It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…
1. New employee won’t stop talking about how she did things differently at her old job
I have a new employee who is in orientation. Every time I or one of the other staff members tell her about something, she says, “That’s not how we did it at my last job,” or “we did it XYZ way at this other place.” And she expresses an opinion about everything she is told, no matter what the topic. My staff is starting to get frustrated but so far has been kind and saying things like, “Well, this is the way we do it here.” She is also printing out orientation pages and telling me what needs to be updated when she was already told what the updates were.
Is there a kind way to tell her to listen and learn and stop telling us about how she did things other places?
Sit down with her one-on-one and say this: “Jane, you’ve mentioned multiple times that you did things differently at previous jobs. Right now, we want to focus on teaching you how we do things here, and it’s becoming a distraction to keep discussing how you’ve done things differently before. Can I ask you to stay focused on what we’re teaching you about how we operate here?”
Also, if you’re not this person’s manager, give a heads-up to the person who is, because this has Pain In The Ass written all over it. (And that will be helpful for her manager to know about, since it’s more likely to make her direct about nipping this in the bud when she sees it herself.)
2. I’m going to lose money on this business trip
I’m from Asia and am being asked to fly for a business trip to Europe (Germany). There are many issues, but I don’t know how to bring it up without making it seems like I’m a difficult person to deal with:
1) We have to choose the cheapest ticket available. Of what I’ve found online, the cheapest would take 19 hours, while paying about $150 more would shorten the flight to 12 hours. But I’m not allowed to take a shorter flight, just the cheapest flight.
2) I’m only allocated a per-day allowance of 25 euros, which don’t think is reasonable since a meal costs 15 euros in general and I have to eat two meals (lunch and dinner). This 25 euros allowance is inclusive of everything. I have been on business trips in other countries and felt like I had to fork out more money than I’d spend if I were to stay in my home country. And of course I’m not compensated for the lost time I could spend with family and friends.
Is there any way I could reject this trip without making it seem like I’m rocking the boat? Thinking about this just makes me really miserable.
Whether you can just decline to go really depends on your job, the nature of the trip, and your relationship with your manager. But before you get there, I’d try pushing back on both issues: You can point out that paying just $150 more would shave seven hours off the plane ride and ensure that you show up far more rested and ready to work. You can also put together some samples of what 25 euros will buy in the city you’ll be in; you might be able to show that it’s not sufficient for two meals there, even if it might be realistic for other destinations. (Note: I don’t know if it is or not, but by looking at actual menu prices in the area you’ll be in, you should be able to conclude pretty definitively.)
This may or may not change anything. In a reasonable company, it would, but you may not be working for a reasonable company. If that turns out to be the case, you can try framing it as “It seems like I’ll be losing $__ by going on this trip. What can we do to ensure that I don’t lose my own money during business travel?” But if they’re unreasonable and the trip is required, you might be stuck.
3. My coworker keeps trying to speak our native language to me, but I want to speak English
I share a room with the rest of my team (seven of us in total); it’s a fairly small and packed open plan office. A guy who joined this week speaks my native language (which is not terribly common). Finding this out delighted him, and now he insists on talking to me in that language in front of everyone (trying to make conversation, not just asking one question or two). This makes me uncomfortable, and I also believe it’s unprofessional and rude to the rest of our team.
Am I overreacting? If not, can I shut this down somehow (presumably by telling him)? He told me before going home yesterday that he needs to talk to me in that language even MORE from now on (no clue why). I think he’s trying to establish some type of connection, and while I’m more than happy to share any work-related knowledge I have, I don’t want this to happen in any language that isn’t English.
Just be direct with him! The next time he does it, say in English, “I prefer to talk in English at work,” and then go on to answer him in English. If he seems confused or put out by that, you can explain, “I don’t feel comfortable speaking in front of others in a language they can’t understand.” If pressed, you can explain that it feels exclusionary to you and you simply prefer to stick to the language spoken by those around you.
