Ask a Manager https://www.askamanager.org Tue, 26 Oct 2021 18:07:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 our highly-paid, overworked junior staff keep leaving just as we get them fully trained https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/our-highly-paid-overworked-junior-staff-keep-leaving-just-as-we-get-them-fully-trained.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/our-highly-paid-overworked-junior-staff-keep-leaving-just-as-we-get-them-fully-trained.html#comments Tue, 26 Oct 2021 17:59:53 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22526 This post, our highly-paid, overworked junior staff keep leaving just as we get them fully trained , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes: I work in an industry that is well known for long, hard hours, especially at junior levels. It’s one that has been all over the newspaper the past couple years for difficulty retaining junior professional staff and attempts to roll out more work-life balance. That said, it’s also (a) very well paid […]

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This post, our highly-paid, overworked junior staff keep leaving just as we get them fully trained , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes:

I work in an industry that is well known for long, hard hours, especially at junior levels. It’s one that has been all over the newspaper the past couple years for difficulty retaining junior professional staff and attempts to roll out more work-life balance. That said, it’s also (a) very well paid at the junior level, think 23 years old and making $275k-$200k; and (b) very competitive.

We’ve been having issues with junior staff, who each went through a rigorous interview process where the lifestyle was made clear to them (100-hour weeks, in the office every weekend, two year program), quitting after 6-9 months. That is typically just when they are getting useful in what is effectively an apprenticeship program. Some are leaving us for competitors with bigger brand names, but others are making the jump into corporate jobs, usually in finance with mid-stage start-ups. We have raised pay twice in the past six months and have been in the press for a fair bit of success lately. But we can’t do our jobs effectively without junior resources. It’s a huge amount of work to get a 23-year-old working at a professional level, and because it’s client service if they aren’t available evenings / weekends then I have to be (high level manager bringing in significant business). That’s equated to me working each of the past six weekends to try and get junior staff more time off than I ever got when I was coming up, only to have the fourth team member this year quit.

So, obviously we can’t *force* anyone to keep working, but what else can we be doing to keep people for the full two-year program? We already defer most of the comp to year-end, with some smallish amount withheld for 12-24 months. I’m thinking of something along the lines of a contract that would acknowledge that the training provided has value that must be repaid if the person doesn’t stay for 24 months. Or making the majority of the salary and bonus contingent on staying for the full 24 months (i.e., you make $10k per month before bonus, but if you leave before 24 months you must repay $6k per month). I’m sympathetic to the pleas that this job is life-consuming, but it’s ALWAYS been that way and nobody pretends otherwise during the interview process. And, again, I’m doing similar hours in my mid-40s, with a family. This isn’t a hazing process, it’s just what the job is like. Ideally it gets better, although with the junior team working less than I did it seems like that might not be the case any more.

It sounds like labor conditions have changed and your company will need to adapt.

For whatever reason, what you offered in the past was attractive enough to keep people there for the whole two years, but now it’s not. (I suspect the reasons are a combination of our current job-seeker’s market and a broader shift in what workers consider acceptable to put up with, particularly among younger workers. Both of those and especially the latter are good for society, although they’re causing pain for your company.) You’re getting people signing up thinking they can do the hours, but then realizing that 100-hour weeks are soul-crushing and seeing opportunities out there that they like better.

To keep them, you need to be able to compete with the other options they have. That doesn’t just mean money; it means lifestyle too.

You’re looking at ways to penalize them for leaving … but having exhausted, overworked people who are there only because you will bill them if they leave is a recipe for demoralized and resentful staff.

What if you hired more junior staff, had them work fewer hours each, and lowered the pay accordingly? Everyone might be happier with that in the long run. It’s more people to supervise, and that’s more work … but it’s not more work than training people who then leave just as they’re becoming useful. It would also give you a far healthier workplace and would give you access to a pool of candidates who you miss out on entirely right now because they won’t consider working those hours.

Don’t get too attached to “it’s always been this way.” It’s not serving you anymore. And lots of things were always a certain way until someone looked at them and said, “We can do this better.”

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I’m frustrated that my employees don’t want to return to the office https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/im-frustrated-that-my-employees-dont-want-to-return-to-the-office.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/im-frustrated-that-my-employees-dont-want-to-return-to-the-office.html#comments Tue, 26 Oct 2021 16:29:18 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22513 This post, I’m frustrated that my employees don’t want to return to the office , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes: I am a single millennial living in a Manhattan apartment I share with a roommate. I don’t have any children or pets. I work at a mid-size company where most of the employees are around my age and the culture resembles a start-up. We are a very social workplace and I truly […]

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This post, I’m frustrated that my employees don’t want to return to the office , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes:

I am a single millennial living in a Manhattan apartment I share with a roommate. I don’t have any children or pets. I work at a mid-size company where most of the employees are around my age and the culture resembles a start-up. We are a very social workplace and I truly enjoy my job and my coworkers. I have an active social life outside of work as well, but I definitely get a lot of fulfillment from my career.

After a few months of lockdown with my parents in the suburbs, I moved back to NYC and have been back at the office very consistently for almost a year, working my way up to what I believe is the optimal schedule of three days in, two days at home. Our CEO, however, has been preaching “do whatever you want” and … well … I am really struggling to understand people’s attitudes towards coming back to the office. A small group of us have picked our days and come in very regularly, but everyone else tends to just come in when they feel like it, and I am starting to get incredibly frustrated. With vaccines available and precautions in place (my office requires return-to-office training and proof of vaccination in order to return, and we also contact trace), I personally feel that people are running out of excuses not to come back. I started coming back in well before vaccines were available and it was completely fine … so if you didn’t move outside of commuting distance and you were previously expected to come to the office five days a week, why are you acting like coming in for even one day is “too much”?

To be honest, my biggest frustration has been with my boss. I have two direct reports of my own but am not senior enough to mandate anything of them without her backing, which I don’t have. She had her first child during the pandemic and much of the childcare responsibilities fall on her, so I think that is a big reason why she hasn’t come in as much. My boss and I are very close and agree on almost everything except for this. Selfishly, I want her to come to the office so that I can spend some time with her, but I am also frustrated that she isn’t willing to give any direction to our larger team, which doesn’t allow me to set any expectations of my own reports (ideally, I would want everyone in the office three days a week). So all I can do is keep going to the office myself and hope that maybe some of my team will show up on occasion, which defeats half the purpose of being there in the first place.

While the days of being in the office full-time are over, I still think the office is a valuable place for networking, team building, and maintaining a strong company culture. Do others not feel the same? If they are choosing not to come in, does this mean they don’t value their careers? With lack of guidance from leadership and no authority to change the situation, what can I do to make sense of all this and stay happy at work?

You can read my answer to this letter at New York Magazine today. Head over there to read it.

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I caught my coworker masturbating at his desk https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/my-coworker-is-gross.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/my-coworker-is-gross.html#comments Tue, 26 Oct 2021 14:59:27 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22525 This post, I caught my coworker masturbating at his desk , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes: I was walking past a coworker’s office one day recently and looked into his window. He had his head back and his eyes closed, mouth half open. I was going to go in and tease him about falling asleep at his desk until I noticed that his arm was pumping up and […]

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This post, I caught my coworker masturbating at his desk , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes:

I was walking past a coworker’s office one day recently and looked into his window. He had his head back and his eyes closed, mouth half open. I was going to go in and tease him about falling asleep at his desk until I noticed that his arm was pumping up and down.

I can’t say with 100% certainty that he was maturbating at his desk, but I’m about 90% sure. He saw me as I was hurrying away from his office, then left for the day about 20 minutes later (it was early in the afternoon, but also the Friday before a long weekend so not impossible that he was already planning on leaving early). We have not spoken to each other since the incident and I have no desire to confront him or discuss what I saw. (How would I even start??)

I’ve been going back and forth in my mind on how best to handle it. He doesn’t report to me, but I am higher than him in the org. We’ve been friendly up until this point and he’d even asked to transfer to my team late last year. (I turned him down because he didn’t have the right experience/qualifications, but would have been open to bringing him on in the future. Until now anyway!)

On one hand, no one was harmed. I was grossed out and it will probably take some time before I want to work with him again, but ultimately I’ll be able to work past this. He holds a key position in the org, so I also am worried about damaging our operations if I do report and he gets dismissed.

On the other hand, this is just so gross and inappropriate that I am questioning his judgment and re-evaluating every interaction we’ve had in the 3+ years we’ve been coworkers.

I’m hesitant to report to his manager or HR on what I think I saw. I don’t necessarily want him fired and I definitely don’t want to get into a he-said-she-said about this situation if it does push forward.

What would you do in this situation? I can’t prove anything and I feel conflicted about reporting.

Please report it.

This dude was masturbating in his office. His office with a window.

It’s possible that he’s exposed other people to that or will in the future, including people who have less power than you do and might not feel they can report at all, particularly considering that he’s in a key position. Think interns, cleaning people, and others who might feel they can’t speak up.

I get your concerns about damage to your operations if he gets fired, but that’s not a reason not to report it. First, what happens next isn’t your call — it’s your company’s. (Although there’s a decent chance they’re not going to go straight to firing anyway, at least if he denies it; it’s likely to get him a serious no-more-strikes-type warning unless there have been other reports about him previously.) Second, being in a key position shouldn’t allow him to commit a wildly anti-social act that makes other deeply uncomfortable without repercussions . If anything, being in a key position should make it matter more, given what it says about his judgment.

I understand your concerns about getting into a he-said, she-said situation. But you don’t need to be able to prove what you saw behind a reasonable doubt. You can say exactly what you said here: “here’s what I saw and I can’t say with 100% certainty what was happening, but this what it looked like.” (And who knows, maybe there have been other reports previously and this will clinch it. Or maybe nothing will happen because they won’t be sure but it will be the thing that gets the next report acted on.)

Report it. What happens from there is on him, not you.

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my boss cried when I asked for a raise, when to tell applicants about our vaccine requirement, and more https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/my-boss-cried-when-i-asked-for-a-raise-when-to-tell-applicants-about-our-vaccine-requirement-and-more.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/my-boss-cried-when-i-asked-for-a-raise-when-to-tell-applicants-about-our-vaccine-requirement-and-more.html#comments Tue, 26 Oct 2021 04:03:35 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22524 This post, my boss cried when I asked for a raise, when to tell applicants about our vaccine requirement, and more , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go… 1. My boss cried when I asked for a raise I worked at an office for seven years. A few months ago, I asked for a raise. My manager said she would get back to me and I never heard anything. A month later, the job […]

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This post, my boss cried when I asked for a raise, when to tell applicants about our vaccine requirement, and more , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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

1. My boss cried when I asked for a raise

I worked at an office for seven years. A few months ago, I asked for a raise. My manager said she would get back to me and I never heard anything.

A month later, the job was growing increasingly mentally and physically demanding. I came to my manager again and asked for a Monday-Thursday schedule. Again, silence. So I started seeking other jobs. When I was up-front about this with my manager, miraculously she was able to discuss my raise/better schedule with my boss the next day.

I was told no, that I couldn’t work the four days (which is a normal schedule in my profession). I was also told I couldn’t get a raise unless I worked the exact days they wanted me to and no less. My manager said my boss was “extremely hurt” by me wanting to work a more manageable schedule with better pay. So I had a meeting with my boss and she cried. She said she felt hurt I was doing this to her and I was seeming ungrateful. There were a lot of toxic things said on top of that. The following day, when I had follow-up questions about my raise (given I agreed to the days they said were a must), I was met with silence AGAIN.

I snapped. After years of being mentally abused by my manager, I wrote an immediate resignation letter and left it on my boss’s desk at the end of the day. She won’t see it until tomorrow. It’s not the way I wanted to go out. But I have a job lined up that doesn’t need her reference.

My question now is, can I block calls and texts from the office? I know when she sees I quit without notice, she will be enraged, and will reach out to belittle me and blame me for messing up her schedule and business. Can I block it all out?

You sure can.

But first I’d ask how much you care about truly burning the bridge. I know you said you don’t need your boss’s reference for the job you just accepted — but that doesn’t mean you won’t get asked for a reference from her in future searches, especially since you worked there so long. The bridge might be burned regardless of what you do now (because of the quitting without notice and also depending on what you said in the letter), but it’s possible that being willing to take a call or two from her could make it less burned than it otherwise would be. That wouldn’t mean you need to take abuse from her, but there might be something to be gained for Future You if you don’t completely block her right off the bat.

Or maybe not. You might know the reference is already a lost cause, or you might have calculated that being able to walk out and never speak to them again is worth losing the reference. That’s your call!

In any case, you can indeed block calls and texts from your office. They mistreated you and you’re not obligated to engage with them at all if you’re willing to deal with whatever the consequences are of that. (Those consequences could range from badmouthing you to others in your field to the aforementioned bad references to nothing at all. And again, you might know that she’s already going to do the first two anyway, no matter what you do next.)

2. Should I correct my chair about the low amount I’m paid?

I’m a lecturer at a university. The chair of my department is not very empathetic or encouraging, and I’ve been frustrated by some of his past actions and statements to me (nothing awful, just rather rude and unsupportive, plus I always get the semi-unspoken vibe that we should never use sick leave, though that is not the official message, of course).

At a meeting last week, he was asking us to change how we are doing something, requiring more time in the classroom. It’s not a big deal, but he was illustrating his point about how we shouldn’t complain about it by saying that even the lowest paid of us make $70 an hour when you crunch the numbers, and this particular new task is an easy way to make 70 bucks.

We make nowhere near $70 an hour. We are all notoriously underpaid, and my salary is near the bottom. I have no idea how he came up with that number, but it is dramatically wrong. I want to point this out SO BADLY. His comment irritated me, with the implication that we make plenty of money and shouldn’t complain. I really want to say “Hey, Chair, how did you get that number?” And then politely correct him.

But it doesn’t actually affect anything. It is purely because I’m irritated and want to be petty. So should I get over this, since it does me no good? (For what it’s worth, he’s only going to be chair for another year, most likely.)

I’d be awfully tempted to approach this as if there’s been a terrible mistake in your pay and you’d like to get it corrected (“you said we’re all making at least $70/hour, and that is definitely not reflected in my pay — is it possible I’m being paid incorrectly?”).

But it’s probably a better idea to simply say matter-of-factly, “You said the other day that we all make at least $70/hour and I thought you’d want to know that that’s not correct. I can’t speak for others, but I make $X/hour.” It’s not petty to point that out; you’d be doing him a favor by correcting his facts for the future.

3. Can I ask my boss to stop meeting with me about my work?

My supervisor and the manager of my department have been meeting with me monthly to as they put it help me with recommendations on how to stay organized and how to keep on top of things. This is fair but it seems like these meetings are always a list of everything I’m doing wrong and never any improvements they’ve seen. If I do something well, my supervisor actually actively minimizes it.

