Ask a Manager http://www.askamanager.org Sat, 20 Dec 2014 05:03:45 +0000 en-US hourly 1 4 updates from readers http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/4-updates-from-readers-2.html http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/4-updates-from-readers-2.html#comments Sat, 20 Dec 2014 05:03:45 +0000 http://www.askamanager.org/?p=8736 Here are four more updates from letter-writers who had their questions answered here this year. 1. How to respond to an anonymous note that says a temp is stealing Unfortunately my update is not all that exciting. The person who was accused of stealing resigned a few months after my letter, entirely voluntarily. We hired […]

4 updates from readers was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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Here are four more updates from letter-writers who had their questions answered here this year.

1. How to respond to an anonymous note that says a temp is stealing

Unfortunately my update is not all that exciting. The person who was accused of stealing resigned a few months after my letter, entirely voluntarily. We hired a new admin who controls all of the receipts, and at my request I was able to hand off all purchasing to that person. We never got to the bottom of who sent those emails. I have my guesses, but no concrete evidence. As far as I know, no further anonymous emails have been sent.

One product indirectly related has been HR doing a lot more to try and fix some of the toxic work environment. The anonymous emails were more likely a product of some bad chemistry in the office, and there have been efforts to clean it up. It’s not perfect yet, but it has gotten better. But being saddled with the knowledge that there might be an anonymous person falsely accusing people of things, in my opinion, was much more indicative of a bigger internal problem.

Either way, sorry there is no concrete conclusion – but know that and a few other incidents have caused HR to try and help fix some of the chemistry internally.

2. How to reward an exceptional employee (#2 at the link)

I did take much of the advice to heart. Was she going to burn out? Was there professional development that I should be encouraging? Were the rewards not appropriate thank-you’s?

Exceptional employee continues to be exceptional.

I got budget approval and hiring approval for a part-time assistant for her. That position will start in January.

I was able to find the money and approval for her to attend a national conference important in our field next summer.

I was able to offload some interesting projects from my desk onto hers. She is still exceeding expectations.

I took back a responsibility that she mentioned that she found onerous (I had no problem and when things ease up, I will have her give it another try)

There have been no more giving of power bars or swag as I haven’t been to COSTCO and there is no more swag.

She will receive a merit raise next May.

3. Applying for a job with someone you previously interviewed with (#4 at the link)

I realize this is from 2012, but it has taken a while to work out. I left my job in December 2012 after filing a group harassment grievance against my supervisor. I have since received trauma counseling (clearly I could have written you many many times!). I ended up getting a part time job at the nonprofit I mentioned, which was given to me without an interview based on our previous encounters.

The former classmate interviewed for my similar position and was unsuccessful in being hired from the candidate pool. I went back to front line child protection in fall of 2013 when my hours were cut to four per week at the non profit. The previous classmate managed to get on in my division a few months ago.

I’m happy to say that while I have a very stressful job I have generous benefits ($73k plus 6 weeks PTO and overtime if wanted).

4. My coworker is making hateful comments about a foreign country (#1 at the link)

I wrote in about the radical coworker concerned about his home country. Well, fortunately, the outlandish comments and posts have died down, especially with all the new crises and problems going on. I did my part, and printed out and shared some of his posts with my boss, and that’s as far as it went. The concerned employees no longer feel he’s a threat to the office. (In fact, there’s another employee who has been having his own meltdowns, but that’s a story for another post.)

4 updates from readers was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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is this request from a networking contact weird? http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/is-this-request-from-a-networking-contact-weird.html http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/is-this-request-from-a-networking-contact-weird.html#comments Fri, 19 Dec 2014 17:00:58 +0000 http://www.askamanager.org/?p=8769 A reader writes: I am transitioning out of my current career (military) and am in the job search process. I recently received a LinkedIn connection request from someone who claims to run a nonprofit to help veterans in my particular skill area find civilian jobs. From his profile, he looks pretty legitimate, with lots of […]

is this request from a networking contact weird? was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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A reader writes:

I am transitioning out of my current career (military) and am in the job search process. I recently received a LinkedIn connection request from someone who claims to run a nonprofit to help veterans in my particular skill area find civilian jobs. From his profile, he looks pretty legitimate, with lots of recommendations from people he’s helped in the past. However, I can’t really find any information about his nonprofit on the web, except for a couple of blog posts that only mention his name and the nonprofit’s name.

He then sent me a message telling me to “get his email from the most senior person I know” and to send him my resume once I have it.

This seemed a very strange way to offer assistance and made me balk at following up with him. He sent another message a few days ago emphasizing the free assistance but again instructed me to “talk to senior people about this job network.” It was very oddly phrased and didn’t make a lot of sense.

Is the “get my email from someone senior” thing simply a way for him to ensure that I’m legitimate? Is that normal? That seems odd, especially since his email address is in his LinkedIn profile.

My current gut feeling is that this person is well-meaning but, based on the oddly phrased messages, would probably not be very helpful and that I’m better off not following up.

Yeah, that’s weird.

I can’t say for sure whether this guy could be helpful or not. There are certainly weird people aplenty out there who, in addition to their weirdness, also manage to be helpful. It’s possible that this guy is one of them. It’s also possible that he’s weird and unhelpful and doesn’t know he’s doing.

Do you know anyone who likely knows him or knows of him? If so, you might as well ask about him and see what you find out. If not, I wouldn’t put a ton of time of time into tracking down information about him, but hey, since his email address is available on LinkedIn anyway, why not use it to send him your resume and see if anything comes of it? You’re not obligated to work with him if at any point you conclude that you don’t want to, but there’s no real harm in taking a step further and seeing what you learn.

is this request from a networking contact weird? was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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open thread – December 19, 2014 http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/open-thread-december-19-2014.html http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/open-thread-december-19-2014.html#comments Fri, 19 Dec 2014 16:00:23 +0000 http://www.askamanager.org/?p=8792 It’s the Friday open thread! The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on anything work-related that you want to talk about. If you want an answer from me, emailing me is still your best bet*, but this is a chance to talk to other readers. * If you submitted […]

open thread – December 19, 2014 was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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It’s the Friday open thread!

The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on anything work-related that you want to talk about. If you want an answer from me, emailing me is still your best bet*, but this is a chance to talk to other readers.

* If you submitted a question to me recently, please don’t repost it here, as it may be in the to-be-answered queue :)

open thread – December 19, 2014 was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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HR manager wrote us up for drinking at a party she attended, my assistant goes overboard on gifts, and more http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/hr-manager-wrote-us-up-for-drinking-at-a-party-she-attended-my-assistant-goes-overboard-on-gifts-and-more.html http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/hr-manager-wrote-us-up-for-drinking-at-a-party-she-attended-my-assistant-goes-overboard-on-gifts-and-more.html#comments Fri, 19 Dec 2014 05:03:17 +0000 http://www.askamanager.org/?p=8798 It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go… 1. HR manager wrote us up for drinking at a party she attended I attended an unauthorized party in the office where alcohol was served (clearly against company policy). Everyone in the department was invited, and many of us took part in the libations. No one […]

HR manager wrote us up for drinking at a party she attended, my assistant goes overboard on gifts, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. HR manager wrote us up for drinking at a party she attended

I attended an unauthorized party in the office where alcohol was served (clearly against company policy). Everyone in the department was invited, and many of us took part in the libations. No one got drunk, everyone behaved professionally. It was intended to be and was a great morale booster.

The HR manager came and did not drink. The next day, she called everyone who did drink up to her office for a verbal/written reprimand. She told me, and everyone else I presume, that it was confidential and that she was having to do this because someone from another department found out and told her about it and she felt compelled to reprimand us.

I inadvertently learned from her boss that she had all the documents prepared immediately after the party, which was the day before she claimed she got a phone call from outside the department.

She was right, we should not have had alcohol at work. My beef is that she came to the party, I believe she knew alcohol was going to be served, and she took names and lied about why she was reprimanding us. My gut tells me to shake it off and learn from it. On the other hand, having a deceitful HR manager is a huge problem. Should I call her out for lying?

It’s a little weird and I can see why you’re wondering about it, but I’d let it go. Who knows, maybe your source got the timeline wrong. Or maybe there was no source, and she said there was because she was too wimpy to admit it was based on her own concerns and what she herself witnessed. Who knows. But I don’t think there’s much/anything to be gained by bringing it up, let alone “calling her out for lying.” I’d let it go.

2. My assistant goes overboard on gifts to me and even my kids

You’ve answered several questions already about whether it’s appropriate to give a holiday gift to one’s boss, and I completely agree with you that gifts should go “downhill” and not the other way around. Here’s another spin, and I’m hoping you have a good answer. I am the boss (female, if it matters), and my amazing, overqualified secretary sends small gifts to my home, for not only the holidays, but for my kids’ birthdays as well. It makes me really uncomfortable, but I don’t know how to tell her.

Her work is terrific, and she’s a lovely person, but I’m really concerned that if I don’t couch it in the right way, she’ll be (1) mortified, (2) more anxious than is her norm, and/or (3) really hurt if I tell her that she really need not send me gifts. To give you a glimpse into her personality, she sends (via snail mail) handwritten thank you notes for everything–she even sent me a handwritten thank you note for a grocery bag full of my kids’ books that I thought her (younger than mine) kids might enjoy. It’s very sweet, but it’s just too much.

It’s too late for this year, but I’d love to find a gentle way of making it stop.

Oooof. I don’t know that you can, not without hurting her feelings. She’s going so far beyond what can normally be the result of obligation (basic holiday gifts) to something so different (gifts for your kids’ birthdays, etc.) that it sounds like this might just be her personality. And if that’s the case, and she takes pleasure in it, I think you risk doing more harm than good by making her feel that she’s been in the wrong all this time. It sounds like you’re really happy with her work and she’s just an incredibly thoughtful person, so I wouldn’t risk causing awkwardness. This is a case where I think you can make an exception to the usual advice on this stuff.

You could certainly say something like, “I hope you never feel any obligation to do this — your fantastic work is all the gift I’lll ever need,” but I wouldn’t push it beyond that.

3. Should I help answer the phones when it will distract from my work?

I’m in a new position, which only allows us to work part-time, but we have to accomplish a lot in five hours. We usually have to perform tasks that involve coordinating dates, while working on complicated spreadsheets. Things need to get done in tight deadlines. Many of our tasks demand full attention, and a mistake can carry serious consequences.

The office has a customer service representative who answers calls, but when things get really busy, sometimes we’re supposed to pick up the extra calls (which happens fairly often).

I’ve seen many times where the phone has rung and nobody has answered the call, even though we’ve been told that everyone should participate in answering the phone. What should I do when there’s a coworker with seniority telling me to pick up the phone, even though I have a deadline and only five hours to complete everything? Should I ignore her request? Should I be sincere and tell her I’m too busy? Or should I simply respond the call and delay all my work? I’m new, and I really don’t want to have any confrontations.

No, you shouldn’t just ignore her. If she has seniority over you, and you’ve been told you’re supposed to be helping with the phones, you need to help with the phones. However, if you’re concerned about how helping with the phones will impact your ability to get your work done, you should raise that with your manager. (Even better would be if you and your coworkers all raise it as a group, since it sounds like you’re all in the same boat.)

4. I was promoted without a raise

I work in a small company as a manager supervising just one person. Besides me, there is another manager who supervises four employees. Though he and I have the same grade level, he is considered the “right hand” of the VP who we both report to.

A few months ago, the VP shared with me that that the other manager is not efficient in his position and she wanted me to supervise him instead. I told her that my job was to help her and the company to the best of my abilities but that her decision has to be clear and documented so that other employees will see the new reorganization as being fair. This was my way of telling her that we needed to discuss the salary and the “promotion” details first before I assumed the new position. She said she would discuss it with the president of the company. During the following days, she mentioned a few other times that her intention was to have me supervise the whole team (the manager and his 4 direct reports). She said she also talked to him about this.

Today, she called both of us in and announced that starting the first of the year, he will be reporting to me. I was shocked. I was brave enough to ask her (after the other manager left the room) how this change will affect my title and work. I should have really said what I thought, which is what will be my new salary? She responded that she was still thinking about this and that I should be having an office now (I am currently in a cubicle and so is the other manager). How do I go about telling her that I do not want this new position if I will be paid the same salary for a higher position? I know for a fact that the other manager that she wants me to supervise has a higher salary than me.

Well, first, telling her that you wanted the decision to be clear and documented is not the same thing as telling her that you wanted to discuss the salary. It doesn’t really sound like that at all, in fact, so I don’t think you should be irked that she didn’t interpret that correctly.

It’s a little tricky now because she’s moved everything forward without having talked about salary with you, but you could go back to her ASAP and say, “We haven’t had a chance to discuss the salary for this new role. I’m hoping for something in the range of $X — is that feasible?”

Unfortunately, because you didn’t raise it earlier, you’re not in an especially strong negotiating position (and you also risk her feeling like you already accepted the job without a raise, since … you kind of did), but it’s worth a shot. If she pushes back for that reason, you could try saying that you were caught off-guard at the earlier meeting and hadn’t had a chance to think everything through since you’d expected a one-on-one conversation with her before things were finalized.

5. Why has my title change stalled?

My question is about updating my title. I’ve been at the organization for three years, and my role has changed and expanded quite a bit. I’ve asked both our division director and the head of HR about updating my title to reflect my current role. About a month ago, both agreed that was a good idea and said my list of potential titles looked good, then told me they’d have to check with the other to finalize. Neither have done so, to my knowledge, and I’m not sure with whom to restart the conversation. I’m not asking for or expect a raise along with it, so I don’t know what the cause of the delay is.

The delay could just be caused by it not being super high on their priority lists, but it’s fine to nudge them. You could approach either, but I’d start with your manager and just say something like, “I’m wondering if you’ve had a chance to talk to Jane about changing my title, and what the timeline might look like for making that happen.”

HR manager wrote us up for drinking at a party she attended, my assistant goes overboard on gifts, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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update: I reported my awful manager to HR and it’s not going well http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/update-i-reported-my-awful-manager-to-hr-and-its-not-going-well.html http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/update-i-reported-my-awful-manager-to-hr-and-its-not-going-well.html#comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 19:30:47 +0000 http://www.askamanager.org/?p=8744 Remember the letter-writer who reported her awful manager to HR, and then HR stopped talking to her? Here’s the update. I took everyone’s advice and got out of there. Actually, when I resigned, two of my coworkers resigned the following week. When I returned back from my approved FMLA, I had a meeting with HR […]

update: I reported my awful manager to HR and it’s not going well was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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Remember the letter-writer who reported her awful manager to HR, and then HR stopped talking to her? Here’s the update.

I took everyone’s advice and got out of there. Actually, when I resigned, two of my coworkers resigned the following week.

When I returned back from my approved FMLA, I had a meeting with HR and my manager to “discuss” the finding from the investigation. The director of HR gave me the findings along with the formal statements from my coworkers (which were in support of my manager’s behavior and painted her to be the victim). I was shocked, but I continued to complete my job responsibilities and my manager ignored and avoided me the rest of the month (October).

Adam*, a coworker, gave me a copy of his formal statement which didn’t match at all what I was shown in the investigation upon my return and I asked him if this was the same statement he submitted to HR. When he said yes, I told him HR gave me a different statement that didn’t match the his original.

It turned out, the director of HR altered and fabricated the formal statements from my coworkers and showed the false ones to my manger (which gave her an ego stroke) before I returned from FMLA. She then went around her department badmouthing my disability to these coworkers, calling me a cripple, and telling Adam*, Frank* and Chad* that this is the reason she hates hiring people with disabilities because there is always a possibility that they will need to be out of the office on leave.

When I found out all of this information, I knew nothing was going to change, so I resigned. Shortly after my resignation (less than 24 hours to be exact), my coworkers told me in an email that they all sat down with the director of HR and manager and were forced to sign a document or be terminated from the company by the end of the week. The document said that if I took any legal action against the company that they were to make it seem like I was the one attacking the manager and I had made up everything in exchange for a hefty raise the following month. Adam* snapped a picture of the letter and submitted his resignation letter. A few days later, Frank*, another coworker, submitted his resignation letter, and the last coworker, Chad, requested he be moved to a different department within the company immediately, which was approved in mid November.

The four of us ended up retaining an highly rated and recommended employment lawyer and I filed an EEOC complaint. We were all able to find stable employment weeks after our resignation, but one thing continues for me. Every Monday, I get a voicemail from my previous bad manager sobbing, crying, and apologizing, then telling me if I need anything to let her know and she will help me. I’ve sent her an email and CC’d the director of HR about the odd behavior and asked her to stop contacting me.

Thank you again for your advice and assistance! It helped me out tremendously.

*= Names have been changed

update: I reported my awful manager to HR and it’s not going well was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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3 updates from readers http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/3-updates-from-readers.html http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/3-updates-from-readers.html#comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 18:30:23 +0000 http://www.askamanager.org/?p=8781 Here are three more updates from people who had their questions answered here this year. 1. My boss is infesting our office with fruit flies Shortly after the fruit fly incident, our offices were moved from the auxillary building into the main corporate building, which provided a new environment. Part of this move involved the […]

3 updates from readers was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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Here are three more updates from people who had their questions answered here this year.

