It’s five short answers to five short questions. Here we go…
1. My manager hires new people without consulting with the rest of us
I work in a team of 4 full-time employees. We are a small web and software development team. My boss didn’t bother asking for our input on the last hire, nor did he ask us to sit in the interview. He didn’t even tell me that he chose someone. I only found out because there was someone new when I returned from a conference. But when I was hired, my future coworkers even sat in my interview.
He currently has a position open, and the only way I found out is through our job listings online. What is your thought on this? I find it to demonstrate how low he thinks of us.
As a manager, it’s good practice to involve staff members in hiring processes because it can help you make better decisions — because candidates may reveal different information to would-be peers than to the you, or staff members may simply pick up on different things than you do. But certainly plenty of managers hire without doing that; your manager isn’t terribly unusual in that respect, and it’s not a sign that he holds you in low regard. (There might be other signs of that, of course, but this on its own isn’t one of them.)
But why not ask him if you and your coworkers can play a role in the hiring process? You don’t want to sound like you’re asking for decision-making authority, of course, but you could point out that it could be useful to have additional people assessing the top candidates, as well as that you’re in a good position to answer candidates’ questions about the day-to-day of the work.
2. Manager accidentally emailed a coworker’s personal medical details to our division
A manager two level above me had mistakenly sent out an email to our division instead of his direct reports. The email disclosed the details of a coworker’s upcoming visits to a doctor and procedures that needed to be done. My coworker is extremely embarrassed and has only received a halfhearted email as an apology. There has been no acknowledgement to the division of the mistake. Any suggestions on how this should be handled?
How the manager should handle it, or how the rest of you should? The manager should profusely apologize to the coworker who the email was about, should send a follow-up apologizing for inappropriately disclosing details that weren’t meant for others to read, and should rethink his habit of discussing details of someone’s medical procedures with other people (because I can’t see why it even needed to be shared with his intended audience). There’s not really anything for the rest of you to do though; your manager made a mistake, he apologized to the person it affected, and that’s about all that can be done.
3. Should I keep a waitressing job on my resume?
Last year, 2 years after graduating from college, I was finally able to land a full-time job. Before that, I had a part-time job related to my field and was a restaurant server to make some extra cash. I left my serving job off my resume, but it would usually come up in interviews — mostly when asked about time management and how I handle stress. A lot of interviewers would ask me why I left the job off my resume since serving teaches you so many transferable skills. Many told me they thought it was the hardest job out there and I should definitely have put it on there. While I 100% agree with that, I had 3 college internships plus a part-time job, so I felt it was best to just leave it off. I’m still employed, am looking for jobs again and am curious on your thoughts. I no longer serve there, but should I put the serving job on or leave it off?
Sure, it won’t hurt you to have it on there, and it can certainly demonstrate customer service skills and the ability to juggle lots of things under pressure. That said, you’re probably gaining more work experience that demonstrates those same things within a context more relevant to your field, so I wouldn’t leave it on there indefinitely — maybe until it’s about five years old but not beyond that.
4. My coworkers constantly share their inappropriate, bigoted, and hostile views with me
I work in an absolutely toxic environment and I’m not really sure how to deal with it. My coworkers frequently have loud and inappropriate conversations. We have an open work plan that doesn’t allow me to block it out and headphones only help so much due to the volume (and they’ve backfired some as coworkers have told me they assume I’m not listening or can’t hear them).
One coworker described the exact details of sexual abuse that her young relative had undergone in order to get advice on the situation, as if knowing that specific acts would help. Another coworker complained that she was kept up late the night before because a neighbor was beating his wife and he needed to keep it down. She even imitated the woman begging for help. Coworkers have told me all the reasons I need to have children right now and why as someone in my mid-20s, it’s going to be too late if I don’t. They’ve had loud discussions about Jesus and the Bible knowing that I’m not Christian (I’m an atheist but I don’t talk about my views at work). They’ve complained about people abusing welfare and “illegals” using medical resources. One said being gay was a choice and yelled at me for disagreeing. She then went to a gay coworker and lied about what she had said. People talk about beating their kids and threatening other people with violence when they’re angry. There are plenty more stories. I never know what I’ll walk into on a given day and it destroys my mood and productivity.
I’ve tried talking to my boss about it and all she did was have a staff meeting where she told me not to say anything and then told everyone to “be professional.” The head of HR told me that I’m doing the “same thing” as my coworkers by telling people what they can or can’t say at work. When I said that I don’t tell people what to say, she told me that I was “judging them in [my] head.” She told me I needed to work on dealing with my frustration with the situation. I tried to remind her that our customers/patients could potentially hear these things too but she didn’t seem bothered.
Everyone tells me to go to HR (tried it twice), find a new job (easier said than done) or to just not be bothered by it (way easier said than done). What am I supposed to do in a place like this?
Your company sucks and isn’t going to change. I’m sorry. You’ve raised the problems and been told, in essence, that they don’t see it as a problem that they plan to do anything about.
You can choose to live there with this BS or you can find another job — which yes, is easier said than done, but you’ll have to leave there eventually, assuming you don’t intend to stay there for the rest of your career, so why not do it now?
5. Which business books should my team read?
I work in human resources, and each quarter our team does a book review. We all read a business-related book and discuss it at one of our staff meetings. It doesn’t have to be long; our last one was a 45-minute read, but it’s supposed to have something useful that we can apply to our professional lives or behavior. I sort of volunteered (since no one else was) to research suggestions for the next book we’ll read. Our team is smallish but consists of HR, payroll, benefits, the building manager and admins. I love your blog and think you give great advice (I think your blog helped me get my current job which I love) so I was wondering if there are any books you’d recommend?
Well, on the nuts and bolts of how to actually manage — as in, what does managing well really look like day-to-day, what are the words you use for the conversations you have to have, etc. — it’s probably no surprise that I recommend my own book, Managing to Change the World, which I co-authored with Jerry Hauser, the former COO of Teach for America and founder of The Management Center. It’s written for nonprofit managers, but 99% of what’s in there applies to every sector.
I’d also take a look at the excellent First, Break All the Rules by Marcus Buckingham, which early on helped me shift the way I looked at struggling performers; Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Chip and Dan Heath, which shows you how to make difficult changes stick — socially, organizationally, and personally; and Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck, which argues that intelligence and abilities aren’t pre-determined as much as they’re the result of learning and hard work … which has implications for tons of things in the workplace.