open thread – June 7, 2024

It’s the Friday open thread!

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

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

{ 1,064 comments… read them below }

  1. Hourly & Exempt?*

    I’m a newish supervisor in a public library and recently realized my status is hourly and exempt. I know lots of supervisory library staff read AAM — is this common? My supervisor is the same. I’m not *that* concerned because my off-scheduled-hours worktime is pretty minimal but does happen. My husband is convinced it’s illegal but I can’t find evidence that it is — just unusual.

    1. Helleboro*

      May depend on state rules, but I’m also a newish full-time librarian, and I’m salaried AND exempt, along with the other 4 department heads (and I know my director would *never* knowingly do something illegal). The key here is that we are NOT allowed to work more than 35/week; if we do, we MUST take comp time.

      1. Helleboro*

        Sorry, that’s “35 hrs/week” — and/or 70 hours over 2 weeks, since we’re paid biweekly.

      2. Hourly & Exempt?**

        Interesting! I wonder if the comp time piece is what we are doing here and it was just never explicitly laid out (which isn’t uncommon with our HR). Feels like that’d still be challenging, though — a lot of the time working outside our 40/week is more like acknowledging a call out and adjusting the desk schedule in response a few times a week. Rarely is it more than that but I still feel like it’s not “to the book” (no pun intended) as far as things go.

      3. Katrine Fonsmark*

        But being salaried and exempt is totally normal – I’m not sure why they’re so adamant about you taking comp time. Being hourly and exempt like OP is what is unusual. I’m hourly non-exempt which is the best IMHO.

        1. Katrine Fonsmark*

          OMG what is wrong with me. I meant to type I’m SALARIED non-exempt which I think is the best.

    2. Kimmy Schmidt*

      I’d say it’s relatively common in public libraries. It’s not illegal as long as you’re over the income threshold, which has recently increased.

      From the US Dept of Labor:
      “Effective July 1, 2024, the salary threshold will increase to the equivalent of an annual salary of $43,888 and increase to $58,656 on Jan. 1, 2025…. Starting July 1, 2027, salary thresholds will update every three years, by applying up-to-date wage data to determine new salary levels.”

      1. DrSalty*

        This, it depends on the income threshold. If your hourly pay rate is enough it’s legal.

    3. Msd*

      I don’t understand hourly and exempt. Are you saying that you get paid hourly but do not get paid overtime? I thought exempt was a classification solely for salaried workers. I did google hourly exempt and nothing came up except discussion of exempt and salaried and some other combinations but nothing on the definition of hourly and exempt. Your husband may be right.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          To clarify — are you paid the same amount per pay period regardless of how many hours you work (required for exempt status, I believe) or does your pay vary based on your hours worked?

          If they pay you the same amount every pay period, then you’re not hourly, even if your wage is given at an hourly rate. But if your pay changes from one to the next, based on the number of hours you work, then I don’t believe that qualifies as exempt status?

          1. Hourly & Exempt?*

            My pay changes based on hours worked (though the hours worked are always the same unless I’m taking something unpaid — which I never have) and the pay can vary due to things like night differential and Sunday premiums. Definitely not the same period to period. But my status is still listed as exempt in my employee info on our personnel software (as is my manager’s and another person who has my role).

            1. Msd*

              I did some more googling and it is confusing but exists. I would suggest asking your manager or HR to show you the rationale or rules/law they are using to classify you as exempt. Obviously do it in a manner of curiosity rather than upset.

              1. Hourly & Exempt*

                Oh yeah, this is largely from curiosity anyway. Though I do think it’d be wise to understand and start the conversation in the event it does become more of a real issue down the road. I might follow up with HR. My manager wasn’t sure about it either!

                1. Msd*

                  I’d definitely check. One place I worked a new HR person came in and realized that a number of people were incorrectly classified (in order to avoid overtime).

        2. Cat's Paw for Cats*

          Retired library director here. As others have stated it depends on your salary and the scope of your services. For example, it’s not uncommon for libraries to hire people to manage smaller branches and departments and make them hourly positions. In our case these positions did not require master’s degrees or in some cases, even college degrees. If you are the supervisor of the circulation department in a small rural library, for example, it would not likely be a salaried position. There are advantages to you not to be salaried, however. You can’t be required to work extra hours with no additional pay.

          1. not nice, don't care*

            Sadly I find many public library employees are under the vocational awe spell, and work extra hours for no pay already, and many library administrators depend on this.

            1. Cat's Paw for Cats*

              Our libraries did not permit this, and it would have illegal for us to do so without overtime pay or comp time.

            2. Texan In Exile*

              I was on my town’s library board and one of our director’s main goals was to convert part-time positions with no benefits to full time with benefits. Everyone on the board supported him – we wanted our librarians to be compensated fairly.

              1. Cat's Paw for Cats*

                Except for our pages, all of our positions were full time with benefits. We also wanted our staffs to be compensated fairly based on their experience and duties. We cultivated excellent staff at all levels and paid them appropriately. The quality of our libraries reflected this.

      1. TX_Trucker*

        In the USA you can be hourly and exempt. And yes that means they do not earn overtime. It is terrible but legal. These exemptions are outlined in the FLSA act.

        1. Cj*

          for those of you who didn’t read this post by alison, it states that you can’t be hourly and exempt. if they dock your pay for working less than 40 hours a week, then they have to pay you overtime when you work more than 40 hours a week.

          1. Msd*

            I read the post so what “I’m just here for the cats” isn’t quite right. According to the post you have to get paid the same wage (hourly or salaried) every pay period in order to be considered exempt. So if my pay $20/hour for 30 hours a week then I get paid $600 every week even if I only work 25 hours or if I work 35 hours. Essentially you’re salaried it’s just that your pay rate is calculated on an hourly rate.

            1. Rebecca*

              “According to the post you have to get paid the same wage (hourly or salaried) every pay period in order to be considered exempt.”

              Then the post is wrong. Exempt means “exempt from minimum wage and overtime requirements.” It does *not* mean “employers are forbidden from paying overtime to exempt employees.” Employers have the option of paying exempt employees for hours over 40, or of compensating them in other ways through benefits. I have experienced this for multiple different employers in my career. It is perfectly legal.

    4. fine-tipped pen aficionado*

      Not in the library but I am a municipal employee and we are the same. It’s not illegal and is fairly common and most orgs do comp time instead of overtime pay.

    5. megaboo*

      Yep, that’s how it is for us. If we’re covering an event on the weekend, we generally get a day off during the week.

      1. Hourly & Exempt?*

        If I’m covering an event or staying extra hours for staffing reasons (ie, working on-site or at an off-site event), that’s more cut and dry. But I also do those little things like responding to texts or urgent calls on my work phone when I’m not scheduled. Usually just a few minutes here and there and at the current rate of things I don’t necessarily mind. But definitely wanted to be clear on what is “right” here even for those nickel and dime moments.

    6. Paying for Google reviews?*

      This is not related to MY workplace, but at my now-former apartment, the property management company offered a one-time $300 reduction in rent for any tenant that posted a 5 star Google review. Now their review section is flooded with 5 star reviews and their rating is very high, despite them being shady and difficult to work with. I’ve been wondering–was it illegal for them to essentially pay for positive reviews?

      1. fhqwhgads*

        I doubt it’s illegal but it’s very probably against google’s terms of service.

      2. Paying for Google reviews?*

        Sorry, this was meant to be it’s own comment and not a reply to the library thread.

    7. HR Exempt*

      Under FLSA you can be non-exempt and salaried but you can not be hourly and exempt except for in a few industries like movie theaters, agriculture, and railroads

    8. maelen*

      Your state may matter.

      I work for a technology/software company in California. When I started (ahem, in the ’90s). Everyone was paid hourly and almost everybody is exempt. They quote your pay hourly and raises are based on the hourly rate so a raise is a few dollars per hour. There are some non-exempt workers like the administrative assistants, some warehouse and production staff, etc. You charged all hours. IIRC correctly, you could save hours as well, although they were and are paid out in December and by February 15st (raises start for the February 16 – 28/29 pay period). You could take off days without using vacation/sick as well if your manager agreed.

      Then California law changed and while we’re still hourly, we must be paid the base hours for a pay period. If you work more than the base rate, you can “bank” the extra hours. If you’re under the base hours and have bank hours, the bank hours are automatically used to get you to base hours. You can also call a day a ‘no pay’ day and you must charge no hours on that day. It doesn’t count towards your base hours so you can’t bank any hours that pay period.

      1. maelen*

        Oh yeah, all hours for exempt employees are straight time, no time-and-a-half or double-time. If you work 8 hours on a holiday, you get paid for 16 hours. Non-exempt employees are strictly watched to make sure any overtime is approved.

  2. Welcome to Dunder Mifflin!*

    The more I work, I can’t decide if I’m annoyed at the way some people can be so incompetent, or admire them. People who don’t read instructions (“I need 1200×1200 size image”, and they send you a 1800×900 size), how they are able to give non-answers and pass the buck around to prolong whatever we are trying to solve and how things slip through the cracks. But I do get annoyed how I can’t get away with that and how I’m held to higher standards. For example with the previous image sizing – I would have sent “Brian” the request image specs first, but he does it completely wrong so then I need to go back to him and try to clarify what I mean, but then I’m the one who gets labeled as serious or abrasive.

    I’m trying to detach, but boy is it hard.

    1. KT*

      Solidarity, friend.

      I typically find myself in similar situations. The older I get the harder it is to keep my mouth shut. I have no idea why I make less than the other two people on my customer service team when they routinely come to me with questions they should absolutely know the answer to. Then if I don’t help, I’m labeled as difficult (among other things) and they still get to be lazy.

      1. theletter*

        They are not being lazy – you have taken on more responsibility as an SME. Ask for a raise.

        1. not nice, don't care*

          “they routinely come to me with questions they should absolutely know the answer to”

          I’m good with calling them lazy.

            1. Star Trek Nutcase*

              My solution to being asked the same questions over and over by two of my coworkers (combo lazy & deliberately stupid) was to state there would be a $1 charge for each repeat question, no exceptions. My supervisor, nonconfrontational as hell, was present but said nothing. There was some laughing UNTIL I refused to answer until paid.

              My supervisor tried to pressure me but I said let’s go to HR to discuss. Since she knew this would bring up her incompetence (she should know answers herself & have dealt with incompetent coworkers) she just said she wouldn’t get involved.

              I made enough to buy my lunch a couple times a month. Yes, my coworkers were that pathetic. Lazy coworkers are like a dripping faucet for me.

              1. GythaOgden*

                That’s not something to brag about, really. That sounds like something that would get you a talking to from any manager worth their salt. We’ve joked about that in the past, but it’s /always/ been a joke.

                Work is a collaborative, collective exercise. This sounds unnecessarily hostile and it’s probably going to backfire in both soft terms (being seen as not a team player, a knowledge hoarder, not a nice person to work with in general, not someone who would be good to promote if they can’t accept the routine distractions that come with more senior roles) and hard terms (disciplinary if you are actually taking the money from other colleagues in return for part of your job and not, say, donating it to charity or whatever, although it would probably also go against your job description and hurt people who genuinely do need information from you, because my job as the team admin is to get stuff like that from you and I wouldn’t be paying you for it; I’d be talking to my boss about it). I suggest you find a way of rebuilding the relationships with your colleagues before it becomes too late, because while it might sound quite fun here, it’s really going to hurt you in the long run.

        2. GythaOgden*

          Yup. I love it when I feel this way. I leveraged my ability to pick up and sustain tasks on reception into showing that I could be trusted with more complicated things. I wasn’t given a raise (my pay is set by the central government) but I was promoted off the front desk and by virtue of going up to full time hours and being able to work from home it was a de facto payrise.

          Most crucially though, for me, being the person everyone comes to for advice is great! I have research skills from when I got my Masters so I pick up a lot of information and can train others on it as if I’ve been doing it ever since I left school. Experience is everything — I’ve spent the 23 years since I left uni struggling to make my mark but I’m now in a place where I can show my potential and be a good SME. It’s worth more money in the long run than it gets me in the short term, but as a bonus I know now what path I want to follow as well.

      2. My Useless 2 Cents*

        Or what I run into a lot of times… “is it X or is it Y?” (It can’t be both) response: “yes”
        Then I get labeled as “nit-picky” or “difficult to work with” because I have to clarify.

      3. Wilbur*

        I’ve kept a quick reference with links to the source material where people can get the answer. They ask a question, I send them to where they can find the answer. When it becomes clear you won’t just give them the answer, people usually stop asking.

        1. KarenInKansas*

          Same! I set up a SharePoint site to answer FAQ. it has the question people usually answer linked to the document that answers the question.

    2. Hydrangea*

      I hear this. Also annoying: leaders who seem to value incompetent people precisely because the incompetence makes them feel extra smart and leadery.

    3. RagingADHD*

      Wait, so you didn’t send the specs first? You said you “would have” sent the specs.

      I am confused about what happened here and why it’s Brian’s fault for not reading instructions that you didn’t send.

      1. Welcome to Dunder Mifflin!*

        I did send them to him prior, with detailed instructions on what I need.

        1. Welcome to Dunder Mifflin!*

          So I don’t know if he’s not referencing what I send him, or not understanding it.

          1. RagingADHD*

            Well, I didn’t understand what you said here, so it may be a communication breakdown rather then Brian being incompetent. If you go around assuming other people are incompetent, it tends to show in the way you interact with them, and that could be contributing to a perception of being abrasive.

            1. Keener*

              What Welcome to Dunder Mifflin! wrote was perfectly clear to me. I agree that you should consider whether it is a communication breakdown or lack of understanding. However, in either case, if I am Brian and I get instructions I don’t understand (regardless of whether the instructions were poorly communicated or I don’t have the skills to do the task) it is on me to ask for clarification rather than just go ahead an complete the task (incorrectly).

              I am in solidarity with you Welcome to Dunder Mifflin! I have been given feedback recently that I can also be abrasive. On reflection it is generally stemming from instances where something isn’t resolved even though we’ve already had a couple of conversations about the issue and they tell me it has been addressed and then when I look it hasn’t actually been addressed. Currently working on channeling all my inner zen and patience.

              1. Cj*

                I didn’t understand what WTDM was saying either.

                and Brian probably thought he did understand the instructions and had the skills to do the task. if they seem to make sense to you, why would you ask to have the instructions clarified, even if in reality they were different than what you understood?

            2. confused too*

              same. you sent them or you would have sent them? not sure which is correct.

              1. linger*

                “I would have” is one way of expressing (past) habitual aspect. Not the least ambiguous way, and not one that concords with the tense of other verb phrases used, hence others’ confusion. But it is a meaning consistent with the rest of WTDM’s message, so it’s the charitable interpretation to go with: “Just like always, I’d have told Bob the specs in advance on this occasion …”.

          2. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

            Did you send it with the specs, then request it again without the specs? If so, you can make it easier for him (this would make it easier for me, too) by resending the specs with the second request (such as forwarding the original email the the specs and then saying something like ‘hey Brian, can I get this by lunch tomorrow? Specs and details below for ease of reference”

            Of course I may be misunderstanding your process and his, so disregard if not applicable or you’re already doing this. It’s not all about you bending over backwards to accommodate a jerk, but there may be certain things you can do to make things easier that would be easier on anyone.

            (I work with a super-organized person who assumes everyone has the same skills they do, and gets frustrated when they don’t. It’s easier for them to deal with when the people also jerks, but there are some allowances/reminders/etc that are a good courtesy to provide to anyone, jerk or not).

            1. Welcome to Dunder Mifflin!*

              The above was supposed to be a hypothetical example, shortened for this post.

              But with two examples that actually happened (that I didn’t list above), my boss and I had met with him prior and went over the spec sheet and what exactly I needed. I have given him examples gave him the details and the why and what exactly I needed.

      2. Doctor Stranger*

        Yeah I’m kind of confused too, at least with how it was originally laid out by Welcome to Dunder Mifflin!

        1. Cabbagepants*

          It’s a common failure mode, when management can’t or won’t evaluate people based on their actual skill/output, but instead on who talks the biggest game. The favorites get away with anything and the non-favorites are scapegoats and drudges.

    4. goddessoftransitory*

      Honestly, I don’t get how a lot of people I interact with haven’t fallen down a manhole by now.

      I take pizza orders. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard “I’m looking at the menu…what’s on X pie?”

      YOU ARE LOOKING AT THE MENU.

      1. RagingADHD*

        If they said out loud, “I have dyslexia and am struggling to process the menu, could you tell me what’s on the pizza,” would that change the way you felt about it?

        Do you think they should have to?

        1. Katrine Fonsmark*

          I don’t think assuming that people can’t read is the first thing I would jump to.

      2. alwaysAskNow*

        considering i once ordered a buffalo chicken pizza that did not list mushrooms on the menu and yet arrived with mushrooms and the place insisted it always has mushrooms, the menu was wrong, wouldn’t refund, i guess i find this reasonable…

        1. House On The Rock*

          Yes to this! Both my spouse and I are sensitive to raw onions. So many places blithely put them on things like salads and sandwiches without bothering to mention it in the menu description. I’d rather clarify up front than have to send something back and waste everyone’s time (and the restaurant’s resources). Granted I usually preface it with “I know it doesn’t say, but can you confirm…”. But I suspect that someone saying “I’m looking at the menu” is trying to convey the same idea.

        2. WorkingRachel*

          Whaaa? Mushrooms do not belong on buffalo chicken pizza. I like buffalo chicken. I like mushrooms. They do not seem like a good combination, much less an intuitive one.

      3. Andromeda*

        Thing is, I am 100% certain that people have thought the same thing about me, and not even at my least competent moments (I am a very dumb smart person).

        I don’t let myself get lulled into thinking I’m smarter than other people — I don’t live in a world full of NPCs and I don’t want to accidentally believe in my own intellect so much I end up doing something really foolish without realising.

      4. GythaOgden*

        If you get this exasperated with customers then maybe a customer facing role isn’t the best thing for you.

        Also turn it round. Someone rung me a long time ago just before the end of the day and asked for the ‘eye clinic’. I heard it as ‘iClinic’ and asked her a few dopey questions before I realised that she was looking for an opthalmology department and not enquiring about a new app our NHS org was trialling. To say I was mortified would be an understatement.

        And any time I get this sort of dopey question directed at myself, I just flash back to that incident, or to the incident where I was dozing on a bus on holiday, noticed a road sign and asked myself what the mile to kilometre exchange rate was, or any time I asked a shop worker where something was only to be told it was, like, just behind me. Or when I’ve struggled to find my glasses but already been wearing them. It doesn’t do to mock other people for something everyone does from time to time.

        We all make dumb mistakes — a good customer service rep learns to relax and assist people who may just be overwhelmed, tired, distracted or whatever rather than actively stupid. The grace we extend to other people gets reflected back at us in the grace they give us when we mess up.

        1. Decision time*

          I absolutely agree that people can be overwhelmed (neurodivergent sometimes, or under other stresses) and deserve grace, but I didn’t read the original comment as talking about this kind of situation. I read it as talking about the people who don’t take responsibility for their end of the bargain. Eg, they don’t take responsibility for reading the emails they get. They just skip sentences or phrases, and they genuinely don’t care or maybe they’re suffering from chronic anxiety that means they never take in information well, and that’s hard for them but some people don’t ever take responsibility for the amount of labour they require of other people. Needs are valid (and I’ve got them) but it’s unfair to have no thought for the extra work that can create for other people (who also have deeply stressful lives.)
          Lots of us struggle but we’re working to take responsibility (whatever shape that takes). It’s when people routinely don’t that I think it’s – ooooh, validly infuriating!

      5. Yeah...*

        @goddessoftransitory

        You are allowed to be frustrated. Feelings are not limited to the people you are interacting with. You can have feelings too.

        The reactions here can be bizarre.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            Co-signed. I used to regularly send out emails consisting of “Your form (“FormName”) update is complete and new versions can be ordered by calling the print shop at (phone#) and ordering form number (xxxxx).”

            I also used to *routinely* get responses consisting of some version of “Great! When will the update be ready and how do I order the new version?”

          2. Doctor Stranger*

            Yeah but like GythaOgden said below, “your frustration with people being people is going to show and you’re going to do something daft” one day. For every meme about “idiot customers lol,” there could be a counterpoint meme from the “idiot customer” POV where they had the day from hell and happened to space out while at the pizza counter/starbucks counter/drive-through window/etc.

        1. GythaOgden*

          Yeah, but if those feelings are that intense, they can leak out and really cause problems.

          Learning to detach a bit is really helpful in customer service because one day, your frustration with people being people is going to show and you’re going to do something daft. Understanding that human beings are going to be human beings about stuff and that you make the same mistakes in other situations allows you to calm down about other people’s mistakes and therefore get less wound up by them. Getting less wound up in these situations means you’re far, far less likely to do something stupid in the heat of the moment.

          Yes, we have feelings we sometimes can’t control. But having been in customer service for 10 years and making similar daft mistakes, you do have to learn to put your feelings to one side and not let them tempt you into getting angry with the people you’re paid to be helping.

    5. A Girl Named Fred*

      Hoo-ee, you hit on a major AGH for me this week lol. So many communication issues, most of which were spawned and/or worsened by people who make 3-4x what I do. Just. Absolutely baffling, and it seems to have been this way everywhere I’ve worked so it’s not like changing jobs will fix it. I’m sure there are places out there not like this, but they seem a definite minority IMO.

      So I guess no advice, just more solidarity.

    6. House On The Rock*

      Also offering solidarity and empathy. I frequently say I’m the “only adult in the room” and because of it seem to get tasked with so much more than my peers, especially around communication and soft skills. Note that my peers are either very senior individual contributors or managers like myself. It’s always couched in flattering terms, about how I’m “diplomatic” or “have the right touch”. But really it just means I’m a woman in a technical field who is a skilled communicator and can get along with many different types of people – and I make a point of doing so!

    7. Kristin*

      I was the one at work who had to complete all the attestations that staff were vaccinated during the pandemic. (Mind you, I was only dealing with the ones who did get vaccinated, i.e, the “smart” ones.) This entailed scheduling an online meeting with me to show me their vaccination card.
      A certain percentage did not know what the online meeting software was, as they had never used it – but it was required learning and using during Covid. We’re talking supervisors, who should have been attended mandatory online meetings all along.
      Someone asked me, “What’s Outlook?” when I invited her to an online meeting and she had not responded. (My first job was to teach Outlook to all staff, who were required to attend.)
      A certain percentage held their vaccination cards up to computers/laptops that had no camera, and I had to tell them I couldn’t see it over the internet with a CAMERA.
      I told a supervisor I needed his reports to schedule meetings with me and show their cards, and he said, “I thought I showed you my card already?”
      Etc., etc., etc., people with Master’s Degrees and supervisors. However, some were really on the ball, scheduling only one meeting with me and having each of their direct reports show me their cards one-by-one so I could attest the whole shebang in one go.
      These people make a pretty penny, but I couldn’t tell you what some of them do all day.

      1. Project Maniac-ger*

        Not knowing what Outlook is in 2021 and these other issues are impressive. Bad, but impressive.

      2. Tangerina Warbleworth*

        OMFG, “What’s Outlook?”

        Reminds me of the ED I worked under who asked, in front of everyone at the all-staff annual budget planning meeting, “Wait — how many quarters are there in a year?”

        That and my last grandboss who assured me that my new desk would have a computer, a workstation, and a CPU. I never did see it, as I resigned before the move.

    8. strawberry lemonade*

      I think:

      -some people just don’t read particularly well, in general. It is what it is and it doesn’t mean they’re lesser, but it certainly does frustrate sending written specs
      -some people don’t process details very well, in general
      -some people have dealt with 100 emails perfectly well and you’re the 101st email that they read, just before they leave for lunch

      Yes, frustrating, and I’m currently in a similar spot with a colleague who simply can’t do the work asked of him. Until this point I guess I had success assuming option #3. Fwiw I have a dear friend, who I worked with, who was option #1 and it was pretty annoying.

      1. GythaOgden*

        NGL, I work with a team of managers as admin support and #3 is way more likely than either of the other options. Things get buried in the inbox and I’ve resent things to my boss for her signature because it’s less hassle than it is for her to excavate the email from the archaeological dig site that is her inbox (and guilty as charged here myself; I’m usually pretty good about organising computer files but this is the first job where they’ve ballooned in volume and don’t always fit neatly into the pigeonholes I like creating for them). And my boss is the LAST person I’m going to get exasperated with — she made the difference between me staying in a supportive environment like my current job and throwing myself on the mercy of the temp circuit. It’s worth a few clarifying emails and ‘hey I’ll resend this’ to be in a good job with much better mental and physical health than I had this time last year.

        And I totally did the ‘Jane, Cynthia, Alan, you need to send me your teapot drippage management forms to upload onto our SharePoint system’ last week when all but Cynthia had done so, and she was sat next to me filling it out because I’d had a chance to remind her in person. What I learned from that was I needed better filing systems for stuff I’m routinely asked to collect from the managers I support, but that also we all make mistakes and while it’s possible they were inwardly exasperated with me, becoming outwardly exasperated will reflect worse on them than it will on me. The same thing for me when dealing with a colleague who is on a PIP (as admin support I know this because I’m helping her line manager track her development) — I am no less polite or collegial towards her even though I see exactly why she’s on the PIP in the first place.

        What goes around comes around. Thoughts become reality for most of us. Creating an atmosphere of forbearance can often be better than an atmosphere where you seethe too much about every little thing and let it leak out at the absolute worst time. The feeling isn’t invalid, but it’s how you deal with it that counts and how you don’t let it show towards the people who will be alienated by it and finding healthier ways of managing things than being a prick about it. Bad behaviour is much more memorable than good behaviour as well so things like charging a dollar to ask questions (and not donating it) or being known as someone without a filter is, in the long run, worse for you than it is for the people who can keep their feelings from running roughshod over their colleagues’.

        1. Pickwick*

          This is a clarion call for us all to be bigger, better, more patient people when we can. Well put!

        2. TooBusyForEmail*

          yes, this. I’m at the point in my job where I can’t keep up with email. I tell folks if it’s time sensitive use Slack because despite trying to look for the “important” emails out of the many hundreds that come in overnight when I start my day, some days I run out of time before my first commitment to do something else or miss some.

          I don’t have the privilege of an admin to help me catch them, so I do the best I can and apologize if/when I realize I missed something.

          It’s very much a way too much to do in the time I have to do it in, and it’s not going to change unless/until that changes

    9. Kuleta*

      Sending more solidarity.

      IME, management often looks the other way on incompetent unmotivated employees particularly if those employees have protectors. Some do, and other people get given the real work.

    10. AnonNY*

      Ha, a former manager of mine told another former manager of mine that I had no filter. I took it as a compliment.

      1. GythaOgden*

        Yeah, that’s not a compliment. It might be doing you a lot of damage in their minds, and it might therefore come up on reviews and so on. Even if you don’t want to move up, it’s worth re-evaluating how people see that — because having worked with people with no filter, it can be really corrosive to other people. (Not least because the people I worked with were always saying stuff like ‘why do you want another job you’ve got one why bother trying to move up?’ and saying stuff like ‘you’re just the receptionist, what do you know?’ was what they were saying.)

        Getting on with your colleagues is workplace 101. Even if you’re proud of being straight-talking and having no filter, sometimes it’s not just the people you have contempt for that are hurt by it. Quite often, you’re also hurting people who would otherwise want you on their teams and have opportunities for you. Being a good colleague opens more doors than being a grouch with no filter.

        1. AnonNY*

          I’m retiring from a very lucrative 40 year career. So, no, it did not hinder me one bit.

    11. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      I’ve been the Brian. I’ve had 50 different people send requests for images, all with different specifications. There are always a few people who assume they are special, who expect me to go back and search through previous messages to find what their specs were, instead of just including it in their follow-up messages. Those people might – oops! – slip farther down the list of projects I’m doing because of their attitude.

      1. Banana Pyjamas*

        They already did the labor of providing that information, and they shouldn’t have to do it more than once. However I think it’s best practice to follow up by responding to the existing email (chain) rather than creating a new message, that way everything is together.

    12. Joielle*

      I feel this in my soul right now! I’m in the final stages of planning a major industry conference that starts next week. The number of questions I’ve had to answer because people can’t read an email all the way through or follow a simple instruction are absurd. Example from yesterday: I send an email explaining that staff should park in a specific parking lot and pick up a parking pass on their way out, because they only need the parking pass when leaving the parking lot. I get a dozen emails from people asking which lot they should park in and when they should pick up their parking pass. Tearing my hair out over here!

    13. WorkingRachel*

      My current job is a weird black hole where even the simplest of questions go around on an endless email chain and it’s clear no one has an answer, but they are all sure someone else must. It’s so frustrating. I care about doing things well, and I’ve slowly come to accept that this place just doesn’t.

    14. Doc McCracken*

      I just finished reading the book The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving A F$%K by Sarah Knight. It is snarky and very practical. The section on personal policies has helped me deal with a group of Boomer White Dudes who live up to the worst stereotypes of their generation.

  3. Anonymath*

    In the interest of space, pretend I am Jane (https://www.askamanager.org/2024/01/my-new-hire-keeps-uncovering-problems-and-im-embarrassed.html) and a faculty member at a university, but instead of my manager realizing what is going on, he has instead sided with the two faculty who don’t want change. My manager is new to the position, promoted just before I went full-time here, and has no previous managerial experience. The remaining faculty in our department are junior and have little experience outside of how things are currently done in our department. I am a tenured professor, but in at at-will state that is actively decreasing tenure protections. I’ve been working for this university five years, but began working full-time here a little over 2 years ago. In general, the university is very supportive (outside certain individuals in my department), but I moved here from highly toxic previous position, so I’m a bit scared of approaching upper administration.

    After extensive issues with current manager, I’ve had to get ADA accommodations put in place, and now my manager will not speak with me unless he absolutely has to. I do not believe he will never advocate for me and I know he will not have my back should there be a student complaint. I am actively prevented from contributing in departmental areas where I am an expert, but expected to participate in areas where I have no skill/knowledge (the lack of knowledge was known when I was hired). As a previous commenter put it, I am underutilized, untrusted as an expert, and isolated. I am very selectively applying elsewhere, but have caregiving responsibilities locally, so cannot easily move. Most likely, I will remain at this university until I retire, many years from now.

    Are any of these issues worth bringing to my Associate Dean (my manager’s manager)? My Associate Dean and I have worked well together in the past, and she seems to have a very similar perspective to me in term of work expectations and following policies. I don’t want to dump 1.5 years of issues on her, so if you think I should address these issues with her, which issues should I bring and which should I only raise if directly asked?

    1. Hyaline*

      Question: how long can you expect Current Manager to be in any kind of supervisory position over you? I ask because my boss is the department chair and that job is a revolving door; a Director of X oversees my work for X and is more stable. My view on what to do changes if these people are all going to be in their positions for the foreseeable future; if they’re revolving doors I’d be more likely to grit my teeth and wait them out.

      1. Anonymath*

        Unfortunately, I expect current manager to be in place as long as he wants to. We don’t do the rotating chair position, and there are very few individuals who would be able to step into that role as most of the other faculty are pretty junior. I have the seniority to do it, but lack the necessary certification, as I was brought in specifically to be an expert in an area the rest of the department lacks. Associate Dean has been in the position for many years, and is probably nearing retirement, but I haven’t heard any news on that front.

        1. Hyaline*

          I mean, no place I’ve been technically does a formalized rotating chair, either–it’s just that no one willingly stays there long! He doesn’t sound like a fantastic leader by any stretch, but it does sound like–and this part isn’t fun, but–if he’s not amenable to change and is siding with others who are also sticks in the mud about it, you may have to kind of accept that you’re outvoted here and suck it up. Which sucks. But–it’s how work sometimes goes, and you can kind of accept that and focus on what you do have control over and developing good work there (research, courses, whatever it is you can pour energy into instead of butting heads with someone who doesn’t want to change).

          Beyond that, it’s hard to answer what you should do/what you risk by doing anything without a clearer picture of what authority your manager (chair?) is wielding–tbh in my department it’s a lot of benign neglect and directors of various areas do a lot more of the hands-on management even though they’re not, technically, anyone’s boss–and even then, honestly, work is very independent. (My boss could hate me and 90% of my work and future career development would be exactly the same.) Unless your school or department has a history of siding with disgruntled students, I wouldn’t sweat that much–if you haven’t a cranky student yet, you will. Everyone does. :P

          I may be misreading, but I feel like the biggest issue right now, now that accommodations are in place, is that Manager is a cold fish toward you and you feel like that could negatively affect your prospects. If that’s the biggest immediate concern, then I agree totally with Mic-Career to develop relationships and rapport with others in the department. In my experience, university leadership shifts around a lot and you never know when a colleague will be a department chair, assistant dean, or head a new task force, or whatever. But even if that doesn’t happen, you’ve got people in your corner, willing to advocate for you, and also just serve as your sanity check in a bizarre field!

          1. Anonymath*

            Thanks for the response, Hyaline. My biggest issues here have stemmed from the manager. He’s a good talker and says the right things, and then remembers/follows through with none of them. I was recruited to come to this position by him, with the promise that I’d be in charge of remaking the four course sequence in my specialty area at the doctoral level, and if that worked well, translating that to the masters level. I’d also develop and teach a specific course in my specialty area for the college. We discussed that I was being brought in to make change and if he would have my back if there was pushback by the other faculty, and he said he would. His support has never appeared, and almost from the start he has wanted me to do my own pushing back, without yet having a solid grounding in the policies and procedures of my new institution. The two longer-term faculty besides my chair immediately disliked the changes I made to the courses (despite not ever having taught the courses themselves), and complained to the chair, who let them decide what sequence and assignments I could have in “my courses.” After less than a year of teaching, half my courses have been taken from me. I have earned awards for my teaching and gotten excellent peer evals at my new institution, so I do not believe this was due to problems with my teaching ability. Two student complaints were taken as absolute truth by the department chair, without consulting my view on the situation, and I have been reprimanded for things I have not actually done. The issue with recruiting is only the latest one, but I have been well and truly sidelined by my department chair, who appears to have absolute rule over the department. All decisions are top down, starting with him. I do not tell if this is normal for this university, although I doubt it, given what my friends in the other departments have said.

            My friends online and in the other departments are good sanity checks, but I do wonder how much the Associate Dean is aware of how my department is functioning, and how much she’d agree with it.

    2. Mic-career academic*

      I’m also a tenured professor. It sounds like your manager a faculty member in your department and that you don’t have a good working relationship with the department as a whole (so the problem isn’t just the manager, who I’m thinking is your department head?).

      My thoughts: 1) if there are any ways to pursue positive relationships with others in your department through informal or formal (means, such as happy hour or coffee hour, attending professional development together F2F and really pushing to be sociable, convening or participating in a learning community about a topic of shared interest, I would do it. This stuff can seem like a waste, but as a mid-career academic, I’m really seeing how it can matter a lot. As you said, you’re probably in this department for the rest of your career. It’s worth investing in being an agent of a positive community, even if you can’t put it on your CV. 2) It sounds like you’re wary of some kind of retaliation for the ADA accommodation. I feel you on that. I would wait a bit before pushing it though because the reality is that politically, even letting it get out that you had concerns could be a liability you don’t need. 3) I think the piece I’d consider talking, ideally informally, possibly in a “can I run this by you for your input” way is the part where you’re not allowed to contribute based on your knowledge and are expected to in areas that aren’t your strength. What I have done in exactly this situation is a) proactively establish ways to bring my expertise to bear and even just to make it more visible b) selectively participate in areas that are not my strength and say no more. I am not shy about saying “Oh, I don’t think my perspective is most useful in area X but I can do Y,” or “If I participate in X, I can only do it in Y ways. Does that make sense on your end?” Good luck

      1. Anonymath*

        Thanks for your feedback and suggestions, Mic-career.

        I have positive to very positive relationships with the majority of the faculty in my department. However, while they are generally aware of how I’m being treated by my manager (the department chair) and the two change-averse faculty, most of them are very junior and were hired from our own graduates, so they don’t have enough external experience to realize this isn’t normal. I also have very good relationships outside of my department, and have served as a consultant in my specialty area for multiple departments within my college. Ideally, I’d love to shift to a more general specialist role for the college as a whole, since my department isn’t using me and because I can see unmet needs across the college in my area of specialization. That position does not yet exist, although other colleges within our university have one.

        I’d be perfectly happy leaving the entire ADA issue out of the conversation entirely. I haven’t needed accommodations in any previous position, and honestly, if my manager just wants to leave me alone and only communicate with me rarely and in writing, at this point I’ll be happy with that. I wish I had a supportive manager the way some folks on here seem to have found, but that’s not in the cards for me in this position with this manager.

        I like your idea to try an informal “can I run this by you” with my Associate Dean. She’s pretty aware of my strengths and limitations in terms of expertise. I have brought up my limitations in terms of what I’m expected to do with my manager, and he insists everyone can do this task (solo recruiting for specialized academic programs that I completely lack knowledge about or any background in). I can limit the conversation to asking if she thinks it makes sense for me to be recruiting. What do you think?

