tiny answer Tuesday: 7 short answers to 7 short questions

It’s tiny answer Tuesday: seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…

1. Can my manager force me to quit even though I don’t want to?

I am a 22-year-old woman who has no problem working two jobs because I’ve done it before. Recently I was hired to be an assistant store manager. I accepted the job and let my new boss know that I wanted to still work my other job(grocery store). When I told my current boss about my new job, she keeps telling me I can’t work both. All of her reasons seem like personal opinions. Now she’s asking me when am I turning in my two weeks notice. My question to you is, can they make me quit even though I don’t want to, or are they firing me? I’m really disappointed in how this is turning out. I just don’t understand.

No one can ever make you quit a job if you don’t want to. Of course, they can fire you if you refuse, but if you have reasons for preferring to be fired than to quit, they certainly can’t force you to quit.

In your case, it sounds like your manager has clearly told you that you can’t have both jobs. It doesn’t matter that you don’t have a problem having both; she doesn’t want you to. This isn’t an unusual stand; sometimes employers don’t allow second jobs if it might interfere with your availability for them. Go back and talk to your manager. Tell her that you believe you can work both jobs without interfering with your commitment there. Ask her what her concerns are, and see if you can address them. But ultimately, she can certainly tell you that you can’t work there if you don’t quit the first one.

2. Listing free courses on your resume

I’m taking classes on coursera.org and edx.org that are offered free (open) online for anyone who wants to take them. Some of them are from very prestigious schools like Harvard and MIT. How do you feel about listing classes that you’ve taken and passed through those websites on your resume and LinkedIn that are relevant to your field? As for the classes that are irrelevant to your field, should you list those at all or only on LinkedIn?

I’m not a huge fan of listing individual courses on a resume, except in narrowly defined situations where it’s highly valued by your industry or you’re trying to send some specific signal — such as that you’re working to keep up to date in your field, boosting your skills in X, or whatever. Simply attending a class doesn’t convey much beyond that you attended; it doesn’t say what you took away from the class or what you’re doing with it. And the prestige of a school doesn’t matter when the classes are open to anyone who wants to attend. All of which is to say … it’s probably fine to list it, but don’t list a ton of individual courses (this should take up one or two lines at most) and don’t count on it having a significant impact on the reader.

3. I have to work more hours than the rest of my office

All of the employees in my office who are paid a salary work 37.5 hours a week while I am required to work 40. I am the receptionist, while their positions include file clerks, assistants, and a courier. Is this common/legal? I don’t really think it’s fair but have a feeling there’s nothing I can do about it.

Yes, it’s common and legal. Unless they’re basing hours and pay on people’s race, religion, sex, etc., there’s nothing illegal or even unfair about assigning different positions different hours.

4. Training classes as an unpaid intern

I started interning at a nonprofit just a couple months ago. I am interested in taking some classes in grant writing. I am thinking, would my organization be willing to pay for the classes for an unpaid intern like me? It’s a large organization, and one of my supervisors is a grant writer/manager, but I am interested in learning more about it and getting certification.

Very unlikely. They already have someone writing grants, and a large organization is unlikely to give grant-writing responsibilities to an intern, so there’s no real incentive for them to pay for you to take a class in the subject. That said, you can certainly mention to your manager that you’re interested in learning more about the area and that you’d love her advice on how you can gain experience and skills in it.

5. Accommodations from my company to care for a child with autism

I am currently working as a retail manager and have been with the company for 12 years. I am mother of a 2-year-old with developmental delays and have been taking him to see a speech and occupatinal therapist for a year now. I was recently told he may have autism and needs more therapy. I let my employer know my situation and that I can’t be a manager and still do the things his doctors and therapist suggest. They told me I can’t step down and my only option is to quit. I can’t help but question is this true or legal? I have letters showing what his doctors suggest and how my son will benefit from my be able to spend more time on his therapies.

If your company has 50 employees or more, you might be eligible for up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to help your son under Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). It can be taken in pieces (you don’t need to take all 12 weeks at once), but it sounds like that probably isn’t quite what the situation needs. Beyond FMLA leave, I can’t think of anything else they’d be obligated to offer you, and from their point of view — as sympathetic as they might be to your situation — it’s not unreasonable to take the stance that your managerial responsibilities can’t be uncoupled from the rest of your job. It’s not a question of whether your and your son’s needs are legitimate; it’s whether this job and this employer can accommodate them or not. Unfortunately, it sounds like your best option might be to look at other jobs that are a better fit with the change in your circumstances.

6. Will my job change under a new manager?

I took a job three months ago in the regional office of a large corporation. My department is small, just three people, and I took the job largely based on compatibility with my boss and coworker, the industry experience they said I would gain through the responsibilities of my job, and special projects they would give me based on my past professional experience. Fast-forward to now: my boss left the company last week and my coworker told me last night that he is leaving as well. I’m concerned that when their positions are filled, many of the special analytical projects I’m working on will drop off as my new boss and coworker attempt to establish themselves in their roles and that I will be left to do project accounting full time, which is only intended to be 15% of my duties.

I’m considering going to our regional president, who thinks highly of me but does not work with me on a day-to-day basis, to discuss these concerns but what is proper protocol for renegotiating/solidifying my job responsibilities in this situation?

I would talk to whoever your boss’s boss is (which may or may not be the regional president) and say that you’re concerned about ensuring that the arrangements you made when you took the job will continue under the new manager. She may be able to assure you that it will, or she might tell you that it’ll be up to the new manager when that person is hired. If the latter, then I’d wait and see what happens when that person starts — and don’t be shy about talking with the new person about your concerns as well at that point. Ultimately, if she makes major changes, at that point you can decide whether it’s something you want to stick around for or not.

