It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…
1. Is it demeaning to refer to “my team” or “my assistant”?
I’m a relatively new manager supervising a team of 20. Over the holidays, a cousin told me that one should never refer to people you supervise as “my team” or “my #1 salesman” (using the possessive). He said that you should only use a possessive vertically upward, such as “my boss” or “my company VP.” I’d never want to make my team (see, there I did it) uncomfortable, but also never imagined that this might be an issue. Can you weigh in?
Your cousin is overthinking things. It’s totally normal to refer to “my team,” “my staff,” “my assistant,” and so forth, just like you’d say “my company,” “my friend,” or “my kid.” It’s a way of expressing the relationship, not ownership or possession. How does your cousin refer to people who work for him — “the salesperson on my team”? That’s unnecessarily convoluted.
That said, there’s nothing wrong with taking the opportunity to say “we” instead of “my team” or “our salesperson” instead of “my salesperson” when you have the option. But not every sentence lends itself to that, and it’s fine if it doesn’t. What matters far more than any of this is how you treat people and how effectively you manage — do that well and no one will worry about this stuff; screw it up and your team is far more likely to bristle at wording choices.
2. Asking about whether I’d have to work with the rude person who interviewed me
I recently had an interview where I found out that I am one of two final candidates. In the interviews I have had with Jane, who would be my direct manager, I really enjoyed our conversations and thought that she seemed like an excellent manager. However, my last interview was with Lisa, the head of the department, who was incredibly rude, dismissive, and confrontational. In debriefing with a friend/colleague who has worked with Lisa, my impression of her was confirmed – she is really difficult to work with. If I am offered the job, is there a tactful way to ask how much contact I would actually have with Lisa (or how much her abrasive personality affects the entire department) before making my decision?
I’d say something like this to Jane: “I really enjoyed getting the chance to talk with both you and Lisa. Can you give me a sense of how my role interacts with Lisa? How closely would we be working together, if at all?” Your tone here matters — it should be neutral, not have an undercurrent of “I really don’t want to work with Lisa.” Jane will probably be able to figure out why you’re asking, but you’ll come across as much more professional if you handle it neutrally.
But also, regardless of Jane’s answer, give real thought to whether you want to take a job that ultimately reports up to someone you describe as” incredibly rude, dismissive, and confrontational.” Even if you don’t have regular interaction with her, those characteristics tend to really impact a team’s culture and how they operate.
3. Do I have to invite my coworkers to my wedding?
In September, I started a new job. The managers that hired me were very vocal about how happy they were to have me on board, and they believed in me from the start. Also, the people at my new job are very kind-however, no one really hangs out or communicates outside of work.
I recently became engaged over the holidays, and many people at work have been really sweet about it. I received cards and gifts, which I did not expect at all. The thing is, I’m not sure if I should invite them to my wedding. I wasn’t planning to, because I’m still kind of new (although my wedding is next January, so I’m sure I’ll get to know my co-workers better over the next year) and also as I said, no one really hangs out outside of work. I just don’t want to obligate them. Also, I am not sure if I should mix work with my personal life. It is also one of those things where I wouldn’t know where to draw the line…..like I could invite the three other people only in my department, but then I’m not sure if I have to invite my manager, too? I also am concerned that they now expect an invitation, considering they gave me gifts and cards. I was very surprised and touched over these gestures, because the people at my last job didn’t do things like that.
You don’t need to invite coworkers; it’s not expected, at least in most offices. The fact that your coworkers have already given you cards and gifts doesn’t change that; it’s very, very normal for coworkers to do that (and even potentially throw a shower!) and still not expect to be invited. If anyone asks, it’s fine to just say, “Oh, we’re keeping it small.” But polite people won’t ask or be upset that they’re not invited.
4. LinkedIn when you’re taking time out of the workforce to raise kids
I have just left the workforce to stay home with my children full-time. I have a 3-year-old and one due in a few weeks. I will return to work at some point, though I don’t know when. (I have some close contacts and a mentor in my professional network and I plan to keep my professional memberships current). What is the best way to update my status on LinkedIn to reflect this?
I wouldn’t. There’s no reason that your LinkedIn profile needs to explain that you’re taking time away. It can continue the way it always is, just without indicating a current job. Any other alternative just calls attention to the fact that you’re taking time out, without any real reason to need to highlight that. (And it’s not that you need to hide that, of course; it’s just that I don’t see any particular benefit from highlighting it.)
5. When family members of the owner are treated differently
My husband, who is a manager, is a salaried employee. His assistant manager is the wife of one of the owners of the business and is also a salaried employee. She is not an owner. Both are supposedly full-time employees. My husband is required to keep track of how many days off per year he uses – down to the hour. If he exceeds his allowed days off during the year, he is required to deduct an hourly wage from his pay for the days missed until the end of the year. The same is not the case for the assistant manager. She rarely works a full week, taking 2-3 hours off each day, not showing up whenever she wants, takes months off from work to travel, etc. and always gets her full wages. The owner states that it is a perk of being an owner, but she’s not an owner. She’s an employee. What can, if anything, he do about this inconsistency?
Probably nothing. It’s not unusual for family businesses to treat family employees differently than non-family employees. It’s often part of the package with family businesses, and it’s really up to the owner if he wants to hold his wife to a different standard. Your husband might find that too frustrating to want to deal with it (and I wouldn’t blame him), but then the solution would be to find a job somewhere else; it’s unlikely that the owner is going to be persuaded to manage his wife differently.