It’s wee answer Wednesday — seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…
1. My boss banned sugary foods from the office
Today my boss, who is also the buisness owner, tried to tell our office staff that we are banned from bringing in sugary foods, and she told a coworker who brought in doughnuts for the office that if they weren’t gone in an hour, she was going to throw them away. She has no health problems when it comes to such foods; she just has no will power to not partake in them herself. Is is legal for a buisness owner to ban certain foods from the office?
Yes. But you can still make a case to her for changing the policy, and offering to keep these foods out of shared spaces might help if her concern is that she’ll be tempted. But ultimately, it’s her call. A silly call, but hers to make.
2. Being asked to take a public speaking course when you have a history of stuttering
My company has asked everyone at my job level to take a public speaking course. I think we are all being asked to go because two of my four teammates are terrible public speakers.
This would be fine, except that I have had a stuttering problem since I was a little girl, and the thought of taking a class like this makes my anxiety go through the roof — not because I am afraid of public speaking, but because I am afraid it will aggravate my stuttering and cause it to return with a vengeance. I had many years of speech therapy, and I am able to hide my stutter now to the point that most people do not know I do it. I have developed my own personal techniques for preparing for public speaking over the last 30 years, and I feel I do a very good job. In fact, it was noted on my lastest performance review what a great job I do in communicating with clients. I just don’t want to risk a recurrence. Do I have the right to ask my manager if I can skip out on this training, or should I suck it up and attend?
Talk to your manager and explain what you said here. If you explain that you’re concerned that this will cause a return of a problem that it took you years to overcome, any compassionate manager will recuse you. If she seems hesitant, offer to bring in documentation from a speech therapist or doctor. (Employers aren’t legally bound by doctor’s notes, but even just offering one can be helpful in persuading them that something is both real and serious.)
3. Asking for feedback after a job rejection
I know you’ve talked about asking for feedback after receiving a rejection. I was wondering do you think it’s better to call or email?
Email, always. First, whenever you can email an employer rather than calling, you should — because calling interrupts people and demands an answer on your schedule rather than theirs, whereas email can be answered at their convenience. Plus, in a case like this, you want the person to have time to formulate their thoughts and not be put on the spot.
4. Manager only gives feedback when there’s a problem
I was hoping you might shed some light on a tough work situation I have. I have multiple supervisors (a challenge on its own to deal with), but my on-site supervisor is the one I struggle with most because she doesn’t show any emotion besides displeasure. I’ve been told by other people that she will never give anyone positive reinforcement for good work done. The best sign of her approval, they told me, was if she doesn’t say anything to me at all. I don’t need a lot of praise, but her stoic demeanor makes me uncomfortable and I constantly worry that there is feedback I am losing because of a lack of communication. The few times I have suggested improvements to methodology have provoked negative responses to other things in the past, so I am hesitant to bring it up to her. How can I best work with her if I cannot read where she stands on things?
You can certainly ask her for more feedback — asking her what she thinks is going well, where you could do better, etc. But it sounds like your best bet is to believe what your coworkers told you: With this manager, hearing no feedback is good feedback. That’s not good management, obviously, but it’s not that uncommon either. Some managers simply don’t see their job as to give praise; they see it solely as ensuring that work gets done, and correcting people when needed. Not a great approach, but not unheard of.
Since you can’t do anything to change her, your options are to (a) accept that this is how she works and interpret accordingly, or (b) be upset about it, which won’t result in her changing but will result in you being unhappy. Go for (a).
5. Telling prospective employers that I’m doing some career soul-searching
I’m early into my career and am wondering, is it ever alright to admit to potential employers that I’m still doing some career soul searching? Specifically, I’m applying for internships at the moment, and one company is hiring for several departments, but only has one job posting. I feel that I should mention which departments interest me most, but I find myself listing a multitude of departments that are quiet different. My plan was to write a cover letter that emphasizes my desire to work with the company in question, but what’s a good way to say I’m open to working in a variety of departments without sounding overly immature or flaky?
It’s fine to say that you’re at the start of your career and not yet committed to going in one particular direction, and that your goal right now is to do useful work and get experience. But I’d stop there — don’t give a long list of departments or explicitly say that you’re soul-searching. Employers want to feel that you have some sense of direction, so that you won’t end up pulled in a different direction than whatever they hire you for.
6. Telling retail employers I have complete availability
I graduated from college in May. Apparently I’ve taken a lot of bad advice from all of my well-meaning relatives, so thank you for writing your blog. It confirms what I always suspected! I’m sure there are dozens of questions I could ask, but what I’m pondering right now is how to apply to shift work, like at a coffee shop or retail.
Since I am unemployed, I don’t have many scheduling demands. Since I just graduated, my sleep schedule is completely destroyed. I wake up before class, go to bed when projects are done, spend all day studying, regardless of actual time. It doesn’t help that I’m a night owl living with family who wake at 4:30. Once I get a job, I plan on settling into a pattern, but until then it could go either way.
If I mark that I am available for all shifts and all times, or 80% of them, does it come across as desperate? Will the employers believe me? Should I pick a time slot and stick with it? I really just want something to tide me over until a better position, plus give me much needed work experience.
No, it doesn’t come across as desperate, and food service and retail employers will love it. They want people with open availability; those people often go to the top of their stack of applications. You can find more advice on applying to these jobs here.
7. My email was hacked!
I was contacted by two amazing companies that I’d love the opportunity to work for. After I interviewed for both positions, a few days later I woke up to find that my email account was hacked. A link (I’m not sure if it was a virus or just spam) was sent to everyone in my contact list, including everyone who I interviewed with over the last few weeks.
You can imagine how distraught I was. I spent two hours emailing those who received this bad email telling them my account was hacked into, apologizing for any inconvenience this may have caused, and to not click on the link that was sent to them.
Do you think this hacking situation affected my interviewers’ impressions of me, putting me in a negative light? I know it wasn’t my fault and these things happen to people all the time, but out of all the people I interviewed with (a total of 7), I only received a response back from one person telling me not to worry about it. Bad sign? Or do you think they already made up their minds about me as a candidate before the email was even sent to them?
They didn’t care. They deleted the email without even thinking about it. Unless they’re really odd, it’s not going to affect their impression of you at all. Put it out of your mind.