        1. Just Wondering*

          Recruiting is something most faculty don’t want to do so your chair is trying to dump it on you. Does your chair need the votes of the 2 senior faculty members to be promoted to Full Professor? If so w the chair will always listen to them over you. The junior faculty members definitely need the approval of the chair / senior faculty members to keep their jobs / promotions so they really are not in a position to advocate for you. Does your dept need majors/ graduates to meet some college/ university/ credentialing criteria? Then getting students in and through is going to be the focus. You might spend your capital with the Dean trying to get at least part of your job/ pay to be moved to a more cross department consulting role like you mentioned other colleges have. As far as the syllabus policies – What if you just copy the ones used by your chair and/or the 2 senior faculty – that provides pretty good cover. You now know your dept won’t back you up with students so pick your battles accordingly. Basically if you can’t change jobs (super hard in academia) then find your corner, keep your head down, and do your thing until things change as they inevitably will.

      2. Anonymath*

        I posted a reply to this earlier, but it seems to have gotten eaten, so apologies if this is a duplicate.

        Thanks for the feedback and suggestions, Mic-career! I have very good relationships with the other faculty in my department outside of my department chair and two change-averse faculty. The other faculty see what is going on, but are all very junior and also were hired from within, so don’t realize this is not normal. I also have good relationships with faculty in other departments within my school, and have assisted faculty both in my department and across my school on issues in my area of specialization. In an ideal world, I’d move from my department, where I’m underutilized, to a position that supported my area of specialization for the whole college, since I’ve found many faculty could use support in my area.

        I’d be happy to leave the ADA issue alone, and if my chair only wants to communicate with me rarely and in writing, that’s fine. I wish I had a more supportive chair, but I’m not going to find that here with the current one.

        I like your idea of going to the Associate Dean informally and specifically about the areas that aren’t my strength. The Associate Dean has a good idea about my background and my specialty knowledge and limitations. To be clearer, right now the department chair expects me to participate in solo recruiting for specialty degree programs that I have no knowledge or background in. Like asking a technical writer (not what I actually do) to go on recruiting trips for advanced computer science degree programs (not my actual program). I’m happy to assist in general, and would be willing to go recruit and discuss technical writing if someone else from the department came to discuss the computer science parts, but sending me by myself to discuss computer science would be a dismal failure for recruiting. Do you think that is worth bringing informally to the Associate Dean?

    3. chocolate muffins*

      I am faculty and am wondering about the management analogies. I get how that might be helpful for readers of this website, but also, I don’t think of department chairs or deans as managers in a normal sense, in part because the power structure is different. At least at the places I’ve been, no one really wants to be chair – it’s something they do because the department needs a chair, but they’re giving up their own research/teaching time to do it, so it’s more like a favor to the department and the university. For that reason, again at the places where I’ve been, administrators at the university level have little power to change what department chairs are doing, unless it violates a law or a policy and sometimes not even then. (Basically the worst they can say is “you can’t be chair anymore” which would be worse for the university than for the chair.)

      An associate dean can wield soft power/work through informal means to help department chairs do what they want, and if you are friends with your associate dean it might be worth bringing up some of these issues in a friend conversation (not a formal work conversation) to try to affect change through these means. If you aren’t friends, I think mid-career academic’s suggestions about forming/strengthening relationships are good ones, both within your department and at the university level. That can be helpful for all kinds of reasons, only one of which is the ability to use a kind of soft power to help people act right.

      1. Hyaline*

        “You can’t be chair.” “Oh no please anything but that stop no (please I want to spend more time in the lab).”

      2. Anonymath*

        My apologies for the “manager” language. I was trying to translate my circumstances into something more general, and I agree with you that the power structure is pretty different in academia generally. Unfortunately, my manager is one of those few who sought the position rather than having it thrust upon him.

        One of the things I have found most confusing in my new department is whether policies are being followed or not. I received no onboarding on department and college policies when I arrived and only found out they existed from a colleague a few weeks after I started, when I mentioned I couldn’t find a faculty handbook. During my third month in the position, I found a major discrepancy between how a college-level policy was written and how we were applying it within our department. My department chair immediately set a meeting with the Associate Dean to get her approval on how we were applying the policy moving forward, as the Associate Dean is a well-known stickler for following policies. This impressed upon me how seriously policies were taken at my new university.
        However, since that time I have found policies applied or not applied almost at the whim of the department chair. As an example, I’m required to use the departmental late policy for assignments (found in the department policies) but cannot apply the affective behavior standards (found in the departmental policies), although I should have those standards listed in my syllabus. I cannot tell when policies should or shouldn’t be applied, and after the first time, we’ve never visited with the Associate Dean about them, even when we’re breaking college-level policies. I find it anxiety provoking to not know when I will be called out for applying a policy when I shouldn’t have, or for not applying a policy I didn’t know existed.

        I understand about the soft power situation, and it most likely holds true for my college and department, which is one reason I’ve been avoiding bringing any of these issues to the Associate Dean. While I have been making good contacts and colleagues, none would be able to exert much influence in my department, or with my chair. I’m just so ground down by this that I was hoping there was something reasonable I could do to address the situation, rather than just accept my lot.

    4. Treeline*

      Hyaline and MCA have good responses. I also advise posting on thefora (google it) and finding allies outside your department in the larger college using the methods MCA describes.

      1. Anonymath*

        Ha! I was a longtime lurker and very occasional poster on the fora back while it was still in CHE. I tried following it once it was removed from CHE, but found many of the posters I had enjoyed reading had not made the move. I’ll take your suggestion and hunt it down again.

    5. Venus*

      I think informally mentioning to the Associate Dean that you feel your expertise could be better directed is the best thing to bring up, and I wouldn’t mention the other stuff until that’s discussed. These two points feel linked to me, and I think it’s best to bring them up together. I would ask for suggestions on how to improve the situation.
      “I am actively prevented from contributing in departmental areas where I am an expert, but expected to participate in areas where I have no skill/knowledge”

      1. Anonymath*

        Thank you for the ideas, Venus.

        I like the idea of bringing up the two together, as I agree they are linked issues. I worry that I will sound…whiny? I know what I can contribute isn’t being valued, but worry that saying I’m being prevented from contributing sounds a bit paranoid, even if it’s true.

    6. Project Maniac-ger*

      Bring to your associate dean 1. The ADA accommodation retaliation (both as wooOoo retaliation and “here’s why I’m coming to you about this – my actual manager literally won’t talk to me.” 2. The stuff that impacts research/students. Please know I mean this in the most respectful way, but deans get “I was not consulted about this an I am offended” from faculty all the time and they won’t take action unless you’re bringing in big big money or are the President’s spouse. What they will/should take action on is “I could’ve helped secure this grant, how can we make sure I’m looped in next time?” or “I’ve got the industry knowledge and now this degree plan is messed up because of xyz industry requirements. How can we fix this and prevent it from happening again?” Be solution-focused, have a tone of politely confused, and directly tie the issues to the University’s mission.

      1. Anonymath*

        It does feel like retaliation, Project Maniac-ger, although I’d prefer to not have to raise the issue unless I have to. I worry that if I pull the retaliation card it will bring forth lawyers, and that doesn’t seem like the smoothest way to fix the situation. The impact on students is a bit more remote. In my previous position, our highly-esteemed new program quickly turned to almost a degree-mill level due to bending the rules and passing through students who should not have made it through the program without the appropriate level of education. Word spread quickly, and last I heard, the program will be closing soon, and possibly taking the school down with it. I see the new program at my new college, the one I was recruited to help with, headed down that same path. I don’t know if the potential damage to our college’s reputation will be enough of a scare factor to keep the Dean’s interest. Having seen this before, I do have potential solutions, but some dislike hearing from a Cassandra.

  4. Invisible fish*

    Former teachers, how did you know it was time to change careers? I’m trying to decide if my current feelings are an indication that I need something new for my own sake or if it’s just panic about money. (Yes, “just money” is enough of a reason to change jobs, but focusing on money may stop me from really looking at the whole picture. I’ve been miserable in jobs before, and I need something I enjoy.)

    1. Somewhere in Texas*

      This is not “the way,” but I spent a whole year journaling when I felt an extreme emotion–both happy and sad. When the year came to a close, I had a MASSIVE amount of not great emotions attached to the work, so I knew it was time to change. My mental health was more important than proving I could so better when changing schools. You can always go back to teaching if you miss it, so it was a good jump to make for me.

      1. Lionheart26*

        +1.
        I made the jump from school admin a year ago and haven’t regretted it. At the time, I was a bit scared, but kept reminding myself that I could always find a job in a school if I want or need it (so far, I have neither wanted nor needed said job)

          1. Lionheart26*

            I do a lot of freelancing for Ed companies, training for learning analytics software, writing lesson resources, things like that. That pays the bills, but I’m also building my own publishing business that I plan to spend more time on when it takes off

    2. Pivot!!!*

      I worked in higher ed, and once I shifted from being proud and excited to send my students out to do new things to being a bit jealous that they were moving on and I wasn’t…I knew it was time.

      1. Cat*

        I am feeling very jaded about American employers right now so I’d like to hear what are the best ways people have found to scope out the culture of a company before working there?

      2. Ama*

        Not directly in higher ed, but I work in nonprofit grant funding (for one more week) and had a similar epiphany — when the day I send out grant award letters changed from my favorite day of the year to me dreading all the additional work onboarding the new grantees was going to be, I knew it was time to start thinking about changing careers.

    3. Chidi has a stomach ache*

      For me, it was 1) a realization that the only career advancement in education meant jobs I wasn’t actually interested in (eg, dean, vice-principle, etc) and 2) a strong sense of compassion fatigue — I found that the inevitable emotional demands that working with students involved was something I started responding to with annoyance and frustration and even anger. I knew that was an early sign of burn out.

      1. Hanani*

        Agree with compassion fatigue – once I got to the point where the breaks weren’t refilling the well, then I knew it was time to be done.

      2. EEK! The Manager*

        This was also my experience exactly. I also had a lot of personal issues happening which compounded the burnout, but I’m now 11 years out of the classroom and I don’t regret my choice to move on. It was hard because I was a really good teacher and there were parts of the job I truly loved. I ended up moving to an education-based non-profit, which was a great stepping stone to where I am now – biotech of all things! Good luck!

      3. Peanut Hamper*

        So much all of this. Combined with the Sunday dreads that started coming earlier and earlier. When it got to the point where I couldn’t even enjoy Sunday because tomorrow was Monday, I knew it was time to leave.

    4. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      For me it was a combination of things–a friend told me about a job that perfectly fit the skill set I’d developed during a different job I worked when I was getting my M.Ed so that’s what made me take the leap away, but also, my health (physical AND mental) was starting to deteriorate, and while I still loved the teaching part of teaching, I hated the bureaucracy and the parents that I had to deal with. It got to a point where I was crying on Saturday nights because the weekend was halfway over.

      I think I really knew it was time when I started avoiding my content subject outside of teaching, because engaging with it just felt like doing more work instead of the fun it used to be. I actually took a pay cut to change careers–so if you have an option that will get you more money, there’s absolutely no shame in that.

      I can tell you that my blood pressure went back to normal, I was able to lower the dose of my anxiety meds, and I stopped getting sick every couple of months once I was in my new job. And it is so nice to be able to go to the bathroom whenever I need to or go out to lunch on a whim.

    5. Zona the Great*

      When my love for the individual no longer trumped my seething hatred of the job itself.

    6. M2*

      Have you crunched the numbers? If you’re in public education you’ll most likely get a pension if you stay and health care benefits are usually (at least in my state) excellent for teachers. There’s a teacher at my child’s school retiring in her late 50s.

      My MiL was a teacher turned administrator and another relative (a specialist teacher) both retired in their mid 50s with excellent pensions. My MiL had a lot of stress the last few years but most of her other friends are still working (or just retiring) 10 years after she retired. She spent the years before covid traveling and she knew how much she would get each month from her pension. She was not beholden to the stock market. Something to think about.

      Retirement is no joke and unless you invest a lot into 401s and investments you most likely won’t get the same return as you would a pension. Not all states have excellent pensions and healthcare but some do. Also, you get breaks that are actually breaks. A friend who changed careers couldn’t believe on vacations she had to work and that it was difficult to get more than 2 weeks PTO. So all that extra time off also is a consideration too.

      Does your state pay out your sick leave? Mine does so anyone who banks their sick leave gets it paid out eventually.

      My SIL is also a public school teacher and is sticking it out for her pension and healthcare benefits. She works in a MAGA district that was open for the majority of COVID. She also likes she can be at home with her kids in the summer. If she worked elsewhere she would need to pay for childcare and that is an added cost.

      Good luck!

    7. Exhausted Trope*

      I knew it was time to leave education completely once I was no longer interested in any role aside from instructional design / curriculum development. I taught 10 years, did instructional design for 4, and worked in higher ed for 2. Got laid off from my last university position and couldn’t imagine going back. The stress, workload, and shitty treatment broke me. Got back into HR and haven’t looked back.

    8. just here for the scripts*

      1. When I came in during a delayed opening due to snow storm and got into a car wreck on the way and my principal only cared if I was in the home room when the bell rang
      2. When—due to doing the yearbook and having 5 separate preps I fell asleep in traffic heading home and had a minor fender bender (minor only because the traffic was so tight I didn’t have far to go)

      #2 was the deciding issue

  5. Graph*

    Small rant — I can’t believe I’m here saying this, but I am. What’s up with people just not wanting to do their job? I get the sense this has increased in the general population especially over the last few years as people are getting better at setting boundaries and sticking to the letter of their job (this is a good thing!) but it’s gone beyond that at my workplace and the culture is such that I don’t see a way to fix it with my team. I have a few great folks but then others who get assigned tasks and just don’t do them or flat out refuse to do them. Some will bother to explain why not (though most of the times, the reasons aren’t sufficient) but not always. I felt like we, as adults, had reached a point of understanding that sometimes there are just parts of your job you don’t want to do but…you still have to do it. I can apply Alison’s lessons all day long and not get anywhere, though, because of the culture and lack of teeth when it comes to progressive discipline. Increasingly I’m just doing things myself — which I know, I know, bad strategy but without another option, what can I do?

    That is all, thank you.

      1. Graph*

        Yeah, that’s gotten us nowhere, even for extremely egregious things like people disappearing for hours at a time. Unfortunately the culture is supported by the structure here.

    1. Jessica*

      Don’t cover for them. Let the consequences flow upwards. As long as you solve the problem, management won’t see a problem.

        1. WellRed*

          You need to pass it upward or let the balls drop. You can’t care more about the work than the company does.

        2. Ellen Ripley*

          Then do you have power to implement consequences (talk to the offenders, help make improvement plans, or firing)?

          1. Graph*

            Not practically. The progressive discipline structure isn’t well-supported, is incredibly arduous, and allows for lots of second chances before there are any real consequences. Last time I tried it in response to egregious AWOLs, the staff filed a hostile work environment complaint against me. I’m really stuck here and the only solution I see is leaving.

            1. Project Maniac-ger*

              Your entire staff filed a complaint against you or just the person on the PIP!? If it was the whole staff, that’s a huge WTF get out get out.

              Maybe positive reinforcement? Like how you give a puppy a treat and praise every time they pee anywhere that’s not Grandma’s handwoven silk rug. If you set the bar really low, you’ll meet people where they are, and you might get just enough motivation out of your staff to not go crazy before you find another job. I’m not confident in this suggestion, but it sounds like you’re at the point of needing alternatives to the alternatives.

              1. Graph*

                Oops, you’re right, that wasn’t clear — the staff person. Just the one!

                But good ideas! I’ll be looking for opportunities.

    2. Anonymath*

      Don’t have a solution for you, but solidarity. I see this at my new workplace as well. Lovely people for the most part, but I cannot for the life of me understand how they just…don’t do some parts of their jobs? Respond to emails? Provide feedback/vote when on a committee? Like you suggested, there’s a real lack of progressive discipline here – no accountability options. It’s certainly been one of the more surprising cultural aspects of this new workplace for me.

      1. Graph*

        It’s honestly hard for me to tell if this is indicative of a bigger culture shift or more strictly a function of where I work (which I concede is definitely a contributing factor — just not sure if it’s the whole thing) or if it’s just that I have a different vantage point as a manager compared to two years ago when I was not in a supervisory role (though did still witness slacking — it just didn’t seem to this degree or amount of blatant refusal of reasonable requests/assignments from supervisors!). I’m sorry you’re experiencing this, too!

        1. Always Curious*

          I don’t think it’s a wider problem, at least not in my field. I work in Pharma and the people I’ve worked with in the past 5 years – across science, business, and manufacturing – are committed and hard working. That said, we have HR consequences with teeth.

        2. Cascadia*

          I also don’t think it’s a wider problem. I actually think it’s indicative of the culture of the work place and the expectations in place. From what you’ve described, people have seen that there are no consequences to bad actions – so there’s really no incentive to do good/any work. This is not true where I work, or where my husband works or other places. But you can’t change anything without any teeth! Unfortunately the good workers are likely to leave soon too, as they won’t want to stick around in a workplace like this I imagine. That sounds super frustrating. If your boss won’t allow you to fire anyone, then I would seriously consider looking for a new job.

    3. Mid career academic*

      I don’t have real suggestions, but as a college professor, I see it too. If you’re working with recent college grads, prepare for it to get even worse in the next few years.

      1. Hyaline*

        Oooof yes. This past semester was somehow worse for Just Do the Work than any pandemic lockdown semester.

    4. NonprofitED*

      THIS! Ever since COVID it has gotten worse. As a manager, you don’t want to flip out on your employees when they don’t their jobs but sometimes I really want to flip out on some of my employees. I do tasks I don’t want to do all the time because it is part of the job. It is like doing laundry. I hate doing laundry but walking around naked or in dirty clothes because I am out of clean clothes is not an option so I do my laundry.

      1. Graph*

        Yeah…I really don’t want to be “that guy” (even posting the “no one wants to work anymore” blah blah blah — I don’t like it! I don’t want to have this perception!) but have to agree that for *some* staff, COVID has had an impact in this way and even if it’s just a small group, the impact is huge and we feel it!

    5. Graph*

      I lied — one more thing: If they aren’t just not doing it or refusing to do it, they complain and contribute to a culture of bad morale as a result. For example: We work in a largely public-facing institution and people complain about their time out working with the public to the point that I spend most of my time working with the public. Which means I have to rush to do all the manage-y things I can’t do while doing that work. Which then leads to people expressing concern about their timesheets being done later (though still on time!) than they’d like, etc. Could I just ignore the complaints and not respond to them like this? Sure, but the complaints and boosting of bad morale continues *and* it’s important to me that my staff feel like I hear them and am responsive to their concerns/complaints. But still — the frustration! Aggghhhh! There’s no way to win except to leave but then that’s a whole other can of worms. Working on it, but in the meantime: ugh.

      1. NonprofitED*

        This! I keep saying the same thing. Either I fire everyone or I fire myself. One way of the other someone has to go!

      2. megaboo*

        If it’s in the job description that they work with the public, they need to do that. I don’t know what your organization is like, but working a library (like myself) requires public facing work sometimes. If it’s becoming such a detriment for you doing your own work, it’s time to get folks on board.

        1. Graph*

          Haha, yes, public library here! Seems to be a lot of us. I genuinely don’t understand why they signed up for the job knowing it was a *public* library that would require *public* interactions — yet it’s just day after day of frequent complaints of too much desk time! I wish I knew the answer but I kind of figure people are going to feel the way they’re going to feel about this one. It’s on them for picking a job that doesn’t suit them (or no longer suits them). And then we go back to the whole “our progressive discipline process is useless.”

    6. Ama*

      This is just my personal theory — but I think there are a lot of people out there that don’t understand that advice, particularly work advice, is context-dependent. So they read the advice about pushing back at jobs that try to trample on your boundaries or overload you with work and don’t pick up that that advice is geared towards specific situations where a job is truly setting unreasonable expectations, not just any task at work you don’t particularly like doing.

      Combine that with conflict avoidant managers who don’t want to have uncomfortable conversations and you get people who don’t do their jobs because no one makes them.

      1. Elle Woods*

        I definitely see that as being part of it. From what I’ve seen, there’s also a component of some people not understanding–or caring–how their failure to do a task affects others in either the individual or collective sense.

        1. Sloanicota*

          I think there’s an increasing breakdown in the sense of collective workplaces. But to be fair, I’m not sure it’s the workers who started that trend.

      2. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

        Yes, I think there are an increasing number of people who can’t distinguish between toxic workplaces / managers and just that most jobs have some tasks which you dislike or find boring.

        Also that realising feedback from a manager can be very useful rather than pushing back on anything that isn’t praise and deciding she’s toxic.

      3. Alternative Person*

        I think you’re onto something there.

        I have opinions about the workload at my previous job, but the way some of my co-workers complained about having to deal with very normal things rubbed me the wrong way. No amount of management hand-holding and extensive, easy to use resource databases was enough for them.

        The insular, wagon circling management didn’t even seem to see it as a problem as it kept them occupied when they weren’t busy spreading blame for their own short comings.

      4. Dogsitter in Chief*

        Oh my goodness, this: “Combine that with conflict avoidant managers who don’t want to have uncomfortable conversations and you get people who don’t do their jobs because no one makes them.”

        I work with a guy who makes $15K more than I do, and he is actually PROUD of not doing any work that he is not specifically tasked with by our manager. And she doesn’t specifically task him with much, in part because she’s a really bad manager with no project management skills, but also because typically employees at his level are self-directed and expected to create their own work.

        I mean, I can’t blame him, I guess. If our manager is willing to pay him what is a very good salary in our area and not demand any actual work for it, that’s a good deal. I wish I could find a gig like that. The unfairness of the situation–with the highest-earning employee in the department having the fewest expectations–really does get to me, but that’s not his fault; it’s our manager’s.

      5. goddessoftransitory*

        I think this is a HUGE part of it! The combo of boundaries blurring like chalk marks in the rain during the pandemic and restructuring how work is thought of has led to a big, chaotic vacant lot in the middle of everything. Most people know not to play there, but some insist on it and then crying when they fall off a pile of boards or step on a nail.

    7. History Nerd*

      Personally, when I start to get frustrated with someone, I also try to get really curious. What may look to you or I like “not wanting to do their job” probably has a very reasonable explanation viewed from their perspective. For instance, in my office, when we skip parts of our jobs, it’s because we’re overwhelmed with everything that needs to happen and either don’t have the time or the resources or even space in our brains. I tend to think the latter has gotten worse for everyone in the workplace. That, or being productive in certain ways is just not incentivized by management. Is there something like that that could be going on that you might be able to do something about, rather than taking on the work yourself? And if not (or even if so), what can YOU let go of so you can get the essentials done?

      1. Graph*

        Oh yeah, I try! As an example, one person I asked to do a task (and after lots of back and forth and I suspect some going to the union on their part, though I can’t be sure — and, to be clear, I am very supportive of the union! But also!) said they were “just not comfortable” doing it. When I pressed for details so we could see how we might make it comfortable or if it was a skill level issue or what, it was just repeated: “I’m just not comfortable doing it.” At the risk of losing my anonymity, I won’t say what the task was, but it was very, very reasonable and very, very simple. And I say this as someone who did the exact same task not long before.

        I’m sure there is plenty I could not do, but then all the fun left in my job would be gone!

        These are helpful questions to consider on a regular basis, though, I agree! Thank you!

        1. Donn*

          I work in legal, and electronic court filing falls into this category. It’s the 21st-century version of office workers who had to retire because they couldn’t transition from typewriters to computers.

          Resisters are often people with minimal motivation or skill sets to begin with. They won’t even think about trying to wrap their brains around e-filing.

          E-Filing isn’t hard, one just has to know what they’re doing. My own main reservation is filing documents I had no part in preparing. If someone messed something up, I likely wouldn’t know it. IOW, “You want me to file this, I’m going to assume you prepared everything correctly.”

          I always SMH whenever a previous employer sent out a late-afternoon email, looking for someone to work OT on a court filing. Not to mention if the filing was also confidential (“under seal”), which required a lot more work to conceal sensitive information.

        2. 1LFTW*

          Since you have a union, and you support it, would it help at all to come at this from the standpoint of solidarity? That you’re all on the same side, which means that when someone neglects a necessary task because they “they’re just not comfortable doing it”, that means someone else needs to take on extra work, and that isn’t fair?

        3. GythaOgden*

          Comfort often requires you to expose yourself to the thing that’s uncomfortable to be able to get comfortable with it. On the strength of a few days in a clinic filling in when they needed an audio-typist, I got picked up by an agency for a healthcare receptionist job in an office block. I panicked but I needed the job so I took it. I got to really enjoy dealing with the various things that came across the desk. But had I not taken that job and spent a nervous few weeks frightened of being sent away, I would never be where I am now. People need to at least /give it a go/, and that goes double if it’s a part of their job!

        4. goddessoftransitory*

          One should never go full Bartelby.

          “I’m just not comfortable” is not going to cut it after a while. The person doesn’t have to go into detail, but just sitting there going “nah, not feelin’ it” isn’t going to endear them to their managers or coworkers having to pick up their slack.

    8. Anon4Vent*

      I’ve almost written this letter a few times. I’m dealing with 15-20 year experienced staff making six figures and responsible for hefty portfolios… and they are just disappearing for hours at a time, blowing through deadlines, seeming to not take obvious next steps. It’s absolutely post Covid and while I’m a HUGE WFH advocate I’m at the point where I want butts in seats because I legit have no idea what some of these people are doing all day but there’s no way they are working the full day and doing their jobs.

      I pushed back on the “no one wants to work” people but now am like what in the world is going on.

      1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

        They might be double-dipping – remote work does make that much easier. A related change in attitudes is that far more people regard it as acceptable / a great way to stick it to the man.

    9. AnonNY*

      Unfortunately, we had one of those for 10 years before the right manager finally did their due diligence and got rid of them. We are now hiring for their position, and I have been making crystal clear the expectations of the new hire. The company has a 90-day period in which to decide whether to keep the person on or not, and it was obvious from the previous employee our manager dropped the ball big time. Speaking of managers, I think a lot of them can’t make a decision to save their lives or are afraid to do so, so they just push back on their team to make the decision or just leave us hanging until push comes to shove, and the outcome is poor. I have taken on a more managerial role because my manager is so hands off everyone just comes to me! I wish we had 360 surveys for managers. The previous manager, who I did not like at all, made us do one for them when they weren’t even a month into the job. I actually think it was something they did, not the company, as a way to find out what we thought of them. Upon reflection, I wish I had been more honest (no filter!).

      1. NonprofitED*

        We used to do 360 reviews for Directors at a former job. The entire team banded together like we were the Breakfast Club and refused to do them every again after one of the Director’s confronted every person about what they said. It was supposed to be anonymous but the COO just cut and pasted the comments verbatim so this Director new exactly who said what by the comment that was made. We basically said its the Breakfast Club now but it will be Lord of the Flies if we ever get confronted by one of the Director’s again. The COO didn’t push back and we never had to do them again.

    10. Hot Dish*

      Solidarity. I’ve seen this happening, too, and it just did not compute for me. Your job is still your job whether you like all parts of it or not. I stepped down as a manager in part because of this. I have children at home to wrangle, and I didn’t like feeling like I had to do it with adults. It continued after me, and I was just grateful to not have any more responsibility towards it. It’s disheartening.

    11. InterPlanetJanet*

      What does the path to advancement look like within your department / company?
      Is compensation fair? Is there recognition for going the extra yard?

      In my department, we get awards. Monetary awards when we take on extra tasks. Not huge life-changing amounts, but in the $100-$250 range. If you take on a task that affects the entire company that amount goes up to $1000.

      Additionally, some tasks are seen as being on the “leadership path” – where they count towards promotion.

      And even if they are not going above and beyond, every month we have an all-hands meeting where the department groups call out ‘successes’ – and thank people for doing their jobs well.

      If you want people to act as if their jobs matter, you have to make their jobs matter.

      1. GythaOgden*

        For a public library that’s probably unsustainable. Additionally, if you need an incentive over and above being paid the agreed salary to do your job with reasonable enthusiasm, then it may be time to look for something new.

        (I get it, I really do. I am working at a higher pay-grade than I probably should be because I’m kind of an apprentice to delivery support. It’s ok for now because anything is better than my previous role, but in a few years’ time it might begin to grate. But that’s probably the sort of time I’m going to be looking to progress a bit further anyway.)

        1. Rebecca*

          That’s a very Don “That’s what the money is for” Draper approach. It’s a little unwarranted, too, since IPJ isn’t talking about either doing their job or enthusiasm. They said “extra tasks,” and didn’t mention enthusiasm at all.

    12. J Peterman*

      It’s me, I am the person that drives you crazy. Without real consequences people like me don’t change. COVID actually did break me to be honest. We worked from home for two years and when I discovered I could just -NOT DO THINGS- and there would be no consequences that became my new normal when we returned. I go to meetings and don’t refuse assignments or cause conflicts, but I will just get assigned things and not do them and nothing happens. I don’t care about anything (reputation, morale, promotions, recognition, etc,) as long as I keep getting paid. Management will never have the will, or frankly the organization and competence, to do anything about it unless I do something really egregious so I will keep happily coming in late and taking long lunch breaks to run and goofing off most of the day. This isn’t meant to be a troll really, I know how crazy this can make people who are conscientious, just some insight into the mindset.

      1. Graph*

        I genuinely appreciate this; thank you! It’s what I suspected but…

        And then, again, I come back to “my org’s progressive discipline has no teeth and no real follow through and I am too lowly to do anything about it, so my only option is to jump ship.”

        1. PotatoRock*

          Yeah, I think you have a management problem, and possibly a union problem (not all unions! but it’s true that some unreasonably protect people on “refuses to do a core part of their job”

          Before you jump ship, is there any way to make this your manager’s mess, not yours. Example: “Manager, shifts X, Y and Z at the reference desk are assigned to Bernard. Bernard has stated he will not cover them (get this in writing) No other staff are available”. Then stop. Don’t cover it yourself. Patrons complain – forward that to your boss. Or Bernard tells you he’s “uncomfortable”, and doesn’t want training or practice or anything else to make him more comfortable? OK. “I hear that. It’s a core requirement of this job that won’t change”. Don’t keep engaging on the comfort thing. Put him on the schedule for public duties, and if he doesn’t do them, forward all the problems it causes to your boss.

      2. SomeonePays*

        Speaking as the person who has to pick up the Slack for people like you with no extra compensation, this attitude stinks. There are consequences. Your company may not be equipped to make you feel them right now, but maybe when the people like me stuck picking up your slack finally revolt and you get stuck with your stuff + ours too you’ll see what a hash you’re causing for everyone else.

        1. Joron Twiner*

          Or everyone can slack off and it turns out those things aren’t that important after all.

          Sucks when everyone doesn’t pull their weight, but if someone else is doing less work for the same money as you… why are you going above and beyond?

        2. J Peterman*

          Yeah, if you’re willing to hustle for untrustworthy management in a mostly meaningless job that’s your problem, not mine. I’m here for the paycheck and health insurance and unless those are threatened I won’t get all wound up because some coworkers don’t like it. Maybe you should slack more too! We can take long lunch breaks together.

    13. Intermittent Introvert*

      Perhaps this is too simple or not something that would fit your situation, but is there a way to reward those that DO step up? Not in a brass band and parade way. A public thank you. Even a private thank you. A little reward like leaving an hour early or a new stack of sticky notes.

      1. Graph*

        It’s certainly something to consider! I can see folks getting very in their “favortism!” feelings about this, so it would have to be done very, very carefully. But maybe!

        1. Project Maniac-ger*

          Well would that be the worst thing? If Betsy is “your favorite” because she actually does things, that communicates something to the team. I guess if these people are so out of it to not see the connection, then yeah tread lightly, but this might be a gamification tactic.

    14. Untamed Shrew*

      My daughter is in her mid-20’s and is the store director for a large grocery chain. She’s very young to be in the position that she’s in, but she’s great at her job and handles way more responsibility than I did at her age.

      This kind of thing is a constant source of frustration for her. She’ll get in to find that the overnight shift has not finished unloading deliveries, or chopping up the fruits and veggies, or any other number of things. She’ll ask them why something didn’t get done and there’s never any good reason.

      One of her employees wrecked his car over the weekend and texted her saying that he was trying to find a ride to the store. He didn’t live far, so she told him she’d come get him after she finished up with a conference call. He told her not to come because he was having a “very bad mental health day” and his mother was at his apartment trying to help him overcome some things. This person is 30 years old. Another person told her it was “too hard on my mental health” when he had to work 5 days in a row, and he only worked 30 hours a week to begin with. He signed up to do the job, and knew what the expectations were going in. It’s not an age or generational thing — she has employees both older (in some cases much older) and younger than she is doing these kinds of things all the time. It drives her nuts.

      I get that the younger generations (younger for me as a GenX) are more vocal about mental health and work-life balance, and I really do respect that. I made a lot of sacrifices for my career when I was younger, and was rarely if ever recognized or rewarded for it. Given the chance to do it over again, I would be much firmer with my boundaries.

      But the ideas of compromise, balance, and give and take seem to be completely foreign ideas for some people. Not all people of course, and not just members of any specific generation. Just overall, in general.

      I was working over a weekend a few months ago, and my younger daughter who is 15 said, “You have to work this weekend? That sucks!” And then went off on a tangent about how she doesn’t want to “get caught in The Matrix” and be stuck in a job she hates for 40 years and then die. OK, Debbie Downer, let’s just dial it back a notch, shall we? I told her that yeah, I’d rather not be spending my Saturday working, but I’m very fortunate to have a job where I can work from home, and do things like flex my hours, come meet her for lunch now and then, step out to take her to a doctor’s appointment or run a few errands, or be gone for the afternoon for one of her sporting events and then work a few hours later in the evening. That flexibility makes my life about 1000 times easier. And in return for that flexibility, when deadlines are looming and the pressure is on, I may need to put in some extra hours to help the team I’m working with hit a project milestone. And that’s a reasonable compromise. Do I work late nights and every weekend? No, but sometimes it’s a necessary evil, and that’s OK.

    15. hazel herds cats*

      Expectations are so critical. You cannot do the tasks for them, because that conveys the idea that you don’t expect the person being paid that salary to do that work. It conveys that idea to the people not doing the task, to management above you, to senior management, etc. Once that happens, you become the problem instead of the people who aren’t doing the work.

      If your HR or upper management won’t let you engage in progressive consequences, then the next step is to engage them in a discussion of alternatives. There’s money in the budget as 5 FTE that covers these tasks. Those positions are filled 5 people only 1 of whom does the tasks. That leaves 4 people worth of routine tasks uncovered, which is more than 1 person could do. What’s more, you’d lose that 1 person as they would surely leave if they ended up doing all the grunt work.

      Since management won’t let you engage with the 4 people who aren’t playing ball, are they open to other solutions (you ask)? Some of the grunt work would actually be interesting to a new grad (if applicable) and new grads are cheap, perhaps a new grad position is an option? Ditto a part time student worker, who would get a chance to work a real job and build their resume (this, btw, is what the life sciences do). Would they be open to hiring a contractor, who would have no option but to do the work they are hired to do…

      The point of the conversation is to solve the problem. Management may decide to let you actually manage. Or the knowledge of those opting out may be valuable enough that another approach is reasonable. It’s also possible that the grunt work is a ridiculous use of your employees’ time, and you may come up with a better option.

    16. RM*

      Passively letting things drop until someone hassles you about it is one way of coping with an overload of work (and/or other flavors of unrealistic expectations)

    17. Joron Twiner*

      I think this is another side effect of the pandemic and political/social movements that have happened in the last few years. When your company asks you to continue working at risk to your life… when you have to risk your health and safety with no support from your community or government… when your community and government instead actively sabotage your efforts to keep yourself safe… when your wages go down and prices go up so the rich can get richer and there’s nothing politically or economically you can do about it…

      …why does work matter anymore?

      I think a lot of people just can’t summon a reason to do more than the bare minimum.

  6. EMP*

    Started a new job 3 weeks ago (yay!) and looking for tips/solidarity for getting through the on-ramp, “help I have no idea what I’m supposed to be doing, am I even competent” feels as I ramp up on a new system. I came in at a high IC level (senior staff) so while people are very understanding that it takes a while to learn a new complex system, I do feel some pressure of high expectations (maybe just from myself/my own expectations).

    1. Hillary*

      I recommend the book The First 90 Days a lot – it’s pretty great.

      Mostly, solidarity and sympathy. Things will start clicking into place soon, for me it was between weeks 4 and 6. The more complex/high level your work the longer it takes to get up to speed. When I started my last job my boss said he was surprised I was already productive at 90 days.

      It can help to find small things you are good at to get some mental wins (without telling people they’re doing stuff wrong). For me that was spending some time deep in the data.

    2. Caramel & Cheddar*

      I try to remember that just because you know how to do the work, it doesn’t mean you will intrinsically know how to do the work at *this* employer. Every place has it’s own processes, quirks, personalities, etc. that can feel super alienating and make you feel incompetent even if you know you have the skills to do the work.

      I also try to ask a lot of questions of the “Of *course* this resource exists” variety, e.g. job manuals, process documents, etc. to help me get the lay of the land. Most of the time this stuff rarely exists, or they forgot to add you to the right SharePoint, etc. so it helps prompt them to either admit the thing doesn’t exist, give it to you if it *does* exist, or at least point you in the right direction. So many places are abysmal at onboarding, so don’t let it make *you* feel incompetent.

    3. Cacofonix*

      As an independent consultant/contractor working at my clients site for months at a time, I changed orgs often but as a consultant was expected to deliver value from the get-go. But I still needed to ramp up on the org like anyone else. Tiring and anxiety ridden. Here is what helped me. I really treat it like a checklist too.