1. My boss is infesting our office with fruit flies

Shortly after the fruit fly incident, our offices were moved from the auxillary building into the main corporate building, which provided a new environment. Part of this move involved the boss losing his private office, and being partially demoted (his job duties were restructured and although he retains the title of “manager” for now, he no longer has any actual manager duties). That move for him was due to many factors which had been brewing for a while.

I on the other hand, have been promoted, and with the company structure my new position has me under the wide HR umbrella (all of our training is under the HR division) as the LMS (Learning Management System) Administrator/Training Coordinator. I no longer work for the fruit fly breeding boss, but I do still have to interact with him. He is rarely actually at his desk, which cuts down on the amount of time he has to make food messes.

Also as part of the move, I was able to have a sincere chat with the VP (his VP and my former VP) about a lot of things, and some other issues involving that boss have begun being resolved.

I love my new position though, and I am still an avid reader of Ask A Manager, although I haven’t had anything strange happen lately to contribute to it!

2. My coworker was arrested for a horrifying crime and is returning to work

You and your readers were insightful and helpful and I wish I could provide a better update, but the man involved never did come back to work, he was completely deleted from the company email address book, all traces of him were removed from all work projects and documents and he was never spoken of again by anyone, ever. It’s like he was vanished.

I hear he still lives in the very small town the company operates out of and he keeps in touch with one of my coworkers (who doesn’t talk about him or answer questions about him), but at work no one speaks his name.

Probably for the best.

3. Giving gifts to my team when one person can’t accept gifts (#2 at the link)

Just a follow-up that I took my team out to lunch. Everyone was excited to go out to eat again (and actually, they seemed pleasantly surprised that we were doing so), and it was a very pleasant experience. Conversation was not as stilted or awkward as I feared, and everyone helped carry the conversation when there was a lull.

Otherwise, my big take-away’s from this are:

a) to be cautious when looking to other departments for examples. As a new manager, I find myself often looking to see what everyone else is doing, in an attempt to match campus culture. However, just because other departments are doing something one way, doesn’t mean it is a good idea or a good fit for my team.

b) to be less possessive about my manager bonus. When I finally started getting my manager stipend ($70/ month) in September, I excitedly started docking it away in my savings, thinking of it as my reward for the extra work I was putting in. I have since realized that I need to be prepared to spend a lot of that on things to support my team (whether it be supplies or thank-you lunches). It is hard to phrase that without sounding like I am whining, but I am not. I have realized that is just the expectation of this position.

c) to be gracious with gifting. I realized that if I was going to be a sourpuss about spending money to take the team out for lunch, that would come across to the team no matter how hard I tried to hide it. I made the conscious decision that I was doing this to sincerely thank them for their hard work, not because I “had to.” When the end of lunch came around, I sincerely encouraged everyone to get dessert, and everyone seemed delighted & surprised to do so. One teammate pulled on my sleeve and asked if I or the college was paying for lunch (because she didn’t want to order dessert if I was paying). The kindness of that gesture blew away my last reserves of selfishness, and I quickly explained that I got a small raise for being department head, and that is what I was using to pay for lunch. I told her to think of it as the college paying for it, just via their raise to me.

In the end, I did end up spending several month’s worth of my manager’s bonus on lunch, but it was very much worth it.

I want to thank you and all of the commentators for their helpful advice. This experience of asking for advice has taught me to have a great deal more empathy when people do something that seems completely villainous (because they probably just weren’t thinking!). I really, really appreciate the patient, constructive help that people offered in the comments section.

Just a note from me here: It’s very much not normal to be expected to spend your own money on gifts, lunches, and supplies for your team (especially when your pay only increased by $70/month for taking on management responsibilities). If that’s the culture of your organization, just know that it’s very, very weird — not something you should normally expect to find, and it’s absolutely reasonable to be annoyed/disgusted by it, as well as to choose not to play along.

3 updates from readers was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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how to throw an office holiday party people won’t dread http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/how-to-throw-an-office-holiday-party-people-wont-dread.html http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/how-to-throw-an-office-holiday-party-people-wont-dread.html#comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 17:30:18 +0000 http://www.askamanager.org/?p=8799 Every December, I receive tons of complaints from people about ways their companies are mishandling the holiday party — from making employees pay to attend, to throwing a lavish event right after laying people off. The whole point of throwing a holiday party is supposed to to increase employee morale, so holding an event that does the opposite […]

how to throw an office holiday party people won’t dread was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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Every December, I receive tons of complaints from people about ways their companies are mishandling the holiday party — from making employees pay to attend, to throwing a lavish event right after laying people off. The whole point of throwing a holiday party is supposed to to increase employee morale, so holding an event that does the opposite is a serious fail.

Three years ago, I put together eight rules for throwing a company party that employees will want to attend. They’re here. (It’s a repeat while my thumb continues to recover!)

how to throw an office holiday party people won’t dread was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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my boss wants to personally reimburse me for a payroll error http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/my-boss-wants-to-personally-reimburse-me-for-a-payroll-error.html http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/my-boss-wants-to-personally-reimburse-me-for-a-payroll-error.html#comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 16:00:44 +0000 http://www.askamanager.org/?p=8766 A reader writes: Early this summer, my workplace switched to a new time tracking system. Sometime in the first few pay periods that it was in use, my paycheck came up 8 hours short. I brought it to the attention of my manager the next week; he said he would check with payroll to find […]

my boss wants to personally reimburse me for a payroll error was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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A reader writes:

Early this summer, my workplace switched to a new time tracking system. Sometime in the first few pay periods that it was in use, my paycheck came up 8 hours short. I brought it to the attention of my manager the next week; he said he would check with payroll to find out what happened. It’s not clear from the time tracking system where the error originated: I may have made an error when I entered my time, my manager may have made an error when he approved my time, or the system itself may have introduced the error.

I followed up with my manager several times, though in retrospect I probably wasn’t doing so as often or as aggressively as I should have.

My manager came to me the other day, and told me that he’d goofed. He waited too long to talk to payroll about the error, and by the time he did, they told him it was too late to correct that paycheck. And because I’m salaried exempt, there isn’t any mechanism for them to just add 8 hours to an upcoming check. My manager’s solution: he’s going to reimburse me out of his own pocket for the error. He just needs for me to tell him what my hourly rate was for that paycheck.

I’m not sure how I should respond. It’s great that my manager wants to make sure I get payed at his own expense, and maybe that’s fair since apparently it’s his procrastination that prevented it from being corrected through payroll. On the other hand, I’m not particularly comfortable taking money from him personally, when we don’t know who’s ultimately at fault for the original error. And finally, despite any procrastination, I feel that this needs to be addressed at the corporate level, by payroll. If their system is capable of preventing a salaried, exempt employee from receiving additional pay, shouldn’t it be equally impossible for it to short that pay within a single week or pay period?

What do you suggest? Should I just accept the money and be happy I got it? Should I push back on corporate taking responsibility (are they responsible by wage regulations?)

It makes no sense that they claim they’re unable to fix it now. First, if they’re able to dock pay from an exempt employee (something that shouldn’t generally be happening except in very rare and limited circumstances), of course they’re able to add it back in. Even aside from that, of course they’re able to add it back in — in the same way they’d do any other pay adjustments, like a one-time bonus. So you’re right to call BS on that.

Second, it doesn’t matter how easy or difficult their system makes this. The law requires employers to pay employees correctly, period. So they need to find a way to pay you the money owed. They can’t arbitrarily decide that it’s been too long; the law obligates them to pay you correctly.

I’d say this to your boss: “I really appreciate you wanting to make this right at personal expense to yourself, but I really think it needs to be corrected by the company so that my payroll records and tax reporting are correct. Also, the law is really clear on companies being obligated to pay employees all money due, even if it’s from a mistake discovered a few months later, and I don’t want us to get into legally problematic territory. Is there someone we can escalate this to so that it’s handled correctly through payroll?”

my boss wants to personally reimburse me for a payroll error was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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managing a jerk, my director gives out wrong info, and more http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/managing-a-jerk-my-director-gives-out-wrong-info-and-more.html http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/managing-a-jerk-my-director-gives-out-wrong-info-and-more.html#comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 05:03:13 +0000 http://www.askamanager.org/?p=8797 It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go… 1. My employee strategically left out coworkers from his holiday party and generally behaves like a jerk I am the owner, founder, and managing partner of a small law firm. We employ 15 people. Of those 15, we have four leaders. Three of those leaders are […]

managing a jerk, my director gives out wrong info, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. My employee strategically left out coworkers from his holiday party and generally behaves like a jerk

I am the owner, founder, and managing partner of a small law firm. We employ 15 people. Of those 15, we have four leaders. Three of those leaders are “senior associates” or “junior partner”-level lawyers and one is a non-lawyer accounting/billing manager.

Recently, one of the four leaders, a lawyer, held a Christmas party at his house, and invited everyone in the firm except the three other leaders and me. This lawyer is known to be very cliquish, and he and his team are prone to complaining and whining that they aren’t treated as well as others, when in fact they are given the best cases and lavished with the best perks and benefits. They also are known to be less than kind or respectful to the women in our firm, but not to the degree that anyone has complained to me about it with a desire that I do something. The decision to exclude the other three leaders, all of whom are women, has hurt their feelings and caused acrimony amongst the other teams because the invited kept their leaders in the dark about the party or even lied about it. The decision to exclude me is problematic as it signifies to me an open hostility or a potential threat to my business. Also, I fear that this is somewhat of a snub/sign of disrespect that I cannot ignore since everyone knows about it.

I admit that I am personally hurt since I have taken great pains to include this lawyer in my personal, family life, and to give this person significant professional attention in an effort to promote and help him, but this is less concerning than the drama this has caused in my business and professional life. I was planning on giving all four leaders significant raises, official promotion to the title of partner (for the lawyers), and large bonuses. So, I feel that I can (A) do nothing, nothing at all; (B) do nothing but remain vigilant that this person may be planning to leave and perhaps hurt the company, while pulling back on including him in personal and professional events, matters, and opportunities; (C) inquire of this person whether he intended to send a message of hostility and indicate that I have taken it as such and require an explanation and resolution plan; or (D) go ahead and fire this person since we all know that this level of unhappiness and acting out means we either have an office cancer on our hands (which I have never seen cured in over 20 years of practice) or an active threat where a lawyer is scheming/plotting to poach business and go to a competitor.

Well, first, as the owner and managing partner of the firm, you need to address the fact that you have a manager on your team who is disrespectful to women — and you need to address that even though no one has made a formal complaint to you about it. You’re obligated to do that, and it could cause you real problems if you don’t — in morale, productivity, and even potentially legal action at some point if he’s discriminatory or creating a hostile workplace.

Second, stop including employees in your personal or family life. They don’t belong there, and it will muddy the boundaries and make it harder for you to act on stuff like this when you need to.

Third, you have a manager on your staff who’s known to be cliquish, whose “complains and whines” and encourages a similar attitude in his team, who treats women worse than men, and who appears to be acting in a hostile, adversarial way to you (his boss!) and others. None of that is acceptable, not remotely. This isn’t about who was or wasn’t invited to a Christmas party. It’s about needing to address serious performance and behavioral issues with him ASAP and either see immediate improvement or move him out. (Or, if things are at the point where you don’t think fixing it is possible, then you need to have that conversation instead.)

Drop the focus on the party, and start focusing on managing this guy.

2. My boss plays guessing games with me about my bonus

Every year, in October, my boss tells me to “start thinking about what kind of bonus you think you deserve this year.” For the next three months, he reminds me, constantly, of the year-end bonus coming up. Like he’s dangling a carrot in front of an donkey, or like I’m supposed to treat him like a God for the next three months in “anticipation” of a bonus! It causes additional stress that I really don’t need at the end of the year when I’m already gearing up for year end taxes, W-2’s, 1099’s, etc.

If I give him a figure that he thinks is too high, he scoffs and makes me feel like I think to highly of myself. I don’t want to lowball myself either. Is there a “rule of thumb”, i.e. one month’s salary, 5% of gross wages, etc., something like that to give me an idea to throw out at him this year? Tired of playing this song and dance for three months of every year.

Bonuses vary widely by firm and by industry — from zero to hundreds of thousands of dollars, depending on what you do and where you work. There might be a rule of thumb for your industry, and you could do some research to find that out. But you probably have a pretty good sense of the parameters based on what you’ve received in past years, and that should give you a general range of what’s reasonable to expect. You could also couch it in those terms, while simultaneously acknowledging that you’re in the dark — e.g., “I had a stronger year that last year, so I’m hoping for something at least as high as last year’s, but I also don’t know what parameters you use.”

But also: Your boss is behaving like an ass. He shouldn’t be playing guessing games with you.

3. How can I keep my director from giving out wrong information?

Our director often has to speak to groups, whether it’s making announcements at a department meeting or saying thanks at a department event. As his assistant, I will often write up for him short bullets of things that need to be announced, people who need to be thanked, etc. I will sometimes remind him in person before an event or meeting as well. Yet he is constantly forgetting to say things, announcing wrong information, saying the wrong people’s names, etc.

Often it can slide in a “you know what he meant” kind of way, but in some instances where he’s just told our whole department the completely wrong information, I find myself having to go up and murmur the correct information to him so he can announce it, which doesn’t make either of us look good. Do you have any other suggestions for prepping him so he doesn’t embarrass himself?

Well, this might just be the way he is. Some people are highly skilled in some areas and then absolute crap at stuff like this (think of absent-minded professor types, for instance). That said, one other thing you could try is handing him note cards with bullet points just before he’s about to speak. You could also ask him directly if there’s a better way for you to support him in this area — you might hear something you wouldn’t think of on your own.

But you sound like you’re being conscientious about your part of this, and the rest might be out of your hands.

4. Dealing with two recruiters at the same company and not hearing back from either

My mentor put in an employee referral for me with a global corporation. I had a phone screen with their in-house recruiter for a job I applied for and she said the hiring manager would make a decision about in-person interviews the next week. I emailed at the end of the week and asked if a decision had been made and if there was an update. A week later, I haven’t heard back.

Meanwhile, another recruiter for the same company contacted me, saying my resume was referred to her for a position (which I didn’t apply for) and we also had a phone screen. She mentioned that the position may not be offered at the office nearest to me but said that she’d find out at the end of the week. She said I could contact her if I was interested in another position within the company and I mentioned one I’d seen online, so she wrote that down and let me know she’d also find out about that when she contacted me at the end of the week. A day later, I emailed her and mentioned that I noticed the position in the office was being listed for other departments and asked if those were also on hold. It’s been a week since I emailed both recruiters and I haven’t heard back.

If they both told me they’d get to me or that a decision would be made by a certain time, should I take the silence as an indication I’m out of the running? And if both emails to the recruiters ended with questions that haven’t been unanswered, should I email them again or should I be patient and wait for them to respond? I’m worried it’s bad etiquette and I’m pestering them. I’m not sure if the recruiters know each other – it’s a huge corporation and they are in different states.

Yeah, recruiters are notorious for making promises about follow-up that they don’t follow through on — and for not responding to candidates’ emails until/unless they’re ready to move that person forward in a hiring process. It’s rude, but it’s very, very normal. I think you could email each of them one more time, a couple of weeks after your last outreach — but after that I’d move on.

5. Should I mention an earlier interview I had with an employer?

I applied and interviewed at an organization about a month ago. The interview went great and I felt confident, but it was competitive and I did not receive the position.

Recently a new position at the same organization was posted that I’d like to apply for. This position is through a different department from the one I interviewed with. I’m wondering how I can best use my previous interview as I apply for this one. Is it beneficial to mention my interview in my CV? Can I email the woman I interviewed with before to ask who to address this CV to, or is that not kosher?

I’d apply according to their application instructions, but after you apply, send an email to the person you interviewed with previously and let her know that you’ve applied. There’s no real benefit to doing anything beyond that. If she thinks you were a strong candidate, she’ll mention it to the person hiring for this new position.

managing a jerk, my director gives out wrong info, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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update: can I say something about my coworker’s graphic, violent tattoo? http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/update-can-i-say-something-about-my-coworkers-graphic-violent-tattoo.html http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/update-can-i-say-something-about-my-coworkers-graphic-violent-tattoo.html#comments Wed, 17 Dec 2014 19:00:35 +0000 http://www.askamanager.org/?p=8730 Remember the letter-writer wondering if she could speak up about a coworker’s graphic, violent tattoo? Here’s the update. Thanks so much for your help with that situation. The readers were helpful, too, in making me feel like I wasn’t overreacting to the tattoo. My company is generally rather liberal when it comes to clothing choices […]

update: can I say something about my coworker’s graphic, violent tattoo? was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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Remember the letter-writer wondering if she could speak up about a coworker’s graphic, violent tattoo? Here’s the update.

