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your coworkers are very dramatic

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First, I’m happy to announce that you now have the ability to collapse replies to any comment thread, not just top-level comments. Hopefully that will help make long comment threads easier to navigate. Now, onward…

Last week, I asked for stories about weirdly dramatic reactions that you’ve seen people have to changes at work. The comment section was full of fantastic stories, and here are 15 of my favorites.

1. “A couple years ago, I led revamping one of our workflows. The process was old, more than 40 years (!), and our administration was adamant that we had to modernize it. In truth, it was something that wouldn’t affect many people, and most other offices had made the change 20 years ago, but people were mad about the very idea that we would change it. I held a series of meetings with stakeholders, specifically to ascertain what their needs were. Getting this information was like pulling teeth. According to them, their needs were ‘Doing this the way we’ve always done it and never changing!!!’ My personal favorite was one person who arrived at the meeting with a prepared written statement about why the old workflow was necessary, and titled it ‘Hills to Die On.’ Why they thought that would make admin change their minds, I will never understand.”

2. “We just standardized our email signatures yesterday. People flipped out. ‘Why can’t I have this picture of my dog in my signature?’ ‘But I’ve always used pink cursive font — it’s cuter.’ ‘You’re crushing our individuality.’ Another department manager had employees who threatened to quit. I really didn’t think that having a standard email signature was that big of a deal. This is literally the only company that I’ve worked for that didn’t have one (until now).”

3. “At my last company, they used to get cookies once a month from a well-known bakery in my city. People used to stampede down the halls when it was cookie time and grab handfuls or platefuls instead of taking one. Eventually it got to the point that if you got to the cookie location 10 or 15 minutes after they were put down, there were none left. An email was sent out reminding people to take only one cookie so their coworkers could also have some, and that they were welcome to take additional cookies at the end of the day only if there were any leftover.

There was such a protest. Some people were SO INSULTED that they couldn’t take more than one cookie (and honestly, I can understand maybe taking two, but these repeat offenders were talking between 6 – 12 each – legit strutting away with plates piled high). They complained so much about being denied more than one cookie that cookie day ended up stopping permanently. It was honestly bizarre. Grown adults throwing tantrums over being denied more than one cookie (and they were big cookies, too).”

4. “When I worked at in the office of a warehouse, we would get a freezer full of ice cream bars in the summer. It actually had to be addressed that workers MUST STOP taking entire boxes home with them. One coworker took such offense to this that he would made it his mission to eat as much ice cream as possible while on site. I watched him eat seven of them during a thirty minute lunch break. He would proudly boast about how he’d make himself sick on free food just to make sure he got his ‘fair share.'”

5. “In a former department and building (at current employer), there was a little tower window at the top of the building with a light in it. In response to a change so inconsequential I can’t even remember what it was, an overly-dramatic coworker flipped on the light – during the day (gasp!) – in a vengeful attempt to increase employer’s electric bill. This doesn’t seem too over the top until you factor in her giving me a wide eyed, dramatic look before turning on her heel and marching back to her office after the deed was done.”

6. “My former employer moved us into a new, bigger office because we outgrew the one we were in. One person did not like where her cube was located, so she built herself a weird little hovel out of boxes and sheets in a more desirable location (I guess?). I think it got shut down pretty quickly, but it was funny that it happened at all!”

7. “Our break room has a giant whiteboard calendar in it. Last year the company sent us a new one and asked us to start using it at the first of this year. Not really sure why … the other was perfectly usable and there was no differing info on it, but hey, whatever! The new calendar is slightly smaller than the previous one – as in the previous calendar was 36×48 inches and the new one is 32×44 inches.

The woman who updates this calendar was FURIOUS about this change. Oh the campaign this woman has waged to get the old calendar back – she sends emails, complains to every single employee at least once a day, has started tours of our branch in the break room (she points to the board and announces ‘this is the piece of crap calendar they expect us to use’), and holds that fury in her heart. Recently a few big wigs in the company were visiting and she started her tour as usual and then she paused as if expecting them to agree with her. They didn’t, she sighed heavily and moved on with her tour. Before they left she made sure to send them back to the home office with a list outlining why the new calendar sucks. You know they just crumpled that crap up into a ball the second they got into the car.”

8. “My organization opted to implement the new minimum pay for exempt staff even though it did not become law. This amounted to a 15-20% raise for an entire group of employees (all with the same title and responsibilities). The maximum raise anyone receives from their annual review is 5% so this was a significant bump compared to what they would have otherwise received. People were furious! Because this meant they all were being paid the same amount regardless of length of employment. Three people quit over this.”

9. “A staff member in a different department threatened to throw his laptop out of the window if we replaced it (it was 3 years old and due for an upgrade) with the new standard model, which he didn’t like because it weighed a few ounces more.”

10. “At my previous position as the web specialist (and occasional IT deputy for their overworked IT employee) in a university math department, I saw a fun one. There was a specific mathematic software used by more than one department in the university, so the university maintained a server license for it that you could request access to for an install on your office or lab computers if it was needed. Most of the older professors in that department were pretty used to just getting what they wanted whenever I think, and one of them came to me asking to have this software installed on his computer.

