It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…
1. How can I get out of my office’s basketball game?
I work in a small sales team (two groups of five people) for a university selling tickets to athletic events. All of my coworkers are hardcore jocks and sports fans. I love my job, but I’m not the biggest sports fan. My boss knows that I don’t like sports nearly as much as my coworkers and he’s fine with that, particularly because it doesn’t affect my job performance.
The problem is, as a reward for reaching our January goal, our boss has scheduled some time for us to play basketball as a team together in the university’s stadium. The rest of the team is understandably excited about this but I couldn’t be more nervous. I’m absolutely terrible at basketball and do not enjoy playing in the slightest. My boss has emphasized that we’re not there to be competitive but rather to just bond as a team. However, I fear that the whole affair will be terribly awkward because I’ll stand out in stark contrast to my very athletic coworkers. I’d prefer to just not go, but how can I communicate this to my boss? I worry that because we’re a sports-based team that my not participating will look counter to the culture of the office and reflect poorly on me.
Ugh, I’m right there with you. I wouldn’t want to do with this either. That said, I think you should go, but you don’t have to play. Instead, offer to keep score, cheer people on, hand out towels (is that a thing?), or some other job that has you there but not doing the part you don’t want to do.
You can either tell a white lie (“I have a bad back that would aggravated by this”) or tell your boss the truth (“this would a punishment for me, not a reward — I’m going to keep score instead”). Note that in that last one, you’re not asking to sit it out, you’re letting him know that you will be; you’re an adult and this isn’t high school gym class, so you get to do that.
If you really don’t want to go at all, you can adjust that wording to “this would be a punishment for me, not a reward, so I’m going to skip it — but have fun!” But I’d really recommend going and just doing something that doesn’t involve playing.
2. I can’t keep working without a contract
Earlier this month, I quit my job because 1) I didn’t trust my boss’s leadership and the direction of the company and 2) I had an opportunity to start my own consulting agency and felt I owed it to myself to give that a shot. I am the only person at the company who can do this job, so I offered to consult for several weeks part-time while they back filled my old position. After a not-unexpected series of strong arm negotiations to work more/longer, I held firm to the scope of work I was offering; everyone bought in, and I sent my contract over.
The contract has been sitting with their lawyer for weeks, despite a brief round of minor redlines that felt more like stalling than changes. I’m coming to the end of my second week as a consultant, and although I have a great professional relationship with the CEO and would love to maintain a relationship with her for the exposure it might give my business, I know this company is lousy at paying vendors and is having serious cash flow issues right now.
I’m having difficulty knowing how to say “I won’t be working next week without a contract.” Because… I won’t. It’s not personal but it’s gone on long enough and someone should sign the contract, as I’m working in good faith. The lag makes me nervous. Thoughts on how to phrase it? I have other clients so I’m not afraid of losing the (currently worthless unsigned) contract, and frankly I’d rather not get paid for two weeks of work than not get paid for eight.
Say this: “I normally wouldn’t start work at all without a contract. I gave you some flexibility because of our relationship, but at this point I can’t continue to work with a signed contract. After today, I’m going to need to wait until we have it before I do anything further.” And then hold firm. If pressed, just pleasantly say, “As soon as we have the contract signed, I’d be glad to start back up.”
You’re absolutely right in the stance you’re taking. Also, especially given what you know about their track record of paying vendors, make sure you have something in the contract about how quickly you must be paid and penalties if they’re late.
3. Networking with business cards
Last summer, I lost my job (very) shortly after my father died. I decided to go easy on myself and picked up a bartending job to get by. Now that I’m ready to start the job hunt, I’d like to attend networking events, but the only business cards I have are from the company that let me go. They have my cell number but incorrect email. I’d prefer not to use them anyhow, since I obviously don’t have a lot of warm feelings about that company. Should I have personal cards made? I don’t have a lot of disposable income so I’m hoping you have another suggestion. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to find a new job, though.
Definitely do not use the cards from your old company; in fact, throw them out! They identify you first and foremost as a representative of that company, so they’re not really usable anymore.
You can get cards printed up pretty cheaply (like for $15, although I realize that whether or not that’s affordable is totally relative). Normally I’d tell you not to worry about having them during a job search (lots of people are stopping using cards entirely), but if you’re planing to attend a bunch of networking events, it probably does make sense to have some.
4. Losing interest in a job because of the city’s reputation
I applied to a job last week that is 2,000-plus miles away from my current location. My initial contact with the hiring manager about the job itself has gone great. He seems like a genuinely nice person, and the company he describes sounds like a great fit.
However, since applying, I’ve done a couple hours of research about the city itself — and it sounds like a dump. At least 95% of online comments about the city and, to a degree, the surrounding area are negative: crime, drugs, gang violence, lack of recreational opportunities in the immediate vicinity (outdoor opportunities exist 30-60 miles away, but nothing from your doorstep).
It’s hard to be an impartial judge from so far away, but I’m beginning to strongly lose interest in this job due to the locale’s terrible reputation. I only did a cursory investigation of the area (i.e., looking it up on a map) before applying initially. Should I have done more? And do you have any suggestions on how to proceed should I get a job offer (which is likely)?
So, ideally you’d have a reasonable degree of willingness to consider moving to a job’s location before applying for it, since otherwise you can end up wasting your and the employer’s time if the location turns out to be a deal-breaker as soon as you check it out further. And by applying, you’re basically saying “I’m open to moving to where you are.” Not committed, certainly, but open to it.
If you’re sure you wouldn’t accept the job, I’d withdraw now rather than waiting for them to make you an offer. You can just say that you really enjoyed talking with them, but that you’ve realized relocating doesn’t make sense for you right now. If you’re not sure, you should stay in consideration but really speed up your research/deciding process. If they offer you the job and the location does end up being a deal-breaker, you can use that same language — but it’s better to do it earlier if you can.
5. My accrued sick leave was used during my family leave
I requested from HR some family leave to care for my dad. I was emailed a document from HR that needed to be completed by my dad’s physician. I emailed it back to HR and left for my leave out of state for just shy of a month’s time. Allowable time is 12 weeks.
Upon my return, paperwork from the HR department was sent to me to sign. I choose not to sign it as I had questions about the documents. Upon my return, I called HR to discuss the forms and I wasn’t provided clear information. I then emailed the VP of HR to ask why six days of my accrued sick time was used during my leave (for which I was paid). I was told it is the policy of the company.
There is nothing in writing in the company policy that states this will happen. I offered to pay back the money as what I wanted was the return of the six days accrued sick time. It has been almost a month now without my request being honored, even though I have spoken to my supervisor and again with HR. Do they have a right to do this? I think not. I was told by my supervisor that she will speak with HR again to see what can be done.
Yes, they do have the legal right to do that. They can require that you use up any paid leave that you have accrued before unpaid leave kicks in. It sounds like this was leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and that’s explicitly allowed under that law (but even if it wasn’t FMLA leave, your company can have that as their own policy).
It sounds like they didn’t explain it to you well ahead of time, but it’s definitely legal.