7. My coworker won’t leave me alone

I have a coworker who will not leave me alone. Unfortunately, she’s also friends with the head of our organization, so many options that I would otherwise try won’t work here because she will tattle to him. She stops by my office numerous times a day, for 30-50 minutes at a time. We don’t really ever have a conversation, she usually just talks at me.

I’ve tried saying I’m busy, or that I’m on a deadline, and I usually keep my door closed. Sometimes I’ll even be on the phone and she will barge in and sit there until I end the conversation. I’ve talked to my immediate supervisor about this, but his advice was to basically suck it up because she’s friends with the boss. I really have tried, but she is ruining my life at work. In addition to being a chronic time waster, she’s also done things on occasion that really bother me on a personal level (for instance, lying to clients to make them feel sorry for her). I am constantly afraid she’ll interrupt me and I’ll be sucked into an hour of wasted time with someone I deeply dislike. Lately she’s also been trying to get me to hang out with her outside of work. I’ve been able to avoid it so far, but she clearly either can’t read or doesn’t care about social cues because I’ve been pretty obvious I can’t stand her. In fact, she’s complained to my supervisor that I’m not friendly enough to her! I don’t want to be mean, but politely telling her I’m busy and don’t have time to talk hasn’t worked. I would really appreciate any advice on how to stop this, or at least cut down on the interruptions.

You need to be direct: “I’m busy right now and can’t talk.” “I’m on deadline so need you to leave my office.” “Sorry, but I need to focus and can’t speak with you.” “Please do not wait in my office when I’m on a phone call.” Repeat over and over as necessary.

As for the social overtures: “No, thank you.” “No, I try to keep work and home separate.” “No, thank you.”

No one can force you to talk to them without your permission.

{ 114 comments… read them below }

  1. Jamie*

    #5 actually, my first thought was FMLA may very well fit the bill here, if applicable to your company.

    That’s 60 days, you could take two half days a week for over a year. And a lot of the therapy they will give you for homework is fun for your little one. Drawing letters in shaving cream in the tub, working on both sensory integration issues and speech.

    I don’t have advice for dealing with your employer, but I wish you and your little guy all the best. It’s tough in the early years when the diagnosis is new, but the therapies are so worth it and can make a huge difference.

    1. Anonymous*

      Unfortunately, though, it sounds like the OP is stating she believes she cannot handle being a manager anymore. FMLA secures your original job for up to 12 weeks per year, however it does not entitle you to change the job responsibilities.

      She might request a demotion, and then apply for FMLA, to accommodate necessary absences, etc. Or, if she thinks she can in fact handle remaining in her managerial role, FMLA will 100% cover these absences, up to the 12 week max each year.

    2. Becky*

      Many employers have restrictions about how you can use FMLA leave, so that is something to be aware of as well. You might not be able to take just one day at a time. Check with your employer.

      1. Natalie*

        Intermittent leave due to a serious illness (the employee’s or a family member’s) is part of the law. An employer can’t (legally) put additional restrictions in place.

  2. Jamie*

    . And the prestige of a school doesn’t matter when the classes are open to anyone who wants to attend

    Agreed…but just wanted to toss in a plug for MITs open courseware. They have a lot of interesting offerings and it’s not a bad way to learn without the commitment of taking an actual course.

    Of course you don’t get all the advantages of an actual course either, I personally wouldn’t list it on my resume but it’s a great answer to the “what have you been doing since being unemployed” question. It shouldn’t be your only answer, obviously, but it’s a way to show you’ve been keeping intellectually active and continually learning.

    1. Anon*

      I’ve been waiting for a question like #2 to come along for a good bit of time now. Ultimately, until the exams become proctored, I feel like these courses are a tremendous boost for you personally, but do very little in terms of signaling abilities to the employer. Completely agree that it’s a stellar way to fill time during unemployment, though.

      1. Rana*

        Yes. Given that you can enroll and not do the work, and look the same on paper as someone who did all the assignments and did them well, merely having taken the course doesn’t seem that impressive to me.

        It sounds more like something to mention in a cover letter or an interview, than a line on LinkedIn or a resume.

    2. Sarah*

      Especially if particularly relevant to a job! I review (mostly entry level) resumes and would be intrigued by this. yes, the exams aren’t proctored, but it is more than just sitting through the lectures. As someone who has casually watched a few of these (not for “credit), I would be at least marginally impressed by someone doing this in their free time. It shows an interest in learning.

      While the prestige of the school doesn’t matter for prestige reasons, the teachers are the same (and excellet).

      1. OP #2*

        I had no hard feelings one way or another on whether they should or should not be listed, but as the courses I’m taking are directly relevant to a career change, into a computer science field, I needed to know. The prestige doesn’t matter to me so much as that it gives me faith in the classes because they are taught by someone who was hired to work at those universities that have a stellar reputation.

        I’m currently employed in another field (non-profit, just happen to do CS things as a part of my job because I have that knowledge) and want to switch to a full time software engineer. I have two college degrees that have nothing to do with CS, and I am using these classes as stepping stones in that knowledge, without sinking myself into more debt. For a software engineer there is usually a technical interview and it’s pretty hard to bluff your way through that unless your interviewer is incredibly incompetent and had zero clue what a programmer actually would have to do in situations X, Y and Z.

        @Rana I don’t see how this is any different than someone being accepted to a university and not graduating but saying they did. Or saying they took X class in college at the university they graduated from but never did. Eventually, if it’s something important to the job and they lied, it’s going to be found out.

        Also, I don’t know if it’s relevant, but with edX.com (the site that is a co-op between MIT, Harvard and Berkley) they grade everything you turn in and if you pass their criteria, they send you a certificate.