      Number 1 by far) Mind set. Knowing as a resourceful person, I’d get the lay of the land in a couple of weeks while also relying on previous experience to get through expectations. So… in business I can handle most anything uncomfortable for 2 weeks (or 3 or 4 – point is, not forever). Then I’ll be over the hump. Understand there is a hump and don’t fret over it. Just lean in.
      2) Relationships and org overview. Get an org chart and have your boss or co worker walk through it with you to understand how the org is laid out and how your role might intersect with other areas. Introduce yourself to people in these roles – not meetings, just 5 minute chats – and ask them questions about what they do and how what you do helps them most or would help them most, stuff like that. Create those relationships.
      3) go into on-boarding policy / procedures and help yourself and/or make it easy for people to give you access to networks, software, sites, chat channels etc. you need. Get a co-worker or managers advice once, then do the legwork. Happens faster in some places this way. Then you’re not waiting to get access to a system no one told you you needed in a time crunch later.
      4) lists lists – make sure you’re clear on priorities. Write notes and read them when being trained. Ask for examples. Verify your understanding. Saves a busy person from having to go over it again for you and builds trust.

    4. Jay (no, the other one)*

      tl,dr: keep telling yourself it will get better because it will, take notes, and practice excellent self-care.

      In February I semi-emerged from retirement to work two days a week. I’m a doc and this is the same paperwork-heavy job I was doing several years ago – but that was a different organization and a completely different electronic medical record. I had to keep reminding myself that I felt incompetent because I didn’t know the computer. I am still very good at the actual *job.* Every time someone asked how it was going I said “It will be great as soon as I learn the system” and I said it often enough that I actually came to believe it.

      I will say that my colleagues were awesome about answering my questions. If I had it to do over again, I would keep a notebook or some other record of the processes – there’s not a lot of online documentation because what we do is unique in the system and every org builds the EMR a little differently. Even when I understood and could replicate what I was being shown, if I had to do it again two weeks later I’d forgotten most of it. It took about four or five weeks before I really got the hang of the most common parts of the job, at which point I realized what a huge cognitive load I’d been carrying. Be gentle with yourself.

    5. Quill*

      I’m in month 3 of a new job and just now feel that most things have been covered – however I’m pretty junior level. Experienced, but I’m an experienced tech. One thing I’ve found that you may not already be doing is asking people about how long they took to get up to speed on specific duties or projects, as well as how often they come up (you will be well versed in something you deal with every day within the first few months, and not something that occurs quarterly)

    6. Blue Pen*

      Honestly, jump in. Learning the soft skills are absolutely part of the job, but if you’re anything like me, the hard skills are the ones that intimidate me the most—diving right in (with training, a support system, etc.) is the only way I start to feel comfortable on the job quicker. And this is the best time to do it because you will make mistakes over the course of your time there, but if it happens now, it is *much* more likely to be forgiven and forgotten.

      Make the scary thing not scary anymore. A former colleague of mine refused to learn something critical to their job (or at least not in its complete form) and now that that thing has come around again, they’re scared of it all over again.

  7. Anon for this one*

    A colleague was recently “promoted” into a new management role. I use quotation marks because this “promotion” does not come with a title bump or raise, but it does come with a whole slew of new responsibilities including direct reports. We are outraged on their behalf. This is another in a series of bonkers decisions from The Leadership of Bees, and I suspect everyone is job-searching, but is there anything they (or we) can do in the meantime to make sure they are appropriately compensated for these new responsibilities?

    1. ScruffyInternHerder*

      So were they told they were being promoted, or had they applied for a promotion?

      I’m not sure exactly how, but I would find a way to push back with either “so if I’m now required to manage direct reports, what of my previous duties are being removed from my tasks, or will I be able to delegate those as well?” or flat out state that I’m not doing it without compensation because this goes well beyond “other duties not described”.

      1. Anon for this one*

        They had not applied. Leadership created a new department (of 4) with a huge mandate, without any prior heads up, and told my colleague they were now in charge of it. Individuals have been pulled from their current roles to staff this department, myself included, again with no heads up. Colleague is being asked to write their own new job description. This would all be grand and exciting if it came with a commensurate raise and actual promotion and authority to do anything; colleague confirmed with HR that it does not. Colleague also confirmed with HR that leadership will not allow them to hire additional staff.

        We are salaried and exempt. Am I way off base to wonder if my colleague could consult an employment attorney over something like this?

        1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

          “Well, since the laws of physics still apply, I can only fit x number of hours / tasks into my day. I can drop items a, b, and c; or I can postpone y and z to take these on.”

        2. Sloanicota*

          INAL but it’s pretty unlikely you could have any kind of legal case here, IMO.

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

      unionize? I can’t think of another way that coworkers could get someone else a raise or job title, or influence the leadership’s decision. Now that they are a “manager,” are they reclassified as exempt?

      The one time I was successful at ridding myself of unwanted change in job duties, I pointed out that I was exempt partially because of my current, higher level, job duties and if I was doing less of that and more of something else, they would have me illegally classified. It may sound like that was cutting my own throat — they could just go ahead and do that and I’d lose a lot of the flexibility of being exempt and maybe even some money — but I was ready to lawyer up on gender and age discrimination, and reclassifying me would trigger a domino effect for two other coworkers who would also need to be reclassified, plus then the three of us might also be able to make a case that perhaps we were illegally classified all along and now owed years of back overtime pay… it wouldn’t have been much $ but it would have been a big pain in their ass.

    3. Ama*

      If this a company where HR sets titles and responsibilities, check in with HR about whether assigning someone management of staff at their current title is even supposed to happen. Most of the places I’ve worked you could *not* manage full-time staff unless you were at least at a certain job title — my current workplace gave me a promotion when it became clear I needed an admin in my department so I would be at the “people management” level.

      If this is a small company or one where HR doesn’t standardize job titles you may be out of luck with that line of inquiry, though.

      1. Anon for this one*

        Thank you for this suggestion! Despite not having direct reports until the big shake-up, my colleague is already at the “manager” title level because of the way our firm is structured, so I’m worried this won’t work, but I’ll raise it with them.

    4. House On The Rock*

      They could become a very squeaky wheel and simply keep asking about either higher compensation or more limited new responsibilities. Alternately, with every new task/project/assignment they are given, they can (should) ask what support they will receive to achieve that or set their own timing and scope that’s realistic. If the Leadership of Bees (lol) is so clueless as to think this is a good idea, they probably don’t really know how to enforce what they are doing. The thing about this kind of insanely unreasonable change is that many times people have more power than they think they do.

      If your colleague approaches everything with the attitude of “well of course it’s not going to happen in that time frame/with those resources, but here’s what’s possible” and says that as much as necessary, either that will become normalized or management will have to change something. The fact that the new team is behind them in this helps a lot!

      1. Anon for this one*

        Heh, I always feel like we’re being unfair to the bees with that description! Leadership of Hornets? Wasps? Yellow jackets? Anyway. Leadership is truly clueless and seems to subscribe to the Elon Musk school of “management.” It has blown my mind to witness. Thank you for the advice. These wheels are going to be very squeaky in the months to come.

    5. InterPlanetJanet*

      Your colleague has to determine “What is the opportunity here?”
      Better pay, better title are off the table.

      BUT – they get to “write their own new job description”.

      College should make the job description reflect a managerial role in everything but title. They should remove all the lower level stuff they are currently doing. Then use the new job description as justification for getting a similar role with the correct title/increased pay at a different company.

      Because there is no way to make a bad company do the right thing.

      1. Anon for this one*

        Thank you. If they aren’t able to get leadership to see sense, then I hope they do just that. They are so talented and would be an asset to any (reasonably run) company.

    6. Kay*

      Hey client – we talked about this already! j/k solidarity though

      The mileage may vary depending what kind of power the parties hold, but push for what you/they can and decide on a date when to simply drop the “extra” responsibilities if possible. It sounds like this was a major change so that might not be possible – but sometimes it comes to either go, or stay and accept it, unfortunately.

  8. River1967*

    Our unit has been working from home for 4 years. Yesterday our boss announced increased production goals and said those who didn’t meet them couldn’t work from home anymore. How do you know if the boss is imposing impossible goals to get people to return to the office or whether these are reasonable production goals? Thanks,

    1. ThatGirl*

      I mean – you would know better than us. IS it an unreasonable production goal? How much of an increase is it? Is he gonna expect the same goal whether you’re home or at the office?

    2. Rosemary*

      Is your boss normally reasonable? What has their attitude towards WFH been historically? Do the goals seem reasonable to you?

      1. River1967*

        Great questions.

        The goal is the same whether we are in the office or not but most people WFH. The production goal is a 20% increase

        1. Mid career academic*

          A 20% increase sounds totally unreasonable to me, absent other factors, but I suppose there are some industries in which it could be reasonable. My gut reaction is that it is punitive and ridiculous unless there has been solid preparation and lead-up to this announcement. Are there factors related to underperformance among some people? Is there any process reason that could make in-office work more efficient/ effective? How does your productivity benchmark compare to others in your industry? Are there higher-ups who have a bias towards in-office work?

        2. Clisby*

          But if the goal is the same for in-office and WFH, how could it be pressuring people to go back to the office?

          1. WellRed*

            Because if you don’t meet the goal you have to into the office and presumably they want to work from home.

            1. Rosemary*

              I wonder what the “punishment” is for those who are in the office but still not meeting the goals… If there are not any consequences for not meeting the goals if you are in the office, then I’d say that yeah, this is probably a way to backhandedly force people back into the office.

        3. JPalmer*

          The actual management goal is more likely:

          20% production increase or 20% more surveillance over folks.

          The question I’d probably politely ask is “Isn’t there massive research showing folks are more productive in many disciplines when they have focus time? Won’t pulling people back to the office exacerbate and worsen the productivity rather than help encourage it?”

          Getting them to say the quiet part that they want more control.

    3. DisneyChannelThis*

      Talk to your coworkers. Do you meet the goals?

      Estimate how many hours the goals would take you per day, if its like 10hrs that’s maybe something you can become more efficient and achieve in 8, if its 50 then it’s worth pushing back as impossible.

      Talk to your manager too, use your last review as a support. Were they happy with your production level then? if new guidelines suddenly mean you are far below, ask them what as changed in your expected output and why

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

      How big of an increase? Is it easily measurable or up to interpretation, where no matter what you accomplish, they can just say it doesn’t meet the requirement? I also tend to assume that employers generally don’t need to make it complicated with trickery if they want workers back in the office, they could just make it a mandate and be done.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I think this is the best measuring stick–is it a goal, or a movable goalpost?

    5. RagingADHD*

      Are they goals you can meet whether you are at home or in the office?

      Do they match production levels 4 years ago before you went remote?

    6. WantonSeedStitch*

      Do you have people working in the same role at other employers who you could contact about benchmarks? What are their goals? If you have a professional association for your work, that would be a good place to ask about standards for production goals too.

    7. M2*

      Most organizations are using data and sometimes using it pre- covid to see if it’s the same or better. My guess is they looked at what was happened pre covid and want the same. If not did they get a new software or something that makes work easier? This would be another reason OR maybe there is an issue with the company and they want a reason for people to leave without having to do layoffs.

      I think this is actually great since the people who are slacking will have to up their work product or go into the office. But maybe it’s not?

      How have your meetings been? Your reviews? If you have questions ask your boss.

    8. Cacofonix*

      Data. Gather information about what your team have done in the past and given working hours and processes whether it’s possible to do. What I’m really saying is get your manager to walk you through the data and how she arrived at the new quotas given your current team, workload and environment. And what’s driving the change. Maybe she’s getting pressure from somewhere.

      Not to challenge her but to understand. The outcome can be yes, doable, or doable with process change, doable only on site for some reason, doable only if she acknowledges that other factors won’t interfere such as special projects or shifting priorities, or… just plain unreasonable.

      Keep an open mind and an attitude of let’s really find a way to meet quotas until it’s obvious it can’t and why.

    9. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      Ask how they set the figure for this new goal.

      1) Is it just plucked out of the CEO’s arse?

      2) Is it the pre-Covid production number or is it what competitors now do – if the latter, then was was your org always behind the average or has that happened over the last few years?

      3) Is it because their financials are strained with the current production number because of increased costs (in raw materials, utilities, salaries etc) ? Or because your org is inefficient due to e.g. old processes ?

    10. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      If they just wanted people back in office, it would be easier for them to just state this, rather than go to the extra effort of being twisty and setting a new goal.

      Also, if people meeting the goal can stay remote, that would defeat their secret aim of bringing everyone back.

      So there probably is a reason, which you need to find out.

    11. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      Rather than specifically wanting to end remote work, they may be trying to cut employee numbers, in which case they’d want to keep the most productive staff who can raise their game, while getting rid of all the mediocre and average employees.

    12. Maggie*

      Well wouldn’t you know what a reasonable production role is for you job? You do it every day. We don’t even know your industry

  9. Lucy in the sky*

    I need positive coping thoughts for staying sane while working in a place where a few of the higher-ups are horrible and I have BEC with them. I get so skeeved out of all the multiple meetings every week where I have to deal with them because I feel like a piece of meat. I also recently found out something icky about one of them and I feel so uncomfortable with having to speak with him. Leaving isn’t an option right now.

    1. jasmine*

      do you have time for fun stuff outside of work? having a hobby or activity you enjoy can give you some mental breathing space

      1. jasmine*

        this doesn’t have to be anything intense btw. maybe you take a class in something you’ve always been interested in or maybe you start going out on walks or maybe you just visit a place you like more often. like a nice cafe or park.

        I’ve noticed walks in the park or somewhere there’s greenery doesn’t feel very impactful in the moment but helps my mental health overall when things are tough (I’m pretty sure there have been studies on the benefits of both walking and on even just looking at plants). I also did dance lessons when I was going through something difficult once and it was a great release.

    2. Pyanfar*

      A book I read recently (The Consuming Fire by John Scalzi) has a quote that is helping me in these kinds of situations…”The goal was the goal, and we were going to get to it however we could.” So, if your goal is putting food on the table, or having the flexibility to handle life situations, or waiting for stock options to vest before you leave, then you get there however you can!

        1. Pyanfar*

          It’s the middle book of a tight trilogy…start with The Collapsing Empire…if you do Audible, Wil Wheaton’s narration is spot on!

    3. Mrs. Weaver*

      Pretend you’re an anthropologist studying a new and unusual subspecies of human. Their behaviour is just data points in your study.

    4. chocolate muffins*

      On one of these threads a bit ago, someone gave the advice to be anthropologist – basically try to observe what is happening from a distance, like it doesn’t affect you. “Oh, person X is being rude to person Y again. Perhaps person X is hangry or having difficulties at home?” “Oh, this meeting that could have been an e-mail has lasted for two hours and shows no signs of letting up. What fascinating creatures these humans are.” This kind of thing has been helpful to me in some situations.

      A more advanced version is to try to look at people with compassionate eyes. The “maybe they are having difficulties at home” above kind of gets at that – I can have compassion for that kind of thing without endorsing the behavior it leads to. This can be hard to do and doesn’t work for all situations (I’m not sure what you meant by feeling like a piece of meat but I wouldn’t suggest this approach toward someone who is sexually harrassing you, for instance). But, putting it here in case it’s useful to you or others at any point.

    5. Hot Dish*

      Keep reminding yourself the reason that you are there (because clearly it’s important enough to make you stay in an environment you feel awful in), don’t care about work stuff that you don’t have to. Detach and enjoy the rest of your life when you aren’t there. Would it help to start working on your resume so it’s ready if getting out is on the horizon? This won’t be forever. Hang in there, and I hope something improves soon.

  10. Ms. Hagrid Frizzle*

    I am applying to jobs in federal government (USAJobs) and am wondering how much of a “ding” it is on my application if I just use the USAJobs resume builder and fill out every field I possibly can rather than submitting my own, prettily formatted resume with the same information that takes up multiple pages? I feel like it shouldn’t be a knock on my application, but I’m also struggling to get any traction.

    Noteable – I am submitting cover letters for most of the jobs I apply to, but not necessarily all.

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      I’ve heard the resume builder form never prints quite right when the interviewers use it. Might be work making a decent resume to attach as well just to make sure all your information makes it. It doesn’t need to be pretty or a lot of formatting though, just a backup option.

    2. Policy Wonk*

      Fed here, have done a lot of hiring. To me, as long as the product is a readable resume, it really doesn’t matter, but a well-prepared resume can give you a leg up. The resume builder product can be challenging to read and doesn’t always tell your story the way you would tell it – you want to highlight your accomplishments, not just list your experience.

    3. Fed*

      Here are my two cents:
      I am a Fed in a very technical field and have applied for jobs in USA Jobs and also am regularly on interview panels.
      I recommend you use the resume builder and be as detailed as possible (fill up each section if needed) because the screening person reviewing your application most likely will not have any idea what the job you are applying for really is, and will be looking for key words from the announcement and trying to look for them in your application materials, so make sure you use actual language from the vacancy announcement in your application for all the KSAs (knowledge, skills and abilities) otherwise you won’t make it to the next step. For example, if the vacancy announcement indicates experience in llama grooming, cleaning equipment, and coordinating appointments, include each of these in the resume builder as close to the vacancy announcement language as possible (if you have the skills, of course).
      And then I attach my standard short one or two page resume targeted to the job for the interview panel, and a cover letter. Not all panels get to see these documents, but sometimes we do and it beats wading through a wonky 40-page document of all your past history, I can see how well you communicate, how you can be concise, meet the needs of the position, etc.

      1. Just a name*

        So true about the initial screener looking for key words. I was hiring for a legal assistant/paralegal and got sent a resume from a gate guard. Apparently law enforcement translated to the legal assistant field somehow.

    4. Office Plant*

      Successful USAjobs applicant and now federal hiring manager: Really, as long as it’s not an objectively badly written resume, we don’t “ding” if it’s a builder-made one or not.

      Personally, when I apply, I use the builder to make sure I’m not leaving out any required information, then download it and clean up the formatting in a word doc to make sure it doesn’t transfer wonky (which as DisneyChannelThis said, can happen)

    5. EB*

      You could use the resume builder as a starting point, then convert it into a PDF and make sure it’s readable–don’t submit it through the resume builder itself. Then there’s no risk of the formatting going awry, and you capture all of the info requested in the resume builder that isn’t usually in a non-fed resume. That’s how I do mine, and I am a current fed. I find I have to spoon-feed my qualifications to the initial team of resume reviewers.

  11. AlPal*

    My cat had to be put down recently, it was two Fridays ago. It was very unexpected and sudden, we thought we were taking him in for a UTI and it turns out he had anemia and had to be put down an hour later. I then left for a weeklong vacation out of the country literally 24 hours later that was planned a year ago. Everyone at work keeps asking me about the trip. I don’t want to sound like an ungrateful jerk, but my vacation absolutely sucked and I spent the majority of it crying at various restaurants and cafes in a foreign city. I can’t talk about my cat without just completely breaking down still. Can anyone help?

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Talk to a therapist. Grieving can be really hard and challenging, and a therapist will have tools to help you through it.

      For the work people, come up with one or two bland good activity that could have happened on your vacation and just state it. “Yes, vacation was nice, the blah blah museum is so interesting!” “I enjoyed all the little cafes City has to offer!” .(It’s okay if you didn’t actually make it there). Don’t trauma dump on coworkers, they’re not aware of the trauma you are feeling and they aren’t trying to remind you of the cat or hurt you.

      I’m sorry for you loss.

    2. CTT*

      I’m so sorry about your cat! I think a breezy “you know how travel is; it’s great to be back” and swiftly changing the subject is your best bet.

      1. Tio*

        If they don’t know about the cat thing, that might feel like a bit of a blow off to some coworkers. If you can manage, OP, can you say something like “We had a family emergency right before that kind of dampened the fun, I’m not up to talking about it right now” and then the subject change? Just another option, depending on how comfortable you are mentioning it at all.

    3. Hillary*

      I’m so sorry. Is there one person who you can ask to share the update with everyone else?

      CTT’s advice is spot on.

    4. Spacewoman Spiff*

      I’m so sorry you lost your cat, especially so unexpectedly when you didn’t have a chance to mentally prepare. :( I would think people would be understanding if you said something like, “We unexpectedly had to put my cat to sleep just before the vacation, so I wasn’t really able to enjoy the trip.” And if it’s true, maybe add something like “I’d rather not think about the trip right now, because it’s been a tough few weeks,” to shift the conversation elsewhere. I’m so sorry, again–I can only imagine how bereft I’d be if this happened to me.

    5. Sister_Spider*

      I think you have nothing to lose by being honest that you lost your beloved cat the day before the vacation so the experience wasn’t great. I don’t think anyone would find you to be ungrateful about being unable to enjoy yourself under the circumstances.

    6. Pizza Rat*

      So sorry to hear about your kitty.

      Gently, I think your coworkers are simply asking to be polite or to acknowledge your transition back to work, and I don’t think full honesty and transparency (“it sucked, actually”) will serve you or make you feel better. If you want to say something, I’d err on the side of vague: “I’m dealing with some home/family stuff that made my trip tougher than I expected, but it’s always nice to have an opportunity to travel.” Otherwise, a “it was nice, thank you, but I’m happy to be back” and an expedient dive into work topics minimizes the probing or the follow-up questions you might get that will force you to linger on an uncomfortable topic.

    7. aubrey*

      It’s been 4 years and I still have a difficult time talking about my soul cat who passed. So sorry about your cat.

      I think something like “we had a death in the family (or you could say ‘a family emergency’) right before that really wrecked the trip, I don’t want to get into it, not the trip I was hoping for!” and then change the subject should work with most people. If there was anything about the trip or your return to work that provides a good discussion offramp, e.g “at least they didn’t lose our luggage on top of all that” or “now I need to sort through a million emails about Project, it looks like there was drama?” etc so the person you’re talking to doesn’t get too stuck not knowing what to say, that might help. I found I could NOT handle people being sympathetic without crying so moving the conversation right along to something else was key for me.

    8. cityMouse*

      Oh I’m so sorry about your kitty! That’s heartbreaking.

      I would stick with CTT’s advice, unless you at some point want to share this with coworkers, but you don’t need to, now or ever. “it was great, thank you for asking. did you go to that concert?”

      and I’m so sorry about your pet.

    9. Ama*

      Years ago my grandfather passed away suddenly two days after I started a two week vacation, the funeral and various things were all over and done with by the time I went back to work (and he was not local to where I lived so no one at work would have seen an obituary or anything). I also made the decision, with my family’s full understanding, not to go to the funeral because this was the first vacation my partner and I were taking just for the two of us after two straight years of all my vacation time being taken for family obligations and I was not in a great place mentally because of it.

      But that’s a really hard thing to unpack when your coworkers ask “oh did you have a good time on vacation?”

      Honestly I settled on lying by omission and just saying “It was nice, very pretty country up there” (we went hiking). I didn’t want to get into “actually I spent a good chunk of it on the phone crying and helping my mom write my grandfather’s obituary.”

      I know it’s harder because people always want details for international travel but maybe something like “it was interesting but exhausting, I need to recover a bit before I talk about it.”

      I’m so sorry about your cat.

    10. goddessoftransitory*

      I am so sorry for your loss. I know losing a beloved pet is terrible.

      Can you be honest? Not every detail honest, but say something like “we had a terrible thing happen right before we left so it wasn’t the trip I wanted” or something similar? If pressed say “I really can’t talk about it right now but thanks for asking” and change the subject.

    11. Sloanicota*

      My sweet cat died about four months ago (it was expected, and she had a grand long life) but I *still* tear up when people ask me about it unexpectedly, especially when they – weirdly – want to really get into it, share their pet-death stories, etc. I realize it comes from a good place but I have zero compunction about steering away from the topic if I’m not in the mood to cry at this nice happy hour or whatever. You can just say “the trip was nice but exhausting and you’re glad to be home, but how did that X project go while you were out?”

    12. Meepthebeep*

      First off, my heart breaks for you; a year ago (almost exactly) I came home from a 2 week trip, picked up my dog from a sitter, she was acting weird and in pain so we took her to the emergency vet, and it turned out to be IVDD so bad and that progressed so quickly (seriously, 12 hours from “I’m fine and moving normally” to “I have no control or feeling outside of my head”) that we made the awful decision. I was able to take 2 additional days off work, and then had to come back. Everyone wanted to hear about vacation….and I did not want to talk about the trip at all. I still can’t look at pictures from it.

      I ended up asking my manager for help dealing with this; she told everyone what happened, asked them not to talk to me about it, and told them it was by my request that she was saying this. People were very respectful. Do you have a manager or other coworker who you can ask to run interference, and communicate to everyone “Hey, don’t ask AlPal about their trip, Bad Thing happened” sometime when you’re not around?

      I also second talking to a therapist. It’s still impossibly hard, but having someone who it felt safe to just break down to really helps. Again, my deepest condolences.

    13. Hyaline*

      I’m so sorry for your loss! If you have a fairly communicative and collegial office where the topic is likely to keep coming up (like–this isn’t going to be confined to “day you get back bland small talk” but you’ve got coworkers who like to chat about life stuff) and/or people are likely to ask about your kitty (again, because you’ve got coworkers who know about your life and generally are kind and interested people), I’d agree with the advice to seek out one person to share the update around with a “AlPal isn’t really ready to talk about it right now” disclaimer. If you have a work friend or closer colleague, maybe send them a quick email instead of trying to talk in person if it’s too hard–“I know this might seem like an unusual request, but I had to say goodbye unexpectedly to Fluffernutter due to a rapid decline in her health just before leaving for vacation. I’m really not ready to talk about this yet, and even talking about the vacation is reminding me of it. Would you mind letting the others on our team know?”

    14. stitchintime*

      Sorry for the loss of your kitty baby. You might find some comfort in “The Pet Loss Companion”. You may also want to take leave (if you can). I took leave when my cat died unexpectedly and it was exactly what I needed to get through the phase where I just cried constantly.

    15. Heffalump*

      I recommend Goodbye My Friend by Mary Montgomery and Herb Montgomery, ISBN 1879779005. A companion book, A Final Act of Caring, ISBN 1879779021, is about making the decision to euthanize a pet. Both are out of print, but available used. My vet gave me these when my cat became terminally ill in 1994, and I’ve since given them to friends who were in the same situation.

      I’m sorry for your loss.

    16. Brevity*

      “Hi, AlPal! How was your vacation?”

      “To be honest, not great. I know you mean well, but my pet had to be put down right before I left, so it wasn’t what I was expecting and I’d rather not talk about it. But I understand why you asked, it’s fine. How is {work topic} going?”

    17. AlPal*

      Thanks everyone for the advice and condolences. I can’t tell you enough how much it means to me. To be honest, I’ve been pretty deep in the anger phase of grief since I got home. And there’s just constant reminders, getting calls about his ashes, my dog grabbing his toys from the basement. I asked my colleague to spread the word about it and posted on social media, I’m friends with a couple coworkers on there.

    18. allathian*

      It depends on how close you are to your coworkers, AlPal. Is there anyone who’s close enough that you’ve shared pet stories with? They would probably be sympathetic if you told them what happened. But people can be very weird about pet death, so talking about an unspecified family emergency, which your cat’s death was, is probably more prudent.

      I’m so sorry for the loss of your beloved cat and for the ruined vacation.

      1. allathian*

        Posted this before I saw your post. I hope that your colleague spreading the word at least stops all the “how was your vacation?” questions.

  12. Agnes Grey*

    Is it possible to be too positive when providing a reference? Maybe that’s a weird question but I was recently asked to give a reference for a former direct report, who was a stellar employee and is also someone I still keep in social contact with. The prospective employer specifically asked about weaknesses and I really had trouble identifying any although I did mention an area where I know this person could benefit from support from their manager. Did I run the risk of coming off as unrealistic or biased? They were offered the job so I don’t think I did any harm in this situation but I’d love to know the commentariat’s take on this in general.

    1. HonorBox*

      I think the fact that you offered an idea for where they could benefit from more manager support was great. I wouldn’t be too wary of a glowing reference. I have a direct report now for whom I’d have a really tough time finding negatives or weaknesses, and would highlight areas where they could still grow instead.

    2. pally*

      You were accurate. Nothing wrong there.

      When hiring a lab tech, I called her refs. One reference, I could actually ‘hear’ her smile over the telephone. They were all glowing reports.

      Turns out, they were exactly correct. This woman was amazing!

    3. WantonSeedStitch*

      I tend to ask a reference more about areas for growth/areas for management support rather than “weaknesses.” I feel like that is honestly more helpful and leads to more honest answers. I think framing it the way you did as areas where they could benefit from support is perfectly normal and helpful.

      1. PMaster*

        I just finished the paperwork for an internal hire. We do ask about “weaknesses” in both the interview and reference check questions, and I plan to shift to a more proactive approach. One of our interview questions is “what type of management and oversight would your ideal supervisor provide?” Most people say they want a balance of independence and support, which is fairly obvious, but I have to find a more specific question that gets candidates thinking about their own supervisory needs.

        When asked about weaknesses, references often say things such as “he needs support in XYZ area” especially if they have supervised the candidate. References who haven’t supervised them can struggle to identify any weaknesses at all unless they have worked closely for a long time. (Oh! Perhaps different reference check questions for supervisors and peers.)

    4. Jay (no, the other one)*

      I once filled in a reference form by writing HIRE HER in upper-case letters in about three places on the page. I did actually answer the questions. She got the job.

    5. Explain*

      What I would do in this case us provide a lot if examples backing up my glowing review. If you didn’t provide details or say why you were so overwhelmingly positive I would look askance. The key is to justify it. And provide an honest negative, no matter how slight, would help a lot.

    6. Blue Pen*

      I recently gave a reference for a former colleague in a similar fashion. I wasn’t at all trying to insinuate that they were perfect, they’re of course not, but I really couldn’t point to any demonstrable shortcomings they needed to overcome to succeed. Instead, I framed it as more of a “I think [X] would do even better if the resources they had access to were expanded.”

  13. TriviaJunkie*

    Does anyone have any tips for moving up the admin ladder?
    I’ve been in entry level and one-step-up admin roles for a decade now, but there’s no room for growth at my current company. So I’ve been looking around and I want to move into more of an EA/PA/Office manager type roles, but not getting far. Does anyone have any tips on applying for “external promotion” in this arena?

    FWIW, I’m in the UK, previous work varied but included charities, higher education, medical offices, and currently in insurance. I’m fed up but the job market is in the toilet here so that’s not helping! Open to moving laterally to somewhere with development opportunities if that’s what’s needed.

    1. Moopsy*

      I’ve been stuck there. I think the thing is you have to specialise. Even a little bit. It can just be in how you describe yourself or the area you focus on for development. There seems to be a big gulf between admin and office manager even though both are generalists. And I think the connecting roles between the two are specialist ones.

    2. Liv*

      I started as a Receptionist, replaced the Office Manager at that company when she left, and eventually that role grew to include EA duties as well, along with people management (managing a small admin team).

      There are companies out there with growth opportunities built in for administrative employees. In my experience, more offices are looking to improve the office experience to get people to come back after working from home. (Positions involving “workplace experience” are definitely more prevalent now, for example, and relevant to someone with admin experience.)

      In your current role–it can be hard for those of us who like admin work (and maybe like staying out of the limelight) to “toot our own horn” but it’s important to call out when you’ve done something (improved a process, fixed a problem, organized something, etc.) to make yourself more visible.
      You have to take yourself and your work seriously in order for other people to see you’re doing exceptional work, otherwise people can be very quick to dismiss admin work. Don’t fade into the background!

      Don’t automatically jump in to do things that are not in your job description (clean the kitchen, order lunch, etc) Obviously if they’re part of the job there’s nothing you can do about that.

      If it’s appropriate, propose ways you can assist execs or higher-ups. When I had a skip-level review with the COO at my company I proposed several ways I thought I could help with what she was doing. It showed that I understood some of the bigger picture things the company was working on, and obviously she liked the idea of an “assistant” which eventually lead to me acting as EA for her. Same with the CEO later on.

      Get any certification you can–I got a CAPM project management certification which opened up a whole new category of jobs for me. If there are any positions that manage even one person, that can really help build up your resume as well. (After I left the company I started in I worked at a much larger company managing three administrative teams, and now am in software development as a project manager.)

      1. Liv*

        This was a very long response but as someone who was in your shoes, and someone who weirdly loves admin work, I am very passionate about it :)

    3. M2*

      Do you have a network? Can you contact any former bosses/ colleagues and ask them for coffee?

      I’m not in the UK but I know many people who would try and help if they could or tell a hiring manager about a former colleague applying.

      I would work on your resume and cover letter and diversify your search. I would also apply early so if you see a job open apply for within the first 30 days (preferably first 2 weeks) it is open. Understand higher education takes forever. Also maybe look at private sector, tech, etc.

      You said you have been doing it for a decade and listed off a bunch of places so how long did you stay at each? Personally as a hiring manager I like to see people staying 3 or more years at employers. During Covid I understand but if I see more than 2 roles where you worked 2 years or less (not including during Covid) that is an alarm bell going off.

      I would also look where you can move say higher education if you become an EA or office manager work there for 3 years then try and move up in another department. If you do good work people will want you.

      If you do similar at say Save the Children UK maybe then you can move into programs or gifts/ development office.

    4. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

      I realize I am speaking from a US-centric thought, but I think some of the same techniques would apply.

      I think your best bet would be to move to a large company – a law firm, financial institution, higher ed, or government immediately come to mind, but I am sure there are other industries that would fit here. Basically, it sounds like you want to be supporting a high level principle, and I can say with absolute certainty that finding someone who is both good at that work and also wants to do this and grow in the role is a CHALLENGE. I do think asking about growth and development opportunities within that particular career ladder is worthwhile. A lot of people take low level admin roles to get a foot in the door to be noticed for something totally unrelated (i.e., recent grads), which is typically a really, really poor fit. I would MUCH rather hire EAs who want to be EAs!

  14. Ripley*

    Does anyone have any advice for starting/changing a career in midlife? I finished my degree almost 20 years ago and was working in my chosen career, but then got derailed by severe mental illness. I am doing well now, and have always worked, but have just had jobs, and no real career path. I want to do more, and make more money, frankly, but don’t have any idea how to start. I have mostly worked admin roles and some non-profit work.

    1. Geeyourhairsmellsterrific*

      Is there any type of certificate or additional training that you can get now in the career that you want to enter (or re-enter)? Or maybe volunteer work that will help you to gain new skills and get a foot in the door?
      Best of luck to you!

      1. Ripley*

        Thanks! I’m a bit stuck at figuring out where to go from here, or where I want to go. I am looking at some additional school/credentialing, but I feel a bit nervous about taking on the expense of training without knowing I can get a job/be successful. I suppose I’m at this juncture where I know I don’t want to keep doing the job I’m doing, but I’m not sure where to go next.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      There were a few “ask the readers” posts in 2020 that might have good advice:

      “let’s talk about mid-life career changes” from May 28, 2020

      “how do I change careers?” from November 19, 2020

      I’ll link to the posts in a reply.

    3. Penny Bernstein*

      I am a middle-aged career non-profit employee who got burned out on the constant funding crises and community/ board politics and also sought to figure out what else I could do in a more stable industry. One of the super powers of most non-profit workers is that we do so many things and are skilled at finding solutions with minimal resources. It was helpful for me to think about ALL the things I did in my n-p job, and then arrange them into generalized buckets of transferrable skills like writing, systems management, tech, public communications, etc. Once arranged this way, it was a lot easier to see how those skills might transfer to jobs I hadn’t thought much about. Then I put all these keywords into Indeed and just read a ton of job descriptions for a while, to see which kinds of jobs sounded like me. I’m happy to say I just recently started a much more stable job in municipal government, which is its whole own kettle of fish but is at least WAY less chaotic. And I have a fully functional office chair, which is something I never managed to score in 25 years of non-profit work. Good luck!

      1. Exhausted Trope*

        Have nothing much to contribute but a fully functional office chair is gold!! In one np where worked over 3 years, good office chairs were regularly ‘stolen’ and replaced with broken ones. The good ones (mine!) were put in meeting rooms where they were rarely used. Had to resort to stealing mine back several times. I don’t miss that place.

        1. Penny Bernstein*

          In the process of relocating for said new job, I took my mostly-functional home office chair to my nonprofit colleagues, who descended like vultures. I am still getting texts from the person who managed to snag it about how much it has changed her life!

      2. Ripley*

        Thank you, this is helpful. I have been thinking about transitioning to local/provincial government, but they are notoriously hard jobs to get in my area.

    4. Foreverspin*

      Good with paperwork? Maybe think about working in contracting, procurement, supply chain support.

    5. Part time lab tech*

      I want to restart a career path and have a pretty good idea of what I’m good at and where I’m below average from the various jobs I’ve had. I did this by looking at all the jobs I’ve had and thinking about what went well and anything that didn’t. Ask kind people that know you, what are you better than average at?
      Money is one of your motivators so maybe look at the list of jobs that are likely to be in shortage and the salaries.

  15. mcbee*

    Welp, I’m applying for a position that I’d be a great fit for and the application is pretty typical so far (upload your resume, type in your cover letter) until I get to the bottom — record a 60 second video answering, “What makes you the candidate for this position?”

    Any advice for recording and answering this question as a supplement to the rest of the application? Mostly I’m just annoyed and need some inspiration.

