I was hired, my boss told me I would be eligible for a raise after a year. I feel awkward just going up to my boss and asking about it. How do I frame this, both in my head and to her?

    1. Jenn*

      “When I started you mentioned raises happened at the one year mark. Now that I’ve hit that, what is that process like?” Or something along those lines.

    2. Scarlet ribbons in her hair*

      Don’t be afraid to ask for your raise. At one of my previous companies, it was the only way to get a raise. Because TPTB said that if you didn’t ask for a raise, that meant that you were happy with your salary, so why should they waste their money giving you a raise that you didn’t even want.

  30. Regretful Regina*

    I may have made a big mistake. My boss was fretting about making a big hire (which I think is in the best interest of our nonprofit) and I told her if the budget was too tight after 6 months, she could take me down to part time or contract to keep them. I meant it, as my role doesn’t really make sense if we can’t turn around the org to be more impactful (plus we need to be making impact to fundraise). However, I regret putting the idea in her head that I’m looking to leave or that she can cut me off any time. I’m willing to do it with lots of heads up but before this conversation she may have been viewing me as a lifer, possible successor even. Should I let it ride, or go back and revisit the conversation to make it clear I’m open to a specific circumstance only, and otherwise want to stay? The truth is I have been looking, but I would usually never have brought it up unless I had an offer.

    1. Try again but this time with jazz hands*

      23 years of non-profit and I would never recommend this kind of offer. Your boss’s job is to make sure there’s funding for the organization and not relying on staff to negotiate themselves out of jobs to save money.

      Yes, you should go back to her to clarify intent. If you would still like to keep it put it on paper with stipulations and caveats. I did that with a non-profit that wanted me to evaluate a role, in addition to my current role. But they didn’t suggest a timeline or how much extra they were going to pay me. I’m glad I wrote it down because they failed in every way and I left.

  31. Filo Pilo*

    An employer prides themselves on being a family-run company but provides a remarkably ungenerous bereavement leave (one day per year, no matter who the family member is). Hypocritical, yes or no?

    1. RagingADHD*

      I don’t know that being a “family run” company has ever been correlated with having generous benefits or supporting workers spending time with their own families. It’s crummy but IDK if it’s hypocritical unless they are touting amazing family-friendly benefits in their recruiting or public image.

      1. ferrina*

        Or run by my family, who generally do not like each other. My dad forgot to tell me when Grandma died and only mentioned it in passing several months after the fact. (Grandma hadn’t spoken to me in years- she had a rota of People Getting the Silent Treatment, and I had been in the Silent Zone the month that I left for college, and I think she just forgot that she had never moved me out of the Silent Zone).

        But yeah, that doesn’t say good things for the family or the business.

        1. Art3mis*

          My aunt texted my brother and I when our grandma died. My brother was in a work meeting at the time. We don’t speak to that aunt any more, which was a long time in coming any way.

          1. ferrina*

            I hear that. It definitely wasn’t a first offense for my dad, either. Not even a hundred-and-first. Honestly, that was pretty benign as far as my dad is concerned (which says a lot). Sometimes you need to just stop trying for everyone’s mental health.

    2. Perfectionist adjacent*

      Yes. Bereavement leave isn’t intended to fully “compensate” someone for the period of mourning that accompanies a death in the family, but is there to help the employee with the time needed to travel to and attend a funeral, to attend to logistics, etc. A single day doesn’t even adequately provide time to travel to and from a funeral.

      And it seems like maybe because it is a family run company, the immediate family may all be very close geographically, and they’re not looking at the non-family part of their staff.

    3. Anecdata*

      How’s the big picture benefits – parental leave, scheduling, good insurance, other PTO?

      Realistically, family run companies tend to be small, and small companies are more vulnerable to an employee having a personal crisis – bereavement or otherwise.

      If they were saying “hey, no one actually needs more than one day for bereavement”, I’d call them hypocritical or out-of-touch; if they’re saying “one day is all we can offer”, I suspect that’s just reality. You are still completely free to decide you want to work for a company that offers more, and move on! But they aren’t bad people for having that policy.

    4. KT*

      The family run company I work for offers 3 days bereavement per year….after you have been here 5 years insert eye roll emoji

      Also, love your name :D

      1. Kes*

        Wow. I mean I’m not even a fan of vacation kicking in only after a certain period, unless it’s increasing from a good base. But to do that with bereavement leave seriously makes no sense. Like what are you supposed to do? Somehow make sure nobody in your family dies in the first five years you’re working there???

        As to the main question: hypocritical but frankly unsurprising. I mean my company makes a big deal about how much they care about employees (and in many ways they do) but we get 3 sick days a year which I think is a kind of pitiful

        1. Annie*

          I suspect the answer to people who have death(s) in the family when bereavement leave is unavailable is to use regular vacation/personal/sick days to cover it.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        “What? They aren’t getting any deader! Get back to work!”

        Ahhh, family…

  32. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

    I have some updates to share.

    I’ve accepted a new role with a new company; my last day is April 23nd. After nearly a decade and a half with the same employer, it’s daunting, exciting, unbelievable, and humbling, all at the same time. It’s a small step backwards in responsibilities, but a clean break with the toxic team lead I’ve been trying to please for the last three years.

    My soon-to-be-previous employer did try to counter again, but because I was leaving for quality of life issues, negotiations quickly fizzled. As I’m not for a significant raise or more time off, it wasn’t anything a cheque could be thrown at. At least anything throwing a cheque at would be a useful or effective reaction.

    In building and executing the transition strategy, I’ve come to realize that I’ve been the only person in the weekend-and-evenings on-call rotation for approx. 20 months. Every accomplishment that’s intact is a “problem,” the more recent would-be accomplishments are all vetoed. I’m sad to go, I’m leaving behind my best code, and people I still care deeply about, but it’s beyond time. They need someone in my role who believes in the new vision. We both need the healing to begin.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Congratulations on the new job! I hope it’s a better fit/environment than the one you’re leaving.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        Thank you. I hope so well, and that my current employer finds a better fit in my role to succeed me.

    2. Csethiro Ceredin*

      Congratulations! That sounds like a great change for you, and I hope your new employer proves much better (and more fairly) managed.

    3. Hot Dish*

      Congratulations! It sounds scary to leave but also that it’s definitely the right move. It’ll be okay. Kudos for getting out of an unhealthy job.

    4. Thank You Sheep*

      Huge congratulations. Your comment about leaving behind some of your best code hit me in the heart a little! I don’t code (much) but I think I get it, and it sums up so much about leaving an organisation you’ve worked with for a long time.
      I am job hunting to leave a slightly toxic org I’ve been with for years, and I will regret the loss of all the sheer POWER (dedication, loyalty, ingenuity) of my own that I put into their work and their brand.
      Congrats on moving forward with all your great talent.

  33. Dr. Curious*

    Any thoughts/feelings on using professional titles socially? (E.g., using ‘Dr.’ on flights/hotels/etc.) Are there any advantages or disadvantages to doing so from what you have observed or experienced?

    1. overeducated*

      The major disadvantage to doing so with a non-medical doctorate is that people will assume you are a medical doctor.

    2. YNWA*

      As a PhD, I don’t use “Dr.” in social situations because people then assume I’m a medical doctor and it’s annoying. Work-related (academia) settings, I absolutely use it.

    3. Glomarization, Esq.*

      When you get spam or unsolicited postal mail later on, you can tell who shared your address with the advertiser.

    4. Elle Woods*

      I don’t have a strong opinion one way or the other about using them for social things. Many of my friends have PhDs but none of them use them socially.

      My fave story about using Dr. in a social sense comes from an undergrad English professor. Her cat was quite ill and she had brought it to the university’s vet med center. She was having trouble getting anyone to call her back with an update–until she called and said, “This is Dr. Phoebe Buffay. I need an update on a patient there named Smelly.” The receptionist put her on hold and she had an update in two minutes. (Smelly was ultimately fine, just needed some heavy duty antibiotics.)

    5. Jay (no, the other one)*

      I’m an MD and so was my dad. My mother firmly believed that using the Dr got them better tables at restaurants and better service overall. I used to use it on flights with the idea that I might get preference for rebooking if the flight was cancelled. I was lucky enough to never have to test that theory and I stopped doing it after 9/11 because the name on the boarding pass has to exactly match the name on the ID and my ID doesn’t have my title.

      In my social life, I spent years actively avoiding it and not telling people what I do for a living. When I graduated med school (mid-1980s) I rapidly discovered that people responded differently to a woman using her MD than to a man. I was more likely to get a snide version of “Well, you must really think you’re something” than anything else and it got old very, very fast. When someone asked where I worked I said “XYZ Hospital” and let them assume whatever they wanted (usually that I was a nurse). After I turned 40 I ran out of f**ks to give about what other people thought. And now I’m in my 60s. I still don’t go out of my way to use my title – it’s not on my checks and I don’t use it at restaurants or hotels – but I answer honestly when the topic comes up. Been a long time since anyone got weird about it. I hope that means we’re evolving as a society.

      1. Regretful Regina*

        My MD friends say they avoid using it socially because people invariably ask for medical advice!

    6. DrSalty*

      I have a PhD and I use Dr when a title is requested (like required for paperwork) because that’s my title. I don’t use it “socially,” as in I would never introduce myself proactively to a peer as Dr Salty. The only advantages/disadvantages are mental imo. The advantage is having your hard work recognized and the disadvantage is sounding like a pompous asshole. If people call me Mrs Salty I correct them if I’ll see them again, but if it’s some rando I just let it go. So do what feels right to you!

      1. Justin*

        Yeah basically this. But I’ve realized, and maybe you agree with my experience as a POC Doctorate haver from yours as a woman (I am assuming based on what you wrote), that honestly, we should be proud of what we’ve accomplished.

        1. DrSalty*

          Absolutely! Getting a PhD is hard and we earned the right to the Dr title. So I certainly use it, but I don’t go out of my way to draw attention to it.

    7. Justin*

      I guess people might assume I’m a medical doctor rather than the academic kind, but, sadly, as a Black guy, people do tend to respect me a bit more when I use my title.

    8. MrsPookie*

      Dad was medical doctor. Hed never introduce himself as such – just ‘ Hi Im Jocko Swingbuckle’. The few times he ever did introduce himself as Dr Swingbuckle? The next thing hed here was ‘ oh, you’re a doctor? I have a pain right here….. do you know what that could be?” DONT use your title unless there’s a reason behind it. You do seem to get better treatment at hotels, But Id hesitate at Flights unless you want them to know there’s a doctor onboard…

    9. anon_sighing*

      I roll my eyes, but it’s a good heads up on the personality you will be dealing with…something people rarely get.

      I have worked with MDs and PhDs and none of them seem to like being called “Dr.” outside of a strictly professional setting/relationship (patient-doctor, official correspondences). The ones that get prickly about it have always been very…*sigh*. YMMV, but *shrug*. I imagine the prestige of the title does get them slightly better service (also the assumption of being a big earner helps).

    10. not nice, don't care*

      A classified staff at a university, I have observed that leaning on titles = eyerolls. Lower level folks generally assume it’s to impress or engender better service, and tend to deprioritize the users when possible.

    11. kalli*

      My brother asked me to use Dr. when addressing mail to him as it got mail to him faster, especially in some countries more than others.

      I personally haven’t experienced any difference with my letters, but I get a lot of people who lose social decorum around me anyway so I really wouldn’t know to compare to ‘normal’.

    12. Fluff*

      I’m late to this one.

      I wait for an announcement. Even then I think about it – especially after COVID and now: airspace, what country we are landing in, etc. Yes, “they” say you are protected in most countries. The US laws though prickly even though they seem fine. The line for gross negligence or willful misconduct have been blurred in several states. I wish we did not have to think this way – a plane landing in a middle east may be more risky for a male physician treating a woman and vice versa. states.

      I never use the MD on plane (and I used to take emergency calls from flights).

      Now the dork I married, had at times, emphasized my credentials on boarding. After take off, I promptly chucked him out the emergency exit door at 40000 feet. You might have heard about it on CNN.

      Kidding. Exits on pressurized aircrafts don’t work that way. Though in the case of Mr. Dork, they should have.

    13. K8T*

      I used to work at a hotel Front Desk and those who notated “Dr.” on their reservations seemed to be higher maintenance and absolutely expected you to address them as Dr. Smith as opposed to Mr./Ms./etc. Which they’re entitled to feel that way but we all rolled our eyes at them so YMMV.

  34. thebakeisapie*

    Question about 360 reviews. Would it be appropriate to include my grandboss/step-up boss as one of my feedback participants? I interact with her occasionally, and there was a four-month period where I worked with her more closely when we were hiring a new manager for my team. She signs off on my regular annual review but doesn’t have a hand in preparing it, if that matters.

    1. ferrina*

      Ask whoever is the admin for your reviews, or with your boss.
      Usually this is okay, but since your grandboss signs off on the review, it may put your boss in a weird position. If your boss is a decent boss, just checking in will be an act of goodwill and your boss can flag if there’s any concerns.

    2. 867-5309*

      Every 360 I’ve ever done includes my boss and my boss’s boss, at a minimum. Sometimes the department head, depending on how large the functional area and my role.

    3. KTM*

      I would. Could you reach out and ask them? Before I signed up my 360 Review participants that were higher ups I reached out to ask if they would be willing and not to feel obligated (either due to bandwidth, or them feeling like they don’t know my work well enough, etc).

  35. Despairingly unemployed*

    Small stakes question, if someone messages on LinkedIn that they’re interested and want to discuss my experience (aka interview), is it best to respond to the message or is following the calendly link and scheduling a time response enough?

    First time this happens and calendly has no immediate time for two weeks, I think that’s the part that’s worrying me.

    1. ferrina*

      I would respond and do the Calendly link. The response can be really simple-
      “Thanks for reaching out! The Calendly showed your next opening in a couple weeks, so I booked some time on [DATE]. I’m looking forward to chatting with you!”

        1. TheBunny*

          That’s what I was going to say. If there’s a quick opening I don’t always reply. But if it’s more than next day I will reply and say that I scheduled on a certain day/ time.

  36. Anima/Aniimat*

    Resume question: my mum is concerned with the hole in her resume that her cancer treatment leaves (we are in Germany and she was self-employed, it’s a bit complicated, but she is not working but gets paid). Also, she’s not quite sure if she wants to disclose that she was seriously ill. How can she put that 1-2 years on her resume?

