It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…
1. Manager told me not to go to the bathroom between 8 and 8:05 a.m.
I work from 8:00 a.m. – 6 p.m., and maybe am a minute or two late at times, that’s it. I came in yesterday on time, went to my desk, put everything down (purse, coat, etc.), and went to use the bathroom. As I’m coming out of the bathroom, my manager said that I was three minutes late. I told him I was on time but I was in the bathroom. He said, “You were on time?” I said yes. Then he said, “Well, don’t go to the bathroom between 8:00 a.m. – 8:05 a.m.”
I was flabbergasted and so were others who heard him say that. Does he have a right to do that? I will adhere to this silliness as I cannot afford and refuse to be fired over something like this. I’m a very hard worker, top sales person, and well liked by all, I guess with the exception of this manager now.
He has the legal right, yes (unless you have a medical condition involving the bathroom that he’s legally required to accommodate). But he also has the legal right to insist on a full report of what you did in the bathroom or to make you take a hall pass in with you or to insist that you call him Emperor Bob the Toilet King. None of those things would be reasonable though, and all would make him an ass, and so does this one.
Well, actually, now that that’s out of my system, I’m going to backtrack a bit. If it’s really crucial that people be able to reach you at your desk at the exact start of the day — or, say, there’s a five-minute morning meeting that starts at 8 a.m. — then sure, it’s reasonable to say, “Hey, try to avoid bathroom trips during this short period if you can.” But based on the details here (including him giving you a hard time for being three minutes late), I suspect that’s not what he’s doing.
2. How can I ask for time off when few of my coworkers do?
How do I tactfully request time off without rocking the boat? I’ve worked for a very small business (only three employees) for a little over a year. I’ve since learned that my coworkers generally very rarely take time off and if they do, it’s usually only one day at a time. Since there are so few employees, there’s not really anyone to cover for me if I’m gone, except my boss (the owner). Thus, our business loses money when someone takes time off. (There’s also no benefits package whatsoever, so no paid time off.)
I’d like to ask for three days off about two months from now due to family obligations. I’m naturally very shy, so asking for time off is always difficult/awkward for me, doubly so in this sort of work environment. What is your advice for tactfully asking for a few days off without coming off as entitled?
It’s not entitled to need time off here and there — for family obligations, for sickness, for appointments, for vacation, and for just basic recharging. This is a normal part of being human, and it’s a normal part of business. Reasonably run businesses understand that, even small ones with no benefits. If the business is so small that this means that the owner needs to cover for people who are out, well, then the owner needs to cover for people who are out. That’s part of the deal in running a small business.
The best way to address it is to just be straightforward: “I’ll need (dates) off in April. What’s the best way for me to arrange that?” If you’re more comfortable giving a reason, or think that it will go over better if you do, you can add “for family obligations.”
If you get pushback, ask whether those particular dates are an issue or if it’s just time off in general. If it’s the latter, there’s something pretty odd going on there, and you’d want to think about whether you want to put up with that long-term … because again, it’s very, very normal to take time off and it’s not generally sustainable or practical to just never do it.
3. Giving a staff member development opportunities without exploiting her
In my field, there is a division (by way of a professional degree) in the organization between “teapotians” and “teapot staff.” I am a teapotian that supervises someone in a staff position, although she also has the professional degree. She’s great at her job, and we benefit by her also having that professional training/outlook.
She’s interested in pursuing teapotian positions in the future and I want to support those goals, although I would be sad to lose her. Since she hasn’t had a professional teapotian position, I’d like to give her access to activities that would strengthen her as a candidate in future searches. But I’m also aware of not wanting to exploit her. Anything she did in the professional capacity would still only be compensated within her staff salary (she’s exempt and paid well). Any advice on where to keep that line?
Talk to her! Tell her exactly what you said here — that you know she’s interested in pursuing teapotian positions in the future and that you’d like to help her by giving her work that would make her a stronger candidate for those jobs, but that you don’t have the budget to pay her more for that work and don’t want to take advantage of her, and that you’d like to hear from her what she’d most like. She’s very likely to tell you that she’d be glad to have the chance to work on those projects, but make it clear that it’s okay if she doesn’t.
4. Should I call or email my contacts when I’m looking for networking help?
I haven’t had to look for a new job in about 20 years. The company which I’ve worked for the past eight years changed ownership about six months ago, and as hard as I’ve tried, I am simply miserable with the current regime. So I am ready to look elsewhere. I have several good contacts in my field who I’d like to reach out to. It’s been a few years in most cases, but I had/have solid relationships with all. Do I reach out initially with an email or would it be okay to call straight away since I already know these people pretty well?
Ugh, I would so hate the call and would want the email … but there are other people who would strongly prefer a call and where a call might get you better results because they’re big relationship people. So I’d say to let your knowledge of each person be your guide — if you know them to be a phone person, sure, go ahead and call. But otherwise — including cases where you’re not sure — I’d default to email because it’s less of an interruption.
5. Should I bother to apply to job postings that have been up longer than a few days?
(Now I’m #14.)
Should I limit my search to job postings that have been up for just a few days? Or is there typically still a chance for a posting that’s been up longer? Putting in the proper amount of effort for an application takes so long that I don’t want to waste time if the deck’s already stacked against me.
No, you can and should still apply! There are some jobs where there are sufficient numbers of strong applicants in the first few days the job is advertised, and the employer doesn’t look at any/most of the people who come in after that. But there are many more jobs that are truly open and considering applicants for weeks after the ad goes up, if not longer (and that’s especially true the more senior or specialized something is).
Interestingly, I tend to find that the strongest candidates’ applications come in late in the process, and the weakest come in within the first day that the ad is up. I suspect this is because they’re not applying to everything they see or even looking on a regular basis; they’re being more selective and leisurely in their job search. That doesn’t mean that no great candidates apply early on, but the overall pattern shows up consistently.
All that said, once you spot the ad and want to apply, do it pretty quickly. Don’t think it over for days or procrastinate, because it could be getting filled while you’re waiting.