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Saturday, March 25th, 2017 01:39 pm
I have signed up for Camp NaNo. I haven’t done anything with regard to cabins at this point, and I may not. I don’t know. My goal is 25000 words which will definitely include finishing my current exchange fic. I’m not sure what else I’ll end up working on.

Talking about possible stories for WIP Big Bang )

I’m also considering Night on Fic Mountain which is a small fandom fic exchange. My main hesitation is that I’m not particularly enthusiastic about writing anything in the current tag set except the things I nominated.
Saturday, March 25th, 2017 04:00 pm

Posted by Ask a Manager

This comment section is open for any non-work-related discussion you’d like to have with other readers, by popular demand. (This one is truly no work and no school. If you have a work question, you can email it to me or post it in the work-related open thread on Fridays.)

Recommendation of the week: Other-Wordly: words both strange and lovely from around the world, by Yee-Lum Mak — in which you will learn words from more than a dozen languages that describe emotions and situations that are hard top capture, such as the Japanese tsundoku (buying books and not reading them; letting them pile up unread on shelves or floors or nightstands”) and the Swedish smultronställe (a “personal idyll free from stress or sadness,” which translates literally as “place of wild strawberries”). If you love language, you’ll love this book.

weekend free-for-all – March 25-26, 2017 was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Saturday, March 25th, 2017 12:33 pm
Scott and I picked up food at the Syrian place yesterday. We spent a lot on it, but I’ve gotten three meals out of it, and Cordelia has gotten two. Scott has had one or two. We still have a little food left, and I’ll probably eat that for lunch before we go out.

I want to make soup today or tomorrow. We have a lot of turkey that could work there, but I need Scott to pick up some broth and some frozen veggies that will work. I don’t know if I can make something Cordelia will eat, though.

Scott promised Cordelia a visit to the mall today with me along to make it a full family outing. I’m iffy about it because of my difficulties with walking. It’s not just the tendinitis; I’m having ankle problems right at the moment with my left ankle feeling like something’s wrong in how it compresses when I put weight on it.

Scott and I spent some time last night trying to narrow down options for a character for me to play in the new game he’s thinking to start. I’ve got a pretty clear concept. It’s mainly that the system he wants to use is difficult. He adores it, but it’s kind of rigid in ways that make me long to break it. There’s also a minor problem in terms of me wanting to play an older character who has a long history of being really good at what she does. She’s not really a starting character, and I have to figure out how to approximate what I want with a starting character.
Saturday, March 25th, 2017 11:04 am


Unfuck your Kitchenaid?

I’ve been doing a lot of baking this past 2 weeks, and today I’m doing more!

Thought I’d better give it a massive deep clean because, well, look at it…

Blue buttercream everywhere!

Im making mothers day mini cakes for mine and Chris’ mum. Cakes for everyone because I need practice!

Photos later! If they’re as cute as they are in my brain!

Saturday, March 25th, 2017 01:00 pm

Posted by Ask a Manager

Years ago, I used to do occasional round-ups of things I like. It’s been ages since the last one, so here we go.

1. This blanket. This is like fur, except it’s not actual fur. It’s ridiculously soft and cozy, and when you bundle up in it, you will immediately feel a profound inner peace descend upon you. It’s like several years of therapy, a cup of hot tea, and a back rub, but in blanket form.

2. Live web cams run by an amazing woman who fosters pregnant cats and their kittens (and then gets them all spayed and adopted). She’s been successfully socializing feral cats who are supposed to be far too old to be socialized, and she’s proving that they’re not. I thought I had special abilities with cats, but this woman is magical. Here’s an adorable video of what happened when a kitten from one of the older litters escaped and broke into the nest of one of the other mother cats who has much younger kittens.

3. Best Fiends. Periodically I get addicted to a game and spend way too much time playing it, and Best Fiends is that right now. It’s a free puzzle adventure game where you collect and upgrade characters by matching same-colored objects to defeat slugs. Yes, slugs. You can play without wifi, so it’s good for plane rides, road trips, horrid long lines at the grocery stores, etc., and there are a ton of in-game events and challenges. I’m on level 26, and you should try to beat me.

Also, because Best Fiends is nice enough to sponsor this post, the first 100 readers to download the game and get to level 10 will get $4.99 worth of gold and diamonds for free.

4. Holy Jolokia hot sauce. I had a terrible hot sauce experience in New Orleans a couple of weeks ago, in which I embarrassed myself in a hot sauce store by bragging about my tolerance for spice and then sampled a sauce that caused me to have TEARS pouring down my face for a VERY LONG TIME. This hot sauce will not do that to you. It is indeed quite hot and you want to use it sparingly, but it will not destroy your tongue and it’s layered, delicious, and goes with most anything.

5. The Crown. If you are going to watch anything on TV, it should be Netflix’s The Crown, about the early reign of Queen Elizabeth. It’s visually stunning, and it has just the right mix of history and gossip, and I love it. 

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Best Fiends. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

things I like was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Friday, March 24th, 2017 09:00 pm
  • Wash the dishes in your sink
  • Get your outfit for tomorrow together, including accessories
  • Set up coffee/tea/breakfast
  • Make your lunch
  • Put your keys somewhere obvious
  • Wash your face and brush your teeth
  • Take your medication/set out your meds for the morning
  • Charge your electronics
  • Pour a little cleaner in the toilet bowl (if you don’t have pets or children or sleepwalking adults)
  • Set your alarm
  • Go to bed at a reasonable hour
Friday, March 24th, 2017 05:31 pm
I have been exhausted and headachy all day. I lay down from about 9:30 until about 11:30, but I didn’t manage to sleep. Right now, I’m drinking a cherry coke and sitting in bed with the lights very dim and a shoulder throw electric blanket (borrowed from Cordelia) on the back of my neck and across my shoulders. The prolonged, very focused heat is helping a lot. I think that I might actually be able to sleep now, but I would like to manage to stay awake and get things done.

Scott is currently out, taking Cordelia and her best friend off for their weekly gathering of friends. The movie of the week is Ponyo.