I don’t want to have these meetings any more because they aren’t productive and don’t motivate me to do better in any way. Is there any way possible I could ask for the meetings to stop? Things have been bad since returning from WFH and the meetings make it worse.

If they’re meeting with you monthly because they have concerns about your work, you can’t really ask for the meetings to stop; it would be like saying “stop giving me feedback about my work.”

But if they haven’t given you clear goals that they want you to be meeting — a clear picture of what your performance should look like and how that differs from your work now — you could try asking for that. You could also say that you think you’ve made improvements like XYZ and ask if that aligns with their impressions. Ultimately, though, I’d be concerned that they’re seeing serious issues that need to improve but haven’t communicated that clearly enough — so I’d want to make sure you’re all on the same page about how they view your performance overall and what that could mean for your job.

4. When should we tell job candidates about our Covid vaccine requirement?

My employer requires COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of employment. We had 100% compliance without any medical or religious exemptions requested (although we have provisions if it does happen) and no one quitting. We are just now opening up two new positions because we are buried in work and we have been trying to figure out when to announce the vaccine requirement (in the announcement? in the first interview? later interviews? offer stage? first day of work/when you do I-9 and all that?).

In a similar vein, say we have a great candidate who isn’t vaccinated, would it make sense to tell them that by the time they start (generally two weeks from time of offer) they’ll need to show proof of a first vaccine or documentation for a religious/medical exemption or the offer is no longer available? Or should we just not even offer a position? At this time, our field isn’t hitting any pandemic-induced labor shortage and everything is about the same as pre-pandemic on that front, so ruling out unvaccinated folks would be unlikely to make the search longer or harder.

Put it in the ad. That way people know up-front and can self-select out if they’re not willing to be vaccinated — and it will likely be a draw to a lot of people who are, and who appreciate your company taking public health seriously.

I’d reiterate it when making an offer too, in the context of asking them to supply proof of vaccination or a request for an exemption as part of their new hire paperwork.

5. Can I ask for new business cards with my correct pronouns?

Ever since I was more exposed to those outside of the gender binary, I’ve been questioning my gender and I finally decided that the pronouns I’d use are she/they. I’m still unsure about if I identify as non-binary, but I feel so much better coming to terms with the pronouns I identiy with. This might sound unrelated to work, but I just wanted to add some context to my problem. I was asked to provide my pronouns for my business cards at my new job, which I said were she/they. However, when I was shown the drafts, my pronouns were listed as she/her/hers, with no mention of they/them/theirs. I really was not comfortable pushing back, so I just accepted it and now I have a bunch of business cards that list my pronouns as she/her/hers. However, as time passed I became extremely uncomfortable with only half my pronouns being present on my business card. Is it too late to ask for business cards that reflect ALL of my actual pronouns and I should just accept it? I do acknowledge that I should’ve said something at the time, but can I say something now?

Yes. Go ahead and ask. A workplace that’s including pronouns on their business cards is probably a workplace that wants people to be comfortable with the pronouns getting used for them.

Ideally you would have spoken up when you were given the proofs to review — the same way you presumably would have spoken up about any other error, like if they misspelled your name. Still, though, the fact that you didn’t isn’t reason for you to have to use cards with pronouns you’re not comfortable with.

You could say, “I apologize for not raising this earlier, but is it possible to redo my business cards with my correct pronouns, which are she/they?” Business cards really don’t cost that much, and a conscientious employer will care more about getting it right than having to redo them. (They might be a little aggravated that you didn’t say something at the proof stage, but a conscientious employer will also know this stuff can be fraught.)

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my company wants me to work Halloween and I’m a Halloween fanatic https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/my-company-wants-me-to-work-halloween-and-im-a-halloween-fanatic.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/my-company-wants-me-to-work-halloween-and-im-a-halloween-fanatic.html#comments Mon, 25 Oct 2021 17:59:13 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22519 This post, my company wants me to work Halloween and I’m a Halloween fanatic , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes: I’ve been at my job for six months and everything is going really well. I like the company, the work, the boss, everything is good. After many meetings, it was decided that a large (yearly) project is going to be processed at the end of October. We had the ability to do […]

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This post, my company wants me to work Halloween and I’m a Halloween fanatic , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes:

I’ve been at my job for six months and everything is going really well. I like the company, the work, the boss, everything is good.

After many meetings, it was decided that a large (yearly) project is going to be processed at the end of October. We had the ability to do this during various times but heads higher than ours picked the dates. The problem here is that I’m a Halloween nut. This is the equivalent of asking Buddy the Elf to work on Christmas. I love Halloween so much that I ask during interviews if October is a busy month. I often take off the last week of October, sometimes two for Spooky Season.

My wedding anniversary is that week (we had a Halloween wedding), I carve pumpkins, drink pumpkin beer, watch horror movies (my favorite!), and set up my house for the ultimate scare for the neighborhood children. I have a gigantic Halloween tattoo on one arm. I’ve volunteered at several haunted houses and hayrides. I’m trying to paint a picture here. It may be unusual that a woman in her 40s is this crazy over what some call a kids’ holiday (with which I completely disagree), but my point is that this is important to me and has been for a long time.

I had previously put in for two PTO days before the dates for the project were decided. My team made the assumption that I am leaving town since I didn’t rescind the days (someone else had PTO and rescinded their days, stating they were going to be home). I’m not going away, but I also didn’t correct anyone’s thinking out of concern that they would ask me to do the same.

The team agreed they can manage without me and I’ve volunteered to do the heavy lifting that leads up to the end of the month. I feel that I’m pulling my weight and have put in a lot of hours and effort into this project. I’ve offered to be available the Thursday and Friday that I’m off, via phone. I said I was not available on Saturday the 30th or Sunday the 31st.

They are already talking about next year and assuming I’ll be here for the project. The problem is that I am not now nor will I EVER be available on Halloween. I understand I can’t voice it that way to my manager, but I do need to find a way (and a time) to bring this news up to her.

I’ll work Christmas, Thanksgiving, my birthday, my husband’s birthday, whatever. My boss and I have a great relationship. We work very well together and my review is coming up. She knows I like Halloween, but I don’t know if she understands how much.

Some may think this is a silly hill to die on and that is okay. If this becomes non-negotiable, it is something I would consider leaving a job over. We all have things that are important to us and this is one of my few deal-breakers. When I asked during the interview about October, I was told it is not as busy and that was the truth at the time. If I knew this project was going to be a yearly time-consuming October effort, I would not have taken the job.

When would be a good time to bring this up? Obviously before October of next year. I was leaning towards waiting until after I have been here a year or at least my review. I’ve held back on saying something because I understand that it looks a little silly. Maybe there is someone out there who loves Arbor Day and wants off for that every year. I’m struggling to articulate this and appreciate any input.

You sound like you’re feeling very defensive about how important Halloween is to you, but I don’t think you need to be!

You get to decide what’s important to you and what’s a deal-breaker for you. Your Halloween week sounds awesome and I can see why you don’t want to give it up. We all get to have things that are important to us that don’t line up with more mainstream observances. (Hell, I once planned an international trip around making sure I would be home for the end of Daylight Savings Time because I like that day so much.)

That said, I can see why you feel uneasy about it too. When it’s a busy time at work, people do sometimes judge the reason someone is out (“she took off for a day at the beach during our busiest time and left us scrambling short-handed” can feel different than “she’s out for emergency surgery so we’re all pitching in”).

Still, though, you get to have a thing you need to be off for. If you had a bunch of them — if you required a week off for the 4th of July and a long weekend for your birthday and a week at Halloween and you could never be disturbed on either side of Valentine’s Day — that would be unreasonable at most jobs. (It would also be fascinating, and I hope to get a letter from that person one day.) But this is one thing. And you asked about October in the interview. You should be fine.

As for when to bring it up about next year, you have a bunch of options. You could mention it at your review. You could mention it at the start of the new year, in the context of planning for the year. You could wait until you’ve been there a year if you want. Any of those are fine. I would wait at least a month or two from now, though, since the more time that has gone by since the current busy period, the less likely people are to think, “Wait, that was why she didn’t cancel her days off during our big push?” (I’m not saying they’d be right to raise their eyebrows at it, just that it’s easily avoided so you might as well.)

When you do bring it up, frame it as, “I want to bring this up before planning starts for the next X project. I try to take off time around Halloween every year — at least a couple of days but sometimes a week or two. It’s my wedding anniversary and I have a lot going on at that time of year.” If your manager seems hesitant, it’s okay to say, “It’s so important to me that I actually make a point of asking about October before accepting a job. I know you didn’t foresee this project then, but if there’s a way to make it work, I’d really like to.”

Here is a spooky thing for you.

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job seekers are ghosting employers … just like employers have done to them for years https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/job-seekers-are-ghosting-employers-just-like-employers-have-done-to-them-for-years.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/job-seekers-are-ghosting-employers-just-like-employers-have-done-to-them-for-years.html#comments Mon, 25 Oct 2021 16:29:11 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22507 This post, job seekers are ghosting employers … just like employers have done to them for years , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

In today’s topsy-turvy job market, a strange new thing is happening: Employers are increasingly grumbling about job seekers “ghosting” them. These job candidates just don’t show up for their scheduled interviews. And in some cases, they accept a job only to disappear. Employers don’t like this. But they’ve been doing this to workers for years, […]

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This post, job seekers are ghosting employers … just like employers have done to them for years , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

In today’s topsy-turvy job market, a strange new thing is happening: Employers are increasingly grumbling about job seekers “ghosting” them. These job candidates just don’t show up for their scheduled interviews. And in some cases, they accept a job only to disappear.

Employers don’t like this. But they’ve been doing this to workers for years, and their hand-wringing didn’t start until the tables were turned. My column for Slate today is on this turnabout — and the resulting schadenfreude. You can read it here.

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my coworker is secretly living at the office https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/my-coworker-is-secretly-living-at-the-office.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/my-coworker-is-secretly-living-at-the-office.html#comments Mon, 25 Oct 2021 14:59:17 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22520 This post, my coworker is secretly living at the office , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes: I started a new job two months ago. My role is a senior one that reports directly to the CEO. I quickly discovered that one of my coworkers — who is also a manager — is living in the office. He would technically say that he lives in his van. However, his […]

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This post, my coworker is secretly living at the office , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes:

I started a new job two months ago. My role is a senior one that reports directly to the CEO.

I quickly discovered that one of my coworkers — who is also a manager — is living in the office. He would technically say that he lives in his van. However, his van is always parked in the office parking garage and it is clear he uses the office for all his personal needs. I live near the office so have driven by at all hours and he is always here! He cooks all his meals in the office kitchen and has a couch in his office. He will also post a sign on his door that says “out of office” but he is actually in his office, just not working. 

I think this has gone unnoticed because most people are still working remotely, but I am coming in every day and it is very uncomfortable. Sometimes it appears he has just woken up.

I don’t want to make waves because I am so new, but I also can’t stop thinking about this. Should I tell someone or just let it go and hope leadership notices soon?

A complicating factor to note — our CEO was recently let go and we are in the middle of a huge leadership transition. The organization is very chaotic right now and there is not clear leadership.

Well, it’s possible someone in leadership knows and has okayed it. Who knows why — most obviously, of course, he could have lost his housing. Or he could have split from his partner or simply decided this was more cost-effective while no one else was coming in anyway, or who knows what.

But it’s also possible that no one knows since most of your coworkers are still working remotely. And if that’s the case, the organization really does need to know — for safety and legal reasons, if nothing else. If they rent the space, someone living there could be a violation of the terms of their lease. It could be a problem for their insurance. And if something happens to the building in the middle of the night, someone needs to know a person is in there.

If you weren’t in a very senior role, I’d tell you this is above your pay grade and, especially as a new hire, to leave it alone for now unless it were causing problems for you (like if you were running into him half-clad in the mornings or unable to use the office fridge because it was stuffed with a month of his groceries or so forth).

But you’re in a senior role that reports to the CEO. Even though there’s no clear leadership right now, is there anyone above you or in a relatively senior operations-type role? If so, it’s worth mentioning it to that person — not in a “get Bob in trouble” kind of way, but framed as, “I wasn’t sure if anyone knew about this since he and I are generally the only ones here, and it seemed like something I should mention to someone.” That’s not making waves; if they’re fine with it, they’ll let you know that … and if they’re not fine with it, they’re unlikely to shoot the messenger.

It does risk making waves for Bob, of course. But you can’t start living in your office and expect your colleagues not to mention it. That’s not to ignore that he might be in a difficult spot — but again, there are legal and safety reasons the organization needs to know he’s there.

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I quit my job but they insist I have to participate in an investigation, putting Mensa on your resume, and more https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/i-quit-my-job-but-they-insist-i-have-to-participate-in-an-investigation-putting-mensa-on-your-resume-and-more.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/i-quit-my-job-but-they-insist-i-have-to-participate-in-an-investigation-putting-mensa-on-your-resume-and-more.html#comments Mon, 25 Oct 2021 04:03:39 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22518 This post, I quit my job but they insist I have to participate in an investigation, putting Mensa on your resume, and more , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go… 1. I quit my job but my old boss says I have to participate in an investigation of my complaints I just quit my job at a restaurant. I sent my manager a very respectful text the other day because I didn’t have time for a […]

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This post, I quit my job but they insist I have to participate in an investigation, putting Mensa on your resume, and more , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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

1. I quit my job but my old boss says I have to participate in an investigation of my complaints

I just quit my job at a restaurant. I sent my manager a very respectful text the other day because I didn’t have time for a phone call and wanted him to know right away.

The problem is that now I have lots of meetings and HR involvement. The reasons I quit include sexual harassment, regular harassment, screaming, cursing, and threats from other coworkers. I informed my manager of the incidents and what had occurred when he asked why I was quitting, and he made me take a call with him and go over everything in detail.

I tried to inform him of the incidents before I left — really, I did! I went up to him the weekend they occurred and asked for five minutes of his time and he said he didn’t have any time to give me. Now he says he “needs to do his due diligence” and investigate and is forcing me to be involved in the ongoing process. He knew I wanted to discuss an HR concern with him last weekend and brushed me off until I was no longer his employee.

Honestly, at this point I just want to put it all behind me and move on. I’m traumatized enough as it is and I just want to heal and move on with my life. How in the world do I navigate this? Do I get a lawyer? Do I HAVE to be involved? I definitely don’t work there anymore, and I don’t want to be further upset and anxious. Help!

You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do! You don’t work for that employer any more, and they have zero ability to command your time in any way. You’re right to point out that you tried to talk to your old boss before you resigned and he blew you off — but even if you hadn’t done that, you’d still have the right to simply quit and wash your hands of them. If you wanted to talk to them about what happened, you certainly could — but now that you’ve resigned, you have zero obligation to do it if you’d prefer not to.