    Follow up question: in am interview, should mum disclose when asked? For example, if she just left the hole be and gets asked what she did during those two years in an in-person interview, what would you answer in her place?

    I personally would disclose that I had cancer, probably not in my resume, but in the interview. If the employer self-selects out because of that, fine by me, wouldn’t work for someone that holds something I had absolutely no control over against me anyway.

    1. Educator*

      Honestly, as an interviewer, I would not want to know. It is not relevant to her ability to do great work at her next job, cancer is triggering for a lot of people, and, most importantly, I would not want it to bias me, positively or negatively, about her candidacy. The best line here is “I was dealing with a family medical situation which has since completely resolved.”

      1. Anon for this one*

        I’d be hesitant to say “completely” resolved immediately after cancer treatment – there are going to be scans and followups for a few years – but “resolved” should be fine. (And honestly that’s maybe just superstitious based on my own history.)

        1. Educator*

          To clarify, I did not intend “completely resolved” to be a description of the candidate’s medical situation, which is not a prospective employer’s business, but rather to be a description of the logistical situation. There was a situation that took them out of work; that situation is resolved in that they are able work again. Basically, this language is designed to reassure the employer that the candidate will not miss a lot of work immediately after starting to deal with an ongoing crisis. Routine follow up care is likely to fall well within the range of normal and unremarkable employee needs.

    2. WafflesFluff*

      I would be more vague in the interview, say something like “I was caring for a sick family member.” Not untrue, but doesn’t reveal too much.

    3. Fluffy Fish*

      I mean if there’s a gap, there’s a gap. You don’t put anything there.

      If it comes up, any variety of “dealing with a medical issue but that’s resolved now” should be fine. The reality is any good employer won’t bat an eye. A bad employer who would hold that against her is one she wouldn’t want to work for anyway.

      I think sometimes we get so caught up in what an employer thinks but if we take a step back realize that it works as a screening tool.

    4. WantonSeedStitch*

      Don’t put anything in that 1-2 years on the resume.

      If someone asks in an interview, “I was dealing with health issues which are now resolved.”

    5. IchKriegdieKrise*

      The question is, is your mum really doing a resume (then I agree with others- just leave the gap and be clear but vague in interview that she was dealing with a medical issue). But if she’s doing the classic German CV (lückenloser Lebenslauf), then I think the gap will be strange. I think it might becfine to leave the gap, but you could also put down what her “official” status was without specifying- e.g. medical leave and/or job searching.

      Just to give some context for non-Germans- my job (in Germany) required a full CV with dates for all education starting with elementary school and every single job I’d ever held… so different from a US resume…

  37. MissMaple*

    I’ve recently lost some weight unintentionally because work has been stressful and I’ve been running on the treadmill after my kid’s asleep to deal with the nervous energy (and therefore have not been doing my usual snacking). Apparently it’s enough that people are noticing and asking about it. I need a better response than turning crimson and stumbling over words. I wasn’t unhappy with how I was before, but it doesn’t help that I finally sort of feel better and am back to how I think I look/feel after COVID/pregnancy. Anyway, I’d love some responses that just end the conversation without having to get into it too much!

    1. Educator*

      Raise your eyebrows, change the subject. If any oblivious person ignores that clear signal, I would add “oh, I don’t talk about bodies at work.”

    2. WafflesFluff*

      I would just casually say “Yep, been hitting the treadmill hard lately!” then change the subject to something work-related.

      1. Kes*

        Yeah agreed with this, I would just say something like “Yeah I’ve been running a lot lately.” casually but without too much enthusiasm, to show it’s a subject you’re not all that interested in discussing. And then ideally change the subject

    3. 867-5309*

      So, I have started to say, “Oh. I do not talk about weight loss or gain. (big smile)” Sometimes I will add, “When you comment how good someone looks AFTER they’ve lost weight, what happens if they gain it back? And, who knows the reason for weight loss.”

      But, it is my feeble attempt at changing the conversation around looks and body.

      If they compliment you, could you just give a small smile and say “Thanks.” If they keep going, use Alison’s script, “Oh, I do not like to talk about fitness and eating at work.” ALT – “Just cut back on late night snacking. So, how about…”

    4. MissMaple*

      Thanks, both of those are good! The other thing is that I’m a woman in a male-dominated industry, so there’s some other weirdness there too that I’m having a tough time unpacking. The simpler the better in moving the conversation along!

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          “They kept eating all my snacks, so I’m sure to plump up again soon!” *big, tooth-bearing grin, steady eye contact*

      1. Paint N Drip*

        I understand how that framing (male-dominated workplace) does change things from possibly uncomfortable but relatively neutral to gendered and possibly sexualized weirdness. One option is to have a go-to phrase you use every time, with everyone – ‘kids keep you so busy!’ or whatever.

        My work history has been in lots of male-dominated spaces with varying degrees of socializing, and my body has changed multiple times. I am also neurodivergent with a stone cold face lol so maybe these are not for you, but:
        For the not-very-social workspace, I would go with a simple ‘yes’ and move on – as in, ‘you’re looking slim Maple!’ ‘yes. When is X report due?’. It is a quick and CLEAR move on signal to most men, and if there isn’t an expectation of socializing it just stops the personal part of the conversation.
        For the social workspace… tougher. I find that a quick ribbing can redirect things, but not always applicable – ‘you’re looking slim Maple!’ ‘so kind of you to notice that the shop has been running me ragged! Maybe you could tag in’. These ones are tough to determine how acceptable it might be, might depend on the individual, and should NOT be a romantic/sexual joke at all in my opinion.

        Good luck to you, this is a wacky intersection of mental health, physical appearance, gender, and work that is rife with possible discomfort

      2. BikeWalkBarb*

        This makes me second again the suggested response of “I don’t talk about bodies at work” because now the subtext is “and neither should you”. No smile for that implicit female niceness acculturation. Shut it down, change the subject. Bodies change and should not make any of us the subject of commentary.

    5. Ano*

      I get the results of my biopsy next week. I started a federal job 10 months ago. 50/50 odds it’s cancer.

      I’m trying to break down my anxiety into steps. How do I notify management? What are my options?

      How do I handle the news if I get it at work?

      1. Anon for this one*

        I am so sorry. Having been there, this waiting is absolutely the hardest part.

        You can decide who to tell. You can always tell more people, but you can’t un-tell someone you’ve told. HR needs to know, since they will be handling any leave paperwork and ADA accommodation requests (cancer is covered, so you’d be able to, for instance, request WFH if you’re immunocompromised during chemotherapy). Your immediate manager should know that you have a medical condition that will require regular appointments (or surgery + recovery time, whatever your treatment involves) but you don’t need to disclose details if you aren’t familiar with it.

        If you don’t have a private office where you will be able to take the call, figure out now where you can go – is there a small meeting room you can duck into, a quiet corner of the hallway, anything? Be ready to leave early for a “family emergency” if you’re at all able to, if the news is bad.

        All good thoughts for good news, and that none of this will be needed.

      2. Mad Harry Crewe*

        If your employer offers EAP, that could be a good place to start. They should be able to help you figure out what steps to take and when.

        Getting the news – “Boss, I just got some difficult news. I need to step away for the rest of the day” (or take a walk, take a long lunch, I’ll be out for the rest of the week – whatever you need)

        Talk to HR – “I’m going to be dealing with an extended family medical thing, but I don’t know all the details yet. Can you fill me in on our policies around FMLA, short term disability, and whatever else might be relevant?”

        Alternatively, you don’t have to do anything until you actually have a concrete treatment plan – at which point, it would be “I’m going to have a weekly medical appointment and need the rest of the day to recover. What do I need to do to get this all sorted out with you?”

        Fingers crossed for you that you get good news.

    6. HonorBox*

      I think part of it depends on how people are noticing it. If the comment is something like, “have you lost some weight” that might read differently than “hey you look really good now that you’ve lost weight” so you could answer based on the context.

      For the former, “yeah, I’ve cut out some snacking” and then changing the subject would be great. Because it is true.

      For the latter, “I don’t want to discuss appearance at work” is probably better because it shuts it down.

      Either way, though, if someone makes more than one passing comment, you can definitely go with the latter comment because it is really unnecessary that someone would say something more than once.

    7. Busy Middle Manager*

      Wafflefluffs made it easy, above. Just say “I’ve been running.” I think you have created a false dichotomy of “lost weight the easy fun way” versus “lost it the stressful way.” I lost that last pesky 15 pounds finally between 2022-2023 and it was hard. It’s always hard, just the reason that makes it hard changes. You think because you lost it the hard way, that you need to mention it to people and sort of reprimand them for asking. But no one cares that much, it’s definitely a “not that deep” thing. You can use it to sidetrack into any multitude of conversations, or none. Just “I’ve been running” or last week I used a random “been eating too many poke bowls lately, did you ever try to the place….” and went into restaurant talk

    8. YetAnotherManager*

      I’m a big big fan of a strategically deployed Awkward Silence, especially at work. It doesn’t have to be a whole elaborate thing, just look a little startled that they’d bring something like that up and pause for like…two seconds, before responding neutrally in a closed way (“Uh…yep, I guess I have lost some weight”). The pause will feel way longer than it actually is, and most people will either consciously or unconsciously pick up on the fact that it’s not great to comment on coworkers’ bodies even if their intent was positive. At the very least, it gives you a clear exit ramp!

    9. WantonSeedStitch*

      “Yeah, I’ve lost weight, but to be honest, I don’t really like talking about weight. It’s always such a fraught subject in general. Are you going to the X meeting on Friday? Do they really expect us to read that entire thing they said we’d be discussing?”

  38. Sheik YurBooti*

    I was put on the bench about a month ago — due to budget cuts. Luckily I found another opportunity within the same company but a different client. I am much happier to get away from my ex-boss and the former client.

    My now ex-boss wanted to throw a good-bye lunch or dinner, thanking me for my many years of service. I politely turned them down — I would have to pretend be happy? Excited? I’m being pushed out! It’s not like I’m leaving willingly for another opportunity.

    Am I justified?

    1. Caramel & Cheddar*

      Not sure what “put on the bench” means here, but assuming it means laid off: you were laid off, rather than fired, and I don’t think it’s a grievous misstep of your past boss for wanting to have a proper goodbye for you. It’s kind to thank people for their service!

      You certainly don’t have to attend if you don’t want to — getting laid off sucks and you obviously don’t have to be anything other than angry/upset about it — but this seemed like a kind thing for your old boss to do, even if maybe they didn’t read the room correctly.

    2. Taryn*

      You said you’re happier to get away from the old situation but you’re also not happy? And because of this, you’re turning down free food? I’m a bit puzzled here.

    3. Space Needlepoint*

      Yes, you are. I’ve been in that same situation, though I didn’t decline because I needed my manager as a reference. I did not want to go. They fired me and then they want me to be happy with them? WTF?

      It turned out okay, but that’s because there were twelve people there and I made sure I sat at the end of the table far away from my boss and his boss.

    4. Kes*

      To try and answer some of the questions above, put on the bench can mean being taken off a project, often in the consulting/professional services sector. If you’re not on a billable project for a client you’re on the bench.
      It sounds like they were taken off a project due to budget cuts but were able to move teams within their company to work on something else. Since they had presumably been their awhile their boss wanted to throw a goodbye lunch to thank them for their work, but they don’t feel good about how things with that project ended, so they didn’t want to go and pretend to have been happy working with said boss.

      As to the original question, I don’t know that we really have enough information to say if this is justified or if you’re overreacting. I think the fact that you’re not feeling good about the situation is understandable but being put on the bench due to budget cuts isn’t necessarily about your work, just about their budget. Especially since you do have something else lined up, from their perspective this probably isn’t necessarily a bad ending to your work there, and it might have been good for you to maintain that relationship from your side by accepting the goodbye lunch. That said, unless you were particularly rude in how you turned them down I doubt it will make a huge impact. But I’d focus more on moving forward and your new work than holding onto bitterness about this.

  39. Kitten*

    My company is mostly remote but my team works in the Eastern Time Zone. About a month ago I moved from Central Time (1 hour behind) to Pacific Time (now 3 hours behind). I’m basically working 7a – 4p in my time zone. This actually isn’t too bad, since I’m waking up at the same time as I did when I lived in Central Time, but I’m just turning on my laptop earlier. I also have a few 8a (my time) meetings, which is fine because I’ve had 8a meetings before.

    But boy, I am having a really hard time! I think it’s a lot of moving stress, and some other stressors. But I am having such a hard time in the morning. Yesterday I had no meetings and I had to take a 2 hour nap in the morning. The 8a meetings are brutal, I get so tired during them. Which is weird because I’ve had 8a meetings in the past and it was fine.

    Has anyone dealt with a similar issue? How do you handle the time difference challenges? Any tips?(I’ve tried going to bed earlier, it won’t work with me lol)

    1. 867-5309*

      Moving is one of the top most stressful things in life. I think it might take a few months or longer to adapt – new surroundings, feeling settled in a new space, etc. I strong arm my way through until I have a new normal. :)

    2. Pikachu*

      I haven’t updated my LinkedIn in a couple years, but I am getting myself back in the job market. My LI strategy has always been to use the profile as a general overview, with custom resumes for jobs I actually apply for, but I’ve been out of the game for a while.

      Any recruiters/hiring managers want to chime in on what role a linkedin profile plays in your evaluation process these days? Would also love to hear thoughts from others actively job hunting on how you use your profile.

      My local library has a job hunting support group and once a quarter they bring a photographer in to do free headshots, so I’m excited to see how that goes.

    3. Ashley*

      Honestly when I moved East to West, I never quite adjusted to the time shift in the 6 months I lived there. It did mean I was always ready for bed well before nine, because my body kept thinking it was midnight. You might be adjusting more then you realize to the time change. Something else to think about what was your old morning routine, could you be missing part of that? There is something to be said for a short power nap.

    4. anxiousGrad*

      I haven’t had this exact issue, but I start my days between 7:50 and 9 am and one of the things I’ve noticed about the 7:50 am days is that I have a much longer stretch of time between breakfast and lunch since I usually eat lunch at the same time everyday. Adding in a snack around 10 am has helped me balance out my energy levels in the morning. If your diet is such that you don’t want to add food, you could try eating part of your lunch early and see if that helps.

  40. Kylie*

    My department is in a weird battle of wills with the company’s IT department (allegedly the department that provides hardware/software support).