Well, in order to keep track of the licenses being used across campus, university-wide IT had a form that needed to be completed and signed specifying the ID number of the user, their office, and so forth and included a clause about maintaining the software properly (don’t bootleg it and take it home, break it, so on and so forth, pretty standard TOS and consisting of just two sentences).

This professor, upon receiving this form, while he did not shout came unglued. He took it to his lawyer (or he said he did) then came back to me and proceeded to launch into a diatribe about how his lawyer told him not to sign it, why couldn’t he just get this software on his computer, he needed it! He shouldn’t have to sign a form for this. It wasn’t his job to do anything laid out by the two sentences on this form, he wasn’t going to sign it and he didn’t know why I had to put so many roadblocks in front of him. I should just do whatever he asked/said he needed to teach and get out of his way. In lots more words than that. I think I listened to him for 15 minutes before I just took the form back from him and walked off.

To this day I do not know if he ever got that software installed on his computer. I never did.”

11. “When I started an office IT job, one of my first assignments was to clean up and update everyone’s computers. The first time I worked with this one coworker’s computer, it was a complete mess. He had some kind of add on for IE that added a little animated Olaf (from the movie Frozen) that would dance around and occasionally have animated snowflakes fall down the screen. Needless to say, it slowed his computer to a crawl, and he was always complaining about how slow his computer was. So, among general scans and cleanup, I removed the add on.

He was LIVID. Went to my boss, to HR, to the head boss, because his animated dancing snowman that messed up his computer was gone. Phrases like ‘she has no right’ and ‘how dare she’ were thrown around. He made a big show of downloading some other hideous animated nav bar add on instead, and kept trying to flaunt it whenever I was nearby.”

12. “I worked for a government department that did lots of project work. We got a new CEO who, after settling in, discovered that he had no visibility of most of the projects, only what limited information was prepared and sent up the line when he enquired about anything specific. After digging around some more he learned that even the shorter, simpler projects frequently ran over time and/or budget, and that in many cases it couldn’t be determined whether it ran over time because there was never even a target delivery date!

So he decided that we would have a project management framework. Projects costing over $50k (in taxpayers’ money, remember) needed to have a plan written up, and provide regular status updates. Neither the plan nor the updates had to be huge documents that take a lot of time to prepare (an update could be one paragraph per fortnight), but they had to exist. There was a central repository where they could be seen by relevant managers and stakeholders, so there shouldn’t be any more suprises about work landing on your lap or suddenly being 18 months late.

The number of staff who lost their shit about having to write down the basic elements of what they were doing … people complained that the CEO was personally insulting their professionalism, and they should just be trusted to do things without any documentation. Some flat-out refused to comply. Some falsified information in their status reports. Some went to elaborate efforts to put a few token documents in the repository but create a locked-down, secret stash of ‘real’ project updates for their eyes only. One person quit and claimed it was because they were driven out by the unreasonable requirement of project plans. Someone else filed a harrassment claim over having their work (but not their name) included in a list of projects that were past their deadline.”

13. “We had this disgusting faux floral arrangement in the lobby. It was given to us by a local flower shop when we moved into the building – in 2002. It was 4 feet tall by 3 feet wide and in a 2 foot tall faux cement planter. It sat on the desk behind reception and had 15 years of dust on it. We went through 2 remodels and a full rebrand, and this thing stayed. My boss hated this thing – every time he walked through the lobby, he commented on how gross it was. ‘What will guests think?’ ‘It looks like my grandmothers house in here!’ ‘That think NEEDS to get out of the lobby!’

Finally, I decided to prank him by moving the monstrosity into his office – I put it smack in the middle of his conference table with a note that said ‘I finally got it out of the lobby!’ He proceeded to prank another coworker, who did another, until it ended up in a storage closet, where it’s been for the past 2 years.

This past winter, we did an office-wide clean-up project. We were encouraged to purge purge purge – and I found those gross, dusty, gigantic flowers tucked in a back storage room, and I knew they had to go. But I figured, hey – they’re pretty big, right? And we’re a nonprofit, so maybe I could get some money for them. So I put them on Craigslist – make a donation to ____ and you get these flowers! No bites. I reposted for 4 weeks. Nothing.

Finally, to make it fun, I posted on our intraweb – ‘I’m going to host an auction with proceeds going to the employee fun fund, and whoever wins gets to throw this thing into the dumpster!’ I thought people would think it was fun. Instead, I was met with blind rage. THOSE FLOWERS ARE AN INSTITUTION! Didn’t I know they had been here for 15 years? How dare I suggest throwing out a piece of our history! Never mind that they had been out of the lobby for 2 years and no one had noticed – oh no, this was anarchy. Why hadn’t I checked hospitals and churches? Why hadn’t I brought them to a homeless shelter? Why hadn’t I tried to clean them and make them into boutonnieres for the staff to wear at the gala? It was hilarious. I suggested to some of these people that perhaps they find a home for the flowers, but no no, this was MY job. And I wasn’t doing it right. Yet every day they sat in the hallway, people stopped into my office to ask, ‘why are the flowers still here?’ ‘why haven’t you found a home for the flowers?’

