It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…
1. My former employer is asking me to fill out paperwork 6+ months after I left
My former employer keeps asking me to fill out additional paperwork after I’ve stopped working there over six months ago. This started about 2 months ago, and at first I didn’t have a problem and filled out a page or so of documentation they required. Their requests have become progressively more time consuming and I would like to tell them that I don’t want to complete it.
These documents relate to topics most managers cover during orientation (i.e. where fire extinguishers are, safety training, immunization records, general policies, etc.). The only explanation I ever received was when they first asked me and they phrased it along the lines of “we’re trying to get all of our paperwork in order for an inspection by the joint commission.” After that, all other emails were phrased along the lines of “Oh, by the way, fill this out ASAP.” The paperwork includes going online to watch videos on hospital specific training and then take a quiz covering the material, and emailing affidavits that I completed the work. (I work in the healthcare industry, and I presume the reason they are asking me is that they are in the process of being re-accredited by a national accreditation board for hospitals and they want to make sure all of their paperwork is in order._
On the one hand, I don’t want to burn bridges with anyone even though I’ve moved on to another position in which I’m so much happier. But I also feel that all of this documentation should have been given to me to fill out when I first started working for them (some of which I have already filled out before) and I do feel justified in saying no. Am I wrong in feeling this way? Is there a way to communicate this to them while still sounding professional?
This is ridiculous. It’s not your fault that they didn’t get this done while you were there, you shouldn’t be asked to make it look like you filled it out earlier when you didn’t, and you certainly shouldn’t be spending your time watching videos and taking quizzes for them (!). The next time they send you one of these requests, say, “I don’t feel right filling this out when I’m no longer working there. Thanks for understanding.”
2. Firing a volunteer on a college publication
I’m in a leadership position for a big, respected college publication. Though none of us are paid, getting on staff at any level can be competitive. I brought on a new member to my team this semester who’s brought nothing but headaches. When I interviewed him over Skype, it was beyond awkward, but I chalked it up to technical issues and was already impressed by his portfolio. My team is small and friendly, but in meetings with them he’s always incredibly uncomfortable and formal. Even one-on-one, he seems nervous and makes communication hard.
It would be easier to excuse if he put in good work, but he’s been unexcited about any of the work I’ve offered to him to do and has trouble meeting deadlines. His work is always several days past when I needed it and not at all what I’ve asked for— he’s so slow with revisions that I’ve had to give someone else his work to finish or just redo it myself from scratch. It’s dragging the team down.
I’ve informally talked to him about the problems and have tried to give him more details on projects, check in with him ahead of time, etc, but nothing has changed. People have suggested I sit down with him and talk frankly about his performance to give him an easy out, but I’m worried that my past attempts at gently correcting have resulted in him thinking that there’s no problem, and I dread the awkwardness of this conversation. It’s finals period and we’re done with production for the semester, but we do recruiting over the summer so I need to figure out relatively soon if he’ll be coming back to the team next semester. What do I do? Can this be solved over email during the summer or do I really need to have this conversation in person? Should I just grit my teeth and bear it?
The problem is that you’re being gentle when you need to be direct: “I need you to turn in your work by the deadline and in good enough shape that major revisions aren’t needed. We can try another assignment if you’d like to, but after that, I’ll need to start assigning articles to other writers.”
But since the semester is over and you’re staffing for next semester, it’s probably too late for that. In that case, you can simply say, “Because your work was often late this past semester, I’m going to give some other writers a chance to do the work.” Ideally you’d do this face to face or over the phone — email really isn’t the right medium for tough feedback like this. Consider it your penance for not being direct with him earlier!
3. Boss relocated my friend’s wallet
I’m looking to help a friend at work who was in tears today over a minor but sensitive issue. She had her wallet in her mail slot and our boss took it. She took it because it had her phone in it. But she didn’t know where it was, she was scared, and she was embarrassed. Our boss had put it in her office to teach her a lesson. It’s that legal to take something so personal?
Yes, that’s legal. She didn’t steal it; she moved it to a different part of your office.
Sometimes I wonder with these questions: What if it weren’t legal? Is your friend really going to go through the time, expense, and professional damage of bringing legal action against her boss for relocating her wallet when no actual damage was done? I suspect it’s more about a sense that Things Should Be Fair, but if you think that all the way through, how would the logistics of enforcing that work? Even if the law allowed you to head to court every time your boss did something you didn’t like (which it doesn’t), is that something you really think would be beneficial to your life? Ultimately this is probably more about wanting some fairy godmother of workplace justice to swoop in to teach the perpetrator a lesson, but … no such fairy godmother exists.
(None of this is intended to pick on you, letter-writer; I’m just musing out loud here.)
4. How can I cut down or end a tutoring arrangement?
I’m a student with way too much on my plate. A year ago, I took a part time job as a tutor. I enjoy it, but the teaching plus prepwork that I do is taking too long. I want to tell my student’s mother that I need to cut down from twice a week to once a week…or once I start class again next week I might want to quit altogether. My only previous employer is my dad, so I don’t know how to have either of those conversations. Both the student and his mother are lovely; I don’t want to be abrupt or rude. What should I say?
First, decide which it is — cut down or stop altogether? Then, just be direct. For instance: “I really love working with Bob. Unfortunately, my schedule has changed and I’ll need to cut our sessions down to once a week. I think that will be enough for Bob because ____. Will that work for you?” Or: “I’ve really loved working with Bob. Unfortunately, I need to cut back on my schedule and won’t be able to continue tutoring after (X weeks from now). I’d be glad to recommend another tutor who might be able to take over the work, if you’d like me to.”
5. Mentioning jobs that aren’t on my resume
Is it ok to mention jobs that aren’t on your resume during the interview? I’ve been primarily in the same positions for a while, but during school I had some summer jobs that just didn’t make the cut for the resume. However, they still taught me some great life skills.
While preparing for interviews, I occasionally think of things I did for these jobs. Would it be weird to say “oh well one summer I did this really great thing at this one job” if they look at my resume and don’t see it listed?
Sure, that’s fine. Just add a quick “It’s not on my resume” so they’re not scanning for it.