I think Scott’s disappointed that I wasn’t awake and doing things with him all day while Cordelia was at school and probably won’t be this evening while she’s out. We almost never get time alone in the house. Of course, from my point of view, Friday is the absolute worst day for anything requiring being able to think or being able to deal with noise or bright lights or… yeah.

I’m kind of terrified that this may be a long term thing and get worse next year due to Cordelia needing to get up before Scott leaves for work. Getting up with Cordelia wouldn’t be such a big deal if it was even occasionally feasible to nap later in the day or to go to bed at 8:00 or 9:00.
Friday, March 24th, 2017 04:46 pm
and we sound our victory cheer.
Tell me, where do we go from here?
Friday, March 24th, 2017 04:00 pm

Posted by Ask a Manager

After I answered a question last year about how one of Twilight vampires could keep his true nature hidden at work, I received a bunch of other questions from literature and TV. Here are four of them.

1. Fired for accepting a kickback (Friends)

In a Season 2 episode of Friends, Monica is promoted to buyer for her restaurant. It’s the first time she’s held the position. She makes a deal with an account, and they personally give her five steaks and an eggplant as a thanks. Being so new to the position, Monica accepts them, not realizing that it’s considered a kickback.

When her boss informs her that it is, Monica apologizes, explaining she didn’t understand, and offers to pay for them. Her boss informs her that they have a corporate policy she didn’t know about, and is immediately fired.

I’ve always thought that it was unfair, and at most she should have been written up or suspended. What do you think should have happened?

I agree — it’s overly harsh. They should have explained the policy, reiterated its seriousness, and warned her that it couldn’t happen again. Firing an otherwise conscientious employee who simply didn’t know about the policy (and who is inexperienced enough that it’s really feasible that she genuinely didn’t know this would be a problem) is overkill.

2. Who would be the best management hire? (Jane Austen)

I was thinking about a literary-themed question last night, which I wondered if you would enjoy: If you had to, which Jane Austen man would you hire for a middle-management position? I think Mr. Darcy would be too rude, Bingley would be a pushover, Wickham and Henry Crawford would cause drama, Mr. Knightley would be very preachy, Edmund is an absolute drip, and so on. I settled for Colonel Brandon because he is patient, thoughtful, and experienced.

I also think on the whole Jane Austen’s women would be a lot easier to work with. I would LOVE to have Emma as a colleague.

P.S. To tell the truth, when I say “I was thinking about a literary-themed question last night,” I was actually wondering who I would pick romance-wise, not work-wise. I am essentially Kitty Bennet.

I love your choice of Colonel Brandon. I think Frederick Wentworth would also be good — assertive but not pushy, driven, and straightforward, with a good work ethic. I’m not convinced Mr. Knightley would be so bad, but then I have a soft spot for him and his bossy ways.

3. Getting severance when you quit to start your own business (tropes)

The recent post on literature got me thinking about a fictional scenario you sometimes see on series finales of TV shows or the endings of movies (fake names used to prevent spoilers). Our beloved protagonist Vivi is leaving to chase his dream/start his own business, after a long stint at Lindblum Corporation. He walks into his boss Garnet’s room to announce his resignation and the scene begins:

Vivi: Miss Garnet, I’m quitting to start my own firm.
Garnet: Don’t quit, let me fire you instead.
Vivi: Huh?
Garnet: If I fire you, then Lindblum Corp will pay you severance! (winks)

So Vivi end up with a big check to chase his dream because he was “fired” and the viewing audience loves Garnet for supporting her friend/employee.

My question: How would this sort of scenario play out in real life? Any legal ramifications? Would Vivi have any long-term issues to worry about?

Unless Garnet is the owner of the company, he’s doing something that his employer presumably wouldn’t be thrilled about if they found out — he’s being generous with money that isn’t his.

Vivi probably won’t have anything to worry about, although it would be better for him if Garnet agreed to call it a layoff rather than a firing. But they’re both doing something fairly unethical, particularly Garnet.

4. Gumptioning your way into a job (Gilmore Girls)

I was recently re-watching Gilmore Girls and an episode stood out to me as relevant to job advice. For background, in case you’re not familiar with the show: the main character, Rory Gilmore, got an internship at a small-ish newspaper, the Stamford Eagle Gazette, thanks to her boyfriend’s father, whose company bought the paper. She worked there for the summer but ended up not going back to school afterwards (due to said boyfriend’s father crushing her dreams, but that’s not really relevant here).

In the episode in question (“The Prodigal Daughter Returns”) she decides to go back to Yale and she wants to get a job as well. She calls the editor of the paper to ask him to be a reference, and he tells her he’s happy to give her a great reference because she performed so well. He wishes he could hire her, but they don’t have any openings available. However, Rory proceeds to go to the paper’s office and speaks to the editor, giving him her resume and two encyclopedia-size binders of her work samples, and asks for a job (she says that he sounded so enthusiastic about her on the phone that she felt like he would want to hire her, and contends she will be very cheap to hire). He insists he has no openings, but she says she can figure that out if they talk for a few minutes. He says no again, so she says she’ll wait. She continues to show up in the office for multiple days, inserting herself into conversations to give ideas (good ones, but still) and even going into the editor’s office to put her resume on his desk so that he’ll read it. This last step apparently convinces the editor that she has good work, so he agrees to meet with her and this leads to her getting hired (for very low pay).

As a regular reader of your blog, this scenario appalled me. I’m curious what advice you would give to A) a manager who has a persistent applicant or B) an applicant who wants to be re-hired at a former employer who likes you, but doesn’t have any open positions.


Yeah, bad moves all around, from the encyclopedia-size binders to the repeated refusals to take no for an answer to showing up at his office for multiple days. In real life, that last move is likely to get you banned from the premises and to cancel out your previously good reference. It’s rarely likely to get you hired.

If you want to be re-hired at a former employer who likes you but doesn’t have any open position, your options are to (a) accept that or (b) in some cases, propose a position that you think they could be open to, if that makes sense — but then take no for an answer if they say no to that too.