I will never tell anyone what happened to those flowers, but I eventually refused to speak with anyone about them anymore. They disappeared from the hallway, and I posted on our intraweb ‘the flowers have found a home’ and did not reply to any follow-up comments.”

14. I had a couple coworkers pitch a huge fit when my employer updated the dress code. What did they change?

No pajamas.

Not even kidding. This was at a call center and the dress code was VERY relaxed, but we had people literally coming to work in their PJs or similar nightclothes. The best part was some of the worst offenders went on to harangue management over it, since ‘it was never a problem before’ and ‘we’re not face to face with customers so why does it matter.’ People would show up in defiance in PJs and argue when they were told to go home and change, and the suggestion box got spammed with ‘let us wear PJs’ for weeks. It was honestly shocking to me – the dress code was already so casual that I personally would routinely wear shorts and a plain tee any given day when the weather was warm and was never written up, but pajamas? Seriously. Eventually they stopped wearing PJs Monday through Friday, but would still come in on the weekends like they rolled out of bed and drove to work.

It took several months, and a lot of write-ups, before it finally stopped completely. Granted, this was one of the more ridiculous responses to a change, but there were some similarly loud protests when they outlawed spaghetti tanks, booty shorts, and flip flops. Not even kidding.”

15. “Upon being told that it was now mandatory to wear your badge on a lanyard (no, not a clip, not on your belt, it had to be a lanyard), one woman completely lost it. She stood up (this was a meeting) and ranted about how lanyards were UGLY and they RUINED her outfits and WHY OH WHY was this a rule because EVERYONE hated it (no, the rest of us were fine) and so on. She compared it to ‘papers, please’ and how this was the slippery slope that would lead to robot workers and oh there was so much more but I can’t remember it all.

Over the next few weeks she tried wearing her lanyard inside her blouse (no, the point is that the badge is visible) and claiming she just forgot until she got written up… and SHE QUIT. Well, took early retirement, but still.”

your coworkers are very dramatic was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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2 days ago
oh lord
Melbourne, Australia
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Two years of Rust


Rust is a language for confident, productive systems programming. It aims to make systems programming accessible to a wider audience, and to raise the ambitions of dyed-in-the-wool systems hackers.

It’s been two years since Rust 1.0 was released. Happy second birthday, Rust!

Group picture from RustFest Berlin

Rustaceans at RustFest Berlin, September 2016. Picture by Fiona Castiñeira

Over these two years, we have demonstrated stability without stagnation, maintaining backwards compatibility with version 1.0 while also making many improvements. Conveniently, Rust’s birthday is a bit under halfway through 2017, which makes this a great time to reflect not only on the progress in the last year but also on the progress of our 2017 Roadmap goals.

After reading this post, if you’d like to give us your feedback on how we’re doing and where Rust should focus next, please fill out our 2017 State of Rust survey.

But first, let’s do the numbers!

Rust in numbers

A lot has happened since Rust’s first birthday:

  • 10,800 commits by 663 contributors (438 of them new this year) added to the core repository;
  • 56 RFCs merged;
  • 9 minor releases and 2 patch releases shipped;
  • 4,405 new crates published;
  • 284 standard library stabilizations;
  • 10 languages has been translated into;
  • 48 new companies running Rust in production;
  • 4 new teams (Docs, Style, Infrastructure, and the Unsafe Guidelines strike team);
  • 24 occasions of adding people to teams, 6 retirings of people from teams;
  • 3 babies born to people on the Rust teams;
  • 2 years of stability delivered.

On an average week this year, the Rust community merged 1 RFC and published 83 new crates. Rust topped the “most loved language” for the second year in a row in the StackOverflow survey. Also new this year is, a site where you can browse contributors by release.

Rust in production

In addition to the 48 new Rust friends, we now have a Rust jobs website! More and more companies are choosing Rust to solve problems involving performance, scaling, and safety. Let’s check in on a few of them.

Dropbox is using Rust in multiple high-impact projects to manage exabytes of data on the back end, where correctness and efficiency is critical. Rust code is also currently shipping in the desktop client on Windows running on hundreds of millions of machines. Jamie Turner recently spoke at the SF Rust Meetup about the details on how Rust helps Dropbox use less RAM and get more throughput with less CPU.

Mozilla, Rust’s main sponsor, has accelerated their use of Rust in production. Not only did Servo start shipping nightly builds, Firefox 48 marked the first Firefox release that included Rust code as part of the Oxidation project. Project Quantum, announced in October 2016, is an effort to incrementally adopt proven parts of Servo into Firefox’s rendering engine, Gecko. Check out this blog series that’s just getting started for a detailed look at Project Quantum.

GNOME, a free and open source desktop environment for Linux, went from experimenting with Rust in librsvg in October 2016 to a hackfest in March to work on the interoperability between GNOME and Rust to enable more GNOME components to be written in Rust. The hackfest participants made good progress, be sure to check out the reports at the bottom of the hackfest page for all the details. We’re all excited about the possibilities of Rust and GNOME working together.

