It’s terse answer Thursday — seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…
1. Company took away our desk fans
I work in a high-stress call center, which is often warmer than I would prefer. I (along with many other employees) helped this problem with small desk fans. We were recently told that we had to take our fans home as it could be a liability in case the fan caused a power surge and shorted something out. I had the fan plugged into a surge protector but was told this was still unacceptable. Perhaps I should be sending this question to “ask an electrician,” but I am curious if you’ve ever heard of fans not being allowed in an office. As this is a phone sales job, I am finding myself increasingly irritated and uncomfortably warm. I’ve done everything to reason with management and have found them intractable. Do you have any suggestions how I might approach this? Do I have any grounds to fight this?
No legal grounds, but certainly on the grounds of common sense. You and your coworkers should talk to whoever in charge of this about the fact that people generally work better when they’re not uncomfortably hot, and ask what solutions can be found for the temperature problem. It doesn’t have to be fans — maybe it’s central air or some other solution. But make the case for it. You can’t force them to agree, but you can certainly try, and doing so as a group might help.
2. How should we launch an employee performance tracker?
My question is centered around the delivery of employee performance metrics. I work in a fairly new department, and we are about to roll out a performance tracker that gives front line employees feedback on their performance for the last couple months. We didn’t give our employees all the specifics on which data we would be tracking and how they can influence it (because we didn’t know what it would be at the time). We did give them a general overview of what their competencies would be.
My boss seems eager to get the information out ASAP, but it makes sense to me to deliver the specifics on what we will be measuring, give the staff time to perform, and then roll out their performance tracker and develop improvement plans. It doesn’t seem fair to me to give an employee specific feedback on metrics they were not previously informed would be tracked and monitored (although the metrics are for things that they should already understand are relevant to how their performance is assessed). My boss is saying this is just a benchmark, but I’m concerned about those employees who might get lower ratings and their perception of the information.
I think it’s fine either way. There’s certainly no harm in giving people a heads-up and then waiting before the first official reporting, but if these metrics are measuring things that they should already know they’re being assessed on more generally, then I also don’t see any problem in rolling it out immediately. If you were going to launch metrics on things no one had ever told them they needed to care about, that would unfair and demoralizing. But since it’s on stuff they should already be thinking about, I think it’s fine.
3. I didn’t tell my staff that our new employee is deaf
I just hired a part-time person who is deaf. The person is able to do the job fine, but I am not sure what to do in regards to the rest of my department. Before the person started, I sent an email introducing them to everyone with a little background on the person, and I mentioned the university they went to, which is recognizable as one that caters to deaf people if you know that. I do this with all new hires.
I had decided not to mention the fact that they are deaf because I would not mention anything else that is not really relevant to the job (this is a job where you are in front of a computer mostly and pack/unpack things). But just in introducing them around in person, I noticed there were a few miscommunications (they didn’t get they were being asked a question, for example). Having interviewed and now trained them one on one, I think it’s just a question of making sure we are facing the new person when we talk and such small adjustments but I worry that if the rest of the team does not know she is deaf, they will just think the new person is slow or aloof, and it will create a negative atmosphere. On the other hand, I don’t want to draw attention to something that I don’t think should matter in an office. Do you have any suggestions on how best to handle this?
Please tell people, today. It’s not kind to allow people to think this employee is slow or unresponsive, when the problem could be so easily solved. I assure you that your employee doesn’t think being deaf is something to hide, and would probably appreciate having people know how to best communicate with her. In fact, she probably assumes people already know. Your instinct not to mention the deafness comes from a well-intentioned place, but the result is not helpful. Let your staff know that because Jane is deaf, they should make sure they face her when she talks, and any other adjustments they should make.
4. How should I respond to this email from a hiring manager?
I interviewed for a position last Friday and sent a thank-you card a few days later. Today I received an email from one of the hiring managers, thanking me for the card, telling me that they expect to make a decision in a few days, and thanking me for my patience. I’ve never received a thank-you email for a thank-you note. Should I respond or just wait to hear their decision?
It’s not really a thank-you for the thank-you; it’s an update on their timeline. No response is really needed, although there’s nothing wrong with responding with a quick “great, thanks for letting me know.”
5. Explaining a period of caring for a parent
I worked for 25 years in telecommunications. I was laid off in 2008 and since that time have been caring for my elderly parents. My dad passed away a few months ago, and my mother, although handicapped, is stable. I am ready to begin a “second phase of my life” job search. Is it acceptable to put on my resume the duties I performed caring for my parents? For example, managing their money, taking them to their doctor’s appointments, managing in home care, etc. I want to make sure that a potential employer knows that I have been very busy the past few years although I have not been collecting a paycheck.
I wouldn’t list it as a job on your resume (just like I wouldn’t list caring for your own kids on a resume), but you can certainly mention in your cover letter that you’ve been caring for a family member but are now ready to return to work.
6. Manager is making me move my computer monitor
Can a manager dictate as to how you place your monitor on you desk? I have mine directly in front of me because of a neck issue and now she says it needs to be of to the side to be patient friendly. She doesn’t sit in my place, and I think she has no business saying how it should be. I would appreciate your opinion.
Legally? Sure, unless your neck issue is covered under the ADA (although the bar is fairly high for something to qualify for a disability). Your best bet is to professionally and politely explain to the impact of having your monitor where she’d like it and offer to bring in documentation of your neck issue from your doctor if she’d like it. (Doctor’s notes don’t obligate an employer to act on this type of thing, but some employers are responsive to them.) But to get the best outcome here, you need to approach this in a professional problem-solving type of way, not in a “you have no business saying how it should be” kind of way.
7. Can I just write “see resume” in online application systems?
I have been applying to university jobs, which require both a resume and cover letter and the submission of an online application. These online applications ask you to input all of the information that is on your resume, including job duties. I’ve been putting “see attached resume,” but wonder if I should be inputting something else? Should I copy and paste the bullets from my resume or provide a synopsis of my job duties in sentence form?
Ack, stop that! Yes, if they ask you to input information from your resume, you need to actually put it in, not just write “see resume.” There’s a reason they’re asking for it — it either gets stored in their system that way and/or they prefer to read it within the system that way, or whatever — but if you don’t follow their instructions, your application may not ever even be viewed. It’s a pain in the ass, but if you want to apply to jobs that way, that’s what it requires.
I’d recommend having a plain text version of your resume that you can easily copy and paste from. Bullets are fine (but use asterisks rather than actual bullets, because special characters often don’t translate well in these systems).