Thanks so much for your help with that situation. The readers were helpful, too, in making me feel like I wasn’t overreacting to the tattoo. My company is generally rather liberal when it comes to clothing choices and visible tattoos and piercings, and I just didn’t feel comfortable approaching the contractor myself. I went with your second suggestion. I discreetly approached my supervisor at the end of the day and, as neutrally as possible, explained that the tattoo (which he had not seen) was rather graphic and sexually explicit and asked him if he would speak to her about covering it up at work. He said he would take care of the issue. She always had her arms covered after that day and never spoke of her tattoos, and we maintained a good working relationship. She ended up leaving our company after about 3 months, for a position with another company. My conscience feels clear!

update: can I say something about my coworker’s graphic, violent tattoo? was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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how to stay productive during the holidays http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/how-to-stay-productive-during-the-holidays.html http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/how-to-stay-productive-during-the-holidays.html#comments Wed, 17 Dec 2014 17:30:29 +0000 http://www.askamanager.org/?p=8791 With so many distractions during the holiday season – from parties to gift shopping to travel – how do you stay productive and focused when you’re at work? If you’re not deliberate about staying on track, it’s all too easy to find yourself dividing your attention between winter sales and eggnog, and coming back in […]

how to stay productive during the holidays was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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With so many distractions during the holiday season – from parties to gift shopping to travel – how do you stay productive and focused when you’re at work? If you’re not deliberate about staying on track, it’s all too easy to find yourself dividing your attention between winter sales and eggnog, and coming back in January to unfinished work that you’d intended to complete.

But it’s not impossible to stay focused during the holidays. At Intuit Quickbase’s Fast Track blog today, I’ve got five tips that will help. You can read it here.

how to stay productive during the holidays was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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we have to make PowerPoints about our personal lives and present them to coworkers http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/we-have-to-make-powerpoints-about-our-personal-lives-and-present-them-to-coworkers.html http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/we-have-to-make-powerpoints-about-our-personal-lives-and-present-them-to-coworkers.html#comments Wed, 17 Dec 2014 16:00:24 +0000 http://www.askamanager.org/?p=8784 A reader writes: I’m 43 years old and I work in a place in which most of the employees, including the boss, are 30 or younger, so maybe this is a generational issue. I enjoy my actual work, but I cannot stand some of the required activities that the administration has implemented in order to […]

we have to make PowerPoints about our personal lives and present them to coworkers was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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A reader writes:

I’m 43 years old and I work in a place in which most of the employees, including the boss, are 30 or younger, so maybe this is a generational issue. I enjoy my actual work, but I cannot stand some of the required activities that the administration has implemented in order to “improve the culture.”

For example, every staff meeting, including meetings with only 4 or 5 people, has a required time at the beginning for “shout-outs.” I think it’s nice to acknowledge people and thank them for special work done, but I don’t like it being imposed — especially in meetings with few people I feel obligated to shout someone out, even if nothing in particular comes to mind.

Additionally, in the weekly meetings we are currently listening to 10-minute presentations prepared by employees about their “river of life.” This is a PowerPoint presentation prepared with personal photos and sharing of personal (sometimes VERY personal) information. Most of the employees really get into it and share about losing people in their lives, illnesses, etc. My turn is is coming up and I have absolutely no desire to share personal information with the other employees. Additionally, I am already working 80 hours a week and I frankly resent the idea that I have to spend any time preparing a presentation with personal photos, which has nothing to do with my work and job performance. Is there any way I can get out of this without insulting my boss or my teammates?

River of life presentations?!

I’m sure someone in your office has decided this this is a way to build camaraderie, but holy Hanukkah balls, it’s misguided. I don’t blame you one bit for having no interest in participating in these. It’s a waste of time, a violation of privacy, and a really silly way to “build culture.”

The start-of-meeting shout-outs don’t strike me as nearly as egregious. A little forced, absolutely, but whatever — I can see just dealing with that one.

But the friggin’ PowerPoint about your personal life? Blech.

If you have reasonably good standing in your organization, I don’t think it’s crazy to say to your manager, “Hey, I know some people really enjoy these, but this is really not my thing. I’m pretty private and I’d be a little uncomfortable doing one, and frankly, I’m working 80-hour weeks right now and really want to use my work time to focus on work. Okay for me to opt out?”

However, be aware that in some cultures (maybe this one!), this would get you marked as Not Participatory, Not a Team Player, and/or Not One of Us. Personally, I’m very comfortable with that in this particular context, but you might not be. At a minimum, you should think through what the ramifications of that are in your culture and how much it matters to you.

we have to make PowerPoints about our personal lives and present them to coworkers was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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giving a gift to your boss, missing Christmas bonuses, ass-grabbers at the holiday party, and other holiday questions and answers http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/holiday-questions.html http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/holiday-questions.html#comments Wed, 17 Dec 2014 05:03:55 +0000 http://www.askamanager.org/?p=8795 Wondering whether to get a holiday gift for your boss? Or to give holiday gifts to your employees? What about how to handle an ass-grabbing coworker at the company Christmas party? Here’s a round-up of answers to 10 holiday-related questions. 1. Should I get my boss a gift for the holidays? I just started a […]

giving a gift to your boss, missing Christmas bonuses, ass-grabbers at the holiday party, and other holiday questions and answers was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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Wondering whether to get a holiday gift for your boss? Or to give holiday gifts to your employees? What about how to handle an ass-grabbing coworker at the company Christmas party?

Here’s a round-up of answers to 10 holiday-related questions.

1. Should I get my boss a gift for the holidays?

I just started a new job and I am working in a team of three. Should I get my boss a gift for the holidays? I would round up the other coworker, but had second thoughts because she is a temp. I don’t want to be gimmicky or a teacher’s pet, but I also think it might be a nice gesture. What would you suggest?

Nope. Etiquette says that gifts in a workplace should flow downward, not upward – meaning that gifts from bosses to employees are fine, but employees shouldn’t give gifts to those above them. This rule stems from the power dynamics in the boss/employee relationship, because otherwise people can feel obligated to purchase gifts when they don’t want to or can’t afford to – and managers should never benefit from the power dynamic in that way.

2. Giving a boss a holiday gift, part 2

I’m wondering if I should get my boss a gift this year. I work very closely with my her as I am her only employee. I started my current job just before Christmas last year and she gave me a bonus last year, as well as a very nice birthday gift. She treats me well, I respect her, and we get along fine. I’d like to get her a gift but I have no idea what to get her as she’s kind of wealthy and I’m far from, but basically I don’t know if it’s appropriate to even get a boss a gift if its not a group effort type thing since I don’t have any coworkers. What do you think?

Nope. See above.

If you feel you must do something, a card and some homemade treats would be fine — but don’t go beyond that.

3. My new coworkers want me to pitch in to buy our manager a gift

I just started a new job two months ago and so far I’m enjoying it. Another member on my team sent out an email asking for a $5 voluntary contribution to buy our manager a gift. I enjoy working with this team member and she actually spent a significant amount of time training me and getting me well prepared for my job. I also get the feeling that my manager understands that proper office etiquette is to have gifts flow downward. We recently did a secret santa, and she requested that anyone who drew her name to simply make a donation to any charity.

I’m just wondering how I should approach this? The other coworkers seem to be really into Christmas and probably won’t have an issue with this, since we all enjoy working with this particular manager. Also my finances are in good shape so $5 out of my pocket is not a big deal and I’m not sure if it’s worth it to be saying anything since I’ve only been here for 3 months.

This is a little more complicated than the two situations above, because you’re new and your coworkers are all doing it.

If you didn’t want to spend the money, it would be perfectly reasonable for you to say, “Unfortunately my budget won’t allow me to chip in.” But since you’re willing and it’s only $5 (and I know that not everyone considers that a negligible amount, but that doesn’t sound like the case for you), there’s an argument for just going with the flow on this one.

If it were a significant amount of money, I’d be more inclined to encourage you to opt out. And if you’d been there longer, I’d encourage you to steer your coworkers away from gifting upward, but that’s not a battle worth expending capital on when you’re so new to the job.

4. Should I get my employees gifts?

I’m new to an organization. We do a holiday gift exchange, but do I need to get my direct reports additional gifts as well? The gift exchange max is $30, so it is pretty generous already.

In general, no, managers don’t need to get their staff gifts. That said, you might discreetly inquire with other managers about the culture of the office on this; if it’s the norm for managers to do something for their staff, you’d want to have that context when making your decision. But absent some compelling pressure from your particular workplace culture, no. However, you could certainly make a small group gesture, like bringing in baked goods for people to share, as a marker of the season and general expression of good will.

5. Can my company refuse to allow spouses to attend the holiday party?

Can a government company mandate employees to attend holiday party without spouses? The day is start work at 8-12 and then at 12, leave and attend the holiday party. Can they really do that?

Absolutely. First of all, hosts of a party can limit the guest list however they want. Second, this party is during your workday, so it’s even more reasonable that it’s employees-only.

6. My coworker’s husband grabbed my wife’s butt at the company Christmas party

We just had a Christmas party at my company, during which one of my coworkers’ husband grabbed my wife’s rear end, while we were talking in a circle with other coworkers and their spouses.

My wife told me the next day as I had not seen what had happened (not sure anyone did, really). I intend to send him an email letting him know the inappropriateness and vulgarity of his act. Should I talk about it with my HR director?

There’s not much your HR director can do, since this was a non-employee behaving like a boor with another non-employee. They don’t really have standing to act. I suppose I could see an argument for saying something in case it’s a pattern (in which case they might tell your coworker to stop bringing her gross husband to company events), but aside from that, I think your best bet is to roll your eyes, write this guy off as a boor, and keep an eye on him at future social functions. (That means I also wouldn’t send that email — that’s unlikely to do anything other than cause tension in your relationship with your coworker, who isn’t the one at fault here.)

7. My company is closing the week of Christmas and making me use PTO or take it unpaid

My company is choosing to be closed after Christmas. They’re making me use my time off or take it unpaid. Can they do that? I’ve been paid all the other times when the company has been closed for a holiday.

If you’re exempt, you must be paid your full and normal salary if you work any part of the week. But if you’re non-exempt, they don’t need to pay you for time you didn’t work, so yes, this would be legal.

8. Working on holidays without extra pay

I work in Texas. I am a salaried employee working for a private company. My company has scheduled me to work on New Year’s Day – a company-recognized paid holiday. They do not give extra pay or provide a comp day. Is this legal?

Yes. No law requires extra compensation for working on holidays. However, since it’s normally a holiday for your company, you might ask about taking the holiday on a different day instead.

9. Can we ask about our missing Christmas bonuses?

We have gotten holiday bonuses for two years in a row now and were told that we would be getting a sizable one this year as well. We usually get paid on the 1st and 15th of every month, and we were told that the bonus would come along with our check on the 15th. Our check came and went, still no bonus, and we are really hurting for it as we look forward to using that money for the holidays and getting ahead on our bills. Nobody at work has mentioned it and we’ve spoken to our bank to make sure there are no pending amounts waiting to be deposited.

Do we ask about it or let it be? It’s getting down to the wire on Christmas shopping and paying the bills we were hoping on using the money for, so we are getting more stressed with each day that it is not here. We would not have been expecting a bonus, but our boss told us it was sent to the bank the same day as our regular check, meaning it should have deposited the same day, right? Is it understandable that we would want to know a date to expect it on? Why is there no communication about this subject? It seems almost rude to ask about it? What is a good way to go about asking, if at all?

It’s not at all rude to ask about it, because your boss was very clear about telling you (a) that the bonus would be coming this month, and (b) that it would be sent to your bank on a specific day that has now passed. I’d say something like this: “You had mentioned we’d see the bonus on the 15th. I didn’t receive it that day, and wanted to check with you about whether we should have still been expecting it then.”

10. Wine as a company holiday gift

We received an email this week saying: “As a thank-you for your hard work and commitment throughout 2014, Teapots PLC has chosen to gift employees with Christmas wine. The wine will be given to you this week – if you haven’t received it already. On behalf of the management team in the UK, we would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and we look forward to having a very successful 2015!”

I, personally, think this is great: a lot of us *have* worked hard and been committed to the company, despite its flaws, and it’s nice to have that recognised. On the other hand, there’s enough employees who don’t drink: some Muslims, some for other reasons. What’s my best way of mentioning this to HR without provoking them to shut down giving out wine (or other gifts) at all?

(Obviously this ignores the whole “should we give gifts to Muslims, Jews, Hindus (etc.) at Christmas at all?” question, but here in England most people will accept the intention behind the gift even if they don’t celebrate Christmas. I think.)

To some extent, it’s impossible to choose a company-wide holiday gift that will be appreciated by everyone (unless it’s money or extra time off), but there are some broad categories that it’s smart to avoid like alcohol (for the reason you mention) and turkeys and hams (vegetarians). And in general, a company should try to make sure the gift won’t make whole groups of people feel invisible.

If you want to speak up, I’d send a short note to HR saying something like, “Thank you so much for the wine — I really appreciate it! I’m looking forward to enjoying it, but I didn’t know if anyone had pointed out that our Muslim employees won’t be able to drink it (and the same for other non-drinkers, of course). I know it’s hard to find a gift that works for everyone, but I wanted to flag the religious issue in particular in case it’s something that had been overlooked.”

I don’t know if future gifts will be better — again, it’s hard to find something that works for a large group — but it’s reasonable to flag it.

giving a gift to your boss, missing Christmas bonuses, ass-grabbers at the holiday party, and other holiday questions and answers was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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update: how do I tell my coworkers that I have incurable cancer and it’s progressing? http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/update-how-do-i-tell-my-coworkers-that-i-have-incurable-cancer-and-its-progressing.html http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/update-how-do-i-tell-my-coworkers-that-i-have-incurable-cancer-and-its-progressing.html#comments Tue, 16 Dec 2014 20:00:37 +0000 http://www.askamanager.org/?p=8772 Remember the letter-writer wondering about how to tell her coworkers that she has incurable cancer? Here’s her update. I was overwhelmed by all the supportive responses to my question, in addition to the sage advice offered. One AAM reader even sent me a gift card—that was incredibly sweet! My thanks and gratitude to all. I […]

update: how do I tell my coworkers that I have incurable cancer and it’s progressing? was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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Remember the letter-writer wondering about how to tell her coworkers that she has incurable cancer? Here’s her update.

I was overwhelmed by all the supportive responses to my question, in addition to the sage advice offered. One AAM reader even sent me a gift card—that was incredibly sweet! My thanks and gratitude to all.

I followed the suggestion to email a select group with my news—most of us are remote workers—I included my current project managers and my boss. The answers were warm and accommodating, and my boss actually phoned me, our first conversation in the 4 months I’d been under him, within minutes of my sending the email! In addition to his assurances, we discussed coverage for my role at the company, and he indicated that this was the stimulus he had needed to look into setting up a long-term arrangement with some reputable contractors. So I am reassured to know that there is potential coverage if things get worse and I need time off.

Unfortunately, my cancer situation has not improved, but one thing about my particular version of the disease is that it’s been very slow in its progression. I am working on improving my general health practices, and am also trying to get my life in order—I would hate to leave my current financial and household arrangements for my loved ones to deal with! And the upcoming holiday season represents the winding down of my most pressing work projects, and the return of my young-adult offspring for some family time at home, so I have short-term pleasures to look forward to. Plus, the little jazz band I play in has had several informal gigs recently, which have added to the joy of life—probably the best medicine of all!

Again, I thank you, Alison, for taking my question, and I thank all you AAM readers for your very great kindness. I was particularly touched to know that there are other “working wounded” out there who are functioning in professional capacities while living with significant, even life-threatening, disease.

update: how do I tell my coworkers that I have incurable cancer and it’s progressing? was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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update: a parking shortage at my office is forcing me to park a mile away http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/update-a-parking-shortage-at-my-office-is-forcing-me-to-park-a-mile-away.html http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/update-a-parking-shortage-at-my-office-is-forcing-me-to-park-a-mile-away.html#comments Tue, 16 Dec 2014 18:30:26 +0000 http://www.askamanager.org/?p=8768 Remember the letter-writer who was being forced to park a mile away from her office because of a parking shortage? Here’s her update. I continued with my gentle reminders for my manager to request that my parking be moved, as she had asked me to, but at the same time started searching for a new […]

update: a parking shortage at my office is forcing me to park a mile away was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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Remember the letter-writer who was being forced to park a mile away from her office because of a parking shortage? Here’s her update.

I continued with my gentle reminders for my manager to request that my parking be moved, as she had asked me to, but at the same time started searching for a new job. I was able to park for free a lot of the time, on a street about a block away, and the rest of the time I parked in patient parking and was subsidized by my parents.

I only found one job that seemed like a good fit. I applied, and waited, and kept bugging my manager and waited … a couple of months later, a friend of mine was talking to an administrator at the organization I’d applied to and the administrator mentioned what a tough time they were having filling this position. My friend said he’d expected they might interview me, and the administrator said she hadn’t seen my application and asked if he would encourage me to reapply. I did, and they called me for an interview the next day. After that interview, I was asked in for another. That one also went well and I was offered the position a few hours later. I accepted, and they requested that I start about 3 weeks from then.

It took me a couple of days to get up the courage to give notice – as well as find a time to do so in person. My manager was amazing – shocked, but amazing. She wanted to hear all about the new position and was really excited for me. She got me extra support staff for the notice period so that I could fully train my colleague who will be the only nurse in the office full-time until my replacement is hired.

I told most of the folks I worked closely with either that day or the next, but some of the doctors I worked with were not there more than once a week, and a few were on vacation at the time; this didn’t seem like a big deal to me, as the nurse and doctor hierarchies are separate — I wasn’t interviewed by a doctor, and my reviews aren’t done by a doctor. My manager and her manager, and her manager, all the way to the top of the chain are nurses. But when some of the docs returned from vacation, they were *furious*. At first I thought with me, which made me really angry, but they were actually just mad at the situation, and upset that they weren’t asked to help before it got to this point. I feel like I complained about the parking to anyone who would listen, as you can well imagine, and I know for a fact that includes some of those who were so upset. Maybe I didn’t seem as serious as I was, but none of them believed me that this was a deal breaker until I’d given notice.