Generally speaking, people who refuse to take no for an answer and think they can gumption their way into a yes are bad news — at work, in romance, and in life in general.

work questions from Friends, Gilmore Girls, Jane Austen, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Friday, March 24th, 2017 03:00 pm

Posted by Ask a Manager

It’s the Friday open thread! The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on anything work-related that you want to talk about. If you want an answer from me, emailing me is still your best bet*, but this is a chance to talk to other readers.

* If you submitted a question to me recently, please don’t repost it here, as it may be in the to-be-answered queue :)

open thread – March 24-25, 2017 was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Friday, March 24th, 2017 04:03 am

Posted by Ask a Manager

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. I started cleaning our office as a side job, but now I want to stop

I’ve worked at my company for over 10 years as an administrative assistant. It’s a small, informal, family-run firm. About eight years ago, the cleaning person was let go. I was offered the opportunity to earn extra money for cleaning the office on weekends. At the time, because of the recession, our office of 25 people was downsized to about 8 full-time and 3 part-time staff. Everyone was doing a side hustle to supplement their incomes back then. Having fewer people made cleaning the office somewhat easy.

As the economy picked up, though, the staff size slowly increased to almost the original size, which as made cleaning more time consuming. Also, an unintended side effect of being part of the cleaning crew (my family and I often cleaned together to make it go faster) is that I’ve come to be seen as the de facto office maid by management during regular work hours. Taking out the trash, running the vacuum, and wiping down tables are regular things for me to do during the week, even though the cleaning job is on the weekends outside of working hours.

Long story short, my husband recently took a job with a significant pay increase. He’ll be working longer hours and will travel around the city and suburbs. He’s said that we’ll have to step away from the cleaning as it no longer fits our family schedule. I’m totally fine with that as it means we get our weekends back without trying to fit cleaning into the short time period. My question is how do I professionally resign from the side job without causing problems in my regular admin job which I was hired to do? Also, I never wanted to be seen as the office maid all week long. How can I politely get that point across in a respectful and professional manner?

Ooof. This has the potential to be tricky if it’s sort of melded into your regular job. Hopefully your boss still sees as you the admin who happened to pick up cleaning side work on the weekend … as opposed to the admin whose job expanded to include cleaning.

But since it sounds like it was supposed to be the former, talk with whoever manages the cleaning (or your boss, if there’s no other obvious person), and say something like this: “As you probably recall, I took on the cleaning gig for some extra money on top of my normal job back during the recession when the staff was smaller and we got rid of the cleaning person. I want to let you know I’m no longer going to be able to do it and so am officially stepping down from that side job. I can do it for two more weekends if you’d like me to, but after that will need to stop, so we should go back to hiring a cleaning service if no one else wants to take it on.”

The more informal cleaning during regular work hours might be trickier, but you could use this as an opening to raise that with your boss too, by saying something like: “I wanted to mention that since I’ve started doing the cleaning as a side job, I’ve noticed people have asked me to do cleaning tasks during the week that they never asked me to do before — things like vacuuming and wiping down counters. I’m hoping you’ll support me in trying to create new boundaries around that stuff now that I’m officially taking myself out of the cleaning job.”

A complicating factor here is that in some offices, admins are asked to do tasks like that. But if you weren’t asked to do it before picking up the side gig, hopefully you’ll be able to argue for going back to that earlier model.

2. My interview got cancelled because another team in the same company is interested in me

I recently applied for two jobs I found on an online job board. They were pretty similar positions with teams at a real estate company. Both jobs were with the same company, but at different office locations, and neither job post gave the name of the team. I have a lot of experience in a pretty specific real estate role, and I got interviews with both teams right away. My interview with team #1 went really well, and they scheduled a follow up interview. This morning, I got an email from team #2, canceling my first interview with them. They said they knew I met with team #1, team #1 is really great, and they’d be in touch to interview me if it didn’t work out with team #1.

After doing some Facebook research, I found that the leaders of team #1 and #2 are friends, and actually work out of the same location (even though the locations online were different — in 2 different states, in fact!) Based on this and the email from team #2, I can only assume that team #1 asked team #2 to back off because they’d like to hire me. It’s also possible team #2 felt awkward enough about the situation to cancel my interview.

I’m frustrated because I was looking forward to meeting with both teams and having some options. I actually think that team #2 is a better fit for me, based on my phone interview. I feel like I should have been allowed to make the decision of which team is the best fit for myself, but now I’m limited. Did I do something wrong by pursuing interviews with both teams? Is this scenario in itself a red flag?

I’m not sure what to do, because I don’t want to feel pigeon-holed into a job with team #1, but I also don’t want to burn any bridges. The real estate community is a small one, and I want to protect my reputation. What should I do?

You didn’t do anything wrong; this is a thing that can happen when you apply for two jobs in the same organization. It’s also not a red flag; it’s perfectly legitimate for them to decide to let one department pursue you and have the other back off.

It sounds like you’re thinking it might be some abuse of the friendship between the two managers, but that’s really not necessarily the case; this kind of thing happens all the time for totally legit reasons. For example, you’re an excellent fit for #1 and only a so-so fit for #2, so they decide it makes sense to put you on a track for #1. Or #2 is flooded with great candidates, while #1 has fewer. Or, #1’s manager tells #2’s manager that she’s really hoping to hire you and so #2 backs off, not out of friendship but out of professional courtesy.

There isn’t really much you can do about it, because it’s their call. At most, you could say something to #2 like, “As interested as I am in team #1, I’m really intrigued by the position with you as well, so I’d still love to talk if you think it might be the right fit.” But you should assume that that will get back to #1 as well, so you’d want to proceed with some caution there.

3. Listing staff members’ degrees on our staff listing

I’m in charge of updating a staff list on our organization’s website and have a question about the degrees listed after staff members’ names. We work in research so most (but not all) of our staff have at least some sort of advanced degree, if not several. The site currently lists staff and their degrees at the master’s and above level. Should I also list undergraduate credentials (B.A., B.S.) for the handful of staff who don’t have advanced degrees? One staff member asked about getting her B.A. added after her name. I’m not opposed to listing it, but I’d always thought the convention was master’s and up. If I do add undergrad degrees, would I need to add them to all staff names? That would create a long listing for some who already have several advanced degrees.