If you want, you can tell him, “My schedule is fully booked and I’m not available for meetings or calls about this” or “This was something I tried to speak with you about before I left, but now that I’m gone it’s not something I’m available to keep meeting about.” Or you can simply ignore his calls if you want. If he persists, feel free to tell HR that he’s continuing to contact you when you’ve asked him to stop and they need to ensure he leaves you alone.

2. Should I put Mensa on my resume?

I have been employed in law enforcement my entire adult life, first at the local level, and now for over 25 years in federal law enforcement. Federal law enforcement has a mandatory retirement age of 57. I know that I want to continue working past that age, so as I am now in my early 50’s and eligible to retire, I am looking in private industry for positions that interest me.

Here’s a question I haven’t seen come up before: I am a member of Mensa. Do I include this in my resume or cover letter? You would think that having a high level of intelligence would be an automatic asset, but people can be weird about this. Would it be any different when dealing with a hiring manager? I know in the land of civil service it was not a factor, but can you see any benefit in private industry?

Don’t put Mensa membership on your resume — for the same reason you wouldn’t put your IQ on your resume. Hiring managers are interested in what you have actually accomplished, not what you might have the potential to accomplish, particularly when you’re many years into your career. After all, you could be brilliant but struggle with execution, follow-through, organization, dealing with other people — the list goes on — and what they really want to know is what you’ve done with your intelligence (since it’s the most reliable way of knowing what you might do with it for them).

If you want to convey that you’re smart, let it show through your your achievements. And if it doesn’t show through your achievements, then qualifying for a Mensa membership isn’t terribly relevant for hiring purposes.

It’s also likely to turn off a lot of people who will see it as a weird thing to list.

3. I’m upset that my coworker became my new boss without being interviewed

I graduated from college in 2018, and was at my previous job for a few years as a temp before being fully hired. I moved jobs and have been with my current organization since 2019, switching positions from an admin assistant to program specialist in June 2020. In that time I have received a masters of healthcare administration. In the fall of 2020, someone new joined my team after completing a fellowship program we have.

Recently my team has gone through some changes as people were promoted. My old manager moved into a senior role and we were informed that they were not backfilling her position. Two weeks later, it was announced that the person who joined in the fall of 2020 would be filling her position as she’s showed great commitment to the team. She is now my direct manager.

I’m having mixed feelings about this. No one on my team was told they were interviewing, and it seems shady she was moved right in without an interview. I know this because I was an admin assistant before, and I get all the calendar invites for our CEO who interviews EVERYONE before they are hired. Even internal promotions get interviews from him, but she did not. Am I just being emotional or do I have a right to be upset? I’m not sure as this is my first real job and I have never experienced anything like this.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with promoting an existing employee without a formal interview. Often working with and managing a person will provide a far more nuanced sense of whether they’d be right for a role than what you could get from an interview. (I’d argue it provides the best view; interviews are a distant second.) In a situation like that, there’s no requirement or expectation that you must conduct an interview, especially if it’s clear that no one else on the team would be the right pick.

If that was the situation here, then this is more an issue of messaging. It sounds like they missed an opportunity to explain why they filled the position this way and why they didn’t give anyone else the chance to throw their hat in the ring. They could have good reasons for everything they did, but if it’s leaving people feel disgruntled, they should have explained it better.

4. Asking to work from home after a colleague was hired to do the same work remotely

I was hired for a company two years ago but have been working from home for 19 months of those two years. I have proven myself over and over and have never had a performance issue or a complaint from management.

They gave us the option to work from home two days a week. Well, recently they hired an out-of-state full-time remote worker for the same job I do. We had five people quit this year and they’ve had trouble filling any of the positions which is why they hired out-of-state.

I have requested recently to my boss that I would like to work from home full-time. I haven’t heard anything back yet but I am nervous. Can they deny my remote work request? I don’t think it would be fair to deny my request but hire someone else for a full-time remote position.

Yes, they can deny your remote work request if they want to. No law requires employers to offer remote work equally, as long as they’re not offering it based on an illegal factor like race or religion. They could even have legitimate reasons for offering it to some people in a particular role but not all — like they see a work need for someone in your job to be in the office a few days a week and since it’s clearly not going to be the out-of-state hire, they’ll want it to be you.

That said, you might be able to use the out-of-state hire as a way to argue that your job doesn’t require you to be in the office. They don’t have to accept that argument, but you can certainly try. And if their recent search highlighted that they’d have a hard time replacing you with someone else local, that might help your case.

5. I was about to be offered a job and then they told me to fill out an application

I had a manager for a large corporation call me about a position they would like me to fill. It is a high-profile position that sounds really appealing, but it also comes with much more high stress than where I am now. I am currently operating independently and have really liked what I’m doing, but I have felt that this position being offered might give me more stability in the long run. We’ve talked collectively for about three hours and he told me he was ready to send me an offer. He asked what starting pay I was looking for and I told him a number equivalent to what I am making now, knowing that this is a commission-based job and the growth would be my responsibility. He said he would get that approved and follow up with me the next week.

A week later, I received an email from an HR person with a link to fill out a job application. No offer or other communication was included, just an application for the position. I am happy with where I am at and would only move positions if there was a better opportunity to grow and keep a stable book of business. This did not specify any of that or what we had discussed over the phone. The manager called me once and did not leave a message, and I called him back right away and left him a message to give me a call. That was four days ago. Am I going about this the right way not filling out the application? I wasn’t really looking to move unless this was an improvement. Am I burning a bridge by not responding to that email?

You should fill out the application since they may require it of all candidates before they’ll move you forward. If that’s the case, they should have explained that to you more explicitly, not just sent the application without comment, but it’s pretty common for HR to insist candidates fill out a full application before they can be offered a job. Partly it’s because applications often include attestations that the info you’re providing is correct, and partly it’s because it’s bad practice to hire people without ensuring you have the same basic information on them that you collect on everyone else you consider for jobs … and a large corporation is particularly unlikely to exempt you from that.

Filling out the application doesn’t say “I am interested in starting at the very beginning of your hiring process.” It’s just complying with a step they (probably) need to have completed before they can move forward.

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weekend open thread – October 23-24, 2021 https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/weekend-open-thread-october-23-24-2021.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/weekend-open-thread-october-23-24-2021.html#comments Sat, 23 Oct 2021 05:07:38 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22464 This post, weekend open thread – October 23-24, 2021 , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

This comment section is open for any non-work-related discussion you’d like to have with other readers, by popular demand. Here are the rules for the weekend posts. Book recommendation of the week: Small Pleasures, by Clare Chambers. A reporter in 1950s Britain who is investigating a woman’s claim of an immaculate conception finds herself becoming personally entangled in […]

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This post, weekend open thread – October 23-24, 2021 , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

This comment section is open for any non-work-related discussion you’d like to have with other readers, by popular demand.

Here are the rules for the weekend posts.

Book recommendation of the week: Small Pleasures, by Clare Chambers. A reporter in 1950s Britain who is investigating a woman’s claim of an immaculate conception finds herself becoming personally entangled in the story.

 I make a commission if you use that Amazon link.

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it’s your Friday good news https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/its-your-friday-good-news-75.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/its-your-friday-good-news-75.html#comments Fri, 22 Oct 2021 16:00:36 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22465 This post, it’s your Friday good news , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

It’s your Friday good news! 1.  “I applied for and accepted a new position (a promotion/higher salary band) in my organization nearly 3 years ago, and almost immediately, like literally the first day, I realized I’d made a terrible mistake. My manager is a chronic oversharer, a micromanager, mostly incompetent and clueless, yet thinks she’s […]

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This post, it’s your Friday good news , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

It’s your Friday good news!

1.  “I applied for and accepted a new position (a promotion/higher salary band) in my organization nearly 3 years ago, and almost immediately, like literally the first day, I realized I’d made a terrible mistake. My manager is a chronic oversharer, a micromanager, mostly incompetent and clueless, yet thinks she’s the best. I immediately started looking to get out. I should note, I’m also one of the unlucky ones who works for an org that limits how much of a raise one can get from an internal promotion, so I was severely underpaid for this position from the start after having had a couple internal job changes/promotions prior to this one..

After idly searching — and having a couple leads that didn’t pan out — for the first year or so, of course the pandemic hit. We got sent home and my boss’s anxiety and micromanaging tendencies got even worse. I started ramping up my search, but due to hiring freezes, in the early days of the pandemic, jobs in my field weren’t getting posted.

I also started reading Ask a Manager and really worked on internalizing the advice. I revamped my resume and cover letter, managing to force myself to make it much more personalized and less generic than I had previously been using. I made sure to revise it and personalize it for every position I applied to.

This spring, job postings in my field started springing up everywhere. I had a rule — every time my boss did something nuts or incredibly frustrating, I had to apply for a job. I started getting phone screens, then interviews right away. I had a couple near misses — including an in-person interview before it really felt safe where so many red flags popped up, I was actually relieved that they completely ghosted me after the interview — but just kept plugging away.

Well, I’m thrilled to say, all your tips and advice, especially about interview prep, really paid off, because after a fast, thorough interview process that I absolutely sailed through, my last day is Friday! The new position is exactly equivalent to my current position but pays 36% (!!) more, it is fully remote, so I will not have to move to a more expensive area of the country and will have no wardrobe or commuter costs (and I will not have to return to an office I don’t feel is safe yet), and the hiring manager was absolutely excellent. My only slight qualm was they’re also hiring the person who will be my supervisor right now as well, so I did not get to meet them. I asked a million questions of the hiring manager, who will be my grandboss, about what she’s looking for in that position and felt very satisfied that she absolutely will not be hiring a micromanager. I may even get to be involved in the hiring process for the supervisor after I join the team, if they’re still looking.

Anyways, for the first time in my career, I will be above the median salary for my profession, I will be working for a dynamic, well-respected organization that has a career ladder and promotes from within, AND I get to do it all in my soft pants.

2. “I never emailed you before with a question or anything, but I wanted to say thank you. I was stuck in a pretty low paying job (GS-5, federal service) and felt like I was trapped. By reading your site and the success stories of people on it, I gained the confidence and drive to push out of where I am at and advance. The resume writing tips and cover letter advice didn’t hurt either. I now find myself with an offer letter in hand for another job starting at a 56% raise, automatically going to a total of 69% above my current salary after one year. Still federal, but in a different branch of service, doing something that aligns with my skills and experience and is something I will enjoy rather than dread.”

3.  “After nearly a year of being Covidly-unemployed, while dealing with a handful of non-Covid health crises that kept me from an active, ongoing job search, I am now happily gainfully employed at an amazing organization in a role both well-suited for my current strengths, but offers an opportunities to learn and grow in my field.

It is kind of unusual how it happened. Over the summer, I had what I thought was an amazing virtual interview with a nonprofit organization that is small but does great work. When I didn’t hear back from them during their given timeframe, I was pretty bummed (and admittedly, too afraid to reach out in case I had been wildly off-base about my perceptions of the interview). While I never heard from them again, I did hear from the woman who actually got the job. She had been tasked to interview for her replacement at another highly-respected local nonprofit (an affiliate of a larger, national, and very well-known organization) and had asked her new boss (the lady I previously interviewed with) for other top candidates they had been considering before she ultimately got the role. Apparently, I was on that list. I virtually interviewed with my predecessor, who seems amazing and I completely understand why she got the original job, and then interviewed in person with the CFO and CEO. Two weeks of background and reference checks later, I was in my new office and this wonderful organization, with a larger paycheck than I’ve ever previously received.

A month in, and so far, it seems like all you could want from a nonprofit. The culture is welcoming and passionate about the work, the CEO is an absolute inspiration, the organization truly cares about inclusion and diversity (in a very money-where-your-mouth-is-way, not just lip service), and unlike some of my jobs in the past, they actually have their crap together. Also, my predecessor is so organized, that my transition into the role has been as seamless as possible. I know the words dream job are silly, but I feel this is exactly where I want to be right now. And Alison, without your advice and guidance through the years, I know this would not have happened. Thank you so much. Yay to another Friday.”

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open thread – October 22-23, 2021 https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/open-thread-october-22-23-2021.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/open-thread-october-22-23-2021.html#comments Fri, 22 Oct 2021 15:00:32 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22461 This post, open thread – October 22-23, 2021 , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

It’s the Friday open thread! The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on anything work-related that you want to talk about (that includes school). If you want an answer from me, emailing me is still your best bet*, but this is a chance to talk to other readers. * […]

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This post, open thread – October 22-23, 2021 , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

It’s the Friday open thread! The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on anything work-related that you want to talk about (that includes school). If you want an answer from me, emailing me is still your best bet*, but this is a chance to talk to other readers.

* If you submitted a question to me recently, please do not repost it here, as it may be in my queue to answer.

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inviting only some coworkers to a party, rude IMs, and more https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/inviting-only-some-coworkers-to-a-party-rude-ims-and-more.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/inviting-only-some-coworkers-to-a-party-rude-ims-and-more.html#comments Fri, 22 Oct 2021 04:03:45 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22511 This post, inviting only some coworkers to a party, rude IMs, and more , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go… 1. Can I invite only some of my coworkers to socialize in my small office? A few weeks ago I started a job in a small firm made up of nine people and a team of freelancers. We all get along really well and it’s generally […]

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This post, inviting only some coworkers to a party, rude IMs, and more , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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

1. Can I invite only some of my coworkers to socialize in my small office?

A few weeks ago I started a job in a small firm made up of nine people and a team of freelancers. We all get along really well and it’s generally a nice place to work. Of those nine, myself and three others are twenty-somethings around the same age and all hold junior positions reporting to the same two people. For most of us, it’s our first post-college job. We also have all moved to this city in the last year or so. The rest of the firm is older, and most married with children.

The four of us younger people get along especially well and eat lunch together most days (but of course everyone is invited). We sometimes discuss our personal lives and will get the occasional drink together after work, seeing as we all have a fair amount in common being in the same “stage of life” as it were.

I recently moved apartments and am throwing a housewarming party with my roommate. I would like to invite my three work friends but I wonder if this would be a bad look at work. I don’t feel comfortable inviting the whole office, as my housewarming party will be cases of beer in the backyard and mostly twenty-somethings playing loud music, so not the kind of event you invite your boss to. However, is it inappropriate to invite coworkers at all? Will I be seen as cliquey if I invite some and not others, even though I’m quite sure this is not an event the “older set” would even want to go to? Am I completely overthinking this?

Nah, you’re fine. It would be rude if you invited everyone in the office except one person, but inviting the three people you’re close to and in the same life stage as is fine. It’s a pretty normal dynamic and your other coworkers will get it.

Separately, though, don’t rule out older coworkers for friendships either! When you’re in your 20s, it’s easy to assume you won’t have anything in common with older people — it can still feel like there’s a divide between you and Real Adults — but it can be cool to have older friends too. This isn’t a pitch to invite them to drink beer in your yard (trust your instincts on that), but be open to the possibility that you might click with them in other ways.