    1. Elle*

      Write a script using the key words in the job description. Give examples of how you’re qualified using the key words. Then practice to make sure you’re confident in what you’re saying and it’s the correct amount of time.

    2. I treated you like a son*

      Can you use the points in your cover letter as the basis for the recording?

    3. goddessoftransitory*

      Ugh, no advice but solidarity. I would rather drink rat poison than appear on camera.

      1. Some Words*

        The first thing I thought was this is how they’re getting around the advice to not attach your photo to your resume/application to avoid hiring discrimination.

        1. Cacofonix*

          Ooh, yes. I wonder if you can video a PowerPoint or an example of your work with voiceover without appearing on camera yourself? If one has an accent, still a problem I guess.

        2. FricketyFrack*

          Yeah, I always find applications that ask for a video to be poorly considered at best, and outright malicious at worst. They’re unfair to anyone who isn’t comfortable or “good” on video, and unless that’s a requirement of the job, there’s no reason for it. Even if the intention isn’t to discriminate, I think it can’t help but lead to otherwise great candidates being filtered out for something that isn’t relevant to the position.

    4. Hot Dish*

      I hate these questions, but I feel like I’ve been able to get over the hump on them after rethinking–in part from other commenters. Instead of getting caught up wondering and second-guessing if I AM the right person, I focus on all the qualities that helped me do well at other jobs and why other employers have loved having me. In some ways, they’re the qualities that I bring of value to any job, but it comes down to why this employer would probably be happy that they chose me. And of course, tie it in with the actual job, but thinking like this helped me step back a little and not get so flustered by the question.

  16. Celebrating*

    Wrote in last week because a problem coworker had resigned and was gone. Things were much lighter in the office, and appeared to be good. Well this week has been a lot. There has been a lot of information that has come to light that shows how much worse they were than what we thought, and a number of us have had to clean up some pretty significant messes. Everything from they didn’t get information to clients to sharing incorrect information with clients, presumably so they didn’t have to actually do work to gather information, to making a couple of coworkers feel extremely uncomfortable with some very problematic behavior that wasn’t reported. Things are still good generally because they’re gone, but having to navigate all of the crap that was sort of hidden under the surface has made this week really suck.

    Anyone have experience in how to explain to tactfully and diplomatically explain to customers or clients that someone was basically faking their way through their job, sharing incorrect information, and straight up lying a good part of the time?

    1. Anon for This*

      Don’t go into that level of detail. Just say hmm. I see here you were working with Fergus. This is an example of why he doesn’t work here anymore. Here is what we can do to move forward with [whatever it is you need to do.]

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        This. It’s pretty clear to the client that something went cattywompus, so not acknowledging that would come across as either dense or disingenuous. But obviously you want to stay professional and steer the conversation towards “here’s everything the actual grown up non-bananapants employees are doing to correct this for you.”

      2. Some Words*

        I would advise strongly against naming and shaming Fergus in any way. This would reflect negatively on you and your employer. Fashionably Evil’s script is excellent.

      3. Pretty as a Princess*

        Not even that – just “Fergus isn’t employed by our team anymore; XYZ is how we are moving forward.”

    2. FashionablyEvil*

      You don’t even have to mention the problematic co-worker. You can just say something like, “It’s come to light that you were previously provided with incorrect information. Going forward, here’s the correct info and Jane will be your new point of contact for anything you need. We appreciate your patience and support while we get this cleaned up for you.”

      1. Celebrating*

        Oh I like this a lot. Thank you! It addresses that there was bad info, but keeps moving forward.

      2. Not a raccoon keeper*

        This! Leave the blaming to implications only, and focus on moving forward instead.

    3. JFC*

      We’re actually going through something similar now. The person who left was pleasant, but since she left, we’ve found that she was not doing proper paperwork and documentation, including not securing contracts properly (!!!)

      I would tell clients something like, “We’ve been reviewing some documents related to your account as we work through this transition, and wanted to ensure we were on the same page with some key items.” Then, share what you need to and make clear what you need from them.

      It’s also probably a good idea for the clients’ new point person to have regular contact with them, maybe more so than usual, to build up trust if you feel that might be an issue.

      1. Lady_Lessa*

        From the customer’s view, please have the new point of contacts be very much in contact, with information, even if it is to say “We understand the urgency, and are working on it.”

        One of our suppliers lost our business by not doing that, and brushing aside our concerns about a problem that one of our customers discovered.

      2. Celebrating*

        JFC are you me? Honestly, this is eerily similar.

        I like your suggestions. Thank you.

      3. Ama*

        We are too — and our person was in our finance department, turned out her last couple of months she was basically not doing her job, including pretending she had sent out payments to vendors that she hadn’t actually sent out, not properly recording revenue that came in, etc. So we still have people popping up that haven’t been paid for services rendered back at the end of last year and staff having to ask people who paid us to confirm when they sent the payment so we can try to find it (this person apparently deposited everything but just never logged it in our budget system, so there’s a bank record but we need a ballpark set of dates when it might have arrived to find it).

        What I usually say is “we had some staff turnover last year and a couple of things got lost in the transition” so they know that we’re not anticipating the problem continuing. Plus I think most people know that even in a smooth staff transition things can get lost during a staff handover.

    4. WantonSeedStitch*

      Were these clients working with the problem person directly? I think in that case I might provide slightly more info than I would otherwise. “Quincy isn’t with the company anymore. We’re trying to sort out what he left unfinished and what miscommunications may have occurred before his departure. Let’s have an in-depth conversation to touch base about how things stand for you right now, what your understanding is of the work we’re doing, and what you have been told to expect. We’ll work on moving things forward from there.”

      If the clients weren’t working directly with this person, I might keep it vaguer: “We’re aware that there have been some miscommunications lately on our end that have led to a lot of confusion, and I apologize for that. I think it’s safe to say that things are going to be better in that regard going forward. Let’s have an in-depth conversation….etc.”

      1. Celebrating*

        I like this a lot. Thank you.

        These clients were working directly with the person, yes. And I’ve definitely suggested a meeting with one client in particular to basically reset their understandings of a major process in our business.

    5. pally*

      I would frame this as “customer, let me set you straight. ” Then provide the correct information or whatever they need to remedy what errors took place with the now departed employee. If they felt they were rudely treated by the ex-employee, or the bad info from ex-employee resulted in issues for them, listen to their story and offer sympathy. And assurance that it won’t happen again. And any help to remedy the impact of the bad info-if that’s an option.

      Don’t go into the errors etc. the ex-employee made. As a customer the last thing I want to hear is an employee trashing another employee. That makes me wonder what all is being said behind my back.

    6. Random Academic Cog*

      I’ve been through this. I wouldn’t say anything negative to the clients about the ex-employee. If you have to address an inaccuracy directly, just apologize for the misunderstanding (because at the end of the day it’s your company’s responsibility to have employees who are doing their jobs correctly), and clearly state the correct information. If it’s something that truly deserves some restitution, consider offering a credit or discount if that applies to your interaction. Not necessarily to everyone who worked with the bad employee, but definitely to anyone who is upset at all about the “changing rules” (which is what it is from their perspective).

      Hopefully your leadership will be more proactive about getting rid of bad employees promptly in the future, and that’s more likely if they see a direct consequence in the form of lost dollars.

      1. Celebrating*

        I like this suggestion. Thank you.

        And yes, to your last point, leadership has been very thoughtful in how to not let things like this happen again. The problem employee in this case was very good at lying to cover tracks, do just enough to have some “cover” for not doing their job well and providing confusing non-answers to direct questions. Boss just told me that if he knew a fraction of what we’ve uncovered over the past couple of weeks, a transition would have been easier and quicker.

    7. Hyaline*

      I agree that you probably don’t need to say anything overtly negative about the former employee–if he was screwy with them, they already know he was the issue and will be thinking “Oh thank God Fergus isn’t with AlphaCorp anymore!” and we all do the polite thing of pretending we don’t see the fumbling idiot in the room. And if for some reason they just loved him, well, you don’t want to make them feel like morons for being duped by him. So in either case a simple “Fergus isn’t with AlphaCorp any longer, and we are working to make your transition to Jenny as easy as possible. In the process of getting Jenny up to speed, we noticed these inconsistencies [if they need to know–if you can clean stuff up without involving them, that’s fine too; you’re not misleading anyone if it’s the kind of error that you would usually catch and correct internally] and/or we’d love to find time for you to meet with Jenny as soon as possible to make sure all your concerns are addressed.”

      I’m sure this is obvious, but any Jennies who are picking up Fergus’s clients should probably be given extra time and support in their workload to spend on building a good relationship and correcting errors as quickly as possible. (And then you can move on to having a “He’s Gone” party as soon as possible!)

    8. hobbydragon*

      I kind of was this person, once – I had only been there 3 months when the person who hired me to fill her role as she got promoted left. The job would have probably been great if that hadn’t happened and I felt like I was drowning. Another coworker (who had industry experience so felt like she knew everything but didn’t do the same job as me), took over pretty much every transition meeting and I KNEW I wasn’t getting the details I needed to send invoices and track who hadn’t paid out of her because of coworker 2. I met with the finance person once or twice but then had some health issues pop up and then a job posting at my old company in the department next door popped up and I ended up leaving at the 6 month mark. I felt really guilty admitting to the new higher level replacement oh you’d better follow up on invoicing as original coworker never really got to cover that and I know I missed some… fingers crossed I stay where I am long enough that I don’t need to ask that dept head for a reference ever as I’m sure she would have been annoyed as all get out that I dropped that ball (although the finance person also could have helped me a little more…).

  17. Anon for reasons*

    Hoping this is work-related enough for Friday.. I’m feeling pretty drained and could use some level-headed insight:

    Landlords, property managers, and anyone else that has experience in this – when and how should a tenant disclose an invisible disability?

    I have multiple chemical sensitivity, which is severe enough to fall under the definition of a disability under the ADA and I need to find housing that won’t make me sick (or at least minimize my exposure to stuff that will make me sick). For housing, I’d want to ask my landlords to avoid using substances that I react to, or if they do need to use something that I might react to, that they please contact me first to work out how to do it without making me sick (for example, if they need to do pest remediation or repairs that they’d need to paint over).

    I’d also want to ask them to give me more notice and flexibility if they ever wanted to terminate my lease – I’d need at least 90 days notice in order to find new housing that can accommodate my disability, and would want the flexibility to terminate my lease, without penalty, in the event that I found other, suitable housing before the 90 days were up. This is because the housing market is really tough here and I’d need the flexibility to find another place for myself because I can’t predict or control when someplace suitable would open up, or how much lead time I’d be given for moving in.

    I feel like on the one hand, it’s a lot to ask (especially the flexible termination thing), but on the other hand, the housing market is really tight here, and the chances of me finding something in the standard 30-day window is pretty slim. I’d have a much better chance with a 90-day window.

    I had issues with my soon-to-be-former landlord on this when she decided to sell the property shortly after I moved in. The property is sort of a condo, but the way it’s set up, it could easily be either an investment property or owner-occupied. I hadn’t fully explained to her exactly how difficult it would be for me to find new housing if the new owners didn’t want to keep it as an investment property. My soon-to-be-former landlord made a bunch of decisions without sharing much info with her tenants throughout the entire listing/showing/sale process, so by the time moveout became an issue, she had already made a bunch of decisions (for example, the closing date and the fact that she was expecting me to occupy the unit/pay rent up until the day before closing, which is the day my lease expires) and couldn’t or didn’t want to change some of those decisions. This made accommodating me difficult and she got pretty mad when I asked for the option to terminate my lease early – but she hasn’t handled this whole process well in general, so I’m trying sort out exactly what I could have done better vs what’s just.. her being bananapants. I’m trying to find some level-headed feedback on what I should do differently with future landlords. When and how is the best way to disclose what I’d need? From the landlord’s perspective, is there anything I can do to show I want to be aboveboard about it, while still avoiding potential discrimination if I disclose this stuff too soon?

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      What country are you in? And if you are in the US what state?

      In the US, legally there’s not a lot of options for asking your landlord to do things differently. Some states have more protections than others for renters. The wanting longer notice to terminate the lease is going to be a red flag for many landlords, you’re likely to going to have better luck if you wait until you have a good rapport going with your landlord before asking them if they ever sell or need to move to give you more of a heads up ( ask informally, not in a legal document). Once a landlord knows you pay rent on time, don’t create trash in common areas, report issues promptly, don’t have noise complaints against you – you become more valuable to them as a tenant.

      1. Rosemary*

        Agreed about waiting to ask about the early notice. Especially if your area is competitive and rentals get multiple applications, the landlord could likely very easily choose someone over you with enough plausible deniability that is wasn’t discriminatory.

        That said, as Disney pointed out, states vary to the extent they favor tenants vs landlords. Might be worth reaching out to a tenants’ rights org or tenant lawyer to discuss your options/ best approach.

      2. Anon for reasons*

        I’m in the USA in a Midwestern state with minimal landlord-tenant regulations (and therefore minimal tenant protection). We do have a decent Disability Rights office (although these laws are national rather than state level).

        1. Brevity*

          As Double A mention below, get at least a consultation from a reputable disability attorney. You might not have to actually retain one (in other words, spend a lot of money), but that person can refer you to all of the relevant resources. Frankly, it may be worth the money to have the attorney sit down with the landlord to draw up an agreement that goes with the lease, providing at least 90 days notice, etc. The landlord might not abide by it in the end, but at least that way you’d have some legal protection.

    2. CommanderBanana*

      Hi there! I’m so sorry you’re going through this.

      I’m a landlord (it sounds way fancier than it is, I rent out about 2/3 of the house that I also live with).

      As a tenant, make sure you know your state’s tenant and landlord laws front and back. You will likely have more negotiating power if you are renting from someone who is renting out their own house or condo, versus renting an apartment in a building controlled by a management company, BUT the flip side of that is sometimes those landlords are just bonkers and will do stuff like what your landlord did.

    3. Double A*

      Any chance you could talk to a disability rights lawyer about this? Or is there a tenant’s union in your city/state?

      You could also try calling your state or county representative. They provide constituent services; even if they couldn’t directly answer the question, they could probably connect you with resources.

    4. goddessoftransitory*

      For leases, you need to check your state and city laws first. Just about every place is different. In Seattle there’s been tons of “X amount of days required to terminate a lease” and conversely “streamlining eviction processes,” and it can get pretty confusing.

    5. M2*

      It might also be better to look at companies who own lots of properties or an apartment complex. That way you won’t have someone selling the place right away.

      For the pest stuff I think that’s fine most places have seen do it outside but ask for it not to be inside your unit (as long as you are clean and no trash and food everywhere) and ask to be told when they are doing it outside.

      The 90 day I think will be tricky because you’re asking your landlord to give you extra time but if you find a new place you don’t want to have to pay for that full 90 day period. How will they pay their mortgage or property taxes? Many landlords need that income to pay those costs and are not rich(unless you’re dealing with a big company). As someone else said know your rights in your state.

      1. disneyprincess*

        Agree with this. Maybe you can ask for 90-day notice, but you should expect to pay for the full 90 day period.

        Since this is AskAManager, this is like asking employees to give 90 days notice, but then not paying the full 90 day period but firing them earlier. In this case, the landlord is the employee who gives 90 days, and you’re the boss who stops paying them once you find a suitable replacement. A landlord is not going to accept these conditions — would you?

      2. Cj*

        I actually think you would worse off leasing an apartment in a complex. In that case there are common areas and you probably won’t be able to control what cleaning products they use.
        if you rent a home instead of an apartment, your landlord should rarely have to be in your property, and won’t be doing any cleaning there.

        everybody needs to be out of a residence when they are doing a pest control, and I’m sure there are already rules about notification and leaving the property. they probably aren’t tenant rules, but rules that the pest control company has.

        I was in landlord at one time, and I probably would have tried to give my tenants 90 days notice if I was going to terminate the in a situation like this, but I wouldn’t have allowed them to get out of the lease early.

    6. NoObligationsOnTheirPart*

      In general in the US you can’t force them into anything. The extra notice of termination is almost certainly a no-go and asking will likely flag you as a problem.

      I have had success on certain individual things by calling the property manager and talking out specific issues, but I have been meticulous about paying rent on time and I have to explain why I’m asking for what I want in detail and brainstorm with them if what I ask for us a no go for them. I have still had a few tough luck cases where they basically said sorry. Many but not all of these were related to oversight/inspection requirements imposed on them.

      Good luck.

    7. Project Maniac-ger*

      I think your old landlord was bad. Generally, in most US states landlords must give 24 hour notice before coming into your unit and/or doing any maintenance for any reason, so them just randomly coming into your home and doing something with chemicals without your knowledge just isn’t supposed to happen so I wouldn’t worry about that. I don’t know if that accommodates your disability, but I wanted to mention it because your landlord sounds like she might have skirted some regulations and normalized stuff that isn’t normal.

      Agree with others on making the 90-day ask after securing a unit. I think after you could also ask for a pest control schedule, if available.

      1. Cj*

        I don’t think there’s really even any indication that the soon to be former landlord was bad. they don’t say that they weren’t given 24 hours now this to show that the place. until a purchase agreement was signed and the landlord knew who was buying it. they won’t have someone whether or not it would be owner-occupied, or if the owners were buying it as an investment property and we’re going to be running out.

        the only thing they say is that they were expected to pay rent until the day before the closing, which was when the lease was up. I don’t understand what the problem is with that. of course you pay rent until your lease is up.

  18. my cat is prettier than me*

    How do I communicate to my boss and grandboss that I can’t manipulate time? I’ve been asked to schedule six interviews within essentially three days. It’s impossible based on the interviewers availability without even bringing in the candidates’ availability. I feel like I’m losing my mind.

    1. History Nerd*

      Be very direct and factual. State the conflicts in the interviewer’s schedule and how little time that leaves for the number of interviews. I would also propose a workable alternative or two, while deferring to the boss as the one who ultimately gets to make the decision.

    2. HonorBox*

      Do your boss and grandboss have some say in shifting responsibilities for those conducting the interviews? Like, could you go back to boss/grand and say “Based on Joe’s schedule, it looks like conducting all six won’t be possible in that three day period. How would you like to proceed? I’m concerned that based on Joe’s calendar, without even checking with the candidates, there won’t be time to complete all six.”

      That gives them understanding that you’ve attempted. There’s understanding that the schedule is not within your complete control. And if they want Joe to drop everything, they can weigh in and ask that Joe clear time within that period.

    3. Local Garbage Committee*

      Do you *need* to explain to them that you can’t manipulate time?
      When you told them it wouldn’t work based on the interviewers availability what did they say? If it was “make it work” you’ll might want to reach out to the interviews about moving meetings of the interviews are a priority or see if grand boss can do so.

      1. my cat is prettier than me*

        Grandboss is the COO and one of the interviewers, so I can’t really ask him to move anything. Two of the other interviewers are very stubborn, but I’m trying to push back.

        1. WantonSeedStitch*

          Is it your immediate boss asking you to schedule things? I would ask them to talk to the COO and ask if they can shift some stuff around. Heck, if you have a good relationship with the COO, you could do it yourself. Do they have their own admin who does their scheduling? If so, reach out to that person and ask about the best way to get the COO to change their schedule around.

          1. my cat is prettier than me*

            It’s my immediate boss, our HR Director, who is also one of the interviewers. I told him we’d have to push into the following week and confirmed with the COO that he will be on site then. I’m waiting on him to confirm that it’s okay if we push the interviews back.

    4. RagingADHD*

      Come up with 2-3 alternative plans and note the merits of each, then present them:

      For example: “The interviewers’ schedules preclude having six live interviews within the preferred time period, but we could either a) spread them over more days, b) have the first round without this person and schedule them for the second round only, or c) have these people conduct recorded interviews and let those people review them.”

      Don’t just say “this no work, what do?” Solve the problem for them.

    5. DannyG*

      Star Wars quote: C-3PO:
      Is there anything I can do?

      Luke:
      Not unless you can alter time, speed up the harvest or teleport me off this rock.

  19. Crystal Clair*

    Do managers who micromanage realize that they drive their employees away? Discuss below.

    1. History Nerd*

      In my experience, they don’t. They micromanage because they don’t trust their employees and/or don’t want to give up control, both of which position them to see everyone else as the issue when problems arise.

      1. Solo otro*

        And it’s a self fulfilling prophecy… “If I don’t get involved, Fiona will fail. Oh no, Fiona failed. Obviously I wasn’t involved enough! I need to be way more involved with Steve.”

        Sometimes that urge is driven by anxiety, or lack of trust, or low confidence, or any variety of reasons that could be malicious or well-intentioned. But it’s usually roughly that cycle.

        1. Irish Teacher.*

          Yes. I’ve mentioned the supervisor when I worked retail before. Surprise, surprise, people were more likely to call in sick when she was in charge because she was a micromanager and at times completely unreasonable (would call you away in the middle of doing one job and insist you start another, then yell at you for leaving the first unfinished). But she took that as people were taking advantage of her because she wasn’t a manager and hadn’t the power to fire, which meant she was just more demanding and difficult, leading to more people avoiding shifts when she was in charge and so on.

          1. Irish Teacher.*

            Oh, she once literally stood behind the person she was training (who was sitting), looking over their shoulder and criticising everything they they were doing, then criticised them because “you’re getting nervous now!” Um, I wonder why!

    2. Honor Harrington*

      I don’t think so – and if they do, they don’t care. They are so busy dealing with the anxiety or control issues that drive the micromanagement that nothing else matters.

      1. Maya Crowe, Managed*

        Yes. This. I recommend (with caution) a book called “Impossible to Please,” by Neil Lavender and… someone else whose name I can’t recall. It talks about the anxiety and the conditions that lead people to be this way. The book calls them “Controlling Perfectionists.”

        The reasons I’m cautious about recommending it are:
        1) I don’t like labeling people in this way, but with my micromanager, it really, really fits
        2) The coping strategies it recommends are GREAT in the short term–the strategy of giving your Controlling Perfectionist lots of validation to ease the anxiety that makes them act this way works LIKE A CHARM on my micromanager, for example–but can be really damaging to your own self-esteem if you do them long-term. One of the things the authors repeat is that a Controlling Perfectionist isn’t going to change. That means that you have to, and in the long term, that is not necessarily good for you.

        But it does help to realize that my micromanager needs to have this level of control because of their anxiety about things getting out of control. I know that they grew up with people who had extremely high expectations; even now their micromanagement goes into overdrive after they’ve been around their family. More than once I’ve gotten emails (sometimes two or three of them within a few minutes) full of picky edicts that my micromanager has sent while sitting in an airport, traveling back from a family visit.

        I don’t expect this to change in someone who is over 50 and settled in their job, no matter how many of their employees leave. And to be fair, some of my co-workers who have been there a lot longer than I have are fine with it. They seem to like feeling like someone else is handling the details and they can just do as they’re told and go home at the end of the day. It doesn’t work for me, so I’m using some strategies to manage up while I look for a new job.

    3. Too Long Til Retirement*

      I really don’t think so. Much like abusers, micromanagers can think of a million reasons why it’s not THEIR fault employees don’t want to work for them.

    4. Cabbagepants*

      I think not. People micromanage because they can’t see an alternate way to get the job done properly, so if someone quits over it, they think that the person simply wasn’t suited for the role.

    5. Carrots*

      Having had many micromanaging bosses, I don’t think they’re aware of how they act. Plus it’s always someone else’s fault, never theirs.

    6. Irish Teacher.*

      I would say both definitely not and also that most of them don’t realise they are micromanaging. If you were to ask them, they’d probably say something like “oh, I don’t micromanage but I do keep a close eye on my employees and don’t cop out and ignore problems like a lot of managers do. Some people don’t like me, because they know I won’t let them get away with stuff and if people quit because they can’t slack off, well, I don’t want employees who are just looking to slack anyway.”

      1. anotherfan*

        The two micromanagers I had felt that they were ‘cleaning up’ a mess left by the previous managers (they weren’t) and one in particular seemed to feel they had something to prove to management that they were ‘on the ball’ and ‘had the best interests of the company at heart.’ One was a bully, who would choose an office target and micromanage them until they quit but leave others alone and then move on to the next target. The other was younger and had control issues, especially with the older staff who had more experience than she, so micromanaged as a way to assert dominance. They’ve both moved on but they were both nightmares in different ways.

      2. 1LFTW*

        Hell, the worst micromanager I ever worked for introduced herself by saying “I’m not a micromanager”.

      3. goddessoftransitory*

        Also see: “detail oriented.”

        The problem is that doesn’t actually mean “obsessive nitpicking until you have driven your employees mad with frustration.”

    7. I treated you like a son*

      I don’t think they consider what they do to be micromanaging. To them it’s just managing, so probably not

      1. Lemon Chiffon*

        Agreed. I had a boss who forced the staff to completely alter our workflows to do jobs we’d been doing for a decade so that he could track it and make sure we were doing the work. Which would be more understandable if there had been any problems with people not doing this work. We were also forbidden from doing certain work at certain times and had to ask permission to do most things. Then he got upset at us for not showing imitative.

    8. Elle Woods*

      In my experience, no. The micromanagers I’ve had have lacked self-awareness to realize what they were doing.

    9. Big 4 Manager*

      I sometimes have to micromanage staff, and it makes me loathe doing it. I don’t like it, I know they don’t like it, and we want to get back to normal ASAP. The problem is, we sometimes have deadlines that necessitate it. In conversation with staff, I acknowledge the suckiness of it and explain why I am doing it. It may not make it any better, but I feel like at least being open and honest about things gives the staff insight into why I am doing it, and that it’s not personal.

    10. CommanderBanana*

      No. I’ve come to the sad realization that a lot of people have no self-awareness.

    11. Tradd*

      I worked at a freight forwarder years ago where they got one import manager who actually sent us a schedule of what we should be doing each hour of the day. I’m not kidding you. I had a way of working that had worked well for me for years. This dude wanted me to totally flip how I worked. I ignored it and continued to work as I had been. Guy only lasted three months anyway.

    12. Cacofonix*

      I groaned hard when I started a new job to find my boss was a micromanager. I found within a few weeks she only did it to new untried people and under performers. Once I proved my skills, she had trust and backed way the heck off. Became an amazing supporter of my career and work.

      So I wonder if some micromanagers do it to ensure teams can deliver on a tight timeframe or for something that just can’t afford to go wrong (like Big 4) and therefore stop when that need is passed. Compare with micromanagers who are inexperienced, can’t delegate, and anxiety ridden. Can’t fix the latter unless that person really wants to IMO.

    13. Ama*

      I have seen micromanagers back of of micromanaging, but it’s never been because employees left and they suddenly had an epiphany that it was their fault. It’s generally been because someone above them or a peer models a more hands off way of managing and they realize there’s a better way of doing it, or — when the micromanagement is really driven by diagnosed clinical anxiety — I have seen managers start getting outside therapy/treatment for the anxiety and get better because they’ve learned strategies to keep their anxiety from driving their behavior.

    14. Hotdog not dog*

      Our (well established, experienced) team got a new manager. In our introductory meeting, she started by telling us that she expects us to carry on being professional, she doesn’t micromanage, etc. In her next breath she was telling us to change the font size we were using, to color code reports, and which colors to use.
      I lasted almost 4 months before I got fed up with what turned out to be extensive micromanaging and moved to a different team. Out of 7 people there are 3 left. She absolutely sees the problem as people not following “best practice” and not that she’s driving us out the door.

    15. jasmine*

      I’ve never dealt with a micromanager at work thankfully, but I do know a micromanager in life and their response to the micromanaging being pointed out is that watching and listening to them is how you learn. They also have some anxiety which fuels thoughts of things not getting done in the “right” way being a problem.

      So perhaps they think that an employee who leaves because of being micromanaged is the problem, rather than the micromanaging.

    16. Rex Libris*

      My personal belief is people who micromanage view their employees as basically children that will act immature and slack off if not constantly monitored. When an employee quits, or quiet quits because of it, they just see it as evidence that they’re right.

    17. Foreverspin*

      Some micromanagers do so because they severely misunderstand their role as manager. (And some are just jerks)
      Managers should direct and grow their employees. That means figuring out ways to help the employees succeed.
      Some micromanagers mistakenly believe that their role is to correct errors. So they only focus on the process, and looking for flaws to complain about.
      I know that when I had a micromanager, I went out of my way to avoid them, because who wants to speak with someone who never has anything good to say? They had never managed before, and lucky for me, my grandboss recognized the failure that was my manager, so it was a short lived supervisory experience.

    18. Kay*

      In my experience not only do they not realize it – not even when pointed out – but they have REASONS for what and why they do what they do.

      One particular example was someone who was removed from a management position due to how their reports felt about their “style” (they saw it as the company targeting them, which for that company was a fair assessment as well, but that company specifically named the micromanaging), found a new job in management and couldn’t figure out why they were burning through reports. This person had a business coach, was part of numerous business support groups where these situations were discussed, and yet when it was raised that a daily meeting detailing how many clients were called and the outcomes of said calls was too much – they pushed back with GOALS!!!

      So yeah, often, they just don’t get it, sadly.

    19. Peanut Hamper*

      People like this are not self-reflective enough to realize that they are the problem.

    20. goddessoftransitory*

      Not really. The majority of micromanagers I’ve come across really see it as being helpful or attentive management.

    21. londonedit*

      Another voice to add to the chorus of ‘In my experience, no’. Luckily I’ve only worked for one really awful micromanager, but the way it went with her was like this: she’d hire someone, and that person would be the Great New Hope. They were going to come in and be amazing and do everything just as it should be done. This would last a few weeks, until the Great New Hope started to feel beaten down and disheartened by all the micromanaging, and the boss started to express her great disappointment. Eventually, after a few months, the Great New Hope would hand in their notice, and the boss would complain to everyone that she couldn’t find decent people, no one wants to do a job properly these days, etc etc. And so the cycle would begin again. Complete lack of any awareness from the boss that she was the cause of all the misery and insane turnover of staff – in her view it was simply that people were terrible and no one wanted to work to good enough standards.

  20. NervousWreck*

    I’m usually a lurker but I have a question for the AAM community.

    Very long story, but I’m going through some personal stuff that has left me unable to perform my current job well. I have too many responsibilities and I manage team which is nearly impossible as I deal with my own shit.

    I spoke with my work this morning and explained that I’m not in a good headspace. But I let them know that I want to stay with the company, so I’m hoping I can find something more behind the scenes where I can come in, do my job, and then leave.

    I believe they will be able to accommodate this for me, which is fantastic. The step down will come with a pay cut (which is totally understandable), I’ve done the math and I can make it work. I will be taking about a 35% pay cut.

    I know in my gut that this is the right move for me, I would have to go on a leave of absence if I don’t take this step back, but now that this might really be happening, I’m starting to second guess myself.

    I’m just wondering if anyone has any stories of making a move “backwards” so to speak and how that worked out in the end.

    1. Anon for this*

      About a decade ago, I took about a 25% pay cut to get out from under a boss who basically gave me PTSD. I still think it was the right choice at the time, and I eventually went back to the same company after they fired that boss.

      I do think that I’d be in a different kind of job and possibly making more money than I am now if I had stayed in the bad job and used it to parlay my career into the next level rather than taking a step back, but at the end of the day you have one life on this planet and it’s hard to waste it being miserable.

    2. OtterB*

      Somewhat different circumstances, but I moved from a director position in a small nonprofit where several people reported to me, to a part-time individual contributor role because I needed the time and bandwidth to support two preschool age kids, one with disabilities, while my husband traveled a lot for work. Eventually the caretaking needs eased and I took a new full time job at a different nonprofit. I worked my way back up at that organization, had a few people reporting to me, and eventually as my energy level faded and the organization needs grew, switched again to an individual contributor role. I’m currently phasing into retirement. I have some regrets – I could probably have made stronger contributions, and I could probably have made more money, but I think the stress would have been overwhelming. I’m not sorry it worked out this way.

      1. Not the Boss*

        Same. Left an executive role at a nonprofit because the time and energy commitment was not allowing me to enjoy my life. Recently started in an individual contributor role where I have no management obligations, projects with clear and concrete completion points and deliverables (versus the endless grind of trying to figure out how to solve the funding, staffing structure, board issues, and entire industry’s business model), and where I go home at 5 every day and think nothing more of my job. I don’t even have my work email or calendar on my phone anymore! I took a slight pay cut to do this, but less than you’d think because I had an anemic nonprofit salary. It felt weird for about a month not to be the boss of anything, especially at my mid-late-career stage. But I can’t believe how much time and energy I have to do things outside of work now. 10/10, highly recommend. There are more important things than money and career prestige.

    3. Elsewise*

      I just did the math and I left one job for another, taking a 32% paycut. It was great. I left a management position at a really toxic company for a lower level position in a different (lower-paying) industry at the entry level stage. My stress went down significantly. I was at the point in my stress levels where having some more money problems was worth it to be out of that environment. Since then, I’ve stayed in the better field and am now making about 20% more than I was in the original toxic job, but in a career and workplace I feel a lot more comfortable in. No regrets.

    4. Em from CT*

      I haven’t done this for a job, but I did do this in grad school. I was originally in a two-year program, but midway through, health issues necessitated that I take part-time status so the program ended up taking me three years. Granted, academia is a different world than the workforce—but it was absolutely the right decision for me, and the school was able to accommodate it.

      For what it’s worth, it sounds like you’re making a good decision for yourself. I know for me stress can be pretty debilitating—and the older I get, the more I realize that long-term chronic stress really damages the body in ways it’s hard to come back from. If taking this step back means you’re able to balance your personal responsibilities while also protecting your health, more power to you.

      I’m sorry you’re dealing with such a difficult situation!

    5. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

      I took a 50% pay cut and it has been fantastic.

      My former career had me so burnt out – I was essentially on call 24/7 and made to feel like I was a slacker if I put in less than 60 hour weeks.

      Now I have no commute, I work 40 hours a week and not a second more, and the amount of time I think about my job outside my job is greatly reduced. (I’m still me so that thinking about work is on me, not them)

      If you can afford it, lean out!

    6. Cloudy Sunday*

      Nearly 10 years ago I walked away from a great-paying and good work-life-balance job because I had felt for years like my soul was dying. I couldn’t understand why I felt so bad, but I could no longer ignore it. I lived on savings for awhile, and then spent years freelancing. It was a huge step backward financially, but I learned so much about myself – and came to realize why my previous work setup was draining me so bad. It was 100% the right thing for me to do.

      I ended up needing to go back to regular employment to catch back up financially, and I was really worried about burning out again. But I found a fully remote job, have been there for about a year and a half, and it has been a really, really good situation.

      I’ve been asked twice to consider moving into a higher level role, and twice have turned it down.

      I have zero regrets about any of these decisions – walking away from my old job, and then turning down promotions, even though other choices would have been better financially. I’m living in a state of always being on an even keel – it’s pretty amazing :). I enjoy my work well enough and contribute in a meaningful way. I’m working in a way that will be sustainable through retirement.

      You say you’re nervous about this decision now that it’s getting real, but if it turns out to not be the right thing – you can change course. This isn’t final. Someone else where I work had been in management and chose to move back to an individual contributor role for mental health reasons, and they are well-respected. If they wanted to, they could go right back into management.

  21. History Nerd*

    Those of you Who’ve been working hybrid for a while, how do deal with the different morning schedules? I just started working hybrid myself and I’m struggling to get everything done on time. I have to leave home by 6:30 when I’m commuting but work doesn’t start until 8:00. I’ve been trying to fit a bit of exercise into my extra morning time when I’m working from home but then I forget to do essential things and/or am almost late to start (and unfortunately my boss does care if I clock in late when I’m working from home). I’m also struggling to get myself out the door on time on days I commute. I really had to try hard to get my boss to let me do this and I don’t want to mess it up.

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      I work hybrid. In my head I went from weekday/weekend to weekday/WFH day/weekend. 3 categories of types of days rather than just trying to adjust some weekdays are rush out door and some weekdays are PJs and coffee in the garden.

      1. Rainy*

        This is the way I handle this. I have different alarms for on-site vs wfh days, I try to lay out clothes the night before for on-site, make my lunch, etc. Wfh days I usually roll out of bed, get in the shower, put on whatever (I’m on camera for meetings so dressed up from the chest up is the standard, but whatever kind of bottoms I want to wear are fine, so the level of coordination that goes into an in-office fit isn’t necessary), and flip my status to green.

    2. ThatGirl*

      Can you get up at roughly the same time every morning, and start earlier? Maybe don’t exercise but do something else leisurely? I find it also helps to have the same days of the week be WFH – so Tues/Wed/Thurs are my in-office days; I get up half an hour earlier those days. Which is a difference but not such a big one that my routine is totally borked.

    3. FashionablyEvil*

      For in-office days, I prep everything the night before (lunch packed, work bag by the front door, etc. I even lay out clothes so I don’t have to think about what I’m going to wear).

      For WFH days, I find it helpful to work backwards very explicitly: If I want to be at my desk at 9, I need to be done with my workout and shower by 8:45, so workout needs to be done by 8:30, workout is 30 minutes, so need to start no later than 8 to be on-time for work. I often throw in a 15 minute cushion for getting distracted reading AAM or similar…

      1. History Nerd*

        Good point. I haven’t yet figured out how much time I have in the morning on WFH days. I’ve both WFH and in the office in the past, but never gone back and forth between the two, so I have some calculating to do.

    4. Caramel & Cheddar*

      I’d take a closer look at what’s tripping you up on both fronts: why can’t you get out the door on commute days? e.g. are you just that much more tired because you have to wake up earlier, etc. Why are you almost late to start on WFH days? e.g. are you exercising for 45mins when 35mins might make more sense, etc.