        1. Rana*

          Actually, I wasn’t concerned about possible lying so much as the fact that there’s little way to verify that you did or learned anything useful in the class. Saying “I took this class” and the institution saying “yep, OP#2 took this class” gets you as far as… well, you took the class. So did the person who got an F in it, so did the person who got an A, and so did the person who aced all the assignments but promptly forgot everything they learned afterwards.

          That is, it doesn’t tell me if you can apply it to real-world situations. That’s why it should be in the cover letter, so you can explain what you did, and why it’s relevant. A line on your resume that says “Took class in X” doesn’t honestly say all that much. There are better uses of that space.

          1. OP #2*

            I can see that argument, but my point is that that POV could apply to anything on a resume. An MD is an MD whether he graduated first in his class at Johns Hopkins or last in his class from Central Michigan.

            But thanks to everyone, and Alison for your feedback. I will address it in my cover letter as well as on LinkedIn and my résumé.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              But those two MDs aren’t at all the same. That first MD is going to be perceived very differently than that second MD, when looking for jobs. And you risk looking naive or worse if you present taking an open course as equivalent to taking and excelling in a competitive-admission course. Plus, of course, there’s the fact that even the latter generally doesn’t deserve a lot of space on a resume.

              1. OP #2*

                I understand that, I guess I’m not doing a good job of explaining what I am trying to say. And apparently my metaphors aren’t helping either.

                Thanks for the advice everyone.

  3. Katie the Fed*

    I wonder if the woman in #7 is really friends with the head of the organization or just thinks she is. Because she sounds completely dense.

    At some point the OP in #7 may need to talk to her own boss and say that she’s having some trouble getting her work done because of this person interrupting all day.

    1. Noelle*

      (OP #7 here). I’m not sure how good of friends they really are (I’m pretty sure she annoys him too) but unfortunately they’re close enough that she’s been able to get others into trouble by going to him in the past. I’m hoping that if I follow AAM’s advice though, there won’t really be anything specific to complain about, unless she wants to go to the boss and complain that I’m too busy to talk to her.

      1. Michael*

        My plain reading of the rules says this is genuine harassment if you’ve really made your best efforts to make it plain to this woman that her behavior is unwanted.


        I know Alison prescribes the “severe and pervasive” rule probably as a standard to ensure a solid case but it’s really an or.

        “Harassment becomes unlawful where 1) enduring the offensive conduct becomes a condition of continued employment, or 2) the conduct is severe or pervasive enough to create a work environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive.”

        Given this person has gotten others in trouble for their work, which is abusive, any reasonable person (IMO) would be at least somewhat intimidated with her around who is aware of those situations. It’s certainly hostile at any rate even if she hasn’t gotten you in trouble yet.

        “The victim does not have to be the person harassed, but can be anyone affected by the offensive conduct.”

        Now, I’m not telling you to make a b-line for the lawsuit line but you should probably at least run it by a lawyer to see if you have any legal recourse and to see where you stand given local laws as well. The company’s HR department should be made aware the situation is in fact putting the company at a legal risk as well.

        As always, the onus is on you proving it should things go “that way.” So, if you haven’t yet you should keep a log of your interactions and update it ASAP when something happens.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          To be illegal, it would need to be hostile conduct based on the OP’s race, religion, sex, ethnicity, or other protected class. Just being annoying isn’t illegal, even if it’s severe/pervasive annoyingness.

  4. pidgeonpenelope*

    #7: I totally feel for you! I have had similar situations with coworkers. I agree with A.A.M, you’re going to need to be more direct. She’s clearly unprofessional, especially if she’s bringing her personal issues about you to your supervisor. Ugh. I hope it works out for the best!

    1. Noelle*

      Thank you! I feel like I have been direct, but clearly I need to be more so. My supervisor told me I need to be polite to her, but it’s a big enough problem now that I feel like being polite but very very firm (and direct) is my only option. Hopefully she gets the message and it’s not exciting enough to complain about!

      1. Jamie*

        Right – some people think polite and firm are diametrically opposed states – but they can happily co-exist.

        Although not to the degree you describe, I had a co-worker who plopped down in a chair while I was on the phone and waited. I excused myself to the caller, put them on hold, and asked if there was an emergency. Answer being no, I said I would come find them when I was off the phone and could they please shut my door on the way out.

        I only had to do that once. She was still a plopper with other people, but not to me.

      2. Joy*

        You must work with my former co-worker! I worked with her for almost a year and never figured out how to handle her. The worst part was that we didn’t even work the same shift – it was a health care position that only necessitated one person at a time and largely consisted of monitoring (so I would bring books to read or other work to do).

        She would show up hours early, during my shifts, and sit down and talk to me the whole time. I didn’t have an office or a door I could close, and even being firm only worked for a day or two. Then she’d be back, over-sharing and talking for hours.

        Since I had no means of escape, and since she was friends with my boss and had worked for her much longer than I had, I ended up letting her talk “at” me when nothing else worked. It was miserable.

        In retrospect, being even more firm (polite, but VERY firm) might have done the trick. It sounds like you’re in a position where you have to actively work – not just monitor – so you have a more concrete reason for nipping her conversation attempts in the bud. Good luck – I’m rooting for you!

      3. Anonymous*

        Would you be able to remove the spare chair/chairs from your office so there is nowhere for an unwelcome visitor to sit? You’d have to duck out and collect them when you had appointments, which would be inconvenient, but might well be offset by the reduction of time in visits. Or keep your spare chair right beside you, with a couple of big fat files on it.

        Also observe what happens with other people. Is she as intrusive with everyone? If not, watch for their signals and emulate them.