I did some web searching on the topic but I couldn’t find anything definitive. In fact, one site I found said on resumes you should only put credentials after your name at the top if you had a doctorate-level degree. I was surprised by that. What do you think?

In the vast majority of fields, it’s weird to list your degree after your name. There are some fields where it’s done as a matter of custom, but rarely with bachelor’s degrees.

Assuming that the custom in your field is to list advanced degrees but not bachelor’s degrees (which is what it sounds like based on how your website has done it so far), it would be reasonable to explain to your coworker that your organization’s practice is to only list advanced degrees. (But it also sounds like it would be worth verifying that with someone higher-up first, to make sure that you’re not giving her inaccurate information.)

4. I don’t want to use a camera for teleconferences

My company recently adopted an enterprise-wide technology for teleconferences that also allows for video. Our new boss is insisting that each of us get a camera to take part in departmental meetings. While I have no issue using a camera per se or with my coworkers seeing me on the screen, I do have an issue with seeing myself on the screen. My features are very uneven and the flattened look of video tends to exaggerate it. In real life or on conference calls, I’m usually very confident, but I find it distracting and unsettling when I have to see myself on screen while I’m talking, as the image on the screen is very unflattering. (I don’t even do FaceTime in my personal life because of this.)

I understand why my boss wants this, but I’m concerned that this will be too distracting and will affect my performance and presentation during these calls. I don’t want to appear not to be team player, or overly insecure/vain, but I’d really do not want to use video cameras. I have had a conversation with my boss about this when he first offered to send a camera and told him that I’m just not comfortable with it. I offered instead to upload a head shot, so people don’t feel like they’re talking to a faceless image. Now, I’m being requested to comply. Can my boss do this? And if so, are there settings I can use that would allow me to see my coworkers, but block me from seeing my own camera?

Yes, he can do that. (See this discussion of a similar issue.)

You’ve told him you’re uncomfortable and offered an alternative, he’s shot it down, and he’s directly telling you to comply. Unless you have a phobia-level problem with doing it like the person in the letter I just linked to, it sounds like you need to do it.

But if the problem is really just seeing yourself on screen while you talk, there are ways around that! The software itself may have an option to close or minimize the window with your image in it. If it doesn’t, you could even just put a sticky note over that part of the screen to block yourself from seeing it.

5. Complaining about HR

If you have complaints against HR themselves, who can you contact to submit a complaint? Is there a national body that governs the actions of HR?

No, there isn’t. If you have complaints about HR that you want to escalate, you’d do it in the same way you would with a complaint about any other department: by talking to the head of HR, and if that person is the problem, by talking to that person’s boss.

I want to stop cleaning our office, my interview was unfairly cancelled, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017 09:00 pm
  • Wash the dishes in your sink
  • Get your outfit for tomorrow together, including accessories
  • Set up coffee/tea/breakfast
  • Make your lunch
  • Put your keys somewhere obvious
  • Wash your face and brush your teeth
  • Take your medication/set out your meds for the morning
  • Charge your electronics
  • Pour a little cleaner in the toilet bowl (if you don’t have pets or children or sleepwalking adults)
  • Set your alarm
  • Go to bed at a reasonable hour
Thursday, March 23rd, 2017 05:29 pm
Tuesday evening, I added about 600 words to my Small Fandom Big Bang story while editing. I may end up adding more because there’s at least one bit left that I need to expand.

I had reflux issues last night when I went to bed. I’m pretty sure that they were largely anxiety related. Sadly, I didn’t twig to that until after I had taken antacids, so I had to wait to take an Ativan. Once I did, I was able to sleep, but I lost two or three hours, so I’m pretty wiped out. It also means I woke with a headache that took hours to get rid of. That took both Amerge and metapropronol (sp?).

At this point, I’m on the verge of falling asleep, and I’m not sure I can stay up long enough to get dinner. It’s only 5:30.
Thursday, March 23rd, 2017 02:46 pm


With fifteen minutes to spare before I had to get dinner started, I decided to close out of Pinterest and get my makeshift makeup table in shape.

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017 12:55 pm


Being sick for days and off my meds has thrown me for a fucking loop, I tell you.
But today I popped open the windows and busted this shit out. Only took maybe an hour and a half to sort, organize, and put away.
Pretty productive day :)

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017 05:59 pm

Posted by Ask a Manager

A reader writes:

I’ve been in my job for 1.5 years. Most people in my department get promoted around 2-2.5 years. Because of the timing of reviews/promotions, if I was to get promoted this year, it would happen right before my 2-year mark. Speaking with other people at my level in my department (on different teams), they all seem to think it’s perfectly reasonable for me to get promoted this review cycle. Someone even said it would be BS if I wasn’t.

So how do I know if it’s time to ask?

For my first nine months, my team was just my boss and me. We were struggling just to get projects out and my boss was constantly telling me she wanted me to take on more work but the training kept getting pushed back because we were always putting out fires. We added 2 additional folks and I’ve been taking on much more work that’s allowed me to get a lot closer to where my boss wanted me to be. I would say right now I’m where she was wanting me to be 6 months ago. I’m happy with this progress and want to keep heading in this direction.

I don’t feel as if I’m at the point where I’m clearly doing a more senior job. I also get paid overtime so I’m being compensated for my extra hours. For people on other teams, a promotion is taking on a very clear set of new tasks and my job would probably just entail me taking on more of my bosses work.

I also know I have a bit of impostor syndrome so sometimes my thoughts can be off from reality. My boss really wants to help me advance, whether here or else where but I don’t want to go in asking for a promotion and having my boss think I’m way too premature in asking. We have check-ins and she is always pleased with my work but the word “promotion” has never been brought up.

I want to be realistic but also confident. How do I approach this?

In most organizations, two years would be way too early to feel that it’s BS if you didn’t get a promotion.

And in your office, you know that the norm is more like two or two and a half years, so it not happening just before the two-year mark definitely isn’t BS.

And you think you’re six months behind where your boss was hoping you’d be now.

All of this says that you should ignore the coworkers who are telling you that you should be promoted soon.