      I’ve been hybrid since 2022 and the main thing for me was that I have the exact same routine every morning, my hours are just shifted in the office (i.e. if I work 8-4 at home, then I work 8:30-4:30 in the office), but a lot of bosses won’t necessarily accept that kind of thing, and I’m guessing yours wouldn’t.

    5. Tio*

      If you’re having trouble getting things done on time, both to get out the door for commute and to clock in at home, it sounds like you need to sit down with your schedule.

      What time do you get up, what are the steps you do/want to do between waking up and walking out the door, and how long do they take you? Not how long you think, time yourself (possibly on a weekend, pretending to do your routine for work on a saturday or something). Then set some alarms. So for example, wake up at 5, bathroom time for 30 minutes, get dressed for 5-10 minutes, pack your bag (travel) or set up your desk for 10 minutes, etc. If your alarms go off and you’re not done, that’s where you’re losing time. Look at what you just did and ask yourself why. What I found when I did this was I was thinking I would be doing things for 10-15 minutes and I was actually doing them for 20-30. Like, I would sit on the toilet playing on my phone for too long, and lose time, then get behind. You might find that you think you’re going to exercise for 30 minutes but you accidentally go for 40 or more, and then you’re late. The alarms shook me out of this, in a “oh wow I gotta stop this activity and move on now” kind of way. I also recommend building in 10-15 minutes of overflow time for when things do go too long and you can’t stop them. Have one alarm five minutes before you MUST leave house or sit in your chair and make sure that when it goes off you are on your way out that door or to put your butt in that chair.

      This worked for me, so hope it might be helpful to you!

    6. Hiring manager and burnt out mom*

      I remind my other family members the night before that I’m going into the office. This is the biggest thing for me so I don’t get surprised in the morning with “I have no clean pants” and “sign this permission slip” as I’m trying to get out the door.

      1. History Nerd*

        My new cats just do not understand. One wants a tour of the house and the other wants playtime. Fortunately, my kid gets it.

    7. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      Look at what you are trying to fit in before work and cut out what is not essential, or see what can be done later or the evening before.

      e.g.
      1) Exercise: many people who work have to keep their exercise for evenings even though this is against their preference.
      One of the great joys of retirement has been the morning exercise classes.

      2) Showering, washing hair, choosing clothes: do that the evening before

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        One reason I’ve stayed at my job for two decades plus is I work afternoon/evenings and can work out in the morning.

    8. vv*

      Yes, I’ve struggled with this. I’m 3 days home/2 days in office usually. What works best is keeping the same nighttime routine (still go to bed relatively early, shower at night) and *not* roll out of bed at 8:45 on WFH days. I usually wake up 15-30 minutes later when I WFH but it still feels like a relatively early morning which helps with keeping up momentum through the week. I take my time making breakfast and try to have 30-45 minutes of reading time on the couch which takes a bit longer than my commute so it all evens out. But it’s very easy for me to fall into the “wake up right before work” trap so it takes a very conscious effort – worth it though.

    9. colorguard*

      As a couple of people have said, I treat WFH days different from office days. I have a couple of existing quirks in my schedule (grad school at night, bonkers early morning report one day a week) and built my WFH days around them, which helps with the distinctions. Some things that have helped me:
      – I try to be rigorous about evening prep before office days and about sleep in general, although it doesn’t always work.
      – Initially I started from when I need to be online/in the office and backed out the time for the various elements so now I know what time to set my alarm depending on where I’m working and on office days if I showered the night before or need to shower in the morning.
      – For exercise, I find that on WFH days it’s easier to slot it into the time I would be commuting home.

    10. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

      Get up at the same time every day – whatever that is that you need for your commute. Set a second alarm on your WFH days for the “essentials” – whatever that looks like for you. When that second alarm goes off, you have to stop the other things and get ready for work.

      Use the time well. Exercise, menu plan, prep dinner. Use the morning time to make the days you WFH free on the evening end. Dont think of WFH days as getting to start late, think of them as getting to finish early without the evening commute.

    11. Rip Van Snoozer*

      Unfortunately if you have vastly different wake-up times on work from home and work from office days, it will seriously mess up your sleep patterns. The best “sleep hygiene” is keeping consistent times of going to sleep and waking up. (especially true if you’re naturals night owl). For myself, being a night owl who has to work on site with “conventional” hours like 9-5 means I have to keep mostly to an early schedule even on weekends. It was easy to slip to a later and later wake up time (and staying up later time) on weekends, but this meant Mondays were killers and it would take me until Wednesday to not feel like a zombie in the morning.

      Does everyone in your office start at 8? Or can you arrive later? I realize this might mess with commuting time because leaving your house later would increase commute time because of traffic.

    12. Zee*

      It’s going to be really hard to compensate when you have an hour and a half commute. My commute’s half an hour so on my wfh days I just walk the dog longer.

      You really have to get up at the same time every day (including weekends) or it’ll be even harder to get up on your in-person days. My suggestion is setting an alarm (or multiple alarms) for your wfh days during that 6:30-8am time period to remind you to do those “essential” things before you start work, and to log in on time. Or, do whatever those essential things are when you first wake up, and then just set a single alarm for when it’s time to stop what you’re doing and log on.

      Another thing to consider: you mention your boss doesn’t want you to log on late, but would they be okay with logging on early on your wfh days? Even just half an hour will help close that 1.5-hour gap and keep you from getting so far into a leisure activity that you can’t pull yourself out.

  22. I edit everything*

    I’ve been posting the last few weeks about a university job I applied for (Excel test during interview one, interview two scheduling hiccups over Memorial Day weekend). I found out yesterday that I got the job!

    I’ve accepted, and I start on June 24. I’m not looking forward to telling my boss about it. He won’t take it badly, but I’m pretty sure he’ll be blindsided and disappointed. I’ve made his life a lot easier, even though I’ve been pretty bored. And I like this job–it was the right job at the right time, and I don’t think I would have gotten through the last year and a half without it. Plus, he’ll be on vacation the last week of my notice period, which isn’t ideal. I tried to push back my start date, but that timing wouldn’t have worked well either.

    He’s on vacation this week, too, so I can’t even give a smidgen more than two weeks’ notice.

    I generally hold down the office while he’s out taking care of things outside. Should I send him a “We need to talk Monday morning” email today, so I know he’ll be around when I get to work? Any other transition advice?

    1. Observer*

      Should I send him a “We need to talk Monday morning” email today, so I know he’ll be around when I get to work?

      If he might not otherwise show up, do it. But if he would be in the office anyway, I wouldn’t ruin his weekend.

      Start documenting as much as you can, and figuring out hand over. You can start doing that before “officially” giving notice

    2. Geeyourhairsmellsterrific*

      Congratulations! I wouldn’t send the email today, just reach out to him on Monday morning if he’s not there when you get to work.

    3. Ama*

      Congrats!

      I have always found it harder to tell bosses I truly like that I’m moving on, but if he’s a normal boss he’ll realize that these things are normal in the course of the working world and the timing isn’t always controllable. Maybe think of it this way — if he seems disappointed it’s because he values your work and is sad to lose you, not because you leaving is some kind of betrayal. (At least that’s how it is for normal, functional bosses.)

    4. Unkempt Flatware*

      No, I wouldn’t do the “we need to talk on Monday” email. Let him enjoy his vacation without wondering what’s going to happen on Monday. The best thing you can do here is assume positive intent. You cannot make your boss feel any way so it’s best not to try to control the way he reacts. Being disappointed is his problem. Being blindsided would be silly since he knows anyone could leave anytime. Either way, you wouldn’t be the one to make him feel that way. However, I have found that being as factual as possible without emotional additions is the best way to get the outcome you want which is, “congrats! when do you start? You’ll do great. Let’s talk about your transition.” My last resignation went like this, “hey boss. I just wanted to let you know I have decided to accept a new position outside of the company. My last day here will be X.” Then I let them respond which was, “Oh! wow! Congrats! I’m bummed but happy for you”. Then we got down to brass tax.

    5. Distractinator*

      “Will you be onsite Monday? Would be good to tag up when you’re back in the office” implies it’s less important than it is, but is likely enough to get him to mentally reserve a time for you, and tell you what to expect in terms of schedule.

  23. cityMouse*

    Twice now at work, when I’ve quietly corrected a coworker on someone’s pronouns, I’ve had the coworker explode at me with indignation. Both are older – my age, so I know this is cultural – ie, learned behaviour (which means it can be unlearned). I stand my ground, quietly, and try to go on with my work. I do not appease, but I will explain at length, which eventually made them stop. I even suggested that if learning pronouns was that difficult, to just use their name when referring to them. That was not welcomed, either, and I get it, but their aggression was a bit much.

    I am wondering, does anyone have a good script for this kind of angry reaction to a “oh, by the way, they prefer they/them” statement? I’m trying to be a good ally/decent human being here.

    1. ThatGirl*

      Well, why are they indignant? Because you’re correcting them or because they don’t like using the right pronouns?

      Either way though, it may take a little practice, but I think you should just try to stay calm and NOT engage too much – just say “I just wanted you to know so you could get it right” and move on. I’m not sure explaining at length will do you much good.

      1. cityMouse*

        I think the at-length is my way of processing and deflecting.

        But you’re right, don’t engage too much, don’t take on so much.

        1. ThatGirl*

          I mean, I can understand the urge – but I don’t think it helps, generally, and is mostly wasting your time and energy. I have a coworker who came out as nonbinary two years ago, and people who knew them before that still sometimes slip up on their pronouns, but in general I just make a point of saying “them” and move along.

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      This isn’t your fight to solve. Take that energy to volunteering in ways that support the LGBTA+ community. You don’t have to fix your coworkers being jerks. Disengage from the jerk coworkers,
      “George uses they/them pronouns, if that’s hard to remember you can also just use their name more instead of a pronoun.”
      Outburst from coworker jerk.
      “Hey I’m just letting you know what George prefers” and walk away.
      Then let HR know if the coworker was aggressive about it. HR has the tools to actually address it and should be looped in anyway.

      There will sadly always be bigots in the world. A lot of them aren’t arguing in good faith, no matter what you say there’s no well reasoned logic that will convince them to use the right pronouns.

        1. cityMouse*

          and you are bang on about not arguing in good faith. I will take that to heart! I’m neurodivergent so I can get over-analytical but I forget how provocative people can be.

    3. Potato Potato*

      Mostly, my response is to sit back and let them grumble for a bit. Then to reinforce the point which is just to calmly state “X uses they/them pronouns”.

      This is different if they seem curious or open to new information at all. I’m open to teaching anyone who even kind of wants to learn. But if they’re exploding, that’s not the time to teach- that’s the time to just calmly try to reinforce the correct behavior, which is not misgendering your coworkers. The tone that I try to strike is very much “okay, you can feel how you feel, but X still uses they/them”.

    4. Double A*

      I would act shocked by their reaction. Imagine if a woman got married and changed her name and you corrected them. Even people who have opinions about this choice (which is also a gender based choice people make about changing how they want others to refer to them…) would just accept the change and correct themselves. Exploding would be an extremely odd reaction. So imagine what you would do in that scenario.

      “I was talking to Jane Smith…”

      “Oh, she got married, it’s Jane Jones now.”

      “WHAT? That is RIDICULOUS why would someone CHANGE THEIR NAME, I’m used to Smith, I’m not going to use Jones, what’s with these insufferable tradwives pushing their views on everyone.”

      You’d be taken aback and you’d probably respond something like, “I assumed you would would want to know their correct name.” Or, “I’m confused by your response, I was just giving you information you didn’t seem to have.”

      Basically, act surprised and confused when they don’t want to do the right thing. A basic thing like knowing someone’s gender. I actually don’t think you need to go into a long explanation. Because that makes it a big deal and it should NOT be a big deal. You can drop your end of the rope and that makes them look silly for fighting it.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Great analogy, but don’t be too sure about people accepting a marital name change. I changed my name upon marriage over 20 years ago, and had multiple people blow up on me in similar fashion (obviously without the modern “tradwife” slang).

        Of course people should accept it, and most do. Your advice for handling it is spot on. But there is just no limit to the things people feel entitled to gatekeep when it is really none of their business.

        1. Jay (no, the other one)*

          Yup, and I get the same crap from the opposite side because I didn’t change my name. People who meet me at work usually don’t know that until they refer to my husband by my last name or call us the Mylastnames, and I set the record straight with a smile, and sometimes people still get SERIOUSLY bent of shape. I presume this is from embarrassment or something. It’s still annoying. Over the last forty years the language they use has changed from “women’s libber” to “feminist/feminazi” to “woke.” The song remains the same.

        2. Shenanigans*

          Sure, but I would bet the people who push back on pronouns have almost zero overlap with the people who oppose women changing their last name when they get married. And are more likely to object to a women who does not change her name to her husband’s.

          1. RagingADHD*

            It’s not about which direction the pushback is coming from. I was just pointing out that having a longstanding history of general social acceptance is no guarantee that jerks with opinions won’t jump ugly about something.

            A jerk’s deep seated desire to pitch a hissy fit about other people’s lives has nothing to do with their belief system or politics. Those are just grist for the tantrum mill.

    5. WantonSeedStitch*

      It depends. Are the snappers getting mad about being corrected and defensive? (“Oh come on, it’s not like I’m doing it on purpose!”) Are they saying it’s too hard? (“I can’t be expected to remember that! I’ve never called a person ‘they’ before–it’s just too unusual to remember to do it!”) Or are they being outright bigoted? (“You’re either a he or a she–these people just think they’re special snowflakes!”)

      If the first, “Slipping up from time to time doesn’t make you a bad person! I think most people understand it happens occasionally and feel better when we correct ourselves or accept correction gracefully.”

      If the second, “I know it can be hard to get used to. I find it helps me to practice with unfamiliar pronouns whenever I’m thinking about someone: ‘Robin said they were going to send the file over by the end of the day, so I can get to work on it tomorrow.’ That kind of thing.”

      If the third, “Look, that’s not cool. We need to be welcoming to all kinds of people here, not just people who are like us. You’re allowed to have your own opinions, but work isn’t the place to say things like that.”

      1. BikeWalkBarb*

        This is great–highlights the differences between underlying feelings or beliefs and knowledge, leaves some space for learning.

        If it’s the last one and they still want to fight I’d share that with HR, especially if there’s a recurring pattern.

    6. Nesprin*

      I usually advocate the gentle gaslighting approach:

      Oh- I know how hard you try to be considerate and caring of your coworkers- Jane prefers “they/them” and I know it would mean a lot to Jane if you use the right pronoun to refer to them.

    7. Rainy*

      Some people have real difficulty with the fact that the opinions that count about an individual’s choices are the individual’s opinions and preferences, not those of the people around them.

      When I’ve had this happen, I correct and model, in a bland, bored tone of voice. If they can’t get it together, well, I have work to do, go take a minute and then tell me whatever it is. And honestly, this is work, so I don’t say “respectful” or “polite”, I say “professional”. I find that people who are willing to be seen as disrespectful toward people they consider to have lower *social* status are often taken aback when they realize that what I really think is that they’re being unprofessional. This assumes that you are in a workplace where people value being seen as professional, of course, but it tends to cut the feelings part out and put the focus on behaviour.

    8. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      I suggest little but often, like training a pup:

      So, never miss a correction, but each time keep it very brief: “Emma uses they/them pronouns”
      Some (insecure) people are hyper-sensitive to being corrected about anything, not just pronouns. but a very short correction is less likely to make them feel lectured / condescended to.

      1. the cat's pajamas*

        I would document every time this happens, in case your coworker ever wants to do something with that information.

    9. H.Regalis*

      As much as you can, say something like, “Ok, whatever” in a flat tone of voice and walk away. If they follow you or you can’t walk away, like you two sit next to each other, something like, “I don’t actually care what you think about pronouns. I’m just telling you what [Person] uses.” How blunt/rude you can be depends on your individual situation; you know what will be best. These people are bigoted and all the explaining in the world isn’t going to change that.

    10. Nocturna*

      Others have given some good suggestions about options to try to address the explosions.

      One thing I would add is to drop the suggestion to call the person by their name instead of using pronouns. That’s just a more subtle form of discrimination; it perpetuates the idea that it’s okay to not use the correct pronouns for someone.

    11. Jasmine*

      Just a thought……

      I have been studying and speaking Chinese for 31 years. Every once in a while, my husband will correct one of my tones. I check it in the dictionary and sure enough he is right. My irritation is at not him. It is at me or the situation because changing the tone that you say a word after 31 years of saying it the wrong way it’s not easy! So while some people maybe taking a stand, or taking a issue with using different pronouns some people may just be frustrated because changing the habits you have formed over 20, 30, 50 years is not easy. Just sayin’

    12. Nilsson Schmilsson*

      I wouldn’t hesitate to start referring to the indignant coworkers by incorrect pronouns.

      It’s awesome that you’re trying to maintain your civility while keeping your alliance with your coworkers, but sometimes a little smackdown gets the job done.

      I’ve grown tired of trying to appease assholes.

  24. Tradd*

    I’m the customs broker that often posts. I am so tired of my customers right now I have to vent. Every time I ask for documents or information to get their imports through Customs, they argue. Lots of FDA food shipments so lots of paperwork required. Several have refused, then their shipments get held. We have one food importer that did not keep up with the FDA Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP) that his stuff is being detained left and right. This started about a month ago. FSVP is a program where you have to submit paperwork to FDA that foreign suppliers are doing proper procedures, verification of cleanliness, etc. Customer hadn’t done this and had to bring in an outside consultant to get everything straightened out. It will take about two months for consultant to finish. One customer is very slow to provide documents. When you send a polite request, he copies my company owners on his response and rants he shouldn’t have to provide documents (commercial invoice, packing list, bill of lading). These are all very basic docs that are required to clear all shipments. Owner then comes to me and demands to know what’s going on. I politely tell him we were not sent docs and i was simply requesting what I needed to do my job. If a container arrives and it’s not cleared, much storage. These people are just idjits.

    1. Hillary*

      You have my sympathies. I suspect the owner wouldn’t be willing to fire the customer.

      Would it help to point out to the owner that he can get suspended if y’all make bad filings? It’s certainly been in the business news this week with the T86 stuff.

      1. Tradd*

        Well, for the customers who whine about giving us the basic docs, we can’t even file entries without those docs. As for the others, the entries will go thought, but they’ll end up on FDA hold – what we don’t have is stuff like ingredients lists and such. They don’t hold up
        CBP release, but FDA always asks for them.

        And no, the owner wouldn’t be willing to fire that one customer who always includes owner on emails. They’re friends and from the same country overseas. The customer is an absolute d*ck. The culture doesn’t treat women very well.
        Yeah the type 86 entry thing has been in the news.

        1. Lady_Lessa*

          No answers, but sympathy. I’m sure that you and our shipper would love to get together. I sometimes get earfuls from her. We don’t do food, but export hazardous materials.

          And about men from certain parts of the world, at least once I removed myself from a job candidacy in my thank you notes for that reason. I didn’t want to be offered it, turn it down and have unemployment insurance issues.

          1. Tradd*

            Yeah, this particular culture likes quiet women. Women who don’t marry are considered very weird. I’m single and have a loud personality. Always have. LOL

          2. Tradd*

            Lady Lessa, your user name wouldn’t come from the Anne McCaffrey Pern books, would it? I adore those. :)

        2. goddessoftransitory*

          Oh, brother. This reminds me of when we first started delivering alcohol and had the list of musts–credit card payment only, ID at the door, had to order food as well, not just the booze, and so on. These are all state law requirements if we want to keep our liquor license.

          There was a small but vociferous group that absolutely could not grasp that these were not just whims or fancies on our part. They’d complain and demand that we overlook the rules, which wasn’t going to happen. I’ve had to tell people “You are not, trust me, more intimidating than the State Liquor Board.”

    2. Tio*

      You’re giving me flashbacks here!

      I don’t miss hearing “Isn’t that YOUR job?” and “Well I’ve NEVER had to do THAT before!” every time I tell them about a regulation or requirement.

      Also, the people who want you to classify an item, for free, off of a three word invoice description and when asked for more details act like it’s one of those mystery boxes coming to them!

      1. Tradd*

        Tio, our overseas agents and even one of our salespeople will give me a product description like “furniture” or “garments” plus a 4 digit HS code and expect me to provide duty and complete 10 digit US HS code. They seriously get their nose out of joint when I ask for more information. I tell people they need to tell me exactly what the item is and what is it made out of. They’re incapable of doing that.

        And don’t get me started on the lazy customs broker an import dept coworker has to deal with. We just handle the transportation to the port. Food shipments with lots of ag exams. The broker expects us to deal with the CES, pay storage, etc. The lazy broker refuses to do it and the importer is whining at my import coworker to do it. Owner of my company told them they have to do it themselves – we paid for a bit, but they owe us a ton of $$$. I hate lazy brokers. Years ago, not longer after I became a broker but still doing some transportation side stuff, one broker would call me daily for ME to trace her shipments. I told her the info was available on carrier websites without a login. I added I was a licensed broker (caller was just an entry writer) and I did ALL my own tracing. They finally stopped calling. Every time they called, I refused to trace their stuff.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          I assume no one has actually written “NOT cocaine, honest!” or similar, but really; do people not get that this stuff looks super shady?

    3. Observer*

      For the one who rants about how they shouldn’t have to provide these docs, would it help to do two things:

      In the request email remind them explicitly (although still politely) that they have not yet provided you with whatever documents, and that there are *government requirements* that you have no choice about, because if they don’t send them along, their products will not be allowed in.

      When you receive the rant, cc Owner on your reply repeating this information.

    4. Not my real name*

      I honestly don’t understand their attitude. I would adore getting a list of exactly what paperwork is required, but for some reason I can’t get the people we work with to give it to me. I mean, I am not an expert at international shipping, that’s why we hired you!

    5. Some Day I'll Think of Something Clever*

      I’m not sure what is going on this year. My customers have never been cool and collected, but this year, they’re something else. They’re brittle, frazzled, and the simplest request sends them flying off the handle.

      My industry has an overlay of regulations, but it’s nothing like the FDA’s nor am I dealing with any new regulations. Even so, it’s like the trolls in a comment sections have come to life. They have no filters on what they say and feel entitled to say anything.

      Can you be the one to start copying the company’s owners on your documents request? It drives my boss crazy, but I copy him on everything now. Customers are less likely to escalate things, and it gives him more context when they do. Also, have you sent out regular notices and updates about this new regulatory regime and the change in paperwork requirement?

      Collectively, I acknowledged that these are incomplete solution, but sometimes just taking a little bit of the edge off helps.

      1. Tradd*

        The thing is that these aren’t new document requirements. People have collectively lost their minds. I like your description about the trolls!

      2. Tradd*

        No, the last thing I want to do is involve the owners of my company any more. Reasons. Lots of reasons.

    6. CanadianJessie*

      I used to work for a company that did a lot of road shows (protective gear mainly). And we had so many sales folks crossing the border with equipment, that just refused to get paperwork in line. We had all our goods inspected for a while, because they’d do something stupid like not bother to tell us that they were including a bunch of fake (but not obviously so) weapons (!!!) in a return shipment – turns out Customs really pays attention to stuff like that! I’ve also had a few calls from sales folks driving over the border – in a panic asking for paperwork for the equipment that they “forgot” was in their trunk.. that they urgently needed to do the demo they were on the way to. I’m not sure what people are thinking sometimes.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        They are super lucky they’re not STILL sitting in a windowless room trying to explain those fake weapons to a bunch of humorless individuals packing the real thing.

    7. goddessoftransitory*

      I hope the FSVP guy never moves to Hawaii.

      I do not understand people who continually resist the most basic parts of a transaction, especially when they are only inconveniencing/hurting their own interests!

  25. BleepSheep*

    I’m really struggling with the thought of working for another 25 years. I’ve worked for the past 25 (started when I was 15) and I’m just exhausted. I really genuinely do not want to work any more but I have to. I’m in therapy but it’s not helping that much.

    Does anyone else struggle with these types of thoughts? Is there anything I can do to feel better about being forced to work or starve for the rest of my life?

    1. I'm Monica but wished I was Phoebe*

      I just had this realization as I’m approaching 50 this year. I’m like 15 more years to go.

      You have to schedule sabbaticals. Put it on the calendar, save up, buy the tickets.. at every 5 years whether or not you’re employed. You have to take time to put distance between yourself and the job. You got to save up, you got to sacrifice, and you make it happen. The reason why I’ve been able to get through this many decades of working It’s because when I was in the military we were constantly changing duty stations and cities so everything was fresh and then when I got out we were continuing to move. so I was always getting a new job every 2 to 3 years. You have to keep it interesting. Right now. you’re bored and you’re feeling freaked out.

      You got to think about changing industries, going industry adjacent, taking trips, doing something to keep it fresh. Right now you’re just looking at a big long highway with no stops and no interesting scenery. You have to create the stops and you have to create the scenery because you can’t wait for them to come on their own.

      or you make the decision that you will change career fields or go slightly adjacent to keep things fresh and interesting..

    2. Un, Deux, Trois, Cat*

      Maybe it’s the type of work you’re doing? Have you explored other options?

      I am a teacher with only 3 more years until I can retire and I was ready to be done with it years ago! The idea of needing a place to live and food to eat kept me going, but I definitely didn’t love working in general. I’m not sure many people do, but we work in order to have the basics in life.

    3. Tradd*

      I’m mid-50s, GenX. I’m single. You work. Period. Sabbaticals? No one I’ve ever know has had one. It’s just not something amongst the people I know or grew up with.

      I have to admit that this sort of angst is totally foreign to me. I come from a blue collar/pink collar family background. I was the first on one side to go to college, although my dad did have a white collar position, and college wasn’t required when he started. Working class folks just do what has to done.

    4. Tio*

      Honestly yes, especially as I grapple with a long term health condition that only goes downhill from here. It helps that I really like my current job, but man, I very often just want extra time to do other things! There are so many other things I want to do with my day! And with said health condition, by the time I retire, I’ll probably be verging on disabled. But I also have to eat and pay bills and keep health insurance, so… I’m also just about the same age you are so I think it’s just a bit of my midlife crisis, but I don’t know.

    5. Observer*

      Is there anything I can do to feel better about being forced to work or starve for the rest of my life?

      Maybe find a better therapist. I’m not being snarky – it’s possible that you just are not matched up with the right person, or that this is just a symptom of another problem that’s not being addressed. Which is why I’d also look at a depression screening and a good medical checkup.

      But also, things that can make a real difference – change your job. That can range from changes in your current job (eg start taking vacations if you can), changing employers, or even changing your field. This won’t happen overnight, but even the process can be helpful.

      Also, find an out of work activity that you really enjoy / makes you feel good. That can make an incredible difference in how you feel about everything else in your life.

    6. Geeyourhairsmellsterrific*

      Yes, I’ve had similar thoughts for many years and I think many other people do. I make myself feel better about it by remembering that I work so I can afford my home, car, help my family, etc. It’s the means to an end, not a passion, but that’s okay.

    7. A. Tension*

      Yes, all the time. I resent the amount of time I spend doing things I don’t want to do to make sure I can survive, which leaves very little time for the things I actually care about, let alone whether I have energy remaining for them. And no amount of reminding myself that I need to do it to afford the things I need/want in life has ever made me resent it less. Vacations haven’t made me resent it less. And sure, I’m depressed, but it’s decently well controlled with medication and I’m also in therapy, but the core of it is – I’m trading the one precious resource I can never get back just to make sure I can keep existing, which means the things I exist for get less of that precious resource.

      I do my work well while I’m at work, my attitude around this has surprisingly gotten a lot less doom-and-gloom since starting therapy + meds (believe it or not), and I’m looking into another career field to see if that helps at all, but… It’s still there in the background, just a fact of life. I haven’t figured out how to ignore it when it does pop up.

      Anyway, I know that’s not helpful, and extra time in therapy for us both may get to the bottom of it eventually, but I just wanted to say that I see you, I get it, and you aren’t the only one.

    8. Lady_Lessa*

      Two things that helped me in the past. One was taking a certificate program that called for me to take beginning chemistry again. That both refreshed my enjoyment for chemistry and was very easy. I was also lucky with the timing of the toxicology course, so we had real life events going on at the same time. (I didn’t like the regulatory/legal courses and so I didn’t push myself into that field.)
      The other. I was unemployed and talked the temp agency into sending me to a distribution center (warehouse) to work. That easy, but detailed oriented job gave me the self confidence that the previous one had sapped from me. When you get praised for things that you were told repeatedly that you were lacking is a confidence booster. I’m now back working as a chemist.

    9. SansaStark*

      Same. Unfortunately no advice but I also started work at 15 and am the same age as you and….just saaaaame. I really like my job, my coworkers, my field, my workload, everything. But I also would like to have more time to do other things, but that’s not possible financially.

    10. WellRed*

      I’m 54 and wish I’d realized 25 years ago that I would actually get sick if working so that I could have planned for early retirement. Instead, I’ll probably work until I drop dead but I would retire in a heartbeat if I could.

    11. Alianora*

      How are your savings? Have you heard of FIRE (Financial Independence/Retire Early)?

      You may be interested in investigating it especially if you’ve already been saving for retirement over those 25 years of work. It’s about aggressive saving, usually through index funds, to enable earlier retirement or just more flexibility in the types of jobs you can take.

      I’m not sure if I’ll actually retire early, but reading about how it works really changed how I thought about my career and saving. I started putting 30-50% of my paycheck into index funds when I started work at 22, and now at 28 I have a lot of freedom to try out different types of jobs without income necessarily being the deciding factor.

      1. Not a raccoon keeper*

        I also found FIRE in my 20s (late, though), and it totally reformed my path. I really like the concept of Coast FIRE (or Coast FI) – we have saved a lot for retirement in our 20s and 30s. That money will grow through my 40s and 50s for a healthy retirement, and in the meantime, I can dial back my work to much less stress/time, and switch toward more rewarding work. Currently looking at quitting my stressful FT role when I’m 40 or 41.

        In case this sounds unrealistic, my salary is only just hitting 6 figures, and I live in a very high cost of living city, and am likely to rent for life.

        (Incidentally, one of my potential pt jobs I’m considering is financial planning/therapy so I have plenty more to say on this! Not sure where the best space for that is though)

    12. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      I always worked to live.
      I survived until retirement by:

      1) selecting a job where I had decent colleagues and good work-life balance, i.e. plenty of PTO, a 35 hour work-week and absolutely expected to switch off as soon as my hours were done.

      2) working early , 7:15 – 2:45pm so I had most of the afternoon and all evening for me time in daylight while everything was still open.

      3) filling that me time with activities I enjoyed: gym, walking, Kindle, TV, whatever hits the spot for you. So my life was not just work but a lot of pleasure too.

    13. Lemon Chiffon*

      Constantly. Especially since my kid was born, I went from hanging out with him for 18 hours a day during my parental leave to seeing him maybe one hour a day before and after work and daycare. My current job requires nights and weekends, so that is time I lose with him that I am never going to get back.

      I’m looking for a M-F job so that at least I can have my weekends back, but the job market is so distressing. The same types of jobs I saw advertised a decade ago are hiring at the same rates. Everything is “must have flexibility in scheduling/be willing to travel/start and end times that don’t match up with daycare,” plus further away and less money than I currently make.

      I was burnt out before I had my kid, but now I can barely get through my work days sometimes.

    14. Abigail*

      Think about what the world would look like if everybody did what they wanted to do all day long.

      1. Not a raccoon keeper*

        My partner just quit a toxic job, and is taking time off to rehab his poor brain. He does so much exercise and physio, and cooking and gardening and cleaning and organizing and volunteering. It’s just so healthy for him! I wish we could all have that, or some semblance of it!

        1. Abigail*

          You probably wouldn’t like it if everybody did that and you didn’t have garbage pick up. Or a stocked grocery store. Or healthcare workers.

          For your husband specifically, it’s great he is able to do this. My point is that a lot of people in this thread are being so unrealistic and naïve it is a little shocking to read among adults.

          I support a healthy work/life balance. I do not support wishing work stopped existing because, let’s face it, what people really want is for work to exist, just other people do the work.

          1. Part time lab tech*

            So true, The magical work faerie must do all the boring stuff and they only have to do the interesting stuff when they feel like it (Which, because they are not doing the boring parts, they are no longer experienced enough to to well and of course they don’t want to be corrected either)

          2. Not a raccoon keeper*

            Oh wow yeah, that point didn’t come across. Yes, I understand how the world functions, but I am also to imagine other ways that the world could function.

            ‘Work’ as the concept we know now is only a couple of hundred years old, and societies and cities far predated that – yes with slavery in some cases, but also with communal care for people, communities, and the earth. Plenty of other social structures have managed that load far better than our late capitalism is, and being unable to think outside of mandated 40 hour weeks is one of the reasons it’s going to be hard to escape this.

          3. Not Totally Subclinical*

            I like being able to work. I have never been willing to be a stay-at-home parent, because I like earning my living. Yes, some days I’d rather not have to bother, but that’s what a sane vacation policy is for.

            What I don’t like is doing pointless or worthless work, or work where the pay doesn’t balance the toll on my health or the time away from my household tasks, my hobbies, and my relationships. And a lot of jobs today are pointless or worthless, and many of the jobs that contribute to society are poorly compensated. Of course people don’t want to work.

            Something I discovered at summer camp as a kid: I like cleaning toilets. Yes, it can be disgusting work, and yes, that clean state won’t last, but taking a toilet from unpleasant to clean is satisfying.

            Am I going to clean toilets for a living? No, because I make significantly more money in my current job. Would I clean toilets if I could make a higher annual salary and had the same benefits as my current job (and if I still had the physical stamina to bend over toilets for multiple hours a day)? Well, it’d get boring if I did only toilets for forty hours a week, but add in other janitorial tasks or give me a shorter workday, and sure, hand me that brush.

            (Also, did you miss the part in Not a Raccoon Keeper’s comment about their partner cooking and cleaning and organizing and volunteering? He’s working! He’s not doing a paying job, but he’s working! Homemakers are workers.)

  26. AnonnyToday*

    Y’all I think I’m still in shock. I got a tentative job offer from the Fed govt, just pending background check. I’ve been looking for a new job for over 8 years, had offers but nothing that would put me in a better position in my personal life (more money, good insurance for my chronic illness, being able to get a second dog, lol). The last couple years I’ve been struggling whether to stay in my profession, but I’ve always enjoyed my work, I’ve just been tired of where I’ve been doing it. My current work place has killed my work ethic. It’s slowly soul sucking, never enough to just leave but enough to wear you down.

    Last month I interviewed for a fed job, thought I did horrible, lol, and never had any expectations because it was a high GS level and I don’t work in the federal system. The amount of money I’d be getting is life changing, even when accounting for the locality adjustment. Been really hard to wrap my head around it. Think my brain is trying to be smart and wait until everything is official.

    1. Office Plant*

      Congratulations!! The reddit communities “fednews” and “USAjobs” will be an asset for you if you don’t already follow them as you get the hang of govlife

    2. Just a name*

      Congrats! I worked for the feds for 22 years. The pay was good, the benefits were great. I know the retirement benefits aren’t as good as when I signed on, as you have to pay more into the pension fund, but retirement with a pension, social security, and the TSP fund is great. If it isn’t too late, see if you can negotiate for a higher level of leave based on your past experience. Starting out earning 4 hours of leave per pay period is rough if you are used to more.

    3. OtterB*

      Congratulations! My husband joined the fed about 9 years ago after many years in industry. His position needed a security clearance, which he’d had in the past but wasn’t current, so that took a while. Your background check might also take a while. The employment has generally been good, though somewhat bureaucratic. I hope everything works smoothly for you.

    4. Policy Wonk*

      Welcome to the Federal Government! We always need good people. I just caution that sometimes the background check takes a long time – not necessarily because of what would be in your file, but on the length of the list of checks you’ve just been added to.

    5. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      Congratulations!
      Well done, you. Now enjoy your great new life

  27. Captain Vegetable (Crunch Crunch Crunch)*

    I work for a small-ish business, and we all answer the phones on a varied- but regular rotation. There are (or should be) two people answering phones each day. The admins are on phone 2 days a week and the rest of us every other week. The admin person I am scheduled with just doesn’t seem to answer the phone. If I don’t pick up the call, it doesn’t get answered.

    So what do I do? Do I message the admin person (we all work remotely) and ask what’s up? Do I go their supervisor? My supervisor? Scripts for any of those options?

    This definitely can’t stay like this. I’m supposed to be the back up person on phones and admin the primary- I barely get any of the other work I need to do done that day.

    1. ThursdaysGeek*

      I’d ask the admin person first, in a problem solving manner: “Hey, how many calls are you answering today, because I seem to be slammed? Should I ask our manager for some help to find solutions?”

    2. Caramel & Cheddar*

      You probably have to talk to the admin first, and I’d just keep it straightforward. “I’m finding that I’m answering the phone a lot when really I’m supposed to be the backup if you’re already on the phone or away from your desk. I need to focus on my work, so please don’t count on me to answer if you’re also available.”

      If she keeps not doing it, ask your supervisor to clarify that she is indeed the primary and ask what she wants you to do if you’re both there and the admin isn’t answering the phone. Maybe she’ll say let it ring! Maybe she’ll tell you to answer it, in which case you need to bring up the fact that you can’t get your other work done and would she rather you prioritize the phone over your actual work, etc.

