It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…
1. Attending an employee’s wedding
I see a lot of conversation on your site about whether or not you should invite your boss to your wedding, but I find myself in the opposite situation. My employee invited me to her wedding, which is coming up in a few months. What are the expectations around my attendance?
I manage her and one other employee, and she invited us both (plus guests). Our team has a really good dynamic — great communication, very productive. We get along great, but don’t socialize outside of the office. I try to respect their boundaries as much as possible in that respect. Am I expected to go? To not go? What’s your advice on how to handle?
I don’t think there are hard and fast rules here; rather, I’d decide based on the relationship and your best guess about what she’s hoping for. If your knowledge of her and the relationship says that it’s a genuine invitation that she’s hoping you’ll accept, and if you’d genuinely like to go, you can accept! On the other hand, if you think there’s a decent chance that she felt obligated to invite you (possible on a small team where she’s inviting the other person) and/or if you’d rather not attend, you can graciously bow out due to a conflict with the date (and get her a nice wedding gift).
2. Client is demanding that I work from his office
I’m a marketing consultant and I currently have a client who is demanding I work ONLY from his office. This was never discussed before he brought me in. I’m a 1099 contractor, and I was clear that I would work remotely (from home) and attend meetings as needed with advance notice. After one month, he is now asking me to only do work from his office, which is very unproductive. He is a huge distraction. He takes two hours to say what could have been explained in five minutes. He repeats himself a lot. Plus, I have a team that helps on certain tasks for me (e.g., coding and programing) and I can’t bring them with me!
I don’t know how to tell him I will not cater to his request without being harsh or incurring the wrath of the client.
“Xavier, you’ve asked me to work from your office a few times recently, so I wanted to make sure that you realize that I don’t do that. It’s like I explained when we started working together — as a consultant, I can attend occasional meetings, but the majority of the time, I work from my own workspace.”
Be direct and don’t sound annoyed, just pleasantly matter-of-fact. If he continues to push after this, you should hold firm in response, and at some point may need to say, “It sounds like you’re looking for more of an on-site employee than a contractor. Knowing that I work remotely, does it make sense to continue to work together?” (Of course, if you say this, you’d need to be prepared for the answer to be no!)
3. Should we ask our intern to be part of a gift to our boss?
I am in a small group of close-knit people, and our boss is moving on to a different position in another country. We have all decided on a gift for him, but a debate has started as to whether or not to include the intern in the gift giving process. Our intern has been with us for about six months, and we are split down the middle as to if we should approach him on this. He was included in our Christmas gift giving if that needs to be taken into consideration.
The principle here is to avoid making people feel pressured to spend money on a gift for a manager, especially when they make less money than you or the gift recipient. And it doesn’t matter how much you stress that he’s under no obligation to contribute; lots of people will feel obligated to contribute anyway.
So — don’t ask him for money toward the gift, but do ask him if he’d like to sign the card (assuming there’s an accompanying gift) and don’t do anything to distinguish between the gift-givers and the card-signers. (In other words, present the gift as from all of you, rather than the gift being from one group and the card being from another.) You could say it to him this way: “Hey, we’re giving Fergus this amazing rice sculpture that we found on Etsy. We’ve got the price of the gift covered, but would you like to sign the card and be part of the presentation when we unveil it for him?”
4. Should I lie to my boss about my commitment level?
I’m currently in a leadership position within a small, growing company where I report directly to the CEO/founder. Lately my boss has been talking to me a lot about elevating my role to a more executive level, and about my taking on some new and interesting initiatives which, frankly, are very much in line with my career history and vision for my own growth. It all sounds great, right? There’s one problem though. In these discussions about my future role, which are occurring almost daily at this point, my boss asks me where my heart is in terms of committing to the company and seeing his vision through into the next phase of our growth and beyond. While this is flattering, the reality is that I’m not happy at this company and have begun a job search. My experience with my company and my boss is that he makes lots of promises about change, but in reality he delivers on very little of what he promises.
I legitimately like my boss as a person and don’t want to lie to him, but what choice do I have? When he basically asks me point-blank if I’m committed to staying, am I wrong to tell him that I absolutely am, even though I know it’s not true? I have a family to support and am not in a position to lose this job or to walk away before I have something else lined up. So is lying really my best option here? I don’t feel great about it, but I can’t think of any viable alternatives.
This depends totally on what you know of your manager and how he’d handle hearing the truth. How has he handled other employees who resign or are job searching? Are people shown the door immediately? Pushed out earlier than they would have otherwise planned to leave? Or have people talked openly with him when they’re ready to leave and he’s been supportive of that? If he has a track record of being reasonable in this area, and you have a strong relationship with him, you might be able to tell him that you don’t think you’ll be there long-term. But if he doesn’t — or if you’re just not sure or have any doubts — it’s reasonable to act accordingly.
One possible middle ground, though, would be to say, “I want to pause our discussions about this for a while, to give myself some time to think over what you’ve suggested. If I commit, I want you to really be able to count on my word, and I want to ensure I have enough time to be thoughtful about making sure it’s the right path for me.” This may or may not work, depending on what he’s like, but it’s a reasonable thing to say.
5. Applying for two pretty different jobs at the same organization
I’m out of work, and my unemployment may be expiring in two weeks. So I’m desperate. Finding roles that I come close to qualifying for is a rare thing. (Quick background if it helps – was let go after a year and half in an accounting/admin position, and have been doing admin or customer service since I graduated with my BA in English.)
Through Idealist.org, I found a position that would be a long reach for me that I would love to get, writer for their online content/social media stuffs. Idealist lets you go back to the employer page and see their other positions. There I found an opening for a secretary that I my experience would make me look much better for, that I would be comfortable in and glad to have – again the desperation.
In situations like this, is it okay to apply to both positions and just go with whichever they call me in for, or would seeing that I am applying to the lesser position make me seem like I am not confident/qualified enough to do the more complicated/higher paying one?
Ideally you wouldn’t apply for two very different positions, because it can make you look scattered and like you’re just applying for anything you might be qualified for (which is sometimes the case, but employers generally don’t love that). In your case, because you’re feeling desperate, I’d apply for the one you’re a better match for over the long shot. They’re likely to have a lot of candidates for the content/social media job, so I’d focus on making yourself the absolute strongest candidate you can for the one where your professional experience is a better match.