Ask a Manager in the media

Here’s some coverage of Ask a Manager in the media recently:

I’m in the New York Times talking about what to do when you’ve said the wrong thing at work.

I’m also in the New York Times talking about the use of personality tests, including the Myers-Briggs, at work.

I’m in the Chicago Tribune talking about what to do if your coworker’s perfume is too strong.

I’m in CNN’s story about how managers can recover after they make mistakes.

I’m in Medium talking about what to say when you find out you’re earning less than a coworker for the same work.

I’m in Vox talking about dealing with burn-out.

I’m in Business Insider talking about what not to say to a pregnant coworker.

I’m in Well + Good talking about mental health at work.

{ 51 comments… read them below }

  1. Stella70*

    Whew! I would be at the corner dive bar, having a drink!
    I can’t fathom how you are able to make as many posts as you do a week, monitor the commentariat, write columns, stay sane.
    You’re doing the work of angels, Alison!

  2. Effective Immediately*

    As someone whose entire C-suite has been taken in by a personality-test ‘certified’ ‘leadership coach’ snakeoil salesman, that NYT article could not have been more timely.

    1. Dasein9*

      Yeah. This is really insidious stuff: there is a real danger that individuals’ types are used as an excuse to pay less attention to what someone says or what they need to do their job. Or, you know, just pay them less. All based on the type of person they’re presumed to be with no evidence that this is in any way accurate.

  3. I'd Rather Not Say*

    I just want to thank you for all the great information you provide. I only wish something like this would have been around earlier in my career. I recommend your site often!

    1. seller of teapots*

      Same! I recommend it to everyone — recent grads, anyone job hunting, anyone with an annoying boss, basically anyone who works. Ha!

  4. Not So NewReader*

    I just wanted to say thank you for bringing sanity into workplaces. Your advice is clearly spoken and very action oriented. You will probably never fully know the hugeness of the impact you are having on our society and workplaces. There’s more than one way to create change and you are doing it. We are very fortunate to have, in you, a person who considers no question too embarrassing or too simple to answer. You have made yourself into that “safe place” for many subjects.

    1. AnonForReasons*

      Has anyone ever told you that you give amazing compliments Not So NewReader? If you’re a boss, your staff are fortunate to have you.

  5. Just wondering*

    Do you ever have companies/recruiters reach out to you about open positions or consulting opportunities due to this website/media coverage?

  6. Meg*

    I agree wholeheartedly about all the things not to say to a pregnant woman at work with one exception – isn’t whether the baby is a boy or girl pretty innocuous chit-chat? Maybe I’m missing something but I’ve never found that offensive myself or felt like it was a loaded question for others. I guess it could head into the realm of offensive when people suggest “you already have two girls – trying for a boy, eh?” etc but I think of the question “Do you know whether you’re having a boy or girl?” to show casual friendly interest.

    1. seller of teapots*

      I never thought it was offensive, per say (I have a 6month old and 2.5 year old) but I don’t love how we ascribe gender norms as a society so it wasn’t my favorite line of questioning. It inevitably results in something that makes me smile through gritted teeth. (Oooh, boys are so much easier! Ooh, girls are the best! Oh, good thing she has an older brother to keep her safe! Etc.) I much preferred when people asked me what I was excited about, how my older child was handling my pregnancy, how I was feeling, etc.

    2. Shiny alolan raichu*

      I think that Alison was actually only quoted on 1) “wow you’re getting big” so she probably can’t speak for the author there.

      However: I’d say it’s better avoided. So many possible reasons why. Maybe they’re not finding out. Maybe they couldn’t see on the scan. Maybe they’ve had to have IVF because there’s a fatal genetic disease that only affects one sex. Maybe they’re happy but their partner is sad. Maybe not to all those things, but give them a break from that at work?

    3. YetAnotherUsername*

      Where I live that’s definitely not considered an offensive question at the moment.

      As nonbinary gender identity becomes more mainstream I can see the question will probably shift into the “offensive” category in the next decade or two though.

    4. Clisby*

      I wouldn’t call it offensive, exactly – but it’s obnoxiously nosy.

      The answer is: “I guess we’ll all find out in X months!”

    5. 10DaysAndCounting*

      Personally, I definitely would not consider it offensive, and more in the realms of innocuous small talk. While I don’t want my pregnancy to define my life, it currently is a big part, and I can understand that if people are looking for small talk then it’s one of the most obvious things to ask to fill a gap in the conversation (along with “when are you due?”).

      I guess it depends where the question goes, if it’s left at that, then no problem, but if you start receiving unsolicited advice about the differences then it’s probably irritating. I personally haven’t from my co-workers, which is probably why the question doesn’t bother me. (Actually saying that, I don’t think anyone at work has asked me – I’ve volunteered the information myself as soon as we found out).

      And if my baby is non-binary or transgender, I won’t know until they are able to verbalise that. Until then, I assume people are asking about the sex, not the gender.

  7. Brett*

    The comments on that medium article were so toxic….