    3. Sunshine*

      I think the best starting point would be to talk with your supervisor about how it’s impacting your work. Ask them how you should handle it and if there’s anything they can do.

  28. Camellia*

    I’m in a meeting and I just texted my daughter that apparently we no longer use the phrase “long term planning”. Now they are using LHP – Long Horizon Planning.

    She texted back that, in her meeting, instead of talking about “challenges and strengths”, they are saying “headwinds and tailwinds”.

    What new buzz words have you been hearing lately?

    1. ThatGirl*

      I had a coworker use “office” as a verb yesterday which bewildered me – she said “And Esmerelda offices with Phoebe in Emerald City” – meaning that they work out of the same location. I’d never heard that one before.

      1. not my usual self*

        Huh, we’ve talked about where people are “officed” in my profession for a long time, and that seems like a logical extension of that….

    2. Anxious Bee*

      Oh I’ve heard headwinds and tailwinds before, but that was in a summer camp environment where we did highs and lows each evening. And it’s only ever been at that location. It was kinda silly but didn’t really affect anything

    3. Unkempt Flatware*

      I’m a transportation planner focusing on long range planning and….NOPE. Not gonna happen. I refuse.

    4. Can't think of a funny name*

      Probably not new but makes me laugh every time. Wave tops…as in, “I’m just going to give the wave tops.” General info…not going into details. And “double click” which I guess is sorta the opposite of wave tops, meaning go into detail.

    5. The Prettiest Curse*

      I’m in higher ed and organisation HR started using the term “squiggly careers” without explaining what it means. (It’s a nod to the fact that most careers don’t go in a straight line.) Useful concept, but mildly annoying jargon.

    6. Pretty as a Princess*

      “Headwinds” and “tailwinds” shouldn’t be seen synonymously with “challenges” and “strengths,” though. As much as the terms annoy me – they actually mean something different. Headwinds and tailwinds generally refer to externalities in the competitive landscape that are acting “on” you, your product, whatever. They are definitely not the same as strengths and challenges.

      1. WellRed*

        Thank you! I had the same issue thought. A lot of companies use that phrasing for their financials. It doesn’t work for me to use it as strengths and challenges.

    7. Rex Libris*

      Sounds like someone at both orgs has been reading too much Patrick O’Brian.

    8. IHaveKittens*

      “Eating our own dog food.”

      A woman I’m working with now uses this phrase a lot. A LOT. I have never heard anyone else use it and I’m beginning to think she made it up. Has anyone else heard it?

  29. Annoyed*

    I’m annoyed at a situation at work. Let’s say I run tests for llama health. There’s a sick llama and its herder wanted me to run a test urgently. They were supposed to send the sample Wednesday. It never arrived. Yesterday they said they can’t find the sample. Today they’re sending a new sample ‘as soon as possible’ but now I would have to work overtime to accommodate this.
    My thoughts are: if it was that urgent, they wouldn’t have lost the sample. Or they would’ve collected a new sample and sent it yesterday. Is there a way to opt out without coming across as unprofessional or uncaring? I do care about the llamas, but it’s not the first time this happens with this particular herder. And always on a Friday!

    1. Yes And*

      I think it depends on the health consequences for the llama if you nope out. If they would be serious, I don’t think you can punish the llama because their herder can’t get their s*** together. Are there other consequences you can impose on the herder, like a rush fee, to try to stop this from happening? But if the llama would be fine, I think it’s perfectly reasonable to say, “I’ll run this test as soon as possible within my usual hours.”

      1. jasmine*

        Yup, this. If it were me, I’d tell them that I’d get it done when I’m back in the office and that getting the information I needed by the given deadline is required if they want it done that week.

        If you’re in a role where something is truly urgent (e.g. you work in medicine, someone can get hurt), this is trickier. But from what you say (“if it was that urgent, they wouldn’t have lost the sample”) it doesn’t sound like that’s the case.

        1. annoyed*

          The consequences to the “llama” could be bad or not, which is why they should not have waited an extra day, or lost the original sample. So it will get done today for the llama’s sake. Just wish the herder would be more on top of things instead of making things an emergency only for me.

    2. AnonyOne*

      Can you go with something like “Thanks herder, I had set aside some time yesterday and this morning to deal with your sample, but unfortunately have other commitments this afternoon. I will get to this as soon as possible on Monday”.

      1. Plate of Wings*

        This is amazing! Saving this for myself, and it’s true, I do set aside time this way hoping to use it as intended. Thank you!

    3. A. Noni Mouse*

      Are you able to set boundaries/guidelines at work about timelines for samples? For example, can you say that all samples must be received by EOD Wednesday to have results by Friday or that any samples not received by 3pm will be run the next business day or whatever makes the most sense in your role. And then communicate those boundaries out to everyone, not just this one person. Let all of the herders know the new rules, effective immediately. And then hold that boundary. You always reserve the right to make exceptions, but I would do it sparingly with herders who often try to push things.

      One of my employees is responsible for entering information into a processing system and sending it where to go. People come to her all the time with “emergencies”. While it’s not possible for her to set a blanket boundary due to the many different types of information that she enters, she can (and I have encouraged her to) push back on “emergencies” and let people know that the info they’ve sent will take 4 hours to enter, so she won’t be able to get to it until the next day (or whenever) due to other priorities already on her plate. She also knows what the company priorities are and so knows when to make an exception.

      I do agree with you as well that if this was truly so urgent, they would have been tracking this and collected the new sample yesterday when they realized they couldn’t find the original one.

      1. annoyed*

        There are rules in place for what time it’s reasonable for “llama” samples to get here if they want rush results, but they get ignored because “Emeeeergencyyyyy!” Which makes it more annoying when it’s the same “herder” always having this issue. Sadly, can’t drop them because the “llamas” would pay the price.

    4. disneyprincess*

      At my zebra health, we have turnaround times (TAT). The clock starts ticking when we receive the sample. We try to return it faster, but we don’t kill ourselves as that would lead to staff burn-out long-term, and expectation from our customers that we will always beat our stated turnaround time. Our customers are always pushy because yes, the samples are important, but the TATs are clearly stated. If we screw up, we bend over backwards to make it right. If our client screws up, we try but we don’t kill ourselves.

      If your client is consistently making these mistakes and not acting in good faith, I’d stop bending myself backwards for them. Because then they won’t learn, and also they’ll come with the expectation — “well last week you were able to run it over the weekend, why can’t you do it again this week?” This also depends if there are other competitors that your customers can switch to.

  30. new librarian hopefully*

    I’m a recent MLIS graduate and I have an interview with a county library system next week for the Librarian I position. Any tips for how I can prepare for the interview and what questions I should expect?

    1. Kimmy Schmidt*

      Be aware of any news related to library services, intellectual freedom, or the library budget. Librarian interviews tend to have a lot of “tell me about a time when” questions. Depending on your location, these questions might include:
      – Tell me how you would handle a book challenge.
      – Tell me about a time you had to deal with a difficult patron and what you did.
      – Tell me how you would introduce new programming relevant to this community.
      – Tell me about a time you went above and beyond to help a patron.
      – Tell me about a time you had a conflict with a colleague and how you resolved it.

      They’ll likely also ask how you got interested in librarianship or why it’s a career that matters to you. Make sure you talk about more than just books or your childhood experiences in libraries. Good luck!

    2. Good luck!*

      Go check out the website Hiring Librarians, the interviews were interesting reading for me when I was fresh out of school, but more importantly, she has a repository of interview questions in the LIS field collected from candidates and managers.

    3. Rook Thomas*

      Agreeing with @Kimmy Schmidt. As a manager, situational questions are part of many general library interviews that I’ve done. We train people on procedures, so I don’t worry about a lack of library experience. Experience in retail or restaurants is often helpful — because in many public library positions, you work extensively with the public. So “tell me about a time when” can often be answered with many kinds of work experience.
      Also, seconding that it’s good to talk about more than books. Loving books and loving reading is great . . . but in a public library, it’s only 1 facet of what we do.

      Good luck — and congrats on getting your MLIS!

  31. Jazz and Manhattans*

    I thought I would kick it off our job search string today. My question for today is: if you use a job search site (in this case LinkedIn) that tells you how long the job has been posted for or even reposted, do you apply for those jobs that have been open for a long time or reposted? My first thought is – why are you reposting it? Why is it taking so long for you to find someone? Perhaps it is just a case that their first choice backed out but with the odds against the job-seeker in terms of the ROI on applying for something, is it worth the time to apply for a job that’s been reposted?

    1. June Bug*

      I look at LinkedIn or other databases and I only apply to ones that are a week old. because I only look at the same databases and websites all the time. I know which ones go off and come back on.

      I applied to a position and never heard back from them, despite following up. They reposted it again as either a coordinator or manager job (they’ll decide whether you’re qualified for one or the other weird approach). Then they reposted again as a coordinator job. I’m not going to touch that with the 10-ft pole. although to be snarky, I might just submit my previous application and see what happens haha.

      It’s okay to apply to something that’s been reposted because they might have not received the quality candidates they were looking for or all the offers they gave out declined. Who knows.

      1. Jazz and Manhattans*

        I agree. When I started my search I looked for jobs that had been posted longer than a week but now that I’m consistent with looking once a week I only search on those that were posted in the last week. I do track who I apply to and note which ones had been reposted as I wanted to see if I was getting any hits on those jobs. But…I’m barely getting any hits so my tracking isn’t doing well anyway!

    2. Hydrangea*

      When I started applying, I noticed that the ones I never heard back from would repost the same job every few months. So now I only apply to jobs that seem new. If remote, only posted in the last 24 hours; if local and hybrid, within the last week.

      And I first go to my Gmail, search for the company and title, and see if LinkedIn has suggested this job posting to me before. Often I find it was posted 3 months ago, 7 months ago, and 11 months ago, which saves me the bother of applying.

      Right now I can only see that more than 100 people applied/clicked, but I wish it would still show you that 1837 people applied/clicked. Because I know there is no way they can’t find the right candidate when they’re getting a high volume of responses on just one platform.

      1. Jazz and Manhattans*

        I think my concern with applying for jobs that are less than a week is I’ve seen them get closed very quickly and that makes me think that they were only posting per policy and already had an internal candidate. Could be I’m making up my own stories around what is happening!

    3. purple giraffe*

      I don’t know if LinkedIn or other sites scrape job ads from the web, but at my last company (engineering) we’d constantly have jobs posted that we had no intention of filling. This was for two reasons: (1) fishing – just to see if we got perfect unicorn candidate, (2) to make our investors think we’re expanding. So, I don’t trust job ads from sites or from companies themselves. It’s very much a numbers game.

    4. Tio*

      I had a job I was hiring for posted in May 23 and filled in Jan 24.
      We hired someone and they stayed two weeks before backing out for somewhere closer to home.
      Next person accepted but took their job’s counter offer and backed out
      Last person is the one we have today!

      It was also a position with a more niche skill set than others, so that contributed.

    5. ThatGirl*

      My current job was a repost, which I didn’t realize right away, I just thought it looked kinda familiar – turned out they had someone accept an offer and then back out, for reasons that had very little to do with the job itself.

      And my husband’s work was having a hard time hiring, they had their positions up for months – they had trouble finding qualified candidates, and then had a few who accepted other jobs. It happens sometimes. (His field is particularly in demand, so that wasn’t a huge shock.)

    6. JellyBean*

      I think it depends on how many opportunities there are for the type of job you are looking for. if you can apply only to the ones that have been listed for 1 week and still apply to several each week then it might be a decent approach. but if you wouldn’t have many to choose from with that approach, I see no problem with expanding to older posts.

      I wouldn’t take it as a red flag when a job has been posted for a long time or reposted, just something to consider if you end up getting an interview and maybe see other possible flags. there are just so many reasons jobs could be posted for a long time that would not be a reflection of the company culture or the job itself.

      1. Jazz and Manhattans*

        You make a really good point JellyBean. I’m wanting to narrow into a specific discipline within my trade and while those jobs are out there they can take time to find. So I guess you are right, if I find one that does match what I’m looking for, even if it’s reposted I should go for it. Luckily my job is not so very terrible (any more) so I am not crazy to find something else. I want to progress in my career and I can’t do that where I’m at.

  32. I'm Monica but wished I was Phoebe*

    When the person interviewing you idolizes someone who terrorized your prior coworkers. What interview questions do I ask to assess the interviewer?

    The person interviewing me asked if I knew Barbie, who had been at the organization I recently left. Barbie had been at the organization, 2 years prior to my arrival. I know of her, but not her.

    I know of her based on my co-worker stories. My two co-workers are very down to earth, calm people but were terrorized by Barbie; one had to go to therapy. Another coworker was hired by Barbie, and stayed out of the fray, until the other two were so beaten up that Barbie turned her sights on her hire.

    Her reputation is positive and negative with those who worked under her, during her interim tenure. Barbie felt assured she would be hired for the permanent position and when she wasn’t all hell broke loose.

    So while the the interviewer waxes poetic about Barbie’s strengths and why the interviewer considers her a mentor, I’m trying not to show my surprise.

    I asked my coworkers if they think I should continue. They think I should give the interviewer a chance because she is her own individual and could apply Barbies’ suggestions or guidance in her own manner. I would say if at all, but it sounds like this person looks to Barbie for inspiration.

    I’m not sure what questions I should ask to draw out what could be Barbie-influenced traits or ethos.

    The interview process has been great, responsive and thoughtful and organized. The interviewer and I share some commonalities on approaches to work and how we view our work and the bigger sense of the social sector. They’re direct, organized and like to plan which is a departure from my previous organization.

    The only (other) negatives are that I would be hybrid at the local office while the interviewer would be 1.5 hrs away. Also, it appears they hired a summer intern (not mentioned during the interview); I need to know who will be responsible for them. I don’t want to be.

    1. FashionablyEvil*

      So, I will just say, it can be VERY different working WITH someone compared to working FOR someone. I have a colleague who I worked with quite collaboratively, but when I worked for her, it was a disaster. (She was super into hierarchy, lorded her authority over me, and was generally condescending and difficult.) If this person has never worked with Barbie, I could see them having a very different experience.

      As far as asking questions, I’d see if you can talk to anyone else who reports to this person/would be on your team and say, “So, what’s Boss’s day to day management style like?”

      1. I'm Monica but wished I was Phoebe*

        That’s a good point. She’s never worked for Barbie; she’s just a big fan and a mentee.

        I could reach out to the person who used to be in this role. When I asked if the role was occupied, because the person’s picture is still on the website and they have it on their LinkedIn, the interviewer was surprised that I asked, ‘No their picture isn’t not on the website.’ I was a little taken back by her quick response that I didn’t count her with, ‘Yes it is.’

        1. Kay*

          Eh – that is not a good response. I would maybe ask a few questions about how they would describe their management style or how they like feedback. Of course take that with a heavy helping of salt and definitely talk to that former employee.

      2. Caramel & Cheddar*

        Yes, this. She knows Barbie in a completely different capacity and we all know people who have amazing strengths in X and are terrible at Y. She may have zero reason to think ill of Barbie if she only knows her X traits, and it’s possible OP may also be perfectly fine with Barbie if they only encounter her X traits.

        Plus, Barbie doesn’t even work for the company! You need to find out about the manager’s own managerial style, and not let that be influenced by what you know about someone they also know who isn’t even part of the employment picture.

        1. I'm Monica but wished I was Phoebe*

          You have to give a little bit of credence to somebody who says they idolize, adore and digest everything Barbie says. Some of that is going to be retained, utilized in their person and professional life.

          But in the end I have to figure out what they took from Barbie and made their own. We have some common interest areas so trying to figure that out.

          1. Tio*

            How much do you want this job? That would change how much I was willing to push back.

            You could always say something in the next interview, if you’re not attached to getting this job, along the lines of “I’ve talked to my coworkers about Barbie and a lot of them relayed some really negative experiences with her, particularly those directly under her. How much are you willing to change your approach if there’s something not working for one of your reports?”

            If she’s a real Barbie sycophant this will cost you the job, so that’s why I’d tread carefully. But I would personally be REALLY wary of anyone taking management practices form someone I know is a bad manager and want to see how they would handle their view being challenged. But only if I could afford to pass completely on this job.

            1. Chicago Anon*

              Or leave out Tio’s first sentence about Barbie and just ask how she deals with it when an employee suggests that a different type of approach would work better for them; is she ever open to that, and in what circumstances?

              1. BikeWalkBarb*

                This. Don’t make the interview about Barbie; since she already praised her she’s likely to defend to avoid cognitive dissonance rather than think about her own actual style, which has been shaped by other experiences and people too.

          2. Caramel & Cheddar*

            Right, but that’s my point: you have to find out about *her* management style in the interviews, not anything to do with Barbie. Maybe her management matches Barbie’s and you should run from the hills. Maybe it sounds dramatically different from how your colleagues describe working under Barbie. The point is you need to find out about how she actually manages even if she thinks the sun shines out of Barbie’s a**. Focusing on her experience with Barbie in a capacity very different from the one you already have info on doesn’t help you get the answers you need.

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      Unless the pay increase is large I wouldn’t risk it. You already know it includes job duties you don’t want to do (the interns). You don’t know if boss’s mentor (Barbie really?) has changed as a person or if your coworkers depictions of her are accurate. But there’s a chance it could be that your new boss likes the toxic practices and your association with her could color your own reputation.

      1. I'm Monica but wished I was Phoebe*

        Not surprising, anything I’m applying to right now is a job increase over my previous role of $47k. I knew I was underpaid. I’m currently unemployed, but I’m not in need of a job.

        I don’t know about the intern yet because it just showed up on their social media. and it wasn’t mentioned that this person was going to be brought on, during the first interview

    3. I treated you like a son*

      If the coworkers who were terrorized by Barbie are saying to continue on, that seems like a pretty good signal to at least explore it further

      1. I'm Monica but wished I was Phoebe*

        Agree. I think almost all job interviews are worth the time for practice, learning, and overall development of oneself. I will definitely go on the interview

  33. Cacofonix*

    What have you done for work when at/near retirement? I left my profession as a project and program manager and change consultant in IT and business strategy (highly recommend mastering change if you’re in a PM type role, that dual proven expertise is so effective and in demand).

    Anyhoo, while I’m still passionate about my profession, I simply need to either retire (late 50’s but not quite ready) or pivot to something entirely different. I know this because I tried adjacent things already, like facilitating, teaching PM, mentoring, systems training – which I somewhat enjoy and know well because they were all elements of most of my roles in the past. But it’s still too similar.

    I feel like I’m not qualified to do anything else. I’ve determined after careful thought that I don’t mind what I get paid or how much seniority I’d have. Flexibility and great people to work with is more important. So I’m lucky. Meantime I’m volunteering and working on my hobbies, but I would like one more shot at a small job/career before I actually retire. Does this even resonate out there? Your experience? Let me live vicariously through you… thanky!

    1. Anxious Bee*

      My mom is in the exact same boat! Her resume is varied and amazing- teaching, national park ranger, assistant to a US senator, public health outreach/community health worker, and non profit management. She’s looking for her last cool 6 year job before she retires and its hard! She’s currently working as a daycare child provider but interviewing at the state health department and a local homeless shelter she’s volunteered for in the past.
      I know she and my father have both found being a Community Health Worker very meaningful in their late careers. And Public Health/Community Health are such broad topics that there are so many different kinds of jobs under that umbrella.

      1. Cacofonix*

        Thank you for this! Your mom does sound amazing and I really appreciate your telling me her story. Solidarity! I’ll think more about working in non-profit space somehow.

    2. blueprint blues*

      This is me, except …. I’ve accepted a job that I have to move for (I don’t understand how the logistics work. Finding a place that takes pets is hard), making less money for a company that’s creeping me out. I’ve been unemployed for a year. I’m sad.

      1. blueprint blues*

        Oh, and while I feel comfortable retiring, my husband says he’ll retire with me, and he’s much younger. So, while I’d feel comfortable taking on the burden of my own retirement, I don’t feel comfortable taking on the burden for two – so I feel I have to work.

        1. Cacofonix*

          Ugh that’s hard. Taking a job you’re not at least somewhat satisfied taking out of real or perceived need. Makes me realize I am lucky. My spouse does not want to retire and is fine with me not working. I still have the guilt though. And the energy to work. Just burnt from being in the same profession for so long even though it was good to me.

          And it is so hard to find a place with pets. I live in a high COL and our housing is so limited by this. I hope you and your husband can come to terms with one working. Makes sense for him to work longer than you if he’s younger. Good luck.

    3. Our Business Is Rejoicing*

      I recently did this same pivot! Burnt out in my former PM role, let go after a very long time with one company; it was clear for awhile I wasn’t someone they were going to invest in; didn’t want to leave because I got used to the pay.

      I’ve moved to a role as an educator (nothing at all PM-related) in an adjacent industry, and new company is a non-profit and does work I really believe in. Instead of trying to constantly herd cats who don’t report to me, I feel like I’m making a difference in the world. And new company has some really cool benefits. I love it. I’m learning new things, which is something amazing for a person in their later 50s. I did take a pay cut to do it, but I have room for promotion here, and those benefits do make up for some of the difference.

      I mention this because you mention education and training. I know you are thinking that providing PM training/education are just extensions of your PM work (and danged useful for keeping your PMP certification) but they are skills in their own right, and if you like doing them, you might look into whether being an instructor or educator for non-PM things might be something to pursure.

      And trust me, the organizational skills and big-picture thinking that you’ve built as a PM are HUGE, even if you never PM again in your life.

      1. Cacofonix*

        Oh thank you for this! Gives me hope. I’ve been worrying that people will see my PM background and want me to leverage it too much because it’s the only thing on my resume. I do like training, so I just may take your advice there. Wish I could ask you more offline about your experience in your pivot. Glad you’re loving your job. And I hear you on herding cats. I’m good at it. But I don’t want to herd them anymore, that’s for sure!

    4. OtterB*

      Is there some way you could use your skills to give back? Consult for nonprofits or small businesses that need better PM or IT support but can’t really afford it? Provide career mentoring for first-gen college students?

      If that doesn’t resonate, then I’d look at job postings to see what appeals to you. Start with that spark of interest before you get bogged down in how competitive a candidate you are for it.

      1. Cacofonix*

        I actually teach PM classes for non profits as a volunteer and am also a mentor in that space too. I’ll keep doing it as it’s not a big time commitment but I really want to get away from anything PM and maybe away from the office environment entirely as a job. I keep joking that I want nothing more than to be a barista because I like coffee and I can’t take that work home with me. Except I’m not qualified. Yet. I need to keep learning one way or other.

        Thanks for your advice, especially about the spark of interest and not getting bogged down. That is good.

    5. Jay (no, the other one)*

      I ended up back to doing something I’d done before with way less responsibility for fewer days and it’s great. A friend of mine left education after years as a teacher/principal/accrediting evaluator and moved to Florida when her husband retired. She’s a little younger and financially couldn’t entirely swing it plus she wasn’t ready, so she went to work part-time at the Apple store. She LOVED it.

      1. Cacofonix*

        Part time and fewer hours would be a sweet spot for me too. Thanks for the inspo!

    6. BikeWalkBarb*

      If there’s a policy topic you really care about that you’re pretty well informed in (maybe something you’re volunteering in already), check into the state agencies that work on that. Good project management and change leadership are needed in many of them. I work in a state agency with tons of projects (transportation, but projects include business operations, IT, and a lot more beyond actually pouring cement).

      1. Cacofonix*

        Ooh, policy topic is a good trigger for a place to research different pathways. Thank you.

  34. Nicki Name*

    What’s the worst software you have to use in your work or school life?

    My current employer uses Ivanti for some internal processes, and it may be my pick for the all-time worst. It’s clunky, slow, and opaque. My team’s use of it is much more about “here are the magic values that will get your ticket through the system” rather than trying to match it to what we’re actually doing.

    1. No Tribble At All*

      Some proprietary software for specialized planning that would break (I mean truly break, create bad files which would throw off other automated processes, also crash) if you accidentally double-clicked instead of single-clicked.

      I got a stern talking-to about being careful and not wantonly clicking.

    2. CherryBlossom*

      My previous job used Notion, and I’ve grown to hate it with a fiery passion. It’s not a bad system in and of itself, but it was the place was big on everyone having a say, so all employees had edit access to every page. All 200+. As you can imagine, it was chaos, like if wikipedia had no moderation. I still shudder thinking about all the back-and-forth edits.

    3. Tio*

      AHHHH IVANTI

      We use it for updates and it is universally hated here lol. It is slow, forces updates at the worst times, and has these windows you can’t minimize easily and then just forcibly pop themselves back up!

      Other than that, the second worst software was Editrade by Descartes, although I have not worked with it in a while. I thought it was okay while I had it, but then I went to a new company and realized, oh, no, this was bad and I just didn’t know any better

    4. FUNdraiser*

      Blackbaud products – Raiser’s Edge and Financial Edge specifically. Clunky, dysfunctional, counterintuitive, and super sh***y customer service. Oh, and extortionately expensive to boot.

    5. Charlotte Lucas*

      I don’t have to anymore, but I used to have to use Onbase. We asked for a content management system (for web, email, and print publications). Instead, the company has bought OnBase to manage other workflows, so dumped it on us. We cobbled together a system using that, an old Access database, an Oracle database (homemade, inherited from elsewhere, and also terrible), and a shared drive.

      The company always talked about being “innovative.” We were innovative – with workarounds.

      1. Pretty as a Princess*

        +1 Concur.

        There is an absolutely fabulous Insta reel by _businesscasualty that absolutely nails the pain of Concur.

        Honorable Mention goes to Workday. Designed by people who hate people.

        1. Jan Levinson Gould*

          Workday seems like a dream compared to Kronos which my employer used before going to Workday. WD isn’t perfect but at least it doesn’t feel like a 1995 interface on Netscape through AOL dialup which is how Kronos felt. There are too many other dogs at my employer to name. Oracle OpenAir might be the worst at my employer. Concur is garbage too.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Ours was fine until we had to integrate customer online ordering. UGGGGGGH.

    6. Art3mis*

      At an old job we used a proprietary software for insurance policy and enrollment data. It was horrible. It was old, it was supposed to be temporary, but had hung on for way too long and had been added on over and over again and been asked to do way more than it was really capable of.

    7. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Our billing system is based on a text interface that was programmed in 1990. The menu interfaces are available in English, Mandarin and German, and I somehow manage to accidentally change it to German at least once a week, but that only changes the menus, not the actual system. Our “new” coding system looks like Minesweeper’s big brother – like, my work-BFF-ship with the IT guy who got stuck supporting it began when we logged into a demo for it and I messaged him, “Wow. Windows 3.1 called and wants its GUI back,” and he replied “DON’T EVEN GET ME STARTED.”

    8. The Prettiest Curse*

      I don’t remember the name of it now, but 15 or so years ago I had to edit a website using some of the clunkiest and most outdated custom-built web editing software of all time. I hated that software so much.

      In the same job, I had to use Citrix virtual desktop software. It would work fine for weeks, then go through extended periods of crashing constantly or barely working. I hear that it’s improved somewhat since then, but I will have a grudge against it forever.

    9. Ama*

      I’m not using it because they will pry old Outlook from my cold fingertips but all of my newer coworkers have been given computers running new Outlook and it not only sucks and runs incredibly slow but it isn’t backwards compatible with several features from old Outlook. So I can’t share the email lists we’ve been using for years with my new colleagues, we had to completely rebuild them.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        It also doesn’t work with Excel VBA, which my department makes use of on a daily basis.

        Bill Gates owes me $14,572.98 at this point in lost productivity. And that’s not including interest.

    10. anonprofit*

      At my previous job, the program that stored all the important information was so old that it was a black screen with green text that you had to navigate entirely with key commands. I felt like a hacker every time I used it.

      1. Scholarly Publisher*

        When I have to access our royalties program, I am swept back to my days learning UNIX in the early 1990s. (I’m pretty sure that’s when this program was written too.)

    11. JPalmer*

      Microsoft Edge.

      With the awful “Settings controlled by your organization”, meaning I can’t remove the home button or the bookmarks bar from showing all the time and a whole host of other browser improvements to make navigating the web less miserable.

      It chugs so heavily and constantly prompts me to try things out and disregards my elected preferences.

      Poorly set up JIRA & Concur are pretty annoying as well.

    12. allathian*

      Our ticketing system’s pretty awful. It’s slow and has a very clunky interface that requires the user to click multiple things on multiple screens that take ages to load. It’s also very bad at flagging if you’ve forgotten to select a mandatory option. For example, you can process a ticket without owning it, but y0u have to take ownership before you can close it. If you don’t, the ticket just sits there.

  35. Lionheart26*

    I have a question for freelancers and billing hours. I design and deliver training workshops for a software company. I have 2 rates:
    – delivering training to clients = $X/hour
    – designing training = $Y/hour.
    I’ve also been told I can do any other work I want that helps the training experience for clients. So I started a blog, I’ve been updating all the training manuals etc and I bill that all as $Y/hour.

    My question is about all the gray area things. eg:
    – if I meet with a client to discuss training options, I charge $Y. But technically that’s external work with a client, so am I short changing myself?
    – when I book travel, I don’t charge that time. should I?
    – I do charge for email processing. Is that fair? (and why does it feel fair to charge for emails to clients but not emails to hotels?)
    Basically, what should I be billing my employer for? I want to be fair to them and to me.
    I know the answer is probably “ask them”. But I worry that if I ask, I’ll find out I’ve been over-billing. At least right now I have some plausible deniability if it turns out I’m doing it wrong.

    1. Rosie*

      I’m a freelancer and I think the answer to this depends on what approach gets you the money you want to earn and is best received by the client. For example, travel – in the past I have both charged separately for travel and included it in one overall cost, depending on what I thought would be easier for the client. Either way I need to earn the same amount for the total time and travel, it’s just how it’s presented. I would recommend getting a sense of all the work you do in a week or month, what you need / want to be paid, and work out how you’d like to charge that accordingly taking into account what will look best to the client. Also make sure everything you’re charging for is covered by your contract!

      1. Lionheart26*

        That’s a really good way of reframing it, thank you. I’ve been spending more time and energy on this client recently, and so even when my hours are technically not much higher, it feels like they are taking up more space in my brain and in my week. So thinking about my week and how much I need to be paid and what percentage this client should pay of that is helpful (and then align that with my hourly tracking).

    2. RatesAndExpenses*

      Are you charging more for $X than $Y? because I assumed the other way around.

      I think it’s fair to bill something for admin tasks, and if you didn’t already have a two tired rate, I’d suggest a lower rate for the admin stiff.

      If you travel to deliver training I would charge either that time or those costs but probably not both unless you’re going somewhere out of your normal area.

      Regardless, I’d be upfront/itemize invoices etc.

      Good luck!

      1. Lionheart26*

        oh yeah that wasn’t clear sorry. X is actually double Y. I get paid 2 times more when I go to the customers (or dial in virtually) and deliver the training. I like to think of it as lipstick tax, because the rest of the time I work from home in yoga pants.
        Its very clear to me that when I’m delivering a workshop, that I get paid the higher amount.
        But I’ve never been clear on what to charge when a customer says “can we have a 30 minute chat about the best ways I can help my team collaborate more effectively”? So I’m talking with a customer, but its informal and I don’t have to prepare any materials.

        Absolutely I itemise everything, and log my hours with a description of how many hours I worked each day and what tasks I did. But it’s good to know thats the way to go. thanks!

    3. disneyprincess*

      I charge for anything that involves work. So if you’re booking hotels on behalf of organizing the training session, I’d charge for it.

      I knew another consultants that charge 0.5 time for travel. Say the session is 8 hours and requires overnight travel. They charge 8 hours at $X/hr, and the overnight time, and time travelling at $X*0.5/hr. This was because she had to arrange for childcare while she was away. I think it’s reasonable to charge for travel time as long as it’s agreed upon in advance.

      I don’t charge for travel, but I negotiate flying first/business/premium economy on the airline and my client pays for direct flights.

    4. TX_Trucker*

      I hire freelance trainers and they always charge me $x per hour, with an estimated number of hours to complete the project. This makes sense to me. It doesn’t matter if they are designing a complex presentation or answering a simple email … either way they are spending time on me as opposed to another client. I have not scheduled training that involves overnight travel, so not sure how to handle that.

  36. Anxious Bee*

    Started my new job this week in a new hospital system and I’m loving it already! But did meet with a blast from the past- one of my clinical instructors is now one of the heads of professional development at this hospital. And I…. hate her. She was my instructor when I was struggling with undiagnosed and untreated migraines and she did not make it any easier. In my mid-semester review she remarked that my appearance was not professional/acceptable. Her example? The bags under my eyes were too dark and deep. I was having week long migraines that were so bad I was dissociating near daily while still passing nursing school in the middle of a pandemic. Sorry the bags under my eyes weren’t my number 1 priority. I probably won’t deal with her too much outside of this week of orientation but it really threw me for a loop.

    1. Cacofonix*

      Oh my god. “Are you okay?” would have been a better response to your eye bags. But hey, you have the information you need to go in wary of this person. I hope you can be unapologetically you in this role. You got this.

    2. Foreverspin*

      everyone works with someone who is bad at their job. so congrats on identifying this person one week in! now you don’t have to wonder.

  37. Hydrangea*

    Has anyone ever successfully nudged a leadership team out of intense favoritism? In a division of about 55 people, the same 4 people get all of the praise on every call, every meeting. They were with the company in its startup days, and it seems like the leadership team is blind to everyone else who has hired on in the last 3 years. Sometimes sales will get praised on a call. Every other person and team is absolutely invisible.

    I brought this up at a leadership meeting and they glossed over it. Nothing has changed. People complain to me privately about feeling unappreciated, about not having a voice (only the founders talk at big meetings and sometimes pick those 4 favorites to present.) I have pointed out that appreciation is good for retention, have pointed out the ways other teams add value. It’s ignored.

    Has anyone here successfully persuaded top leaders to look beyond their favorites?

    1. MsM*

      If they refuse to hear it, the only way to get the message across is for key performers who aren’t getting the recognition they deserve to go somewhere they are appreciated. And even that’s not guaranteed to do the trick. Maybe you need to frame it in starker terms than just “hey, this would be good for business” (i.e. “hey, if you actually want to keep growing, it can’t just be the Paul, George, John, and Ringo show all the time”), but I’m not optimistic.

    2. Cacofonix*

      No. I’ve seen a lot of leaders at a number of organizations as a consultant and they will not change unless someone they have a lot of respect for lays out empirical data showing how their current behaviour creates a real and present organizational risk to reputation or profit. And then specific strategies, tactics to tackle it. And then a leader who will take it on and live the change. Then demonstrate empirically that it is effective.

      Or new leaders. Or a better job for the good people who are not being recognized. Which creates more of that data if said existing leaders are wanting to get to root cause, when you think about it.

    3. Qwerty*

      Those 4 people need to be the change. When they get praise, they should immediately pass it on to the people who worked on the project with them. This results in magnifying the praise like a power-up.

      You’ll often see this at normal size companies if a leader gets public praise, they’ll respond with something about how Fergus was a trooper with the TPS reports or that the Teapot team did an amazing job rewriting the SOPs. Super fun when the initial praise goes to a high level person who passes it to a manager or two, who then pass it onto their team.

      Back to your company – if those 4 early hires start doing this, the founders it will make other people’s contributions more visible to the founders and/or make people not care about not getting the first callout. We have someone at my startup who does this – she is so effusive with praise that she is genuinely appreciated when praised at almost every company meeting, and she’s good at switching up who she passes it on to.

      However, there’s a good chance those 4 favorites like being the “rockstars” of the company. I’ve worked at other startups where the early hires were actually a bottleneck. Those people have the closest relationship to the founders and took all the credit in conversations with the founders. (but with the general team pretended they had no idea why they got all the attention). The founders are only going to change if they get exposed to more people outside of their early hires, which is a tough thing to do.

    4. BikeWalkBarb*

      If you’re in leadership, can yo establish a formal recognition program? That’s not going to solve their lack of interest in caring about people but it would give you a way of building something that includes more than the original Fab Four.

      If you run meetings yourself you could build in a recognition element as part of the formal agenda. For my staff meetings we have a kudos section that people can populate in the meeting notes document ahead of time, or they can give a shout-out/thank you in chat or in the meeting and we’ll add it to the document. It can be big or small–thanks for always choosing the perfect GIF to make us laugh, thanks for helping me with that travel issue, thanks for your work on that gnarly thing none of us wanted to do but it had to be done and you took one for the team. No one has to set any new sales records to be thanked.

      We have an initiative to build a culture of belonging in my agency. At an all-day in-person retreat facilitated by the staff involved in that they had a great tool. We each were given small postcards and invited to write a direct thank-you note to others in the meeting for anything that struck us as being of particular value. We could do that at any time. After the first person stood up, walked around the table, and handed a note to someone, those cards started popping like popcorn. Loved it.

      Another division, back in the day when we generally went to offices, had a thank-you box in the office with index cards next to it. People wrote their thank-yous and dropped them in, then every so often someone took them all out, taped on a pack of gum or some other small treat, and delivered them to people’s desks. So small and so sweet.

      I guess what I’m getting is that you can build it without it coming from them if you’re in a position to do so. You’ll start shifting the culture. And at some point someone is going to write a card to you that says “Thanks for always thanking us!”.

