It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…
1. Should I take a stand on getting ready for work in the office bathroom?
I work for a small company in the HR department as an administrative assistant. There are two bathrooms on the property, both single occupancy, one in the office and one in the warehouse.
I get up at 6 a.m. to work out at my gym every day. I then use the shower at the gym, arrive at work 15-30 minutes before I start, and get ready in the office bathroom. I take roughly 10-15 minutes to get ready, and then I clock in. One day, as I was walking out of the office bathroom, the call center manager asked me not to use the office bathroom to get ready and instead to use the warehouse bathroom. I said okay, but was a little bothered that I was asked to change what I was doing (which is harmless) to accommodate her.
After deliberating about this, I don’t feel I’m doing anything wrong. My productivity and attendance is not up for debate. I’m an excellent employee. So why should I change? I did, however, choose to use the office bathroom only if I knew I would be quick, and if I was going to take the full 15 minutes I would use the warehouse. However, the GM spoke to my boss, and my boss asked if I would please use the bathroom warehouse from now on. So, now all of a sudden this is an office policy?
I choose to use the office bathroom because it’s much warmer than the warehouse bathroom. The call center manager can use the warehouse bathroom, but she is choosing not to for the same reasons I’m using the office bathroom. The only difference is she wants to have access to the office bathroom and not have to wait. So, should I fold to these demands? Should I change my bathroom usage to accommodate someone else and go into the cold warehouse bathroom because someone complained? Now I feel like I will get written up if I use the office bathroom to get ready.
Yes, you should use the warehouse bathroom to get ready from now on. In an office with a single-occupancy bathroom, it’s reasonable for your company to say “this bathroom is for toilet use, not for getting ready for work.” By doing an optional, non-work activity in there every day, you’re preventing people from using the bathroom for the purpose it’s intended for, and there’s not a lot of ground to stand on in insisting that they go out to the (apparently cold) warehouse. This would be an odd to battle to fight, and you’re likely to lose and to come out of it with your reputation a bit tarnished, because their request is a reasonable one.
But why not solve the whole thing by just getting ready at the gym after you shower there?
2. Interviewer said “wow” when I told him how long I’d been out of work
I was let go from a job in October and still have not had any luck or offers. Seems that I am overqualified or under-qualified. If I wanted to go back to doing what I was doing before, I think I might have had an offer or two, but I think I am burnt out on that career path. Just a little while ago, I had a phone interview with an owner with a very dry sense of humor. When he realized how long I had been out of work (four months), his response was “wow” … which is something that I didn’t need to want to hear, of course. I was curious what you thought of his response. I am not happy that I have been out of work for this long, but every situation is different and a good portion of my unemployment has been over the holidays. Is his response a bad sign?
It might be a bad sign about this job/this manager, or it might be that he doesn’t have much of a filter, or that he was ineptly trying to express sympathy. There’s no way to really know, but I wouldn’t let it rattle you too much. Four months isn’t a terribly long time.
3. Should I drop a client who tried to renegotiate rates?
I teach a training course at a company that is also my client in other matters. This course is recurring, meaning that I teach it every year. Well, this year, just three weeks before it was supposed to start, my client told me that due to financial problems they are having, I should accept a 15% decrease on my fees. This was months after we had agreed upon my teaching this course this year, and reducing my rates never came up in the meantime. They apologized profusely, claiming that their telling me so late was an oversight on their part.
I find that hard to believe, since I provide them with other services, meaning that we talk regularly, and they had already started puting the word out about the course, inviting employees and other partners of theirs as well (the participation is not free of charge, at least not for non-employees).
I explained that I could not accept this decrease at such a late notice, but that I now felt so badly that I preferred not to teach my course at all, as my not accepting a lower rate made me feel as if I was exploiting them in their time of need, so to speak. They answered that it would be very bad for them if the course was not taught this year, and that they would not decrease my fees.
However, I now want to drop them as a client, because I feel they behaved unprofessionally and that they still are, since it turns out that they are able to pay my rates, they just would prefer not to. Would it be terrible and unprofessional on my part if I did not teach my course this year, despite the fact that my client has already started accepting participants?
Yes, it would be unprofessional and bad for your reputation! You agreed to teach the course, they’ve agreed to your regular fee for it, it starts in the three weeks, and they’ve already advertised it. It’s up to you whether to drop them as a client after this, but backing out of the course at this point and for this reason wouldn’t reflect well on you.
As for whether to drop them after that, I don’t see anything that they’ve done especially wrong here. They asked if they could lower your rates, you said no, and they said okay. Clients sometimes try to renegotiate contacts and rates. It’s up to you whether you agree or not, but the act of them asking isn’t a big deal. (After all, wouldn’t it feel pretty unwarranted if they wanted to drop you after you asked for a rate increase, they declined it, and you agreed to continue at the old rate?)
4. Should I mention that my wife applied for a job at my company?
A previous question about talking up your spouse after an interview at your company brought many negative responses. For my situation, my wife has only just applied. Last I heard, there had been over 130 applications submitted for the position. This was about three weeks ago and the position is still posted.
I was wondering if it would be wise to at least mention to the hiring manager that my wife has applied so she does not get lost in the shuffle and possibly give him somewhere to start within all of the applicants. One reservation I have is that she is on the borderline for meeting the years experience qualification they have listed, so I would not want to be looked down upon in any way for suggesting an applicant who might not even meet their criteria.
So should I mention her, talk her up, or just heed the advice I’ve seen online and let her application speak for itself? I am in good standing with my company, have been here for 1.5 years, and been promoted once.
I think it would be fine to say, “Hey, just a heads-up that my wife applied for the X position you’re hiring for. Her name is Valentina Warbleworth. No pressure if she’s not the right match though.” But that’s it — you don’t want to come across as if you’re trying to get her special treatment or that you’ll be disappointed if she’s not interviewed or hired. That’s why that “no pressure” bit at the end is important — given the usual dynamics with this kind of thing, people will assume that there is pressure unless you explicitly say otherwise.
And definitely don’t talk her up. You’re assumed to be biased, so it won’t carry a lot of weight and instead will add to the worries about tension or awkwardness if they go with other candidates instead.
(Also, are you sure you want to work at the same company? There are lots of downsides to that, including financial security if you’re both at a company that’s having layoffs.)
5. What does a one-hour performance review meeting indicate?
My question is regarding performance reviews. Are one-hour reviews an indicator that the review might not be good?
That’s a normal amount of time to schedule for a performance review. Generally, it would be an indicator that your manager is devoting an appropriate amount of time to what should be a substantive, important discussion about your performance. Of course, if your manager has a history of scheduling these for 20 minutes, and is still doing that with everyone else, then yeah, it might indicate that there’s some specific reason that she wants to have a longer conversation with you, which could be good, bad, or neutral. But I wouldn’t read too much into it, unless there’s some other context (like that you’ve been getting warned about performance problems).