    I’m curious about one of the comments there, that experience, education, and time in position were legally defensible reasons for a co-worker to out earn you. Does that have to be _more_ experience, education, and time in position? Or could it also be justified by less experience, education, and time in position as long as it is consistent?

    At former job, people with less education and experience were consistently paid more than people with more education and experience. Time in position had a positive correlation to an extent, but only because people who were hired before the organization stopped giving raises made more than people who were hired after the organization stopped giving raises. (But for everyone hired after that point, salary was consistently inverse to education and experience and not dependent at all on time in position.) Former job was clearly discriminating, but I am wondering if they could defend that by saying that people were paid inversely to experience and education?

    1. Veronica*

      There is no defense for not giving raises and recognizing good workers. The cure for such an employer is to find a better job.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It would be interesting to see a company try to justify paying men less than women (for example) because they had less experience and education. I think they’d have a lot of trouble arguing that in court.

      1. gsa*

        In the mid 60s, before I was born, my mother was a bank teller. If I remember correctly, Mom had access to people salaries. She figured out that a male counterpart part was being paid way more than she was… About sixty cents on the dollar. She brought it up to her male supervisor, and he said “well he has a family to raise…


      2. Brett*

        I’m feeling deja vu on this, so I think we discussed this before. The justification was that less experienced employees were much more difficult to retain than experienced employees. But this was really because, with no raises, less experienced employees were pretty much only there to gain experience and jump to another job. Experienced employees were there because they caught in a catch-22 where they had difficulty finding jobs elsewhere because they were currently paid like low performers relatively to their experience, when they needed a big pay bump to make up for the pension they would lose.

  8. Hmmm*

    The MBTI article was really interesting! Does anyone have a link to examples of “letters from people whose careers were directly affected by their Myers-Briggs results” other than
    When I search in the side bar, I mostly get results referring to posts that discuss MBTI affecting career prospects entirely hypothetically (“should I put MBTI on resume”, etc.)

  9. downdate*

    re: the personality tests and taking them too seriously: just had to deal with a multi-day event where they decided our entire personalities based on what our favorite shape was. And they acted kinda serious about it, including dismissing someone’s concerns because “she’s a circle”.

    It was pretty horrible experience. I’m really glad to see you pushing back on it in the NYT!

    1. PB*

      Wow, this is weird. I’m not even sure what my favorite shape is. I mean, shapes are shapes, right?

      The event organizers are probably categorizing me as a scalene triangle as we speak.

      1. downdate*

        There were only 4 types of shapes and you had to pick one. Then they read out what that meant about you, like it was the Word of God.

        Apparently, as a circle, I’m a people-pleasing pushover.

        This one sticks in my head so much because in every other personality quiz I’ve had inflicted on me, they test you FIRST and then assign you a type. This one skips the testing entirely.

          1. Kisses*

            It’s funny I brought up Flatland just earlier today. It’s still so relevant! And yeah, circles were the ‘best’ in their society. And women were triangles, right?

    2. Coder von Frankenstein*

      What is this I can’t even.

      It blows my mind that actual functioning human beings can decide something like this is a good idea.

  10. JackR*

    You are such a valuable resource to so many people! I recommend your site and book often. Thank you for your great insight and advice!

  11. Jeanne*

    Have you ever worked with Lominger competencies and the Korn Ferry programme? I was under the impression that this was the “research” which brought us behavioural questions. I’m interested in your thoughts on it.

  12. Kisses*

    This is great. I started reading after a buzzfeed feature- and it was just starting to get big~ in the comments section. They went from like 100 comments to like 900 comments.
    It’s great you make a living and genuinely help people. You’ve got the best advice. <3.
    On a side note, do you watch Aggretsuko on Netflix? It's short and sweet, and I think of you every time boss bitches like Gori and Washimi come on the screen.

  13. Tau*

    Surely we all know that Hogwarts houses are the only valid personality taxonomy out there.

    Or maybe I just want to see a professional coach say, “Well, Tau, you’re a Hufflepuff so…”

    (In all seriousness, thank you for fighting the good fight on this one. I find personality tests fun, but the idea of them being used to make work decisions is absolutely terrifying.)

  14. Junior Dev*

    The burnout article, and the “signs you’re burned out,” reminded me of my experience last year that made me realize I needed a new job…I went roller skating after work and I kept thinking, “if I fall and break a bone/get a concussion, I won’t have to go in to work tomorrow.”

    I’ve been out of that job for nearly a year and I’m still suffering from stress related health problems. I hope others reading this will take this as a warning to start job searching the minute you start to dread going in to work. It can be really hard to tell while in the thick of things, so getting a reality check from friends can be helpful.

  15. AnonForReasons*

    Admit it, Alison, there’s more than one of you! Seriously, how is it humanly possible to do everything you do? You’re amazing!

  16. gsa*

    Emotional Intelligence is the ticket.

    I could be graded as a 1234 695. On the other hand, I if don’t understand how to talk to you as a 389 55 1/2, we might never understand each other.

    “Emotional Intelligence 2.0” is worth the read.

  17. ..Kat..*

    I would love to read the article about personality tests, but I cannot do that without signing up for yet another subscription. Which I am not going to do.

Comments are closed.