Up until my second to last day, there were doctors trying to get me to stay. Asking what kind of a raise it would take, and assuring me that they could get me moved to the closest lot, immediately. They thought it was outrageous that I was being “allowed” (their word) to leave for an issue they thought was so fixable. I told them it had been an issue for 6 months by the time I interviewed, it’s not like this was a matter of weeks. I was a little bit annoyed that they didn’t suggest any of these potential fixes until I was literally out the door, but I had no reason to believe I should have gone to them with the concerns instead of my manager. I talked to her about their saying they could fix it, and she wasn’t so sure that was the case. Plus, I would never quit a job before I started, or revoke my notice at the last minute! I would still be having a panic attack if I’d have done that!

My office threw me a going away party, and it was awesome and I was waffling for a couple of days about whether I’d made the right decision, but …

I think I have. I’ve been at my new place about 6 weeks now, it’s very interesting, and I’m very independent. My salary is almost exactly equal to my previous one, the commute is a half an hour less, so I get to drive my kids almost every day, plus I get home almost an hour earlier, parking is *free*, and I never have to walk more than about 100 feet to the door.

Without Ask A Manager, I might have switched jobs, but I wouldn’t have had nearly the confidence in my resume and cover letter, nor the courage to tell them what salary I wanted. Thanks so much!!

update: a parking shortage at my office is forcing me to park a mile away was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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how to handle nosy coworkers around the holidays http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/how-to-handle-nosy-coworkers-around-the-holidays.html http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/how-to-handle-nosy-coworkers-around-the-holidays.html#comments Tue, 16 Dec 2014 17:30:50 +0000 http://www.askamanager.org/?p=8746 If you’re bracing yourself to deal with nosy coworkers at your company holiday party asking why you didn’t bring a date or when you plan to finally have kids, I have some advice for you on fending off the nosy and persistent! I wrote a piece for Intuit QuickBase’s Fast Track blog on how to stand your […]

how to handle nosy coworkers around the holidays was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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If you’re bracing yourself to deal with nosy coworkers at your company holiday party asking why you didn’t bring a date or when you plan to finally have kids, I have some advice for you on fending off the nosy and persistent!

I wrote a piece for Intuit QuickBase’s Fast Track blog on how to stand your ground when faced with intrusive questions. You can read it here. (It’s a repeat while my thumb continues to recover!)

how to handle nosy coworkers around the holidays was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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I’m filling in for someone on leave who left me tons of rules for what I can and can’t do while she’s away http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/im-filling-in-for-someone-on-leave.html http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/im-filling-in-for-someone-on-leave.html#comments Tue, 16 Dec 2014 16:00:51 +0000 http://www.askamanager.org/?p=8789 A reader writes: I have recently accepted a one-year maternity cover contract at a large multinational firm. I’ll be covering the head of an extremely busy department with 5 managers, 2 deputy managers, and 40 staff. I’m extremely excited ( and nervous) as it will be my first time heading up a department. I have […]

I’m filling in for someone on leave who left me tons of rules for what I can and can’t do while she’s away was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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A reader writes:

I have recently accepted a one-year maternity cover contract at a large multinational firm. I’ll be covering the head of an extremely busy department with 5 managers, 2 deputy managers, and 40 staff. I’m extremely excited ( and nervous) as it will be my first time heading up a department. I have 8 years of senior management experience, but this will be a huge step up. I was looking forward to a smooth transition with the person who’s leaving but unfortunately it’s all gone very, very wrong!

On my first morning, she took me for coffee (outside the building) sat me down and explained her “rules” for me covering her:

1. I’m to only introduce myself to clients, answer emails, etc. as ”Miss B, who is covering Miss A, the head of the teapot department.”
2. I’m not to make any new contacts or new clients without her express permission.
3. She has instructed that appraisals, performances reviews, etc. must wait till her return.
4. I am not allowed to change my LinkedIn to “head of teapot department.”
5. I am to stick to her schedule of meetings, etc.
6. Any important emails to be sent to her (now my) PA, who will forward them to her.
7. I am under no circumstances to assume she will not return from maternity leave ( in one year), but if I play by her rules, ”she will see I’m taken care of’.”

I can totally understand that she is nervous handing over her department for a year, but this seems very extreme, I was planning on speaking to her and to try and explain that in order for her department to run smoothly for year, such rules just aren’t practical. However, when I came in this morning, HR informed me that she’s taken her leave early and won’t be in, and she has apparently told HR that she has fully prepped me for the role.

I’m now at a loss of what to do. Are her rules weird? Is this normal for a maternity leave contract? I really want to do well in this role and make a great impression with the company.

No, this isn’t normal. It sounds like she’s having some pretty major control issues at the prospect of leaving her department in someone else’s hands for a year. And while to some extent that’s understandable, what she’s proposed doing isn’t practical or reasonable.

Some of this isn’t totally crazy — it’s not unreasonable, for instance, to want clients to know that she’s not permanently gone. But that doesn’t require you noting it in every single email, and it’s ridiculous to imply that you should. Similarly, I can see why she doesn’t want major personnel moves made until she’s back, but it’s not reasonable to make staff members wait a year for formal reviews of their work (unless they all just had them), and regardless, you’re going to need to be giving regular feedback to people throughout the year. And dictating what you can and can’t put on LinkedIn? Really not her business — and more worrisome is the fact that she felt the need to bring it up preemptively, which is indicative of the broader problem, which is that she’s approaching all this as “how can I contain and limit my replacement,” rather than “how can I set up my replacement up to succeed while I’m away?”

At this point, I’d talk to either HR or your manager about the rules she’s asked you to follow, and express your concern that you won’t be able to fully perform the job if you adhere to them. The company will probably overrule her on at least a few of these. At that point, you should ask about the best way to handle this with her — because you don’t want to get into a situation where they’ve told you to handle things differently but she doesn’t know and is having mini blow-ups from her leave when she sees things going differently than she thought they would.

And if for some reason the company doesn’t overrule her on most of these, then I’d seek additional clarification about exactly how they see your role. If you’re not allowed to take on new clients without her okay or even modify meeting schedules, you’re not really leading the department — the role is something else, and everyone involved needs to be clear about what it is and isn’t (and you can decide at that point if you even want it).

I’m filling in for someone on leave who left me tons of rules for what I can and can’t do while she’s away was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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my new coworker noisily sucks on candy all day, wearing company-branded items after a buy-out, and more http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/my-new-coworker-noisily-sucks-on-candy-all-day-wearing-company-branded-items-after-a-buy-out-and-more.html http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/my-new-coworker-noisily-sucks-on-candy-all-day-wearing-company-branded-items-after-a-buy-out-and-more.html#comments Tue, 16 Dec 2014 05:03:58 +0000 http://www.askamanager.org/?p=8788 It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go… 1. My new coworker noisily sucks on candy all day A woman who recently joined our office sucks on candies all day long and makes terrible, loud sucking noises. Is there a way to politely ask her to be quiet? It is driving me absolutely bananas. […]

my new coworker noisily sucks on candy all day, wearing company-branded items after a buy-out, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. My new coworker noisily sucks on candy all day

A woman who recently joined our office sucks on candies all day long and makes terrible, loud sucking noises. Is there a way to politely ask her to be quiet? It is driving me absolutely bananas.

Well, are you comfortable being pretty direct about it? That’s really the only way you’ll be able to do it. For instance: “Jane, I wonder if there’s a quieter way to eat those candies? For some reason, I’m able to hear you sucking on them and it can be distracting.”

If that feels too awkward or confrontational, then you have to decide whether you’d rather risk the awkwardness or keep dealing with the noise. If it’s really bugging you, I’d risk the awkwardness — and perhaps keep in mind that most people would want to know if they were doing something like this that was driving others crazy. (Not all, certainly, but most.)

2. Wearing company-branded items after a buy-out

Our company was recently bought out by a much larger organization. The buyout was a mutually beneficial one, and the integration has been relatively smooth. One of the hot buttons for our new owners is branding. The sign in front of our office changed just weeks after the deal was complete. It’s like the name of our old company has been completely wiped out.

I have a number of pieces of clothing given to me over the years (polo’s, oxfords, and a great ski jacket) as reward for different things I have done. The common denominator on all of these items is that they have the old company name on them. Should I stop wearing them? They mean a lot to me, especially the ones that relate to a specific project where the team really accomplished something amazing! At the same time I want to show support for the new company.

It should be okay to wear them, but it’s not a bad idea to take a wait-and-see approach until you have a better feel for whether it would be interpreted as misplaced loyalty to the old regime. A healthy workplace wouldn’t care, but there are plenty of not-so-healthy workplaces out there, and sometimes people have weird feelings about this stuff. At a minimum, don’t make them a centerpiece of your wardrobe there; confine them to occasional work use until you’ve gotten a better feel for the situation.

Meanwhile, though, you can certainly keep wearing those items outside of work.

3. Interviewing at a company where an unethical former coworker works

I’m about to have a phone interview tomorrow with a company that has a promising opportunity for me. As I was looking on the Internet, I noticed that one of my former coworkers who I’ll call Rose, who was higher in my company and was in a related role, is at the new company in a higher related role.

Rose resigned from my company in lieu of being fired for ethical violations, including stealing work from others and taking credit. When I gave a private presentation to my VP, the VP confronted me, asking why I was presenting Rose’s work. I was dumbfounded and said it was mine and was able to delve into all the details that Rose couldn’t because I kept all the details and the other critical information out of the PowerPoint that I was previously asked to share and had them in a separate document that nobody had seen until that meeting. My VP then understood because Rose could not answer those questions and had instead gave an “I will get back to you” response to questions. After this, when it got back to Rose through the VP’s chain of command that it was known that she stole my work, my life became much more difficult till she left the company. This all happened about a year ago, and the whole environment of about 100 people was toxic because of Rose and there was a collective sigh of relief when she left.

Although it’s early in the process with the phone interview happening tomorrow, I’m concerned if I even want to move forward knowing that if successful I will have to work with Rose again. Thoughts?

Yeah, this sounds like a job you don’t want. A higher-up with a grudge against you — and possibly an interest in discrediting you — isn’t someone you want to work with. That’s the kind of thing that has the potential to turn a great job that you’d normally love into something hugely problematic. I’d pass this one up.

4. My boss tries to force me to work while sick

I work 2-4 shifts a week, 5-8 hours each (I’m a student). I called in sick a few months ago and my boss told me that I had no options if I couldn’t get anyone to cover my shift. At that time, I didn’t know what else to do so I just went in. My throat was extremely sore and my job is to talk to people all day, so by the end of the day, I had lost my voice entirely.

Today, my throat is sore again and I called in sick for one of my shifts. I got the exact same response and now I have to go into to work. What are my options? Why do they keep forcing me to work sick?

See what happens if you hold firm. “I’m sorry, but I won’t be able to come in because I’m sick. I’m also too sick to look for someone to cover my shift. I expect that I should be better by (next scheduled workday), but if that’s looking unlikely by (day before next scheduled workday), I’ll let you know right away.”

This is a reasonable stance to take. If your boss is so unreasonable as to threaten your job over it, at that point you’d need to decide if you want to work for someone so unreasonable or not. But before you look at your options as working while sick or losing your job, see what happens if you just firmly explain that you’re not able to do what she’s requesting.

5. Employer told me that they’re bringing in one more candidate

I’ve been through two interviews at this company and was told that the decision was to be made early this week and that I was one of two candidates. They contacted my references and I was expecting an offer. Now they are telling me that they are bringing in one more candidate Monday and are delaying the decision until the end of next week.

I really want this job, but I’ve not had this experience before. Should I assume that I did not get the job, or take them at their word?

Take them at their word. In general, there’s never any reason not to take people at their word on this kind of stuff. If they want to reject you, they will; most employers don’t make up convoluted excuses to avoid doing that. It’s certainly possible that there’s something else going on — like that they’ve made an offer to their first choice and are just extending the timeline while they wait for an answer from that person — but in that case, employers usually are just vague, rather than making up specific scenarios like this one.

But also: when you find yourself trying to read tea leaves like this, and wondering whether you should be doing anything other than taking an employer at their word about hiring timeline stuff, it’s a signal that you’re overly invested. Hiring timelines change all the time, for all sorts of reasons, and nothing is ever guaranteed, no matter how promising things seemed earlier. The best thing you can do (always) is to assume that you didn’t get the job and let it be a pleasant surprise if you did.

my new coworker noisily sucks on candy all day, wearing company-branded items after a buy-out, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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update: I accepted a job without finding out the salary http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/update-i-accepted-a-job-without-finding-out-the-salary.html http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/update-i-accepted-a-job-without-finding-out-the-salary.html#comments Mon, 15 Dec 2014 20:30:44 +0000 http://www.askamanager.org/?p=8714 Remember the letter-writer who accepted a job without first asking what the salary was (#1 at the link)? Here’s the update. They eventually told me a salary, in terms that sounded non-negotiable. However, it was well below the bottom of the range I’d agreed to. At the same time, I was interviewing for a different position […]

update: I accepted a job without finding out the salary was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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Remember the letter-writer who accepted a job without first asking what the salary was (#1 at the link)? Here’s the update.

They eventually told me a salary, in terms that sounded non-negotiable. However, it was well below the bottom of the range I’d agreed to. At the same time, I was interviewing for a different position elsewhere at a place I knew and respected. I knew I had a good shot at the other position and was equally interested in it and the company–plus their salary range was higher. Because of those two factors, I felt more comfortable in putting my foot down and telling them I was willing to walk away. Things got a little bit tense (they said the last offer was an error and insinuated that I was being hostile). In the end, they honored the bottom of original range. I still considered walking away, but my previous experience with them had been entirely positive and I thought that their jumbled hiring process wasn’t indicative of the rest of how they operated. So I took the position and decided to go into my first day with a blank slate and hope they did the same.

And it seems like they did! The organization isn’t perfect, of course, but oddly enough, outside of hiring, they operate much more transparently and in a more egalitarian way than anywhere else I’ve worked. Since I started, we’ve added a bunch of new staff, and from conversations with the ones I’m close with, they went through similar mis/uncommunications during the hiring process. It does make me worry it about our reputation or that people with more options might get scared away–one of our new staff almost did give up during the hiring process. (We’re lucky that good jobs in my field are pretty scarce.) However, that’s a conversation I’m not in a position to start right now, and that issue doesn’t impact my work. As far as I can tell, the other new staff feel similarly. In general, I am very happy there and after a few previous miserable job experiences, I feel very lucky to finally work with coworkers I adore, at a place I respect, doing work I find meaningful. I hope to not have to write you for quite a while!

update: I accepted a job without finding out the salary was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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update: how do I tell my boss that our new hire needs to be fired? http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/update-how-do-i-tell-my-boss-that-our-new-hire-needs-to-be-fired.html http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/update-how-do-i-tell-my-boss-that-our-new-hire-needs-to-be-fired.html#comments Mon, 15 Dec 2014 19:00:16 +0000 http://www.askamanager.org/?p=8713 Remember the letter-writer who was responsible for training her new coworker and who was concerned that the new person wasn’t cut out for the job? Here’s the update. I was honest with my boss and told her directly that I thought my new coworker needed to be let go. I provided her with written examples […]

update: how do I tell my boss that our new hire needs to be fired? was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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Remember the letter-writer who was responsible for training her new coworker and who was concerned that the new person wasn’t cut out for the job? Here’s the update.

I was honest with my boss and told her directly that I thought my new coworker needed to be let go. I provided her with written examples of my coworker’s mistakes and other examples that showed how difficult she was to deal with.

My boss initially suggested that we gave my coworker more time, but luckily she asked for my opinion and I told her that it would be easier and less stressful for me to do both jobs by myself, and that I believed she should be let go as soon as possible.

My coworker was let go on her 60th day and her replacement is so much better in every aspect. I think what helped the most to influence my boss was my documentation and solid examples of things that my coworker had (or hadn’t) done.

update: how do I tell my boss that our new hire needs to be fired? was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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4 signs you just don’t like your boss http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/4-signs-you-just-dont-like-your-boss.html http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/4-signs-you-just-dont-like-your-boss.html#comments Mon, 15 Dec 2014 17:30:04 +0000 http://www.askamanager.org/?p=8787 You might think you don’t need to be told when you don’t like your boss, but sometimes managers become such an ingrained part of our work lives that you might not even realize when a personal dislike is impacting the relationship – and along with it, your happiness at your job. At U.S. News & […]

4 signs you just don’t like your boss was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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featured-on-usnYou might think you don’t need to be told when you don’t like your boss, but sometimes managers become such an ingrained part of our work lives that you might not even realize when a personal dislike is impacting the relationship – and along with it, your happiness at your job.

At U.S. News & World Report, I talk about four typical signs that you just don’t like your manager, and what to do about it if you don’t. You can read it here.