2. Is it rude to IM someone questions without waiting for their response to my “hi” message first?

I just started at a new job with a big company. I’ve noticed that when people send me chats, they always start with a “Hi” or “Good Morning” and then wait instead of including the purpose of their message directly in the message. Is it rude if I ask my questions and greeting in the same message without waiting for a reply in between?

It is not rude to include both a greeting and your question(s) in your initial message. Frankly, I’d argue it’s rude when people to do the opposite — just messaging “hi” and nothing else until they get a response — because that leaves you unsure whether they have something urgent or something that can wait until you’re at a better stopping point.

3. I had an accident right before my first day and my face is swollen and stitched up

I had put in a four-week notice and am scheduled to start a new job on Monday. However, over the weekend I was in an accident and sustained some serious facial trauma. I’m doing okay mentally, but my face is so swollen and stitched up that I do not look like myself. It’s also a little alarming to look at for people that aren’t familiar with seeing injuries.

I’m taking things day-by-day, but don’t have a follow-up doctor’s appointment scheduled until tomorrow. I’m not sure how I communicate any of this to my new job (especially since I can’t talk!) I’m not even sure I’ll be able to start on Monday as I had planned. Is there any advice you can give me on how to communicate this message to my new employer?

Just be matter-of-fact and direct! Email your new manager today and say, “I was in an accident over the weekend and had some significant trauma to my face. I’m doing okay but I’m swollen and stitched up. I’ve got a follow-up appointment with the doctor tomorrow and will know more after that, but I’m definitely pretty alarming to look at right now. Once I talk with the doctor tomorrow, I’m going to circle back to update you about whether she says I can still start on Monday, but I wanted to give you a heads-up about the situation now.”

Or, if you’d rather push your start date back, it’s okay to say that too — you could replace that last sentence with, “Would it be possible to push my start date back by a week so I have a little more time to heal?”

4. Coworker keeps misspelling my employee’s name

This is a low-stakes question, but I’d love some thoughts on how to address it or if I even should. One of my fellow department heads recently started spelling one of my staff member’s names wrong. This staff member has been working with us for nearly three years, but in the past 8-10 months, my colleague has begun to spell her name wrong every time she writes it. I mentioned it to her once before when she was introducing my staff member to someone outside our organization via email, but it continues to happen. My staff member shrugs it off, but I cringe every time I see an email come through with this error! Is there a way I can address this with my colleague, or is it in my staff member’s hands to bring it up?

For reference, it is a misspelling like “Katelyn” instead of “Kaitlin.” She is getting the actual name right, but the spelling is suddenly wrong every time.

It’s interesting that it just started suddenly after years of her getting it right. My bet is that she has someone new in her life who spells it differently so now it’s locked in her brain that way.

Anyway, you can definitely say something to her — but as someone with a commonly misspelled name, I can tell you that it may or may not stick. You can try saying, “I noticed you’ve been spelling Kaitlin’s name wrong — it’s Kaitlin, not Katelyn.” But that’s a one-time attempt and after that I’d drop it unless your employee is seriously bothered by it. (She may not even care; people with names with multiple spellings are often pretty used to it and not necessarily that annoyed. If you were my boss, I’d appreciate you making the one-time attempt but I wouldn’t need you to pursue it after that.)

5. Coworkers butt into my conversations

I am an older woman who has been with my company for seven years, and I know what I’m doing. There are a couple new hires in their 20s who constantly butt into my conversations with guests with whom I am speaking. They have no business butting in as I’m already helping the guests and giving them correct info. Other than telling the manager to tell them to butt out, what can I do? I don’t want to seem like a crabby old lady, but that is a very annoying habit!

Talk to them directly! The next time it happens, once the guest is gone say something like, “When I’m talking with a guest, please don’t interrupt since that can be confusing for the guest. If I need help, I’ll let you know but I’ve generally got it on my own.”

And don’t don’t think of it as being about age. People have annoying habits at all ages; this isn’t about them being younger or you being older. The more you can relate to them without bringing their age into your thinking, the better it’s likely to go and you’re likely to come across more respectfully.

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my boss told me not to tell anyone I’m quitting https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/my-boss-told-me-not-to-tell-anyone-im-quitting.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/my-boss-told-me-not-to-tell-anyone-im-quitting.html#comments Thu, 21 Oct 2021 17:59:58 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22503 This post, my boss told me not to tell anyone I’m quitting , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes: I work for a small nonprofit that underwent a leadership transition earlier this year. A few months later, I’m the only surviving member of the staff, all of whom had long tenures with the organization (up to 35 years) and stellar service records. I won’t go into details about all of those […]

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This post, my boss told me not to tell anyone I’m quitting , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes:

I work for a small nonprofit that underwent a leadership transition earlier this year. A few months later, I’m the only surviving member of the staff, all of whom had long tenures with the organization (up to 35 years) and stellar service records. I won’t go into details about all of those terminations/departures—suffice it to say that a lot of them were pretty shady, and I’ve been edging toward the exit for awhile.

This week I gave my boss notice that I’m starting a new position next month. Right after that meeting, I responded to emails from two long-time volunteers about the volunteer schedule for next year, and let them know that while I was leaving, the organization valued their service and that when my successor was chosen, they would be in touch with them about the schedule.

This morning, my boss called a meeting to tell me that she had “heard from a few people” that I disclosed I was leaving, and dressed me down about making the organization look unstable within the community. I was then instructed not to tell anyone else, including members of our board, about my departure because it might “mar my contributions” if “word gets around town.”

Now I’m not sure what I should have done and should do now. Was what I told the volunteers really inappropriate? Would it have somehow made the organization seem more stable if I had let them wait to learn I was gone until they tried to contact me again and received an undeliverable notice? Can she ask me to basically cut off contact with my professional acquaintances this way? Is it really appropriate to keep *the board of directors* in the dark about all this? And am I right to read the bit about “marring my contributions” as a veiled threat to badmouth me within the community if I tell anyone else? That was how it felt in the moment, so I stammered my way out of the meeting and am now sitting here worried that if I, say, update my LinkedIn, she’s going to find out and retaliate against me. And what would be my recourse if she did?

Nah, that’s not reasonable.

It’s one thing for a manager to say, “Can you give us a few days to figure out the plan before you announce it to others?” That can be reasonable, particularly in a situation where hearing someone is leaving is likely to generate lots of anxious questions about how their work will be covered, or what it means for the X project, or so forth.

But a few days only. After that you need to be free to talk about your plans with others and to start working on transition items (which is much harder if no one knows you’re leaving).

It sounds like your boss is worried that with all the turnover the organization has had in the last few months, when people hear that you’re leaving too, they’re going to think the organization is fully crumbling or something horrible is happening. So she wants to control the message … which in this case seems to mean completely hiding the news.

It’s obviously not a good long-term plan, because you’ll be gone in a few weeks and then what? She might just be stalling for time … but who knows what story she might come up with to explain your departure, and who knows how that story will reflect on you.

I don’t know if the “it might mar your contributions” bit was a threat. It sounds like a threat! Or it could just be a desperate statement without any real intent behind it. Interpret it through the lens of what you know about your boss and how she operates.

As for the board of directors … in a lot of nonprofits the staff doesn’t have much contact with the board, but I’m guessing that you do since you’re bringing it up. Either way, “do not tell the board this thing that affects the operations of the organization” isn’t okay as a general rule (and the board likely wouldn’t be thrilled if they found out she told you that).

I’d say this to your boss: “I can wait a few days so you have time to figure out the messaging about how my work will be covered, but I can’t not tell professional contacts that I’m moving on, especially since I’ll be updating my LinkedIn and my broader network.”

If your boss is normally a reasonable person aside from this (it sounds like she’s not, but just in case) you could add, “I of course don’t want to do anything to hurt the organization. I do need to tell people I’m moving on — that’s not something we can hide — but maybe there’s a way I could frame it that will address your concerns.” (You don’t need to offer this! But if your boss is otherwise sensible and not vindictive, this might get you closer to the outcome you want.)

As for potential retaliation … she could decide to tell people something false about the terms of your departure (like that you were fired, or couldn’t hack it, or who knows what). She could badmouth your work in general — although when there’s already a mass exodus going on, that kind of thing doesn’t usually carry a lot of weight. She could also have you leave earlier than you’d planned, meaning you could potentially lose access to the contact info for people you wanted to inform — so gather that now and make sure you have it at home with you (assuming that doesn’t violate any rules of your workplace). If she does misrepresent things, it’ll help to have contact info for people so you can set the record straight … and potentially warn the board that she’s defaming you and they have a legal obligation to stop her.

But again, how much you should worry depends on what you know of your boss in general. For some bosses, asserting yourself and pointing out that you do need to inform people would be enough to get them to back off. For others, you’d want to have a lawyer in the wings. So pay attention to what you’ve seen of her up to this point.

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updates: the better offer, the long business trip, and more https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/updates-the-better-offer-the-long-business-trip-and-more.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/updates-the-better-offer-the-long-business-trip-and-more.html#comments Thu, 21 Oct 2021 16:29:17 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22466 This post, updates: the better offer, the long business trip, and more , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Here are four updates from people who had their letters answered here in the past. 1. Asking to WFH when it’s in my offer letter but I haven’t been doing it (#4 at the link) I spoke with my boss today, and I used much of the language that Alison suggested. It turns out that […]

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This post, updates: the better offer, the long business trip, and more , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Here are four updates from people who had their letters answered here in the past.

1. Asking to WFH when it’s in my offer letter but I haven’t been doing it (#4 at the link)

I spoke with my boss today, and I used much of the language that Alison suggested. It turns out that my boss forgot/didn’t realize I had negotiated WFH in my offer letter (not a knock on him at all – he oversees a lot of people and I didn’t expect him to remember every little detail of my offer from months ago; he’s a fantastic boss!). He said since I negotiated for it, 1 day a week is totally fine with him. He acknowledged that while our office and industry is extremely collaborative (many large departments compared to me working for myself, basically), he knows I am in a different position than the rest. I in turn acknowledged that I realize the big positives of working in an office, especially in our industry.

We discussed the fact that certain days were better to WFH, so we agreed on a 1 day a week mid-week arrangement. So, all in all, a successful talk! Thank you again to everyone!

2. Ending a looooooong-term business trip

So, the short update:

Within about a week of writing, I was introduced to the new manager, Tyrian! I stayed for another month or so to get him trained and situated, and was home well before Christmas!

The long update:

During the 3 or so weeks I spent with this new manager after he started, I had some….concerns. Firstly, Tyrian was a bit sexist. It’s been a few years, so I don’t remember every comment but I do remember, as a woman, not being impressed. The one major conversation that stands out was him telling me his plan to only staff the front counter with “cute, young girls” to help draw in business. I should note that we were not a “gentlemen’s club” or anything like that. We were a family establishment. We had a strong team full of men and women of all ages, and while I would say they were all “cute” in their own ways, it would have been a very select few of the women that would have fallen into his skeevy brand of “cute” that would have worked at the front (a fairly coveted position in the store because there was a small commission you could earn up there that wasn’t available in other positions). I had to strongly emphasize to him that that is not how we as a brand or a company operate. He pushed back, insisting that “this is how it’s done in this town.” I did finally convince him not to do that (by showing him the stellar sales numbers of the various members of the team who didn’t fit his gross criteria, and emphasizing that he’d be losing out on a lot of potential revenue by not putting strong sellers up there.)

He also really didn’t fit our brand, and didn’t want to. We were a really cool, high tech product company. However, the first time he tried out one of our products, he absolutely hated it, and didn’t understand the appeal. He really dug in his heels against our tech and really didn’t even pretend to try to get on board.

So yeah. I went home happily, but with some misgivings that I shared with HR and our regional manager on my way out. They were too professional to say it outright, but the message I got by reading between the lines was “the candidate pool wasn’t great, but we wanted to get you home, so we took the guy with the most leadership/sales experience.”

He ended up getting terminated 10 months later (my guess is it was a combination of his sales completely tanking,and him just being an overall skeevy guy).

They hired his replacement super quickly, and that guy ended up being a total con artist who lied on his resume and was let go within a month of starting. I offered to go back to help, which they took me up on for a couple of 2 week stints, but it was more for moral support and letting the team know we cared about them. They had a couple of really strong lower level leaders (who I hired!) who took on the official “interim role” together.

The location ended up permanently closing due to Covid before a new permanent manager was brought on.

As for me, I went back to my home location and immediately stepped into chaos. Our GM, who had always not been great, was going through a nasty divorce, and it caused him to completely tank emotionally, mentally, and professionally. He went on an extended leave of absence, and I took over the interim GM role at my home location for close to a year. He ended up coming back for a month, it was a complete disaster and super stressful, and then he quit out of nowhere, to everyone’s relief. I was offered the permanent GM spot, but turned it down. I was aiming for moving cross country to join the corporate team, but told them I’d be interim GM at my home location for as long as it took to find the right candidate.

They hired a wonderful replacement in December 2019, who I had the pleasure of training. Our VP hand created a new position for me out of our corporate office, supporting the global operations and also partnering with the creative and technical teams to provide operational insight as they created new products.

I uprooted my life and moved cross country to a state I would NEVER live in without a dream job in June of 2020 — stupid, I know, but I really, truly believed the company would make it.

The company did not make it. Within a month, we were all furloughed, and within another month, the company was gone.

I’m currently interviewing for a role that would take me to a new state. So we’ll see how that goes! I’m still really sad my last company folded, but hey, at least it was an interesting ride while it lasted!

3. Should I leave my job of six weeks for a much better offer? (#4 at the link)

I reached out to the recruiter and asked to be considered for the next hiring cycle after being offered the position, and they agreed. It doesn’t guarantee anything, but at the time it felt like the right thing for me to do because I couldn’t bear to leave a new job after 6 weeks. Reading the comments now I realize that most agree that I should have taken the better paying job that uses my skill set, but oh well. A week after I withdrew from the first position I was contacted by a different company to do similar PhD-level work, so I am in the middle of that interview process and now know better than to postpone an opportunity because I am scared of burning bridges.

4. Friday good news (#1 at the link)

I was hired at a new company (B) and got a 50% raise over my last job (company A). First, the bad news — due to the merger process, my position was eliminated. I was notified in December and laid off right after the new year. I don’t fault the business decision, it made a lot of sense with the new company structure, and they were very generous with severance! I started applying to jobs soon after the layoff notice, and thankfully had some interviews right away.

I started my new job this month and while I’m not making as much as with company B, I’m earning more than I did with company A. The work is incredibly interesting and makes great use of my experience, there are a TON of perks (free snacks!), teleworking is strongly encouraged, and they understand their employees are people with families and interests outside of work. In December I was concerned about how it would all work out, but I’m so thankful I got laid off!