    Roughly ten weeks ago, my manager requisitioned a new printer for me. IT said they ordered it. It never arrived. I couldn’t perform my role without a printer, so my manager ordered one off of Amazon. It arrived the next day. When IT found out where it came from, they stopped the set-up process. My manager had to have a closed door phone call with their manager to get it sorted.

    My department starts at 6:30 AM and is responsible for handling very-quick-turnover product distribution. It’s not an exaggeration to say that we would be out hundreds of thousands on the daily if we can’t hit the ground running in the morning. However, IT doesn’t start until 8:30 – 9:30; if the network is down, or some comparable technical difficulty has reared its gorgon-like head, we can’t get any support for literal hours. The IT manager is disinterested in exploring providing early morning support; according to them, after hours evening support is “a favour” from the employee to the company and we should be happy with that. IT Manager also responds incredibly defensively to pointing out flaws with support and hardware delivery and our skip level manager has no interest in advocating for the department due to being close to retirement.

    These are only a few of the examples I could list. Is this typical? I feel like I’m having a normal one in the face of all this.

    1. Anecdata*

      A couple of things are not normal here:

      -If a network outage for a few hours would lose $$$$$, a company should have a backup network/some other backup plan. Even if IT is in the building there’s lots of things that could take them a few hours to fix!

      – The company should have some plan for emergency after-hours IT support (not just for your team but bigger picture – who gets called when a server bursts into flames at midnight or a hacker demands a cyber random). Not just staffing but also guidance on how to activate it/what situations are appropriate. But this needs to be budgeted for, and from IT manager’s comments about it being “a favor”, it sounds like the company isn’t paying for on-call staffing.

      – This sounds like ultimately a resources+ priorities conflict between your dept and IT dept, and it is 100% normal for the path to be that you both escalate that and let your leadership hammer out it, either accepting the risk of no backup or find the budget for backup. So it’s not normal for your skip level to just decide they’re “pre-retired”

      But! the good news/bad news is most of this is out of your hands. What I would do in your position is focus on documentation – both the actual impacts and a risk assessment of not having a robust backup IT plan. Since you have very time sensitive work with a very high $ impact, I’m guessing you have other risk mitigation plans in place (like what do you all do if there’s a snowstorm and no one can get to the office, or Key Person calls out sick, or the power goes out) – write those down. Then add the situations like “network outage before 9am” and label them something like “High risk: Large Impact; Medium Likelihood” or whatever risk rating vocab you use; explain the consequences if this happens (lose hundreds of thousands of $ on X contract) and ship it off to your boss.

    2. Roland*

      Your manager, or their manager or their manager, needs to go to someone above the IT manager. This needs escalating. If IT mishaps at 6am cause that much loss then a) I’m shocked that hasn’t already made its way to the higher ups but b) there will be someone who will be very alarmed to hear this and has the authority to do something about it.

    3. Parenthesis Guy*

      Usually IT people get extra money for being on call after hours. If your company is unwilling to pay that money, then your IT department won’t want to come in at 6:30. If your company is paying that money, and it’s part of their job, then that’s an issue. If IT doesn’t start till 8:30-9:30, it suggests your company isn’t paying that money.

      Printers can be a security risk.

      They may not be as crazy as you think they are. I’m not saying they aren’t though.

      1. Kes*

        Yeah, I don’t know that the IT team is handling this great, but at the same time, it sounds like the bigger problem is that the company is not interested in the investment needed to have more support after hours. Without that, you’re just asking them to work for free (which it sounds like they are already doing a bit)

  41. Aggretsuko*

    I finally got a job offer.
    In a prison.
    Any advice? I’m terrified, but I am desperate and need to take it.

    1. Taryn*

      Alison has a really interesting interview with a prison librarian you might want to check out. I’d recommend looking for other sources of people detailing their experiences working in that field. I’m sure they will make every precaution to ensure your safety.

    2. Geeyourhairsmellsterrific*

      Congratulations! I don’t know anyone who works in a prison but hopefully the interview process gave you some idea of what to expect.

    3. Double A*

      I taught in a juvenile hall and I loved it, it was the best job I ever had.

      What’s the job?

    4. anon_sighing*

      You’ll be fine. They have security precautions – my friend is a prison nurse and they’re taught to not give their real names, to keep conversations and responses to strictly about the treatment, and they always have security around.

      If I remember from your previous posts, you’re in hospitality or data entry — I can’t recall — but your worries should be centered on exactly is causing them. Is it “prison” in general? Or are you getting face-to-face interaction with high-security inmates and that troubles you? Did they not outline how you would be kept safe?

    5. katydid*

      Congrats, my husband is a correctional officer in a maximum security prison. He has learned so much in the 6 months that he has been there and the benefits and pay are great in our state.

    6. RagingADHD*

      I’m glad you have found something stable. One of my kid’s godparents works in a prison, and it has been a good solid career with excellent benefits. He is a very caring person and does his best to serve a vulnerable population. It does sound very intimidating, but AFAIK he has never any practical safety issues.

    7. TheBunny*

      Go for it. I had an interview for a position at a prison once. They went through all of the security protocols and are fully aware the employees and inmates are different.

    8. Parakeet*

      Congrats! My sister taught English literature at a prison when she was in grad school and she loved it. It was what convinced her that she wanted to be a teacher (she teaches high school now).

      And yes, as others have said, search for the interview that Alison did with a prison librarian. It was a great interview and would probably be helpful and reassuring for you.

    9. BigLawEx*

      I was a criminal defense lawyer many years ago. Prisons were the cleanest and most organized places I ever visited. (1000 times better than county jails). That said because I was an attorney, searches were limited and I could come and go as I pleased.

      The only thing I would consider is if their lockdown protocol could cause you to be unable to leave at the end of your workday. Find out what happens in lockdown to staff. If you can’t leave, have a backup plan for kids/pets/etc.

    10. retired3*

      What are you afraid of? I worked as an administrator for the Oregon prison system and it was a good job. If you follow protocol, prisons are safe. For example, I had to ask Master Control to open a door. This meant someone was tracking where I was all the time. Prison staff can be very supportive. It is a totally different culture (inmates and officers) and you need to find someone to teach you about this. I had a mentor who wanted to keep me safe. One thing he told me was that there are people in here who have done things you can’t even imagine. Listen to these people.

  42. Educator*

    I sometimes have to deal with a similar time change, and as horrible as it is–I do get up earlier. If I have to turn on my computer shortly after I wake up, I am a wreck. I need to actually do my morning routine to function.

  43. Anxiety Can Kick Rocks*

    I had a lapse in professionalism and as a result received poor feedback in our system from a challenging team lead. The feedback does compliment the work I did but it’s true that I sort of shut down after months of being demoralized.

    Friends I’ve Spoken With: Nobody’s even going to mention it.

    My Anxiety: You’re sure to be fired over this.

    My Common Sense: You should be meticulous for several months to make it clear that your lapse is not a pattern. Talk to your therapist. Soon it will fade into the past.

    My Anxiety: No, you’re just not being fired because nobody’s had time to deal with you yet.

    Help me shut my anxiety up here: What does the firing process look like in a large international tech company in the absence of a big, dramatic firing-event?

    1. Hillary*

      That doesn’t sound like negative feedback, it sounds mixed. You did well on some stuff and not well on others. One mixed feedback is at worst a write up. I’d be willing to bet if your manager cares at all it’ll be a coaching conversation. Once a little time has passed if your manager doesn’t bring it up you can talk about it and brainstorm opportunities to improve that area. It might come up again during your next review cycle.

      BUT this lead probably has a reputation and their feedback isn’t going to be given much weight, especially if it was about something subjective like attitude/approach.

      Firing at any big company takes time and/or cause. Cause means you stole something, you threatened or committed violence, you showed up to work drunk. Or a pattern of bad work. This isn’t a pattern.

    2. Glazed Donut*

      Any time my anxiety has jumped into the driver’s seat and told me I was certain to be fired, I gave myself a week – if I didn’t get fired within a week, I was in the clear. It usually took me about 8-1o days to shake the feeling.
      If you’re going to be fired from a large international company, you’ll be getting fewer assignments, potentially more check-ins (or the opposite–all check ins cancelled), asked to document your work/processes, and there will be a general shift to start lowering your responsibilities. If none of that starts happening within a week, I think you’re fine!
      And for what it’s worth – my anxiety has always been wrong and I have never been fired.

    3. anon_sighing*

      Did you apologize and take accountability for whatever the identified lapse in professionalism was? In my experience, a lot of people respond well to someone showing self-awareness and humility.

      Going disaster mode is your anxiety talking. Realistically, the person was frustrated with you and left honest feed back — good work, hard to work with. But that’s the end of it; they’re not thinking about it further. If only people with perfect reviews got to keep their jobs, there would be very few people working.

    4. Kes*

      You’re unlikely to be fired for one thing unless it’s really egregious/huge consequences. If that was the case, you’d probably be fired immediately and you probably would not be getting compliments on your work. Failing that, if you were on track to getting fired in a big company you’d likely get put on a PIP first, which they’d inform you of, and you’d be getting more coaching and check ins from your manager. Agreed with others to give this a week or two and failing getting fired or put on a PIP, move on. Although it probably is a good idea to think about anything you can do to avoid getting in a similar situation in the future.
      Also, another route is to consider what you would do if the worst happened. Have a plan in place and prove to yourself it wouldn’t be the end of the world even if it did happen, which you already know it probably won’t.

  44. New to the Office*

    Does anyone have any recommendations for books or mentorship orgs that explain the field of nonprofits? I switched careers in midlife and moved from a very straightforward, busy, direct service field to the world of nonprofit office work and I find myself baffled on a regular basis, especially around communication/culture stuff. I’m not interested in “moving up” into management, just trying to understand the norms of this field. Thanks!

    1. HonorBox*

      Not all nonprofits function the same, so it would be good to look at organizations that are similar in function / service to yours. Are there any people you know in those organizations? Are there larger umbrella organizations that provide resources, training, workshops? I’d also just suggest talking to your boss. Let them know that this is a different office culture and you want to better understand, and see if they have any suggestions for you.

    2. Camelid coordinator*

      I also like Alison’s book, Managing to Change the World, as a primer for working in a nonprofit.

    3. BikeWalkBarb*

      For an amazingly funny and insightful read on nonprofit work follow Vu Le’s blog. As someone else said they’re all different but you’ll a lot from his writing. Enjoy the frequent hummus and unicorn references.

  45. OutOfOffice*

    I can’t tell whether my new manager is a bad fit for me personally, or whether they’re just not a good manager. I’ve learned I thrive under a more hands-off approach. My new manager (as of 7 months ago) likes to be more involved, and they are an incredibly strong advocate for our team, which is amazing. They’re not a micro manager, which is great! But sometimes they will jump in to fix things I didn’t ask or need help with. I appreciate knowing they have my back, but I’m experienced enough to want to address issues with peers in other teams directly before going up the chain to my boss. That’s reasonable, right? They also have been very vocal about their difficulties working with their boss, my grand boss. A lot of their complaints are rooted in work, processes, s.o.p.s, and I actually agree with about 50% of their concerns. But as time goes on, more of the complaints get personal. Think jokes about someone’s email signature, or virtual zoom background. It feels … personal. Requests or ideas brought up by Grand Boss are always dismissed immediately, and I am starting to question whether that’s based on the idea or on personal antipathy. Their approach to our work with the team that has the same function in another office outside our country is very much “us vs them.” It seems my whole team has totally bought into her views on this, even though I think it’s probably a bit more nuanced – some dysfunction and processes that need to be changed, a couple bad actors, but definitely not this “us against the world” thing! This is all making things super awkward for me because I’ve been invited to work a large project with Grand Boss. More and more I feel like I’m stuck trying to stay above the fray, and it’s stressful. I feel like this could harm my prospects for advancement here. I also wonder whether myself and my coworkers could become the target of manager’s personal animosity in the future. Is this just me? Do I need to chalk this up to different approaches and let it play out?

    1. KitKat*

      This doesn’t sound great!

      > Is this just me? Do I need to chalk this up to different approaches and let it play out?
      No, not based on what you’ve described here. These are real problems, and the “us vs. them” dynamic can become really toxic over time.

      You could try separating out the problems and addressing them separately —

      1. You want to get the chance to fix mistakes before your boss jumps in. This is something you can easily ask them for. Share examples and see if you can get on the same page, or there’s some reason they don’t want to handle it this way.

      2. Their complaints are getting personal, and affecting the team dynamic. You can try lightly signaling that they’re getting out of bounds (“Whoa! I actually thought that was a pretty good idea.” “Oh wow, I’d hate to think someone said that about my background/signature/whatever!” “Oh, I’ve actually found team X to be really helpful whenever I’ve asked for things!”)

      3. You’re worried this will affect perception of your team, and roll down to affect your prospects to advance. The large project with Grand Boss is a great opportunity to feel this out – if you feel that you’re getting positive feedback and regular opportunity to work with others outside your direct team, this might not hold you back.

      I would try those things and give it a little bit of time. If things are only getting worse, I’d consider trying to raise the issue with Grand Boss if you have a good relationship and find them to be trustworthy. But, this is a bad dynamic and you’re right to consider leaving if it continues to get worse.

      1. OutOfOffice*

        Thanks KitKat this is really helpful. I think you’re right that the larger project is a good opportunity to keep those outside relationships going. The problem solving issue has only come up once for me, but I witnessed it happen to my colleague as well. I’m going to keep those things in mind so that if it happens again, I can be ready to address it.

        But yeah, the attitude that everyone else is the enemy is… definitely bad. It’s good to hear that from someone else, even if it doesn’t feel great to recognize that.

  46. Em from CT*

    Ok, commentariat, I could use some advice. How do you manage taking sick days when you’ve just come back from medical leave and you feel like your managers are surely going to run out of patience?

    I took about a month of FMLA leave earlier this year to deal with a serious health concern. My managers were very supportive throughout the whole process and really seem to want me to get well.

    When I came back from FMLA, they very shortly thereafter put me on a PIP. This is fair; my performance had been sub-par for a while, and I know that I haven’t been at my best for a long time! Again, they’ve been very supportive; I do get the sense they want me to succeed and are actually trying to give me tools to do so. And so far I’m proud of my efforts.