  38. and now we're stressed out*

    I’ve recently come from a job that started out great but deteriorated after a change in management. The new managers (two instead of one) gave contradicting instructions, took projects away that I’d previously led and gave new, much lower level ones, and tended to shout and micromanage, until I burnt out and ended up on stress leave.

    I realised while going through this that I’m neurodivergent and basically, couldn’t keep masking because it was such a drain while trying to keep up. I’m now at a new role but I’m still really really burnt out and am only just realising how much – I’m not picking things up (previously very quick to grasp things) and struggling to be around people and with stress levels. Does anyone have any advice for someone who is neurodivergent (not formally diagnosed, I’m in the UK so it would take years and I just don’t have the spoons at the moment) and burnt out but who desperately wants to be a high performer again? I’m doing my best to try and work at a lower level while I recover but that’s depressing in and of itself.

    1. RagingADHD*

      Make sure you spend time outside of work doing things that bring you joy and physically as well as mentally reduce stress. Working at a lower level for a while should give you more time and brainspace for real life – spend time outdoors, go see / hear things you love like shows or art, play games, make stuff – whatever recharges you and makes you happy. Get some exercise and plenty of sleep, all that kind of thing.

    2. Treeline*

      This is hard, and I’m still working on it myself, but 1) make a dedicated effort to not take on more than necessary and 2) limit your interactions with negative news, gossip, and more. It’s easy to say, hard to do—I know through hard experience and still struggle with it. Focus on doing a good job on high-value projects rather than passable on numerous. I’m also following your thread for suggestions—really helpful question!

    3. OxfordBlue*

      Hi, I’m in the UK so thought I’d draw your attention to the recent series of articles in the Guardian, which are available without a paywall online, about neurodivergence and how to cope with it. If you go to the home page and type neurodivergence into their Search box lots of recent articles come up and many of those have helpful links either in the text or at the end.
      Also there are some helpful tips given by others who have your experience in some of the Forum boards on the MSE website, I suggest Disability money matters, Employment, jobseeking and training or Benefits and Tax Credits.
      The other place you may not have thought of looking is the ACAS website here http://www.acas.org.uk They give free workplace advice for employees and can help you navigate difficulties with your employer and tell you your legal rights here.
      Wishing you all the best as you recover.

  39. Trout 'Waver*

    I’d like to hear from anyone who’s first language isn’t English.

    I work a lot of with people from different backgrounds, with many who have English as a second (or third, etc) language. I’ve learned over the years to codeswitch to a ‘clean’ version of English free from idioms, slang, and cultural references when communicating in a business setting with second-language English speakers. Many have expressed gratitude for this; they give me feedback that I’m much easier to understand that other first-language English speakers and they appreciate it.

    However, my boss (also a second-language English speaker) asked me specifically to not do this with her.

    I’d like to hear anonymous feedback from second-language English speakers in this community whether this is appreciated or comes off as condescending. I understand that some people might not want to give me this feedback directly. Thoughts/comments?

    1. amoeba*

      I think it very much depends on the level of the person’s English! While it’s not my native language, a lot of the media I consume is English, I spend too much time on the internet, so slang etc. are generally not a problem for me, unless it’s something really obscure. But probably no more of a problem than, day, for somebody from a different region or an Englishperson in the US. So yeah, I’d be a bit annoyed if you did that with me! Taking to native speakers is generally always a good way to improve, and if they change their way of speaking for me, it doesn’t help.

      OTOH, in French I’d be quite grateful, as my French is… barely conversational, so I definitely need all the help I can get.

      But in general, if somebody is fluent and seems to understand everything without any major problems, I wouldn’t adapt. We want to learn! Especially if they actually live in the country and are not, like, a foreign student or a tourist.

    2. CherryBlossom*

      As you yourself have seen, it depends on the person! Some people are very grateful that someone would meet them where they are, especially with idioms and slang that are harder to learn and keep up with. But of course, some people do see it as condescending and would rather you speak to them identically as English native speakers.

      I think you’re good continuing as you are, and course correcting when someone asks otherwise. Also, from my experience with second-language English speakers, it can be harder for them to ask you to slow down or explain what you mean compared to letting you know they’re fluent enough in English to understand what you mean.

    3. Angstrom*

      My experience working with an English-second-language team is that it is situational. In work situations where clarity is critical and time is limited, such as a meeting with customers, they appreciate the “clean” version. In more relaxed everyday conversations they enjoy learning the idioms and slang.

      1. Ali + Nino*

        this has been my experience (as a native English speaker) – I happened to teach a coworker the expressions “cars pajamas” and “dust bunnies” :)

    4. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      FinalJob had a large number of engineers who had English or German (I’m in DE) as a 2nd language.

      We didn’t avoid slang/idioms, as they needed to learn this, but instead the common practice was to avoid being long-winded and to avoid convoluted sentences or going off on a tangent.
      In EMails, instead of a wall of text, we used brief bullet points and put action items at the top in a separate section, all of which actually made it easier for everyone to read.

    5. Awkwardness*

      It really depends.
      I always appreciate idioms – most of them can be understood/ interpreted from context and if I learn how to use them, my own English will improve a lot.
      Abbreviations are more complicated, because you need to explain them and repeat several times for the other person to be able to follow your thoughts immediately. I hate it when upper management throws around those terms without explanation. While I frantically try to remember what google said for SME, they already got to the next bullet point and I lost track.
      Cultural references are difficult. If there are some historical facts (as a defeat being compared to a certain lost battle) or general assumptions (crazy people from Florida), it might work. But it is much more difficult to teach or explain the cultural significance e.g. of famous quotes from a children’s TV show, the name of the books you had to read in High School, the latest scandal of a movie star or the stance of a politician. This requires a lot of context and I, personally, would appreciate if you try to avoid those. There is a certain potential of unnecessary confusion and misunderstanding.

      1. Ellie*

        Agree to all of this, especially the cultural references. People in the US: please go easy on the baseball idioms. They are everywhere in US conversation! I speak English fluently except for baseball. I don’t know what batting 1000 means. I have no idea what a doubleheader is. Please have mercy.

    6. jasmine*

      To be transparent, I technically learned English as my second language but it’s now the language I’m most fluent in, so I’m not really the person you’re asking.

      But I will say that when I have trouble understanding a language, the thing I’m most grateful for is being able to communicate. Though I recognize that there’s more baggage with English (with people not knowing it being perceived as “uneducated” or “dumb”). I would still assume that struggling to converse would hurt my pride more if my struggle was obvious to the other person. While those who don’t struggle might be annoyed that you’re assuming they’re “bad” at English. I don’t know if there’s a good universal approach that would make everyone happy.

      Perhaps sprinkle in idioms and slang, and take your cues from how the individual reacts? Or whether they themselves use those expressions?

    7. Anxious autistic dude*

      In my experience, it depends on the context. (Native English/other language bilingual here) Folks do seem to find it odd and formal in more casual settings – like a one-on-one, but appreciate it in work meetings or when the topic is pretty technical. It also can depend on the workplace culture – I used to work in a workplace where the “clean” English you talk about was expected as a rule of practice. I also find it depends on the culture that someone is coming from – e.g., in my other native language, one would most certainly not use slang with your boss, but it would be fine with one of your colleagues.

    8. GingerSheep*

      French is my native language but I lived in Toronto from the ages of 4 to 10 so, even though I went to a French school, my English is pretty decent. On the other hand, I moved back to France when I was ten, and have lost some of my fluency in the 30 years that have elapsed since. I definitely have an accent, and often fumble for my words when speaking, but can write academic papers that are in perfect native-level English (when given the time! Not in online comments! ;) and understand most everything that is being said in any English-language interaction.
      All this to say, my comprehension of English is way better than my speech, and I really hate it when people dumb down their vocabulary and speak sloooowly when addressing me in English. I am well aware that this is not universal and definitely have colleagues who are less fluent and are thankful for the effort, but I believe you should keep in mind that people often understand English way better than they speak it.

  40. Call me wheels*

    Hey all :) last week I posted about how I’m applying for a freelance games writing gig I’m very excited for. I haven’t finished testing yet and it’s been tough but I’m trying to keep optimistic. Uhh wish me luck again I guess!

    PS: I didn’t twig it at the time but I think last week when someone asked me about if it was a certain Netherlands based company beginning with S they might have been referring to Sokpop? It’s not Sokpop haha but I am a huge fan of their games and very much enjoying Clickyland which just came out :) and maybe I should see if they are hiring anyway if this one doesn’t work out lol

    1. Kesnit*

      I’m the one that asked, and I asked about a Netherlands based company that starts with L. Specifically Larian. :)

      1. call me wheels*

        Ah my mistake then lol, it’s not them either though :P what games do they have?

  41. BellaStella*

    Thank you AaM for the 38 posts in the freelancing category. I am taking some time to get my independent licence where I live (outside the US), and am working on some business ideas for my services. I am also applying for at last 5-6 jobs a week too, as building a business takes time. Next week I have one networking call (for a speaking gig later in the year), and I have downloaded all the forms for my license, too.

    Advice for becoming a freelance business owner for services including policy analysis, translations, and project management?

    Oh and on another note, today I blocked a few folks on linkedin who were stalking me and acting creepy.

    1. WellRed*

      Can’t help with your work question but doesn’t it feel good to block people like that! For me, not stalkers but just blocking or unfollowing various people who post racist or other stupid sht online. Much more peaceful!

  42. A. Nonny Mouse*

    A recent situation at work has gotten me wondering. How common is it for someone to be terminated and made to sign an NDA that they can’t talk about why? I have been fortunate enough that I’ve only been laid off (not fired), and I haven’t seen firings often, but my partner tells me this is regular practice if the employee is offered severance. My assumption here is that the employee was let go for normal performance reasons. What has been your experience, commentariat?

    1. Elle Woods*

      From what I’ve seen, NDA use varies by industry and seniority level. Two particular cases stand out to me. In one, the lone employee who handled a mid-level duty was let go because the company had decided to outsource his position. That employee’s separation agreement included NDA language including a bilateral non-disparagement clause. In the other case, a senior level employee was let go for mutually agreed-upon performance reasons; that NDA included language about non-disclosure of company information and business practices in addition to a bilateral non-disparagement clause.

    2. asdfdsui*

      I’ve only heard of it happening once at my work, and that was a very extenuating circumstance where it was clear the employee was going to significantly misrepresent the reasons for their separation in very public forums.

      (Employee had a mental health breakdown which involved them believing the company to be guilty of a number of horrid, untrue things and posting about it online. They refused any mental health support, and were eventually fired when they began making coworkers feel unsafe.)

    3. Girasol*

      I was part of a huge downsizing. People were upset. The company offered severance but they also cut some corners that employees might have discussed with the media or sued them over. We had to sign an NDA saying we wouldn’t discuss anything about it or we’d lose our severance. The severance was generous. I don’t know anyone who refused to sign in order to retain the right to air grievances.

    4. Not today*

      I’m not in North America, so YMMV – I resigned from a job last year which was in the pre-stages of performance management. I signed a deed of separation (different from normal resignation because they wanted me gone and I was done fighting the unfair treatment). The deed included bilateral non denigration clauses and phrasing around the terms of my payout being confidential (they gave me a few more weeks than standard, probably for making their lives easy). It’s not quite the same as the situation you’re referring to, because I wasn’t fired, but NDA clauses still applied (and I’m not in an industry that works with confidential/commercial in confidence information or has non-compete clauses in contracts).

  43. Aye Nonny Nonny*

    So I’ve posted about this before, but this week I learned that the HR term is “rebadged” for when I get transferred from my employer to their outsource vendor. This will happen in mid-July.

    I really should have gotten out when it was announced in February. I was forced to accept the outsource company’s offer as a “comparable job” and would lose severance either way. If I refused, it would be considered a “voluntary resignation” so I couldn’t get unemployment either.

    How should I explain this on my job hunt? They are matching my salary but worse benefits with a small payout due to the difference. (Thankfully I’m on my spouse’s insurance.) I’ll give them a chance but I really feel robbed of my agency among everything else.

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Why did you leave your last job? There was corporate restructuring and my job was outsourced to our vendor XYZ firm which led to some changes in my job that I didn’t like, mainly compensation. I stuck around for 7 months while the changes too affect to see if I could adapt to new role but I really miss doing task ABC…

      Task ABC ideally would be something that is in the job description for the new job you are interviewing for. If there’s no task like that swap the ending to “…could adapt to new role but in the end it just made me realize I was ready for a change and new challenges which is why I was so excited to see you were hiring for ABC project/department”

    2. RagingADHD*

      “My role is being outsourced. I have received an offer to move to the vendor, but I am looking for other options.”

    3. Hillary*

      Just say they outsourced your department to the vendor and pivot to why you’re excited about the new role. You don’t need to explain the salary or benefits detail. It doesn’t reflect badly on you and folks will draw their own conclusions.

    4. ArtK*

      I had a similar situation. Company sold the product I was working on and said “You have a choice. Go to NewCompany or resign from Company.” I never got any pushback when asked about why I left Company. “Product X got sold and I went with it to NewCompany.” In fact, Product X was later sold by NewCompany to EvenNewerCompany and I went with it. That was a mistake because EvenNewerCompany had all kinds of issues. The job changes themselves didn’t cause trouble when looking for something new.

  44. Chidi has a stomach ache*

    I’m not actively looking for a job, but a position with a really good, niche fit at a large tech company came across my feed, and I decided, “eh, might as well see if I get traction.” I started the application at lunchtime yesterday, paused to join a meeting for my current job, and in the 2 hours between when I started and when I returned to my saved application, the ATS now said “this job is no longer available.”

    It was a long shot, I know tech hiring is super competitive, but it would have been a MASSIVE pay bump even if hired at the bottom quartile of the salary range (like the type that could let my partner take some much-needed extended time off from working), and I can’t help but be annoyed that if I had only started like an hour earlier on the application I might’ve gotten something that really helped improve our quality of life. Ah well.

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Set up a google alert and keep checking on that companies hiring pages. They may have pulled the ad to tweak it or change wording, not because they filled the role. You may get lucky!

    2. Frustrated Fundraiser*

      If they were that close to filling the role, they probably wouldn’t have even looked at your application. I’d keep an eye on their job openings.

    3. JPalmer*

      This was a mirage more likely than an opportunity.

      Any large tech company does not move fast with it’s hiring. If it was open and then closed a number of things probably happened:

      1. It’s been opened a while ago, and you wanted to find it and apply weeks ago, which you probably didn’t because you weren’t looking.
      2. It was opened as a formality but they largely knew who they wanted. Some companies are legally required to interview publicly for positions even when they’re doing an internal transfer or have who they want to hire, it wouldn’t surprise me if there are ways around actually following through on that.
      3. Budget changes closed the position.
      4. The opening didn’t adequately reflect the role and a new opening was instead made.

      Don’t lose sleep over a thing that didn’t materialize, if there was a big pay bump involved, that might be a signal to put some more effort into looking for new opportunities that fit you.

  45. PassThePeasPlease*

    I need to level set that I’m not crazy and maybe a little commiseration. Over the past 3 weeks my team has gone from 3 (my manager, a VP, me, a mid level manager, and an individual contributor who has been on the account for about 8 months) to just me. There has been no change in the amount of work.

    My manager moved to a different business functions which happened very quickly and abruptly, she was managing several major workstreams which now either fall onto me or her boss who is frequently out speaking at conferences/other high level company wide priorities.

    The individual contributor is going out on a two week mental health leave based on things going on in their personal life. There are several high volume projects that they were going to handle that will now be on my plate unless there is an option to loop in a new person but it is convoluted so I would effectively have to train someone from new to (maybe) not even have them do it again or work with an offshore team in the same situation.

    This is the first time this is happening to me and I’m at a loss on how to even get more support or even what support is needed. In the meantime, vendors are reaching out for updates but I’m not able to give them any till we have client approval that’s two weeks late at this point. I’m tired and frustrated and sick of being the contingency plan because I’m halfway decent at my job. Has this happened to anyone else/anyone have any tips? I have some time off scheduled in the next few weeks and I’m already anxious about all that won’t be handled while I’m away simply because there’s no one here.

    1. ThursdaysGeek*

      Obviously, the amount of work completed is going to be less. Do as good a job as you can, but don’t do more than you can. Don’t even try to do more than you can. If the company wants it done, they will just need to provide more people (knowing that adding someone new to a project will slow it down in the short term).

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      Let the balls drop. CC hire ups on emails. There’s a real risk if you do semi OK as a one person show that they won’t get backup coverage, they won’t hire more people, they’ll just keep your downsized department.

      As for what you can do – take your concerns to management, whoever you report to right now. Hey we had 5 people on this project set, now it’s just me. Can we meet and triage what needs to happen? Ask about ranking priorities, ask about which projects can get delayed, ask about how best to communicate this to your vendors and clients. Ask which projects should get scaled back or even dropped right now.

    3. Goddess47*

      This of is as something above your pay grade… it’s not your fault and not your responsibility.

      Push those questions from outside vendors/clients to whomever you are reporting to, whether they know what you do or not.

      And don’t over do it. Take that scheduled break. If ‘they’ insist that you shouldn’t/can’t take it, ask for compensation (money, more time off, etc) to stay.

      Breathe for a moment. Good luck!

    4. ferrina*

      Yikes. I’ve actually been in your shoes- twice (at the same company).

      First thing- Make a list of every project/responsibility that the team was doing. Then mark off 1) what absolutely must be done, 2) what might be able to be backburnered, and 3) what can be paused or cancelled.
      Figure out how much time List 1 (Must Be Done) takes, and how much time you have after that.
      Figure out what requires expertise, and what a temp can take on. If a temp can take on a task, figure that you will still need to spend 30% of the time that the task usually takes to supervise the temp.

      Next- go to your boss (or whoever is responsible for making sure your function gets done). Share the list of tasks and the breakdown. They may agree/disagree on some priorities. They need to figure out what they want you to spend your time on, what can be pushed back, and whether you can get a temp to help.
      Hold your ground in this conversation. Don’t let them overload you. If things need to get done, then they need to make sure they have the resources to do it. That’s on them.

      Finally, for your PTO- cross train as needed to make sure that anything time sensitive is taken care of. Remind your boss and anyone else you work with frequently that you have PTO coming up. About 2 weeks in advance, double check that they wont’ need anything during that time. Then totally unplug and enjoy.

      Also- give them 1 month of grace to come up with a plan. If they drag their feet, then you are the plan. After 1 month with no progress, start job searching.

    5. Ama*

      Ask for the temporary help/offshore team. I’ve been there and I know when you’re this stressed out the thought of having to train someone who might not be around for long seems like more of a hassle than just doing the work yourself but 1) you can not reasonably do three jobs you need the help; and 2) bringing in another person to help will reinforce to the higher ups/clients, etc. that you can’t do everything on your own.

      I was in your same boat a few years ago — I ended up getting approval to bring in a temp and a consultant to help me handle a few months’ of a heavy workload until there was time to conduct a hiring process for the roles that were vacant. I won’t say it was easy but it was way better than me trying to handle a three person workload on my own for six months.

    6. Girasol*

      Isn’t this one of those cases where you tell whoever is above you, “A and B and C have landed on my plate now that my coworkers are gone, but I can only reasonably handle either A, or B and C. Which would you prefer to see me focus on?”

  46. and now we're stressed out*

    Does anyone have any advice for starting a new job, while in burnout, while also being neurodivergent? I’m exhausted constantly, catching every bug that’s going, and feeling extremely slow and stupid after my last job – which caused the burnout and destroyed my confidence and ability to mask.

    I’ve been here a few months but am slow and now have difficulty speaking (part of the neurodirgence issue) to the point of needing to stop to think and get the words in the right order. I’m afraid my new overlords think they’ve hired a slack idiot.

    1. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      Do everything you can to take care of yourself when you’re not at work. In whatever way works best for you. If you need to take a break from family or other socializing so you have the bandwidth for it at work, do that.

      This could mean hiring a meal service or eating really simple foods so you don’t have to do cooking/grocery shop as much, hiring a lawn service if you have a yard to maintain, etc. etc. Pay other people to do your chores that will free up your time so that you can catch up on sleep/rest, even if you can just do it for a couple of months. If dishes are a problem, let yourself use disposable options for a month or two. If laundry is a problem, see if a local laundromat has a laundry service.

      If you can’t afford to pay for services to get yourself some extra downtime, just be easy on yourself. Let things go a bit if you can. Maybe ask a friend if they can give you some extra help?

      When at work, prioritize what you’re doing as best you can so that you have the wherewithal to talk to your bosses if needed, but maybe try increasing your non-verbal communication methods like email or IM whenever you can. And maybe just tell your bosses something like “I promise I’m capable of speaking, but I’m dealing with some outside stressors, and sometimes I need a little extra time to think through what I’m saying in order to say it correctly. Please bear with me when that happens.” You can probably tell them that in an email if you need.

    2. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      Captain Awkward has a great post about how to tidy up your game at work when you’re depressed, and a lot of the recommendations apply across every situation.

  47. BellaStella*

    Advice please:

    I am employed. But my boss and grandboss and team missing stair (fave of grandboss) are causing loads of issues and I got thrown under the bus recently for something that a) did not happen, b) there were 5 people in meeting who agree it did not happen, and c) I am sick of being treated so badly (this is one of many things in the past 18 months).

    I took some days off and heard from a colleague today that boss is stressed that I am gone.

    My question is that when your HR team is not functional at all (loads of meetings, complaints, nothing changes), how do you address this stuff aside from looking for other work (I am doing) and as I note above starting to try to freelance? How do you even tell them all that the lies are not ok?

    1. ferrina*

      I’m so sorry you’re going through this. I’ve had more than my fair share of toxic workplaces, and here’s what’s helped me:

      – Look for another job.
      – Care less. You won’t fix them. They don’t want to be fixed. You already know that their evaluation of your performance is completely unconnected to reality.
      – Don’t expect them to be reasonable. They aren’t. You don’t need to convince reasonable, normal people that blatant lying is bad. They know it’s bad; they just don’t care. To quote the great Captain Awkward: “Reasons are for reasonable people. You can’t reason with unreasonable people.” Don’t waste your breath trying to change them, because that’s a losing battle.
      – Let them save face. This is 100% about their egos and what happens in their mind. When you find ways to let them save face, they are less likely to punish you.
      – Don’t show ambition. They are already threatened by your competence. You know you don’t have a future at this company, so don’t show any interest in promotions or credit.

      Oh, and listen to Vienna Teng’s song “Whatever You Want.”
      Good luck, and hopefully you can get out soon!

      1. The Magician's Auntie*

        Ferrina, I always value your comments.

        Saying this fairly flippantly (because “you should write a book” needs to be said with understanding of how challenging it is to write and publish a book!), but you should write a book or a blog of advice on how to tackle toxic workplaces and bosses. There isn’t a lot of real-world advice out there that reflects what you need to do in those situations. I was in a couple of toxic jobs years ago and I approached both as if my tormenters were capable of being reasonable, and each situation got wilder and wilder until I basically had a nervous breakdown, and the bullies definitely won. Your advice is so much more spot on – I used it recently with a new toxic situation and it worked a treat (turned a bullying boss into an accomodating boss in the space of a few days.)

        1. Tinamedte*

          I agree about Ferrinas comments being so valuable, I find them insightful and level-headed and I always read them carefully.

        2. ferrina*

          Thank you so much! That is so kind of you. I’m so glad that the advice was helpful for you!! (and I’m so sorry that you are in a situation where that kind of advice is helpful).

          Honestly, I stand on the shoulders of giants. AAM and Captain Awkward have gotten me through some tough times. I’ll definitely think about writing a book or blog though :)

  48. ecnaseener*

    Friday good news: I got a job offer with a sizable raise!

    Last week or the week before, I posted here about this job bumping me down to a lower job title but giving me some of the higher-level work, and my trepidation about all the ways that could go badly. Well, turns out they want me for the higher job title after all, even though other candidates were better on paper! Apparently my enthusiasm for the work won out in the end :)

    I’ve never resigned from a job before (previous jobs were seasonal / student jobs with an end date baked in) so I’m nervous about all of that, and also just generally nervous about leaving a pretty-good situation for an unknown??? But mostly excited!

  49. NorthernTeacher*

    I am a junior teacher, and I have started taking on High School placement students. However, I am struggling with knowing the right balance. I like the advice AAM gives on interns, but these are much younger student (16-18). I flip flop between worrying that my expectations are too high or too low. I would really appreciate if anyone with experience mentoring high schools in a job setting could share their thoughts or experience.

    1. Hyaline*

      Working with a lot of college freshmen…I’d say err on the side of higher expectations. Most of my students are very underprepared and stronger guidance, firmer guidelines, and even the occasional consequence would put them in much better, less stressful positions when they enter college or work. You can always pedal back or give grace when students fall short of high expectations, but if they never get pushed to clear a higher bar, it can hurt them in the long run.

    2. TX_Trucker*

      We have a 1 week summer internship / job shadow program for highschool juniors and seniors who are interested in automotive repair. It’s a very competitive program to get accepted. Some of them are brilliant at engine repair even at a young age. But they lack common “business” sense. I’m constantly amazed at the trouble they get in the moment they are left alone. Maybe it’s different outside of trades, but I would start with low expectations.

  50. Blueprint blues*

    today I’m accepting a job that’s across the country, for a company I don’t love( my interactions with them haven’t been great. in part, they’ve outsourced their HR to India, where the concepts of time zones and daylight savings vs standard time are not understood), for $25k less than what I used to make, with less vacation. I’ve been out of work for a year. I have a feeling of impending doom.

    anyone have stories about jobs you took where it seemed terrible, but your instincts were wrong and it was fine?

    1. DrSalty*

      I’ve looked at bad /temporary jobs this way: everything is a stepping stone to something else. This doesn’t have to be forever, it just has to be for now. Get some experience and then move on to something better.

      Good luck, I hope it’s less bad than you fear!

    2. WellRed*

      Agree with DrSalty. Don’t think if this as permanent, think of it as a step to get to your next position. Sadly, while I hope this works out for the best for you, I suspect your instincts are correct. Maybe you’ll have a great manager and coworkers and won’t have to interact with HR much.

    3. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      The job would likely seem more tolerable if you regard it as a shortterm placeholder just to pay the bills until something better is available.
      Could you even now keep hunting for that better job?- it might be easier to do so while employed, even when your resume shows you’ve just started a new job.

      In interview you can always explain something like”this job has turned out not to have a route for career progression / not a good match / not what I expected and I am finding the low PTO restricting”

  51. Plucky not lucky*

    How do you handle a coworker blatantly attempting to sabotage you?

    One of mine accused me of being high on narcotics at work (EXTREMELY false and without basis, let alone reasonable suspicion!) and I had to be drug tested. Even though it came back negative, my supervisor warned me to expect random tests for the next six months, while also admitting there was no cause. it’s policy for anyone accused of such a thing, and he admitted he knew it was because my coworker was attempting sabotage.

    No one believes I would ever be high at work and is appalled for me, so their attempts failed. But I still don’t want to work with this person again. How do I approach my boss about it?

    1. ferrina*

      It sounds like you are in a strong position to handle this. You have a stellar reputation, so this is reflecting worse on the Would-Be Saboteur than it is on you. They tried to attack you, and instead they mildly inconvenienced you (with the drug test) while making themselves look like a jerk.

      If you are concerned about escalation, go to your boss and say “Hey, I want to make sure I’m protected in case Would-Be tries anything else. Here’s what I’m thinking I’d like to do….”
      What you actually ask for depends on what your role and Would-Be’s role are. Don’t give up any high-profile or good work. But maybe have a third person in all meetings with you and Would-Be. Communicate via email as much as possible. If there’s someone else that isn’t Would-Be that you could work with instead, see if that’s possible.
      If you are specific in what you want, your boss is more likely to say yes.

      1. Plucky and lucky*

        This is really helpful, thank you. The coworker is notoriously bad at his job (we work with incredibly dangerous substances that could kill the entire town next door if there was a catastrophic cobtainment failure) and unreliable, so my supervisor has me training to… effectively take over coworker’s role and ease him into a less responsible one (Note: there would be no title change or decrease in pay, just a change in duties). People like me in this new role and I think this was his way of lashing out to protect himself.

        I’m just so in shock that he would stoop this far. I think I’ll ask that either he or I get moved to a different shift. I can’t work with someone who would accuse me of something this egregious just to get what he wants.

        1. Nesprin*

          This is 100% a problem for your boss. Seriously, make it your boss’s problem.

          And anyone who’d accuse falsely accuse a coworker for being gently edged out of his job with incredibly toxic chemicals should not be on the payroll. But this is your boss’s problem.

          “hey I don’t feel safe working the same shift as this guy- could you please move him or me?”
          “hey I don’t feel safe doing this thing with this guy- could you please come supervise?”
          “hey, I’m worried that guy is unreliable because X. Could you please do the safety oversight thing?”
          “hey, this guy is doing X with our chemicals that puts us all at risk. Can you please step in?”
          “hey boss, what’s the plan for me long term? I’m worried about working with someone who’d accuse me of this. Could you please help me figure this out?”
          “hey boss, I’m worried that this guy may have been projecting with the substance abuse allegation- he’s been acting strangely lately.”

        2. Tio*

          I really echo Ferrina’s comments to not be alone with this person if it can be helped. You already know they are willing to lie about you, so this is dangerous territory. What happens if they accuse you of sexual harassment, bigotry, some kind of regulatory breach, etc?

          I know you’re training to take over their job (which is almost certainly why they are doing this) but be VERY cautious with them form now on. They are trying to get you fired and you should proceed as such.

    2. Goddess47*

      The mean person in me would turn around and accuse the co-worker of the same thing. A reverse-Uno play…

      If your boss accepts that it was false, and that the coworker was sabotaging you on purpose, I would point out that this makes for a bad work environment if the two of you are working together and that it’s to everyone’s benefit (but especially his) if you don’t work together.

      Good luck!

      1. Seven times*

        Even in a peer, this could be seen as retaliation and it would be tricky to demonstrate outside of the limited people who know OP. Best not do do anything that creates that perception.

    3. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      Complain to HR or someone above your supervisor – before he escalates to accusations for which there is no test to disprove e.g. false claims of hate speech when there is no other witness.

      Blatantly false accusations are normally serious disciplinary offences which can result in the liar being fired. However, if noone else can take over his duties atm, they may desperately want to keep him on until you are trained, then fire him. Very bad management practice though.

    4. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      If it is feasible to move one of you to a different shift – and he should get the shitty shift as the offending party – then advocate for this very strongly. You want no contact with him, if possible.

      1. linger*

        Moving coworker to a less desirable shift sounds fitting, but comes with one potential snag: it is therefore also likely a less populated shift … and placing the unreliable coworker in a shift where they would be less well supervised when working with hazardous chemicals is an accident waiting to happen. On the one hand, it would make the coworker more of a supervisor’s problem; on the other, that problem has potential consequences for many other people.

        I wonder whether unreliable coworker has been made aware of how much they are underperforming in this role, or instead is attacking OP because this has not been adequately documented and communicated, and so coworker sees management concerns as unjustified. I.e. this could be the result of long-term management failure as well as coworker’s failings.

        I also wonder whether coworker was allowed to underperform for a long time (presumably because it’s a difficult role to fill), or whether it is a more recent deterioration. The latter, plus the usual rule that a baseless accusation is often grounded in deflection, would suggest that management should be conducting more regular random drug tests on coworker. OP need not accuse coworker of anything, but could perhaps suggest to their boss that this could be a possibility to eliminate.

  52. Mimmy*

    This is a long shot, but I know there are a couple of people in the accessibility field who sometimes comments.

    TL;DR – looking for accessibility training recommendations

    As I’ve mentioned before, I am interested in accessibility, particularly digital accessibility. I’m probably not going to get to a point where I am a full-time accessibility specialist / analyst, but it is something I’d really like to have in my skillset. I’m particularly interested in accessible course materials (textbooks, articles, multimedia) at the postsecondary level but am open to exploring other areas.

    I have a good idea of basic accessibility principles for documents and websites (though I don’t have any experience in creating web content) and have some experience with assistive technology, mainly those used by blind and low vision individuals. Now I just need some hands-on practice and eventually learn how to evaluate for accessibility and maybe even get into remediation. So far, I’ve been using LinkedIn Learning through my local library to get up to speed on Microsoft Word and have others saved up.

    As for accessibility-specific training, I have been eyeing something called Deque University as well as a course on accessible documents through WebAIM. LinkedIn Learning has a few accessibility courses too. I’m also looking into maybe getting some training on assistive technology to better understand the interaction with documents and websites.

    Has anyone ever taken courses through these resources? Are they worth my time (and money)? I know that Deque and WebAIM allow people with disabilities to take their courses for me (I do qualify as I have disabilities) but would the quality be the same as it would be at full price? Given my current skill set, I mainly want to focus on accessible documents (Word, PDF, PowerPoint).

    Any and all suggestions welcome!

      1. Nightengale*

        I work in autismland (and am autistic myself) so I checked those out. It looks very focused in behavior strategies, largely in children. I don’t see anything about digital accessibility and their overall language used to describe autistic people and behavior would make me pretty cautious.

        1. Mimmy*

          I noticed that too. But I did see that this organization also has modules on assistive technology, although it seems more geared towards K-12 educators. I may check it out.

  53. Ann O*

    I’m looking for any advice on navigating without a leader.

    My direct manager suddenly went on medical leave last month. At first it was a few days, then a week, now there is no end in sight. There has little communication and no plan in place. I rarely see my grand boss and he hasn’t offered any guidance whatsoever. The one time I emailed him a question, he forwarded it to his assistant, who set up a 15-minute meeting for us *in July*. Apparently he’s very busy and traveling a lot. I would have assumed my manager would be back by then, but maybe not.

    Any advice for getting through? I’m trying to appreciate the flexibility and autonomy. But I do not know what authority I have to make decisions right now, and on some projects we’re reaching the point where we can’t keep delaying. I’m also feeling increasingly disconnected and disengaged.

    1. ferrina*

      How well do you know Grandboss’s assistant? This person is the gatekeeper- you need them to be aware of the importance of this issue so they can prioritize you. The smaller the ask, the easier it is to accommodate. Can you organize your questions so the majority can be asked in 30 minutes or less?

      Can you talk to the assistant in person? Ideally not to pester them, but to ask their advice on what to do. Your boss is out, the project will fail, and you need Grandboss to give you authority/Grandboss to approve X/etc. Make clear what is at stake and what the situation is- assistant may not be aware of it.

      Worst comes to worst, reach out to HR on whether you have an interim manager. Just ask “while manager is out, who am is the authority on project/budget/etc.? Grandboss has other priorities and doesn’t have time to absorb all of Manager’s responsibilities.” This could end up with repercussions, so proceed with caution.
      Good luck!

      1. Ann O*

        Thanks!

        The assistant usually works out of a different location so I don’t see her regularly, but I do think she could help provide access if it was urgent. I think part of the problem is that what’s urgent for me is not urgent for the grand boss, if that makes sense.

        Grand boss a senior leader and he’s dealing with much bigger priorities – and much bigger fires – than what I’m dealing with. He’s only two levels higher than me, but it’s actually a big jump. He is disconnected from the day-to-day work we do. That actually may be why he’s opting to set up the July meeting instead of answering [what I think is] a relatively straightforward question via email; he may not have enough context to even know how to answer.

        I’m just not sure if I move forward and ask for forgiveness later, act in a holding pattern, or what.

        1. ferrina*

          what’s urgent for me is not urgent for the grand boss

          Absolutely understand this! This is where the assistant might be helpful- sometimes they have a better finger on the pulse than their boss does. I might call and ask the assistant for help- ask if there’s a sooner time and explain the situation. Sometimes part of the assistant’s job is to prioritize the schedule, so this gives the assistant valuable information.

          Don’t just ask the one question- state the underlying issue and figure out what you need to be able to go forward without your boss (and assume that your grandboss isn’t an option for a while.) You want a long-term solution, not just solving today’s problem. Make sure you understand what authority you have and do not have, and/or have your grandboss designate someone with authority to make the decisions that your boss would have made.

    2. hazel herds cats*

      First, get all your ducks in a row:
      – current projects, status thereof, open questions, etc. (If it were me, I would do it in a status page, so that the duck update would be the place to look for what’s going on henceforth.)
      Make clear, super clear, that the report is what you know, and may be missing items that your manager knows about but you do not.
      Highlight those decisions that are not yours to make, and collect them in a separate list as well.
      Then send a lthe report to the assistant. Ask one question: What would they like to do?
      A) assign an interim manager
      B) have you make the decisions (and others as they arise) notifying your GrandBoss as well as X, Y, and Z as you go.
      C) reach out to someone they designate for decisions before proceeding, understanding that some delays in deliveries may result.

      I think it’s important to comment that the situation shows poor planning on the orgs part. No matter how small an org is, they should have contingency planning in place. That contingency planning could be: (B) which is the small org reality default.

      1. linger*

        I’m glad nobody has suggested the usual dysfunctional org reality default of:
        (D) pester manager with questions while they’re undergoing medical treatment.
        Is this place disorganized enough that grandboss might actually propose that? because if so OP will need a way to push back.

  54. CherryBlossom*

    I’ve started a new job in academia after years in working in tech/finance, and I need a reality check.

    I know academia has a reputation of being quirky, but this job has me all out of whack. I’ve been here a week, and was told my onboarding would START next week. I’ve been given very small tasks (think sorting markers by color, or filing index cards), but otherwise I’ve been left alone. I haven’t been trained on anything nor given any training documents, and have mainly been sitting here. Hell, No one here, including my supervisor, is even sure what my job title is. (I applied as on office manager, but most “are pretty sure” I’m a receptionist.

