It’s five short answers to five short questions. Here we go…
1. Client keeps calling me “baby girl”
I know from reading your blog that you are outspoken against referring to adult women as “girls” in the workplace. I was wondering if you had advice on how to handle it when the offender is a client. I manage the account of a male client who regularly calls me ‘baby girl’ instead of my name. I have asked him once before to call me by my name and he did so, but the next time we spoke it was right back to “Hi baby girl…. Thanks baby girl,” etc.
This is seriously grating on me. I am neither a baby nor a girl and I absolutely want this to stop. However, he is a big client and so I am not sure how direct I can be for obvious reasons. I’ve struggled to come up with a way to say something in a direct but non-confrontational way, particularly since a polite correction did not work the first time. Can you please advise as to how I can shut this down? All that said, given the power differential, I know the easiest option would be to just let it go. Am I being unreasonable in letting this bug me to this extent?
No, it’s not unreasonable to be bothered by that! Baby girl? That’s ridiculous.
And yeah, you’re right that you risk souring a relationship with a big client if you take as hard of a line on it as you might take with, say, a coworker who was doing this. As for how to address it, much of it depends on your dynamic with the client. But if he’s calling you “baby girl,” the relationship is probably at least somewhat informal, so personally I’d just say cheerfully, “You know I’m not going to respond when you call me that, right?” and move on with the conversation. Repeat as needed / adapt to fit your style.
I’d also try to balance the understandable frustration of this against how he treats you aside from this — is he otherwise respectful and does he treat you as a competent professional aside from this? If so, I’d be more inclined to write it off as an annoying eccentricity.
2. How can I prevent wasting my time on interviews for jobs that aren’t what I’m looking for?
I was contacted by a search firm for a “senior leader” opportunity. I am a director and interested in jobs in the next level (exec director or VP). The recruiter set up an interview with the next level, who turned out to be a director too. Since all titles are not equal at companies, I agreed to interview. After the interview, I could tell it would be a step down, as it was really a senior manager job with a sign-on bonus that would match my salary but year two would not.
I went to the next interview with the SVP hoping to make an impression for future director-level positions. She said they didn’t have any plans anytime soon for more directors. The external recruiter sent me about 20 text messages trying to convince me it’s a growing company and director jobs would open down the road. I just can’t take that risk 30 years into my career. They made an offer that I declined. The reason I gave was I felt it wasn’t a step up and the timing was wrong since I will be getting a bonus soon.
The recruiter was very annoyed with me after all this and said I should have been more transparent about my bonus. But I was very transparent in at least 5 conversations that a senior manager job is not strategic for me and a step down. I feel it was none of his business about my bonus, and if he would have been more honest about the job level from the start, I would have never interviewed. How can I prevent this waste of time and resources in the future?
You can’t always perfectly screen job opportunities to eliminate the ones that you won’t be interested in. Sometimes you do need to go to the interview and learn more before you can realize it. And actually, that did happen here — you realized at the first interview that it wasn’t the job you were looking for. After that, it sounds like you went to the next interviewing only hoping to build a relationship for the future — but if you look at what you wrote, you’d already realized at that point that this wasn’t the right job for you. So I wouldn’t really blame the employer for wasting your time. The recruiter, maybe — and that bombardment of 20 text messages is a good indication that this recruiter isn’t exactly top-notch, as is his blaming you at the end of the process — but I think the lesson here is really to listen to what you learn at the first interview.
3. Addressing a cover letter when it’s to my current boss
I’m applying for an advanced position at the place I’ve worked at for the last 10 years. What is the most approriate greeting to use on the cover letter without sounding like an overly formal stranger? By this time, my boss knows me well, and I don’t want to sound too casual or too formal. Any ideas?
I’m trying to avoid stuffy and formal and come across as personable and outgoing.
What do you normally call her? Assuming you normally call her by her first name, that’s what you open with here too. You don’t need to pretend like you call someone Ms. Whoever when you’re on a first-name basis with each other … and in fact, it would be weird to do so. (After all, if your’e normally on a first-name basis, wouldn’t you be weirded out if she came by to talk to you about the job and called you Ms. LastName?)
Cover letters aren’t some special extra-formal thing; they’re just like any other business correspondence.
4. My coworker and I aren’t on the same page about our joint responsibilities
I work in content management, and I share identical and equal responsibilities with one other person, “A.” Because of the way we divide up our work (each of us spend equal hours on the necessary tasks every week), I have noticed that A works at a slower pace than I do. This is fine in theory — I would just get whatever I needed to get done in my time frame and A should be able to take over where I leave off.
My problem is that the work A is completing is actually creating additional work for the both of us. Our work relies on an outside vendor who is fairly unreliable, and the product we receive is partly determined by how details our instructions are to them. In an ideal world, they would need minimal instructions at this point, but as it stands they need careful scrutiny and feedback. My partner doesn’t have time for this (we do have other work to handle, separately, other than what we share) and so when we get some bad product back, I have to spend more time fixing it.
A and I have a good relationship, and we know that our vendor is bad, but A insists that they need to improve, rather than the fact that we’re still on the hook for the quality of the output, which is the stance I take and why I spend more time in the upstream part of the process to try to mitigate the errors that come after. So what can I do? It’s frustrating to do repeat work, and I feel like A and I do need to be on the same page on this, because we’re both responsible for the same thing, and there is a time-sensitive component to getting our product delivered (so it reflects equally badly on me when things don’t get done). Do I need to get my manager involved at this point?
Yes, I think so. Part of your manager’s job is to help resolve things like this, and you don’t really have the authority to solve it on your own. I’d approach your manager and lay out what you laid out there. Approach it collaboratively, as if you’re searching for a solution to any other business problem you might bring to her.
5. Having to work when everyone else is being paid to be on vacation
I’m a salaried, non-exempt employee, and my employer is closed down for two weeks over the holidays. If I’m expected to work a day or two during that time, am I entitled to either receive comp time or additional pay for the hours I work? These two weeks are paid staff holidays for all full-time employees.
Legally, there’s no requirement for that. However, you could certainly approach your manager and say, “I’m missing out on two days of holiday pay that everyone else is getting since I’ll be working those days. Is it possible for me to take those two days in January (or later) instead?”