    BUT. I’m currently dealing with a headache disorder entirely separately from the issue I took FMLA leave for. When I say “headaches,” they’re not migraines, apparently, but close enough: debilitating pain that makes it difficult to work, plus constant light-headedness where I don’t feel entirely inside my body.

    The challenging thing for me is, so far the doctors haven’t figured out any way to interrupt the headache pain, and the headaches can last for months without letting up (last time it was 5 months, 24/7 pain). So I can take sick time when it’s especially bad, but there’s nothing to do that helps.

    How do you navigate asking for even more forbearance from managers when you’ve already asked for a huge amount of support already?

    The part of me that has read this blog for years thinks it’s important to communicate clearly with my managers that I’m in a lot of pain and that it’s affecting my work and that I’m doing my best but I’m not 100%. The part of me that’s worried about losing my job thinks I shouldn’t say anything because at some point they’re going to decide I’m just too much of a liability to keep on. Any advice?

    (This post would have been shorter, but… see above re: “intractable pain.” “Coherent” I can do; “brief” is beyond me.)

    1. Caramel & Cheddar*

      No real suggestions since I haven’t personally experienced this, but my sympathies on the headaches. 5 months of 24/7 pain is no joke!

    2. Nesprin*

      It sounds like you should still be on FMLA – you’re still dealing with a medical condition and need a modified work schedule + increased flexibility.

      Ask your doctors for a new note and do the paperwork again.

    3. WellRed*

      The thing is, you’re probably in danger of losing your job either way. You had a month of fmla and a PIP so far this year and it’s only April. Are you off the PIP? Do you have a long and good history with this company? Are you generally a valued employee who has earned a little grace? I agree you should probably still be on FMLA. I’m sorry you’re dealing with this.

    4. Anecdata*

      Start the paperwork to get intermittent FMLA approved right now

      I am sorry to say it is likely your job is in danger, given the PIP. It sucks, but that is a pretty clear signal that the work you can do while dealing with the health issues (which is a lot! I’m sorry you’re dealing with all this) may not be at the level they need to keep you on. If you have been there a long time and were previously excellent, you might be able to get a longer grace period (no harm in trying), but if I were you, I would also be thinking about backup for if you do lose your job. Some ideas – is part time an option? does your employer offer short term or long term disability insurance and when is the enrollment period?

    5. WantonSeedStitch*

      Sounds like cluster headaches? Those can be every bit as bad as a serious migraine disorder! I would hope that any decent manager (sounds like yours are) would be understanding about a medical issue like this. Instead of asking for forbearance, I would be talking to them about the limits of what you can do, and about what the effects on your work are from your medical condition. Having specific accommodations in mind can be helpful (limits on how long you can work, needing breaks, needing to work from home, etc.). I would also want to be VERY clear on what their top priorities are from you, so you can focus on those and not spend extra time or energy on stuff that doesn’t matter as much. You might also want to look into intermittent FMLA, if you have any FMLA time left, for when things are bad and you simply cannot work.

      The big issue is that you have upper limits about what you can provide. The company has lower limits about what they can get from someone in your position. If those two things don’t meet, there’s a problem regardless of how much they might WANT to help you–that’s when an accommodation request becomes an “undue burden,” like if they need a full-time person but you’re only capable of working 20 hours a week. And that sucks. So it might be worth starting to look into disability benefits where you are, just in case.

  47. Kimberlite*

    A few months ago, I started at what I think would be many people’s dream job – I work in a niche field (and am thus hard to replace) at a really prestigious (but really friendly) employer, where I fulfill my job requirements working from home, with no micromanagement, for about ten hours spread out over the week, which I enjoy in and of itself beyond the paycheck. Which is, by the way, $50,000 a year.

    How feasible is it to have a second “real” job on top of this one? I’m not talking r/overemployed nonsense here, I mean searching for an on-site job and telling them upfront during the interview I would be working a WFH job on the weekends. Doing so wouldn’t be career suicide (it’s pretty common for people in my field to also be, e.g. college professors) but I’m worried that would be a mark against me on the job market.

    1. HonorBox*

      Honestly, I don’t think you need to disclose anything unless either you’d potentially be needed for weekend work for the second job or there was any sort of overlap between the two employers. You could ask if there’s anything prohibiting a second job, and if so, you could let them know that you have a very part-time role that you work on the weekends. But unless there’s clear prohibition, a clear conflict of interest or a clear time conflict, I wouldn’t think twice about it if I were interviewing you.

    2. Alex*

      Why would you have to tell them about your weekend job?

      I work a weekend job. I didn’t mention it when interviewing for my weekday job. It doesn’t overlap, it is a totally different kind of job. It’s no one’s business what I do on the weekends!

      1. Kimberlite*

        There is a very, *very* big gap in prestige between the place I currently work and places I have worked in the past, to the point where I would be insane to leave it off my resume, and where it would be obviously disingenuous to downplay it during an interview.

        1. Pocket Mouse*

          Can you just talk about your job the same way you would for a job you were planning to quit in order to take the full-time job? I’d wager they assume you’ll quit your current job and not think much about it beyond that. If they ask why you’re looking to leave that role, you can say something like “I enjoy the role, and [not ‘but’!] I’m excited to expand on XYZ in a role like the one I’m applying for.”

    3. Caramel & Cheddar*

      I wouldn’t consider mentioning it unless you get an offer, and only then I would mention it in a “I have a very part-time job on evenings and weekends doing X and wanted to make sure that won’t be a conflict of interest in any way.” Maybe it will be, maybe it won’t be.

      What I’d be more concerned about as an employer is that if you’re now working a full time job and then working a WFH job on weekends, what is your downtime like? Is it sustainable to work seven days per week? Will you have time to rest and recuperate? I know the WFH job is only ten hours but you’re going from ten hours to at least fifty hours per week and that’s a huge change.

    4. Anecdata*

      Is your current job officially 10 hrs a week, or is it officially “full time” and you can just easily get it done in 10 hrs? if someone calls your current job for a reference, are they going to describe you as a full time employee or assume you’re quitting with them if you take on full time somewhere else?

      1. Kimberlite*

        It’s one of those tech-sector-ish “we don’t care how long it takes you, we just need you to do Task XYZ every week” things. It is not a secret at all that I do my work fast, and my boss would be cool with me double dipping into the world of gainful employment.

    5. WantonSeedStitch*

      As a hiring manager, I wouldn’t be concerned about someone telling me “I’m working 10 hours a week in a related job. It’s not going to expand beyond that, and there’s no conflict of interest because XYZ.” But I wouldn’t expect them to disclose that unless it’s required as part of a COI statement.

  48. Consonance*

    I just had to comment that last night I had a dream that I was reading Ask a Manager, and the letter was from an academic who was struggling with their summer scheduling. The summer semester was “staggered”, so people would work some weeks but not others due to block scheduling for summer classes. This schedule was affecting their work because they weren’t overlapping enough with colleagues and communication therefore suffered. I really need more interesting dreams.

    1. Kes*

      LOL, that’s great. I hate to say it because I love AAM too but you may actually be reading this site too much if you’re starting to dream about it even lol

      1. Consonance*

        I’m going to claim that it was because I have actual work drama happening (challenging conversations with employees, etc.), and sometimes it’s comforting to retreat into normal, bland problems. Cause otherwise, yeah…

    2. WantonSeedStitch*

      I dreamed the other night that I was in a work meeting, but it was after hours (like, 7 pm or something), in a building that didn’t look anything like the building where I work, and the lights were all off–and no one wanted to turn on the lights. It was weirdly realistic other than that, though: we were talking about someone leaving the office who had really left, the meeting was led by someone who often leads meetings I attend, and at least one of my real colleagues was in the meeting. We even had remote meeting participants on speakerphone, and there was a blurry projection of someone’s laptop screen, showing data that I don’t remember, but it was definitely something plausible.

  49. help me please*

    Resume question. I am trying to capture my ability to people lead but also maintain accuracy. How can I say this succinctly?

    I am a project director.
    I directly supervise two people.
    I also influence four others that were hired for my project but report to my supervisor in the system. I participate in their performance reviews and give them tasks to complete. It’s kind of dotted line, but not quite, because that’s not really a thing we do here.
    I also have three contractors that work directly on my project who I meet with regularly. They have their own supervisors at their institutions that I collaborate with to ensure they are meeting project needs.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      How would something like this work on your resume:

      Project Director, ACME Corp, 2015-present
      * supervise two project coordinators
      * manage a project to increase funding by 50%
      * assign and review project tasks for four project analysts
      * regularly meet with three project contractors from Institution X to assign and review project tasks

      You know more details so you can write stronger and more detailed bullet points (and you know the correct job titles, not my generic “project coordinator/analyst/contractor” titles).

    2. Hillary*

      It’s about your results. You’re delivering on time and on budget with internal and external team members.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        Very much this. I don’t care how many people you’ve supervised, because a lot of people of supervise other people. But what did you actually accomplish while you were supervising those other people?

        With any job, there are things that you do (i.e., duties, which are mandatory) and there are things that you get done (i.e., accomplishments, which are not mandatory). I can train anybody (or just about anybody) how to do the TPS reports; but what I’m looking for is somebody who can actually make things better. So a phrasing like this is good:

        “Improved/Maintained/Achieved by by doing .”

        In the hypothetical case of TPS reports, this might look like

        “Reduced the production cycle of TPS reports by 50% by creating an online form that allowed people to upload their data, rather than by submitting it physically.”

        Looking at your query, I would say something like this:

        “Maintained 98% (amount) accuracy (item) while managing a team of by doing .”

        The first part (98% accuracy) hooks people in, especially if that is relevant in this kind of role. What you are leaving out is how you achieved that. You don’t have to go into specifics, but give enough here that someone reviewing your resume would be intrigued, and someone interviewing you would have something to ask about. And most importantly, that you would have something to explain at length in a job interview.

        [Getting a new job is a lot like fishing; you have to give people something shiny to look at, and then go after, and then try to bite, in order to get the interview.]

  50. Applying Up*

    I have two questions as I’m job searching right now and appreciate any insight around this!

    Can I apply for a “manager” position if I don’t have managerial experience BUT the posting does not ask for supervision experience? I meet most of the requirements, I just don’t have roles in my history that are named “manager.” Is it a waste of time?

    I am considering going back to working in office depending on the role. I live near the Key Bridge and since the collapse, commuting is HELL. I currently work remote. I would stay in my lower paying job to stay remote. But would it be fair for me to ask (maybe just internally, I don’t know if I could say that in my actual salary negotiation) for more money due to commuting costs of going back in office? What percent more is your ask for going back in person and going on a hellish commute?

    1. Caramel & Cheddar*

      If it doesn’t list supervisory experience in the requirements, apply! They could be looking for someone exactly like you, i.e. someone who is hoping to go to the next level.

      Don’t ask for more money for commuting costs. Ask for more money because of what you think you’ll be bringing to the job. Salaries aren’t contingent on what your personal expenses are. If they offer $50k and you want another $3k because that’s what it would take to get you into a hellish commute, then just ask if they have room to come up to $53k because of X and Y reasons.

      1. KitKat*

        Agree with this, but you might be able to ask for more flexibility or a hybrid schedule given the circumstances with the bridge. I don’t know the region but that would be reasonable in many places.

        1. Caramel & Cheddar*

          Yeah, I think hybrid flexibility because of the bridge makes more sense as a specific commuting-related request.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      The “manager” question depends on your field/role. In my field, “manager” is just another rung on the ladder. As far as commuting… factor that into your ask but don’t specify. They know the commute has gotten bad. But when you’re discussing salary, you factor in everything you need/want in your next role. The line items are not their business.

    3. BellyButton*

      Think about times you managed a project that had people from multiple teams on it. You may have not authority over them, but you still had to manage them.

    4. WantonSeedStitch*

      If the post doesn’t ask for supervision experience, apply for the role. “Manager” can mean “manager of a process or area of work” rather than “manager of people.” Definitely not a waste of time.

      You can’t negotiate more money using commuting costs as a lever. Your salary needs to be based on the value you bring and the market salary level. Only you can decide what makes it worth a bad commute.

  51. Underling wondering*

    When my supervisor goes to offsite leaders’ meetings (with other supervisors here), is it so they can 1) Discuss us worker bees? 2) Drink alcohol? Or 3) Both?

    1. fine-tipped pen aficionado*

      In my experience it’s usually just to avoid distraction or eavesdropping.

    2. chili oil*

      Discuss overall work strategy, possibly department organization. No place I’ve ever been has dicussed/gossiped about worker bees, except to the extent that “oh, you need X skill on your team, Jane has a degree in X. If you want to share her, how do I backfill the rest of what she does on my team. Should my team take over X entirely? Do you want to pick up Y”

    3. Generic Name*

      I’m curious why you’re assuming they are drinking on the job when they have an offsite meeting. My last company had “retreats” that were for strategic planning, and they were offsite to help people focus on the planning and not have normal workday distractions.

    4. BellyButton*

      Just got back from our executive offsite. We are all remote so getting into a room together a few times a year is helpful, especially when we are working on strategy. We also use that time to team build with our peers.

    5. Educator*

      Yeah, I have never seen any drinking during an offsite until perhaps a glass of wine at a group dinner, nor have I seen any gossiping or negative behavior. In my experience, these are usually attended by both leaders and our boss(es) so there are extra high expectations for being on and professional. Honestly, they are exhausting, though they can also be productive if they are planned well.

      1. BellyButton*

        Yeah, I have never worked anywhere where trash talk would be acceptable. There is a level of professionalism that does not include trash talking.

        If we are talking about employees is about their performance, potential for growth, career path, etc.

    6. NaoNao*

      It really depends on the crowd. But the offsite part usually isn’t to freely gossip and misbehave. It’s to avoid the typical day to day distractions of the office and focus on things like strategic planning, professional development, and other analysis that requires uninterrupted focus.
      It’s sometimes a perk and involves “team building” like having a drink after the day, but it’s not an “adult slumber party” with booze, usually.

    7. Chauncy Gardener*

      Generally, it’s a pretty structured meeting to discuss very specific strategic items that require in depth, uninterrupted time together. No drinking anything but loads of coffee! Might be a dinner after so maybe then? No trash talking employees or anything that detailed at all.
      I’ve actually never been in a management meeting where anyone trash talked employees and I’ve been a manager for over 30 years.

    8. not nice, don't care*

      At my workplace the trashtalking is always in less official settings, since only half the leadership team are vile. The rest actually seem to like their employees.