    In my previous jobs, I’ve been up and running by day 3, or at least given some goals to achieve. In any other job, these would all be major red flags. But tech/finance are much more polished and put together, and again, I’ve never worked in academia before. Is this normal, or should I run for the hills?

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Sadly that sounds pretty normal for academia. I’d give it a month to get the job title, duties, etc sorted out then give up on them. I remember my orientation was a month after I started because the university only did them so often and it had to be the official one.

    2. YNWA*

      It’s normal, especially since it’s summer. Things move waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay slower in academia normally, but in the summer it slows down even more.

    3. WorkerDrone*

      That sounds unfortunately extremely normal for academia. I’ve worked as an admin in higher education my whole life, and every job I’ve held has been like this.

      It takes a good month before feeling like I have enough work to do to fill my days. It takes a good six months before feeling confident in my work. It takes a full year before feeling like I’m no longer new.

      I would not personally consider it a red flag in academia at all.

    4. Butt in Seat*

      To me, that sounds more dysfunctional than the usual for academia — however, at least in my part of the country, we just ended the semester a couple weeks ago and this liminal time is always extra weird. People out on vacation, people catching up on projects they couldn’t do with students around… I’d say give it a month from starting before concluding you should run for the hills.

      1. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

        This. If they’ve just finished their semester, you’re in that weird between time where everyone is not doing what they normally do, and that is definitely going to include not figuring out what the new person should be doing. Give it a month or so.

        If you want to be proactive, find whoever hired you and contact them, or get ahold of HR, or just study the org chart as best you can to figure out who’s above that it makes sense to contact to ask if there’s anything you need to be doing. Use extra time to level up any skills you think you might need, or to walk around the campus and get a feel for what is where.

        1. CherryBlossom*

          Did all of the above and more this past week, and was given the same answer all around: hang tight and feel free to faff about on the computer for now.

          Honestly, my main worry is my current skill set atrophying. At my last job, I overhauled entire systems in a matter of weeks, oversaw projects on my own, was given loads of autonomy, and generally just …did things. I’m feeling antsy even now as I type this.

          1. trust me I'm a PhD*

            So two things:
            1) Probably at your last job, you didn’t overhaul the entire system in the first weeks that you were on the job? If you’re having difficulty with the slow start, but comparing it to your skill set while you were at the top of your game in the last job, well, it just takes time to get off the ground and learn the system(s) well enough to change them.
            2) Academia is slow to change. Change isn’t impossible, it just doesn’t happen in a matter of weeks, for a variety of reasons (mostly good –– a lot more people have to sign off on things, changes have to work for a lot of different units, etc.) If you want a fast-paced, quick-to-change environment, then the red flags you’re seeing may just be signs that this environment is not for you.

            1. CherryBlossom*

              Yeah, I did indeed overhaul some systems in my first weeks, though it was a small tech start-up that had never had an office manager before, so they hired me specifically to do that ASAP. But even other jobs had me doing more in the first week than just sit and faff about.

              I don’t know that I necessarily want anything THAT fast-paced again, but this is so slow that I’m completely thrown for a loop by it.

          2. BikeWalkBarb*

            I used to work in higher ed and yeah, the pace is different.

            Additional idea: Go back to HR and ask them to point you to people in similar roles in other departments who have been in their roles a while. Contact them, introduce yourself as the new office manager in XYZ Department, and ask if they’d have time to meet to talk about how they handle their role, give you insights into things beyond what an orientation will tell you. They have a pile of stuff they pushed off during the academic season but it’s unlikely to be on burning-fire status and you may be a welcome excuse to take a break from looking at that big pile.

            On the title and possible mismatch of expectations again, check with HR. You may have an official classification and a working title that aren’t the same. This may also come up when you ask them to point you to your new peers. Being the office manager might include being the front-line contact for people depending on your department’s total staffing and physical layout but that’s not the same as having only the responsibilities of an administrative assistant or other classification below office manager. Settle into the title you were told and it’s yours. The administrative staff are absolutely vital to the department’s functioning and everyone should know that.

            1. Scholarly Publisher*

              I second this suggestion. Other departmental admins are going to be familiar with the university’s systems and will be people you can go to when you’re trying to figure out why X doesn’t work.

              I’m also wondering whether your predecessor in this role would be available for a short chat to go over what their day-to-day was like, or whether this is a brand-new position.

    5. Goddess47*

      Since no one else seems to be around or have information, go to HR and ask about your title and their understanding of your job responsibilities. Then you can at least say that “Susie in HR says I’m [this] and X is part of my responsibilities.”

      Find the local friendly IT person and ask for training in whatever systems the university uses. Even if there’s no organized training program, there have to be manuals they can point you to. Being up and running in the IT systems will be a help to anyone you’re working with.

      Yeah. College I worked with last would do an all-day ‘new employee orientation’ twice a year (!), and if you started after it, they would invite you to the next one, maybe six months later… sigh. So a week is pretty decent in my experience!

      Good luck!

    6. spiriferida*

      Yeah, it’s summer – it’s going to be slow, especially if the people who are responsible for your onboarding might be out this week, or if the people you’d be supporting/managing the office for aren’t here. What’s the onboarding? Is it the HR/IT stuff, or is it with your coworkers and bosses? If the former, it might just be that there’s not stuff they can give you access to right now, so you’re in limbo until then. If it’s the latter, you might get some mileage out of asking to take on some self-directed tasks. Familiarizing yourself with the office space is a good one, especially since in my experience academic offices accrue a lot of weird and chaotic storage.

      In my experience there’s not often much formal training documents or training for the day-to-day work of an academic office. Things like software training, HR trainings, and so on will happen in the fall when faculty return.

      1. spiriferida*

        to clarify, I mean things like sensitivity trainings or LIMS guidance. You’re likely to be set loose on email and internal documents long before you get the school- or department-wide slideshow meetings.

    7. trust me I'm a PhD*

      Academic (faculty). Some of this is normal, some of this is less so. A slow start is normal, esp. since it’s summer, and esp. if you’re in a smaller institution; and I wouldn’t expect there to be reams of training documents, since a lot of academic roles can be flexed based on the person who is in them and the needs of the unit they serve.

      The not normal bits: Your supervisor should know what your job title is; it’s frankly astonishing you were hired without one. The very small tasks, like marker sorting, also seems like a bad sign to me –– higher education tries to do a lot of work on a small budget, so I’d think you would have more work, vs. less. (The exception is if your supervisor or a main contact person in the department you serve is on summer break –– if, for instance, you’re a receptionist for an academic department and the department chair is traveling in Chile, even your supervisor may not know exactly what to do with you until the chair comes back.)

    8. M2*

      You started right after graduation. Once students are done most staff take vacation. Someone close to me couldn’t take any part of Memorial weekend off because it was reunions and graduation. So most people then take time off after that?

      If that is the case then they should have asked you to start later or write things down for you to read. That being said I had HR have someone start when I was going on a 2 week vacation (?) and told me maybe a week before. I hardly ever take two weeks away and the week prior was busy so I tried printing off a binder and setting up meetings with people they would need to work with. It was tricky as this person was essentially the deputy so no one else to teach them the job. It ended up being sorted but I was annoyed with HR. I had asked for the start date after I returned or a month before I left but HR was slow going in the reference ad background check!

      1. ranunculus*

        When I started as an academic admin they put me on the phones for 6 months. Just phones. My department was lucky to get one call per hour on most days.
        After 6 months of doing practically nothing I was suddenly moved to a different area doing actual work and a few months later was asked to step into a higher level role. Things went from glacial to full speed practically overnight, but those first 6 months were absolutely bizarre. My sympathies, but it does sound normal from my experience. Hang in there!

    9. yeep*

      Agreed w/most that this dysfunction and slowness is pretty typical of academia, especially this time of year. When I came on at the university many moons ago, it was in June, I didn’t even see my boss for over a week, and I was a department of 1. He had a PhD student show me around campus, but it was my alma mater so I actually knew more than he did. I studied departmental files and read university policy.

      Is your boss a faculty member? My current boss hires people to work in our lab and then forgets they’re starting. Not even kidding. If the department hired you with no plan for onboarding, it’s also probably likely that there is no one in the department to train you. Can you see in the HR system (or your offer letter that you signed, or the job posting) what your university job title is? Especially if it’s a state school or larger university, things should be pretty standard. Look around to see who else at the university has your job title, and try reaching out to them for more information about trainings you might need, etc.

      Stick it out. Some people can’t get used to the weird way we do things, but if you can, higher ed can be a really nice change of pace from the rest of the working world.

  55. EA*

    What should I do about this messy work situation?

    I work for a nonprofit, and our staff frequently travels for field work. This field work is often accompanied by local staff or staff from other international nonprofit orgs. One of my direct reports, who’s very good at his job in general, told me that he was not able to travel for a scheduled trip. The reason he gave is that on a past trip(s?) he became “emotionally involved” (his words – I did not request details) with a woman who works for a local nonprofit while they did field work together. Each of them is married, and just to make it even messier, her husband also works within the same NGO world (a third org, but it’s a small circle) and found out about the affair. Now my direct report says he does not feel comfortable traveling anywhere near her, and she is trying to reconcile with her husband and doesn’t want to be near my employee. So my employee asked to back out of the upcoming trip. He’s supposed to cover this region for a long term project.

    This technically violated no policies. Neither supervises the other; they don’t even work for the same company. It’s not my place to judge adult relationships. However, now it’s affecting the ability to do field work, and it just generally feels unprofessional to get involved with a work colleague from a local partner org, even if not technically prohibited. So… what do you recommend I do, as his immediate supervisor?

    1. ferrina*

      This is a mess.

      Are you able to reassign the project? It sounds like the travel is key to this project, so is there someone else you can give it to. Put him on other work (just make sure that you aren’t reassigning him to a better assignment- he doesn’t get rewarded for making a mess).

      If you want and you don’t think it will impact your org’s reputation with other orgs, you could tell him to suck it up. Maintaining strong relationships with partner organizations is part of his job, even if it’s not directly written in the description (also: get that written in the description). Having an affair that he knew would impact the professional relationship with that organization means that he isn’t doing that part of the job.

      1. I treated you like a son*

        Agree that it’s important to maintain good relationships with partners, but in this case the partner is the one who is asking not to work with the employee. So I’m not sure sucking it up would help the situation

      2. EA*

        Thanks for responding! We are not big enough to just reassign him. Maintaining strong partner relationships is definitely a clear part of the description – and I think maybe we need a more clear statement on romantic relationships with partner org staff, as that’s not addressed.

    2. Antilles*

      Thoughts based on the information provided:
      1.) “I cannot travel anywhere near her” is a very odd boundary, especially if he’s supposed to be covering that region. Is there a restraining order or other similar legal paperwork involved? Or does he just not want to put himself in that situation?
      2.) It’s not your responsibility to handle the way the woman is reconciling with her husband. I can understand that they may have decided as a couple “you can never work with Bob again, don’t even go near him”, but that’s for them to handle, not you.
      3.) You say it’s not your place to judge adult relationships, but there’s a lot of companies that have fraternization policies specifically prohibiting employees from getting involved with vendors or partner firms or etc. You might not have a policy in place, but having an affair with a colleague from another company is absolutely unprofessional and poor judgment.

      As for what to do going forwards, I think it mostly comes down to a set of questions:
      Do you have any reasonable way to swap his region around (e.g., swapping coverage regions)? If not, how much of a limitation is it for him to be unable to do field work? If he has to do this end of story, are you willing to lose him by insisting that he needs to make it work?

      1. EA*

        No restraining orders and both parties say it was totally – as far as I know, it has ended (I think??) amicably, but they would rather be reassigned to avoid each other, basically. I think I probably need to just tell him to suck it up. I would feel bad if it makes the local employee quit though – like she probably doesn’t want to go on overnight field visits with my employee, which is kind of understandable, but for what it’s worth, this is also a very male-dominated culture. But I know I definitely can’t get involved there! I also personally know my employee’s wife and have clue what she knows/doesn’t know – it’s pretty awkward overall!

    3. PotatoRock*

      Ahh this is my world so I can just imagine all the small-world ngo drama this is causing. But to your actual question!

      Because you mentioned he’s covering the region, I’m assuming there’s no easy way to swap a different employee on this project. If that’s the case, tell him covering this region – including travel, and maintaining good working relationships with partner orgs – is a core requirement of the job. Ask if he wants a few days to think about whether he can meet that requirement. If he can’t, he needs to find a new job. The other person not wanting your staffer in the region is not your problem.

      Two things to watch out for – advice changes if either party raises that they felt like the affair was coercive. And take this as a warning point to make sure your org has a policy in place about power-differential relationships with the communities your work serves

      1. Tio*

        This is where I land. And how many times would he be expected to make this trip per year? Is it just this particular time or is he now unable to cover large chunks of his region because she might be there?

        Really it comes down to if he can’t do a core requirement that means he can’t do his job.

        Also why can’t they send someone besides her? Has that been asked?

        1. EA*

          A few times a year, usually. It was a particular trip that he asked to get out of, and I did excuse him from it. But I think I’ll have to tell him that he needs to make future trips and will need to work it out if he’d like to continue.

          I don’t really feel comfortable asking the other org to send someone else… I feel like it’s not my place at all.

          1. BikeWalkBarb*

            Agreed that it’s not your place to tell them what to do, but letting them know that he’s not coming on this trip but will be expected to return on future trips lets them decide how to manage their end of things.

    4. Glomarization, Esq.*

      As his immediate supervisor, it’s up to you to decide whether this particular trip is a non-negotiable requirement for the job that he is in. If it is, and if he refuses to do the trip, then you will need to decide whether you keep him in that job or replace him with someone who can keep their emotions in their pants (did I read this right? This is over an emotional affair?) while in the field.

    5. WellRed*

      He’s being ridiculous. Don’t let the fact that it’s a personal situation cloud the real issue: he’s trying to get out of doing part of his job and he’s shown very poor judgment to boot. The other couples marriage doesn’t come into play for you and I’m sure you’d prefer not to know ANY of this. If you need him to go on the trip, tell him that. If you don’t, proceed accordingly but make clear to him that you are not pleased and that he needs to exercise better judgment in the future.

  56. Sigh*

    I know this is a silly story to some but for me it was a proud (?) moment. I started a job at a company last year that ended up having a lot of politics. Literally no one knew how to do my job except for one person out on disability. Training was nonexistent. Somehow it was 100% my fault things weren’t done correctly. It was a new industry for me where everything was done differently. Not to mention a grand boss who was a nice person but went on a power trip trying to prove herself. And then…. I got a new immediate boss who came from a very well know company in our industry. “James” walked in determined to fix everything, he knew best because of his experience, etc. overall it was a toxic environment. I was put on PIP and basically was told me I was not going to make it. I worked hard and I passed the pip.

    The the manager who was out on disability came back she was fuming the first time I met her. Basically said I was thrown in the deep lend and left to struggle and fail. Thankfully she worked with me and became an amazing mentor. The company tried to fix things including firing grand boss whose situation is a whole other story. I literally had a mental breakdown and decided to leave. I was given an unofficial apology and told I never should have been put in the situation I was; never should have been put on PIP. I kept things professional as not to burn any bridges.

    While I wouldn’t say I was close to anyone a few people kept in touch with the occasional text or email. That’s where I heard about James.

    He left the company because no one would follow his suggestions; switched jobs three times since because he couldn’t find a good fit. Recently he started working at a company that coincidentally a friend (who was a sounding board for me when I was on PIP) is at. It seems that James just gave up the ego and is satisfied with status quo. All the things I was put on PIP for apparently are not as urgent as he made them out to be for me. For example one area I was written up for not bolding or underlining certain words in reports. Seriously my job entailed sending ONE email a month. At James’ new job he tells his staff it’s no big deal. I know everyone has room for improvement but James literally made my life a living hell. I find this all ironic now. James apparently now has the attitude that he is a few years from retirement and has no desire to make waves.

    I know to most AAM readers this is a silly story but it gave me a confirmation that I wasn’t this “horrible” employee I thought I was. BTW at my new job I just got a huge raise and promotion. I have the most amazing boss and team.

    Happy Friday!

    1. JPalmer*

      Congratulations on surviving!
      Congrats on getting out. Congrats on having a good new job with money and worthwhile coworkers.

      Good on your mentor for helping you through the later part of this. It sounds like she values taking care of herself and taking care of others. James sucks but thankfully he grew. Shame he didn’t figure it out soon enough to not make your life worse.
      Good on the company to give the apology and get rid of the Grand Boss.

      I always take these stories as a reason to aspire to be someone people are thankful to have worked alongside.

    2. Doc McCracken*

      I see you. You are NOT crazy and feeling salty about James’ behavior is very valid. I worked in a small business with a textbook grandiose narcissist before I understood what that I was up against. The gaslighting was so bad, I still have a scanned copy of the document where I “won” 2 put of 3 complaints with out state employment agency. That was in 2012.

  57. Amber Rose*

    I had two pre-screens and I have two interviews next week. And I’m hoping to hear about a third.

    Is it bad to take a huge cut in title and pay if I have a good reason? Dude today was practically drooling over my experience but I’d be going from manager to the most entry level of entry levels in my career. That said, I really want to get my diploma. There’d be a huge advantage in having a job with minimal stress and responsibility while I go back to school. I have no debt so the pay cut, while shitty, would still pay the bills with no problems. And I’d get experience in an industry I want to learn about.

    Or should I hold out for something better?

    1. Hello*

      I just took a pay cut for a similar situation. Best decision ever. The financial cut was not a surprise so it was easy to adjust the family budget. Just be prepared but I find it’s a realistic scenario.

    2. purple giraffe*

      Sounds excellent. I think you should go for it, and good luck with the diploma! Also, the change of industry is excellent experience.

    3. ferrina*

      Sounds like you’ve thought this through really well! If this works better for you, take it. Your reason is excellent and something that is easily explained in future cover letters.

    4. periwinkle*

      I was super duper stressed out at my job. One of the many issues was that there was zero path for advancement because I hadn’t completed my bachelor’s degree. This was reinforced by seeing two people up for a promotion and the (far) less qualified person getting it because she had the BA and the other didn’t.

      The actually talented person left, and I decided to follow her lead. I wound up working part time in a pretty simple clerical-type job for a highly specialized recruiting agency. The pay was crap (luckily my husband had a decent job with good insurance) but they offered the schedule flexibility that enabled me to not just finish my BS but also start a master’s program intended to launch my new career. I enjoyed working there and only left that job after landing a graduate assistantship. The master’s led to a contract assignment in my new field which led to a full-time position at MegaHugeCorp where I’ve now been for a decade.

      Taking that $10/hour clerical job back in 2009 led to my current senior role and six-figure salary. So yeah, it was a good move.

    5. Dasein9 (he/him)*

      You don’t have to justify a choice like this to anyone except yourself. I’ve considered doing the same. (And still do negotiate salary, even if it’s still a cut!)

  58. Cat*

    I am feeling very jaded about American employers right now so I’d like to hear what are the best ways people have found to scope out the culture of a company before working there?

    1. ferrina*

      In my interview, I asked the hiring manager about the negative Glassdoor reviews. I told them I had looked them up on Glassdoor and seen concerns about XYZ. Then let them respond.

      They acknowledged that XYZ was a pervasive issue, that they had just gotten a new leader who was prioritizing addressing XYZ, and that initiative ABC had started. They were detailed, compassionate, and never tried to minimize or deny the issue.
      I took the job, and while they had issues, they were also honest and always trying to improve on all their issues.

      Watching how a company/manager responds to criticism will tell you a lot about them.

  59. Valerie Loves Me*

    After a very long run at my current company, I’m leaving. There are a variety of reasons. But, I know that people respected and appreciated my work. (Though I was certainly not paid for the amount of stress I took on).

    Am pretty anxious about starting over after such a long-run. Knowing the company well is pretty helpful in getting my work done. And it’s been so long that I can’t really remember what it feels like to not know things/people!

    I was hoping folks out here would be able to share some tips or nice stories about how they started from scratch after being the go-to person at their organization?

    1. ferrina*

      I did this pretty recently. The most helpful thing for me was doing a series of meet-and-greets (these can be virtual or in-person) with everyone I would be working with. I asked questions like “what is the one thing I can do to make work flow smoothly?” and “what is one thing I might do that would make your job much harder?” I also asked a ton of questions about processes and why they are set up in certain ways. If it made sense, sometimes I’d ask for a second meet up or a recurring check-in (if it was something where our work overlapped but didn’t directly impact each other).

      One thing to remember- you became the go-to person for a reason. Longevity doesn’t automatically make you a go-to person. You need certain skills- being able to understand how your work impacts others, being able to communicate, and being able to mentally map the workflow ecosystem around you. These soft skills are incredibly hard to quantify, and they have a profound impact on your and your coworkers work.

    2. Seven times*

      I left my last company (a larger organization) after a long time about a year ago and it was a similar situation. I knew I was appreciated and respected and did not like losing that. However, it’s a definite advantage having the confidence of knowing that you can build that reputation as you go into a new job. It was easier to find the people who I needed to know and the communication skills that I had developed went a long way.

      My new role is very different from the old role, but I know that the work I’m doing stands on the shoulders of my previous job and that’s recognized in the new one.

      It’s stressful to go through the change, but it’s rewarding and your new successes will allow you to reflect on the previous role in a positive way!

    3. BikeWalkBarb*

      You didn’t mention whether this is a newly created position or you’re following an incumbent. I’ve had one of each so I’ll share both stories for what they might have to offer.

      I left a position after 14-1/2 years in which I was the person who carried a lot of knowledge and relationships and knew my job inside and out. I was in the kind of role where my departure triggered a wave of applications for my plum spot, then others taking the jobs that subsequently opened up–think dominos.

      I took a leap of faith into heading a nonprofit, which I’d never done before. Definite stress level about not knowing everything when I was “in charge” of the organization! The nonprofit was in a sector I’d been active in as a volunteer and I knew a lot about the general arena but this was a fairly large shift (plus moving to another city).

      Humility and curiosity were my best friends. I was more than happy to learn from the experienced people on the staff and they wanted me to succeed so they were happy to share. Asking questions to expand my understanding of how things were done built a rapport I don’t think we would have had if I had come in as Ms. Smarty Pants (which I would have if I’d gotten this job as a younger person).

      I had skills the organization needed, which was why the board hired me, and I’d say I did know as much as or more than current staff about some things, just from outside and from different experiences. So it isn’t that you don’t know anything; you’re not 100% starting from scratch. As someone said to me a while back, “Everyone you’ll meet today knows something you don’t know” and that’s true of you too; you know things they don’t know.

      I was also fortunate to overlap a month with the previous executive director who was retiring (although in hindsight we should have spent all the time on donor relationship hand-offs, not on her showing me administrivia I could have figured out on my own or with help of others). Whatever you can do to understand how the previous person in the position did their work and what people now have the opportunity to shift will be helpful. You’re not the only one who gets a honeymoon period–so does everyone who had ideas that weren’t listened to. (Not that you promise anything; you take it all in as grist for the mill you’ll start grinding once you settle in.)

      I then made another jump into a newly created position inside a really big state agency. I did a ton of the meet and greet meetings someone else suggested. Asking questions gave me the chance to start introducing myself as someone who was willing to learn to fit in, and also gave me the chance to ask questions that showed why I was the successful candidate. I’ve gotten to shape a lot of things being the first in the position.

      I’m still learning things about the agency several years later because it’s such a big place. I try to model learning out loud in front of other people to encourage a willingness to try new things since my work introduces a lot of newness into established processes. If you’re coming in as a change agent that’s scary for some. I love Ferrina’s suggested questions about how you could make someone’s work easier *or harder* in the way you approach your role; that could reveal a lot and that kind of openness should build a rapport with people who could then feel invested in your success.

      This is an exciting time for you! I’ve had a very serendipitous path and everything that I’ve done over the years shows up in what I do now. You’re bringing things no one else could bring to this and they’re lucky to have you.

  60. Pear Blossom*

    WWYD – gift card question

    I supervise a small group, two of whom are getting married this year (John just got married and Jane will later this year). We have a sister team that we work very closely with and we celebrate each other’s life events and folks voluntarily chip in for gift cards.

    I planned to get a gift card for John when I unexpectedly went on leave before his wedding (I still am on leave and will be for several months). I felt like I should have reached out to our sister’s team supervisor to take over, but I was unable to do so.

    Would it be weird to give him a gift card just from me when I come back even if it’s months later? Or how can I salvage this? Maybe John wouldn’t care, but I don’t think it would be nice (?) for us to celebrate Jane while we seemed to have skipped John.

    1. MsM*

      Even if he thinks it’s weird (and I don’t really see why he would), I don’t think he’s likely to complain about a gift card because you wanted to do something nice for him.

    2. DrSalty*

      If I were John, I would think it was weird to get it late, especially if I knew you were away.

        1. ferrina*

          lol! And agree with this- I would be touched that you remembered and were making up for it after you had to take time away.

    3. Ama*

      I bet he’d appreciate the card and he probably would understand if you explained that your unexpected leave got in the way of sending it beforehand.

      Not that you have to strictly follow old etiquette rules or anything, but I always heard that it was acceptable to send gifts up to a full year after a wedding.

      1. Pear Blossom*

        That is true!!

        Alright, the consensus is overwhelming to give him the gift card upon my return. Thanks all!

  61. Robert E. O. Speedwagon*

    For those of you who are following my job saga:

    – I had an interview with the Larger Law Firm on Wednesday that seemed to go well. I was open about the fact that I’m looking to get out of where I currently am so quickly because of the work environment, specifically the smoking when they asked me to clarify, and that in regards to their wanting a candidate to stay long term, that I would be open to – and excited about – being there long term, especially after hearing how the people I was interviewing with (both in the first round and on Wednesday) have been there for years and how supportive the team seems of each other. They also asked how OK I would be with travel and occasional overtime (yes to both, though overtime I was also open about how, as an Orthodox Jew, I wouldn’t be able to swing Fridays or weekends, and that they would know about holidays well in advance). I sent them and the COO who arranged the interviews a thank you follow up email immediately after the interview, and I hope to hear back from them (fingers crossed for something positive) by the end of next week.

    – Current boss is still current boss. Kind of expects me to read his mind on how he wants things done and then gets frustrated when I don’t. I’ve kind of given up here. If I don’t get the other job – hell, until I know for certain that I have the other job – I’m just gonna keep applying.

    – Honestly the most stressful thing about all this has been my father, who I don’t live with anymore (thank God) but still exerts his influence as much as he can over me and my life. Suffice to say that his take on the situation is pretty much how I expected he would react (mainly that he doesn’t see the smoking in the office as the biggest dealbreaker and that, if he were hiring me, it would be a red flag that I want to leave this job so quickly). Sigh.

    TL;DR hoping for good news so that I can blow this popsicle stand.

    1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      Can you put your father on low/no contact? He’s dragging you down and back to the 1950s.
      Can you in practice avoid him in your life, or is he part of the package with someone you do want to see?

      1. Pennyworth*

        Or at least put him on a very low information diet. What he doesn’t know he can’t be critical of.

    2. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      and good luck with Larger Law Firm – they sound promising and if their overtime really is occasional, then you should be able to fit it in during Mon-Thur.

  62. Chirpy*

    My boss wants us to come to him with some ideas about why our sales are down, so he can give them to the district manager to present to corporate. Our district is currently the worst in the company.

    The real answer for our store is:
    1. they don’t pay enough to keep good, knowledgeable people
    2. people leave and are not replaced, so we’re short staffed
    3. this means there’s not enough product knowledge, well-trained people, or enough people to keep the shelves fully stocked
    4. we don’t carry the right products that customers want (and it would often be unfeasible to do, there’s little market for small replacement parts in American culture, or it’s things that literally do not exist, or it’s stuff available online only and a significant portion of our customers refuse to use computers)
    5.all this hurts customer service

    But, considering that this announcement was accompanied by “if sales don’t pick up, we’re cutting employee schedules”, I absolutely cannot say this (and I’ve said some of it before and I know everyone up to corporate really doesn’t want to hear any of this.)

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

      Hmmm, do they really want to know why sales are down, or would corporate like to know how to improve sales at your location? Usually if I’m presenting information to my upper administration, it’s a more successful meeting if I present solutions rather than a list of complaints — they would rather hear solutions.

      If customers don’t want to order online/use computers, wouldn’t having the store employees order it for them help? Is there a way to code in-store online sales, delivered for pickup to your location? Then you get credit for the sale and the customer is happy and perhaps help with keeping a lean inventory. But honestly if you don’t have what customers are looking for, your store is simply going to go out of business.

      Next, “knowledgeable staff” need resources so what sort of sales/info sheets or display posters giving the info are available? Can they be created so that employees have more time to stock shelves and process orders? Maybe better signage can free up employees time.

      1. Chirpy*

        In the past, 2 people plus a manager from each department went to headquarters for a 2-day training seminar every year. They’ve now restricted it to department head only (I doubt our manager went this time). Our evening people have *only* been high school kids not old enough to run power tools for years now, and they hang around not stocking because management won’t manage them.

        My store in particular is at an odd place- it’s going to be at least a year until we get the reset that will better position us for the local market- we’re a weirdly specialist yet big box store. So our customers (which are generally homeowner Boomers with a specific interest) on the one hand expect what we’re known for, but in a community that no longer needs that thing, so it’s not profitable to carry, say, full llama gear when people locally are more into teapots. But, also, due to the lack of expansion space, we’re at the bottom of the list for the teapot reorganization because they have to figure out how to deal with our messed up building (the company prides itself on owning its land/buildings, the location is great, so moving isn’t an easy or desirable option.) My store in particular is probably the worst for this; we do have another extremely well placed location on the other side of town with all the new stuff, I just get cranky old people who don’t want to drive there. Other stores in the region are probably better positioned, so I do think there’s also some regional reasons (overall “llama farming decline”, let’s say, but the “teapot stuff” that’s getting the expansion is good. If they could figure out that Millennials and renters need to be more of the customers (they are really just doing very similar online orders to any other retailers, we just have a significant portion of old-fashioned customers…even the Amish have workarounds for needing emails, but, some people refuse. And they don’t want to wait for the shipping if we can special order.) We also have a conservative leaning customer base that was completely incapable of understanding pandemic supply chain issues (I literally cannot stock things when the factory shut down!)

        We have self-service kiosks that some people won’t use. We have large or dangerous items (and live animals) that cannot be self-service. Customers want to come in, talk over their projects, and get advice on what they need – and they were able to do it in the past, it’s a huge benefit over our main competitor – so having full staff is important.

      2. Chirpy*

        Some days we legitimately do not have enough people to keep up with the freight, let alone stocking and customer questions. Once we didn’t have a loading dock person capable of running a forklift (absolutely necessary for customer pickup and store stocking!)

        Honestly, a lot of the customer expectations vs store stock issues tend to be things like…the small llama groomers the business was built for used to be more common, but now big llama groomers buy stuff from big suppliers, so we don’t carry full llama gear anymore, but people still expect to find something in-store that they saw here 30 years ago. That literally no one makes anymore. (Or, it’s only profitable enough to carry online only, shipped directly from the manufacturer.) The new stuff they’re trying to pivot to is great, it is legitimately the future, but there’s a lot of customers stuck in that old-fashioned thought.

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

          Ah! A much bigger operation than I thought if you need forklift operators for your stock. How much can you proactively contact your customer base before they come into the store with questions — billboard, flyers, posters, mailed newsletter, email (for those that use it) — the more the customer questions can be answered either before they get there or by in-store signage, the more your people can focus time on customers who will buy what you are currently selling.

          1. Chirpy*

            They send out sales flyers/emails pretty often. The questions tend to be more technical, and things like part matching, or figuring out what items to use, on a case-by-case basis.

            A good portion of customers do Google stuff before they come in, but some don’t (and vocally won’t). I have no capability to look up parts if given, say, a make of machine, and it would either need a big catalog (which I’m pretty sure the manufacturer doesn’t make anymore, and would be instantly out of date) or an extensive computer system. We have touchscreen kiosks for the bulky items and one for a specific category of parts (high volume very common equipment) , but it’s just not feasible for every category of parts we sell (such as more technical parts where we carry the basics so people don’t have to go to a special parts store. It’s a very important part of the business but the little stuff isn’t the big seller.)

            1. Chirpy*

              What I do on a more daily basis is like, what kind of feed you need for your llama, stuff for llamas being a big seller (and bulky, so the biggest issue is keeping it on the shelves because some people don’t want to wait if it’s not right there – we have a drive thru for big stuff but those people often just don’t want to use it either) . Questions like “what knob do I need for a 1995 blue teapot” are totally unanswerable, and works best if people can bring in a part to match. I can take them through the basics but my department head is the only one with a working knowledge of the parts (which is from previous experience working on equipment elsewhere, pretty much the only way to get that level of knowledge.)

    2. linger*

      “if sales don’t pick up, we’re cutting employee schedules” sounds a baseless threat (in no world does fewer sales staff hours for an already understaffed team lead to increased sales) unless as a preliminary to closing the entire store at this location. You say there are other and better-supported locations close by, so is that a real possibility?

      It boggles the mind that management of a successful chain has not absorbed and does not want to hear the basic lessons of “pay peanuts, get monkeys” and “don’t train your monkeys, get shit performance” while also failing to tailor offerings to the local market.

  63. Surreal*

    Things continue to be not great where I work. Morale is below rock bed, daily jokes about “hating our jobs” etc. This all happened once we got a new (male) lama supervisor, “unorganized” is the best way to describe them and “incompetent and unethical” is the worst way. I have suspected lama manager of having gender bias and preferring male groomers to female groomers for a while now but it was all micro-aggressions against me as the sole female lama groomer (think female groomers goals being higher than male groomers, moving the bar to ensure the female groomers cannot feel successful, praising the male groomers publicly, and ignoring when a male groomer hurts the lamas). There was nothing that I could prove without a shadow of a doubt.

    Well this week lama manager has made some pretty inflammatory statements against lama support (think “they are unorganized because they are female” when talking about female support staff to male support staff and rating female support staff lower than male support staff in all areas stating that female support staff “talk to much”). Also female support staff needs an accommodation for medical problems and manager fought her on it and marked her down in her review for it. Needless to say both male and female lama support is livid. I believe there is a HR meeting planned.

    I am on the fence about what I do here. I support the lama support staff, do I go to HR too and let them know what I have experienced?

    1. Chirpy*

      I would ho to HR. Your experiences show this guy has a pattern towards all women as a category, and not just specific llama groomers. That extra data may be useful in getting something done to fix things.

    2. ferrina*

      If your HR is decent, absolutely go to HR. Tell them what you’ve seen and what you’ve experienced. Just the facts. Say “taken as a whole, it looks like it could be sex discrimination.” Don’t caveat that statement, don’t make threats, just casually say it.

      This will give HR important context.

      Since you are reporting potential discrimination/harassment in good faith, you are legally protected against retaliation. If your company does retaliate, consult a lawyer immediately.

      1. Surreal*

        I am also over 40 so that is a protected class so I have that going for me at least.

  64. Summer fruit for dessert*

    I started an Etsy shop that has become a great passive income business. I’m even creating my own website! If people pick up my product locally, I am able to offer a few additional services and add ons that are too difficult to mail. How do I separate Etsy from local sales? I was thinking of just having my website offer local sales and etsy for all else. Both online places would be offering the same exact products. In addition when I include a business card for local sales do I make a separate business card? I’d like to include a coupon. Has anyone else had a similar situation?

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Beware of Etsy. They sometimes freeze your payements for no reason. They have a “accounts reserve” scam that’s making the news. If your own website is getting traffic, I would just use that!

    2. BikeWalkBarb*

      Are you asking about separating the two to track income sources? I don’t understand what problem you’re trying to solve. You can market locally with the add-ons and have a business card just for that, do local promo, local pop-up events if that’s appropriate/relevant, and don’t send them to Etsy at all. The Etsy people who are from your area could get a local business card included when you ship so they know about the additional options; give them the chance to place another order directly. Or if the extra elements can’t be sold separately, I don’t know if it’s against Etsy’s rules but could you email people placing orders who have ZIP codes in your area and let them know you have additional options available for local purchasers? I’ve seen items sold on some e-commerce site (not sure it was Etsy) that offered local pick-up with no shipping fee for people in the vicinity of the seller.

      I saw the comment from DisneyChannelThis about Etsy freezing payments, which is terrible. But relying only on your own website makes me wonder how I would ever know you existed. They’re a huge entry point for finding interesting small businesses I wouldn’t go looking for out of the blue.

  65. Justin*

    As I’ve said here before

    Good:

    Leadership approved both my summer intern and my full time employee

    Bad:

    It’s going to take HR a while to get around to creating the link/post for the latter

    Good:

    But they posted the intern link!

    Bad:

    It’s June 7th! No students are going to be available for a 3 month gig! So now I have to find a very recent grad or something. (It’s paid and full-time, we don’t do unpaid stuff here.)

    So, hopefully I find someone good soon.

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

      Could you reach out to local universities to see if they know of students who are looking. You’d be surprised that there might be students available for the summer. I work at a university and there’s summer classes. Someone might be still looking for an internship, especially if something didn’t work out. And being that its paid its going to be a big plus.

      1. Justin