It’s seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…
1. My employees keep going to their old manager, rather than coming to me
The person who formerly held my position was promoted and works right down the hall from me and the three people I supervise. Rather than come to me, the people I supervise go to their former supervisor with problems and questions. If she tells them something, they will do it, even if I say something different. I have been here almost two years now and this has gotten very irritating. What do I do?
Um, manage? You tell your employees that they need to stop going to the old manager with problems and questions and to come to you before taking assignments from her, effective immediately, and then you create consequences if they continue. The first consequence might be a serious conversation about why they’re disregarding your instructions, the second might be a more serious conversation (“I’m concerned that this is continuing, and it’s becoming a serious problem that could affect your job here”), and the third might be a final warning that if they aren’t able to work with you as their manager, you will replace them. And then you’d really need to follow through — if this staff can’t see you as their manager, you need to replace them with a staff who does.
You should also talk to the old manager and tell her clearly to send them back to you when they come to her, and not to assign them work rather than going through you. Also, make sure you do some soul-searching to see if your own behavior has played any role here — are you as able to help with their questions as she is? Do you delegate as well as she does? Are you accessible? If not, that’s something to work on too.
2. My employees expect me to cover the shifts they don’t want
I manage a new bookings department in my family business. I’m a young manager in my early 30s and I’ve included my working hours in the new roster to help the new staff with the workload. But I’ve noticed that some of the new staff expect me to work the shifts that they don’t want to work, such as Saturday shifts. I think the reason for this is that it’s my business and people in general think that it’s normal for managers to work more hours than the average employee. However, that means I’m working in some cases six shifts a week. Is it worth hiring a new staff member to do my work so the current staff don’t rely on me and I can then just manage? Or should I worry about the staff not wanting to work the shifts that they should be working?
I think you’re coming at this backwards — you’re working too many shifts because you haven’t created clear expectations or communicated well with your employees.
Figure out what shifts you need covered. Find out what shifts your employees can work. See where the gaps are. From there, figure out whether you need to hire a new employee (and whether you can afford to) or whether you need to tell your employees that being available for certain shifts is mandatory (which is not unreasonable to do, particularly if they were told when you hired them that Saturday shifts could be part of the deal — although you also want to balance this with making sure that you don’t lose a great employee who just can’t work weekends).
3. I want to be exempt and escape my employer’s ridiculous time-keeping rules
I’ve worked for nine years for a large manufacturer as an assistant buyer, but labeled non-exempt. I’m in an office surrounded by exempt employees. If I clock in 1 minute late, I get a point. 10 points in a 1-year period, you’re fired. My exempt coworkers come and go as they please. One new upper-level employee (9 months) has only been to work 60% of the time. I’m rarely late, but there are days I would like to come in half an hour early or stay half an hour late to get work done or to make up for any lost time. “No.”
If I do not give a 2-day notice for a doctor’s appointment, dentist, etc., I get a point and lose a half-day vacation, which means that if suddenly ill, you cannot go to a doctor during working hours.
I make over $40,000/year, receive bonuses depending on profits, 1-1/2 times for overtime. I do not manage anyone, but 80% of my day is spent ordering chemicals, corrugate (cardboard for shipping the finished product), labels, reviewing and approving art work for the labels to be printed, and ordering labels, pallets, containers, down to mops, gloves, and toilet paper. HR insist I do not qualify to be exempt.
Yesterday was the ultimate insult to an employee who works in the plant. He was shot in the leg by a random shooting (wrong place, wrong time). The police caught the person responsible. The prosecutor subpoenaed him to be at court the next day to testify. This employee gave the information to the HR Department. You can guess it. He did not give a 2-day notice and he was docked a point and a half-day vacation.
They’re not required to treat you as exempt, whether or not you qualify, if they prefer to treat you as non-exempt and pay you overtime. The requirement is only in the other direction — they can’t treat you exempt when you are non-exempt.
In any case, your employer clearly sucks for how they manage people’s time, but these are apparently the terms of your employment there. You can accept the whole package, or you can decide it’s not for you and go elsewhere (and you should — they suck and you’ve been there nine years; it’s time to move on). But it doesn’t sound like you can change the way they operate.
4. Taking a day for bereavement right after starting a new job
I recently relocated from Texas to Massachusetts to start a new job that begins on Tuesday. A friend who has had stage IV breast cancer just passed away today, and while I do not yet have details on her memorial service, I am hoping to attend. I know that my institution only provides bereavement leave for family members who have passed, but my vacation days start right away. Will it look “bad” if I take a day off to attend my friend’s funeral (depending on when it is held and what airline tickets are available)? I feel that if my new employers are upset that I go, that says more about them than it does about me, but I would appreciate a manager’s perspective.
I’m sorry about your friend!
Explain the situation to your new manager and ask if you can either use a vacation day or take unpaid leave to attend. You might not have any accrued leave yet, but if they won’t allow you to take even a single day unpaid, I agree with you that it will say something about them.
5. My manager shared my resignation letter with others
I handed in a two-week notice letter of resignation in a personal and confidential envelope. After my meeting, the director who I reported to shared the letter with other subordinates. After inquiring with HR about my confidentiality rights, I was informed by director that I didn’t have to work until my resignation date and could leave at lunch with pay. While the being paid part was nice, I felt very sad and disappointed. HR never followed up with me. Were my rights violated?
No. There are no “confidentiality rights” that would prevent your manager from sharing your resignation letter with others. (Also, what was in this letter that made it worth sharing? The only thing a resignation letter needs to contain — if you even write one at all — is one or two sentences explaining that you’re resigning and what date you’ll be leaving.)
6. Should I go back to the place I worked for 26 years?
I voluntarily left my prior employer after working there for 26 years. I was looking for a change and was having some disagreements with my manager. She has recently left the company. I took a job in a similar position 9 months ago, but I am not happy working there. My prior position is now open at my former employer — in fact, they have been unsuccessful in filling it. Should I reapply?
Well, you shouldn’t just apply like a stranger would. You know these people, so you should reach out to them and ask informally about whether they’d be interested in talking to you about coming back.
That said … if you were there for 26 years and you go back after the job you left for didn’t work out, if you ever apply for other jobs at other companies in the future, you’re likely going to face some skepticism about whether you’ll thrive anywhere else. The 26 years would raise some of those questions on its own, but returning will strengthen them. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it, but you should be aware that it’s going to cause some questions when you’re job-searching in the future.
7. I don’t like how close my coworker’s salary is to mine
I’ve been working for a company for nine years, have huge responsibility, and receive no assistance. A coworker of mine has been there five years, with a third of the responsibility and a full-time assistant, and is earning only 5% less than me. My responsibilities have increased significantly over the years, while she is performing the exact same duties as when she started.
I don’t ask for pay increases every single year because some years I have received without needing to, but I usually ask if one isn’t going to be given. I have voiced my concerns in the past and have used my education, knowledge of industry, and efficiency in order to compare to her and received a very small increase. I have the advantage of seeing the accounting records and it’s obvious from recent transactions that favoritism is present within the corporation. Her husband is very close friends with the owner. Could this be the reason I am earning only 5% more than her?
Sure it could. It could also be that she negotiated better when she was hired and/or for raises, or that they value her work more than they do yours, or that the work she does has a higher market rate than yours does, or that your assessment of your own work versus hers is off-base.
Would you be satisfied with your salary if you didn’t know hers (which frankly isn’t really your business)? If not, then go make the case for why you deserve more. But arguing for a raise based on what someone else gets is usually a weak argument.