This year, npm started using Rust in production to serve JavaScript packages. The Rust pieces eliminate performance bottlenecks in their platform that serves around 350 million packages a day. Ashley Williams recently gave a talk at RustFest in Ukraine about npm’s experience with Rust in production; check out the video.

This is just a sampling of the success stories accumulating around Rust. If you’re using Rust in production, we want to hear yours too!

Rust in community

Speaking of conferences, We’ve had four Rust conferences in the last year:

And we have at least three conferences coming up!

That’s not even including the 103 meetups worldwide about Rust. Will you be the one to run the fourth conference or start the 104th meetup? Contact the community team for help and support!

Rust in 2017

The 2017 Roadmap goals have been great for focusing community efforts towards the most pressing issues facing Rust today. Of course we’d love for every aspect of Rust to improve all the time, but we don’t have an infinite number of contributors with an infinite amount of time available yet!

Let’s check in on some of the initiatives in each of the goals in the roadmap. The linked tracking issues give even more detail than the summaries here.

Rust should have a lower learning curve

The second edition of The Rust Programming Language Book is one chapter shy of having its initial content complete. There’s lots more editing to be done to get the book ready for publication in October, though. The print version is currently available for preorder from No Starch, and the online version of the second edition has boarded the beta train and will be an option in the documentation shipped with Rust 1.18.0. Steve and I have gotten feedback that the ownership chapter especially is much improved and has helped people understand ownership related concepts better!

The Language Ergonomics Initiative is another part of the lower learning curve goal that has a number of improvements in its pipeline. The language team is eager to mentor people (another goal!) who are interested in getting involved with moving these ergonomic improvement ideas forward by writing RFCs and working with the community to flesh out the details of how these improvements would work. Comment on the tracking issue if you’d like to jump in.

Also check out:

Rust should have a pleasant edit-compile-debug cycle

Waiting on the compiler is the biggest roadblock preventing the Rust development workflow from being described as “pleasant”. So far, a lot of work has been done behind the scenes to make future improvements possible. Those improvements are starting to come to fruition, but rest assured that this initiative is far from being considered complete.

One of the major prerequisites to improvements was adding MIR (Mid-level Intermediate Representation) to the compiler pipeline. This year, MIR became a default part of the compilation process.

Because of MIR, we’re now able to work on adding incremental recompilation. Nightly builds currently offer “beta” support for it, permitting the compiler to skip over code generation for code that hasn’t changed. We are in the midst of refactoring the compiler to support finer-grained incremental computation, allowing us to skip type-checking and other parts of compilation as well. This refactoring should also offer better support for the IDE work (see next section), since it enables the compiler to do things like compile a single function in isolation. We expect to see the next stage of incremental compilation becoming available over the next few months. If you’re interested in getting involved, please check out the roadmap issue #4, which is updated periodically to reflect the current status, as well as places where help is needed.

The February post on the “beta” support showed that recompiling in release mode will often be five times as fast with incremental compilation! This graph shows the improvements in compilation time when making changes to various parts of the regex crate and rebuilding in release mode:

Graph showing improved time with incremental compilation

Try out incremental compilation on nightly Rust with CARGO_INCREMENTAL=1 cargo <command>!

Thanks to Niko Matsakis for this incremental compilation summary!

We’ve also made some progress on the time it takes to do a full compilation. On average, compile times have improved by 5-10% in the last year, but some worst-case behavior has been fixed that results in >95% improvements in certain programs. Some very promising improvements are on the way for later this year; check out for monitoring Rust’s performance day-to-day.

Rust should provide a basic, but solid IDE experience

As part of our IDE initiative, we created the Rust Language Server project. Its goal is to create a single tool that makes it easy for any editor or IDE to have the full power of the Rust compiler for error checking, code navigation, and refactoring by using the standard language server protocol created by Microsoft and Eclipse.

While still early in its life, today the RLS is available from rustup for nightly users. It provides type information on hover, error messages as you type, and different kinds of code navigation. It even provides refactoring and formatting as unstable features! It works with projects as large as Cargo. We’re excited to watch the RLS continue to grow and hope to see it make its way to stable Rust later this year.

Thanks to Jonathan Turner for this RLS summary!

Rust should have 1.0-level crates for essential tasks, and Rust should provide easy access to high quality crates

The recent post on the Libz Blitz details the Library Team’s initiative to increase the quality of crates for common tasks; that post is excellent so I won’t repeat it here. I will note that many of the issues that the Libs Team is going to create will be great starter issues. For the blitz to be the best it can be, the Libs Team is going to need help from the community– that means YOU! :) They’re willing to mentor people interested in contributing.

In order to make awesome crates easier to find for particular purposes, now has categories for crate authors to better indicate the use case of their crate. Crates can also now have CI badges, and more improvements to’s interface are coming that will help you choose the crates that fit your needs.