        1. Jamie*

          I generally have light boxes of computer stuff on mine – easy to move if someone needs to sit but less welcoming than an empty chair.

          I was so happy when I moved the couch out of my office and replaced it with a single chair. The message the couch sends was just the antithesis of who I am.

        2. Noelle*

          Ha, I’ve tried that too. Unfortunately, there are chairs in our waiting room that she’ll pull in to my office (and also doesn’t mind standing for extended periods of time). She finds a way around everything!!!

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Try, “I wouldn’t bother with the chair — I only have a minute before I’ll need to get back to work.”

            And then again if needed: “Sorry, can’t talk now. I have work to do.”

    2. Frances*

      Someone once complained to my supervisor that I was “unfriendly.” My supervisor was new to the job at the time and after a couple of weeks of observing, realized that I was simply very busy (and also that the person who made the complaint had an unreasonable expectation of the amount of support I was supposed to provide). Perhaps the next time complaints from this coworker are relayed #7 could say something along the lines of “unfortunately I’m often very busy when she drops by my office, and I really can’t stop to talk.”

      1. Jamie*

        The unfriendly complaints – also known as the unapproachable complaints, and the “I’m scared of the technical one who looks ready to snap” complaints.

        I haven’t gotten one in a couple of years, but I don’t know if that’s because my effort to be sunnier when I’m bounding toward burnout is working (and I have made an effort) or if people have just lowered their expectations of me.

        Probably the latter.

        If I were your boss I would want to know what business process was impeded by you being unfriendly. And I’m assuming your unfriendly = businesslike and that you aren’t actually pelting people with staplers for daring to make eye contact with you.

        If the answer is none and you are attending to work stuff properly, I’d just advise you to let people know how to best communicate with you (email, whathave you, anything is better than drive by requests for support). And I’d commiserate because the same people would probably have the same complaints about me.

        If business processes were impeded because people were afraid to speak to you, then I’d ask you to come up with a structured plan for how to minimize the crazymaking stuff and caution you that people appreciate warm and fuzzy – so try to manage it when you can.

        1. Anon*

          This is gendered, too. Women take far more flack than men for being coldly analytical, even in technical roles.

        2. Noelle*

          I probably do seem unfriendly to a lot of people; when I’m talking to clients or in meetings or on scheduled calls (in other words, when my time is actually reserved for someone and I’m not being needlessly interrupted!) I’ve been told that I’m very nice and thoughtful. When people barge in on me while I’m on the phone, I seem unfriendly. What a coincidence!

          (And in terms of business processes, wouldn’t my boss want me to be more productive? Being unfriendly would probably help with keeping business running smoothly!)

          1. Jamie*

            I think too often people use the word unfriendly incorrectly.

            If someone says good morning to you and you snarl back. Or if someone tells you to have a nice day and you’re reply is “make me!” then okay.

            But if you are polite but businesslike that’s not unfriendly.

            Perky and vacant isn’t the only way to be friendly.

          2. Long Time Admin*

            Here’s something that’s usually effective:

            “You have to leave. I can’t stop to talk to you now because I’m busy.”

            Or, alternatively:

            “You have to leave. I can’t stop to talk to you now because I’m busy. Why don’t I come and get you at lunchtime and we’ll have the whole hour to chat?” Of course, don’t do this one every day, just once in a while.

            If you can’t do this, then maybe you need to determine how important *this* job is to you. You might decide to look for employment elsewhere.

        3. Frances*

          I’d be worried if it had come up again, but it was only this one time, and like I said, it was largely because my boss didn’t have a good understanding of the personalities at play in the building yet. (I’m actually not sure what exactly I did as I truly was very busy at the time – I suspect I told someone they’d need to talk to someone else about a particular issue and they thought I was blowing them off, even though that was proper procedure.)

        4. Katie the Fed*

          In my last job, because I sat in a centrally located place, people would interrupt me all day with questions that they could have easily answered themselves with a 3-minute search.

          I don’t mind helping, but I was REALLY busy with my real work. Plus a lot of people would just walk up and start talking without asking me if I had a second, or waiting for me to finish the sentence I was typing. So I was barraged with these constant interruptions that stressed me out beyond belief.

          I finally made a little sign I hung by my desk that I put up when I was crashing on something that said: “in the middle of an urgent project, please email or stop by later” but someone complained to my boss that it was rude.

          Sigh. Sometimes you can’t win.

      1. Jamie*

        The same in the US – typically. There are rare circumstances in which you can get UI if you quit, but not for something like this – AFAIK.

        The benefit of quiting over being fired is that it looks better to the next employer if you left of your own volition and if your formal reason for leaving is a resignation they need to state that during any background check.

  5. Mike C.*

    Re: #1

    Unless there are performance issues, conflicts of interest or explicit company policies against doing what you’re doing, your manager can take a long walk off of a short pier.

    And frankly, I seriously question the ability of the manager to determine if someone can take a second job – in many companies this is determined at a much higher level.

    1. Dara*

      I completely agree. Firing someone for working two jobs because job #2 might at some point interfere with job #1 is akin to having your appendix removed because it might someday make you sick.

    2. twentymilehike*

      Mike, I agree. I think it sounds like the manager is just being bitchy and snarky. I don’t think her, “when are you putting in your notice?” comments are serious to anyone but her. She’s likely just being the workplace bully.

      1. Long Time Admin*

        “when are you putting in your notice?”

        “Never! I love it here and I’m never leaving!”

    3. ABC*

      Yep, if it was that much if a legal issue, wouldnt HR or someone higher have dealt with it – had a talk, issued a warning etc.?
      I think as well that the manager is just being a pain.

      But to be on the safe side OP #1 must check the company handbook and see if there are regulations to be followed….that must be the deciding criteria on whether you need to quit or not.

