It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…
1. My office presented donations to an injured employee’s parent with much fanfare
A few months back, an employee of my company was hit by a car on their way to work and was very seriously injured. They spent weeks in the hospital and are now going through extensive rehab. My department decided to raise some money for the employee for the holidays. Altogether a few hundred dollars were raised. I thought this was a nice gesture and was happy to chip in.
Our manager decided that we should have the employee’s parent come in to the department to receive our gift. I feel super uncomfortable with this. I feel like it makes the gift about us rather than about the employee and that it makes a big ceremony out of what is, in reality, very little money compared to what her treatment will cost. What would you have done as a manager? Am I wrong to feel uneasy about it all? Unfortunately, all’s been decided with this situation, but I was curious what your take was.
Yeah, that feels very self-congratulatory to me too. I suppose it depends on how it was done — after all, “Would you like to pick this up in person? Many of us here would love to hear how Jane is doing” is very different from “We want to present this to you with fanfare.” But from what it sounds like, I agree that it feels a little gross and tone-deaf.
2. I don’t want to keep doing my coworker’s work now that she’s back from maternity leave
I took over a client for a coworker while she was out on maternity leave. It was my understanding that this would be temporary, and as a secondary benefit it got someone else familiar with the client to provide her with backup for overflow work. The client, as well as the work that they do, is considered pretty low-level stuff from a technical standpoint, i.e., when I told a colleague what I was working on, they asked, “Who did you piss off?” I know not all work is glamorous, but that kind of sums up the perception of the work. The profits were not exactly where they should have been either, and I think they wanted to see if someone else could improve them. I worked hard to bring up the profits on these jobs and maintain good relations with the client (which I did successfully).
Now that my coworker is back, she does not want to take back any of the work, but she still wants to act as the client relationship manager (CRM) since she has the relationship and brought in the work originally. I feel like this is a demotion to have her delegating work to me. I have more years of experience and education and typically work on projects of a much larger scale than the ones this client brings in. She has also asked that I write all the proposals/contracts and schedule and project manage all of the work.
My supervisor is aware that I was not thrilled with this and has agreed that it will be revisited among the supervisors at the end of the year (waiting for this). It feels like my reward for hard work is to get more of the problem clients/work, and that my skills are actually shrinking instead of growing. The client is needy/demanding. This can negatively impact the attention I need to give my own clients and the time I have available to support my supervisor/ fellow team members (as well as negatively impact my work/life balance). This coworker has told me that she does not want to do small projects anymore, but I feel like if that is the sort of business she has brought in, then she should do it… why should it be mine to deal with? How can I successfully approach this with my supervisor? Do I just make a case for wanting to grow technically, or do I bring up (what I feel are) negative impacts that these clients have on my clients’ work?
“I know that you’re planning to discuss this with other managers soon, so I wanted to explain a bit more about my thinking. I was happy to help out with this while Jane was on leave, but I really want to be able to focus on larger projects and my own clients. If Jane no longer wants the client, I think they could be a good fit for someone with less experience, but I’d rather not continue work on it now that Jane has returned.”
Of course, if you’ve already said this, then you don’t need to say it again; in that case, it would make sense to wait for your manager to have the conversation she promised to do at the end of the year, and then see if it’s been resolved.
3. Prohibiting an employee from moving to another state
Can an employer legally tell an employee that they cannot move to another state because the organization is not registered in that state? This is a current employee who works remotely.
An employer can’t prevent someone from moving, but they can certainly say that they won’t continue to employ someone who moves to a different state. And this sometimes makes sense, because different states have different requirements for employers, including state-specific fees for worker comp insurance and other things with price tags attached — so in some cases, an employee’s move would carry a (not insignificant) price tag for the employer.
Also, generally labor practices are governed by the laws of the state where the employee works, even if the employer is based somewhere else. That means, for instance, that a Virginia employer might reasonably decide that they don’t want to deal with California’s labor laws (which are quite different from those of many other states), and thus decline to have employees based there.
4. References when you’ve been in the same job for 20 years
How would you handle the following situation regarding references? I’ll graduate soon with a MBA. My education will not help much at my current place of employment. Thus, after working there for more than 20 years, I’ve decided it’s time to look for a new job. I do not want my current employer to know I am job hunting, though. However, as far as workplace references are concerned, the only ones I can provide are the people that I currently work with (supervisors, former supervisors, and coworkers). How should I handle this at an interview? Is it inappropriate to not provide references and explain why I didn’t?
No, you’ll still need to provide references, but it’s certainly reasonable for them not to be your current manager. Can you get in touch with former managers who are no longer with your company and who you’d trust to be discreet? That’s what I’d be looking for if I were the reference-checker in this situation. Alternately, you can also offer up former coworkers who are in a position to speak to your work, but most reference-checkers will want to speak with people who managed you, so I’d try to get as close to that as you can.
5. My current manager and prospective manager talked without my permission
Is it common/legal for my current line manager to communicate with the manager of the company where I applied for a job before interview even has taken place? In this particular case, it turned out that they know each other from previous employment.
It’s perfectly legal for a prospective employer to contact references who aren’t on your official reference list, and it’s not uncommon for them to do so. The part that’s less common here is the fact that the person they reached out to was your current manager. Reasonable employers don’t do that, because they realize it could jeopardize the person’s current job. That was a pretty crappy thing of this manager to do without your permission.