It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…
1. Should my PIP have been kept confidential?
Recently, I was put on a performance improvement plan (PIP). I didn’t receive any coaching about any of the problems it listed before it happened. I am writing a rebuttal for my personnel file to clarify some points.
I am wondering if I should talk in the rebuttal about the fact that there was no confidentiality about me being put on PIP. On the day of the meeting, a coworker who works after me came in and asked how it went. I said, “Fine,” but didn’t go into detail. He then said, “I heard you were put on a PIP.” I never talked to anyone at work about this meeting, so someone else had to have leaked it. I am shocked at the lack of professionalism, but I am worried that bringing up too much in my rebuttal will backfire. What should I do?
You’re right that there’s (generally) no need to share this type of thing with coworkers, but making a big deal about it probably isn’t going to help you, at a time when you want to be focused on issues much more core to your job. I do think you can mention it, but at most, I’d make it a very minor side note. As in, in actual parentheses and with the words “side note,” like this: “(As a side note, I was surprised when a coworker mentioned to me that he heard I’d been put on a PIP. I’m concerned that this wasn’t handled with more confidentiality and hope I can rely on your discretion around this in the future.”)
2. Can employer make us pay the cost of mistakes?
I work at a restaurant that is between the lines of restaurant and fast food. Apparently one of our policies is that if you waste food, for example burned a tray of rolls or dropped a rack of ribs, you’re paying for it personally out of your own paycheck. Or even if you’re serving the wrong portions of food. Our manager says that if you waste food, then they can take it out of your paycheck. My manager says that “all restaurants do it,” but I’ve never heard of them taking a cut from your paycheck. I personally have never had this specific problem at work, but I’m just curious to know if they are allowed to do this?
In most states, no. Most states make it illegal for an employer to deduct the cost of a mistake from an employee’s paycheck. Under certain limited circumstances, an employer can make you pay back losses caused by intentional misconduct, but burning a tray of rolls? No. You might consider contacting your state department of labor and seeing if they can intervene (and you can generally ask to stay anonymous).
The way an employer should deal with mistakes is by giving feedback on what you need to do differently, warning you if you’re falling short, and ultimately replacing you if the mistakes continue and are serious.
3. Talking to a new employee about unprofessional dress
I just hired a new employee – who dressed very professionally during the interview process – but since he started on Monday has come into the office in a cartoon t-shirt and jeans, as one example. Additionally, he came to an optional office fundraiser on the Saturday before he started in a t-shirt and shorts as opposed to more appropriate attire. While we definitely don’t have a “dress code” at our office – business casual is the norm.
I suppose I should have set better expectations before he began, but given my experience with him in the interviews, it hadn’t even occurred to me to do so – but even still, my miss. He’s very young, fresh out of college, so that might have something to do with it.
How do I tactfully share with him that he needs to dress more professionally? It’s his first week, and I don’t want to start off on the wrong foot or make him feel uncomfortable, but I definitely need him to adjust his behavior.
Talk to him ASAP — as in today — because the longer you wait, the more uncomfortable he’ll be when he realizes that he’s been dressing wrong the whole time. Take him aside at the end of the day and say something like, “I wanted to talk to you about our dress code. It’s business casual, which means no t-shirts, shorts, or jeans. I know ‘business casual’ can be a vague term and so I wanted to get us aligned going forward.” (The reason to wait for the end of the day to do this is so that he’s not sitting there feeling awkward about his shirt all day.)
Also, if you have influence into your company’s dress code, you might urge them to spell out what is and isn’t acceptable. Using a term like “business casual” is too open to interpretation; since there clearly are things that wouldn’t be acceptable, be clear with people about what those things are!
4. My company is giving us aptitude tests and won’t tell us how they’ll be used
I work somewhere that now requires all job candidates to pass a 50-question aptitude test (think the SATs..) in order to even get an interview. The test is supposed to predict long-term success. The company made all current employees take the test but will not ever tell us if we passed or how one would pass or fail (we think it’s 30/50 but who knows). However, we are getting very few candidates for new positions because apparently not many people pass the test. A lot of current employees are uneasy about job security now. What do you think this means for us? Would we be passed up for job promotions, raises, and moving up in the company if we didn’t pass? Will we even be considered?
I don’t know … but someone in your company does. Ask. It’s totally reasonable to say, “Can you give us a sense of how these tests will be used for us? Will our results affect things like raises and promotions?”
5. Can company forbid us from using side exits?
Our company sent out a new security policy and is mandating that all employees must use the front door as the main entry/exit point. We are now required to badge in and out of the building at all times so they know who is in the building at all times. They claim in an event of an emergency all exits will be unlocked but to me this doesn’t make me feel safe at all and I feel like this is a total violation. In addition they want us to sign a form stating we agree to follow this procedure and if we do not get pre-authorization to use a side exit we can be disciplined. I often leave through the side door to get to my car as this is closer to the employee parking lot. Can they enforce this policy?
Sure, unless it’s creating some sort of safety hazard. They have to ensure that you have free egress in case of an emergency, but as long as they’re complying with safety rules in that regard, they can certainly tell you that you can only use the main entry/exit in routine situations.