  52. fine-tipped pen aficionado*

    Any tips on helping your employee get comfortable giving you honest feedback? My employee has only been with us for a few months and is definitely recovering from a toxic workplace.

    She’s the sweetest person alive and extremely good at her job, but she’s reached the top of where she can go in her current work at our org and most others. She wants bigger and better things eventually and I want to set her up to get them. She’s gotten 1000x more comfortable asking for things and she doesn’t apologize as much as she did at first, but she clearly still struggles with self-confidence and has yet to push back on anything she disagrees with or pitch her own ideas.

    Part of it is just that these things take time. I know she’s working on it and we talk about it regularly when discussing the direction of her growth. I just want to make sure I’m doing everything I can to help her, so I’d love any success stories y’all have with your employees or how your managers have helped you develop these skills.

    1. Decidedly Me*

      Some people honestly never get over this. It’s a real skill to speak up, especially in a world where that’s frequently viewed as a bad thing, but it’s definitely doable!

      The biggest thing you can do is demonstrate this is ok to do. If she speaks up about anything, make sure your reaction is crystal clear that it was ok to do so. Even when I’ve completely disagreed with someone’s thoughts, I made sure I was clear that I appreciated them bringing me their thoughts, that I understood their point, that I’d love to hear more, etc. When people have seen that nothing bad happened, they’re more open to doing it again.

      The other thing to do is to solicit that feedback. Try to ask questions that can’t just be brushed off with a generic reply. If you just ask “What do you think?”, it’s easy for someone to say “Sounds good!”, so try things like “What do you see working well/not well/etc about this?” or “What am I missing here?” – for this one, make it clear you see her as having a view you don’t (and as your employee, she does!). I tell my folks all the time that they are seeing what’s happening on the ground and I don’t see that as much in my role, so if I’m getting something wrong , tell me.

      For bringing her own ideas, try asking for her thoughts before you’ve provided any of your own. You can also put it forth to her as a project. “I’d love for you to come up with an initiative for X, can you bring me a few ideas at our next meeting?”

      Hope this helps!

    2. WantonSeedStitch*

      Try sharing a story about a time when someone disagreed with you and your good reaction to it. “I’d like you to work on this assignment. I asked Jane to do something similar last year, and she pointed out that we didn’t have enough data to make any results we got really meaningful. I realized she was absolutely right, and that’s why I decided to wait a year until we were able to gather more data before we attempted it again. Since Jane’s busy now, I’m asking you to handle it, seeing as you have XYZ skills.”

      Also, make it an assignment for her to poke holes in stuff! “My plan for this is [blah]. I’d like you to find at least three challenges that would be presented by that approach, or problems it could potentially cause us down the road, so I know I’m not overlooking anything.”

  53. CuriousLegal*

    What are the pros and cons of taking attorney term roles within the federal government? Why would one choose a term role?

    1. Current Fed*

      Term positions can be an opportunity to show your skills and get hired for a permanent position when one opens up.

  54. Em from CT*

    Second post today!

    If anyone has made the decision to switch jobs (or even job fields!) to a lower-stress one due to health concerns, could you tell me about how you decided it was time? Or any other insight into how you made the decision to step back?

    As I said in my earlier post, I’ve been suffering some health challenges for a while now. While I don’t think my health issues are caused by stress, stress certainly doesn’t help. And work has been a big stressor for me for a long time. I really love my job and want to do well at it, but–I’m realizing maybe I’m not cut out for it.

    So I’m wondering if I need to find a lower-stress job for health reasons. If you’ve been through this, how’d that process look for you?

    (One challenge for me is that I work in the public sector, which is a deeply values-driven choice for me. I honestly don’t know if I could work a job that was just about making money for some corporation unless it was a matter of survival. But “low-stress/low-stakes” and “public sector” don’t seem to go together too often, in my experience.)

    1. Mimmy*

      I’ve always wanted jobs where I feel like I’m contributing something, not just to make money (although that certainly helps!). However, I am asking myself similar questions (see my post below) for mental health reasons.

      As an aside: I think there is too much emphasis on being able to handle high-volume, high-stress jobs without proper support from employers.

    2. not nice, don't care*

      Reawakened panic attacks and a massive flare-up of a long dormant illness were my cues to narrow my focus. Luckily I was job hunting when the market was decent and secured a job that mostly met my needs. There have been re-orgs and leadership changes that were problematic, but knowing that taking on the wrong work means a permanent worsening of my health has given me a lot more impetus to stand my ground.
      A friend who used to work here left her job without anything lined up (extremely vicious manager, thankfully long gone) and said that it was stressful to cobble together bill money each month, but still better than external/workplace stress.

  55. PropJoe*

    I work at a fairly large employer (hundreds of employees). We are mostly white collar office jobs but we do have a non-trivial blue collar workforce (facilities, housekeeping, security, etc.)

    One of our blue collar employees has what I suspect to be a severe hearing impairment, along with a major speech impairment. He uses sign language and can also communicate by writing on his phone & showing it to you.

    It got me to wondering: if you have a disability that has a severe impact on your ability to communicate, how do you handle job interviews?

    1. Fluffy Fish*

      from the employer side, we always include a statement to the effect of if you need accommodations for the interview please contact x. it’s not optional, we cannot discriminate on the basis of a disability so we must offer necessary accomodations.

  56. Justin*

    My job was feeling like I wasn’t going to have room to grow briefly but they’re finally really supporting my work (to be clear my department always did but the CEO had to be more directly informed to increase my team’s budget and he’s agreed to). So that’s good. And like I said the other day, we got named the #3 large nonprofit to work for and I might be able to hire someone soon for my small team. Yay. (The budget increase is about systems mostly, to be clear.)

    But holy lord, being on one of the company’s fast teams (there are 3 or 4) means working with the slower teams is the most frustrating experience. Have you all ever experienced that? How do you deal with knowing another team, that you have no control over, is going to move incredibly slowly when you sometimes really do need to work with them?

    1. Antilles*

      Sure have. My biggest suggestion is to build in a bunch of spare float room for the slower teams – both in terms of the schedule and your own mental expectations. If at all possible, you want the slow teams off the critical path so that if (when) they run over, the rest of the project can continue moving forwards. And more broadly, if you’re mentally expecting the delays, it’s easier to plan around and less taxing when they’re yet again bringing up the rear.

    2. ForestHag*

      I deal with this a lot! When my team can do something on their own, they are blazing fast. It’s great, but we often need to loop in infrastructure services or business analysts from other areas, and it can be a pain sometimes. Those are teams have lovely people, but they get hamstrung by their leadership and bad processes. I work in a centralized IT organization, so this mostly applies to IT.

      My tips:
      – build in a LOT of buffer time for any project or work effort
      – give the team’s manager a heads up that work is coming their way
      – try not to stray outside that team’s core/standard services; i.e., request what’s in their comfort zone. Anything that gets too far afield from what they normally do tends to get bogged down.
      – make sure documentation is very clear and up to date about what is going on – not to cast blame on anyone, but so everyone can see where the bottlenecks are and how we might improve processes.

      1. Justin*

        Yeah. I do the buffer thing already, but the documentation thing is key and I need to up my game on that. Ugh, extra work for me instead of them stepping up.

  57. AnonMom*

    Folks who pump at work – how do you think of that time in terms of your other breaks in the day? Do you try to make up the pumping time, so you have a “regular” amount of work time? Do you still take other types of breaks?

    I’m in a fully remote, salaried white collar job. I’m pretty senior and have a ton of autonomy in terms of how I manage my time, and really no direction from my company on breaks or pumping accommodations.

    Currently pumping takes up 1hr+ of my work day, and I can’t realistically do any work while pumping. I’ve tried to work through lunches and take few other breaks to make up some of the time, but it’s really draining — I barely get outside and have no true “breaks” in my day, since pumping is not relaxing. Recently I’ve started being more flexible and taking more “true” breaks like I would have in the past (going for a walk or short run, going out to lunch, running an errand) but if I take a lunch and a walk then I’m down to like… 5.5 hours of work time in an 8 hour work day. Is this normal? Pushing the limit? Very bad? Just curious how others handle/treat this.

    1. NotaFashionExpert*

      If you have a lot of autonomy, are exempt, have a flexible schedule, and are getting all your work done in a timely manner and working less hours is not impacting anyone else or the company…seems like you’re fine for this period of time you’ll be pumping! I don’t know what the laws or rules are around this, but if you have a flexible work schedule, this seems like a great time to take full advantage of that and do what you can. Pumping is not a true break (your body is working hard to produce that milk and it’s a lot to sit there hooked up to the machine!) so I can understand why you still want some quiet / outside time. To me, this doesn’t sound bad. (Caveat: I was not working during the time I pumped, so I don’t fall into the category of folks who pump at work – I just wanted to offer some support!)

      1. KitKat*

        Yeah it’s hard because autonomy also means I tend to go find problems to solve, then solve them. Work doesn’t really come to me. I’m covering the critical time-sensitive stuff (probably 25% of my workload) but definitely getting less done overall.

        1. Mad Harry Crewe*

          Give yourself some grace. It’s ok to cut down on the nice-to-have extras for a while at work when you’re dealing with personal stuff, and pumping definitely counts as “stuff you’re dealing with” – it’s not fun or relaxing, it’s a medical thing you’ve got to do on a regular schedule for the health and well being of your family.

    2. EMP*

      I have definitely been less productive in the past few months. Not just because I’m not making up the time from my pumping breaks but also being stopping everything to go pump really breaks my concentration. However, I was also job searching, so I wasn’t really invested in maintaining my previous workload. I’m not sure yet how I’ll try to handle this when I start my new job. I’m hoping as I ramp up at the job I might be able to ramp down on pumping (baby will be 8 months when I start). If not, I might try to do longer days when I’m working from home so I get closer to a real work week on average. For me it’s more about getting a reasonable amount of work done rather than time spent at my laptop (sounds like you’re in a similar position) and I want to be at like, 80-85% for these few more months of pumping.

    3. Nina from Corporate Accounts Payable*

      Similar situation job-wise (remote, considerable autonomy). I would be active on Teams and email from my phone while nursing or pumping, and if possible take calls where I didn’t have to be an active participant. My employer doesn’t have a big camera-on culture fortunately. That almost backfired a few times when nursing the baby nearly turned on the camera on my phone while on calls – could’ve been horrible if I were on-camera while nursing.

      The big thing that helped was I saved my PTO before going on leave and would take an hour or two off every day to alleviate that guilt of not putting in a full day’s work. Might not be possible in every circumstance (limited PTO or company policy), but I work on billable hours which also made a few hours off here or there more feasible.

      I nursed more than pumped, but I did buy an in-the-bra discreet pump (Momcozy M5 – not as crazy expensive as other discreet pumps). Based on my research, success with it is hit-or-miss, but it worked for me, although cleaning is a process. I actually had better output with it than the big plug-in pump. SO much easier to do things without tubing sticking out.

      OTOH, I did have to come down hard on one of my direct reports who had a childcare lapse for a few months and she was distracted with childcare although she did have family help. I encouraged her to follow my lead and use PTO the way I was, but she did not even though she had the PTO available. What ultimately dinged her was she stepped away and wasn’t always available on conference calls (her name would be called out and she wouldn’t respond) and sometimes she wouldn’t respond to Teams pings and phone calls. THAT is the main issue and wound up getting a haircut in her bonus. As long as you are reachable and present when needed, you can probably get away with it ;)

      Good luck with the juggle!

  58. NotaFashionExpert*

    For any litigation attorneys or fellow expert witnesses out there: what should I wear for my Zoom testimony in a divorce trial next week? I’ve only ever testified in person and not over Zoom yet, so not quite sure what comes across best. I’m female and wear women’s clothing, and am in my early 30s. I’m a financial expert.

    I’m thinking a blazer over a blouse, but I realize I no longer own any blazers after many years of WFH (so will be seeking one out this weekend). Any colors / blouse types I should gravitate toward or avoid? I just want to look as polished and professional as possible, but the last time I testified was pre-COVID, so would appreciate some outside thoughts. Thanks for any tips / suggestions!

    1. Hlao-roo*

      A few very generic tips from a non-attorney:

      – Avoid patterned/striped clothes (or test it out on your webcam). Sometimes patterns/stripes do funky things on camera.

      – Think about what will be in your background and avoid wearing something that will blend in (for example, a solid blue shirt against a similar shade of blue wall).

      1. NotaFashionExpert*

        These are great tips, thank you very much! I forgot about testing it out via my webcam first – excellent suggestion! Thanks :)

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      Another not a lawyer (NAL), but if you have a good black or navy sweater/cardigan that can mimic the look of a blazer. Webcam only shows like shoulders and up, so a good cardigan can often “pass” as a jacket in that case.

    3. Csethiro Ceredin*

      I’ve heard blue makes people seem trustworthy but no idea if that is true.

      I’d advise no nude coloured tops … I was shocked to see myself in a Teams meeting looking like I was wearing nothing but a blazer. I guess it matched my skin tone a little too well.

      1. NotaFashionExpert*

        I’ve been leaning toward navy for the blazer! And ooh great point – I may have made the mistake of choosing a nude top as a neutral, but now I will avoid this! Thanks for the comment :)

        1. Chauncy Gardener*

          Navy blazer or structured cardigan, white blouse, simple necklace (perhaps pearls because they’ll show up on camera)
          That is unless your background is blue!

    4. Generic Name*

      Is this your own divorce, or are you a witness (or an attorney??)? If it’s for your own divorce, I think judges normally give folks some leeway in terms of not having to wear full suits to court, especially for remote trials. I never wore a suit or even a blazer when I was in court in-person for my own divorce. I then had several zoom hearings over the years (whee!), and I usually wore a cardigan and a blouse/shell. I think I wore a blazer one time? You could also ask your lawyer what is expected of you. If you are a witness or other professional acting on behalf of the court, I’d wear a blazer for sure.