4 signs you just don’t like your boss was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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all the party planning in my office always falls to women http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/all-the-party-planning-in-my-office-always-falls-to-women.html http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/all-the-party-planning-in-my-office-always-falls-to-women.html#comments Mon, 15 Dec 2014 16:00:19 +0000 http://www.askamanager.org/?p=8773 A reader writes: I’ve noticed in my office that nearly all of the holiday planning responsibilities fall to women. This is in a traditionally male-dominated industry where there has been progress in hiring/promoting women, but we’re still generally underrepresented. However, in the party planning efforts, usually all, or all-but-one of the representatives are women. This […]

all the party planning in my office always falls to women was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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A reader writes:

I’ve noticed in my office that nearly all of the holiday planning responsibilities fall to women. This is in a traditionally male-dominated industry where there has been progress in hiring/promoting women, but we’re still generally underrepresented. However, in the party planning efforts, usually all, or all-but-one of the representatives are women.

This isn’t some vast management conspiracy. Usually what happens is a call for volunteers goes out, everyone ignores it, and each component organization either designates a representative or a woman volunteers. I don’t think it’s intentional in any way – however, I can’t help but be frustrated that these types or roles always seem to fall to women.

So my questions are:

1) Is this actually a problem?
2) Whose responsibility is it to ensure a diverse representation in these things?
3) How do they best do that?
4) How do I, as a low-level manager in this organization, approach it with my leadership?

The first thing to look at is the roles of the women who end up doing the party planning. If they’re all in junior-level, admin-type roles, and if no men are in those roles, it may make perfect sense that they’re the ones getting stuck with the planning. (However, if that’s the case, you probably have a totally different problem on your hands: the question of why those roles are exclusively filled by women. But that’s a different question than the one you’re posing, one that gets into much more deep-rooted societal challenges related to why our career paths still often tend to be gendered.)

But if that’s not the case — if the women in jobs where organizing parties doesn’t make particular sense or if there are men in the same roles who never end up with it — then yeah, your party planning systems are all mucked up with sexism.

To answer your first question about whether that’s really a problem: Yes. It’s a problem for everyone when women continue to be pegged into house-keeping/care-taking roles that aren’t inherent parts of their jobs. Too often, it’s the women in the office — especially younger women — who find themselves always being the ones to take notes at meetings, straighten up the kitchen, plan the parties, order lunch, and do other “care-taking” work, while the men in similar jobs get to focus on doing work that’s more highly valued. That can have long-lasting ramifications for who gets what projects, who gets what recognition, and who builds what reputation, and ultimately how their careers progress.

As for what you can do, one of the best things is to simply point it out. Not an accusatory, put-everyone-on-the defensive way — at least not yet — but in a “hey, I’ve noticed this work always falls to women; can we change that?” way.

As for whose responsibility it is to be noticing this, pointing it out, and addressing it, ideally that would be happening at a high level. Actually, ideally it would be happening throughout your culture. But since it’s not, it’s reasonable for anyone in your organization who notices this to say something. The fact that you’re in a management role, even although only a low-level one, gives you additional standing to bring it up.

all the party planning in my office always falls to women was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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posting about a new job on Facebook, my coworker is a harlot, and more http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/posting-about-a-new-job-on-facebook-my-coworker-is-a-harlot-and-more.html http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/posting-about-a-new-job-on-facebook-my-coworker-is-a-harlot-and-more.html#comments Mon, 15 Dec 2014 05:03:58 +0000 http://www.askamanager.org/?p=8785 It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go… 1. Should I wait to post about a new job on Facebook? I recently accepted an offer for a new job – yay! I waited until I got it in writing, then notified my boss and coworkers, etc. Everything’s all set – my last day at […]

posting about a new job on Facebook, my coworker is a harlot, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. Should I wait to post about a new job on Facebook?

I recently accepted an offer for a new job – yay! I waited until I got it in writing, then notified my boss and coworkers, etc. Everything’s all set – my last day at my old job is in 2 weeks, and I start my new job a month from now. Now I’d love to share the good news with my friends, so I’m thinking about posting to Facebook about it – something generic like “It’s official – I’ll be starting a new job in January!” I feel like that couldn’t hurt (especially if I don’t name the company), but my gut tells me that somehow I shouldn’t, though I can’t quite say why. Should I follow my gut here?

(I am not connected with my current boss or coworkers on social media – not that it would be a problem since they know already – or anyone from my new job.)

Once I start the new job I’ll also update my LinkedIn profile, but that seems like it would be weird to do ahead of time. What are your thoughts about posting to Facebook?

I think you’re right to wait to post to LinkedIn until you’re actually in the role you’d be listing there, but I don’t see any reason you shouldn’t post about it on Facebook. That said, if you’re feeling uncomfortable about it, there’s no reason you need to — you can always wait until just before you start if you’d rather (or not post about it at all, for that matter).

2. I think my coworker is a harlot

I have a married female coworker who continues to have relationships with multiple men in the office. She periodically has different men in her cubicle. Many people around can hear her giggles and such. None of the men she has been with are her superiors but are peers, but one was our civil rights manager, who was also married. When a new guy starts, she doesn’t waste time in “introducing herself.” Employees have complained they saw her having sex in exam rooms and they saw her in a too close for comfort position in her cubicle several times. Many of us at the office are tired of her office sexcapades. What can we do?

Well, who she’s involved with really isn’t your business. If someone has seen her having sex at work, they can certainly report that (to her boss or to HR) because that’s wildly inappropriate and presumably something the company would want to put a stop to, but beyond that, her relationships with coworkers are not your business unless they’re affecting your work in some specific way.

By the way, I assume you’re judging the men who are involved with her by the same standards, right? All your ire here seems directed at her, but it sounds like other coworkers are involved too. If you’re just throwing a scarlet letter at her and having a double standard for the men, that’s a problem.

3. Am I wasting my time as a new grad applying for jobs that want two years of experience?

I’m going to be graduating soon (like, two weeks soon), but I’m just now starting my job search (I know, I know) and realizing a lot of listings are asking for two years of experience. I’m working in an industry (mass communication) where there aren’t many relevant job openings out there; there are many ideal possibilities, but not many actual possibilities. My question, and maybe it’s a dumb one, is am I wasting my time applying for these two-year-experience listings? I’ve searched around your website (and the entire Internet), and have seen that if they’re looking for five years and you have a few, then apply, but nothing for recent grads who are seeing listings with just a couple years required.

As an example, one company that I would love to work for has a couple listings open for which I think I could be well suited. One of those roles is a deputy editor position, which should probably go to someone more seasoned (they state they’re looking for someone with two years experience at a news outlet or a blog). That said, they’ve advertised these two jobs in our school’s student newsletter. That, to me, says they’re open to recent grads.

I’ve got an internship under my belt, but what I think is more relevant is that I’ve been volunteering with a local nonprofit for most of this year and basically spearheaded their social media marketing. I’ve also been blogging since I’ve exited the womb (to very moderate success—but success nonetheless!). They also list desirables I have (like videography skills), that the responsibilities require a lot of social media competency, and “blog” is a repeated buzzword. Would mentioning these successes and saying I admire their company culture make up for no formal experience? Or, again, should I just give up with these one- and two-year experience listings?

It’s true that “X years of experience” requirements aren’t usually totally firm, but there’s a bigger difference between new grad/2 years of experience than there is between 2 years of experience/4 years of experience. “No real full-time work experience” is a bigger hurdle than “not quite as much experience as we were originally envisioning.” And yeah, in general, most employers would be pretty unlikely to hire a brand new grad for a deputy editor position, particularly if the role has managerial authority over other people.

That said, you don’t have anything to lose other than time you’ll spend applying, and since you’re new to job searching and don’t yet have a sense of how your application materials will go over with employers, why not give it a shot and see what happens? Make sure you’re also applying to plenty of positions that aren’t as much of a stretch, so that you’re not putting all your eggs in a possibly out-of-reach basket — but there’s no reason you can’t try these too and see what happens. It’s not like people will be outraged to see your application; the worst that can happen is that you’ll get rejected, which is going to happen plenty in any normal job search.

4. My manager demanded to know if my engagement means I’ll be leaving

I recently got engaged. I am living/working in Seattle, but my fiancee lives 1000 miles away (central coast of California). A week or so ago, one of my coworkers casually asked me if I had set a date for the wedding yet, so I told them it will be at the end of June.

This morning, my boss asked me to step into the conference room. When she closed the door, she (figuratively) cornered me by asking, point blank, “So you and your fiancee are getting married in about 6 months, right? Do you know yet if she’s moving to Washington or if you’re going to California?” And, being the brutally honest (to a fault) person that I am, I answered, “Well, it is looking like I’m going to be moving to California.” Then she said, “So, do you have any idea how long you will be here before you leave? Because we’ve invested a lot of time in you so far, but if you’re going to be leaving soon, then I don’t want to invest a whole lot more just to have you leave.”

I was taken aback, so I took the political route: “Well, we’re still figuring that part out, so no.” Then she asked, “Okay, do you think you could come up with an answer for me this week?” Again, I was surprised, so all I said is that I’ll have an answer for her by the end of the week.

Is she even allowed to do that? I understand her concerns, but really? I mean, sure, we don’t usually see eye-to-eye, and sure, I have been looking for another job for a couple months – I had planned to resign at the end of the month anyway before she cornered me, but I have a decent poker face. Regardless, is it even legal for her to ask those sorts of questions, despite me being too honest with my responses?

100% legal, although she certainly was jerky about it. It’s understandable that the question is on her mind, and it wouldn’t be outrageous for her to have asked you if you knew your plans yet, but she was weirdly abrasive about it.

5. Who can be a reference?

Who can write a reference besides a manager?

Anyone who can speak knowledgeably about your work can be a reference (people who have worked reasonably closely with you, like coworkers, clients, etc.) — but not people with personal bias toward you, like friends, relatives, or significant others. However, savvy reference-checkers will want to speak to former managers, who are usually in the best position to assess your work.

Also, most reference-checkers want to speak to references, in the form of phone calls. They want to ask their own questions, hear the reference’s tone when answering, and be able to ask follow-up questions. Because of that, letters aren’t especially useful, so I wouldn’t put any energy into getting them unless they’re specifically requested.

posting about a new job on Facebook, my coworker is a harlot, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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Sunday open thread – December 14, 2014 http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/sunday-open-thread-december-14-2014.html http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/sunday-open-thread-december-14-2014.html#comments Sun, 14 Dec 2014 05:03:35 +0000 http://www.askamanager.org/?p=8755 It’s the weekend free-for-all. This comment section is open for any non-work-related discussion you’d like to have with other readers, by popular demand. (This one is truly non-work only; if you have a work question, you can email it to me or post it in the work-related open thread on Fridays.) Have at it.

Sunday open thread – December 14, 2014 was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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Sam with treeIt’s the weekend free-for-all.

This comment section is open for any non-work-related discussion you’d like to have with other readers, by popular demand. (This one is truly non-work only; if you have a work question, you can email it to me or post it in the work-related open thread on Fridays.)

Have at it.

Sunday open thread – December 14, 2014 was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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another four reader updates http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/another-four-reader-updates.html http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/another-four-reader-updates.html#comments Sat, 13 Dec 2014 05:03:14 +0000 http://www.askamanager.org/?p=8734 Four more updates from readers whose questions were answered here this year — 1. My colleague works around the clock and I’m concerned it will impact management’s idea of realistic workload (#2 at the link) Things ended up working themselves out, though not in the best way. Unfortunately, all the overtime caught up to my […]

another four reader updates was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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Four more updates from readers whose questions were answered here this year —

1. My colleague works around the clock and I’m concerned it will impact management’s idea of realistic workload (#2 at the link)

Things ended up working themselves out, though not in the best way. Unfortunately, all the overtime caught up to my colleague, and they ended up on almost a month of stress leave. There were private, extenuating circumstances to it all to which I wasn’t, rightly so, privy to.

Our manager is monitoring workload much more closely and opened up a productive dialogue about our hours and made rules around overtime clear. The main one being in the government you can’t just decide to work overtime, it has be to approved in advance, which means if your workload is too much you have to have a conversation with her, and as the manager it is her job to manage the team’s workload and outputs. I have actually been assigned some of their files, and like some commenters deduced, it turns out that despite the hours, the actual work being done wasn’t very efficient. They are back at work now, and have definitely taken a step back.

2. My CEO wants us to wear pants with the company logo on the butt

Alas, I haven’t got an update yet. My boss hasn’t said another word about those pants since he first mentioned it, and I don’t want to say anything unless he brings it up again. I don’t know, maybe he has nixed the idea all on his own and letting it die a quiet death? A girl can dream!

3. Interviewing when obviously pregnant

I asked for advice when interviewing at 6 months pregnant. I found an open position in my field and applied. I didn’t mention the baby bump at the first interview – I’m not sure if the employer actually noticed. At the second interview, I did bring it up and the employer responded with an instant congratulations, when are you due, etc.

He had no problem with my situation and offered me the job on the spot. I even ended up with a partially paid maternity leave.

Thank you again for your advice. Your articles have great information!

4. Interviewers keep commenting on my height (#3 at the link)

I haven’t needed to use your advice or any of the great tips left in the comments. I went on a few more interviews, where no one commented on my height (or any other aspect of my appearance), before landing my current job.

I’ve been at my current position over 6 months – I love it! And the only time my height becomes a topic of conversation is when I ask for help getting something down from atop our tall cabinets.

another four reader updates was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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update: my office is fighting about overhead lighting http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/update-my-office-is-fighting-about-overhead-lighting.html http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/update-my-office-is-fighting-about-overhead-lighting.html#comments Fri, 12 Dec 2014 19:00:54 +0000 http://www.askamanager.org/?p=8723 Remember the letter-writer whose office was warring about overhead lighting, and half the office wanted to work in darkness? Here’s the update. We got a new manager and we moved to a different floor, two unforeseen variables that changed the whole atmosphere. A couple posters brought up a few things I wanted to address: AAM, […]

update: my office is fighting about overhead lighting was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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Remember the letter-writer whose office was warring about overhead lighting, and half the office wanted to work in darkness? Here’s the update.

We got a new manager and we moved to a different floor, two unforeseen variables that changed the whole atmosphere.

A couple posters brought up a few things I wanted to address: AAM, you were on target when you said this was some kind of referendum on other things that bothered people. Reading that line alone was worth the effort of writing. The cubes all have under-cabinet lighting and people could certainly have brought in lamps for more illumination, but the issue was overhead lighting. Some nooks and crannies were nearly pitch black, as dark as a movie theater. One needed a miner’s helmet to navigate. And my favorite post was the person who said “handwritten faxed forms–really?” That made me chuckle because that is your U.S. federal government, my fellow Americans. Make people use technology from the 90s.

After our move, the new manager reiterated that if people wanted some of the overhead lights directly above their new cubes turned off, we would accommodate them, but the policy was that overhead lights were turned on. There would be no light-free zones declared. Actually, that went over pretty well as I think many people – even those who preferred the dark – wanted to know what the rules were.

All was going pretty well until an overtime project started, with quite a few people coming to work a few hours on the weekends. The same woman who exploded at the senior manager (the same woman!) got mad at her coworker “Susie” for – yes – turning on the overhead lights on a Saturday. A few people had been working for a few hours already with the lights off. Susie got there mid-morning and turned on the lights, prompting “Old Yeller” to loudly challenge her for doing that on a weekend. Susie, a reserved and introverted woman, was caught completely flatfooted. She was angry and mortified at being made a semi-public target. (By the way, no manager was there at the time.)

Then, in a truly self-destructive move, Old Yeller fired off an email to the new manager in the mistaken belief that he would back her up by agreeing that the policy did not apply to the weekend OT project, and cited Susie’s actions. Wrong move. Instead, the next Monday, he sent out a strongly worded blast email to everyone reiterating what the lighting policy was – weekday or weekend, it made no difference — and he expected no more drama over this. If it happened again, then he would get personally involved in any ensuing actions. He made sure all his direct reports spread the word to their staff, and he revisited it in an All-Hands meeting.

So we’re rubbing along for the time being, but I just don’t get this woman and the battles she chooses. Honestly, she is an AAM submission all on her own.

update: my office is fighting about overhead lighting was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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update: managing people with higher risk tolerance than I have http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/update-managing-people-with-higher-risk-tolerance-than-i-have.html http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/update-managing-people-with-higher-risk-tolerance-than-i-have.html#comments Fri, 12 Dec 2014 17:00:19 +0000 http://www.askamanager.org/?p=8729 Remember the letter-writer who managed a sea kayak guide who kept conducting kayaking trips in situations where safety guidelines dictated he should have changed plans (#3 at the link)? Here’s the update. I wrote to you last spring in search of advice on how to manage an employee who had a higher risk tolerance that I did. One thing that […]

update: managing people with higher risk tolerance than I have was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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Remember the letter-writer who managed a sea kayak guide who kept conducting kayaking trips in situations where safety guidelines dictated he should have changed plans (#3 at the link)? Here’s the update.

I wrote to you last spring in search of advice on how to manage an employee who had a higher risk tolerance that I did. One thing that I took away from both your advice and the advice of the numerous people who commented was that I was missing in being able to manage “Paul” effectively was to have more of an insight in his decision-making process. In other words, I didn’t want to know just that he’d made a decision, I wanted to know what factors he was considering when he made the decision, and how he was weighting them. For example, if Paul and his clients paddle for two hours in light waves and a headwind to get to a cool beach – well, maybe that was a bad call, and Paul should have re-routed the tour. But, if Paul had sized up his clients beforehand, had a frank discussion with them on the beach about how the conditions would be on the water, offered them a substitute route option that would be more protected from weather, and and continually checked in with every member of the group while paddling to make sure that everyone was still having fun and not exhausting themselves – in that case, staying with the original trip plan is a much more defensible judgement call.

