Ask a Manager in the media

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

I’m on NPR’s Life Kit podcast talking about holidays at work, including forced cheer and awkward parties.

I’m in USA Today talking about why bosses shouldn’t date employees.

I’m in the Guardian talking about why bad managers spawn more bad managers.

I talked to CNBC’s personal finance site Grow about tough conversations and some of the most interesting letters I’ve received.

I also talked to Grow about companies that are implementing mental health awareness/support activities all wrong.

I’m in Slate talking about how being bad at technology can harm job candidates and whether it should. (I got to talk about sharing an email address with a partner and people who use email “stationery.”)

I’m in Bustle talking about how many drinks you should have at your office holiday party.

I’m in the Deseret News talking about social media etiquette at work.

I was on Kiplinger’s Your Money’s Worth podcast to talk about how to ask for a raise. (My segment starts at 7:25 and is about 10 minutes long. Or you can read the transcript here.)

{ 37 comments… read them below }

  1. Bubbles*

    Email stationery is one of my biggest pet peeves. Gah! It takes over all emails and makes it so difficult to use on mobile devices. But I am also in a group that calls out crappy font choices all the time, so it’s likely I’m simply oversensitive.

    1. Zephy*

      +1. There are a handful of folks here that use email stationery. One of my immediate coworkers puts all her internal correspondence in bright-fuchsia Comic Sans; I’m pretty sure if she could communicate solely through Blingee, she would – pink and sparkly are her favorite things.

      The author of that article suggested removing the requirement for a phone number and/or email address from an online application, so people who don’t have those things aren’t precluded from applying at all. I’m not an expert but I’m having trouble imagining how that would work. If I don’t have an email address, I guess maybe there’s job app software out there that lets you create an account just by specifying login credentials – there are still websites out there that allow that kind of thing, after all. But a site like TVTropes doesn’t have my SSN or other PII, like a job application site would.

      1. Rachel*

        I also love pink and sparkly, but I can’t imagine conducting business that way. I’d be so mortified! Agreed, it’s very annoying

    2. i have no fun name*

      +1 I really hate it. Every time someone uses it in a message to me, I have to go turn it off so it’s not in my reply. I hate it. It’s horrible.

      Also, font choices? I have a coworker who uses one color in his e-mails and another color in his instant messages. I hate it.

  2. Stacy Sloan Smith*

    Such incredible hustle from Alison! I hope you set your own terms with the book contracts and that all this work enriches your life in ad clicks or however the blog is monetized. You deserve it.

  3. Petunia Cakes, The Atheist*

    My boss got an employee pregnant, and the company handled it by simply moving him to another department so they weren’t working together anymore. But yikes. I definitely understand why that’s a no-no.

    1. CM*

      Yeah, my reaction to “why shouldn’t bosses date employees” was… does anyone REALLY think that’s a good idea? Ever?

      And I’m also impressed by Alison’s ubiquity!

    2. Close Bracket*

      What does this mean? Was there some larger scandal beyond the pregnancy, which is not actually scandalous? Bc when opposite sex people date, sometimes pregnancies result. Moving him bc of the pregnancy rather than bc of the relationship just seems like as long as appearances are kept up, everything is fine.

  4. Faith*

    It was somewhat eye-opening to me that someone without a cell phone might not be able to create an email address. I guess I’ve had an email address for over 15 years now and sort of assumed that all the two-factor authentication stuff and authentication via text messages was just an optional security feature. It is kind of messed up if there is no way to get around that.

    1. i have no fun name*

      I opened a new e-mail address recently for Reasons and yeah, it won’t let me send an e-mail without giving them a cell phone number they can text. And they wouldn’t accept my google voice number.

    2. LGC*

      Yeah – in the wake of a huge number of data leaks, most major email services force you to have some version of 2FA.

      I think that you can technically be called to verify your login or something, but…that still requires you to be by a phone, and if you don’t have a landline, that’s a huge issue.

    3. JKP*

      There are still free email services that don’t require a phone number. They tend to be only free for web access, not POP or IMAP. I use for a throwaway email address.

      Also, you can get throwaway free temporary phone numbers to use for text verification when setting up an email account (not google voice). So even then you can still setup a gmail or microsoft address without giving them your actual phone number.

    4. Bilateralrope*

      For about 10 years now, to get unemployment you were required to have a cellphone to receive calls. If you did not own one, the government department running unemployment would buy you a cheap prepaid phone.

      Meanwhile I’ve got a coworker who doesn’t own a cellphone, cant afford internet at home and refuses to use the free wifi at the McDonalds between his work and home (he does own a laptop) because he doesn’t eat there. He wont even use the wifi from their carpark.

    5. ssnc*

      It’s really easy to forget how hard it is to navigate today’s world without a cell phone. Obviously, we used to do this easily, but things have changed.

      We take a lot of things for granted, like being able to have an email address or be on call for work, and it was eye-opening for me too to realize that if I don’t have a phone number to receive texts, I can’t do a lot of things, including pay my credit card online.

      I hope that hiring companies can find ways to make applying for jobs more accessible by removing onerous beurocratic requirements, like having to sign up for an account on a website in order to submit a single application that has nothing to do with computers. Creating separate accounts is obnixous for everybody, but it’s less difficult when I’m not limited to 30 minutes at a time on the public library computer.