      1. NotaFashionExpert*

        Thanks for clarifying! This is not my own divorce – I am a financial expert testifying about my opinion in the matter. Great question though. The attorney did suggest a blazer since it will come across as more professional. (I’ve just been so used to less formal wear for many years now so wanted a gut check from others!) Thanks for the comment :)

    5. Anon attorney*

      I want my expert to look professional and understated. I want the judge to be thinking about what they’re saying not what they’re wearing. Plain neutral colored top with no patterns or frills and a dark blazer. Understated jewelry (this is not time for your statement piece) and tidy hair. low-key makeup if you wear it.

      although you could ask the attorney who hired you for guidance. my witnesses and experts ask this and I’m always happy to give guidance so I don’t think they’d mind

      1. NotaFashionExpert*

        This is very helpful, thank you! The attorney recommended I wear a blazer but didn’t elaborate beyond that, so I greatly appreciate your insight! Professional and understated is what I’ll go for, along with a low bun hairstyle to keep it tidy. Thanks again :)

    6. TX_TRUCKER*

      Not an attorney, but often a SME during company litigation. Wearing makeup, helps you look more polished on camera. If you are not into makeup (I’m not) at least wear lipstick. Wear a solid color shirt in a different color than the background. Avoid shirt colors similar to your skin tone. Solid black shirts tend to look terrible on camera unless you have perfect lighting. If you are busty, avoid a button down shirt. Avoid bracelets or other jewelry that may make noise or be distracting. Make sure the camera is positioned correctly … which is usually farther away than you normally have it for casual meetings. Being too close to the camera will give you a distorted fish bowl effect. A $20 lapel microphone will make you sound better than most built-in microphones.

  59. Anon for this one*

    I have a choice to make and it probably seems like a no-brainer, but I’m honestly struggling with it. I’ve decided to quit my job (date TBD) and I’d really like to take an extended break (at least 3 months, hoping for 6-12 months potentially) before my next role. I’ve never not worked since I started working as a teen and I’m lucky to be in a position where I can do this now.

    The issue comes with whatever my next role is. I have some pretty specific benefit and company type requirements that aren’t unheard of, but aren’t super common either and the role(s) I’m after aren’t ones where a company needs multiples of them (think higher level leadership roles), so they don’t open up very frequently, especially at companies with the benefits I want.

    I’ve been casually looking at jobs for awhile to get a feel for the market. A literal day after I decided I would be quitting (instead of just “maybe I should”) I see a job that’s pretty much a perfect fit. It checks all my boxes and I check all of theirs.

    The issue is that if I apply and get the role, I don’t get my break and I’d have to leave my current role much more quickly than I was envisioning. On the other hand, I worry that I could be passing up a great opportunity and may not have another quite like it manifest on my original timeline. I could just apply and see if I get it, but if I get it, I’d have a hard time rejecting the offer, so I’m trying to decide if I even bother applying.

    Part of me thinks it’s ridiculous to pass up an opportunity to take a break and travel, destress, etc. The other part of me says that passing up a good work opportunity that checks the boxes is crazy since I’m being pretty picky.

    Thoughts, advice? :/

    1. Anonymous For Now*

      “I have some pretty specific benefit and company type requirements that aren’t unheard of, but aren’t super common either and the role(s) I’m after aren’t ones where a company needs multiples of them (think higher level leadership roles), so they don’t open up very frequently, especially at companies with the benefits I want.”

      My suggestion is to ask yourself how you would feel if you took the time off and when you were ready to go back to work, there were no openings for the sort of job you described. Assuming that after the break you would need to get a job within a reasonable period of time, you might have to take one that was not what you wanted and then work at it for a year or even longer. Would you think it was worth it to have taken the break or not?

    2. GoForIt*

      I vote for taking the time off! I quit my job in 2019 and took a six-month trip through Europe with my partner. It was absolutely incredible. There is something so freeing about having nothing to do and nowhere to be. To only be doing the things you want to do. Work will always be there when you come back. I’ve jumped back into my field and now have my dream job – one I didn’t even think could exist when I quit my previous job.

      The break was 100% worth it to me and truly priceless. I do not regret it one bit. As COVID showed us, you may not always have the chance to do the things you want to do. If you have the opportunity to take time off and use that time however you want, I will be the first to encourage you to do so. You may come back to find that something even better has come available, and you will likely come back happy, refreshed, and relaxed. Wishing you the best of luck!

      1. GoForIt*

        To add to this – life happens! Say you get this new job and then get sucked into it and find it’s been three years and you still haven’t taken that break you wanted way back in 2024… Worst-case scenario is you come back from a break and can never find a good job ever again. Is that a big possibility? If not, go for the break, as it is sounds like you really want to take one :) It can be hard to take an extended break when our society (at least in the US) doesn’t really seem to value / understand that, but if you know it’s the right decision for you, that’s what matters! I will say I have personally had zero issues career-wise after taking a year-plus away.

    3. Ashley*

      Why are you thinking of taking time off? Is this something a better job would help with? Could a month off solve the problem?
      Giving hiring timelines and there are no guarantees I would probably apply and see how it goes. That is unless you are planning a world trip because go on that trip while you can.

    4. Glazed Donut*

      I quit my job last year and was really looking forward to time off. I have a strong track record of good work and had a few interviews lined up before my last day, even.
      And here I am, 5 months later, still interviewing!
      SO, I say apply! If they like you, see if you can negotiate a later start date. The fastest interview-to-hire I’ve seen in my field has been 2 months. If you apply and you don’t get an offer, you’ll be better able to inform other next steps and moves in the meantime.
      The job market is slow and tight right now but it’s getting better. For me, it’s definitely not the same as it was the last time I was applying, so I’ve had to recalibrate my own expectations.

      1. M2*

        This. In senior-level leadership positions especially if you will be moving they might give you time off in-between. Years ago, I moved for a new job and asked for an almost 3 month break in between since I had to move. It was also normal in that field to have long notice periods, so they understood.

        I ended up giving my 2 weeks notice and moving soon after. After I moved, I ended up having 6 weeks left to travel so that is what I did. You can always ask for a later start date, depending on your field.

        I also know people who took 6months-12 months off. Some were successful and quickly found a job when returning back, while others took months, and one more than a year to get hired again. So I would tap into your network, and make sure you have the funds in case you don’t get hired right away. Or maybe start looking for roles toward the end of your travels (if you decide to go that route). Good luck

    5. ronda*

      possibly if new company likes you enough they may wait for you to take your time off.

      Its worth a shot

  60. Amber*

    Interviewed for manager position 2 weeks ago, still waiting to hear back. Got denied the other position I interviewed for, which makes me a little sad since I thought it went well. Still applying for similar jobs as they become available. Anyone ever wish their company communicated better? On internal hiring or other areas?

  61. Notacorelabtech*

    It’s lab week and last year we had our lunch in the same place as the core lab folks.

    So by habit I went up there.

    And nobody else who was to be there at the same time as me did. By the time I realized I was in the wrong place, it was too late and there were enough people that I blended in.

    They figured it out eventually, I said I accidentally came here from X Lab department and I got fed AND a backpack and then I snuck out.

    It is a tale for the ages now.

      1. Notacorelabtech*

        Thank you! I am going to make myself a button that says “Most likely to crash core lab parties”

  62. Anonymous Today*

    This is regarding the letter from a couple of weeks ago about the layoff that would include the OP’s employee who is on chemo.

    I asked myself, “What kind of company would knowingly do that?”

    Then, I realized that maybe the people who are determining who gets laid off don’t know that this person is on chemo. I didn’t see that anyone had raised that point.

    Of course, my other problem was that according to the OP this person is also a stellar employee.


    Maybe the OP should consider leaving such a bleeped up company!

    1. RagingADHD*

      We don’t have any information about the criteria used to determine the layoff list. It’s common for companies to lay off everyone who does a certain function, or the most recent hires, or some other objective grouping that has nothing to do with the person’s performance.

      It’s also possible that the employee is not a high performer by objective metrics, and that contributed to the decision. The LW describes him as dedicated and beloved by the team. That doesn’t necessarily translate to being outstanding at the job or a “stellar” employee.

      There’s nothing to indicate that the decision makers knew about the chemo. It would be good if LW can protect his job, but also no reason to think the company is “bleeped up” just because they are laying people off and he got caught up in it.

      1. RVA Cat*

        The whole system of employer-based healthcare is what is bleeped up.

        This does remind of the lawsuit (?) where a company deliberately laid off the parent of a NICU baby.

        1. RagingADHD*

          I wouldn’t dispute that, but it isn’t caused by the company nor a reason for LW to quit their job?

    2. Anecdata*

      Unfortunately sometimes layoffs do include stellar employees – sometimes. you just need fewer people doing X, or you mostly have Junior level needs at Junior level lay so you lay off your excellent Senior level staff at Senior level pay. It’s not necessarily a bad management move.

  63. ABC*

    Maybe I’m misunderstanding, but are you asking for a status update after not getting a response from them? Yeah, that’s not going to go over well, especially if they don’t have any forward movement yet (very possible in a three-week window).

  64. sloth in a speedboat*

    Please share stories of leaving not-right-for-you jobs that were NOT horror stories. How did you decide a job was not for you even though it was good on paper? Did you leave a job that felt “off” even though it didn’t have clear red flags? Was it difficult to make the decision to leave when there was no awful boss, nightmare co-worker, or unmanageable workload? How long do you stick it out to see if a job will get better?

    1. Hiring Mgr*

      I had something like that about 10 years ago. I was hired to lead a team and specifically to have a different type of leadership style than the prior mgr, who was an extreme micromanager and they wanted to get away from that.

      Turned out a few months in, the big bosses preferred the old micromanager style and for the rest of my time there were putting up walls anytime I wanted to try something.

      So it wasn’t toxic or horrible, but after a while I realized nothing would change, so I left after about a year.

    2. Hillary*

      I realized I was bored and that wasn’t going to change. That industry is inherently slow and deliberative, I want constant challenges. I started looking and quit when I found something better.

    3. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      Two consecutively.

      I quit without notice a job the day they changed the Production issue/misprint handling procedures. They went to a system where you got 1 of 3 strikes if you were involved in the process, even if you weren’t the one who actually made the mistake, and I shared code with anyone and everyone as I believe in open source and that “code wants to be free.” I ended up getting fired in absentia a week later because my boss didn’t process my resignation.

      I put in my intent-to-quit notice without a final date 54 weeks into the next job. I was miserable, my boss was miserable, and the only people happy were my peers whose busywork I had either absorbed or written out of existence. My boss was a victim of her own high standards–if she’d educated me up front about how she wanted things done and coached me here and there along the way, it might have ended differently. After 6 months (mid-October to April 1st–my “prank” was that I told people I wasn’t coming back the next day), I just went back to my apartment for what ended up being a 4-month unpaid sabbatical before I started my next job.

      Both times, I just looked at the status quo, looked at the key agents interacting with me, and made reasonable predictions of how they would continue to act given their history of acting, looked at my resources (savings) and estimated my time-to-failure, and cut my losses.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        I left out a key detail… my notice period was 6 months because that’s how long it took the owner to find a programmer who would work for 110% of my pay and put up with my supervisor.

    4. Stella*

      I left a job about 2 years ago because it was no longer a good fit for my needs professionally or personally. The pay was *excellent* for my industry, the co-workers were fantastic, and the company mission completely aligned with my values. I experienced an incredible amount of professional growth at this job and it was absolutely the best job I’ve ever had.

      However, the availability of projects dwindled, and a change in leadership (my direct supervisor and the CEO) indicated to me that it was time to leave. (The new leaders were completely fine but I have had some awful experiences around leadership changes.) Additionally, the job was a long commute and fully in-person so I was unable to support family members in the way that I wanted to (like being available for surgery aftercare and attending school events).

      Previously, I’ve only left a job when I reached the point of being frustrated and upset with how the organization is being managed. I sometimes feel dumb about leaving this job but then I remind myself that it was worth it to leave on a job based on criteria that I set.

    5. ferrina*

      I haven’t had an experience like that, but I think the time to look around is now. When you just aren’t quite feeling it. It’s not like dating where you need to commit to leaving before you look at other options; in jobs, you can look at other options before you decide whether or not you want to leave.

      Look around and see if anything excites you. You can do a low-key job search- at one point I had a job search where I only applied to 2-3 jobs per week (in that case it was due to time constraints). If you find an opportunity you’re excited about, yes! Take it! And if you aren’t excited, then you already have a good scenario that you can stay at. The best time to look for a new job is before you are desperate to leave your old job. And if your current job gets more enjoyable, you can always stop a job search easily.

      Oh, and I know you know this, but a reminder– “good on paper” is not the same as “good for me”. Personally, I thrive under situations that most people hate (change agent; I get bored when things are already well structured). Things can be great on paper but not feel right- that’s a good sign that you should look around and see what else is out there. Maybe there is a place where things click and feel better. Maybe not, but you never know until you start looking.

    6. A Significant Tree*

      I’ve had a few jobs where the work turned out to be very boring to me, there wasn’t enough of it to fill the days, and there were no or few opportunities to seek out my own projects. On paper the jobs were great – the pay, benefits, and name recognition of the company, plus the experience even if I didn’t always enjoy the work.

      In one case I was there for almost a year and a half and was laid off a few months before I would have started looking to leave. In another, after a year I was able to ask for an internal transfer to a better fit role but had just started interviewing externally in case that didn’t work out. I was earlier in my career at the time so was more willing to be mobile and try new things, and the job market was good. Even so, I wouldn’t have considered a move for lower salary/worse benefits unless the work was fascinating and upward mobility was supported (things you can’t always tell from the outside though).

    7. GoForIt*

      This job had some horror story elements, and maybe this is a red flag so perhaps not as applicable to your situation, but the final straw for me leaving was seeing how dedicated to the job higher-ups were, to the point of neglecting their families / personal life and being cavalier about that, as if it were a badge of honor. Knowing I wanted to have a family someday, I could not reconcile what my future at that company looked like with what I really wanted. I left several months after that (after two years total with the company). Leaving is what led me to find the niche industry I am in now, which is absolutely where I was meant to be, and now I have my dream job and get to spend plenty of time with my family :)

      But please also remember: You don’t need a “good enough” reason to leave a job! If you are feeling ready to leave or that it’s just not right for you, you are of course free to start looking elsewhere. A job may be perfect for someone, and that someone may not be us, and that’s okay. Best of luck to you!

    8. Silver Linings From Dreamland*

      Wow- two of my prior jobs I knew from very early on were horrible fits for me but I held everything in and didn’t bolt until I had something lined up. The first time was to return to school full-time and the second I literally turned in my notice the day after I got an offer (which never came to fruition). Both times, my coworkers were very supportive and understanding.