If you’re unsure, you could ask them to expand more specifically on why they think that. But based on what you’ve said here, it makes sense to give it more time.

It’s also helpful to realize that, at least in most organizations, promotions aren’t something that should be so closely tied to the amount of time that’s gone by. They’re about moving you into a role with work that’s higher-level than your current role, and that usually happens after you’ve had a sustained period of performing at a higher level than what’s typical for your current position. There are some employers that do it differently (for example, promoting on fairly rigid timelines), but in general it’s not sound to expect that a certain number of months of employment translates into a promotion.

is it time for me to ask for a promotion? was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017 01:39 pm
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Thursday, March 23rd, 2017 04:30 pm

Posted by Ask a Manager

Remember the letter writer a couple of weeks ago whose coworker was punching and kicking her under the table at meetings — hard? Here’s the update.

I ended up getting the nerve to talk to my boss about it. Honestly, I’ve never seen someone’s eyes bug out of their head so much. He was definitely shocked that this was happening, and he was able to convince me to not only go to HR, but to confront “Jane” head-on.

I filed an incident report with HR and it’s gone on her file. Apparently due to her not-so-great performance reviews, plus this, she’s in some hot water.

After I took it to HR, Jane kept persisting and asking if I was okay and showing up in my office with chocolate and coffee to (I assume) try and distract me from her wrongdoings. I refused her peace making attempts and confronted her. She said she “didn’t realize she had kicked me that hard,” made other excuses, and essentially refused to apologize. I have since distanced myself from her and am only working directly with her when absolutely neccesary.

Thankfully have a good bit of work travel coming up, so I won’t be having to deal with her and that is a huge relief!

Work has been abuse free since filing the complaint! Here’s hoping it stays that way!

update: my coworker has punched and kicked me under the table at meetings was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017 02:59 pm

Posted by Ask a Manager

Last week, I asked what misconceptions you had when you were new to the work world, and what misconceptions you’ve seen from junior people around you. There were loads of insightful comments, and here are 15 of my favorites.

1. “When I was new to the working world, I thought that my boss knew everything about my work situation, and that if something was wrong or making me unhappy my boss would notice and fix it. If something didn’t get fixed, I assumed that the boss knew and had decided not to do anything about it. I know now that I’m the only person who’s fully immersed in my own day-to-day work, and I have to speak up when I want my boss to fix something (although it’s still difficult to do in practice).”

2. “I would say the biggest misconception I had is about how much people care about ‘who is to blame.’ In some situations, where something dramatically goes wrong, leadership might take root-cause analysis very seriously and pinpointing who did what wrong and when might matter.

In most everyday situations managers/leaders are far more interested in how you plan to fix the issue vs. who was responsible for causing it. That may mean that, yes, you will sometimes get poked in the eye for failures that are completely outside of your control. But that’s better than the black eye you will get from trying to explain (in detail) how the issue actually originated with someone else.”

3. “My biggest misconception about the workplace was that the people in charge will have everything together and really know what they’re doing. The more I work, the more I realize that just because you’ve got a fancy title, doesn’t mean you know what you’re talking about.”

4. “A complete lack of processes around you is very likely to hurt you. To explain: it’s good and useful to be able to be spontaneous and figure things out on the fly if there is an emergency. If that is how the day-to-day operations are run, you have a problem, because you won’t have enough space for personal growth – you’re likely to constantly be dropping long term projects at the last minute to fix the immediate stuff. i used to feel very important, until I realized I was stuck because I could never focus on anything long term.”

5. “I’ve spent 8+ years working with entry level customer service reps and innovation was a big focus for me with a number of the teams I’ve worked with. There were two misconceptions I saw A LOT of from newer employees (and honestly, even some who’d been around for a while):

* If a process or tool doesn’t work the way an employee thinks it should, it must be broken and in need of fixing. In a lot of situations where this came up, the employee didn’t have (and didn’t seek out) any background on why we did things the way we did, and just assumed management must be idiots. In reality, there were nearly always valid (and sometimes legal / regulatory) reasons why things worked the way they did. I was always happy to help investigate the why, but I saw a lot of generally good ideas go nowhere because the employee did no research and pitched the idea as if we were all silly for not having thought of it.

* If I see something I perceive to be a problem and report it, my work is done and someone else will fix it. This was especially egregious when the ‘problem’ was nebulously defined and limited to one or two people with no supporting data, but would require a lot of time / effort / money to ‘fix.’

It can be incredibly helpful to have newer eyes help you spot the opportunities in your processes and tools, and come up with innovative solutions the people entrenched in the processes and tools might not think of. But it’s important for employees to do their research, understand the background, and have a workable solution, which is something not everyone knows how to do when they’re new. Being innovative is more than just ‘having brilliant ideas,’ it’s doing the work to make them feasible, too.”

6. “I recently gave my notice, and I’m coming to realize that something that seems SO HUGE to me (quitting my first professional job) is just normal ‘doing business’ to everybody else. It’s a little more complicated than that, but I really expected my resignation to be much more drama filled than it actually was.”

7. “I think my biggest misconception was that I’d get regular feedback and plenty of it, and that I’d know where I stood at all times. As a corollary, I assumed that if anyone had a problem with my work, they would tell me and I would have the ability and opportunity to correct it. So if no one was actually complaining about me, I figured, ‘Hey, I’m doing great! If I wasn’t, someone would have told me.’

I think this was probably a carryover from both the school environment (where you get report cards telling you how you’re doing and you get your papers back with lots of comments on them) and my earliest jobs (where I was a teenager and worked for small local businesses, and where my supervisors weren’t hesitant to both praise and correct me as needed, and where most of my tasks could be pretty accurately described as pass/fail). Also, in both of those settings, corrections were confined to the work product itself and not to areas like attitude, affect, or how others perceived me.”

8. “My biggest misconception (and one I still struggle with sometimes even though I’ve identified it) is that you really don’t have to be ‘yourself’ at work. Many times, being professional means doing something or acting in a way that I would have that I would have thought of as fake or disingenuous when I was in school. Figuring out that what’s really important is being professional (like being polite and maintaining a pleasant working relationship with a coworker that you absolutely, positively can’t freaking stand and want to strangle on a daily basis) was a crazy wake up call.