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what’s the most unreasonable thing you’ve ever been asked to do at a job? https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/whats-the-most-unreasonable-thing-youve-ever-been-asked-to-do-at-a-job.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/whats-the-most-unreasonable-thing-youve-ever-been-asked-to-do-at-a-job.html#comments Thu, 21 Oct 2021 14:59:59 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22425 This post, what’s the most unreasonable thing you’ve ever been asked to do at a job? , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

On the recent post about office supply drama, several people shared stories of wildly unreasonable things managers have asked them to do. For example: •  “I temped for a small NFP and the director was bananas. She was filthy rich (like own private jet and multiple homes rich); her husband owned a hedge fund, which […]

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This post, what’s the most unreasonable thing you’ve ever been asked to do at a job? , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

On the recent post about office supply drama, several people shared stories of wildly unreasonable things managers have asked them to do. For example:

•  “I temped for a small NFP and the director was bananas. She was filthy rich (like own private jet and multiple homes rich); her husband owned a hedge fund, which funded the family foundation, which contributed heavily to the NFP, which was a pet project of hers. … She asked the mail room person to call the post office to see if they could deliver the mail earlier in the day. In NYC. She legit thought the post office would/should change its route for her.”

•  “I had a boss who, the day after he learned we’d not had our grant renewed decided that he would have us work with some incredibly gnarly diseases. So his first step is to come to my desk with a hand-written list and ask me to email our animal facility about using these (very scary) things there. And he just stood there watching me type, so I couldn’t even start the email with, ‘Hey, sorry to ask this, my boss wants to know if we can use hanta virus in the facility.’

So I send the email, my boss leaves and I sprint down the street to the animal facility to apologize for asking and to beg them to say ‘no.’ (Of course they were going to say no, this was like serious BSL3 stuff.)”

(Of course, nothing can ever reach the levels of the boss who made someone leave a note at an employee’s relative’s grave.)

So: What’s the most unreasonable thing you’ve ever been asked to do at a job? And did you do it? Share in the comment section.

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company has a men-only weekend trip, did employer lie about their interview process, and more https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/company-has-a-men-only-weekend-trip-did-employer-lie-about-their-interview-process-and-more.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/company-has-a-men-only-weekend-trip-did-employer-lie-about-their-interview-process-and-more.html#comments Thu, 21 Oct 2021 04:03:26 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22506 This post, company has a men-only weekend trip, did employer lie about their interview process, and more , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go… 1. Company hosts a men-only weekend trip Our company has grown exponentially since I first joined five years ago and now has over 500 employees. Our owner started hosting a “boys hunting trip” which only male employees from our corporate team attend. At first it was […]

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This post, company has a men-only weekend trip, did employer lie about their interview process, and more , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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

1. Company hosts a men-only weekend trip

Our company has grown exponentially since I first joined five years ago and now has over 500 employees. Our owner started hosting a “boys hunting trip” which only male employees from our corporate team attend. At first it was only a few members of our team as we were a smaller company, but now the attendees list is growing.

Only men are invited and are explicitly told to keep quiet about the trip so the women in our office don’t find out about it. I’m not disappointed I don’t get to join in boys weekend. I’m upset that leadership, including HR, thinks it’s okay to leave women out of this event entirely. Our owner doesn’t live anywhere near where our company is based. It’s very rare we get to talk to him, let alone see him for extended periods of time. Now newer male employees will have the chance to speak to him on matters the rest of us don’t get to. I don’t know the best way to address this without the boys club getting angry with me.

Whoa, this isn’t okay. Companies can’t hold events that only men are invited to; it violates federal anti-discrimination law. It’s also profoundly shitty, given that there’s a long history of women being harmed professionally through exactly this kind of all-male socializing, where men get face time and bonding with leadership that the women are left out of (to say nothing of the mentoring, information-sharing, and actual business that often happens at these events). The fact that men are explicitly told to keep women in the company from finding out says someone there knows this isn’t okay.

You and other women in your office should talk to HR and, at a minimum, point out that the company is opening itself to legal liability by holding men-only events. Ideally you’d frame it as an official complaint of discrimination too. Alternately, if you don’t feel comfortable approaching HR, a lawyer could help guide you through other options, including talking to the company on your/your coworkers’ behalf or filing a complaint with the EEOC (something you don’t actually need a lawyer to do — but lawyers are helpful for understanding your options).

2. Did this employer lie to me about their interview process?

I went through a lengthy interview process that included four rounds of video interviews and two tests that took several hours each. The hiring manager called my references and as far as I heard the calls went well. Then she set me up with a video call with Jane, one of her reports, which she said was for me to ask Jane any questions I had about the team and workplace.

Jane emphasized at the beginning of the call that she had not seen my resume and this wasn’t a job interview, she was just there to be a resource for me. So I asked her a few questions and, when we hit the end of the allotted time, asked if she had any questions for me. Jane repeated that she wasn’t interviewing me and the call was just for my benefit. So I thanked her, she encouraged me to email her if I had any additional questions, and we ended the call. Approximately 45 minutes later, I received a form rejection email from the company’s HR.

While I know that companies can reject people for all kinds of reasons, I am still a bit puzzled about what might have happened here. Given that the manager called my references prior to this conversation with Jane, it seemed like she was very close to hiring me. I’m wondering if Jane/the manager were being dishonest in saying that the conversation was only for my benefit, and if the call was actually an interview that could make or break my hiring. Should you always assume you’re being interviewed when you interact with employees during the hiring process? Additionally, given how long and involved the process was, would I have any standing to reach back out to Jane or the hiring manager and ask what happened? I’m just flabbergasted here and would appreciate any insight you have.

Pretty much every interaction you have with a company during a hiring process counts as part of their assessment process, even if it’s not framed that way. While no one would say that your casual chit chat with receptionist while you wait for your interview to start is an interview, it’s definitely something that could impact your chances if the receptionist passes along particularly good or bad feedback. The same thing goes for how you communicate in emails about scheduling, or with the team member who you chat casually with in the elevator. And so it could be absolutely true that your call with Jane was just to get your questions answered — but Jane still could have impressions from that call that she passed along.

But that doesn’t mean that that’s what happened. It’s possible the rejection was already in the works before you talked with Jane and they decided not to cancel since the call was already scheduled, but HR timed the rejection email weirdly. Or you were their second choice but their first choice accepted the offer that day so rejections went out (again with awkward timing). Or all sorts of other things; it’s impossible to say from the outside. I lean toward thinking a non-Jane explanation is most likely just given the timing — Jane convincing the hiring manager that you were a no and HR sending out the rejection is a lot to happen in the 45 minutes after the call ended (although it’s not impossible).

In any case, you can ask for feedback. Email the hiring manager, not Jane, and don’t frame it as “what happened?” Simply say that you wonder if they have feedback they can share with you about how you could be a stronger candidate in the future. You may or may not get anything useful but, especially after a long hiring process, it’s absolutely okay to ask.

3. Leaving when my contract has a $10,000 penalty for quitting early

I work overnight hours for a media company and I am at the end of my rope.

I signed a contract when I accepted the job in 2020, saying I will stay until September 2022. The unconventional hours, constant negativity, short-staffing and low pay are all contributing to my decision to leave.

I have a few offers on the table, and I am in the headspace to say that quitting really will be in my best interest. The catch is, I have a penalty clause saying I could be fined up to $10,000 and have to cover legal fees if I go before my time is up. Fortunately, I am in the financial place that I can afford to do that, though I would obviously rather not have to pay anything to a company that has so drastically impacted my mental health.

So when I put in my notice, do I say that I’m leaving because of the physical/mental impact this job has had on my life? Or do I say I’ve accepted another offer that I couldn’t turn down?

If you want to maximize the chances that they won’t try to collect on the penalty for breaking the contract, saying that you’re leaving because the job is affecting your health gives you the best shot at that. If you just say you got a better offer, they’re going to rightly feel like … well, you signed a contract agreeing to stay despite that. Health stuff puts it in a different realm and underscores that you don’t have a choice / aren’t just chasing after money. (Not that there’s anything wrong with chasing after money! But it would look like you were being cavalier with a contractual commitment and make them more likely to enforce the remedies the contract gives them.)

4. “Open the kimono”

Can we all agree that the phrase “open the kimono” as a euphemism for providing more transparency should not be used any more? And note that I’ve never heard a woman use that phrase, only men. Keep the kimonos closed, people!

Agreed. It’s problematic on multiple levels and needs to go away.

5. FMLA leave when you work remotely

A comment about the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) in another post sent me down a rabbit hole of history. And then I ran across something that concerns me a little bit. The FMLA applies when the company has 50 employees within 75 miles. I fear we’re going to see enough employees go remote only to find that they have spread the geography out so that their company now exceeds the 75 mile radius.

You’re eligible to take up to 12 weeks of leave a year under FMLA if: (1) you’ve been employed with your company for 12 months, (2) you’ve worked at least 1,250 hours during the 12 months prior to the start of the leave, and (3) your employer employs 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius of your worksite. That last part is what’s concerning you. But here’s the important thing: under the law, home offices are not considered your work site. Instead, FMLA considers your work site to be the physical office location that you report to and receive your work assignments from. So if your company is based in Boston and has 49 employees there plus you working from home in Florida, for FMLA purposes you’re all assigned to that work site, and so the 50-employee threshold is met and you’re eligible.

This doesn’t answer the question of what if there’s no physical location at all, as is becoming more common, or what it means if your boss (the source of your work assignments) is also remote. The only thing I could find on that said, “This predicament isn’t clear and neither the Department of Labor nor case law has given guidance on how to resolve it.”

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my coworker keeps saying men only ask me for help because I’m hot https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/my-coworker-keeps-saying-men-only-ask-me-for-help-because-im-hot.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/my-coworker-keeps-saying-men-only-ask-me-for-help-because-im-hot.html#comments Wed, 20 Oct 2021 17:59:26 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22502 This post, my coworker keeps saying men only ask me for help because I’m hot , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes: I work in hospitality, at a front desk where I spend all day interacting with guests. I am usually accompanied by one other coworker. I am a woman in my 20s; most of my coworkers are considerably older, but I have one coworker who is also in her 20s, “Amanda.” Every time […]

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This post, my coworker keeps saying men only ask me for help because I’m hot , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes:

I work in hospitality, at a front desk where I spend all day interacting with guests. I am usually accompanied by one other coworker. I am a woman in my 20s; most of my coworkers are considerably older, but I have one coworker who is also in her 20s, “Amanda.”

Every time I work a shift with Amanda (usually three or so times a week), around halfway through the shift, she lets out a sigh and says something to the effect of, “All the men here always want to come ask you for help, because you’re so thin and pretty.” It is clear from her tone that this is not a compliment; she is obviously frustrated with me because she sees us as in competition for male attention. She has made a comment like this (including heavily sighing, I kid you not) every shift we have ever worked together.

I have no idea why she says this! Guests of all genders ask me for help exactly as often as they ask her for help. Even if men were flocking to me, I feel like it’s unfair to comment on it constantly. I also dislike the insinuation that people ask me for help because of my looks, rather than because I am good at my job.

I have no clue what to do about this. Amanda is very, very sensitive and does not take criticism well. If I tell her to stop commenting on my body, I worry that it will start weird drama. I have to work long shifts with her, so I don’t want that. There is no HR, and asking my manager to say something feels weirdly confrontational (and will not give me any anonymity, because I am the only person she talks to like this). Help!

Even if Amanda were right that men asked you for help more than they ask her, what does she want you to do about it? What kind of response is she looking for?

If she were attempting to open a conversation about sexism or lookism at work or in society in general, that would be one thing. You could decide if you wanted to participate in that conversation or not, but she wouldn’t be wrong to bring it up. But that doesn’t seem like what she’s doing — she’s just unloading a complaint on to you every time you work together … and in doing so she’s making your appearance a focal point, and that’s not okay.

If you want it stop, you’re going to have to speak with her. You said she’s sensitive and doesn’t take criticism well, but what does that mean exactly? If it means she’ll get defensive or pout or seem upset … those things are okay. You will survive those. Presumably she’ll get over it at some point (and if she doesn’t, you can address that too, because that would be childish and unprofessional).

Some things you could say:

* “I’m really uncomfortable when you talk about my body. Please stop.”

* “I don’t want anyone talking about what I look like at work, even you. Please stop commenting on it.”

* “What are you hoping I’ll say when you say that? You say it a lot and it’s making me uncomfortable.”

* “Sexism does suck — I completely agree. But I’m not cool with you talking about what I look like on every shift and am asking you to stop.”

When you’re worried that calling out a problem like this will make things awkward with the person, sometimes it helps to ensure you have a different conversation with them soon afterwards — to demonstrate that you’re not feeling weird about it and to re-set things between you. Or you can just follow up immediately with something that demonstrates warmth, like saying you’re going to grab a coffee and ask if you can bring her one. (Subtext: “Our relationship is fine and I do not hate you.”) The idea is that you’re matter-of-factly moving the relationship along, and you’re not getting mired in drama or weird feelings. Not every reactive, drama-prone person is defused by that, but a surprising number are. (In part I think that’s because if they had to address something awkward with someone, they assume it would be a big deal. When you demonstrate that it’s not, they’re often willing to go along with that — and can even be outright relieved. Not every time, of course, but a lot of the time.)

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how can I avoid business contacts who just want to pitch me? https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/how-can-i-avoid-business-contacts-who-just-want-to-pitch-me.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/how-can-i-avoid-business-contacts-who-just-want-to-pitch-me.html#comments Wed, 20 Oct 2021 16:29:12 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22380 This post, how can I avoid business contacts who just want to pitch me? , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes: I often get requests for phone conversations from people in related industries who want to “ask my opinion” about some aspect of my area of expertise. After 30 minutes of conversation, it always turns into a sales pitch for whatever product they’re working on or company they’re consulting for. I find this […]

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This post, how can I avoid business contacts who just want to pitch me? , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes:

I often get requests for phone conversations from people in related industries who want to “ask my opinion” about some aspect of my area of expertise. After 30 minutes of conversation, it always turns into a sales pitch for whatever product they’re working on or company they’re consulting for.

I find this incredibly rude. I get it both from people I’ve met at conferences or networking events as well as complete strangers. I’m less likely to agree to a phone call with a stranger, since I assume it’s more likely to be about selling me something, but find it awkward to decline a call with someone I’ve met, especially if I’m likely to see them again.

How can I agree to a conversation with someone but say at the outset “please don’t make this a sales call” without being rude myself? I know that etiquette advisers say that responding to other people’s rudeness doesn’t make you the rude one, and I’m fine with that in my personal life, but professionally, I don’t want to get a reputation as a jerk (unjust though it might be). These conversations do help establish me in my field as authoritative about my area of expertise and I think they can help me broaden my professional reputation (which then leads to invitations for speaking engagements and so on), so I don’t necessarily want to just outright refuse them — they’re not entirely a waste of time. But I don’t like feeling like I’ve been taken advantage of.