      My last job before my current one started off as a dream- I had the Best. Manager. Ever. I was devastated when she was promoted and that’s what led me to start looking and end up where I am today. I was there less than a year but working there changed me for the better.

    9. Generic Name*

      My first job out of grad school. I worked for a cool organization in a cool location, had an awesome boss, but I was pregnant and my commute was too long, so I took a job closer to home. Ended up quitting that closer to home job (it was an adjunct instructor position) maybe a week before the end of the semester because I just couldn’t do it anymore (walk from parking lot, stand in front of classroom) at the end of my pregnancy. Plus, we were about to move out of state. Both jobs were fine and enjoyable, but circumstances necessitated me moving on.

    10. just here for the scripts*

      The two times I left jobs it was because TPTB were moving from highly regarded practice to highly questionable practices—definitely unprofessional, against my morals and possibly illegal (in a scientifically researchable way). I couldn’t stay and do such work.

  65. Beauty and Roast Beef*

    LOL I was just notified I need to support a grant resubmission that is due in 1.5 business days. We knew about this deadline for over a week and leadership made no decision about whether or not we were proceeding until literally 15 minutes ago. I JUST moved into a new role at my org so I wouldn’t have to do this type of work anymore but due to current staff capacity I have to take this on.

    It’s not even the first time this kind of situation has happened, even in the few months since I’ve started my new role earlier. And the decision makers are never the ones that have to do the work, tale as old as time. So, so dumb.

  66. SuperShySuperShy*

    Any general advice for telling your boss you’re leaving a job you absolutely love for other life reasons? I adore my job, my boss, my coworkers, everything about where I work, but I’ll be moving states away to be with my partner (WFH is not an option to keep this job).

    I’m only required to give a 2 week notice per my city’s union contract, but I think it might be a good idea to warn them ahead of time because I am the only one who can fulfill my job duties. If I tell them in advance, I can help them learn the process to train the person after me. I’m just so nervous to do it, lol!

    1. Hlao-roo*

      I also left a job I otherwise liked because I was moving. I told my manager (in the process of giving my notice), “this has nothing to do with you, or the company, or my coworkers. I have really enjoyed working here, I learned a lot about [the product I worked on, my job function, etc.]. I felt very supported by you, I think you’re a great manager.” I left on very good terms. My manager, my manager’s manager, and my coworkers all understood the reason for my move, and that I was changing job only because I was moving.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        This, across the board.

        Also – as you say, I gave ten weeks notice because I wanted to give them lots of opportunity for transition. Someone finally was willing to learn about 10% of my job during my last three days. I filed that under “I led them to water, but cannot make them drink.”

    2. Seven times*

      When I left a job I loved a year ago to move far away, I gave plenty of notice (nearly two months) and was really clear that I wasn’t looking for more from them and that it wasn’t a shakedown. I was giving notice far in advance to make things easier. They really appreciated it! This is not something to stress about. You are leaving, but you are being clear that they are not the reason.

    3. Roland*

      If you have good or even halfway devnt erelationships, they’ll probably be excited for you! I left a job for similar reasons, and everyone was very kind about it. And that wasn’t even somewhere I’d been for very long so not like these were people I was really close to.

    4. Anecdata*

      You’ve got this! since they sound like a great team, they will not take it personally and will be happy for you

      separate from the formal resignation, a handwritten card to your boss or colleagues with something you enjoyed working with them on would never go amiss (this is also never required, but if it would make you feel better about leaving, I can almost guarantee people will love receiving it)

  67. Mimmy*

    I’ve written in these threads from time to time about my career woes and ideas. Looking for input again. Long post ahead!

    For almost two years, I have been looking for a new position in higher education disability services. I’ve had a few interviews but no offers. I’ve also expanded a bit and looked for roles coordinating Vocational Rehabilitation services. Again, no luck. The roles I’ve been seeking are essentially case management because you are coordinating accommodations, VR services, etc. However, I’m starting to realize that these roles may not be the best fit for me. I’m looking for perspective to see if I’m right or if it’s just my anxiety talking.

    Issue 1: I am overeducated and underexperienced. For reasons that are too complex to explain here, I’ve had a lot of difficulty finding meaningful employment and have overcompensated by getting two masters. The second master’s (earned 2 years ago) is very specific to the roles I’ve been seeking and thought for sure that would be my ticket. NOPE.

    Issue 1a: I’ve been at my current job for 7 years. However, it’s part-time. Despite my supervisor’s recent efforts, my role hasn’t expanded much in scope and has not offered the growth and experience I’ve been craving (It is a state job… go figure), hence my wanting a new job. I think my limited experience is costing me jobs because I’m competing with people with more experience or who can better articulate transferable skills.

    Issue 2: I have never done well when I have a lot on my plate and I’m ready to admit it out loud. In my current job, I instruct students 1:1 on a specific vocational skill and my student load fluctuates (I can have at least 8 at times). When I have a lot of students, it gets hard to keep up with the work due to limited work hours and various interruptions and obligations. I also have difficulty when there are unexpected schedule changes (the schedule is set by others). So given my current difficulties, it makes me wonder if I can handle much larger caseloads, as I’d have in higher education or Voc Rehab.

    I wrote a few months ago about starting my own accessibility consulting business. That is still on the table, but I need to really define my focus and figure out the best use of my current skills and knowledge. I’d prefer to do this on the side along with a regular job. Just… not my CURRENT job.

    Bottom line: I get so wrapped up in pursuing my passions that I ignore my limitations. I would hope that different conditions would help, such as a better case management system or the ability to set my own schedule. I just need someone to help me break down my skills, knowledge, experience and limitations.

    I’m just feeling desperate because I’m now into my 50s with big dreams and big roadblocks.

    1. Caramel & Cheddar*

      I think the things you say you struggle with seem like things that would be magnified in the jobs you want in higher ed due to the larger number of students you’d likely be working with. You said you haven’t had many growth opportunities in your current role, but it sounds like the ones you’re applying for would definitely offer that for you. But do you *want* the growth? I can’t tell if your concern with the potential for a larger caseload is “I know myself well enough that I know this would be a bad idea” vs “I think I could handle it if I pushed myself, but like any normal person I have some nagging doubts about something I haven’t done before.”

      1. Mimmy*

        That’s a really good point. I think it might be a bit of both.

        I want growth in that I want my background and skills to be utilized more. My supervisor knows I have “talents” and wants to expand my role, but her hands are tied right now (thank you government bureaucracy!).

        That’s why I’ve been wondering if I should shift away from case management-type work. For many years before my current job fell in my lap, I explored a lot of options for non-public-facing roles but never pursued them for one reason or another (bad habit of mine!). I’m thinking I should revisit some of those.

  68. Anon in Advertising*

    At what stage of a career (as an “expert” individual contributor, not a people manager) do you expect to stop having to do administrative junior-level work?

    I work in marketing as a subject matter expert, 8 years of experience. I build and execute strategic and tactical advertising plans, meaning I work frequently with external vendors to activate the plans.

    My colleague who is at a similar level (maybe 10 YOE) has a junior employee assigned to their area, who is learning the strategy side, but takes on the lion’s share of tasks like billing, payments, contract approval with legal, and other administration of the activities.

    But I am expected to do all of that myself for my area, which is
    1) a mountain of work for one person to stay on top of, and
    2) not the best use of my time, since I am not able to spend time researching and thinking more strategically about what we could do. It means we stick more to things I’m already familiar with because I don’t have time to explore other opportunities.

    I have asked once a year for about 2-3 years to have someone else assigned to my area of work who is more junior and can handle those tasks while also learning about the area of work overall, since my work is extremely important to the business and has high executive visibility.

    But since I continue to “get things done” I think they don’t take the request seriously. I feel swamped, unhappy, and I’m looking elsewhere.

    Is it reasonable for me to expect help with day to day repetitive tasks?

    For reference:
    -Most companies this size have a team or agency do what I do
    – My colleague who has gotten the junior level help is a man, and I’m a woman
    – My personality is pleasant and probably too accommodating
    – We’re a large publicly traded company with extra cash, I know we could make a case for headcount

    1. HonorBox*

      I think as Alison has suggested in the past, the best way to tackle the request is to provide documentation of how much time you’re spending on those administrative tasks. And then also provide information about how much that is costing the company. Your salary/2080 gives you your “hourly wage” so you can show not only the time, but also the cost for you to do those tasks. Then provide specifics on what you’re NOT able to do because you’re handling those tasks. If you can make a case that paying someone a junior salary will free up “x” hours per week or month will allow you more time to accomplish bottom line tasks, it is harder to turn down that kind of request.

    2. BellyButton*

      I think you need to have direct numbers- the percentage of time you spend on it and how that correlates to your salary. Can the other JR person take on some of this- more like a shared support role? Good luck!

    3. Caramel & Cheddar*

      Generally, I expect to stop doing that kind of work only if there’s a role where someone else is explicitly tasked with doing those things. You don’t have that (yet), unfortunately. You said you ask every 2-3 years for someone else to be assigned, but how do you frame that ask?

      From the outside with only the detail you’ve provided, to me it seems like it might be better if your team hired a pure admin person to handle all the administrative tasks and then have that junior employee learning the ropes from both you and your colleague, rather than both of you having someone who can do the admin stuff and learn the strategy stuff. Can you frame it that way as an issue of ensuring expertise in the role rather than having people who aren’t there to be administrators doing the administrative jobs?

      Alternately, I think you can definitely lean into the optics of your younger male coworker essentially getting an assistant while you don’t have one. It’s something that seems worth talking to your boss about, e.g. “I periodically ask for a junior employee to be assigned to my area, but so far that hasn’t happened. Fergus does similar work to me but he has someone to process all his administrivia. Is there a reason the junior staff aren’t shared more equitably?” And then wait for an answer.

      If your boss seems receptive to it, you could also point out the mountains of studies that show administrative tasks are often pawned off on women and you having to do all your own admin work while he doesn’t feels like it’s part of that broader problem for women in the workplace.

    4. Busy Middle Manager*

      For me it happened closer to 20 years? I would say 15 years would be more reasonable. I still step in and do admin stuff sometimes because there isn’t always a person to delegate stuff to, and even some admin work nowadays is complicated since the easy stuff has been automated away. With AI/automation I actually see more senior people doing admin work later in their careers; because they’re getting the one-off situations, not the paper-pushing situations.

      TBF approving bills for your campaigns and sending things to legal doesn’t sound so low level that I’d be insulted doing it? I always worked at mid-sized companies and regularly have seen people in their 40s and 50s of both genders doing this for themselves. And to be completely honest, once your middle aged, having someone with 8 years or 5 years experience coming to you talking about how senior they are to do this type of stuff would be very confusing, and the wrong way to go.

      I think you’re issue is you’re combining A) Workload and B) what is fair/common at other places/is their potential bias

      You gotta focus on A really hard. What other companies do is irrelevant. If there is alot of work, that is what you ask to create a role for. And document document. Write the description before going to your manager. Then rewrite your own job description, because part of the case is “I’m freeing myself up to do even more higher level work.”

      and to the last point, if there is a limited amount of said higher level work to take, that’s why they bundled the low level work into your role. Which is the MO, not the exception at most places IME

    5. Anecdata*

      Is your colleague who does get the extra help in the same team as you (and the junior person?). If so, can you start proposing to your mutual boss that you bring Jr Person in on XYZ projects?

    6. Anonyforthis*

      My partner is a Dean at a top university (and 20+ years of work experience) and they still do a chunk of the administrative work!

      They are meant to focus on strategy but for a variety of reasons they have to do all levels of work. Finally, it looks like it won’t be the case after many years, but they never complained they just did it. They had some team members say, “that is not my job.” It was their job, but they didn’t want to do the admin work. Everyone wants to focus on strategy and do the interesting work!

      An example is when my partner stuffed hundreds of envelopes late at night because they had to be sent out by the next morning! It is what you have to do sometimes and it needed to get done and my partner never complained just did it.

      IMHO at 8 years of work experience, you still do some/ a lot of the grunt work. Even now at 15+ years of work experience I do administrative work and don’t have one team member who just does that.

      Might you ask your colleague if their junior staff member could help you out occasionally?

      Also, does your colleague have a larger portfolio? Are they more than just a subject matter expert? Usually where I worked if you had an expert in something, that is what they did, we don’t have a senior one and a junior one, but I don’t do advertising.

      If they won’t let you hire a full time junior person, might you ask for someone PT, temp. or even a paid internship. Many people would like internships in advertising. You could give them experience and teach them, while they take over some of the administrative tasks.

      Good luck

    7. Just Here for the Llama Grooming*

      I wasn’t even halfway through your post before I asked the computer “Are you a woman and your colleague with the admin is a man?”

      So, I’m sorry to make assumptions and be negative and ALL THAT, but … in the absence of other explanations, Mr. Occam brings out his razor and says “You don’t have an admin because your management is sexist.”

      The question is what you want to do about it. I’m not equipped to give you advice about that part, and it sounds like you know how to make a case for getting an admin anyway. I think the real question is “do you want to stay at a place that’s taking advantage of you because you’re a woman and is [probably] going to continue to do so as long as they can possibly get away with it?”

  69. Busy Middle Manager*

    Corporate America be like:
    situation one:
    Me: I did awesome thing we’ve been talking about for years, and also automated away the complicated thing we’ve been talking about for years and thought was impossible to automate
    Room: blank stares: “but you didn’t do the other thing we’ve also been talking about for years.”
    Me: seething inside

    situation two:
    Me: I’ve completed the algorithm to tie together the relationship between pricing and customers buying elsewhere
    Room: no response
    Other person: I’ve sent out the batch of letters and made one phone call (or something else easily understandable)
    Room: thank you for being such a hard worker!

    *some sarcasm intended but this has been the gist this week

    1. I take tea*

      That is so annoying. I hereby give you a big kudos for solving a couple of complicated problems. Impressive. Go you!

  70. Sally*

    I think I’m being “quiet fired”. Should I quit or wait? My responsibilities are shrinking but I am being offered related work that I don’t want. My pride is saying quit, but am I overlooking anything important?

      1. HonorBox*

        I would agree with this, too. And while it shouldn’t matter entirely, it probably sounds better to someone interviewing you that you say “I’ve had a switch in some of my work responsibilities and they’re not a fit” versus “I quit my job with old employer because they changed my work focus.”

        Keep the checks coming in while you job search

      2. ferrina*

        Adding my support to this.