  5. AuroraLight37*

    How many drinks should you have at a holiday party? Given my experience at a government agency, less than the amount which lets you think any of the following are OK:
    1. Creepily and crudely hitting on the agency head’s personal assistant
    2. Standing at your security post with a bottle of beer in your hand
    3. Consuming any amount of alcohol when your entire contract has been informed that due to incidents 1 and 2, which involved people from said contract, you are banned from drinking at the holiday parties
    4. Ripping a toilet out of the wall in the men’s room
    5. Loudly discussing how drunk you are (again in the men’s room) and how you’re going to drive home that way, then realizing someone is in the stalls and threatening to kill them for overhearing this conversation. (The hearer was the head of security.)

    1. AuroraLight37*

      Re #3- we were told two weeks before the parties started that we were not permitted to drink, so it wasn’t a last-minute surprise.

      1. AuroraLight37*

        On recollection, I believe there were actually two toilets ripped out in separate men’s rooms.

        The drunks in question were ID’d using security footage just outside the men’s room, and the threatener got hauled into a meeting the next day, at which point the head of security politely inquired if the guy still wanted to try to kill him. Threatener looked like he wanted shrivel up and hide under a footstool at this point.

        Almost everyone* in these incidents was fired. Threatener had his security clearance terminated, and good luck getting it back when this comes up on his record.

        *I think #3 was seriously reprimanded, and when there were layoffs later on, he was picked because this wasn’t his first round of bad judgement.

  6. SebbyGrrl*

    Alison dominating the WORLD!

    Our workplaces are better because of what you do, a thousand thanks and more kudos!

  7. tangerineRose*

    One of my personal rules for dating at work is also “Try to only date people who you can avoid in the future if it doesn’t work out.”

  8. Leela*

    So many biases in hiring! At an old HR job we’d get told that someone didn’t come off professional and all we could tell was that they weren’t wearing clothes that were as expensive as other candidates, that they were wearing their hair naturally, that they didn’t mimic the hiring manager’s style of communicating as far as smiling as much, or smiling too much, or any little thing that didn’t appear to be related to their work history or how they answered interview questions. Something else I saw: people who have really non-standard bodies getting labeled as dressed unprofessionally when what’s likely going on is that it’s just very, very challenging to find professional clothes for a body like that, especially if you don’t have a lot of money. I’m female, 6 feet tall, large in the chest, large in the butt. EVERYTHING is short on me. Very, very short. There are a few places that make clothes that fit me but they tend to be incredibly expensive for no bump in quality, they tend to be online only which adds a huge layer of headache/returns etc

  9. PlainJane*

    Someone needs to tell people that it’s laudable to make efforts toward mental health at work, but not to do therapy. (It’s like physical health–the workplace can offer a chance to get up and move around, make efforts at ergonomics and so on… but you don’t have the manager do your annual physical. Mental health… I don’t know, let people have a space to call their own, get some sunlight in the building, and work on clear and kind communication. Just, you know, for kicks.)

  10. Mary S*

    Wow, Allison! I find you uncommonly wise and compassionate, and I love reading your Ask A Manager postings. I’m so glad you’re having such success in the media!

  11. Detective Rosa Diaz*

    Allison, you may not be aware, but Comic Sans is one of the few readily available fonts that is easy for dyslexic people to decipher. It’s because unlike other fonts, each letter has a unique shape so it’s easier to identify. Someone using that font may have dyslexia. Something to consider.

    1. Timothy (TRiG)*

      Email shouldn’t define fonts at all. That way, it shows up in whatever the reader’s preference is. Plain text, or light HTML with minimal styling, is far more accessible for everyone (including people using screenreaders, people who need particular contrasts or unusally large text, and people with unusual font preferences).


  12. Flash Bristow*

    Hi Alison, I just wanted to say – good for you! Oftentimes lately I read an article and think “wow, this is spot on, I wonder what Alison thinks of it” before realising that… you wrote it!

    In the past I’ve wondered whether I annoy / turn off followers by mentioning when I’m on [national British TV or radio] or have an article published in [British broadsheet or magazine], but seeing your approach has made me realise that no, it’s interesting to know when someone you follow has written elsewhere – especially as different publications will have different styles – so now I won’t feel too worried about promoting my next piece!

    [Serious health issues mean it’s been a long while, but there’s lots in the pipeline…]

    Thanks again and congrats on all the coverage! Hope it’s a filip for you.

  13. FabJob Tag*

    Congratulations Alison! You rock, and it’s wonderful to see you being recognized for all the good you are doing in the world.

  14. Sophia Brooks*

    My pet peeve is the shared email thing! It seems like so weird and creepy to me. Also, we have on woman in Central HRwho signs her emails Mrs. “First Name Last Name”. Again, really weird.

  15. Timothy (TRiG)*

    On dating a coworker, the article ends with “It’s worth double-checking company policies to see if there are any restrictions set in place.” I remember a story about WalMart trying to enforce such a restriction in Germany, which ended when a court told the company to butt out of employees’ private lives. Just one of WalMart’s many many problems in Germany, which culminated in them pulling out of the country.


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