I answer this question over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and sometimes updating/expanding my answers to them). You can read it here.

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should I report my abusive former boss to her current employer? https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/should-i-report-my-abusive-former-boss-to-her-current-employer.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/should-i-report-my-abusive-former-boss-to-her-current-employer.html#comments Wed, 20 Oct 2021 14:59:29 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22492 This post, should I report my abusive former boss to her current employer? , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes: When I first started my career about a decade ago, I worked under a boss who was totally abusive in very subtle ways. She basically did everything to try to get me fired, including gossiping about me when I was within earshot nearly every evening. She once complained because I wanted my […]

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This post, should I report my abusive former boss to her current employer? , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes:

When I first started my career about a decade ago, I worked under a boss who was totally abusive in very subtle ways. She basically did everything to try to get me fired, including gossiping about me when I was within earshot nearly every evening. She once complained because I wanted my name on something I had created. As a young person in my first full-time job, this was incredibly damaging to me since, like many young people, I lacked confidence in my skills. I’m still dealing with it today.

Now, that office was a pretty toxic place in general. There was no HR to report her to. I just took the abuse. And it’s possible that her behavior was entirely in reaction to that office and an isolated event, but I’m pretty doubtful of that. She never apologized. If I confronted her, I’m sure she’d deny everything.

I’ve been googling her every six months since then, and she’s now about to manage others again. I can tell from a job I found posted online at her current company. My question is an ethical one: Do I contact her boss and let him/her know about this? Or do I let this one go? I’d love to know your take on this issue. I’d hate to see what happened to me happen to another human, but I get that my past boss might come after me again if she finds out. And she might. I also understand that me reporting her might not lead to anything changing/the manager might think I’m nuts, but I could rest easier knowing I said something.

Contacting a company you don’t work at to warn them about someone who was a bad manager to you a decade ago is going to come across very strangely. They’re unlikely to put any stock in it since they don’t know you and “abusive in subtle ways 10 years ago” doesn’t rise to the level of the kind of allegation they’d absolutely need to investigate before moving forward.

The bar for contacting someone’s employer about their behavior years ago is very, very high. Contacting them for something like “she was a bad manager” doesn’t really meet it and would be a weird enough choice that they’d likely dismiss you as someone with bad judgment (thus draining the complaint of much of its impact) and a vendetta.

To be clear, if you worked at the same company as your old boss now — or if she were applying for a job at the company where you work — that would be different. When you work somewhere, you have more standing to offer input on your experience working with someone. But in this case, you’d be contacting a company where you don’t work, and that’s got an exceptionally high bar attached to it — so high that very few situations meet it.

I don’t doubt that your old boss was a bad manager to you. (Although not putting your name on something you created isn’t inherently damning; lots of things created in companies don’t get bylines, or are even written for someone else’s byline — which I realize is not the point of your letter, but it sounds like you might be holding onto details that were upsetting at the time but which don’t warrant this response 10 years later.)

She may or may not still be a bad manager today; many people start out as bad managers and then get better over time. But regardless, there are bad managers everywhere; that fact sucks, and it’s also the reality of the work world. You can’t track them all down and warn all their future employers about them. Ideally those future employers would be doing more due diligence about who they’re hiring into management roles, but that’s not something you can make them do.

You’re 10 years past that job. It would be a kindness to yourself to let it be in your past.*

* Which includes stopping yourself from googling your old manager every six months since that’s just keeping her centered in your brain.

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my new coworkers keep saying I’m going to hate my job, parents posting their kids’ resumes on LinkedIn, and more https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/my-new-coworkers-keep-saying-im-going-to-hate-my-job-parents-posting-their-kids-resumes-on-linkedin-and-more.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/my-new-coworkers-keep-saying-im-going-to-hate-my-job-parents-posting-their-kids-resumes-on-linkedin-and-more.html#comments Wed, 20 Oct 2021 04:03:46 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22501 This post, my new coworkers keep saying I’m going to hate my job, parents posting their kids’ resumes on LinkedIn, and more , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go… 1. My new coworkers keep saying I’m going to hate my job Two months ago, I started working at a new company. I’m about two years into my career, and this new job is in a different field from my previous work and is on a […]

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This post, my new coworkers keep saying I’m going to hate my job, parents posting their kids’ resumes on LinkedIn, and more , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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

1. My new coworkers keep saying I’m going to hate my job

Two months ago, I started working at a new company. I’m about two years into my career, and this new job is in a different field from my previous work and is on a 24-month contract working on client-facing projects. I knew there would be long days and tight deadlines sometimes, but having worked in a highly stressful and toxic role previously I was confident in my ability to manage it. Plus, the work seemed interesting. This has largely borne out: lots of work, sometimes long days, but I’m managing it well and find it interesting and challenging in a positive way. The money is pretty good and I have a lot of flexibility. In many ways, this is a good place to be.

The trouble is, I keep getting comments from colleagues along the lines of “wait until you’ve been here a bit longer,” “you’re lucky you’re on a two-year contract and then you can get out of here,” and even “you have the worst job ever” whenever I express that I’m enjoying the role! I could put this down to one or even a few people being negative, poorly trying to make jokes, or projecting their own experiences, but these kinds of comments have come from multiple sources across various business areas, including the senior manager I report to, someone more senior but in a different function to me, and one of my peers in the same role.

These comments are freaking me out a bit! I’m a pretty positive person and I tend to just laugh them off, albeit slightly awkwardly, but their frequency has me starting to wonder if they’re right and I should get out of dodge before my probation is up. I wouldn’t say my professional instincts are fully honed yet, and I wonder if I missed any red flags in the interview process. I’m scared I’ll find myself stuck in a toxic work environment again. What’s the best thing to do here?

There are a few possibilities: (1) The stuff that has bothered your colleagues might not bother you that much, and so your experience will be different from theirs. (2) Or you’re all grading on a curve. Your previous job was toxic and stressful and this one is a lot better, so to you this might be a relative cakewalk. Your coworkers might be judging by a different set of standards. That doesn’t necessarily mean any of you are wrong; you’d just be bringing different frames of reference to it. (3) Or the job really is a terrible one, and that’s going to become clear to you as time goes on.

I can see why you’re unsettled — what are they all seeing that you’re not seeing? But why not start asking? Your colleagues sound pretty open about their dislikes, so there’s a lot of room to ask for more information.

Go back to any or all of the people who have made the comments and say, “You and others have commented that I’m in the worst job ever or will want to leave as soon as my contract is up, and I’m wondering what’s behind that! I’m pretty happy here so far, but hearing so many comments has me wondering if there’s something I haven’t picked up on yet or if something awful is lurking down the road.”

2. Parents posting their kids’ resumes on LinkedIn

I recently came across a post from a parent in my professional network who was advertising her kid’s resume on LinkedIn. Her kid was about to graduate college and was looking for internships that could lead to jobs; she tagged about 20 people in the post, including her kid.

I felt really divided about this. While I know it comes from a good place, actions like this seem to privilege the kids of well-connected parents over those of us (I recognize my bias here!) who are breaking fresh into an industry or who do not have any prior connections to speak of. It seems to only reinforce the divide between the have’s and have-not’s. Not only that, but I feel like a recommendation from a parent is generally worthless; the parent hasn’t worked with the kid and cannot provide a true assessment of their kid’s worth.

What do you think about this? Lots of people in the comments of the original post seemed to think it was a laudable move, but I just really feel like it’s not. And is there any way to gently push back (either as a comment to the post or as a DM to the parent) so that bystanders like me can nudge for more inclusive postures? Or is that inappropriate too?

Not a fan. In theory, it’s not that different from parents reaching out to specific contacts on their kids’ behalf, but there’s something about doing it as a mass post that feels different than one-on-one contact. And of course, the parent isn’t really recommending the kid (as you point out, they can’t). Instead, what they’re doing is using the good will of their network — people who might be interested in helping a contact’s kid because they like the parent/want to do the parent a favor/etc. That’s part of why a mass post feels ickier; without that individual connection piece, it’s just laying bare, publicly, that the parent is asking for a leg up for their kid that other people might not get. It’s a little embarrassing for the kid.

I don’t know that it’s worth saying anything to the parent. In theory you could leave a comment encouraging people to use their networks for kids without connections too, but unless you hit on exactly the right wording there’s a high risk that it’ll come across as hijacking the post to virtue-signal.

3. My boss thinks I should drive my new employee home

I supervise a new employee who normally rides the bus home. With it getting dark earlier, my boss implied that I could give her a ride for safety. She lives 20 minutes in the opposite direction of my house (and my commute is already 30 minutes). What do I do?

You’re not obligated to drive employees home, buses are not unusually dangerous, and your employee is presumably an adult who’s comfortable managing her own transportation.

If your boss brings it up again, you could say, “I’ve usually got commitments after work and am not going straight home.”

4. Another team is cc’ing their manager on complaints about my team

I manage a team of five direct reports, and my team works with nearly every other department in the organization. Sometimes managers from one department that works with my team (but does not supervise them) will send a complaint to me about an error. I am very quick to address the errors with my team (within a day if not immediately). Lately I have noticed that the managers from the other department are cc’ing their supervisor on complaint emails to me. This just started within the past couple of weeks, and the emails seem to be more frequent than before. I’m thinking perhaps this group of managers is complaining to their supervisor about the errors and/or me and my team, and he’s asked to be looped in. I’ve never been given any feedback from anyone that the way I handle the complaints isn’t appropriate or doesn’t solve the problem. I always follow up with the managers to see if the problem has been resolved and if not, I will address it again, sometimes with a PIP or discipline depending on the situation.

I would like to know why the number of emails is increasing and why this other supervisor is being cc’d on them. Should I just ask him directly what’s up?

Yes. “I’ve noticed your staff recently started cc’ing you on emails to me about errors from my team, so I wanted to check in with you. If your team has concerns about the work they’re getting from us, I’d want to make sure I know about it and can address it.”

That said … it sounds like your team might be generating a lot of errors and complaints! If that’s the case, the other team might rightly be frustrated that you’re not addressing that pattern. Addressing each complaint individually is fine when they’re occasional, but when they’re frequent, there’s something bigger going on that you need to figure out.

5. My husband’s company has no paternity leave

My husband and I just found out that I’m expecting our second baby! After the first wave of enthusiasm, we’ve started talking logistics and I realized that my husband doesn’t have paternity leave! He didn’t for our first kid, but he’d only been employed for a few months at the time, and we both thought it was because he hadn’t been there long enough. But now it seems like I was just being hopeful.

The way his vacation and sick time works is that it’s five weeks yearly but all unpaid (he works with clients and his company pays him for however many clients he sees). Financially we’re doing fine and he could take those weeks unpaid, but doesn’t it seem a bit archaic, not to mention sexist, that his company doesn’t have a leave policy for non-birthing parents?

“Stodgy” is how I’d describe his company. The leadership is a collection of old white men, and throughout all the turmoil of the past year, they remained noticabley silent. I don’t have high hopes that anything will change, especially because my husband avoids conflict at all costs.

I know I don’t work there, and they don’t want to hear from me, and my husband would hate it if I reached out to them. But is there anything I can do? Or is there something my husband can do that won’t be anxiety inducing?

You definitely can’t contact them yourself! This is your husband’s job and his to manage; you don’t have any standing to contact his company, and you’d undermine your husband terribly if you did. But you can support him in speaking up if he decides he wants to push for better parental leave at his company.

However, at a company that doesn’t even provide paid sick or vacation time (which is pretty unusual for professional jobs), I’m skeptical that they’re going to be open to paid parental leave. In fact, I wonder if they even provide it for women — company-paid parental leave is a far less common offering in the U.S. than paid sick or vacation time is, so if they’re not providing regular PTO, I’m doubtful that they’re providing paid maternity leave.

If the company has at least 50 employees and your husband has worked there for at least a year, he’s eligible for FMLA — which gives him up to 12 weeks a year of leave for family and medical reasons, including the birth of a child. It doesn’t require them to pay him for that time and they can have him use up his sick and vacation leave as part of those 12 weeks, but it might be your most realistic option.

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https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/my-new-coworkers-keep-saying-im-going-to-hate-my-job-parents-posting-their-kids-resumes-on-linkedin-and-more.html/feed 493
how do I talk to my anti-vaccine coworker? https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/how-do-i-talk-to-my-anti-vaccine-coworker.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/how-do-i-talk-to-my-anti-vaccine-coworker.html#comments Tue, 19 Oct 2021 17:59:28 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22495 This post, how do I talk to my anti-vaccine coworker? , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes: I would love some advice on working with people who do not want to get a COVID vaccine. It seems so obvious to me that vaccination is the only way out of this dark age, and I’m really losing patience with one of my teammates who refuses to get the shot. Before […]

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This post, how do I talk to my anti-vaccine coworker? , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes:

I would love some advice on working with people who do not want to get a COVID vaccine. It seems so obvious to me that vaccination is the only way out of this dark age, and I’m really losing patience with one of my teammates who refuses to get the shot.

Before the pandemic we were allowed two WFH days per week, if we wanted them. In March 2020, we went fully remote and the company took good care of us, offering stipends for new home office furniture, etc. In July 2021 (when the vaccine was readily available to all adults in my area) the office building opened in what they are calling “phase 1” to anyone who wants to come back, as often as they please, as long as you wear a mask and sign an attestation saying you got the vaccine.

They just announced at the latest company-wide meeting that starting in mid-January (a solid four months away, plenty of time for stuff to change) they will expect everyone to come to the office at least one day a week, and you will need to show proof of your vaccine to enter the building. The email they sent around after with meeting wrap-up notes said something like, “Here at [Company] we firmly believe vaccination is a necessary step toward a COVID-free world,” and I feel good knowing that I work for a company that believes in that. They also gave us extra PTO to go get the vaccine (up to two hours for each dose) and on top of that, another full day of PTO for vaccine side effects.

However, one of my teammates on my five-person team, “Lara,” keeps saying that no one in her family is vaccinated and never will be. She doesn’t give a reason, just says “no” super nonchalantly whenever it comes up. But after that meeting, she is constantly whining about how she is going to get fired for not getting the shot. She keeps going on rants about how it is so unfair that she will get fired and she is so mad and how could they do this to us and so on. It is getting to the point where I want to scream, “THEN JUST GET VACCINATED AND YOU WON’T NEED TO WORRY ABOUT IT.” For what it’s worth, I don’t think she will actually get fired since we have remote work as an option. And if she can’t get vaccinated for a medical reason, she would just need a note from her doctor (that’s straight from the corporate email communication).

