It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…
1. HR manager wrote us up for drinking at a party she attended
I attended an unauthorized party in the office where alcohol was served (clearly against company policy). Everyone in the department was invited, and many of us took part in the libations. No one got drunk, everyone behaved professionally. It was intended to be and was a great morale booster.
The HR manager came and did not drink. The next day, she called everyone who did drink up to her office for a verbal/written reprimand. She told me, and everyone else I presume, that it was confidential and that she was having to do this because someone from another department found out and told her about it and she felt compelled to reprimand us.
I inadvertently learned from her boss that she had all the documents prepared immediately after the party, which was the day before she claimed she got a phone call from outside the department.
She was right, we should not have had alcohol at work. My beef is that she came to the party, I believe she knew alcohol was going to be served, and she took names and lied about why she was reprimanding us. My gut tells me to shake it off and learn from it. On the other hand, having a deceitful HR manager is a huge problem. Should I call her out for lying?
It’s a little weird and I can see why you’re wondering about it, but I’d let it go. Who knows, maybe your source got the timeline wrong. Or maybe there was no source, and she said there was because she was too wimpy to admit it was based on her own concerns and what she herself witnessed. Who knows. But I don’t think there’s much/anything to be gained by bringing it up, let alone “calling her out for lying.” I’d let it go.
2. My assistant goes overboard on gifts to me and even my kids
You’ve answered several questions already about whether it’s appropriate to give a holiday gift to one’s boss, and I completely agree with you that gifts should go “downhill” and not the other way around. Here’s another spin, and I’m hoping you have a good answer. I am the boss (female, if it matters), and my amazing, overqualified secretary sends small gifts to my home, for not only the holidays, but for my kids’ birthdays as well. It makes me really uncomfortable, but I don’t know how to tell her.
Her work is terrific, and she’s a lovely person, but I’m really concerned that if I don’t couch it in the right way, she’ll be (1) mortified, (2) more anxious than is her norm, and/or (3) really hurt if I tell her that she really need not send me gifts. To give you a glimpse into her personality, she sends (via snail mail) handwritten thank you notes for everything–she even sent me a handwritten thank you note for a grocery bag full of my kids’ books that I thought her (younger than mine) kids might enjoy. It’s very sweet, but it’s just too much.
It’s too late for this year, but I’d love to find a gentle way of making it stop.
Oooof. I don’t know that you can, not without hurting her feelings. She’s going so far beyond what can normally be the result of obligation (basic holiday gifts) to something so different (gifts for your kids’ birthdays, etc.) that it sounds like this might just be her personality. And if that’s the case, and she takes pleasure in it, I think you risk doing more harm than good by making her feel that she’s been in the wrong all this time. It sounds like you’re really happy with her work and she’s just an incredibly thoughtful person, so I wouldn’t risk causing awkwardness. This is a case where I think you can make an exception to the usual advice on this stuff.
You could certainly say something like, “I hope you never feel any obligation to do this — your fantastic work is all the gift I’lll ever need,” but I wouldn’t push it beyond that.
3. Should I help answer the phones when it will distract from my work?
I’m in a new position, which only allows us to work part-time, but we have to accomplish a lot in five hours. We usually have to perform tasks that involve coordinating dates, while working on complicated spreadsheets. Things need to get done in tight deadlines. Many of our tasks demand full attention, and a mistake can carry serious consequences.
The office has a customer service representative who answers calls, but when things get really busy, sometimes we’re supposed to pick up the extra calls (which happens fairly often).
I’ve seen many times where the phone has rung and nobody has answered the call, even though we’ve been told that everyone should participate in answering the phone. What should I do when there’s a coworker with seniority telling me to pick up the phone, even though I have a deadline and only five hours to complete everything? Should I ignore her request? Should I be sincere and tell her I’m too busy? Or should I simply respond the call and delay all my work? I’m new, and I really don’t want to have any confrontations.
No, you shouldn’t just ignore her. If she has seniority over you, and you’ve been told you’re supposed to be helping with the phones, you need to help with the phones. However, if you’re concerned about how helping with the phones will impact your ability to get your work done, you should raise that with your manager. (Even better would be if you and your coworkers all raise it as a group, since it sounds like you’re all in the same boat.)
4. I was promoted without a raise
I work in a small company as a manager supervising just one person. Besides me, there is another manager who supervises four employees. Though he and I have the same grade level, he is considered the “right hand” of the VP who we both report to.
A few months ago, the VP shared with me that that the other manager is not efficient in his position and she wanted me to supervise him instead. I told her that my job was to help her and the company to the best of my abilities but that her decision has to be clear and documented so that other employees will see the new reorganization as being fair. This was my way of telling her that we needed to discuss the salary and the “promotion” details first before I assumed the new position. She said she would discuss it with the president of the company. During the following days, she mentioned a few other times that her intention was to have me supervise the whole team (the manager and his 4 direct reports). She said she also talked to him about this.
Today, she called both of us in and announced that starting the first of the year, he will be reporting to me. I was shocked. I was brave enough to ask her (after the other manager left the room) how this change will affect my title and work. I should have really said what I thought, which is what will be my new salary? She responded that she was still thinking about this and that I should be having an office now (I am currently in a cubicle and so is the other manager). How do I go about telling her that I do not want this new position if I will be paid the same salary for a higher position? I know for a fact that the other manager that she wants me to supervise has a higher salary than me.
Well, first, telling her that you wanted the decision to be clear and documented is not the same thing as telling her that you wanted to discuss the salary. It doesn’t really sound like that at all, in fact, so I don’t think you should be irked that she didn’t interpret that correctly.
It’s a little tricky now because she’s moved everything forward without having talked about salary with you, but you could go back to her ASAP and say, “We haven’t had a chance to discuss the salary for this new role. I’m hoping for something in the range of $X — is that feasible?”
Unfortunately, because you didn’t raise it earlier, you’re not in an especially strong negotiating position (and you also risk her feeling like you already accepted the job without a raise, since … you kind of did), but it’s worth a shot. If she pushes back for that reason, you could try saying that you were caught off-guard at the earlier meeting and hadn’t had a chance to think everything through since you’d expected a one-on-one conversation with her before things were finalized.
5. Why has my title change stalled?
My question is about updating my title. I’ve been at the organization for three years, and my role has changed and expanded quite a bit. I’ve asked both our division director and the head of HR about updating my title to reflect my current role. About a month ago, both agreed that was a good idea and said my list of potential titles looked good, then told me they’d have to check with the other to finalize. Neither have done so, to my knowledge, and I’m not sure with whom to restart the conversation. I’m not asking for or expect a raise along with it, so I don’t know what the cause of the delay is.
The delay could just be caused by it not being super high on their priority lists, but it’s fine to nudge them. You could approach either, but I’d start with your manager and just say something like, “I’m wondering if you’ve had a chance to talk to Jane about changing my title, and what the timeline might look like for making that happen.”