      1. fposte*

        To be clear, the manager doesn’t need a company handbook rule to make it okay to fire her. It wouldn’t hurt to find out if the organization has a relevant policy, but it’s not likely that there’s a policy that explicitly allows second jobs–I think the best shot is a policy that allows for an appeal against a planned firing or clarifies who has firing authority in the supervisory chain. Pretty commonly, though, firing is at the manager’s discretion, so while it may be stupid to fire the OP for this, if the manager thinks it’s a cause for firing, it could definitely happen.

        1. Mike C.*

          Of course it could happen, but if that’s what needs to be done, then the manager should just take care of it. None of this, “oh but you might be tired” or “when are you turning in your two weeks” crap.

          1. fposte*

            I agree (but then I also agree the whole thing is stupid); I was just expanding on the company handbook thought.

    4. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      Actually, I disagree. Mostly, sure, what you’re doing on your own time is your own time. But being management in retail stores or fast food is a whole different thing. Often, those jobs are salaried and demand 50+ hours a week, much of it on-call. If I were a store manager, I would absolutely not be OK with an assistant manager taking a second job (unless, possibly, it was super flexible freelance work, which this isn’t).

      Even if it’s not salaried, and even if it’s part time, I’m guessing that having very open availability is important in the OP’s new role. It’s definitely very common.

      1. Jamie*

        IMO if a job is such that this kind of constant availability is required and second jobs not allowed – then the pay should be enough that a second job isn’t needed.

        That’s the argument millions of IT people have made, and won, with their employers. If you don’t want us taking on second jobs or freelancing because you want near constant availability then compensation needs to be such that we never need those side jobs.

        1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

          I also disagree with this. They should compensate whatever the market demands… and they will always find people willing to accept the terms of employment as laid out for practically no money. It’s how the retail and food industries survive.

          I have tons of problems with that, of course, but it’s not the employer’s problem if you don’t make enough to pay your bills. That kind of argument comes super close to the “pay me more because I have no second wage earner/more children/etc” arguments. People are free to argue that they can’t keep the job if it doesn’t pay enough. They are also free to not take the job if it doesn’t pay enough. But the financial particulars of a given employee is not the concern of the employer.

          1. Jamie*

            My argument is never to pay more than market value for a job – that’s fiscal suicide for any company. So if you factor in turnover and it’s still cost effective to pay people whatever they are paid and restrict their options, that’s valid.

            I just would think it would be easier to schedule where you didn’t need open availability for everyone and they could work a second job, than to have to deal with the excessively high turnover rates.

            There is no way I would give any employer open availability unless I were very comfortably compensated for that.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          Yeah, but grocery stores, restaurants, etc. will NEVER do this. You will never get paid enough to not need something extra. Ever. And the shifts always change so they need you available all the time.

      2. Dara*

        FWIW, it looks like it’s not the NEW assistant manager job that has the issue – it’s the CURRENT grocery store job that has the issue. She wrote, “When I told my current boss about my new job, she keeps telling me I can’t work both.”

        I am guessing the grocery store wants to be able to call her up to fill in shifts for people calling in sick or whatever…be their “beck and call girl.” Current grocery store boss doesn’t like that OP won’t be randomly available.

      3. GeekChic*

        I have to agree with Jamie. I have zero respect for the demand in retail / fast food to have open availability. That sector does not compensate people nearly well enough to make such demands.

        1. Ariancita*

          Plus, with the new scheduling software, they not only require open availability with little pay, but they give the minimum hours possible. It’s rare to get full time work in that industry. But I think the taking of 2nd jobs which limits availability may be the market push back that is needed.

    5. Diane*

      “When are you putting in your notice?”

      “It’s taken care of.”

      Sometimes vague is good and not technically lying.

  6. Mary*

    #7-I used to be chatty co-worker. I realized this after being let go from a job (along with others in a restructuring move) and taking a good hard look back at myself. No one was ever direct with me so my behaviour never changed. I hope things work out.

  7. Victoria HR*

    #6 – don’t worry about things that “might” happen. Worry about them when they do happen. If you go running to your boss’s boss at this stage, upset about changes that might come without knowing what those changes may be, you risk looking like you can’t handle change at all. Who knows, the new coworker/boss may be awesome and change your job for the better. You don’t know until it happens, so keep an open mind. If what you’re afraid of happening does happen, then you can talk to your boss’s boss.

  8. KayDay*

    #4 – Classes for unpaid intern: By all means mention it! But first, what type of class are you looking at? Your org might be willing to send you to a one day training, but probably not a once a week for many weeks type class. How much exactly would this class cost? I’ve seen fundraising-related classes for everywhere from $0 – $1,000+, and obviously, the cheaper the class the more likely they would pay for you.

    Also, be on the look out for free classes like the one’s offered by the Foundation Center (http://foundationcenter.org/). The free classes are pretty basic, but for my internship at a non-profit they required me to attend one of them. If you can’t find a free class, I think it’s very reasonable to ask for a class that’s under $500, but not so more than that. (If you can only find a really expensive class in your area, you could approach it as, “I’m really interested in learning about grant writing. The only class I’ve found was $5 bajillion, do you know of any cheaper classes?”)

    Of course, they might say no (and be sure to be very polite and non-entitled sounding when you ask) but I think it’s a reasonable request.

    1. ChristineH*

      The Foundation Center is excellent. I haven’t taken any of their courses, but have been on the site many times.

      I’m interested in what OP #4 finds out. I’ve been wanting to try grant writing myself, and everyone I’ve asked suggest to volunteer to write one or at least help with the writing. However, I was never comfortable with that idea because I’d most likely be doing it without any direction. I tried once already during an unpaid internship last year, but had no idea what I was doing and got no help from the director (matching funders to an agency’s needs is a lot harder than I thought it’d be!!). I ended up resigning from the internship in frustration.