I have gotten so close, so many times, to saying something like “do you mind sharing why you don’t plan to get vaccinated?” or “do you have any questions about vaccines because I have some great sources.” But I’m so scared it isn’t my business and I don’t want to damage our good working relationship. However, I am training her to take over a certain part of my job, and the fact that she refuses to get vaccinated is making me doubt her ability to do her job. If Lara can’t recognize something as obvious as vaccines save lives, how can she recognize if something is off in our system?

I am so tired of this pandemic and I’m really losing my patience with Lara (and other unvaccinated people). But I don’t want to sound like I’m on a soap box or calling her out, so when this comes up I try to just give general pro-vaccine advice. Do you have any suggestions on how to start and have this conversation, if at all? Do you think I have a reason to worry it is affecting her work?

I would love to believe you can change Lara’s mind and maybe you can … but the chances are high that you can’t. Do you have the stomach for that conversation with a coworker if that’s the case?

Maybe I’m overly influenced by my own utter fatigue with the situation, but I would just not be up for taking this on at work. I salute anyone who can do it successfully! But I’m hesitant to suggest that you engage.

If you google “how to talk about vaccine hesitancy,” you’ll find a lot of advice from people with more expertise in this than me if you want to try.

But rather than getting into it with someone who’s shown so little propensity toward logic, reason, or science — and who is clearly being governed by other forces — the other option is to focus on getting her to stop ranting around you.

There’s no reason you should need to listen to Lara’s diatribes, at work or anywhere. The next time she starts in, you could simply shut it down. For example: “I really don’t want to hear more about this. Please stop.” Or, “I disagree strongly with what you’re saying, and I’m not interested in continuing to hear about it. Let’s focus on work.” Or, “Wow. We disagree, so let’s just move on.”

If she continues after that, you’d have my blessing to say, “I think what you’re saying is absurd and I’m not going to keep listening to it. Is there anything work-related we need to cover before we end this call?”

As for whether Lara’s bad judgment in this area should make you doubt her work in general … there’s an argument for yes and if she had a job that involved science or medicine, I’d definitely say yes. But the reality is that because Covid has been so thoroughly politicized, it’s hard to say that decisively. People like Lara have been subjected to a tremendous amount of misinformation from sources they trust, sources that have been in a position to shape public discourse (to say nothing of some communities’ mistrust of the medical establishment given our history of racist public health practices). Lara’s decision is clearly terrible judgment — but she’s also being preyed upon by political forces that are using mass delusion for their own gains. You could argue that plenty of other people have been able to see past that and what does it mean that she can’t … but while Lara is part of the problem, she’s not the root of it.

And of course, what you’re grappling with is the workplace version of what so many people are struggling with right now with family members and others in their communities — the shock of “who are you?” and “how do we move forward when I have learned this devastating thing about who you are and your willingness to inflict harm on others?”

The best you can do in a work situation is probably to look at what you see of Lara’s work and her judgment aside from this and decide accordingly. But you’re not wrong to be struggling with it. I think that struggle is going to reverberate for all of us for a long time.

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my boss sucks and there’s nothing I can do https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/my-boss-sucks-and-theres-nothing-i-can-do.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/my-boss-sucks-and-theres-nothing-i-can-do.html#comments Tue, 19 Oct 2021 16:29:23 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22459 This post, my boss sucks and there’s nothing I can do , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes: I work at a large company in marketing. I relocated for this job, but we’ve been remote during my entire year and a half tenure here. I don’t have any social connections here, but I took this job because it was a great opportunity for growth and I really liked the hiring […]

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This post, my boss sucks and there’s nothing I can do , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes:

I work at a large company in marketing. I relocated for this job, but we’ve been remote during my entire year and a half tenure here. I don’t have any social connections here, but I took this job because it was a great opportunity for growth and I really liked the hiring manager and the rest of the team. Four months into my role, my boss moved to a different team, and I got a new manager from another department.

Initially I gave my new manager, “Josh,” the benefit of the doubt and assumed his shortfalls were due to the steep learning curve of the role. He seemed to constantly forget conversations we’d had or things that were discussed in meetings and would rely on me to remind him of things daily. He also repeated ideas I presented to him as his own. At first I assumed he was overwhelmed with his new role. But after a few months, I saw patterns emerge and realized that this was not a temporary problem.

Josh also treats me like his personal assistant. He IM’s me constantly throughout the day, wanting me to remind him of what was discussed in meetings he was in, asking me to find emails that were sent to him because he can’t bother looking in his inbox, you name it.

Then there’s the mansplaining. He lectures me on topics that I know more about than he does and questions my decisions and opinions even when he knows nothing about the matter. He turns down my ideas and makes suggestions that are straight up wrong and impossible to execute within our business. He has continued to take credit for my ideas and other women’s ideas in meetings and in front of senior leadership.

Although he has a lot to say about every project, when it comes to doing the actual work, he disappears, leaving me to figure everything out by myself. He usually makes an appearance towards the end of a project, adding something or demanding a last-minute change so his involvement is visible and he can claim credit.

I’ve had many discussions with him where I politely addressed his behavior. Each time he is very apologetic and says he will make changes. But those changes last for about a week before he reverts back. I’ve also talked with the head of our team, who fully acknowledged the problems and said she has also noticed these patterns. She assured me that she would give Josh feedback and asked me to reduce his involvement in my work, which is not really doable when the guy is my boss.

I’m drained and exhausted. I tried to bring this up again with the head of our team, but she was not open to discussing it again. I feel like I don’t have anyone to go to for help or support. Our projects are interesting and fun, but I am not excited by the work anymore. I dread logging in each day and feel like I am always defensive and annoyed with my interactions with him.

Since I don’t know anyone in this area, all I do is obsess over work and it’s bleeding into the little personal life I do have. I recently decided to start looking for other jobs, but I know finding one will take some time. How do I stop dreading work every day in the meantime? Is there anything I can do to make things more bearable and to hate my boss a little less?

You can read my answer to this letter at New York Magazine today. Head over there to read it.

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my employee wasn’t respectful enough after the company messed up her paycheck https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/my-employee-wasnt-respectful-enough-after-the-company-messed-up-her-paycheck.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/my-employee-wasnt-respectful-enough-after-the-company-messed-up-her-paycheck.html#comments Tue, 19 Oct 2021 14:59:03 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22494 This post, my employee wasn’t respectful enough after the company messed up her paycheck , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes: I’m not comfortable with one of my new staff members and how overconfident she is. Her work is great and she needed very little training but she’s got very big britches. “Jane” has only been with us for two months. Just today she asked for a meeting with me and our payroll […]

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This post, my employee wasn’t respectful enough after the company messed up her paycheck , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes:

I’m not comfortable with one of my new staff members and how overconfident she is. Her work is great and she needed very little training but she’s got very big britches.

“Jane” has only been with us for two months. Just today she asked for a meeting with me and our payroll manager. It turns out payroll made an error entering her direct deposit information that resulted in Jane not getting paid, not once but two times.

Our company requires potential candidates to complete sample assignments during the interview process and we pay them an hourly contractor rate. It turns out she didn’t get paid for her assignment period, or for the next full pay cycle. The payroll employee apologized directly to Jane in an email, because it was their error in entering her information and not following up/fixing it that resulted in Jane not getting paid. Jane was able to show emails back and forth where she checked in with the payroll employee and asked if it was fixed, which they confirmed it was. Today was payday and Jane didn’t get paid. She checked with the employee again and they acknowledged that they “thought” it was fixed. It’s upsetting for Jane, I understand, but I think she was out of line about the whole thing. People make mistakes.

Neither payroll nor I knew anything about it until today. We both apologized and assured her the issue would be handled. After that, she looked at me and the payroll manager and said, “I appreciate your apology, but I need you both to understand that this can’t happen again. This has put me under financial strain and I can’t continue to work for COMPANY if this isn’t corrected today.”

The payroll manager was heavily in agreement, but I was speechless that she’d speak to management like that.

Payroll handled the whole thing and cut her a check with the okay from HR. Jane had referenced that not being paid put her in financial hardship and unable to pay bills, so HR allowed the use of the employee hardship fund and gave her $500 in gift cards so she can get groceries and gas and catch up on bills. I’m just kind of floored that she’s getting gift cards after speaking to her superiors like that. I’m also uncomfortable because why is our company responsible for her fiscal irresponsibility? Her personal finances or debts are not the company’s responsibility. I just don’t think it’s the company’s responsibility to give her more than what she’s earned (the extra $500 from the employee emergency relief fund) to fix things for her if she overspent or didn’t prioritize her bills or save smartly. We also don’t know if she is actually experiencing a financial hardship or just claiming she was.

HR allowed her paid time to go to the bank today and deposit her check. I told our HR person that while it’s not okay Jane didn’t get paid, the way she approached it was uncalled for. HR told me, “She’s right, it can’t happen again and it shouldn’t have happened at all.”

I’m getting tired of the respect gap I’m seeing with younger staff. I think Jane would be better suited in a different department. I’m not comfortable having her on my team since it’s obvious she doesn’t understand she’s entry-level and not in charge. Should I wait a while before suggesting she transfer to a different department?

I’m going to say this bluntly: you are very, very wrong about this situation, both as a manager and as a human.

Your company didn’t pay Jane money they owed her in the timeframe in which they were legally obligated to pay it. They did this twice.

Your company messed up, and their mistake impacted someone’s income. That’s a very big deal.

The payroll department handled this exactly as they should: they apologized, cut her a check immediately, and helped repair the damage their mistake had caused. Jane shouldn’t have to suffer for their error, and their remedies were appropriate and warranted.

Your objection to this because the company shouldn’t be responsible for Jane’s finances is nonsensical. Your company is responsible for paying the wages they’ve agreed to pay in the timeline they’ve agreed to pay them in. They didn’t meet that obligation, and so they fixed it. That’s not about them being responsible for Jane’s debts; it’s about them being responsible for adhering to a legal wage agreement and treating an employee well after failing at a basic responsibility and causing that person hardship.

Suggesting that someone who needs the paycheck they earned to be delivered to them on time “didn’t prioritize her bills or save smartly” is wildly out of touch with the reality of many people’s finances in this country and how many people live paycheck to paycheck (particularly someone entry-level who just started a job two months ago and may have been unemployed before that). But frankly, even if Jane didn’t save smartly, it’s irrelevant; your company’s mistake is what caused the problem, and it’s what’s at issue here.

Your speculation that Jane might be lying about her financial situation is bizarre and reflects poorly on you. It’s irrelevant and you don’t seem to have any reason for wondering that other than an apparent desire to cast Jane in a bad light.

You’re absolutely right that there’s a respect gap in this situation — but it’s from you toward your employees, not from Jane toward her employer.

There’s nothing disrespectful about Jane advocating for herself and explaining that she’d be unable to stay in the job if the payroll mistakes weren’t corrected. She gets to make that choice for herself, it’s not an unreasonable one, and it’s not disrespectful for her to spell it out. In fact, I’d argue it’s actively respectful since respect requires clear, polite, direct communication and she gave you that.

When you say Jane doesn’t seem to understand she’s entry-level and not in charge … Jane is very much in charge of where she’s willing to work and what she will and won’t tolerate. Every employee is, regardless of how junior or senior they might be.

Corporate power structures require deference in things like decision-making on a project, but not the sort of obeisance in all things that you seem to be looking for.

Somewhere along the way, you picked up a very warped idea of what employees owe their employers, but you don’t seem to have thought much about what employers owe their employees. You urgently need to do some rethinking and recalibration if you’re going to continue managing people.

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paratransit is making me look like a slacker, paying back training costs when we leave, and more https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/paratransit-is-making-me-look-like-a-slacker-paying-back-training-costs-when-we-leave-and-more.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/paratransit-is-making-me-look-like-a-slacker-paying-back-training-costs-when-we-leave-and-more.html#comments Tue, 19 Oct 2021 04:03:27 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22493 This post, paratransit is making me look like a slacker, paying back training costs when we leave, and more , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go… 1. Is paratransit making me look like a slacker? I take paratransit, which is (rightly) notorious for not being on schedule. I’m given a 20-minute window during which they will pick me up but they frequently come before or after it. Usually, this is just an […]

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This post, paratransit is making me look like a slacker, paying back training costs when we leave, and more , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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

1. Is paratransit making me look like a slacker?

I take paratransit, which is (rightly) notorious for not being on schedule. I’m given a 20-minute window during which they will pick me up but they frequently come before or after it. Usually, this is just an annoyance that means I get home much later than expected, sometimes it’s a bit more inconvenient like when it came at 8:30 am for a pickup window that I thought started at 8:45 but the driver said actually started at 8:55 (which makes it even more baffling!) on a day I started work at 10 am. But today was the worst of all because they came so early to pick me up from work that I had to LEAVE WORK 10 MINUTES EARLY.

I feel so awful and embarrassed. Everyone at work was nice about it (because they’re nice people) but I feel like it was really wrong of me. I’m trying so hard to show that I’m a good worker even though I’m disabled and stuff like this makes me feel like I have more and more to overcome in order to show that. I’m new to this job and I want people to like me and my work and not worry that doing a task with me (assignments shift each hour) means they’re going to have to pick up a bunch of slack.

Is there anything I can do to reassure my coworkers (and myself, I guess) that I’m not a slacker? I apologized to my supervisors briefly in-person and later in email (it wasn’t an email just to apologize, just a brief mention in one about something else). I don’t want to be the person who makes everyone comfortable by apologizing too much, especially since I can’t guarantee that this sort of thing won’t happen again, and I’m not sure what else to do.

This is almost certainly fine! You’ve explained the situation to your managers, and it’s clear that it’s outside of your control and disability-related.

To be clear, “outside of your control” wouldn’t always be enough on its own. If you drove yourself and were late because you hit traffic every day, it would be reasonable for your boss to tell you to leave for work earlier. But in the vast majority of jobs, some flexibility on arrival/departure times would be a reasonable accommodation for someone with a disability who’s dependent on paratransit — reasonable accommodation in both the legal sense and the common-sense sense. Having to leave 10 minutes early for a reason like this isn’t a big deal!

Assuming you’ve had the big-picture talk with your boss explaining that paratransit’s schedule is unreliable, this should be fine (or they will let you know if it’s ever an issue). You could explain it to coworkers too if you’d like them to have that context. From there, there’s nothing to feel awful or embarrassed about, and you definitely don’t need to keep apologizing. (If paratransit ever causes a real problem — like you’re late for something you really needed to be there for — it would make sense to have a separate conversation about that, but definitely not for routine work days like you described.) You’re not a slacker, and people you work with will see from your work that you’re not a slacker. Please don’t keep worrying!

