Ask a Manager in the media

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

I talked to Slate about the problems with work activities centered around drinking.

I talked to the Washington Post about dating at work.

I talked to Kiplinger about how to push your company to allow you to stay remote.

I talked to Nerd Wallet about how to find and work with a mentor.

I talked to Refinery29 about employers that don’t put salary ranges in their job ads.

I talked to writer and director Mark Slutsky about Ask a Manager. This one is a long profile of the site and covers some of the themes from letters here, unreliable narrators, answering with compassion even when people are very wrong, and much more.

{ 15 comments… read them below }

  1. The Rural Juror*

    Thanks for sharing these, Alison! I really enjoyed reading your conversation with Mark Slutsky. Especially the bit about finding the light at the end of the tunnel this year :)

    1. Wisteria*

      Slutsky is not using the term in the way it is usually used. Neither of those examples were unreliable–their accounts of the story were accurate. It was their understanding of appropriate behavior that was off.

      Which is funny bc there are a fair number of unreliable narrators in the sense that their account of events is not what a dispassionate observer would report (ie, unreliable). Most of them are coming from a place of serious anxiety causing them to blow things way out of proportions, and the answers usually talk them down compassionately.

    2. Wordnerd*

      In addition to the one linked in the article, the post titled “my best employee quit on the spot because I wouldn’t let her go to her college graduation” is the one that sticks out to me as, “I don’t think you’re going to get the answer you thought you were.”

      1. Wordnerd*

        The last line Alison’s response to the above LW: “There’s a lesson to be learned here, but it’s not for her.”

  2. Wisteria*

    The letter writer who bit her co-worker will always be my personal hero. I think it’s unfair to characterize the action as “a fit of pique.” More like, “stretched to the breaking point and finally snapped.” My favorite analogy for people hitting their limit is particularly apt here:

    Even a golden lab will bite someone if you kick it enough times.

    LW had been kicked enough times, and she bit the kicker.

  3. dontwanttogiveanameonthisone*

    The salary range one is so important, if I could pass a business-related law it would be that every business over 50 employees should have to publish the salaries of every employee they have publicly. I was hired on after 5 years as a temp at the very bottom of the range available to the grade, told it was at the top of that range, and didn’t find out until 5 years and three promotions later… And my employee handbook that I have to sign every year of course still expressly forbids associates from disclosing their salary to one another, even though HR has to know it’s not actually legal to do that. I try to share with others when I can, but I have to be careful to make sure I’m sharing with the right employees.

  4. Glitsy Gus*

    Regarding the Refinery 29 article, one of the things that really sold me on the company I just accepted an offer from was the first conversation with the recruiter. After we got the normal niceties out of the way she said, “OK, let’s get this out of the way. Right now we have a budget of X for this role. Does that sound like it’s anywhere in your ballpark?” The fact that the company was so honest and upfront about the salary was a huge plus for me. Not being vague or trying to push me to name a number first really showed a certain kind of integrity that was really appealing to me.

    1. Lora*

      THIS. A company I finished up interviews with recently, who has been making noises about a forthcoming offer, stated up front that they would go over my resume and education and then re-level the job and compensation band based on years of experience and education/certifications in the field using standardized methods. They do this, the HR person explained, as part of their DEI efforts to be sure people are being paid and leveled equitably. I was seriously impressed. She said based on her initial review, here’s the pay band and how much vacation I’d qualify for right off the bat, but she’d need to get into more detail to figure out my stock options and other things, and it was like OH THANK GOD SOMEONE GETS IT!

  5. Seven If You Count Bad John*

    OMG I recognized that office set, I’ve seen that short film, and I clicked the link and it *was* that short film!!

  6. Princess Deviant*

    The Slutsky article was really lovely.
    I’ve often thought that Alison would make a fantastic counsellor; she’s so kind and understanding, but with excellent awareness and boundaries.
    When she did the Q&A session a few weeks back, and answered like 50 questions or something in 1 day!, I asked if having dysfunctional families meant that you kind of repeated those same dysfunctional and unhealthy patterns in the work place.
    And I think that Alison shows not just what kind of manager she would be – but what kind of family member she would be too.