      1. fposte*

        I know that the certification programs, etc., are making things slightly more regularized, but in my experience grant-writing is kind of a Wild West arrangement where people plunge in and direction is rare and unlikely. I’ve struggled a bit with that, as somebody who’s risk-averse and who prefers clear-cut metrics for success along the way, and I think you might be of a similar character from what you’ve posted here. But at least around here, you have to let that go to some extent if you’re ever going to submit anything. (It’s kind of freeing in a way.) If without you they’re not going to get a grant submitted at all, you can’t make things worse.

        1. ChristineH*

          I’ve struggled a bit with that, as somebody who’s risk-averse and who prefers clear-cut metrics for success along the way, and I think you might be of a similar character from what you’ve posted here.

          Yup, you’ve described me pretty accurately *sigh* . I don’t need someone over my shoulder at all times telling me what to do, but I do like having some guidelines to work with.

        1. ChristineH*

          I know that many grant writing books have examples of well-written proposals, but are they *actual* proposals? I do have some idea of what an excellent proposal looks like, though, thanks to the two grant review panels I’ve served on.

    2. Lulu*

      At least a couple of community colleges in L.A. offer grantwriting classes, and I don’t believe they’re particularly expensive – I think you can even take them online. From what I remember they’re offered through ed2go.com, but check out the Santa Monica College site if you want to find out more on that angle.

  9. Elle*

    OP #7

    Cultivate an air of friendliness because it gives you a shield for stuff like this. I am really friendly. I smile and I’m warm and nice to people. So, I can be very firm and smilingly say no to everyone. “Could we talk later, I’m very busy?” “Now is not a good time, I’m swamped.” “I have a deadline in an hour, let’s talk later.” “Sorry, I’ve just got to work.” “Do you mind leaving? I really have to work.”

    If you are someone who has a ready smile and people like, then you have cover for people like this. This board can be a bit anti-social norms, anti-social lubricant, pro-introvert but this is EXACTLY the situation in which observing social rituals and being a bit friendlier than just “I’m doing my job. I’m putting in my hours. I walk past all my colleagues and don’t say hello” pays huge dividends. People don’t like Penelope Trunk (and I think she is a bit nuts) but all the stuff she says about relationship building in your workplace is SPOT ON.

    1. fposte*

      I’m agreed on the social lubricants, but we do have somebody who hasn’t understood the implications before, so you really have to be polite *and* explicit. I think all but your last one are examples of the kind of thing that this person is already ignoring–especially statements that describe the OP’s needs without directing the visitor’s behavior. While it’s fine to add decoration such as “Later would be great” or “It’s always wonderful talking to you,” or “Love your new nose” or whatever, OP has to say directly “You must leave now.”

  10. Anonymous*

    Some of the advice regarding #7 (in the original post and here in the comments) only works if you actually don’t mix work and private life, or that you actually want to talk to the person when you aren’t busy. I have a new person I’m dealing with who lucky-for-me gets social cues, but will still come talk to me for 15-20 minutes at a time because I’m the only other person who is close her age in our office. And I can’t say that I don’t want to mix work/private life because I am friends with other co-workers on FB, hang out with other co-workers after hours, have their numbers and text them, etc. It’s frustrating because she isn’t being mean or rude or gossipy, she’s just annoying because I don’t actually like her and don’t want to talk to her at all.

    1. some1*

      I was going to say the same thing. It’s like telling a co-worker who asks you out that you don’t date people at work, when in fact you actually have/would date a co-worker you were attracted to &/or had more in common with.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      This is a good point. In that case, for the social overtures, you probably need to keep turning them down until she hopefully stops asking (and if she doesn’t stop asking, you keep saying no, that you’re really busy, etc.). I realize it would normally be better/kinder to be more direct, but when you’re trying to preserve a working relationship, that might cause more harm than good.

  11. Not So NewReader*

    For OP #7– Can you walk right in the the thick of things?
    For example: Can you tell Chatty Cathy that you don’t want to get in trouble with the boss for spending too much time socializing and not enough time working?
    This would take pretending not to see Cathy’s connection to the boss. What is she going to do, complain to the boss that you are working???

    1. Jamie*

      Weird bit of Chatty Cathy trivia – the actress that did the recorded voice of the original doll also provided the voice of the Talky Tina doll in a Twilight Zone episode about an evil murdering doll.

      That had to freak little girls out, back in the day, wouldn’t you think? I think I’d be traumatized to this day if I saw an evil Mrs. Beasley doll…or Baby Alive…or Barbie…

      I miss dolls – sometimes I wonder if growing up was such a good idea. :)

    2. Noelle*

      That is actually an idea I hadn’t thought of…I think it’s worth a try though! And when I told my supervisor what was going on, he told me to be careful or she’d tattle to the boss. I guess I don’t see how you could really tattle that I’m worried to spend too much talking while I should be working.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        hee-hee-hee. It just might work…..gotta come across as being quite concerned, so when you are saying this to her just think about how you are actually worried about getting a rep as a poor performer. That will help you focus on the main point, rather than being distracted by all the other stuff running in the background.

  12. OR*

    #3 Just a thought, the OP mentioned that all of the people in her office were being paid salaries. These positions do not sound like they would qualify under FLSA for salaries. As long as the hours are under 40 that should be fine, but once the hours go over 40, all workers would need to be paid the hourly over time rate.

    1. Natalie*

      Salary/hourly and exempt/non-exempt are actually independent of each other. Since all of the salaried people work 37.5 hours a week, they may very well be classified as non-exempt.