What I ended up doing was modifying a decision-making tool that our company (and others) already uses when making decisions in the context of wilderness medical treatment, called SOAP – for Subjective conditions, Objective conditions, Assessment and Plan. During guide training, I had the crew go through several intentionally ambiguous scenarios, with the idea of getting them used to going through the SOAP process in a risk management context. I also tried to make it clear from the start of training that having SOAP debriefs with me regarding trips was something that was going to happen on a regular basis, and was Perfectly Normal and Not Scary. I think I got pretty good buy-in from the crew in that regard – partly because I started handing out free beer passes to the local bar to guides who’ve come through particularly difficult trips. Part of it was we had more consistent good paddling weather this summer, and partly we had a more innately cautious group of guides, but we had no incidents this summer where I felt that a guide had totally crossed the line in terms of what was an acceptable level of risk.

And for the drama, I only ended up with Paul last summer after a higher-up in the company inexplicably overruled our site manager’s decision to NOT hire him back. (This was in spite of the fact that I had emailed the higher-up pictures taken from Paul’s own Facebook page clearly showing him doing things with company gear in his off-hours that was very clearly against policy.) It’s still an open question whether Paul will be returning next summer, though I’m betting against it…

update: managing people with higher risk tolerance than I have was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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open thread – December 12, 2014 http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/open-thread-december-12-2014.html http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/open-thread-december-12-2014.html#comments Fri, 12 Dec 2014 16:00:34 +0000 http://www.askamanager.org/?p=8754 It’s the Friday open thread! The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on anything work-related that you want to talk about. If you want an answer from me, emailing me is still your best bet*, but this is a chance to talk to other readers. * If you submitted […]

open thread – December 12, 2014 was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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It’s the Friday open thread!

The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on anything work-related that you want to talk about. If you want an answer from me, emailing me is still your best bet*, but this is a chance to talk to other readers.

* If you submitted a question to me recently, please don’t repost it here, as it may be in the to-be-answered queue :)

open thread – December 12, 2014 was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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my phone number used to belong to a prostitute, how can I get access to my work email at night, and more http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/my-phone-number-used-to-belong-to-a-prostitute-how-can-i-get-access-to-my-work-email-at-night-and-more.html http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/my-phone-number-used-to-belong-to-a-prostitute-how-can-i-get-access-to-my-work-email-at-night-and-more.html#comments Fri, 12 Dec 2014 05:03:55 +0000 http://www.askamanager.org/?p=8778 It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go… 1. My phone number used to belong to a prostitute I recently got a new phone number when I switched cell phone companies. My resume has been updated with the new phone number and sent out to a few different openings. I googled my phone number […]

my phone number used to belong to a prostitute, how can I get access to my work email at night, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. My phone number used to belong to a prostitute

I recently got a new phone number when I switched cell phone companies. My resume has been updated with the new phone number and sent out to a few different openings.

I googled my phone number tonight, and found that it used to belong to a prostitute. I found the original ad listed on a website commonly used for that purpose, as well as several reviews and ratings of her, uh, services on different sites. Apparently phone number is a common way for these ratings sites to identify different providers.

What do I do about this? Will it even be an issue? I know people search names when doing informal background checks, but do they google cell phone numbers?

I can’t promise that no one will ever think to google a phone number, but it would never occur to me to do that. If you want to be extra safe, you could set up a Google voice number and use that one on resumes from now on (and perhaps have the phone company switch your number to something else once enough time has gone by that you don’t need to retain the use of the current number in connection with the resumes it appeared on). But there’s a 99% chance that no one will search for your number and notice this — it would really be an odd thing to google.

2. How can I convince my employer to give me access to work email outside my regular hours?

You know how sometimes you get an email from someone complaining because his or her boss expects employees to be available 24/7 via phone, Skype or email? I have the opposite problem brewing… I am nonexempt, but I need access to my work email and my employer has issued a blanket statement to all staff (with an ambiguous threat of disciplinary action) forbidding nonexempt employees from receiving or responding to email or texts while off the clock.

My employer has clearly established that nonexempt employees are not expected or encouraged to work while off the clock. I understand and appreciate the sentiment and I don’t want to be protected from something that is hugely beneficial to me professionally and personally. (Personally because if I don’t deal with things efficiently I worry ceaselessly. Professionally because taking care of business is always beneficial.)

Is there anything I can do to convince my employer that I understand my access to work email while off the clock does not constitute working time and that they will never be liable to repay me for how I elect to spend my time off the clock? Should I draft a letter requesting permission to access my work email from home? Taking that a step further- what are the potential drawbacks for making such a request?

Nope, because that’s against the law. Non-exempt employee cannot waive their right to be paid for all time spent working, no matter how sincerely you want to. Your employer could face significant penalties (as well as have to pay you back pay) if this were found out. They’re absolutely right to forbid it; it’s too much of a legal liability for them. And “but I’d never report it” doesn’t really work here — another employee could report it, or you could have a huge falling-out with your company and end up reporting it. Plus, it’s reasonable that they don’t want to break the law, even if they somehow knew they’d never get caught. This is a good thing. You want to work for an employer who wants to follow the law, even when they don’t have to.

That said, if there’s a strong business case for you having access to your work email outside of normal work hours — a case strong enough to pay you for that time — you can certainly approach your manager with that. Just keep in mind that they do have to pay you for it.

3. Making time for job interviews when I’m temping

I have a question I am hoping you’d consider. I was recently laid off and was job searching pretty hard until I found my current temp gig, which I was told will last for at least the next couple of months. It’s only been a few days at the temp gig. Now that I’ve started working, I’m getting some responses to applications I submitted while unemployed. Since I’m just a temp at my current company, I hate to flat out reject these other companies that are calling me about possible full-time employment. On the other hand, I want to make a good impression at the company I’m temping at in case there is a chance of getting hired full-time. I don’t think ducking out for interviews would be a good idea. So should I tell these other companies I’m off the market?

No! Getting full-time employment should be a priority. Explain your situation and see if they’ll schedule an interview for early or late in the day or during lunch. And talk to your temp agency about the best way to handle this; they’re used to dealing with it.

4. Company is only considering applicants from a particular office

My company has offices in different states. The HR department recently posted and notified all company employees of an internal position that opened up at one of the locations. After submitting my application, the hiring manager reached out to me and told me that they were only considering employees from the office this position was based out of. Is that illegal? Are they allowed to turn me down just because I’m not located in the office they would like to hire from?

Yes, that’s legal. Sometimes there’s good reason for it too — such as when they want to hire someone who’s already familiar with the people and processes of that particular office.

5. How to respond to a hiring-related email from six months ago

I’m trying to change careers and I’ve been applying for jobs in my desired career for about a year now. Six months ago, I applied for a job that seemed like a great fit for my skills and experience (it was a bit of a unicorn actually – exactly the niche I want in the industry I want to work in and everything about the job posting/application process made me think that this person is one I’d like to work for – everything adhered to the AAM principles of How to Hire Well). My application made it through the first round of screening and I was sent a test to complete.

The notice was short and I was busy with my current job and other things in my life, but I also freaked out – I was immediately seized by panic about whether or not I would do well enough on the test (especially given the short time frame). I reluctantly decided to let the job go. I marked the email as unread (which is what I do for emails I want to go back later) with the intention of completing the test in my own time, just to refresh my skills in this particular area. Later, I kicked myself for not just completing the test.

Well, that unread email has been languishing unread in my inbox for 6 months and today I opened it up to see that the hiring manager had actually sent a pleasant follow up email a week later – apparently my application had really caught their attention, they had really hoped I’d answer the questions and they wanted to see if I was still interested! I hadn’t noticed that my unread email now had more responses to it.

I know that this job is gone, but everything about the process seemed to indicate the type of hiring manager that I’d like to work for (he either reads Ask A Manager, or he’s just really good at carrying out a hiring process with clear guidelines and respect for candidates). I’d like to reach out and say something, but I’m not sure what, especially because a response after 6 months will make me look like a flake. What should I say? “I’m sorry I missed your email, I was really interested in the job but I know it’s too late now, I hope the person you picked is great, but I’d love to be considered again if they’re not?” That’s how I feel, but it doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue… Should I even bother getting back in contact?

“I’m so sorry! Somehow I missed this email the first time around and just discovered it filtered into a different spot in my inbox. I really regret missing out on this role and would love to be considered for open positions with you in the future. (And frankly, seeing the application process you use just makes me more interested — I’m really impressed by what I can see of your process.)”

my phone number used to belong to a prostitute, how can I get access to my work email at night, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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update: my coworker kissed me and now his wife is emailing me http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/update-my-coworker-kissed-me-and-now-his-wife-is-emailing-me.html http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/update-my-coworker-kissed-me-and-now-his-wife-is-emailing-me.html#comments Thu, 11 Dec 2014 19:30:51 +0000 http://www.askamanager.org/?p=8712 Remember the letter-writer whose married coworker kissed her and who then received an angry email from the coworker’s wife? Here’s the update. Thank you for posting my letter in the first place, Alison. I felt really supported by the readers and read each and every comment. The advice I received was so insightful and on […]

update: my coworker kissed me and now his wife is emailing me was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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Remember the letter-writer whose married coworker kissed her and who then received an angry email from the coworker’s wife? Here’s the update.

Thank you for posting my letter in the first place, Alison. I felt really supported by the readers and read each and every comment. The advice I received was so insightful and on point.

At the time though, I felt really confused, ashamed, guilty, sick. I was searching for a way to blame myself so that I could avoid the situation in the future. A bad frame of mind, that’s for sure.

I’m sad to say that the outcome of this situation is that I avoided my colleague for several months (to the extent that I was able to, considering our work involves a small level of collaboration). In the end, I chose to let it go and choose happiness.

However, I was able to have a follow-up conversation with the offender very recently. My objective was to advise him that I would be attending the upcoming company Christmas party (an overnight stay at an exclusive hotel out of town) and to let him know that I expect to be treated respectfully. During this conversation, I asked him if he came clean to his wife and told her the truth. He stated that he indeed had taken responsibility for his part in the situation. To which I replied, “What do you mean by ‘your part’ in the situation?” He then stuttered, “I mean, I took responsibility for what happened, she knows the truth.” Which to me means that she knows nothing of the sort.

So, sensing that there certainly would be trouble at the upcoming festivities, I finally had the courage to tell my manager what happened. I took my manager for a walk around the block and told him. He then surprised me by telling me that he already knew. Apparently the offender had sat him down back in June when his wife initially reached out to me. My manager also shared with me that my version of events matched the version of events the offender reported to my manager. This gave me some peace. I’m still left feeling a little unsettled because my manager knew about it for months and never spoke to me about it, which feels wrong (even though I’m not sure why it feels wrong).

update: my coworker kissed me and now his wife is emailing me was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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update: my coworker constantly asks us to loan him money http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/update-my-coworker-constantly-asks-us-to-loan-him-money.html http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/update-my-coworker-constantly-asks-us-to-loan-him-money.html#comments Thu, 11 Dec 2014 18:30:55 +0000 http://www.askamanager.org/?p=8718 Remember the letter-writer with a coworker who was constantly hitting up everyone in the office for money? Here’s the update. I had loaned the man $150 before Christmas last year. He would always have the money “next week.” But he always had money for cigarettes. I told him in the spirit of Christmas I would […]

update: my coworker constantly asks us to loan him money was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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Remember the letter-writer with a coworker who was constantly hitting up everyone in the office for money? Here’s the update.

I had loaned the man $150 before Christmas last year. He would always have the money “next week.” But he always had money for cigarettes. I told him in the spirit of Christmas I would forgive it but never to ask me again.

In April, I was let go because the business got slow, and I was a recent hire (last in, first out). I have since started my own business doing the work I had been doing in my career.

When I was let go, the money-grubber was public enemy number 1 over there, and owed people collectively more than $2,000 according to office chatter. As soon as he walked into a room, people would say, “Sorry, I have no money for you.” It was the running joke of the entire company.

He had also been taking cash advances from his future paychecks. I know that at least one person in a management position brought up the issue to the boss shortly before I left.

I have not driven by since so I don’t know if this man is still with the company.

I did, and continue to appreciate and absorb the advice from you and others on AskAManager.org. I see a new perspective since starting my own company, and will apply the wisdom as best I can.

update: my coworker constantly asks us to loan him money was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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Christmas tantrums, Hanukkah balls, and other workplace holiday disasters http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/christmas-tantrums-hanukkah-balls-and-other-workplace-holiday-disasters.html http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/christmas-tantrums-hanukkah-balls-and-other-workplace-holiday-disasters.html#comments Thu, 11 Dec 2014 17:30:15 +0000 http://www.askamanager.org/?p=8779 I recently asked readers to share their weirdest or funniest stories related to holidays at the office, and from an annual Christmas tantrum-thrower to Hanukkah balls, you delivered. Over at the Intuit QuickBase blog today, I’ve compiled my 10 favorites. You can read it here.

Christmas tantrums, Hanukkah balls, and other workplace holiday disasters was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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I recently asked readers to share their weirdest or funniest stories related to holidays at the office, and from an annual Christmas tantrum-thrower to Hanukkah balls, you delivered.

Over at the Intuit QuickBase blog today, I’ve compiled my 10 favorites. You can read it here.

Christmas tantrums, Hanukkah balls, and other workplace holiday disasters was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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I don’t want to give 360 feedback to my coworker http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/i-dont-want-to-give-360-feedback-to-my-coworker.html http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/i-dont-want-to-give-360-feedback-to-my-coworker.html#comments Thu, 11 Dec 2014 16:00:13 +0000 http://www.askamanager.org/?p=8774 A reader writes: I am in the same title and report to the same manager as another person, with whom I sometimes work tangentially on projects (we work together maybe 2-5% of my time). That’s great, since working with him generates 80% of all the agita in my current role. He’s wound really tight, is […]

I don’t want to give 360 feedback to my coworker was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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A reader writes:

I am in the same title and report to the same manager as another person, with whom I sometimes work tangentially on projects (we work together maybe 2-5% of my time). That’s great, since working with him generates 80% of all the agita in my current role. He’s wound really tight, is very aggressive on issues that don’t call for it, throws me under the bus, and is generally not a great coworker. I do what I can to stay out of his sphere. I know that I have to speak with him about how his actions are interfering with our work relationship, but the times when it’s been bad, it seems like this may be more of an escalation point than a remediation point.

Lo and behold, this person has tagged me for his 360 review as part of our end of the year evaluation. He has a choice, so I am astounded that he would choose me (his histrionics at my desk have been remarked on by coworkers). It seems like my options are 1) say yes and speak honestly about his strengths and weaknesses, 2) say no with no explanation (which will likely worsen things), 3) decline and try and have the hard conversation as to why.

Is there a magical fourth door I am missing? I lean towards 3, because that’s what I would want. While I wouldn’t go into an evaluation with a subordinate without having raised the issues beforehand, am I obligated to do the same thing for a peer?

Nope, the “it’s better not to have surprises in a performance evaluation” principle applies to people you’re managing but not to peers. You’re not under any obligation to be giving ongoing feedback to peers.

Certainly when you’re able and willing to give useful feedback to coworkers, it’s often a good thing for you, the coworker, and the organization. But when a peer is aggressive, defensive, and difficult, your obligation to initiate that conversation — which was never particularly high to begin with — drops even lower (although you might have some level of obligation to bring it up with their manager, depending on the specifics of the situation).

But this is different. You’ve been directly asked to provide feedback for a 360 review. This kind of feedback is exactly the sort of thing that belongs in a 360. Declining in this context would be a disservice to your coworker and, more importantly, to your organization. The reason organizations do 360s is partly to draw this type of thing out from people who otherwise might not get heard.

I certainly understand your worry about creating additional tension in the relationship, but the answer isn’t to back out of the 360 altogether. Instead, why not talk to his manager about your trepidation? Explain that you’d like to give candid, open feedback, but that his behavior toward you in the past has you worried about the impact this will have on your relationship going forward (which of course just underscores that your feedback is likely something that should be heard). Ask his manager what’s being done as far as anonymity for those who contribute feedback, as well as what can be done to ensure that you don’t experience blowback for participating (because even with rock-solid anonymity, some types of feedback may make the source clear — although it sounds like this guy might be hearing similar feedback from additional people as well, so maybe not in this case).

But do take this opportunity to weigh in and what you’re observing and how it affects your and his work. That’s really the whole point to these things.

I don’t want to give 360 feedback to my coworker was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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does salary reflect the type of candidate an employer is seeking, my former coworkers aren’t allowed to talk to me, and more http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/does-salary-reflect-the-type-of-candidate-an-employer-is-seeking-my-former-coworkers-arent-allowed-to-talk-to-me-and-more.html http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/does-salary-reflect-the-type-of-candidate-an-employer-is-seeking-my-former-coworkers-arent-allowed-to-talk-to-me-and-more.html#comments Thu, 11 Dec 2014 05:03:22 +0000 http://www.askamanager.org/?p=8760 It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go… 1. Does salary reflect the type of candidate an employer is looking for? I’ve seen a job for which I seem to tick all the boxes, but the salary is high — a lot higher than what I am currently making. I am now doubting whether […]

does salary reflect the type of candidate an employer is seeking, my former coworkers aren’t allowed to talk to me, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. Does salary reflect the type of candidate an employer is looking for?