Rust should be well-equipped for writing robust, high-scale servers

One of the major events in Rust’s ecosystem in the last year was the introduction of a zero-cost futures library, and a framework, Tokio, for doing asynchronous I/O on top of it. These libraries are a boon for doing high-scale, high-reliability server programming, productively. Futures have been used with great success in C++, Scala, and of course JavaScript (under the guise of promises), and we’re reaping similar benefits in Rust. However, the Rust library takes a new implementation approach that makes futures allocation-free. And Tokio builds on that to provide a futures-enabled event loop, and lots of tools for quickly implementing new protocols. A simple HTTP server using Tokio is among the fastest measured in the TechEmpower server benchmarks.

Speaking of protocols, Rust’s full-blown HTTP story is solidifying, with Hyper’s master branch currently providing full Tokio support (and official release imminent). Work on HTTP/2 is well under way. And the web framework ecosystem is growing too. For example, Rocket came out this year: it’s a framework that marries the ergonomics and flexibility of a scripting framework with the performance and reliability of Rust. Together with supporting libraries like the Diesel ORM, this ecosystem is showing how Rust can provide slick, ergonomic developer experiences without sacrificing an ounce of performance or reliability.

Over the rest of this year, we expect all of the above libraries to significantly mature; for a middleware ecosystem to sprout up; for the selection of supported protocols and services to grow; and, quite possibly, to tie all this all together with an async/await notation that works natively with Rust’s futures.

Thanks to Aaron Turon for this server-side summary!

Rust should integrate easily into large build systems

Cargo, Rust’s native package manager and build system, is often cited as one of people’s favorite aspects of Rust. But of course, the world runs on many build systems, and when you want to bring a chunk of the Rust ecosystem into a large organization that has its own existing build system, smooth integration is paramount.

This initiative is mostly in the ideas stage; we’ve done a lot of work with stakeholders to understand the challenges in build system integration today, and we think we have a good overall vision for how to solve them. There’s lots of great discussion on the tracking issue that has resulted in a few Cargo issues like these:

There are a lot of details yet to be worked out; keep an eye out for more improvement in this area soon.

Rust’s community should provide mentoring at all levels

The “all levels” part of the roadmap item is important to us: it’s about onboarding first-time contributors as well as adding folks all the way up at the core team level (like me, hi!)

For people just getting started with Rust, we held RustBridge events before RustFest Berlin and Rust Belt Rust. There’s another coming up, planned for the day before RustConf in Portland!

The Mozilla Rust folks are going to have Outreachy and GSoC interns this summer working on a variety of projects.

We’ve also had success involving contributors when there are low-committment, high impact tasks to be done. One of those efforts was improving the format of error messages– check out the 82 participants on this issue! The Libz Blitz mentioned in a previous section is set up specifically to be another source of mentoring opportunities.

In January, the Language Team introduced shepherds, which is partly about mentoring a set of folks around the Language Team. The shepherds have been quite helpful in keeping RFC discussions moving forward!

We’ve also been working to grow both the number and size of subteams, to create more opportunities for people to step into leadership roles.

There’s also less formal ways that we’ve been helping people get involved with various initiatives. I’ve worked with many people at many places in their Rust journey: helping out with the conferences, giving their first conference talks, providing feedback on the book, working on crates, contributing to Rust itself, and joining teams! While it’s hard to quantify scenarios like these, everywhere I turn, I see Rustaceans helping other Rustaceans and I’m grateful this is part of our culture.

Rust in the future

At two years old, Rust is finding its way into all corners of programming, from web development, to embedded systems, and even your desktop. The libraries and the infrastructure are maturing, we’re paving the on-ramp, and we’re supporting each other. I’m optimistic about the direction Rust is taking!

Happy birthday, Rust! Here’s to many more! 🎉

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4 days ago
Melbourne, Australia
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I reported my sexist team to HR — and now they’re doing a much bigger investigation than I wanted

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A reader writes:

I work with about 10 men and I am the only woman on my team. Over the course of about 2.5 months, I’ve accumulated some experiences of sexism. A lot of it has been jokes or comments that are generally inappropriate or sexual in nature, and other times it’s a difference in treatment from other colleagues that I think has to be because I’m a woman.

My feelings of discontentment have been getting greater and greater these past couple months, and I came to a breaking point last Friday. I felt unwelcome and belittled. I ended having to leave my desk for 30 minutes and crying in the bathroom. I felt like I either needed to leave this job because I wasn’t respected or that I needed to do something about the feeling. I didn’t feel like having a personal conversation with some of the guys was an appropriate course of action because I didn’t feel like I’d be taken seriously. Instead, I set up a meeting on Monday with someone who works for my company who is a representative between us and the company we work for (we work as contractors for a larger company) — let’s call him M.

I came in prepared with notes on my phone about all of the instances I’ve experienced. M was super responsive to my complaints. I was surprised and optimistic about this, and afterwards he asked me to send him an email with a list of the situations I had mentioned. I complied and wrote a brief email about it.