  13. Lana*

    I’m always surprised by managers who prohibit their employees to have a 2nd job especially when the schedules don’t overlap. Do they not want to eat every day, or are those employees supposed to be productive and happy not having enough money on a daily basis? Give them a break and don’t be jerks if your employee’s second job’s schedule doesn’t overlap with the first job.

    1. Ariancita*

      That’s why unless it’s explicitly stated in the company policy, it isn’t a direct competitor, and it doesn’t interfere with the first job, I would never tell the employer about job #2. If there are performance problems on job #1 because of it, then a manager needs to address those like any other performance issue. But it’s in no way the employer’s business. Unpopular opinion here, I know.

      1. Long Time Admin*

        Unpopular, but spot on!

        The boss is not your mommy or daddy, and does not need to know what you’re doing when you’re not at work.

        If it’s not a problem, it’s none of their business.

    2. Mike C.*

      Indeed. I find it hilarious that a second job would be an issue, but clubbing every night wouldn’t be.

      “Hey boss, I’m hungover again but never fear! This job is the only job I care about!”

    3. Jamie*

      I agree with this, with the exception of matters of safety.

      I’ve seen first hand the dangers of having someone driving a forklift or a bobcat when they just came off a night shift having done the same for 8 hours.

      If there are no safety issues, conflict of interest, or the like I agree that prohibiting it altogether is OTT – but so many companies do have that policy it’s really important to check (as others have noted) since it’s rarely worth risking your day job.

      1. twentymilehike*

        I’ve seen first hand the dangers of having someone driving a forklift or a bobcat when they just came off a night shift having done the same for 8 hours.

        What about when that person wasn’t working, but decided to stay up all night playing video games, or clubbing, or watching Twilight Zone marathons, or has insomia? You can’t really force your employees to come to work rested. Obviously, if they don’t and they need to be, then there are going to be (or should be) consequences–whether that be quitting (or being fired from) one of your two jobs, or switching shifts, or bathing in Red Bull.

        I would probably behoove management to say, “you need to come to work rested because your performance is down right frightening.” Versus, “you need to quit your second job if you want to keep working here.”

        1. Jamie*

          I agree that it is about the effect and not the cause – however – we wouldn’t allow people in positions of driving equipment to work two shifts for us because it’s been shown that fatigue increases the likelihood of an accident.

          But yes, if you come to work impaired for any reason (and fatigue is an impairment) you cannot get on a company vehicle of any kind.

          But I do agree that it’s about the effect and not the cause…because it’s not like we have surveillance on people during their off hours.

  14. fposte*

    On #5: as people have been saying, it is true that they don’t have to give you a different job than the one they hired you for. But can you be more specific about what you think a different job would give you that this one doesn’t? Is it simply that you feel you’re not able to give managing the focus it needs, or are you anticipating more flexibility in a different position? Do you know the pay differential for the non-managerial position, and is it acceptable to you? If you had to leave this organization entirely and start from scratch elsewhere, with no FMLA eligibility and possibly no front-loading of time off, could you do it? Could you afford to work part-time? (FMLA covers a number of part-timers–the 1250 work hours per year requirement breaks down to approximately 24 hours per week.)

    To be clear, this seems to be a bit of a grey area in FMLA, with some employers needing very specific and clear justification to be convinced of its eligibility, so it’s not guaranteed that you’d get it . But boy, I’d sure hate to lose the possibility entirely if I were you unless you had enough financial reserves to be a SAHM or work only a regular half-time schedule.

  15. Recovering "good listener"*

    #7 The trouble with people like the OP’s coworker is that they don’t want a conversation, they want an audience. They LOVE it when you don’t have anything to say, as long as you’re listening to THEM. They won’t hear what they don’t want to, which means you have to do what to most people – of either sex – feels rude, and enforce your boundaries explicitly, firmly, and repeatedly, not until you think you’ve done it often enough, but until the behaviour stops. Be prepared for resistance, because attention-vampires are very reluctant to let go, and they’re well practiced in getting what they seem to think they need and are entitled to. That may include enlisting other people to guilt of frighten you back into your role as audience and confessor – and you will have to push back against that, and make those others think about what they are pressing you to do. You are acting not only in your own interests, but you are morally in the right: your employer is paying you to do your job, not be her audience. Keep telling yourself – and anyone who tries that particular manipulative line – that it’s not a matter of disliking her – which may be a lie, but it’ll keep your nice-person guilt down and close off that avenue of attack – but you need her to change her behaviour. That’s a perfectly legitimate wish. Setting boundaries and learning the tactics for dealing with boundary violators is an skill that will spare you much stress and could save you from harm – “The Gift of Fear” again.

  16. Rosalita*

    For #7, what if you asked her why she keeps talking to you? That way, you can be direct, but also ask for her perspective. In a nice way, you could say something like, “Cathy, I’ve noticed that you’ve been stopping by my office a lot. Even when I’m on the phone, I’ve noticed that you wait in my office while I finish my conversation. Are there things you need my help with or information you need from me immediately? Often when you come in, I’m in the middle of something or working towards a deadline. Is there a better way for me to signal to you that I can’t be interrupted?”
    While it might be unlikely that she’ll have a good explanation, maybe there’s something you’re missing. Or, more likely, maybe asking her to explain why she’s always talking to you will help her realize that her behavior is disruptive.

  17. mel*

    7. heh, if she’s really that bad I have to wonder if she really is a friend of the boss or if the boss just deals with this as well.

  18. Ryan*

    #1 has always been a pet peeve of mine.