My internal mantra is ‘These people are not your friends, they are just your coworkers. It’s not being fake, it’s called being professional. You DO NOT have to like them. You just have to act like you don’t want to murder them.'”

9. “I wish I’d known that it was okay to ask questions and that no one cared how smart I appeared to be — they cared that I could do my dang job and think on my feet. This one is a HUGE holdover from grad school in the humanities, where if you have to ask, you’re too dumb to be there. I am now really embarrassed of how much time I wasted faffing about trying to quietly figure things out instead of letting on that I didn’t know something that was (in hindsight) completely reasonable not to know.

I still struggle with this daily and am always impressed when a smart, competent coworker asks for clarification or says ‘wait, I don’t understand X.’ I always have this moment of shock, like, ‘oh, right! you can DO that!'”

10. “Beware ‘venting’ with your coworkers. It feels like you’re blowing off steam and that it’s helping, but more often than not, you’re just stewing in your misery and it’s making you more miserable. It will change how you see things. A groupthink can start to take hold where nobody is willing to give management benefit of the doubt because the group’s default reaction to everything is mistrust and skepticism, and it starts to feel like you’d be violating a group norm or shunned by your coworkers if you expressed support or optimism about something. In complaining so much about the problems, you end up ensuring the problems don’t get resolved because negativity torpedoes all attempts at change.

Nobody perfectly avoids venting all the time, but try to keep the number of times you complain about something without proposing a solution to a minimum. If you look at your IM history with a coworker and it’s one gripe after another that neither of you have ever brought to management for resolution, you are only furthering your own unhappiness even if it feels cathartic in the moment.”

11. “One of the greatest pieces of advice I ran across on here was to figure out which *tasks* you like, and which you don’t. Rather than think in terms of believing that the work is important and noble. Jobs are made up of tasks, and if you love or hate detail work, or talking to people on the phone, or writing, then having a lot of it or almost none will be a big factor in how you feel at the end of the day.”

12. “I underestimated how important it is for my co-workers to announce whether they are feeling hot or cold at different points during the day. Rookie mistake.”

13. “For me, it took a long time to realize that my criticism of the boss was problematic and short sighted. I always secretly suspected I was sooooo much smarter than he or she, that I saw the obvious answers to all the tough problems, and that the boss’s laziness or stupidity is what kept them from acting. ‘If I were the boss, I could easily fix this by doing A, B or C…’ was always floating around in my head.

Now that I AM the boss? I recognize how many tough decisions there are every day where making everyone happy is utterly impossible … and how much planning and thoughtful work can backfire due to things like bad timing, losing an important staff member, shifts in federal and state budgets, the overall political climate or even just bad luck. What I also never considered: all problems I didn’t see, because my ‘awful’ boss addressed them before they even became problems. Many times the boss was doing solid work that I didn’t understand or see as valuable because I didn’t understand the implications – I only saw the small fraction of the work that did go wrong, and scoffed about their obvious incompetence. The sample size for my observations, as it were, was utterly skewed to only notice the mistakes. I have a lot more empathy and respect for my old bosses today than I did back then.”

14. “You’re going to have to take enough initiative to get the information and things you need. A lot of things won’t be spelled out for you – it’s on you to ask for clarification, find the information you need, etc. You might not get multiple reminders that something important is happening – you might just get a single notification and you need to pay attention to it and remind yourself.”

15. “One of my early career mistakes was that I let my job at the time (daycare) be a bigger part of my identity/life than it needed to be. One very stressful day I got into a little spat with a co-worker/close friend. I went outside, sat down, and started crying. Another co-worker saw me crying, sat down and put her arm around me, and told me, this is your job, not your life. She had come to this country from Belarus for a better life for her kids. She was making about minimum wage working an assistant teacher position here, when she was qualified to be a center director back home. She helped me put the situation in perspective. Of course, everything blew over and work/my friendship was back to normal in an hour. Now I approach work as a means to an end. Ideally, I enjoy it and find meaning in it. But at the end of the day, it’s just my job, not my life.”

the things you don’t know about work when you’re early in your career was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017 11:04 am


I feel like I could have at least a moderately clean home if the dishes didn’t regenerate every day.

All my spoons are gone for the day after getting myself up and dressed, getting my son up and ready for school, standing with him at the bus stop (I’ll be glad when he doesn’t need me for these things anymore… soon), emptying the dishwasher, filling it, washing a single pan, and dumping the rest in the sink with hot, soapy water. 

I still need to do laundry. There are 4 bathrooms that are pretty nasty. The floors…… Don’t look at the floors… And I have to rest to recover a bit of energy to go stand at the bus stop again this afternoon.

I need to live in a tiny house that is empty except for a bed, doesn’t have carpet, and without my family who don’t help clean though they do help make mess just by existing, to have any chance of ever having a clean home. So.. a jail cell?

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017 10:53 am
I gave three books to Cordelia’s English/social studies teacher today. Two of them are hardcover books on the Presidents of the U.S. up through Obama. The eighth graders study U.S. history, so those are likely to be useful to have. I also gave her a library bound copy of Journey to Topaz which is a novel about the Japanese internment during WWII from the point of view of an eleven year old girl. The author based it on her own experiences, so there’s a lot of solid details to make the book feel real to kids. The eighth grade curriculum has a focus on 'genocide literature' and includes the internment under that umbrella.

All three books were in extremely good condition.

I’ve given several books to the librarian for evaluation as to whether or not they’re useful for the collection. The two Dork Diaries books are pretty likely to end up in the collection. The three Miss Bianca books are iffier. They’re pretty pristine hardcovers (book club editions from around 1990, I think), but I’m not sure if kids these days are interested. It’s hard to tell. Pretty books are more likely to circulate, and these are.

Anybody reading this have a child or know one who might be interested in a Backyardigans CD? I’ve got a copy of Born to Play that I’ve just finished listening to to make sure it plays. It sounds fine all the way through.