I’ve seen a job for which I seem to tick all the boxes, but the salary is high — a lot higher than what I am currently making. I am now doubting whether I am right for the job. Does the salary reflect the type of candidate that should apply?

Sometimes. But sometimes it turns out that you’re currently underpaid, or that the new place is particularly generous, or that you just don’t have a good sense of what the market rate is for that type of work. So if you really think you’re a strong match with what they’re advertising for, I’d go ahead and apply. The worst that can happen is that you don’t get the job; the best that can happen is that you end up getting a huge pay increase.

2. My former coworkers aren’t allowed to talk to me

I was a transportation manager over a team of about 30 individuals. I hired and trained the my team during the implementation of a new regional office. I was let go a few months ago due to disagreements about the ethics of withholding payments to contracted vendors. I believed it was unethical to withhold payment when services had been rendered my director and direct manager felt it was standard procedure. Shortly after this disagreement I was let go with no reason given.

I wondered after I was let go why so few employees and supervisors from my old team reached out. We had grown quite close during my time there and I considered some to be friends as well as coworkers. I later learned that the team had been ordered not to speak to me or about me. Have you ever heard of this before?

I now work for a large state vendor that continues to do business with my prior employer. When I called my prior employer’s office, I spoke to a very uncomfortable customer service agent who told me she was not allowed to speak to me or to transfer my call to a supervisor or any member of management. Is this standard in anyway?

I wouldn’t say it’s standard, but it’s not unheard of. Particularly petty employers are sometimes fond of silly maneuvers like this. It’s not reasonable or wise, but your old employer isn’t the only one to try it.

But they’re refusing to talk to you when you call in an official capacity from your current employer, trying to do business with them? That’s especially bizarre (and short-sighted).

3. Recruiter asked me to tell him where else I apply for jobs

I just met with a recruiter at a staffing agency, and he said that I have to let them know which jobs I’ve applied to directly so that the agency does not send in a resume as well. He claims that companies throw out resumes that come both from an agency and directly.

Is this true? My thought is that he probably doesn’t want me to work with them directly because the company can claim they got my resume from me directly rather than through any agency and therefore, would not have to pay any finder’s fee to his agency.

Am I being overly suspicious? My initial reaction was horror; I don’t know if the other agency I was working with was putting in my resume anywhere (which probably means they haven’t been), but if they did and I applied to the same places also, did I shoot myself in the foot? Is there some sort of industry standard where the HR person would dump both my resumes?

Yeah, recruiters generally have contractors with employers that state that a candidate is “owned” by whoever finds the person first — either the the recruiter who submitted them or the company if the person applied directly with them first. That means that recruiters usually don’t want to work with you on jobs you already applied for directly (because contractually they wouldn’t get paid if you were hired), and employers usually don’t want you submitted twice. Some employers do refuse to consider candidates who come in from multiple sources because they don’t want battles over commission, but the bigger issue here is probably that the recruiter doesn’t want to do work on your behalf that he won’t get paid for (which isn’t unreasonable).

4. Can I be forced to wear painful shoes to work?

Is it legal to be forced to wear shoes that are hurting you at work? I work retail and am assigned shoes to wear. We are forced to wear these. From closed shoes that make you bleed to high heels for 8 hours. I am now diagnosed with inflammation in my bone marrow and hip bursitis for life. Is it legal to be forced to wear shoes that are painful and visibly painful? Do I have a case here?

It sounds like that you’d be covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), although I can’t say for sure without knowing specifics. Regardless, though, the first step is to talk to your manager or HR department about the situation: Explain that you have a medical condition that doesn’t allow you to wear the assigned shoes without serious pain, and ask for a medical exception to the policy. If they refuse, that’s when I’d take a look at the ADA and how it might apply to you.

5. Thank-you notes after a panel interview

I just interviewed with a panel of five. Do I send a thank-you to all five or to the head of the committee?

Sending individual notes to all five is the more gracious move.

does salary reflect the type of candidate an employer is seeking, my former coworkers aren’t allowed to talk to me, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/does-salary-reflect-the-type-of-candidate-an-employer-is-seeking-my-former-coworkers-arent-allowed-to-talk-to-me-and-more.html/feed 106
update: my coworker went through my trash can to get me in trouble http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/update-my-coworker-went-through-my-trash-can-to-get-me-in-trouble.html http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/update-my-coworker-went-through-my-trash-can-to-get-me-in-trouble.html#comments Wed, 10 Dec 2014 19:00:33 +0000 http://www.askamanager.org/?p=8733 Remember the recent letter-writer whose coworker went through her trash can to try to get her in trouble? Here’s the update. The following week I arrived at work on Monday, and was promptly let go by my director (I know! We’d built such a great rapport!) for the following reason: “it’s just not working out.” While I […]

update: my coworker went through my trash can to get me in trouble was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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Remember the recent letter-writer whose coworker went through her trash can to try to get her in trouble? Here’s the update.

The following week I arrived at work on Monday, and was promptly let go by my director (I know! We’d built such a great rapport!) for the following reason: “it’s just not working out.”

While I suppose that’s a tremendous cop out, and what a horrible experience – I learned something (especially from the AAM thread!) very valuable: sometimes, the persona you project can really bite you in the ass.

I felt very indignant at the supposed injustices I experienced with that company; I hadn’t really given enough thought to why I had accepted the position in the first place and what I was going to do about it!

So, I thank you all! It was certainly a toxic work environment, and I was in denial of this plainly obvious fact when I accepted their offer. I was also in denial of my role in contributing to that toxic environment, to a lesser degree. I see now that I felt hopeless and the entire situation was a mistake.

As for me, I took a position in a very different industry (same field though, which FYI is marketing. Surprised?) and at a much lower rate of pay – and I love it! It’s the most relaxed, innovative, and encouraging work environment I’ve ever experienced. So, money really isn’t everything. Hell, they could pay me in post-it notes…

update: my coworker went through my trash can to get me in trouble was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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update: I called the police on an angry driver, who turned out to be a coworker http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/update-i-called-the-police-on-an-angry-driver-who-turned-out-to-be-a-coworker.html http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/update-i-called-the-police-on-an-angry-driver-who-turned-out-to-be-a-coworker.html#comments Wed, 10 Dec 2014 17:30:37 +0000 http://www.askamanager.org/?p=8728 Remember the letter-writer who was berated by an angry driver, who then turned out to be a coworker? Here’s the update. Two business days after the first incident, I pulled into my deck to find the same car parked in my reserved spot, and the man standing alongside his car. I was freaked out and […]

update: I called the police on an angry driver, who turned out to be a coworker was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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Remember the letter-writer who was berated by an angry driver, who then turned out to be a coworker? Here’s the update.

Two business days after the first incident, I pulled into my deck to find the same car parked in my reserved spot, and the man standing alongside his car. I was freaked out and immediately turned around; I didn’t notice that there was another driver pulled over to the side as well. Turns out the guy had turned into the Expectant Mother spot, realized it was reserved, and hit another car as he was backing out of it.

The officer on the scene was the same one who I had worked with a few days prior, so he was aware of the previous incident. He assured me it was just a coincidence that the guy tried to park there, and that he hadn’t known it was reserved. It made me very uneasy for a few days, but I’ve never seen that driver again since (and now I’m out for several weeks on maternity leave!)

I didn’t go to HR after either incident, but my manager was aware of what happened, as were the other folks in my office (it’s hard to be discreet when a police officer comes to speak to you in the office). Everyone was very supportive and offered to walk me to my car, etc. The whole thing made me very mindful of how I drive near work and especially on-campus, since you never know who may be in the car behind you!

update: I called the police on an angry driver, who turned out to be a coworker was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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how to coach an irritated manager to stop yelling http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/how-to-coach-an-irritated-manager-to-stop-yelling.html http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/how-to-coach-an-irritated-manager-to-stop-yelling.html#comments Wed, 10 Dec 2014 16:00:09 +0000 http://www.askamanager.org/?p=8775 A reader writes: I supervise four managers. One (who is brilliant and extremely receptive to feedback) is a younger manager who supervises someone 20+ years her senior who is argumentative and disagreeable. I can give the manager guidance about handling the argumentativeness from this employee (who is on a PIP for other issues), but – […]

how to coach an irritated manager to stop yelling was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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A reader writes:

I supervise four managers. One (who is brilliant and extremely receptive to feedback) is a younger manager who supervises someone 20+ years her senior who is argumentative and disagreeable. I can give the manager guidance about handling the argumentativeness from this employee (who is on a PIP for other issues), but – this manager has gotten very, very irritated and frustrated with her direct report and is snapping at her – yelling, even – which is very out of character.

I don’t blame the manager for being frustrated, but we’ve talked about how the goal isn’t to communicate to the employee that you’re outraged; it’s to communicate that the behavior needs to change and that there are consequences for not changing the behavior. What the employee is doing wrong isn’t outrageous, it’s just not okay and is really grating on the manager’s nerves. We’ve also talked about how she needs to remain calm and use a professional and even tone. She knows all that (in fact, she’s the one who brought this up with me), and wants to respond more appropriately, but is struggling to find the right words to say in the moment when she’s so irritated and angry. Her interactions with this employee have really hurt her confidence in her skills as a supervisor, and while I want to help her get back on balance, the yelling has to stop.

I encouraged her to take a vacation so she could step back for a while, but that didn’t seem to make much of a difference. What can I do to help this amazing manager get back on her feet?

Well, you’re absolutely right to be addressing this and not letting it go. Yelling and snapping at people (or otherwise showing hostility) is hugely damaging to a manager’s authority, credibility, and reputation, and it will make good people not want to work for her.

I’m not surprised that you think part of the problem is that she doesn’t have words to use in the moment; managers who yell often do it because they really don’t know any other way of getting what they need done. They’re missing some of the core tools that managers have to have in their tool boxes, and that lack makes them feel frustrated and desperate.

That means that the way to address this is by arming her with those tools. Often for managers, especially new managers, that just means being prepared with the language to use in difficult situations. So I’d sit down with her and review some of the situations where she snapped or yelled, and talk about what she could have said instead. For instance, she may need to have phrases like this in her arsenal:

* “We talked last week about how important it was to do X, but it’s still undone. What happened?”
* “I’m concerned that we’ve talked several times about Y, but I haven’t seen any improvement. What’s going on?”
* “The way you talked to Jane in the meeting was dismissive and caused her to shut down. Can we talk about how to approach that differently?”
* “When you missed yesterday’s deadline, I had to stay late to ensure the work got done. I need to be able to count on you to meet your deadlines.”
* “I hear you that it can be challenging to ____, but I need the person in your role to meet that bar.”
* “Because we’ve talked about this several times before, I’m concerned about the pattern I’m seeing in your work.”

Without knowing more about exactly what’s provoking her frustration, I can’t pinpoint the precise language she needs — but the idea is that you want to arm her with specific language to respond appropriately in similar situations in the future. It should be calm, assertive, and direct — and not emotional.

It’s also important to note that in the examples I gave above, there’s an implied “or else,” which is about consequences. When you’re having a serious conversation with an employee about concerns with that person’s performance or behavior, you should be clear in your own mind that if talking through the issues doesn’t resolve the problem, you have the ability to escalate the consequences — up to and including firing. This is key, because a manager who doesn’t believe in her own ability to impose consequences is a manager without the tools she needs to perform her own job. That’s what leads to feeling frustrated, helpless, and angry — which can lead to yelling. But a manager who is clear on her own authority to impose consequences knows that she has the tools she needs to get the results she’s charged with achieving, and therefore can act more calmly.

And speaking of consequences … This manager needs to understand what the consequences are in the situation for her. This isn’t a nice-to-change thing; it’s a must-change. Consequences of not changing it include a team who won’t respect her, great people not wanting to work for her, employees who will be afraid to give her tough news, and a generally less productive staff (since unhappy, demoralized people are less productive). Consequences also should probably include an impact on her career path in your organization; you can’t have someone managing people who responds to basic managerial challenges this way. You’re right to be supportive and to coach her on this, but if you don’t see pretty immediate improvement, it’s a serious performance issue in its own right — don’t lose sight of that.

how to coach an irritated manager to stop yelling was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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how can I get over my bitterness at being laid off, saying no to a networking request, and more http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/how-can-i-get-over-my-bitterness-at-being-laid-off-saying-no-to-a-networking-request-and-more.html http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/how-can-i-get-over-my-bitterness-at-being-laid-off-saying-no-to-a-networking-request-and-more.html#comments Wed, 10 Dec 2014 05:03:48 +0000 http://www.askamanager.org/?p=8759 It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go… 1. How can I get over my bitterness at being laid off? After a lot of uncertainty, my position at a nonprofit is being downsized and I’m being let go. I’m taking it pretty hard because it’s opening up a lot of painful uncertainties in my […]

how can I get over my bitterness at being laid off, saying no to a networking request, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. How can I get over my bitterness at being laid off?

After a lot of uncertainty, my position at a nonprofit is being downsized and I’m being let go. I’m taking it pretty hard because it’s opening up a lot of painful uncertainties in my life and I feel like my dream job is being pulled out from under me. In short, I’m very bitter. Plus, my organization is very conscious of projecting a positive image so there’s pressure to hide my being let go under “We taking a hiatus for that project.” I have a month left and it’s hard to muster any energy for my final projects because it feels like “letting them get away with it.” I know I should be professional and end on a strong note. How can I overcome my bitterness without pretending that I’m okay what’s happening?

Well, this probably doesn’t help, but it’s not personal. When positions are eliminated, it’s because it no longer makes financial or strategic sense for the organization to fund that work. In the case of a nonprofit, it’s particularly important that they be rigorous about how they’re using money, and they may not be able to justify the expense for legitimate reasons. That might not help, but it sounds like this is feeling very personal to you, when it isn’t.

The other thing to keep in mind is that you’ll be hurting yourself if you let your work or attitude slip during this final month. You’ll be relying on the people there for references in the future, and going out on a low note is really damaging to references. Particularly you since you’re facing a job search right now, your reputation is really important. Don’t let hurt feelings sway you into compromising it.

2. Say no to a networking request from a friend of a friend

I am three months into a great job at a huge organization in my field. A friend and former manager who helped me get the job (my first out of college) just reached out to me with a friend of hers who is trying to set up informational interviews for when she’s in the city. Having just gone through 100 information interviews, of course I’m happy to meet with her and be on the other side of the table. However, they both asked if I would set up information interviews for her with some higher-ups in my organization. I felt really uncomfortable about this request, as I have never met this person and I am still brand new to this organization and developing my own relationships within it.

Am I rude for saying no? It just seemed like such a strange request.

Nope. It’s totally reasonable to say something like, “I’m still new here so don’t feel like I’m able to ask other people here for favors yet, but I’d be glad to meet with you myself and be as helpful as I can.”

3. My job significantly changed my schedule after I started

I am a psychiatric nurse and was solicited by a home health agency to do psychiatric evaluations with home based patients. Considering the job is somewhat stressful, I was told that the psych nurses did not work on weekends. This was actually advertised in the job description and it was one of the significant perks that attracted me to the job in the first place. After all, I have worked weekends all my life, not to mention every shift imaginable in the nursing capacity.

In any event, during my probationary period, they found out that I had worked in a previous home health agency doing medical surgical nursing, like wound care, and that my skills were more eclectic even though I am a psychiatric nurse by profession. Upon this revelation, they told me that I would be placed on their weekend rotation. What this involves is working every fifth weekend and basically a 12-day stretch without any break. The stress is unimaginable because I am 60 years old and this involves me getting up at 4:30 am every morning. Many of my patients are hospice and are actively dying and I am burning out and this is tearing me apart. I find these “bait and switch” tactics by this company unconscionable, yet it is hard to find a full time job with good benefits. Unfortunately, I cannot find the original job description as I thought I had this in writing. Do I have any recourse in this situation or is it their word against mine?

It’s not really a question of your word against theirs, because even if you had the original job description, an employer can change your job description at any time; job descriptions aren’t legally binding. Instead, I’d recommend just talking to them about it: Explain that the schedule was something that attracted you to the job originally and that while you’re willing to pitch in in a pinch, you’re not interested in the type of work or schedule that they’ve moved you to. Say that you’d like to go back to the original role and schedule that you accepted.

It’s possible that they’ll refuse, but then you’re no worse off than you are now (and can at that point decide if you want the job under these terms). But it’s possible that you’ll be able to able to get back to what you originally signed up for.

4. I showed up on schedule but was sent home without pay an hour later

Can an employer schedule you to come at, say 6 pm, and when you get there, he says it’s not busy enough, don’t clock in yet. So he makes you wait around for 45 minutes to an hour. Then he comes to you and says it doesn’t look like it’s going to pick up so he sends you home, never having clocked in. I’m in Washington state and work for a restaurant/bar. Is that legal?

Nope, you need to be paid for that time that you were there, on schedule, ready to work.

5. Will employers care that I’ve lived in a bunch of different places?

How do you not look like crap online to employers if you’ve lived a bunch of places in your life?

When I Googled myself, as I imagine an employer might, different “find this person” sites show my maiden name, my ex-husband’s last name (which I never changed so what the hell?), and my husband’s last name. Since they list your whole life for where you’ve lived, for me (I’m 39), that was 6 different states, 8 different places total. I probably look like a flight risk with romantic issues or something. I’ve been with my husband for almost 16 years and don’t regret any one of the moves. One of them was for my husband’s work, two were for my work, and the rest we just hadn’t found the right place. Now we’ve found our true home, bought our first house this past May. We don’t plan on moving away ever, we adore it. As you know, I can’t be putting all of that stuff into a cover letter to explain.