    When my employees ask me about this here’s what I usually tell them…

    1. As long as this other place you want to work is not a customer of ours or competitor of ours (no clear conflict of interests)…
    2. As long as there is no conflict with your schedule
    3. And if you’re working with the public at this other place OUR code of conduct still applies since you’re in the public eye(behave yourself)

    Then I don’t care what you do because as long as your other job doesn’t negatively affect us (or have the potential to) then I have no reason to care.

    1. Ryan*

      And for the record the reason it’s a pet peeve of mine is that although I do make decent money, no employer has ever paid me SO much that I felt (barring the conditions stated above) they had any right to tell me it was enough if for some reason I needed to earn more.

  19. Nichole*

    OP #7’s (Noelle’s) situation reminded me of the episode of The Golden Girls (disclaimer: just about every situation reminds me of an episode of The Golden Girls or Friends) where Rose can’t get through her head that her coworker just doesn’t like her, so she goes to ridiculous lengths to get him to warm up, causing him to like her even less. I don’t know her, so maybe she really is just an obnoxious, boorish person, but I got the impression that maybe Noelle’s coworker is just someone who is used to feeling liked and is overcompensating for the vibe that Noelle doesn’t care for her. That explains the weird complaint of unfriendliness and the constant social invitations. I liked Rosalita’s suggestion-it’s polite, professional, and direct, and focuses on why this is an issue in a non-personal way.

    1. Jamie*

      I loved that episode! He would agree to be her friend as long as she left him alone. Didn’t she have a very chatty co-worker herself who was driving her nuts in another season.

      No – I don’t watch too much old TV.

  20. Job seeker*

    #7. I feel really bad for this lady. She probably wants so hard to be friends with those she works with. That being said, personalities sometimes are so different that you can’t be friends with everyone. You can however, always be polite and kind and treat someone with respect and basically be nice. I do agree if this is keeping you from your work you need to speak up. Just keep doing that and do the best you can as my grandmother always said.

  21. Lisa*

    #1 My old roommate worked at a bed bath and beyond and was an executive assistant for a CEO at a software company. He informed her that he no longer wanted her working shifts at BB&B. There were a few reasons:
    -co-workers kept seeing her at BB&B and were commenting on it
    -people were assuming the CEO wasn’t paying her enough
    -it looked bad that the CEO’s EA MUST work 2 jobs in order to live their life comfortably

    obv, it was a salary thing at first but with her new EA salary, she really just liked the people interaction part of working at BB&B. She prolonged quitting and told the CEO that she couldnt quit. He thought it was financial and gave her an extra 5k. She was told if she didnt quit that they would move her to be someone else’s EA because it was a problem that people were discussing her extra job as a MUST because the CEO prob doesnt pay her enough. But in this case, this has nothing to do with “appearances” at all, and the manager is just a b—-.

    1. Ryan*

      Those are all extremely poor reasons to deny someone extra income.
      1. Co-workers need to stop being so nosey and focus on their own lives.
      2. Doesn’t matter what people assume…it’s really not any of their business. If they’re really that concerned they should just ask her, right? But they won’t will they? Because when it comes right down to it they KNOW it’s none of their business.
      3. More assumptions and just another poor reason for denying an employee extra income if they want it.

  22. Rebecca Whittenberger*

    Regarding question #6: I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately about HR and internal communication practices, and “change management” is one area where companies definitely seem to often drop the ball. CEOs and middle managers often fail to communicate directly or well-enough with employees so that they are confident and comfortable with any upcoming/ongoing changes. Creating an organization of trust, open communication, and fairness is one of the top tactics HR professionals think will be most effective in retaining and rewarding the best employees in the next ten years. Hopefully more companies will step up and improve their communications procedures so they can retain and reward their talent.

    1. jill*

      Can you recommend any resources on this? I work with a team that’s pretty anxious about change and I would really like to develop more effective strategies for communicating new things to them to avoid the month of jitters!

  23. Kat M*

    #1: Go to your local library and pick up a copy of The Only Grant-Writing Book You’ll Ever Need. I work in a small nonprofit and took a grant-writing course through my local community college on my own time, but this book was honestly more helpful. :)

  24. Cassie*

    #7: I have a coworker friend who sometimes does just come and plop down on my desk. If I’m busy, I just ignore her – there have been times where she’s sat there eating candy or drinking coffee for a good 5 minutes while I continue on with my work. I know it’s rude on my part but I don’t feel like telling her to go away either. And it doesn’t seem to bother her (maybe she’s not good at reading social cues?) If the roles were reversed, I’d be a bit annoyed about being ignored but I would never do that again.

    I’m adequately peppy and courteous when dealing with work-related issues but I am pretty awkward when it comes to small talk. So most people leave me alone which suits me just fine!

    OP – what happens if you get up and leave your office (e.g. drop off mail, etc) when she comes in? Does she follow you to your errand and then come back to the office with you? A boss of mine would stand up towards the end of conversations and walk you out. There were times where I wasn’t even done talking yet and we were already walking towards the door.

  25. anonymous*

    For the coworker who won’t leave you alone – sometimes a little rudeness done with a smile actually works. After you tell her you are too busy, turn back to your computer and begin working again. Most people dont want to continue to talk to you while they are being ignored. Put the person you are on the phone with on hold for a minute, explain you are on an important call and need her to leacve, and then sit there and look at her in silence until she does. If she continue to sits, ask if its an urgent work matter.

  26. Joe*

    #6 – Do you have any input into the hiring process for this manager and coworker? Some places will have a subordinate involved in the interviews for a manager, especially if it’s for a small team. If so, you could probably ask some probing questions about how the candidate handles coming into a team with established practices, work divisions, etc. This might give you some indication of what it would be like to work for that person, and whether they would expect to radically change everything on day 1, or get to know what will work best for your team.

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