It’s tiny answer Tuesday — seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…
1. My boss asked a reference-checker to move my start date
A potential employer called my immediate supervisor that I had listed as a reference. have been very open with my boss about my job search, which means that I will be relocating to a different state. During the reference call, my boss asked the potential supervisor if she would move the start date to at least August 15 if she hired me. Does his asking that question hurt my chances for employment with this company? I emailed the potential supervisor to let her know again that the original start date is not an issue for me, as my company only requires 2 weeks notice.
Nah, it shouldn’t, especially since you followed up to let the manager know that the start date you’d talked about still worked. Your current manager was really out of line in doing that though.
2. My manager and I disagree about a department restructure
With a leadership change at the large nonprofit where I work, we have the opportunity to restructure some of our positions. My supervisor and I have differing philosophies about whether changes are warranted and I’m interested in how you weigh in. I have a large number of direct reports, all of whom have the title of “widget maker,” but about a third are “senior” widget makers. They all have the same responsibilities in general, but senior widget makers are assigned to larger departments where more widgets are needed. Their salaries, on average, are about 30% higher than the “junior” widget makers. Needless to say, when a senior widget maker resigns, I can be sure that at least one junior widget maker will apply for the job. In the past several years, every senior position has been filled by someone who was promoted. While it can be exhausting when the resolution to one search means starting another search, I’m satisfied with the structure because I’m happy to be able to reward good employees with a promotion.
My supervisor, on the other hand, wants to flatten the structure and make everyone a plain ol’ widget maker with the higher salary of a senior widget maker (we may have a one-time chance to increase base pay to make this happen). She’s sick of people leaving their positions after three years and wants to take away the incentive to move within the organization. I’m not sure that flattening the widget maker unit will accomplish this. My theory is that after a period of time, employees start to get itchy, even if they make a good salary — maybe they want a new challenge, maybe they want the recognition that comes with a better title, maybe their salary doesn’t feel like it’s enough anymore — and unfortunately, salary increases (beyond across-the-board cost of living increases) only come with promotions at our organization. Widget makers are in demand in our city. I feel that if we can offer at least some people a promotion, we keep them around a few more years and benefit from their institutional knowledge. Also, other junior widget makers feel like their may be a chance for them to move up. I haven’t challenged my supervisor about this because it’s all just been theoretical until the last couple of weeks. Now, it looks like I’m going to have to defend my position. Is it defensible?
I agree with you. People want opportunities to move up and see (and show) progression in their careers. If your manager is trying to avoid people leaving after three years, this is the exact wrong way to do it: People will still move on, but now they’ll leave the company in order to do it — because they’ll have to. Plus, if getting a promotion is the only way to get a merit raise in your company, then taking away the possibility of promotions in this role means that you’ll probably have even more people leaving — because people want to be rewarded for good work. Throw in the fact that they have an in-demand skill set, and what your manager is proposing is a recipe for less retention, not more.
3. Inappropriate coworker, part 1
I am the manager of a charity shop (paid). I’m in my late 20’s and one of my volunteers in his mid 50’s has sent me text messages telling me he is very attracted to me and misses me. I don’t know how to deal with this. He has mild autism/Asperger’s. It’s unnerving me because he constantly stares at me and compliments me about what I’m wearing and how I look, etc. Please help.
You’re his manager, right? Then this is simple: “Bob, it’s not appropriate for you to tell me that you’re attracted to me or miss me or to comment on my appearance. Please stop.” If it continues after that, then you say, “Bob, I asked you to stop this already. If it continues, we won’t be able to have you work here anymore.”
By the way, make sure he’s not doing this to any of your other employees or volunteers. It’s possible that he is and no one has told you about it.
4. Inappropriate coworker, part 2
I’ve been working at a restaurant for about six months now and always have been treated very respectfully by all of my male coworkers. In the last week or so, a new employee started who is either incredibly socially awkward with women or just creepy. I would like to think the former of him, but all of the other young women I work with (all three of us), as well as several of the male employees, have been made to feel uncomfortable or have noticed this employee is making the women feel that way.
Some examples of his behavior include staring in a suggestive manner, touching without permission, invading personal space, “helping” when help is not needed, trying to force conversations, etc. Is it appropriate to speak directly to the new employee before bringing the matter to management? I would hate for him to get off on the wrong foot if he really is just clueless about speaking to and looking at women. Is there any way to tell definitively whether somebody is just socially awkward with women or is indeed creepy?
The good news is that his motivation doesn’t really impact how you proceed here; the response is this same in both cases: “Bob, please do not touch me.” “Please don’t stare at me; it makes me uncomfortable.” “I can’t talk right now; I’m busy.” “I don’t need help with this.” In other words, a clear, direct statement of boundaries.
And if the problem continues after that, then yes, you should go speak to your manager.
5. Work assignments in the aftermath of layoffs
We have had a lot of layoffs this past year. Problems are continuously coming up because no one re-assigned (or even seemed aware of) some of the reports those people did. In addition to that, we had a complete restructure of our work assignments in our small (3 person) office. I am doing a work assignment that belonged to another person in this department, and our somewhat new director is blaming me for errors from last year or so, when the work was done by someone else. Also, she is asking me for reports that were previously done by people who were laid off.
If I made a mistake, I will accept the blame, but these were out of my hands. How can I explain this (over and over again) without sounding like I am trying to avoid responsibility? If it were one or two things, I’d suck it up and own it, but I’m taking about many, and major things. Any advice?
For the mistakes someone else made: “The work you’re talking about was done by Jane last year. I wasn’t involved in it. Would you like me to try to fix it now?” Repeat as needed.
For the work she wants you to do now that was previously done by others: “I’d be glad to try to figure it out. I wasn’t previously involved in this report and no one is able to train me on it, so it may take me longer the first few times, but I’ll work on it and keep you updated.” Repeat as needed.
6. Recruiter asked if I’m applying for other jobs
I recently applied for a job and received a call on the very same day from a recruiter, who asked me to change the file formats for my application (and to interview me, of course!). She stated that there were no openings at the moment, but one would be coming very soon. She also asked this: “Have you been applying for other jobs?”
I hesitated for a while, and replied while yes, I have been applying, nothing was set in stone as of yet. I didn’t see a point in lying — and after all, no one is going to put all their eggs in one basket for a single job. Did you think my reply ruined my chances?
Absolutely not. Of course you’re applying for other jobs. It’s a ridiculous question for her to ask — especially when she doesn’t even have an opening to interview you for.
7. Do I have to accept the offer if my temp-to-hire position goes permanent?
I am on assignment in a temp-to-hire position and am not sure if I want to stay with this company permanently. From what I have heard, the benefits package leaves a lot to be desired. I did not ask about benefits during the interview because I was not sure how appropriate the question would be for a temp.
The work environment is stiff and uninspiring and I do not feel like I fit in with their culture. Most of the employees are twice my age and married/settled. The company is growing quickly and I was told during the interview process that there would be growth opportunities. However, I have heard whispers from current employees that once you are in a department, you are stuck. I cannot see myself working here for a long time.
I know it is too early for me to think about going permanent but I can’t help but wonder what if? Now that I have been placed, I have to work through the assignment. What is expected of temp-to-hire staff once they have been offered a permanent position? What could be the consequences of rejecting an offer to go permanent?
You can absolutely reject an offer to go permanent, just like you can reject any job offer that you’re not interested in. If they offer you a permanent position, just thank them and let you know that you don’t think it’s a culture fit for you. (Be prepared for the possibility they’ll move to replace you at whatever point this happens, however. Although these days many temp-to-perm jobs stay temp for an awfully long time.)