It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…
1. I got scolded for letting my team chat while they work
Several of my subordinates and I sit at desks very close to one another in a large office. During slow times, we chat while we work. (During busy times, we have no time to socialize.) We enjoy these breaks as it gives us knowledge about each others’ ideas, beliefs, family, lives outside of work, etc. I have always looked at it as a strengthening of our team.
While doing data entry today, we were chatting about our families and different cultures, when our (newly appointed) general manager scolded me via email for allowing my team to have non-work related discussions that he could overhear from his desk. He acknowledged that while my workers did a great job during busy times, if they didn’t have “enough” to do when it’s slow I should send them home (they are paid hourly so this was a threat to take away their pay). I was genuinely shocked, not only at the suggestion, but that he couldn’t see we were working while talking, and at the idea that there is zero value in simple human communication between team mates. I’d like another opinion because I sure don’t trust his.
Well, it’s certainly true that there’s such a thing as too much chit chat, especially if it’s distracting other people (which is possible if he can hear it from his desk). It’s also true that it’s not realistic or wise to expect people to work like automatons and never talk to each other. I can’t tell from your letter which of these categories your team is in. In your shoes, to try to figure it out, I’d look at productivity — for example, are people much more productive on quiet days or days when other people are out? Do you have a backlog that would benefit from people working with more speed and focus? Are you hitting all your goals? Those answers should point you in the right direction.
On his other point, it’s true that there are jobs where it does make sense to send people home when there’s not much work — but if you’re going to do that, you should let people know that before you hire them. Otherwise, they’re counting on a certain amount of pay each week, and it’s crappy to take that away. You might point that out to him. Since he’s new, he may be used to a different way of doing things … or he could just be a bit of a jerk. Either way, it would be useful to hash this stuff out with him and get aligned on how you manage your team.
2. Should I take on new projects at work while I’m job hunting?
I work for a small company. One of employees recently resigned and her tasks and responsibilities are being divided among the existing employees. The CEO would like me to take on many of her tasks, including managing our vendors. I am more than happy to do the additional work. (I’ve had a lot of down time in the past and can easily fit it in to my schedule.)
However, I have been job hunting for a few months now and am hoping to be in a new job in a maximum of four months, so I’m not sure it makes sense for me to establish relationships with our vendors, change all of our accounts to list my email address, etc. only to have yet another person take over those tasks in a few months. Though I think our CEO knows on some level that I’m unhappy in my job, I don’t think he knows that I’m looking to leave, and I’d prefer not to tell him until I have a new position lined up. He is borderline obsessed with loyalty and I fear he would fire me on the spot if he knew I was applying/interviewing elsewhere (this attitude is one of the many reasons I’m looking to leave). I’m not sure if there’s a way to suggest those tasks go to someone else without tipping him off to the fact that I’m hoping to leave soon or if I should just suck it up and take on the new tasks, knowing that (with any luck), I’ll be gone in a few months and yet another person will need to establish new relationships with our vendors, change all of our account passwords, etc. What do you suggest?
Proceed as if you’re not leaving. There’s no way to get out of this without tipping him off, and the reality is that you don’t know for sure that you’ll be gone in four months. Even if you’re gone sooner, though, this is just part of doing business — people leave and there are inconveniences associated with it, but it’s not usually practical to pull yourself out of stuff that would normally fall to you until you have firm departure plans in place.
3. Reapplying to a company whose offer I turned down five years ago
I have a question about reapplying to a company that I had turned down a job offer from in the past. Five years ago, I had a few rounds of interviews at a company (let’s call it Company A), and I ended up receiving a job offer. I also received another job offer at the same time (Company B), and I ended up taking the job with Company B. I had a great interview experience at A and felt bad turning it town, but B was more in line with what I thought I wanted to do.
Now five years later, I’m regretting the decision and want to go into the industry A is in. (Similar industries, and my experience at B is in line with what I’d be doing at A). I saw that Company A is hiring again. Do I apply again to the job? If I do reapply, should I email the person I worked with during the interview process and who offered me the job?
Yes, apply again, and mention in your cover letter that they made you an offer for position X in 2011 that you weren’t able to accept at the time, but that you really enjoyed your conversations with them then and would love to talk with them about position Y. Then, after you do that, email the person you talked with five years ago (if she’s still there), include a copy of your application materials, and let her know that you applied through their formal system but that you wanted to reach out to her and let her know. Add something genuine about how much you enjoyed your talks a few years ago, and why you’ve remained interested in them this whole time.
4. How should my resume show a position that was first volunteer but then paid?
I volunteered for an organization for several months, after which I was lucky enough to be hired. My duties remained exactly the same – they just decided to start paying me for it. Should I put the two periods of time as separate entries in different sections, or as two positions under the same organization, one clearly marked “volunteer”?
Two positions under the same organization, with the first one clearly marked as volunteer. That will emphasize that they liked your volunteer work enough to begin paying you for it when they didn’t have to, which reflects well on you.
You can list it like this:
Chocolate Teapots United
Spout Inspector (staff) – May 2015-present
Spout Inspector (volunteer) – November 2014-May 2015
5. Donating books to prisons
Remember the interview I did with a former prison librarian last year? She just sent this to me and I wanted to pass it along:
In the comments section of my interview post, a few people asked about donating books to prison libraries. This popped up in my feed today (I imagine they are rerunning it because of Making a Murderer, which I have no doubt may of your readers are watching):
I think it’s all for U.S. prisons, but it’s a start.