  7. Skippy*

    Thanks for the link to the Refinery29 article, and for explicitly stating how lack of salary transparency harms applicants, particularly those from underrepresented groups or those who started their careers with a low salary.

    One thing that has made a huge difference in my small, rather niche field is that almost all of our professional associations have started requiring organizations to include salary ranges on their job postings. The organizations are motivated to do it because they really want to post on the association sites so they can get candidates with the most relevant qualifications, rather than having to rely on something like Indeed, where they will have to sort through dozens of resumes from people with no experience — and all by hand, because most of the employers are too small to have an ATS.

    I know a couple of recruiters huffed and puffed about it, but all in all it’s been very good for the field.

  8. nnn*

    Reading the article about salary ranges and Alison’s comments that keeping salary ranges secret puts candidates at a disadvantage when negotiating, I realize I’m surprised that negotiating salary ever became a thing in the first place.

    If all employers used their position of power to simply say “This is what the job pays,” employers could pay whatever they want and workers would accept that as normal.

    If employers all started doing that right now, we’d likely breathe a sigh of relief that they’re being transparent and we don’t have to get caught up in our livelihood being dependent on a guessing game where the rules change every time!

  9. Molly Malone*

    I really enjoyed the interview with Mark Slutsky in particular, it really confirmed my very positive impression of Alison.

    The article about salary ranges is so important.

    Despite being very experienced in my field, being very good at my job and valuable to my employer, I had a very bad experience a few years back after finding myself under-paid.

    I started that job as the effects of the credit crunch were still on-going and felt lucky to get it, particularly after being redundant from a really awful job which merits its own letter.

    Over time the economy improved, strictures relaxed but my salary didn’t improve.

    I worked in a small but significant satellite of a large company. Five years after starting, I was a high-performer in a team of four but earning something like 20% less than the person closest to me in salary terms; I found out literally by accident and was shocked, hurt, baffled and then angry.

    My feelings were exacerbated as I realized that this was known by most people in the office (population about 10) and that no-one in management queried this or thought it was significant.

    I queried this and, after a couple of months and having to pursue the matter, my salary was increased to a more appropriate level, I was advised that I was incorrectly graded for the previous five years which explained the level I was pitched at and that this was all very embarrassing, they were raising my salary retroactive a few months and that it was too late to address the lost salary, raises, benefits, etc.

    This was a very small office which was run like the personal fiefdom of a very paternalistic manager and had a very ‘family’ feel. The mistake they made (and I accept that mistakes will happen) was compounded by the fact that in this incredibly small, close-knit office, where my performance and worth were well-known, the figures were never queried, the bargain basement price for which they were getting my services, meant more money for employees who got a cut of the profits and I was made to feel as if I was being ungrateful and impolite in querying this.

    Of course I have a responsibility to myself, as we all have, to stay au courant and make sure I’m optimizing my earning potential and I should have kept a closer eye on the situation but I’d had a horrible time in my previous position which I couldn’t leave because of the credit crunch and which left me needing to recover, this cosy, little, familial workplace seemed the perfect place to do that.

    Also, whilst money is very important and I wouldn’t work without it, it’s not the only factor to consider when choosing a workplace and I’ve had enough crazy bosses in the past to know that job satisfaction and being happy in the place you spend at least eight hours a day is a weighty factor.

    The paternalistic, cosy environment lulled me in to a false sense of security such that I couldn’t imagine that the people I worked with so closely could be so uncaring or take advantage of my ignorance so callously. When I broached the subject with them in the most careful way I could after consulting with my friends, they weren’t shocked or upset to realize that a mistake had been made which caused me loss, they were embarrassed and uncomfortable and annoyed at the effort it would take to put it right.

    Almost every single person in the office had knowledge of this (although, of course, they wouldn’t all be focused on how this impinged on my particular situation), whether because they had a part of budget considerations or, informally, as this was a small office and it didn’t take a lot of poking and prying to find out if you were so minded (which I never was, I had faith in the system and the people).

    If information was more widely and transparently available then I wouldn’t have found myself in that position or, perhaps, other members of my team would have felt it was something they could raise with me. I think that the burgeoning trend towards working remotely does have the potential to make this kind of situation a much more prevalent problem and transparency is the answer.

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