I know I need to get on LinkedIn, maybe that would help, but I dread it, not being the social media type. I had a Twitter account, it got hacked and I closed it. I keep being turned down for even an interview at the library system I’d love to get into. I’ve applied to similar sounding jobs with this county-wide system with no response whatsoever. I have years of professional experience, professional memberships, current continuing education and skills, the appropriate degree or above, volunteer experience in the field, yada yada yada.

I actually think you’re worrying about it too much. Employers don’t usually look too closely at those “find this person” sites (if at all). They look at whatever online presence you have (social media, blogs, articles, etc.), but those “find you” sites don’t generally have much that’s of interest to employers. So I wouldn’t worry about this.

Instead, I’d focus on making sure your resume and cover letter are truly awesome (read this). Go ahead and set up a LinkedIn profile — you don’t need to be a social media type to do that; you can be pretty damn inactive on LinkedIn and still have a presence there. But really, your cover letter and resume are the big things that are going to determine whether you get interviews or not.

how can I get over my bitterness at being laid off, saying no to a networking request, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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update: my manager doesn’t want me to meet with clients unless I lose weight http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/update-my-manager-doesnt-want-me-to-meet-with-clients-unless-i-lose-weight.html http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/update-my-manager-doesnt-want-me-to-meet-with-clients-unless-i-lose-weight.html#comments Tue, 09 Dec 2014 19:00:02 +0000 http://www.askamanager.org/?p=8725 Remember the letter-writer who was told that she shouldn’t meet with clients unless she lost weight? Here’s the update. In October, I resigned from my position at the consulting firm. The original conversation – where I was told that the brand is “thin and edgy” was incredibly difficult and I made it very clear to […]

update: my manager doesn’t want me to meet with clients unless I lose weight was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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Remember the letter-writer who was told that she shouldn’t meet with clients unless she lost weight? Here’s the update.

In October, I resigned from my position at the consulting firm. The original conversation – where I was told that the brand is “thin and edgy” was incredibly difficult and I made it very clear to the senior leadership that I was unhappy. I tried speaking to other members of management and they all supported the original statements. I was asked by one director if I was a size 14. I told her I was a 10 and she responded by suggesting that I spend some time getting at the source of why I occur to people as bigger than I am. In a conversation with another director, I was told repeatedly, “You know you’re the brand, right? You know you’re not thin, right? If you’re honest with me, I bet you’ll say that you’re not really happy with your body.” She tried to convince me that I was digging my heels in for a value and that I was holding myself back as a result.

They stand by the belief that if I work hard to keep myself exceptionally thin, then I will be more effective when consulting with clients. I personally think that they just have a particular aesthetic preference. I have no problem with the way I look and decided that I am fundamentally not aligned with the idea that their definition of “thin” equals extraordinary. As soon as I found another position, I resigned from the company and am much happier for it.

Also, I’m just now reading many of the comments that I hadn’t read before. Just a few points of clarification from people’s questions that you can add to my response if you’d like: I’m the same size I was when I got hired. They say the same things to men. And my CEO – is a woman.

update: my manager doesn’t want me to meet with clients unless I lose weight was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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how to spread holiday cheer at work — without spiking the punch http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/how-to-spread-holiday-cheer-at-work-without-spiking-the-punch.html http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/how-to-spread-holiday-cheer-at-work-without-spiking-the-punch.html#comments Tue, 09 Dec 2014 17:30:56 +0000 http://www.askamanager.org/?p=8765 Are you an influence for good at your workplace? Or are you often a negative force? At Intuit QuickBase’s Fast Track blog today, I talk about five things you can do to spread joy at work this month, like spreading “good gossip,” helping someone when you don’t have to, and more. You can read it […]

how to spread holiday cheer at work — without spiking the punch was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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Are you an influence for good at your workplace? Or are you often a negative force?

At Intuit QuickBase’s Fast Track blog today, I talk about five things you can do to spread joy at work this month, like spreading “good gossip,” helping someone when you don’t have to, and more. You can read it here.

(Hat tip to commenter Lily in NYC for the concept of “good gossip,” which I love.)

how to spread holiday cheer at work — without spiking the punch was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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can I refuse to put up Christmas decorations at work? http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/can-i-refuse-to-put-up-christmas-decorations-at-work.html http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/can-i-refuse-to-put-up-christmas-decorations-at-work.html#comments Tue, 09 Dec 2014 16:00:58 +0000 http://www.askamanager.org/?p=8767 A reader writes: My employer is asking all of us to decorate our offices/work areas for Christmas this year. The decorations are provided, and she thinks it will brighten up the office. I work as an administrative assistant in the front of the office. Because of some difficult personal reasons, I will not be celebrating […]

can I refuse to put up Christmas decorations at work? was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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A reader writes:

My employer is asking all of us to decorate our offices/work areas for Christmas this year. The decorations are provided, and she thinks it will brighten up the office. I work as an administrative assistant in the front of the office. Because of some difficult personal reasons, I will not be celebrating Christmas this year, and honestly, the sight of anything holiday-related makes me sad. Would I be out of line if I refused to put up decorations?

If you wanted to refuse to decorate your own personal work space on religious grounds (such as being a different faith or belonging to a branch of Christianity that finds Santa frivolous or counter to the true meaning of the holiday, or so forth), you’d be well within your rights to decline to participate on those grounds.

However, it doesn’t sound like your objections are religious in nature, and because your desk is in the reception area (it sounds like), it’s a little different anyway. It’s reasonable for a business to decide it wants to decorate its front office for the holidays, and ultimately that area isn’t just your work space — it’s also their reception area where they greet visitors.

I suppose you could float the idea by saying something like, “I’m not participating in the holidays this year for personal reasons. Would you mind if I didn’t put up decorations in my area?” But a reasonable manager could certainly reply to that with, “It’s fine to keep them out of your immediate desk area, but we do want to decorate the reception area where you’re located.” If that’s the response, there’s not a lot you can do at that point, particularly not without pushing the issue further than will appear reasonable.

can I refuse to put up Christmas decorations at work? was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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asking an interviewer about guns at work, when a department has fallen apart, and more http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/asking-an-interviewer-about-guns-at-work-when-a-department-has-fallen-apart-and-more.html http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/asking-an-interviewer-about-guns-at-work-when-a-department-has-fallen-apart-and-more.html#comments Tue, 09 Dec 2014 05:03:33 +0000 http://www.askamanager.org/?p=8750 It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go… 1. Asking an interviewer whether any employees bring guns to work No really, this IS hypothetical! Maybe it’s a silly question, but it just occurred to me and I’m curious about your take. A candidate, Jane, is contemplating a job offer at Firm “X”—just a standard […]

asking an interviewer about guns at work, when a department has fallen apart, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. Asking an interviewer whether any employees bring guns to work

No really, this IS hypothetical! Maybe it’s a silly question, but it just occurred to me and I’m curious about your take.

A candidate, Jane, is contemplating a job offer at Firm “X”—just a standard office environment, nothing unusual or inherently dangerous. Firm X has no particular policy regarding weapons or firearms in the workplace, but is located in a place where concealed, permitted, firearms can be legally carried.

Jane wants the job but doesn’t want to work in a building where firearms may be present. It seems obvious that Jane can ASK if firearms are present in the workplace…and that, rational or not, she could take the response into account when considering whether to accept the offer. But should firms lacking a firearms or weapons policy have a ready answer to this question? If they don’t, should they find out the answer?

If I suddenly learned that coworkers down the hall were packing heat, I wonder how it would affect me.

I learned when answering a related question earlier this year that an employer might not even know the answer to this. In nearly all states that allow concealed gun carrying, if an employer wants to prohibit employees from bringing guns into the workplace, they have to post clear notices to that effect throughout their workplace (and in some cases, these notices must contain specific language defined by law). Beyond that, in a concealed carry state, they wouldn’t necessarily know if someone was bringing a gun to work.

You’ll probably find the comments on that post very interesting.

I’ll also repeat here the same request I made in that previous post: Because this issue is a heated one, I’m requesting that we refrain from a debate on gun laws in the comment section — where each side of the issue is highly unlikely to convince the other side — and instead stay focused on the question posed here by the letter-writer.

2. Will prospective employers contact my current employer without alerting me?

Although you say it is normal to say “no” when/if a potential future employer asks if they can contact your current employer, what do you say on your cover letter and/or resume, without being asked? Do I just assume that they would not contact my current employer until they meet me and ask me themselves?

Yes. Sane, reasonable employers don’t contact current employers, certainly not without permission. And even unreasonable employers don’t typically contact references before interviewing people (it would be a huge waste of time, since they don’t even know yet if they’re interested in hiring you; reference-checking normally takes place toward the end of the hiring process).

That said, there’s always some degree of risk that you’ll encounter a crazy employer who doesn’t abide by these practices and inadvertently outs you. It’s very, very rare, but the risk isn’t zero. It’s somewhere just above zero though.

3. Our Development department has fallen apart

Nearly a year ago, I started working at a large cultural institution, despite knowing that the institution has had a few years of serious financial trouble. While it truly does seem like the place is getting its finances in order in many ways, one thing has become increasingly daunting. Since I started (in a completely separate department), the Development department has dwindled from an already slim 6 people to just one person. While I do not work closely with the CEO, it does not seem like she has a sense of urgency in filling these positions. To the best of my knowledge, all five of these people resigned and took relevant jobs elsewhere. I believe that the HR department has been weakly recruiting these positions– some, for a few months– but none have been filled.

Needless to say, there is now no leadership in that department and I’m concerned that this does not bode well for an already struggling non-profit. Does this sound like a sinking ship? How long can a large non-profit go without a Development department? How would a pre-existing organization go about hiring a whole department at once, especially for something as critical as Development?

It depends on the organization’s funding model. If they’re funded primarily through a small number of large donors, and the CEO is the person who maintains the relationships with those funders, it might not be a problem at all to have a virtually non-existent Development department. On the other hand, if the Development department was responsible for bringing in significant funding (as opposed to merely supporting the CEO in doing it), then a decimated Development department would be a very big problem indeed.

Hiring a whole department all at once isn’t ideal, but it’s not impossible either — especially in an area like Development, where the CEO usually plays a big role and is going to have some at least some institutional knowledge.

4. Can I say I have a degree that I don’t quite have yet?

I’ve been working in a very competitive industry for the past three years, and am finishing an undergraduate degree at night. I’m writing the last exam next week and already know that I’m going to pass the final course, but I won’t have official confirmation of graduation for a while longer.

Due to my personal situation, I need to start looking for work and sending out resumes right away. I know that in this industry, applicants with a degree will stand a much better chance of being hired, and will make $5,000+ a year more than someone without one, regardless of experience. As well, there seems to be a big difference between “having a degree” and “almost having a degree,” at least in the minds of the hiring managers I’ve met. Is it still too premature to say I have a degree, seeing as how it’s more or less a done deal? If it is, how could I word my cover letter and resume in such a way that it isn’t instantly thrown on the trash heap?

Nope, you can’t say you have a degree that you don’t yet have. But you can make it clear that you’re about to have it, by putting something like this on your resume:

B.A., Dark Arts, Hogwarts (expected January 2015)

5. Thank-you notes when you haven’t applied for a particular job

I’ve just had a phone interview with a recruiter who put out a “cattle call” type job ad for job seekers in a specific industry. Your (awesome) advice says that thank you notes should be used to express your enthusiasm for the job — but I haven’t applied for a particular role so much as gone through my work history and strengths with a view to finding one. In this scenario, what is the best framing for a thank-you note to take?

Just adjust it slightly for this situation: Instead of talking about a particular job, talk about your enthusiasm for the work you do, and say that you’d love to work further with the recruiter. No need for anything long or fancy; just a few sentences in this context (phone interview, and recruiter rather than hiring manager) is fine.

asking an interviewer about guns at work, when a department has fallen apart, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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update: I pulled a prank on a coworker — and it ended badly http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/update-i-pulled-a-prank-on-a-coworker-and-it-ended-badly.html http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/update-i-pulled-a-prank-on-a-coworker-and-it-ended-badly.html#comments Mon, 08 Dec 2014 19:00:54 +0000 http://www.askamanager.org/?p=8724 Remember the letter-writer who pulled a prank on a coworker, and the coworker did not appreciate the joke? Here’s the update. Not a whole lot has happened since. The apology was made at the time of the incident (when he threatened me) but we didn’t talk much after that, only professionally when we did. By […]

update: I pulled a prank on a coworker — and it ended badly was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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Remember the letter-writer who pulled a prank on a coworker, and the coworker did not appreciate the joke? Here’s the update.

Not a whole lot has happened since. The apology was made at the time of the incident (when he threatened me) but we didn’t talk much after that, only professionally when we did. By providence, I was seconded to a special project so regarding management concerns, I guess that’s a non-issue! (It was also never brought up and I didn’t do anything else regarding the situation.)

As for him, all I know is that he continues to “joke” with others in the same manner he did with me and sending the same signals to others that I initially misinterpreted. Beyond that, I don’t have much interaction with him anymore. Things seemed to have blown over and I don’t joke with anyone anymore, really. I just keep everything as professional as I can and separate work from my personal life. At the end of the day, work is work and I’m not at work to make friends (I do that outside of work).

P.S. This letter-writer took a lot of criticism in the comment section the first time around but was still nice enough to write back in with an update, so please be kind.

update: I pulled a prank on a coworker — and it ended badly was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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the 5 skills you need to work for yourself http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/the-5-skills-you-need-to-work-for-yourself.html http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/the-5-skills-you-need-to-work-for-yourself.html#comments Mon, 08 Dec 2014 17:30:22 +0000 http://www.askamanager.org/?p=8762 Thinking about going into business for yourself? If you have a talent or skill or product idea that you think people would pay for, you might be tempted to strike out on your own and see if you can turn it into a business. After all, what’s better than working for yourself, having no boss, […]

the 5 skills you need to work for yourself was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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featured-on-usnThinking about going into business for yourself? If you have a talent or skill or product idea that you think people would pay for, you might be tempted to strike out on your own and see if you can turn it into a business. After all, what’s better than working for yourself, having no boss, and keeping your own hours?

But being successful working for yourself requires more than just having a skill or product that people will pay for. At U.S. News & World Report today, I talk about five essential skills you’ll also need. You can read it here.

the 5 skills you need to work for yourself was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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update: our museum volunteer is out of control http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/update-our-museum-volunteer-is-out-of-control.html http://www.askamanager.org/2014/12/update-our-museum-volunteer-is-out-of-control.html#comments Mon, 08 Dec 2014 16:00:31 +0000 http://www.askamanager.org/?p=8720 Remember the letter-writer who managed a museum that was saddled with a rogue volunteer who no one could control (and who was protected by the board of directors)? Here’s the update. Unfortunately, this is not a particularly happy update. Since I wrote in last April, three of our board members have met with Steve several […]

update: our museum volunteer is out of control was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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Remember the letter-writer who managed a museum that was saddled with a rogue volunteer who no one could control (and who was protected by the board of directors)? Here’s the update.

Unfortunately, this is not a particularly happy update. Since I wrote in last April, three of our board members have met with Steve several times to discuss his involvement in the organization. At each meeting, Steve would agree to certain things and then change his mind or not follow through (example: Steve agrees he will come up with a list of projects he would like to focus on; the list never materializes).

Steve is manipulative and hard to deal with – he hijacks conversations and turns them to completely different topics, so it was hard for these board members to get through to him. The board members weren’t super interested in rocking the boat, so each time he agreed to something and then didn’t follow through, they gave him another chance. Basically, it got to be this endless cycle of them having the same conversation with him about every six weeks since May. They would not allow me to attend these meetings because they think Steve doesn’t respect me.

In July, they changed the locks “as a routine security measure” but really to try to make Steve so mad he leaves on his own. It did make Steve fleetingly consider leaving, but really it just made other long-time volunteers upset (who had previously had keys) and drove a big wedge between staff, volunteers, and the board. It was a really rough few months.

Once everyone got used to the new policies in conjunction with the key situation, everything calmed down this fall. One of Steve’s friends is ill, so Steve took two months off to help him out. When he returned at the beginning of October and requested a key, the board members met with him again and really tried to pin him down on some issues (and told him he’s not getting a key). He agreed to send update emails to me and the board members (he is working on a lot of projects and with a lot of donors that no one else knows about). He did actually send a couple of the email updates, and I’ve seen some improvements from him in other ways since that last meeting. He is taking more time off through the end of the year to continue to help his friend.

I am now kind of resigned to the fact that we are just waiting for him to leave on his own at this point. But there’s a lot still up in the air, including the fact that he’s still holding a lot of our collections at his home. He has decided to remove us from his will and is instead donating his estate to the local university. I don’t think the board will stand up to him any more than they already have, so I’m just waiting for the next ball to drop.

Meanwhile, Jean is much happier and is fitting in better with the rest of the staff now that Steve isn’t looming over her. We are in the middle of a Museum Assessment Program assessment, with a reviewer visiting in March. I am looking forward to talking to her about the issues with the board and Steve, and seeing another perspective on it all.

update: our museum volunteer is out of control was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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