(To be clear, I do think it would be fine for you to talk with him in your native language if you preferred to, especially if it were faster or easier to communicate that way, but it’s also legit for you to choose not to, and he should respect that.)
4. Should I check with the candidate before I give a reference for them?
My industry is kind of small, and while everyone doesn’t know everyone, it is pretty darn close. The people who work in our industry move from site to site with stints in the HQ. I used to work at Company A (left about eight years ago). A friend from Company A emailed me yesterday to ask if I would give a reference for my old boss at a site rotation at Company B. She told me that she and the hiring team already know that he is technically excellent but that he administratively needs a strong ops team and hates being bothered by HQ (this is pretty standard in our industry for people in his position, unfortunately).
They are asking because, as is clear on his CV, he went straight from the site where we worked together to another site and didn’t include references from either of those sites. My friend was on a site rotation for her company in the same small town as us and knew that he and I worked together. I don’t know why he didn’t include a reference from our site, but I would be willing to give a good reference. I know that he left the next site abruptly, but I didn’t work in that department so I don’t know why (I mean, I assume why, but when the C-suite lets a guy run sites a certain way for 20 years and heaps praise, promotions, and bonuses on him, and then all of a sudden decides they don’t like how he does things, that’s not on him and certainly not something I would discuss outside of Company B).
I know that a good hiring team does their own due diligence on reviewing a candidate, including using any resource they can access to get feedback. But as the person being asked, do I get permission from the applicant first? Is it a different standard if I am being asked to be a reference for someone who reported to me vs someone I reported to? I ultimately decided to contact Old Boss and let him know I had been asked and that I was willing to give him a good reference or tell Company A that it was my personal policy to only give references if requested by the applicant. He said he would be pleased if I spoke to Company A. I did this because Old Boss knows that I am looking for a new job and offered to be one of my references so I wanted to maintain the good relationship. But this is likely to come up again for other people I know so I want to be prepared.
It’s really up to you, but in general there’s no expectation that you’ll get the candidate’s explicit permission before giving a reference. That’s doubly true when you know the person who’s asking you for the reference, as you did here. You still might choose to reach out for permission, but you’re not violating any convention if you don’t.
Your friend who contacted you was basically drawing on your friendship and saying “hey, can you give me the low-down on what the deal really is with this guy?” That’s a pretty normal thing to ask when you know someone personally. (Imagine, for instance, that you’re hiring a nanny and notice that you’re friends with one of her previous employers. Would you really not reach out to your friend and ask her about her experiences with the person and expect her to be honest with you? This is basically the same thing.)
5. Letting a contact know I’m not looking for other work right now
A manager I’ve worked with in a part-time role in the past sent me a job posting. She said she thought that I would be a perfect fit, and encouraged me to apply. I loved the team, the work, the management, and the mission. A year ago, it would have been a total dream job.
The problem is, I am really happy with where I am now. I am happy with my salary, several people in leadership have “clicked” with me and have been informally mentoring me, I enjoy my work, I love my clients, I genuinely like most of my coworkers, and I have a short commute. There is probably not as much room for “on paper” growth as I’d like, but there are lots of different types of personalities to deal with, and I’ve discovered that I actually really love finding ways to work with difficult people when others have thrown in the towel. (I think dealing with difficult people at work could become one of my secret superpowers.) In other words, I’ve still got more to learn in my current role and am not ready to look for other opportunities.
What is the best way to say “thank you for thinking of me, I’m not looking for a change right now but would love to keep the door open in the future”?
Exactly like that would be fine! That’s a very normal thing to say. In fact, she’s probably expecting that there’s a decent chance you’ll say it, so don’t feel weird about it.
If you want, you can reword it a bit to “Thanks so much for thinking of me. In a lot of ways this would be my dream job, but right now I’m too happy with my work and my company to think seriously about leaving. However, I’d love to get in touch with you at whatever point I do start thinking about what’s next.”