We met up again a couple days later, when he said that he had spoken with his manager and it had been escalated to HR within the contracting company, and that they would be conducting a formal investigation. He reiterated that they would like to protect me, and to do that they would need me to send them another email with every possible description of each situation I had previously listed (things like who was around and might have witnessed it, when and where, what did I reply to the comments/behavior, etc.). M said they would need to speak with every person on the team, starting with people who I didn’t list as making any harrassing remarks or behaviors to “corroborate” my claims.

I immediately felt uneasy about this. Not only is there 100% transparency about these complaints coming from me, but everyone in the office is going to be made aware of every situation I listed. I listed situations with people I’m actually friends with too. M said they need to conduct this formal investigation so that if anything further happens in the future, they can take appropriate action, which may mean termination from assignment. I’ve become SO distraught imagining how people (friends or not) are going to react knowing their job security is now up for debate and how I am going to be able to function in an environment where people are going to be treating me differently following the investigation.

I told M that it took a lot for me to even approach him about the issue and that I feel I’m going to be pushed into a corner by people either being bitter or overly sensitive about interacting with me, and that this in turn is going to affect how I function in my workspace. I don’t feel unsafe and I do enjoy my office, but the inequality was getting to me. I asked if we could do a general office training/education about our company’s sexual harrassment policy instead of an investigation, because frankly we should already be doing that and I also think that option could help reiterate that behavior needs to change. I’m just so nervous that I’ll be further pushed out of my office space and ultimately forced to leave because I’m unhappy with the situation.

I was told that M’s higher-up said an investigation is how we need to proceed and that I need to provide the descriptions of each instance. I feel like my needs of a comfortable work space are being jeopardized and while they say they want to protect me, it’s is doing the opposite. I want to try and speak to M’s manager because I’m not sure if my concerns are being portrayed properly and I’m uncomfortable with this.

Am I just being spineless and need to follow through with this investigation and hope for the best that my work environment doesn’t change? Do I have any kind of recourse? What if I don’t provide them with any more details to aid in the investigation?

I’m legitimately freaking out about this and it is giving me so much anxiety on top of an already shitty work situation.

This is actually a very by-the-book way for them to be handling the situation. It’s exactly what they’re supposed to do — and in fact, from a legal standpoint, they really have to do it.

I totally get that because you’re the victim in this situation, it feels like you should have some control over how it’s handled. But when someone reports harassment or discrimination, a company has a legal obligation to investigate. If they didn’t investigate and instead just did a general training for everyone, it could open them up to serious legal issues down the road if the problems continue with you or recur with someone else.

However, they also have an obligation to ensure that you don’t face retaliation for reporting it. They’ll be more able to do that if you’re up-front with them about your concerns — as in, “I am concerned that I am going to face retaliation from my team for talking to you. What measures can you take to ensure that things don’t get worse for me?”

A good HR department will make it very, very clear to your colleagues that that kind of thing won’t be tolerated — and they’ll make sure your manager knows that and is watching out for it too.

That said, will your relationships with people be impacted? They might. In particular, people might be irked that you didn’t take it up with them directly first and tell them that their behavior was bothering you.

Ultimately it will come down to what the other people on your team are like. Some people in your coworkers’ shoes will be sheepish and embarrassed. Some will be a-holes. I don’t know which type is most prevalent on your team, but if anyone is overtly a jerk about it, make sure that HR knows about it because they shouldn’t allow flagrant retaliation to occur. The more subtle stuff, though … it’s a lot harder to police, especially when it’s coming from coworkers (as opposed to your manager). So yeah, it’s possible that some of your relationships might change. Hopefully they won’t, but sometimes in this situation they do. That sucks, and I’m sorry.

But I don’t think you should backtrack or refuse to aid in the investigation. That will harm your own credibility … and plus, you spoke up because you’ve become deeply upset about the way you’re being treated. Assuming you still stand by those concerns, give your company the opportunity to do the right thing.

And if it gives you peace of mind, it’s very, very unlikely that anyone is going to get fired as a result of the investigation. It’s rare for companies to fire for first offenses on this kind of thing — counseling, warnings, and training are far more likely. (If it turns out that these aren’t first offenses and they’ve been warned in the past, then the consequences would likely be more serious. But if they’re continuing this kind of thing after already being warned, you’d be doing your company a real service by bringing that to light.)

I reported my sexist team to HR — and now they’re doing a much bigger investigation than I wanted was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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4 days ago
Melbourne, Australia
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my manager told us we were going to be laid off — but she was wrong

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A reader writes:

The division I work in has four people, plus my manager. Three months ago, my manager called us into a meeting. She told us the company would be going through some changes and restructuring due to financial issues and that layoffs were coming in the spring. She said she had found out this information accidentally and no one knew she had found out. She swore us all to secrecy because the information wasn’t public and said we couldn’t tell anyone under any circumstances. She wanted us to know so we could start looking for jobs before the layoffs came because we would likely be laid off the same day we were told and promised to give us good references and time off to go to interviews.

