It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…
1. I’m in so many meetings that I don’t have time to do my job
After an extended unemployment, I finally got my dream job at a place I have long wanted to work. I love my team and the project work is interesting. However, the environment is intensely meeting-heavy, which leaves little time for me to do the work I’ve been hired to do (I can’t work during meetings). The culture places a high value on collaboration and positivity, so I have been gently warned not to complain or question in any way that may come across as negative; one friend actually suggested that I am just going to have to suck it up and put in my eight hours of meetings and then go home and take the three to four hours a night I need to do my work, off the clock.
I quit a job after being burned out from years of working in a high-pressure environment (hence the unemployment). I don’t want to get to that point again, yet I want to make a good impression by being a good team player and still do a high quality of work. I’d love any suggestions you might have!
Ignore the friend telling you to do hours of work off the clock every night. And is the person who warned you never to question things someone who works at your new office, or someone outside it? If the latter, definitely ignore them; if the former, pay a lot of attention to their positioning in the office and what you know of their judgment in general when deciding how much weight to give their input, since you can find people who think silly and wrong things in most offices.
It’s not “not being a team player” to tell your boss that you’re having trouble finding non-meeting time to do your work. It’s possible that you don’t need to be in all the meetings you’re in, or that there’s some other trick to carve out time for your actual work. Talk to your boss, explain what’s going on, and ask for her insight into how to navigate it. (There’s also lots of advice about tackling this here and here.)
2. Employee keeps referring to me as his “manageress”
I was recently promoted from a four person team and became the head of that team, replacing a male manager who departed.
I have no complaints, except that one person consistently refers to me in emails to others as his “manageress” instead of his “manager” – e.g. “I’ve copied my manageress into this email”.
Even with that person, I have no complaints about his performance, which makes me think I should just let it drop, but I wanted to ask if you think that’s the right thing to do and also if it’s normal to refer to female managers as “manageresses”?
No, it’s not normal. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he’s doing it because he thinks it’s funny, but I think you need to tell him to stop because why does he need your gender to be such a focus of how he identifies you at work? Also, it’s like the problem with saying “male nurse” or “woman cop”; he’s saying that he thinks that men are the default for managers.
I’d say this: “Hey, Bob, I know that’s meant to be funny, but please cut it out since it’s too putting too much focus on gender. Thank you.”
(Also, for some reason I’m picturing this guy as the “hello, m’lady” guy from this Amy Schumer sketch.)
3. My mentor said he didn’t tell me he applied for the same job as me because he was “bound by confidentiality”
I have a mentor of sorts who I just found out had applied to the same job I had applied for and not told me, even though I had talked to him about the job and about my applying for it. The job ad was very public and expected (the previous person had left) so it’s not like he found out about the job from me. He said he was bound by confidentiality so could not tell me. I was not told in any of my interviews (or ever, really) that I could not disclose that I was applying to this job. Is there some unwritten rule of confidentiality that I don’t know about?
Neither of us got the job, but I feel like my trust in him has been really shaken, as I I can’t really think of any reason why he could not have given me a heads-up. I was not going to blab to anyone that he was applying, just as my assumption is that our conversations about career paths and job hunting in particular were confidential.
No, there’s no unwritten rule that you can’t tell people about jobs you’ve applied for. I think his “bound by confidentiality” was just a super awkward way to explain why he didn’t say anything to you. The real reason he didn’t say anything to you was probably that he felt uncomfortable about it and didn’t know how to bring it up. “Bound by feelings of awkwardness” would be more accurate.
I don’t know that you should look at it as a trust-breaker though. I mean, now you know that you can’t count on him to deliver awkward news in a forthright manner, and that’s useful to know. But I doubt he meant it as a betrayal or anything like that.
4. Director is pressuring employees to support her run for professional office
The director of my workplace is running for office in our professional organization. The director recently asked one of my direct reports, Jill, to endorse her on social media. Jill is not a member of this organization (and thus cannot vote in the election) and doesn’t think it’s right, since she is a paid subordinate. Jill feels very uncomfortable about this and asked me what to do, but I’m also at a loss! Help?
If you have good rapport with the director, I’d say something to her like, “Hey, while you’re running, I think it’s important not to ask employees to endorse you, because it’s going to look like a conflict of interest since you’re their boss, or may just make people feel like they don’t have a choice.”
Otherwise, I’d tell Jill to ignore the request in the hopes that it was a one-off but that if it happens again, she should feel free to say “Oh, I’m not a member of the RSA” (plus, if she’s comfortable, “I think would look bad since I’m your employee and it would be seen as a conflict of interest”). Also, tell her to let you know if that does happen, because at that point you really do need to say something yourself if Jill doesn’t feel like her response put it to rest.
5. Mentioning a layoff in a LinkedIn recommendation
The company I work for recently laid off a lot of great people. I worked directly with some of them, so I know they weren’t just pleasant to chat with but also really good at their jobs. I plan to write recommendations for a few of them on LinkedIn (not the valueless “Does this person have skills in Microsoft Word?” endorsements, but a written recommendation that talks about their skills and attitudes). Is it appropriate to mention the layoffs in the recommendation? For example, “We were all very sad to see John go in a recent layoff” as a lead-in to the rest of the recommendation. Good, because it gives a good reason for the departure? Or is it not done for some other reason, such as the fact that it advertises we had layoffs?
Eh, I wouldn’t. Some people are still weird about advertising that they were laid off. Plus, it doesn’t really strengthen the recommendation. Focus on what made the person great at their job.
That said, also be aware that LinkedIn recommendations aren’t give a ton of weight (in part because they were written for the recommendee to see, so employers know they may not tell the whole story) so you might be better able to help people in other ways, like by connecting them with job leads and offering to serve as a reference (which is different from writing a recommendation).