I’ve been testing Cordelia’s old CDs and seeing whether or not I can get the scratches out of the ones that won’t play. I’m only willing to trying grinding the scratches off twice because the thing we have is manually operated and kind of tiring to use. (We tried an electronic one once. It didn’t work well, died fast, and Scott lost the instructions.) Those that don’t become playable after that are going into the trash.

We’ve got about twenty empty CD jewel cases. None of us have any idea where those CDs could have gone. They’re not in the basement. They’re not in Cordelia’s room. They’re not with my CD collection or in any of the carrying books we’ve got. I can’t imagine that that many CDs are really lurking under couches (I’ve checked) or got thrown out accidentally, so I assume there’s a cache of some sort somewhere in the house. I’ve been keeping my eyes open for about three years, however, and haven’t found them yet. I’m getting tired of keeping the jewel cases, though, as they take up a lot of room.

Would it be terrible to just throw out the CDs Scott’s parents have made and given us of inspirational sermons? None of us have ever listened to any of them, and I don’t expect we ever will. I don’t know. Maybe Scott’s sister’s SIL might know someone who would want them. She works for a church of the same denomination as the one Scott’s parents attend. I was wanting to email her anyway to find out if there’s a place I can donate those cotton rag socks.
Thursday, March 23rd, 2017 08:09 am
Multiple. I'll settle for one that's over six feet tall.

However, the landlord says no putting holes in the walls, and a six foot tall bookcase kind of needs to be braced.

Anyone have suggestions on how to do this without violating my lease? The ceiling's a little too high, otherwise I'd be looking into spring rods of some kind- not to mention that I don't know what it's made of or if it'd stand up to constant pressure.
Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017 08:51 am
All the toothbrushes* fell into the toilet last night. Their sacrifice will not be forgotten.

In other news, went to the drugstore today. Bought toothbrushes! On sale!

* Ana swears it was just one. All I know is, I threw them all out.


Making 'mulch' ado of ant hills

The Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of A Special Education Student

Heart tissue grown on spinach leaves

For juveniles sentenced to Shakespeare, the world's a stage

Catnip Ain’t the Only Plant That’ll Send Your Kitty to Blissville (Mama Cat goes wild for oregano!)

Chicago-based group brings smiles to deaf Syrian children

The NBA's Secret Addiction

Microbes evolved to colonize different parts of the human body

Palestinian women try to bring baseball to Gaza

Tiller the Hun? Farmers in Roman Empire converted to Hun lifestyle -- and vice versa

Why every Indiana inmate could soon have a tablet

The New York Community That Welcomed 1,000 WWII Refugees

How America's Obsession With Hula Girls Almost Wrecked Hawai'i

Learning To Love My Sparkly Purple Cane

I’m Trans, Disabled, And Tired Of Fighting To Get Into Bathrooms

Why American Farmers Are Hacking Their Tractors With Ukrainian Firmware

Apple sold $4.2 billion of product in New Zealand, paid $0 local taxes

Anger and frustration in Kurdish southeast to shape Turkey's referendum

Aid group says millions of Afghan children are not in school

Why this Persian New Year is different

Trump administration fights its own agency in U.S. court

Gorsuch, students defend his questions about women at work
Thursday, March 23rd, 2017 02:41 am
For a musical, that Flash/Supergirl crossover wasn't very, um, musical.

Read more... )

But at least everybody can actually sing. I could listen to them all day... just in another episode. One with a better plot.
Thursday, March 23rd, 2017 04:03 am

Posted by Ask a Manager

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. My boss texts me constantly and blows up if I don’t respond immediately

My boss likes to text me. A lot. At all hours and even on the weekends. Which normally I would be find with, but she expects a fast response when she texts, justifying it by saying that when she texts, it is because our HQ needs the information quickly and therefore we have to respond. However, some of her messages come in at really odd hours (it is 10 p.m. now and I’ve just received another text from her). She has also made a lot of fuss about how I (and my colleagues) don’t respond to text messages that concern work ASAP and she does it in a very harsh manner with lots of caps in her text messages. And she yells at us, a lot.

I work in the education line. I hardly check my phone unless it is a break time because a second away from watching out for the children may mean someone could get hurt or in trouble. I’ve been really fed up over her insistence that we respond ASAP and today I responded with a message to kindly note that if I was at home, I would not have my phone on hand nor would I respond that quickly, to which I received a scathing message about how I kept on ignoring my messages and it has happened several times, and that she would take it into consideration during our appraisals. Her first text was at 7:46 a.m., and her blow up text was at 7:53 a.m. Uhm? A lot of texts aren’t exactly time-sensitive (e.g. updating information on an internal server system). How do I tell her to stop doing this?

It sounds like you’ve tried, and she’s ignoring you because she’s an unreasonable jerk. I mean, really, blowing up at you because you didn’t respond to an early-morning text within seven minutes? She’s delusional to think that’s reasonable or practical, and she’s power-mad.

You could try again, I suppose, but I don’t have a lot of faith in her ability to see reason. But if you want to try, you could say this: “I’ve noticed that you get upset if I don’t respond to texts right away on the weekends, in the evenings, and early in the morning. Realistically, I’m not going to always be able to respond immediately — I might be sleeping or in the shower or cooking dinner or at a movie, or any of the other things we all do outside of work hours. I will certainly respond once I see the message, but when it’s not work hours, very often that won’t be immediate. I don’t know how to respond when you’re frustrated by that. The alternative would be me never sleeping or having down time away from my phone. I want to make sure we’re on the same page about that going forward, so that you’re not expecting immediate responses when I’m not working.”

You might have more luck getting through if you gather a group of coworkers and say this to her as a group. You also might have more luck going over her head if she doesn’t budge.

But are you sure you want to stay in this job? She sounds deranged.

2. My boss refers to my girlfriend as my “roommate”

I’m a lesbian. Everyone at my job knows that I’m a lesbian. When my boss talks to me or anyone else about my girlfriend, she always calls her my roommate. She refuses to refer to my girlfriend as my girlfriend. What should I do or is there anything I can do? I feel like this is extremely disrespectful and offensive.

Yes, it is. Presumably she’s not calling people’s opposite-sex partners their “roommates,” and presumably she would not be thrilled to have her own partner referred to as her roommate.