One of my coworkers made plans to move back to her hometown in another state to take a job. Another decided to postpone proposing to his girlfriend and moving in with her because he got a job which pays less and he can no longer afford higher rent, to save for a ring, or for planning the kind of wedding they want to have. The other one got a job which pays only half of what this job paid and his wife had to return to work part-time even though she just had a baby and wanted to stay home. I found a new job but it only pays 75% of what this job paid and I had to find a new apartment and sell my car to get money to terminate my lease, which I had to pay off in full so my credit wouldn’t be affected. My new job is also a 45-minute train ride away from my apartment as opposed to a 10-minute drive like this job. All of us took lower paying jobs and made changes to our lives because we couldn’t afford to be without a paycheck or risk running out of unemployment before we found something at our current pay.

During my last week, there was a company-wide meeting. The executive management was there and the said the meeting was about the changes the company would go through. There was no mention of layoffs, and when question time came one of my coworkers asked about it. We were told there were not going to be any layoffs because the other changes would save enough to accomplish what the company wanted.

After the meeting, my manager swore she had information that layoffs were coming. She ended up calling her manager. She had found stuff in the printer from him about the company plan and there were layoffs mentioned all over that paperwork. She had put it back and called the meeting to tell us, keeping the fact she saw the papers a secret. But her manager told said it was just a generic company contingency plan for hardships and not what the company decided to do. He said the paperwork dealt with several money-saving scenarios and layoffs and our division closing was just one of them.

I tried to rescind my resignation from HR, but they wouldn’t do it because they said the hiring process had already been started and they had already arranged for temporary coverage from other departments once we were gone. One of my coworkers had already left and started his new job, one was a day away from her move, and my other coworker’s wife had already gone back to work. There was no way for any of us to keep our jobs.

My (now-ex) manager says that she was only trying to help. We had all worked for her for between four and seven years and she had never done anything to make us not trust her. She hasn’t apologized or shown any kind of remorse. Are we right to be mad at her? All of us took lower paying jobs and made a bunch of changes to our lives because of what she told us. I start my new job in a few days but I can’t help but be mad at her.

This is a perfect illustration of why when people stumble across information like your manager did, most of the time I advise them to keep it to themselves. There are just too many ways for the information to be wrong.

Should you be mad at her? Well, she did what she thought was right, and she sounds like she was motivated by wanting to help you. If things had gone differently — if you had ended up being laid off after all — you probably would have been grateful for the warning. You could also look at this the other way around: If you were laid off and found out that she had known about it months in advance and hadn’t warned you, would you be upset about that?

But yes, she really messed up by sharing information as if it were certain fact when she didn’t actually know that. The type of print-outs that she found can very often look pretty damn certain, so I can see why she ended up where she did. Still, though, she could have at least given you the full story (“I found this on the printer, I don’t have confirmation from anyone, and it’s possible it’s not the final plan”) and let you make up your own mind about how to interpret it.

Although if she handled it that way — if she just strictly relayed what she had found without putting her own characterization on it and added the caveat that she didn’t know if it was accurate — would you have still started job searching and ultimately resigned? If so, that’s worth factoring into your thinking too.

But yes, it’s awful that she hasn’t apologized or taken any responsibility for what happened.

my manager told us we were going to be laid off — but she was wrong was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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4 days ago
Melbourne, Australia
4 days ago
Personally I feel like the boss was extremely reckless here. I understand she thought she was doing right by her team members. But she is a manager, this sort of information was critical strategic information. If I was her boss, I would feel that she betrayed a level of confidentiality and discretion I would expect from a leader. Plus no apology? I would feel so terrible if my judgement call had these sorts of consequences.
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Call for Contributors for Issue 9: Hard problems

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Have you heard this one before? "There are only two hard problems in computer science: cache invalidation, naming things, and off-by-one errors." The idea for our next issue started when your editor was talking to someone who said, "you could do a whole issue on timezones." So yes, why not? What makes a 'hard problem' has … Continue reading Call for Contributors for Issue 9: Hard problems

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4 days ago
Great theme
Melbourne, Australia
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your boss sucks and isn’t going to change

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Three letters, one answer.

1. Our new-ish CEO is terrible

I work for a company with about 600 employees, I am part of the senior management team. The current CEO took over a couple of years ago and things are slowly getting worse.

Nobody is authorized to make decisions anymore – everything has to be reviewed and approved by the CEO (down to things like written warnings to employees). On top of that, he is not good at making decisions himself – if the options available are less than ideal, he will delay deciding on an issue, ask everyone to do all kinds of research for “additional” information (it rarely is new or useful for the actual decision or it has been presented to him already, but then he will question its validity and send people off to verify it, again), call a number of meetings to “discuss” things (but there is no real discussion going on at this point – everyone knows that he will be the one making the decision anyway and it’s pointless) – everything takes forever to get done and every day feels like wading against the current. I think he’s afraid of making the wrong decision and the whole company is affected by this complete lock-down.

He also has some pre-set notions about what is “right” and “appropriate” but it is impossible to figure out why he holds those beliefs because he usually won’t even discuss those issues and will end any attempt with “we will not be doing this,” sometimes even in a raised voice. To a room full of senior management.