        Job searching often takes longer than most people think. Don’t let pride dictate your paycheck. Search and get out of there by having a new job.

        Caveat: If the job is impacting your mental/physical health, and/or you have the financial feasibility to quit and be unemployed for longer than you think (minimum 6 months- remember you won’t get unemployment if you quit), then quit

      3. Donkey Hotey*

        Oh yes. My former job was slow, so I used the time (and the InDesign) to buff my resume.

    1. Educator*

      If they are offering you related work, is it possible that the needs of the company are just evolving? I would not necessarily jump to the fact that it is a judgment on you–a lot of jobs change over time. What if you did the new assignments? Most of us have some parts of our jobs that are not our favorite.

    2. Decidedly Me*

      Do you have any sense of layoffs coming? You can end up better off in a layoff than a firing.

      However, I agree with starting to look now.

    3. Colette*

      Money? Can you afford to be unemployed for a year or more? Maybe it’ll only take a week or two, but it’s possible it will take a long time to find a new job. Start looking and leave when you find the right opportunity.

      1. Sally, OP*

        I’m lucky that I can afford the financial hit of quitting w/o another job lined up. There don’t seem to be layoffs in the works. The other work I’m being offered would have me working under someone I don’t like personally or professionally. I’ve been at this job for 10 years, and I originally planned to leave after 3yrs.

  71. Justin*

    A thought I had: On my first day, my boss told me, “I’m not a micromanager, I don’t have time to be.”

    He was correct (both that he isn’t and that he didn’t have time), but after two years here, reflecting on my last job that swung wildly between hands-off and way too hands-on, I realized that, yes, micromanaging usually does mean you need more to do so you can leave people be.

    What do you all think?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’ve said basically the same thing, “I have too much on my plate to spend my time nickel-and-diming what y’all are doing – I trust you to do your jobs and if there are issues on either side, we’ll address them.”

    2. I'm A Little Teapot*

      It is a thing that people who fundamentally don’t have enough going on will figure out how to keep themselves busy, and sometimes that’s in unhelpful ways. The stereotype of the retired elderly person who is spying on the neighbor comes to mind as well.

      1. Justin*

        Yeah, I really doubt my mom when she says she’s going to retire. She has the money, but, mom, you really need to do stuff all day.

    3. BellyButton*

      That and control issues. If someone is micro-managing they ultimately do not trust themselves to let the people they hired do what they were hired to do.

    4. AnonyOne*

      I disagree – I have worked with micromanagers where it was clearly anxiety-driven (I am not saying that in a psychological diagnosis sense, I have no idea about their mental health, but rather that they would be anxious about things and this was their response). They would work themselves to death staying on top of all the things they felt they needed to be on top of.
      I have also seen micromanagers who have not worked out a good system for getting others to deliver the work they need (how to communicate requirements, how to arrange follow ups, etc) and again their micromanagement seemed in part to be driven by this.
      Micromanagers can also be focusing on the wrong part of their job – so they are spending all their time micromanaging staff work and not spending enough time on strategy, bigger picture issues they should be working on or management.
      I think too little work can lead to managers being over-involved in their staff’s work, but I don’t think that it is always the case that over-involvement is a result of too little work.

    5. Antilles*

      I think there’s usually an optimal level of management needed for any given scenario; the trick is just figuring out how much is needed right now based on the experience, trustworthiness, issues, etc that the team has right now.

      That can range anything from being very detailed and hands-on (e.g., if you’ve got a lot of new team members) to basically staying out and only stepping in when requested/needed (e.g., if the team is filled with experienced and trusted staff).

    6. Irish Teacher.*

      I think it can be. People tend to feel they should be doing something to manage, so if they haven’t anything else to do, they’ll figure they should be doing more “managing,” even if their employees don’t need it.

      But I don’t think it’s the only reason. I had a supervisor when I worked retail who, on the days we were most busy or when she was in a real hurry to get home for personal reasons, would keep calling us away from what we were doing to ask how much we’d done and tell us off for not working faster. I really felt like responding, “I’d have more done, if you hadn’t called me down to tell you what I’d done three times in the last half-hour.” She also got nothing done herself because she was so busy checking up on everybody else, and the store was massively understaffed and the understanding was that the managers would pitch in. I remember one day we had somebody call in sick or something, so we were one person down anyway, then she did no work herself, instead berating everybody else (she was working on the shelves, so I could see how much she’d done and it was maybe 15 minutes’ work done in an hour), then she proceeded to start yelling at us that four of us hadn’t done the work of six.

    7. Art3mis*

      Yes and no. My last job my boss was micromanagy in the sense that if I didn’t respond to a Teams message or email immediately, even if I was in a meeting or training, she was texting me asking where I was. She was often messaging me asking about the status of things or why X and Y weren’t done when the reason why she was too busy help me with things and no one else was available to help. Training and documentation was abysmal and I just flat out didn’t know what I was doing. I needed help and support and there was none to be had because everyone was too busy. I never interviewed with her so it’s not like I got to ask about her management style beforehand.

  72. Bird*

    My supervisor and I handle major regulatory responsibilities in our industry, which can be very stressful. We’re both relatively new to a large, complex company in which the previous people in our positions did not keep up with best practices for compliance. We are trying to work with everyone to address these gaps, but everyone is experiencing a certain level of change fatigue and low morale (because no one loves to be told they’ve been making repeated errors unknowingly). Does anyone have resources to address change fatigue? Or tips to help me manage up a little to encourage more positive framing of issues when I’m not directly part of the conversation?

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Practice your framing? There’s a world of difference in the response to “You’ve been screwing this up and need to change” and “Excited to share the new compliance standards with you, your cooperation will ensure Company is recognized as a leader in safety blah blah”.

      Also check in with the people needing to make changes, ask them what would be helpful. Maybe they are checklist people. Maybe they are visual reminders of new policy taped next to equipment. Maybe they prefer an email or one digital spot with all the information etc.

      1. Bird*

        I’m fairly good at the framing, but I’m not involved in all conversations about these issues. It’s not necessarily appropriate for me to be, so I’m limited there.

        We have created checklists, electronic memos, updated SOPs, a monthly newsletter to all staff with bite-size educational pieces and summaries of “wins”, a centralized webpage for policies and reports, regular meetings with leadership for various areas, and opportunities for more organic conversations. We are both onsite 100% of the time, though I was hired as a 50/50 hybrid employee.

        We’ve also tried to roll out changes slowly, prioritizing them based on impact, but some of the process gaps leave us open to catastrophic regulatory action, including significant fines and/or cessation of work, if we cannot fix them soon. It’s hard to frame those positively, though we try.

  73. Daisy*

    Hi, everyone!

    As you might have recently seen in the weekend open threads, I now have a sweetie in Germany. And I would like to find a job, and move. Any advice for job searching? For me, I’m in the middle of a career restart– moving from academics (linguistics) to something like a business analyst/product owner kind of role, and I could also brush up on my coding skills. Any advice for where/how to search, how possible this all is, what to expect, or what sorts of roles I’d be looking for?


    1. Colette*

      First thing to think about: are you able to work in Germany? (Do you speak German?)

      Next, I’d look at what skills you have that would transfer. I don’t see an obvious overlap between linguistics and business analysis, so if I were hiring, you’d have to spell it out for me. What experience do you have in understanding user requriements? Explaining those requirements to someone not in that line of work? Figuring out the best approach to take? Prioritizing conflicting needs?

      1. Anonyforthis*

        This. Many companies will only hire if you already have the ability to work in their country. Do you have German or EU citizenship?

        If not, do some online research. Ask your person over there. Also, you sure they are real right? Don’t get catfished! If they ask you for money, don’t send $ or gift cards or anything.

        Honestly you might want to look in academic because some universities will sponsor visas if they have a need. If you can’t find a job or don’t have the visa required then might you apply for graduate school of some kind? Only if you have the funds to pay of course or maybe get a visa if you can to do a course in German language?

        The other idea is to apply to US companies that have offices within Germany. Work at that company and then ask for a transfer after a year or two to Germany.

        See what residency permit or visa you might qualify for. Also, if you don’t know German I would start learning. Good luck!

    2. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      I strongly recommend applying only to departments or organisations that have English as one of their working languages. That generally happens when teams contain many foreign nationals.
      Coding and IT are possibilities; also some science institutes or engineering firms, especially R&D and consulting.

      Even if you studied German at school, having to work with colleagues and present in a foreign language requires a totally different level of competence. To be a good employee in a German-only language environment generally requires near-bilingualism

    3. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      If you are not an EU national, your prospective employer in Germany would need to organise a work visa for you.

    4. Sapientia*

      Definitely don’t underestimate the bureaucracy in Germany. Also, you can start looking early because a lot of companies plan with hires starting months, not weeks after an offer.

      There are online platforms for job seekers like stepstone, but there are also smaller ones for specific industries. If you are already interested in specific companies, their websites offer a lot of info. And you might be able to connect to companies’ hiring team via LinkedIn to ask about the hiring process for international hires.

      German companies also mostly expect a complete CV and it’s still very common to include a professional photograph.

      The language barrier – if you are not fluent in German already – can be high, but it depends on the industry and the location.

    5. BigLawEx*

      I have EU friends who work in Germany. All work for multinational corps and the working language is English. They work in very varied areas – compliance, marketing, EU Vat tax, and law adjacent type areas. Only one speaks passable German and he doesn’t use it at work. Are you going to be in Berlin? I think that may be the most foreign friendly. Oh, I have a friend in Frankfurt who works for RTL. She’s American with Irish dual citizenship. Her German is pretty limited, but some is necessary to navigate the inner corp workings.

      I think it’s doable, but you’ll have to dig deep into postings. In the EU country where I live half time, there are websites for EU jobs where the language is not the language of the country.

      I’m self-employed, so I’m not an expert, just lots of friends. The rest of my American friends are self-employed or work remote contracts for US based firms.

      I don’t think it’s particularly hard, you have to be really resourceful, diligent, and figure it out.

  74. Not My Circus*

    I work in a lab with 7 people total. I don’t manage or supervise anyone, but one of my responsibilities is doing lab upkeep, and thus assigning people various cleaning and maintenance tasks. I have never had an issue with anyone not doing their assigned tasks except for one technician, John. His tasks are to record some pressure guage readings twice a week, wash dishes once a week, and clean and refill a water reservoir once a month. Because I’m not his supervisor, I feel really weird and bad bugging him to do it, and on top of that he’s on a contract that’s up in June so it feels a bit like it’s not worth the fight when I could just do his tasks for him for two more months, but maybe that’s the coward in me talking. In the past his response to reminders to do his job has been “Oh yeah sorry, I’ll be sure to get on that” and then nothing changes. I don’t know, what are y’alls thoughts?

    1. Nesprin*

      So I’d suggest asking your PI how they want you to handle this- it may be that John is working on a science paper and should not be bothered with anything but work, but it’s probably that John is kind of a jerk.

      Usual protocol in my lab is:
      Ask John 1 time in person.
      Send John an email asking again.
      Respond to last email John + CC PI asking to do the thing + laying out what will happen if the thing doesn’t get done (i.e. As you know, we need these measurements to get done to meet regulatory/safety/data quality standards).
      Ask PI to step in and yell at John, or give the job to someone else.

    2. BellyButton*

      You can do some searches and read about managing without authority. It probably isn’t worth it with this guy, but it may help you in the future. I would tell him “I don’t like having to remind you- can put a reminder in your calendar or in your phone?”

    3. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      Inform his supervisor if you haven’t already done so.
      If it’s even faintly possible for his contract to be renewed, then inform everyone involved in that decision that he doesn’t do his job.

  75. MrsPookie*

    How do you even begin to not feel discouraged when you’ve applied for over 30 jobs that you would absolutely crush?
    I 100% feel like Im experiencing ageism looking for a new role. I am luckily currently employed but not into large companies- I like smaller startups and got stuck here when my company was acquired last year.
    Just not sure what my next steps could be- not looking to be the next CEO- just want a job that makes me happy, is remote, pays my bills and I can save smidge until I retire un 10 years. .

    1. Blueprint blues*

      I’m exactly the same, except I’ve applied to more jobs and have been laid off. so, solidarity in sadness & frustration?

    2. Anecdata*

      For me, something that helps with not getting discouraged is to break down the goal into smaller parts that are within my control. “Get Hired” is mostly out of my control; but Goal = arrange Coffee Chats with 3 past colleagues this month; or Goal = Apply to 5 jobs this week are within my control and give me that sense of success

    3. Educator*

      30 does not sound like a lot to me, especially if you are applying for remote jobs! Keep going. For context, I get about 400 resumes for every job I post. I am sure many of those people would be great at the role, and I wish I had time to interview more of them.

      Only if you want, you could also experiment with “aging down” your resume. Take the years off your degrees, delete any jobs that are more than 15 years old, make sure your skills section features current/trendy things, and see if that gets more responsiveness.

      1. MrsPookie*

        Ive done all that. In written form I do sound much younger than my actual age and even on the phone. As soon as they see me (if I get that far) I get odd reactions- if the potential employers could say so Im sure it would be something along the lines of “wow you sound so much younger on the phone’.
        Adding in: If I delete jobs more than 15 years ago= I have a resume of three jobs. None of which are actually what I ‘do’ and were taken when my unemployment benefits ran out and ending up in an industry I despise. Good times.

        1. Anecdata*

          If you’ve been out of your field for 15+ years, hiring managers might be seeing you as essentially trying to change industries/fields
          more than “returning” – maybe check out some of the past posts with advice on career pivots?

      1. Silver Linings From Dreamland*

        This. I did a casual, due-diligence sort of job search for a few weeks in March where I probably “applied” for well over 20 jobs and just yesterday got my first non-automated response.

        Hang in there- one day soon the timing of your job searching and jobs that are available will come together.

    4. Anonyforthis*

      Keep going! Switch up your resume and cover letter to see what might work better. Years ago when I had been laid off I applied to hundreds of jobs. It was really brutal. I ended up completely redoing my resume, not even looking at my former one and changing it a few times and finally got through to some interviews.

      Do you have a network you might use that could read over your resume or someone who might have an opening or know a hiring manager that could push you to at least be read?

      30 jobs does not seem like that much. As other posters have said remote roles are VERY competitive. Would you be up for looking for any hybrid roles? More and more companies are going back to the office, so you might have a better chance if you widen your net a bit. Something to think about!