You could try directly asking her to stop — as in, “I’ve noticed you refer to Jane as my roommate. She’s my girlfriend, so I’d appreciate you not calling her a roommate, which is a different type of relationship altogether. I’d prefer you call her my girlfriend or my partner.”

It might be useful to find out first if you live in a state that makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against LGBTQ employees (about half do; federal law does not). If you live in a state that does protect you, that might give you some peace of mind being assertive with your boss, who is being an ass.

3. How long should you have to wait to hear about a raise?

I had never asked for a raise before, as we generally get merit increases at the beginning of each year. However, the previous one I got was rather small and I took on a lot of new responsibilities during the year. I got great feedback from my boss and finally decided to ask for a raise. I think I handled the request well, and he responded favorably and said he would see what had to be done.

The entire process dragged out over two months and the answer finally came back as a no. It turns out I am too close to the top end of the range and they couldn’t justify giving me more money.

I’m fine with that answer. It makes sense. And if they responded within a week or two, I would have thought, well at least I made the effort and I know the reason why. But the dragging it out was really demoralizing. Several months later, I am still depressed about it. Like I don’t matter enough that they could have handled this better. What’s a usual amount of time to wait and am I being overly sensitive?

Oh my goodness, do not be demoralized by this. Ideally in this situation a manager will be able to get back to you within a couple of weeks, but it’s not uncommon for it to take as long as it did here. Sometimes that’s because budgets need to be looked at, which can have a domino effect on other people who need to be consulted; sometimes it’s because your boss needs to consult with HR, and they have more time-sensitive stuff they need to field first; sometimes it’s because five different people need to be consulted or sign off; sometimes it’s because stuff can just be slow. Hell, in this case, it’s possible that your boss originally was told no and has been trying to get an exception to the range made, which could definitely take this much time, especially when you throw in the fact that he and everyone else involved have other stuff going on too.

Two months isn’t ideal, certainly. But it’s not a slap in the face.

4. HR manager recommended a hotel bar to me

Is it okay for a HR manager to tell an employee via email, work email, that the hotel they recommend for employee to stay at for a business conference for company has a bar that is really good and put LOL in the email too?

Sure. HR people are humans too. They’re not advocating you get trashed and pass out in the hotel hallway; they’re telling you there’s a good bar there, which is a perfectly fine bit of information for one adult to share with another adult. It’s a detail about the hotel, which can you take or leave as you see fit, just like if they mentioned there was a good gym there or great room service.

5. Including the reason for leaving each job on your resume

I’m currently hiring and I ran across a resume that has the new-to-me process of including why the applicant left various positions as a part of the resume (e.g. left after company downsized, firm was dissolved, company relocated, etc.). These notes aren’t just on tenures of less than two years, but on positions of five years or more. It strikes me as a clever way to address a common question of every hiring manager, and the only thing that seems odd is that this particular applicant included it on some positions, but not others (of course, I’m now wondering about those!). But, assuming it was implemented throughout, what is your take on this practice?

I wouldn’t recommend it as a matter of course for everyone, but there are some cases where it makes sense. Specifically, if you have a series of short-ish stays that were not due to you constantly quitting but rather were due to things like layoffs or relocations, it can make sense to include that so that you don’t look like a job hopper. But I’d only do it in that context, not otherwise.

boss texts constantly and blows up if I don’t respond immediately, boss refers to my girlfriend as my “roommate,” and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017 09:00 pm
  • Wash the dishes in your sink
  • Get your outfit for tomorrow together, including accessories
  • Set up coffee/tea/breakfast
  • Make your lunch
  • Put your keys somewhere obvious
  • Wash your face and brush your teeth
  • Take your medication/set out your meds for the morning
  • Charge your electronics
  • Pour a little cleaner in the toilet bowl (if you don’t have pets or children or sleepwalking adults)
  • Set your alarm
  • Go to bed at a reasonable hour
Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017 06:53 pm

Yes, it's me; your delinquent blogger.

Thank you to those who have sent me emails letting me know that I haven't fallen completely off their radar. Your good thoughts are enormously appreciated!

I have been spending lots of time in Wisconsin with my mom and siblings lately. Having just spent a month there, I returned back home for much needed hubby time as well as an appointment with Dr. Young Guy for a trochanteric bursa injection bringing blessed relief.

Tomorrow morning I head back to Mom-land. We placed Mom in a nursing home two weeks ago after she deteriorated quickly bringing hallucinations, delusions, panic attacks; all occurring only at night. She pleaded with us to "take me home!" Which proved to be far too much for our live in caregiver to handle. I foolishly thought that I could be helpful in taking every other night giving Isabel some much needed rest, but Mom's house is tiny. When Mom doesn't sleep -- no one sleeps.

It was so hard to feel so helpless in easing Mom's anguish. Poor dear.

Fortunately we were able to place her in respite care at a local hospital while our hospice team noodled though some pharmaceutical and behavioral strategies to help her. After placement in a small nursing home and some med changes, although still remaining very confused, she seems to be more at ease and content.

It appears at this point that we will not be able to bring Mom home again. So my task upon returning tomorrow is to continue to sift through 64 years worth of stuff stored in Mom and Dad's basement and to monitor the care provided to Mom at her nursing home. The current plan, assuming that Mom remains content and safe, is that I will be able to return home a few days before Easter.

As everyone of my age (fast approaching 60) knows, caring for elderly parents is one of everyone's major life tasks. It seems just crazy that I should be one of my family's oldest members!

It's a good thing that John and my siblings are so level headed and intelligent.
Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017 08:52 pm
C&Pd because it's easier than explaining:

A message from #Resist:
Hey there,

Let’s try something new.

March 31st-April 2nd
Every group, everywhere #resist together.

The goal: at least 1,000 #Resist events around the world in one weekend.

Want to make it happen?
RSVP to join the coordinating call on Monday, March 27 at 8:30 PM ET.

Talk to you soon,

Ashley Kroetsch
#Resist Organizer

PS Don’t worry if you can’t make it -- reach out to your local Co-Organizer to fill in the blanks.