Access to the board is strictly controlled. Most employees don’t even know who is on our board at all. At a strategic planning meeting with the board, senior management was told to not make any jokes, not mention certain things that came out of the employee engagement survey (those have been completely ignored and did not make it into the strategic plan, of course) and had assigned seats during lunch, away from the board. The company is doing well and the CEO is a nice guy so the board has no reason to even suspect that any of this is going on.

Everyone on the senior management team is unhappy, frustrated and getting more and more fed up with being treated like children. And nobody has a solution for this other than looking for other jobs. But the company is great and some people have been in their jobs for a couple of decades – is there a way to salvage this situation?

Your boss sucks and isn’t going to change.

I suppose it’s possible that a group of you in senior management could talk to the board (if you can find out who they are!), but that’s not a guarantee that you’ll get the outcome you want. It’s entirely possible that they’d just tell the CEO to deal with it, or that they’d nudge him to change a bit but not do anything else.

There’s a danger in getting too attached to an organization that you’ve been at for a long while. Right now it sounds like people don’t want to leave because they used to like the company — but that’s not the same company you’re at now.

2. My boss sent me a text tantrum because we weren’t concerned enough when she was sick

I have two bosses who own the office and are married. We are in the middle of a huge transition and one did not come in today. She is in and out frequently so I didn’t notice and sent her two emails with neutral requests for information and texted her the deposit amount as usual.

After I left work, I received a tantrum style text message “thanking” me and another coworker for our lack of concern over her illness. It said: “I’d like to thank both of you for your insensitivity during my illness. I’ve been really sick and almost went to the ER and not a one of you ever said I hope you feel better! You just keep sending demands and requests. You sure as hell don’t have a problem texting me when you don’t feel well and can’t come to work. Your lack of empathy for people better change. Cause I’m sick to death of this kind of behavior from staff.”

I was not informed that she was sick. I knew she was busy and tired, so I had sent two non demand-y requests for information by email. My coworker texted her a number at her husband’s request, one neutral question, and a video of a baby goat.

This is not her first tantrum. Bringing it to the attention of her boss (er, spouse) will likely get me a dismissive excuse or a response where he joins in her tirade of my apparent uncaring attitude.

I have no problem texting her when I am sick as she declared, because I am required to. I also respond to text messages and calls for information when I’m off sick without complaint. We have even been working extra hours to make this transition as smooth as possible and I’m just not sure how to respond to her increasingly negative outbreaks. How can I address this behavior?

Your boss sucks and isn’t going to change.

You could certainly try saying, “I was really surprised by your text because no one had told me that you were sick. I text you when I’m too sick to work because that’s our policy, so I was confused by your mention of that. This was such an odd text to receive — is there something going on that I don’t realize?”

But really, you’re dealing with someone with zero professionalism who threw a text tantrum because people didn’t baby her enough when she didn’t feel well. And she’s married to your other boss, who apparently is similar.

There’s only one conclusion here.

3. My boss personally attacks me when she changes her mind

I work in a creative capacity, producing work that is pretty subjective. My boss is a woman with unspeakably bad communication skills. Not only is she unable to articulate her demands clearly, she is also the queen of moving goalposts — what constitutes “good” to her changes on a daily basis, depending on her mood. This is a recipe for disaster, and after working with her for 13 months, I’ve learned that it takes 20 stabs in the dark before I can even guess what her mental vision for a project is. (Usually, her vision ends up being totally contrary to her stated wishes at the beginning.)

The problem? When my work doesn’t align with her “mental vision” or when she “forgets” what she instructed me to do last week or when she changes her mind suddenly, her reaction is to rant. But instead of talking about my work, she turns everything into a personal attack. “I don’t know why you think I’ll accept such crappy work.” / “Are you trying to waste my time? I can see that you put zero effort in this.” / “What is wrong with you? Did you just decide to produce low-quality work today?”

How do I re-direct this boss’s attention back to the work instead? Her comments on me (besides being aggressive and unfair) do not help me produce the work that she actually wants. I’ve tried inserting questions like, “Can you tell me where the problem is?” or “What would you like to see here?” but she never actually answers me. Once, she replied with, “I don’t know, but this is not what I wanted!” Usually, she’ll send me out of her office with the bewildering: “Maybe you just need more time to think about it. You figure it out!”

I work hard at my job, and I never submit work that *I* think is second-rate. But my boss seems to think I’m deliberately messing with her when my output doesn’t magically match her “mental vision”. Is there any polite way for me to explain, “I’m sorry I’m not telepathic”? Should I even defend myself and my work ethic when my output is so subjective? And most importantly, how do I get my boss to start giving clear, concise feedback?

Your boss sucks and isn’t going to change.

She has no idea how to manage effectively and she sounds like a mean, shitty person.

All you can really do is decide whether you can work there reasonably happily in spite of her, or whether it’s time to look for another job.

your boss sucks and isn’t going to change was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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5 days ago
Melbourne, Australia
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1 public comment
7 days ago
Sometimes that's just true
Rio de Janeiro, Brasil
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