It’s short answer Sunday — six short answers to six short questions. Here we go…
1. I missed an interview and didn’t call or email
I missed an interview due to illness, and because of my drug-induced stupor, I forgot to call or email (I was in no shape to do anything but not die). What should I do? I really wanted that job.
Ugh, that sucks. You should absolutely contact them ASAP to explain what happened, but they may or may not reschedule; they’re likely to think that if you can miss an interview without calling or emailing, you could do the same with a client meeting or something else important. But it’s worth contacting them to explain and apologize anyway, so that you’re not that guy who was a no-show for an interview and never followed up. Sorry about this.
2. Company won’t let me change office space
I’d like your take on this: I work in a large office where directors and VPs get an actual office with a door, the senior mangers get a large cube with work table, and the assistants share a cube space. I was hired a year ago as a senior manager and because of space issues was given the same workspace as an assistant. I took it in stride and didn’t complain. In time, when the appropriate space opened as an office was freed for a director, I asked to move and was given the lamest excuse I’ve ever heard. I was told that future moves were “frozen” even though the space remained empty for the past two weeks. Is this normal thing that happens at companies? Or is their way of letting me know how little they value me? I’m stumped.
It’s certainly possible that it indicates that they don’t value you much, but it’s more likely that it indicates that moves are currently frozen for some reason. Ask why, and when they expect that to change.
And meanwhile, look at other signs of how you’re valued: What kind of feedback do you get? What kind of assignments? Etc. Those are going to be more reliable indicators than whether they let you change office space.
3. Overcoming interview nerves
I graduated with my masters in December and have since been looking to transition out of my current field into a field more related to my education. I have had several interviews the past few months but I always seem to bomb them. I research the company, practice potential questions and know the job description inside and out, but I get so nervous that I can’t seem to form coherent sentences or answer the question completely. I am starting to get really discouraged and absolutely dread interviews. I am wondering if you have any advice for calming nerves,or at least looking like less of an idiot at interviews. Any advice would be much appreciated! Thanks.
Yes! My free “how to prepare for an interview” guide has a whole section on dealing with interview nerves. You can get it here.
4. Working out a transition plan if you think you’re going to get fired
I was interested in your recent article on how to transition out a dud employee – someone who was trying hard but just not making it. I was particularly interested because I’ve been that dud employee. In my last job I was hired at the wrong level. I didn’t have enough industry-specific knowledge for the role, I ended up doing a lot of firefighting, and I just couldn’t do it.
It was a hellishly stressful situation, both because I could see that the end result was going to be me being out of a job, and because the job itself was dreadful. I never thought of asking for a transition plan, though – I hung on while despite rapidly declining mental health, trying to find a new job to move into.
Being helped out of this situation would have reduced the stress for everyone, possibly saved my sanity, and saved my former employer the enhanced pay off they eventually paid me to leave quietly. If you know that you’re in the wrong job and aren’t cutting it, would you recommend asking for a transition plan? If so, how should navigate the political minefield that is inevitably involved?
Sometimes — depending on what your manager is like. If she’s likely to use this as an excuse to get you to leave immediately, then perhaps not. But if your experience with her is that she’s reasonable and likely to be open to an idea that would let her avoid the unpleasant business of possibly having to fire you at some point, sometimes a candid conversation can be exactly what’s needed. I have some advice on how to do that and what to say in this very old post from 2007.
5. My boss won’t stop using me as an emotional crutch
I enjoy my job. I manage a team, and I’m proud of the work we do as a group. My one big issue is my own boss. He uses me as an emotional crutch, and while I like being in his confidence, I dislike hearing office gossip and feel the amount of time we spend talking is a waste. Most of the people he directly manages are in remote locations; I am the only one of his direct reports in head office. He has a lot of issues with his own boss and is coping with a lot of stress.
He comes into my office 4-5 times a day and sits down to talk, and sometimes won’t leave for an entire hour. Occasionally I make up fictitious meetings to move him along. Anytime he meets someone else in the organization he wants to review the discussion he had with that person with me. He also talks about how stressed he is and everything he dislikes about his job. I also find it despairing that he is very negative and is always pointing out what’s wrong with everything and never suggests solutions. How do I change this to a positive working relationship?
I doubt that you can. He sounds like a mess.
You can certainly make up more fictitious meetings to move him along, or tell him that you’re on deadline, or use all kinds of other excuses to get him out of your office, but ultimately you’re working for a boss who’s a bad manager. It’s possible that you could have an honest conversation with him and tell him that you’re uncomfortable hearing office gossip, and that you want to focus on the positive things about your job and your company, but will that solve the problem? Maybe, but more likely not. What you really need is a more competent boss.
6. What’s a strong hit rate for hires?
What would you consider to be a strong hit rate for hires? To get more specific, if we made ten hires this month, what should we reasonably expect in terms of performance of those ten hires a year from now? How many are still employed, high performers, are any on PIP’s, dismissal, etc.
I know this is a murky area but I’d love to hear from people about what they’d feel comfortable with.
It depends on how much energy you put into to ensuring that you’re hiring well — how thorough you are, how much you probe, and how much you have candidates do exercises that simulate the work before hiring them. If you put a lot of energy into all that — and if you have a high bar for assessing performance, which not everyone does — you might hope at least 7 will be some mix of great and pretty good, and 1-3 will have not worked out for various reasons. And if you didn’t put a lot of energy into hiring, then all bets are off — your number of people not meeting a high bar is almost certainly going to be greater.