2. Should we have to pay back training costs when we leave?

I work for a large organization and our CIO is looking into having us pay back training if we leave the company within X amount of time afterwards. The details have not been worked out and she’s in talks with HR and Legal. My view is no, uh uh. Any training that I receive benefits the company while I am working. End stop. If I had received training that benefited myself and my previous organization before I left to come to my new organization, would the new organization pay the old organization back? No, they would not. I’m not sure how often this has happened and I’m sure there are plenty of people who knew they were going to quit but asked for training anyway, but what is that percent? We all know how long a job search can take and it would not be good to stop getting training when you don’t know when/if you will leave.

What are your thoughts on having to pay back training you receive if you leave within a certain amount of time after receiving the training? There’s been no indication that this would only apply to training that we ourselves request; as far as I know, it would apply to training the company asks us to take too.

If this is for all trainings, even trainings your employer asks you to take, this is a ridiculous policy.

Your CIO might be thinking of tuition reimbursement programs, where companies pay for someone’s college or grad school classes but require repayment if the person leaves before X amount of time passes afterwards. But if your company wants to use repayment clauses for  more routine trainings (a half-day class on fundraising, say, or a day on a new software) — and especially for trainings they ask you to take — that’s wildly out of sync with normal business practices. It’s also going to discourage people from getting any training since, even if they have no plans to leave the company, who would want to be on the hook for the costs if their circumstances change and they do end up leaving?

Developing employees’ skills is a normal thing for businesses to invest in because it helps the employer by bringing stronger expertise into the company. Your company is asking for a situation where their workers’ skills stagnate. It’s incredibly short-sighted.

3. I think my team was dishonest while I was away

I’m pretty disappointed. I returned to work last week after a 16-week maternity leave. I stayed pretty disconnected from work issues (especially since this was unpaid FMLA) but stayed in touch with my team on some personal updates.

One of my reports got married at the courthouse during the work week and moved houses later that week. She took NO time off and was even clocked in during her vows. Another one traveled to visit family for a week but only took one sick day. These instances occurred several weeks ago, and I noticed randomly when I was training for our new payroll system. They are both hourly employees in an office environment. They both have several PTO hours in the bank.

How serious is this? Because I was not working at the time, is this something I should bring up? I will admit, I’m taking it personally, maybe more than I should. I feel like a level of trust has been broken, but I’m feeling unprepared with how to handle on my first full week back at work.

If they intentionally logged hours that they weren’t actually working, that’s timecard fraud and very serious. You should bring it up; it doesn’t matter that you were out at the time.

But don’t accuse them right off the bat, since there could be more to it than you know. For example, could your employee who traveled to visit family have been working remotely that week, if her job is one where that’s possible? Or, if your employee who got married actually got stuck with a big project that week and worked awful hours around her wedding, you don’t want to go in accusing her of lying, if that’s not what happened. Or since it’s a new payroll system, it’s possible what you’re seeing is a mistake made by people learning a new system. So start by explaining what you noticed and ask what happened. Listen to what they say before you conclude anything.

But if it does turn out that they intentionally reported hours they didn’t work so they’d get paid for work they didn’t do, that’s a very big deal.

4. Our resigning director wants severance payments

I am on the board of a nonprofit. Our executive director and founder is resigning from the organization. We are in a strong cash position (thankfully). They have communicated with the board that they expect us to offer a severance agreement, including a period of compensation and/or benefits after they stop working. If we had asked for their resignation, that would make sense to me, but the resignation is voluntary (and frankly the board was and still is upset about the decision, even though they gave us about six months’ notice and, given our strategic plan/plans for reorganization, the timing makes sense).

What is the norm here? I am tempted to offer modest financial severance but a more robust benefits severance, i.e. letting them stay on our healthcare for several months but not paying a ton of cash out of pocket. But I also know that if we were a small business (instead of a nonprofit), I would feel differently about how much cash we offered, and it feels wrong to discount the right amount of severance just because we’re in the nonprofit sector — work is work.

Severance is not generally a thing when people resign, only when they’re fired or laid off. When employers offer severance, it’s (a) to help cushion the blow of involuntary job loss and (b) in exchange for signing a legal document agreeing not to disparage the company and releasing them from any future legal claims. (That’s not because the employer necessarily thinks it did something wrong, but they’re providing free money that they have no legal obligation to offer, and it’s generally considered reasonable for them to ask for something in exchange. Legal releases have become standard with severance.)

Offering resigning employees severance isn’t typically done. It’s not about being a nonprofit — for-profit businesses don’t do it either. But being a nonprofit does obligate you to be particularly responsible with your donors’ money, and I’d question this use of it (and your funders might too).

But you could certainly ask your ED what her thinking is and see what she says. If she’s asking for it in exchange for that longer notice period, that would make more sense than just “I should get a goodbye package when I leave.”

5. Should I check in with an employer a week after an interview?

I have just come to what I think is the end of a month-long interview process. There was a phone screen, three-person Zoom panel, writing prompt sample, and finally an interview with a client (the position is in consulting and would be working heavily with this client). The last interview was one week ago, and at the end of the interview they said they were planning on moving quickly with next steps. Since this interview included the client, I didn’t follow up in the moment with questions about what those next steps would be or specifics on timing. I also happened to be doing that interview while on vacation, out of the country. Later that day, I sent an email thanking them for the opportunity to meet with the client and better understand that partnership and explaining that I would still be out of the country for the next few days and the best way to reach me would be by email. I didn’t receive a response to that email and I haven’t heard anything else.

I know there were other candidates in the final round and believe that I was the last to interview. My feeling is that they have probably decided to move forward with another candidate and maybe they are waiting to let me know until the negotiations are complete with their first choice. That’s really hard to admit because I’ve never made it this far in an interview process and not landed the job, talk about a knock to my self esteem! But I’m wondering if there is any value in me reaching out again to check in, although I’m not really sure what there is to gain or what I would even say. Perhaps express my interest again just ask if they have an update? What do you suggest?

I wouldn’t assume you’re not getting an offer just because it’s been a week! A week is nothing at all in hiring. (But I also wouldn’t ever assume you are getting an offer. You can be an excellent finalist who doesn’t get the offer for all kinds of reasons that shouldn’t knock your self esteem.)

It’s also too early to push for some kind of response from the employer. Give it two weeks total — 10 days if you really can’t help yourself — and then it’s fine to email saying something like, “I realized I didn’t know your timeline for next steps and would be grateful if you can give me a sense of it.”

In general, don’t contact an employer just to check in with no real reason or reiterate your interest so soon after an interview (there’s no need for it; they know you’re interested because you just completed a four-step hiring process). But it’s fine to inquire about their timeline after more time has gone by, since they didn’t tell you that earlier. Once you do, though, the ball is in their court and the best thing you can do is to put it out of your mind and let it be a pleasant surprise if they contact you.

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did I make a mistake by sharing my salary with a coworker? https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/did-i-make-a-mistake-by-sharing-my-salary-with-a-coworker.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/did-i-make-a-mistake-by-sharing-my-salary-with-a-coworker.html#comments Mon, 18 Oct 2021 17:59:34 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22448 This post, did I make a mistake by sharing my salary with a coworker? , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes: I have always believed that knowledge is power, but when it comes to salaries, is there ever a reason to keep such things quiet? For my entire career, I have stayed in the dark about what my coworkers were earning and likewise did not share my salary either. This is the unspoken […]

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This post, did I make a mistake by sharing my salary with a coworker? , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes:

I have always believed that knowledge is power, but when it comes to salaries, is there ever a reason to keep such things quiet?

For my entire career, I have stayed in the dark about what my coworkers were earning and likewise did not share my salary either. This is the unspoken rule of etiquette everywhere I have worked, and my bosses have always been coy about sharing pay ranges/bands, so it’s always been hard to know how I stacked up in terms of compensation.

Last year, many of my colleagues were laid off and, while I survived the cutbacks, the impact on my personal well-being was significant. With our reduced staffing, I took on the workload of an entire team, and the stress and insane hours (which were already high when we were fully staffed) quickly grew unmanageable. A few months ago, I jumped at another opportunity and I am happy with my decision.

Upon leaving my (now former) company, a trusted friend/coworker was offered my job, which should have been a rather large promotion for him. However, recently we were catching up over lunch and he said that his raise had not been very much at all. He did not state his income, and I’ve always suspected that he made much less money than I did, but I was surprised he did not get a hefty raise considering the level of work he assumed by taking on this new position.

So I decided to come right out and tell him what I had been making in that same job. Why not, right? I no longer work there and thought this information might be helpful to him in negotiating additional raises. But, his face when I told him was … ghastly. He expressed that he was making significantly less than that, and the gap seemed so wide that even a huge raise for him would not put him anywhere near my salary.

Did I make a mistake? Is this a case where having this knowledge was (unintentionally) harmful vs. helpful? Obviously what’s done is done, but I worry that his discontent in his job will grow now, because even if he does manage to use the information I gave him to get a (much-needed) bump in pay he’ll still be stuck with all the additional drama and responsibility of this position while knowing he isn’t earning what he could/should be. It made me wonder if I should stay mum about this topic when speaking with other friends in the future. Is salary simply too taboo to discuss in polite company?

Noooo! Don’t conclude that.

You did the right thing by sharing your salary information with your colleague.

It is never to a worker’s advantage to be left in the dark about what a company is willing to pay — and especially what they did pay — for a particular job. It is always better for people to have more information about pay than less.

That doesn’t mean the person you share salary info with will never find it upsetting! It is upsetting to learn that a predecessor was making mountains of money more than you are. Being upset makes sense!

For the sake of thoroughness, I will note that sometimes people have bad reactions to this sort of news that aren’t constructive — like resenting the higher-paid colleague rather than blaming the company. That could happen! It still wouldn’t mean you’d made the wrong choice in sharing the info with them.

Shining light on companies’ pay practices — specific ones, like “in this role I was earning $X,” not just broad salary bands — is how salary inequities get discovered and addressed. They don’t always get fixed — but even when they don’t, people having more info is a good thing because it helps them make better decisions for themselves, whether that decision is “keep pushing” or “sue because this seems linked to race or gender” or “leave for a better job” or “file away this info about the market and the company for a later time.”

Treating salary discussions as taboo benefits employers and hurts workers. Keep talking about it.

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how to manage an employee who rambles https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/how-to-manage-an-employee-who-rambles.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/how-to-manage-an-employee-who-rambles.html#comments Mon, 18 Oct 2021 16:29:30 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22385 This post, how to manage an employee who rambles , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes: I have an employee who has a serious problem going into far too much detail in nearly every work conversation. The other people in the meeting can’t even get a word in to interrupt her. I’ve tried giving her feedback about listening more, asking questions instead of talking, and writing outlines of […]

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This post, how to manage an employee who rambles , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes:

I have an employee who has a serious problem going into far too much detail in nearly every work conversation. The other people in the meeting can’t even get a word in to interrupt her.

I’ve tried giving her feedback about listening more, asking questions instead of talking, and writing outlines of key points. I’ve also given her some information about being “socially intelligent” that I got at a leadership retreat. Nothing has changed. At this point, I know she’s lost job opportunities of this. I’ve tried to give her some leadership roles, but it’s really challenging because she will end up steamrolling the meetings she’s in.

I want to give her some final feedback because I know she won’t get promoted into a management role without figuring this out. How direct should I be?

I answer this question — and three others — over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and sometimes updating/expanding my answers to them). You can read it here.

Other questions I’m answering there today include:

  • Should you tell an interviewee she has something in her teeth?
  • New hire is constantly disappearing
  • I’m going to be away for my intern’s whole first week
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our job candidates show up in ultra-casual interview attire https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/our-job-candidates-show-up-in-ultra-casual-interview-attire.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/our-job-candidates-show-up-in-ultra-casual-interview-attire.html#comments Mon, 18 Oct 2021 14:59:16 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22458 This post, our job candidates show up in ultra-casual interview attire , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes: I work for a manufacturing company in inside sales/customer service. We support not only the outside sales team but also our customers through phone and email. The job description makes it clear this is an office job. Even pre-Covid, we were seeing most of the candidates we interviewed come in very casual […]

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This post, our job candidates show up in ultra-casual interview attire , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes:

I work for a manufacturing company in inside sales/customer service. We support not only the outside sales team but also our customers through phone and email. The job description makes it clear this is an office job.

Even pre-Covid, we were seeing most of the candidates we interviewed come in very casual dress. As in, running-to-grab-something-from-the-grocery-store outfits, not interview-ready clothes. Faded jeans were a norm and even some beanies. It became a pleasant surprise when someone was dressed in slacks and a decent shirt. This was not a youth issue, either. We had adults into their 40’s or 50’s in faded jeans and old t-shirts. Our state unemployment rate was already low at this time, and we were plagued with no-call/no-shows, so we got to the point where we were forced to look past it. Is this a new norm? Is there wording we could add to the job description to encourage a more professional presentation?

Do they actually need to have a more professional presentation? It sounds like the job is helping people through phone and email, not in-person. Does it impact their work if they wear jeans and t-shirts? If the answer to that is yes, then definitely tell people when you’re setting up the interview that your dress code is (business/business casual/no jeans/whatever). But if the answer is no … maybe it’s time to stop caring!

There is a deep-rooted, long-running convention that you dress up for interviews, and I too have been thrown off when a candidate arrives for an interview dressed very casually. I get it! When you’ve been trained that dressing up for an interview (or a job) is The Thing One Does, you can end up expecting it without questioning why or whether it matters, and being taken aback when someone doesn’t adhere to that expectation.

But the world is changing, and many workers (and employers!) are questioning what we really need from dress codes, and whether we need them at all. Some jobs still do need them — for example, there are jobs where dressing more formally builds credibility with clients — but far fewer need dress codes than actually have them.

If your concern is that dressing casually indicates a candidate isn’t taking the interview seriously enough (or might be sloppy/overly casual/too laid-back in other ways): Have any of those casually dressed applicants been strong candidates? Have you hired any of them, and if so, how did they do once on the job? Is there any correlation between performance and what they wore to the interview?

I do think it’s true that when someone flouts an established professional norm, you’ve got to ask what that might mean if you hire them and whether they’ll be out of sync with other professional norms, and whether that’s going to be a problem. But you’re seeing this in the majority of your candidates! If nothing else, that means that norms have changed among the population you’re hiring from.

Again, if the work really requires a certain type of dress, then give candidates that heads-up. But otherwise, ask yourself why it matters.

Candidates: My advice to you is still to dress up for interviews, unless you know you’re in a field where that’s not done, to give yourself the best shot at the job. But managers, it’s time to rethink this on our side.

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my boss keeps telling me to clean up my office, carpooling with someone I manage, and more https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/my-boss-keeps-telling-me-to-clean-up-my-office-carpooling-with-someone-i-manage-and-more.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/my-boss-keeps-telling-me-to-clean-up-my-office-carpooling-with-someone-i-manage-and-more.html#comments Mon, 18 Oct 2021 04:03:54 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22469 This post, my boss keeps telling me to clean up my office, carpooling with someone I manage, and more , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go… 1. My boss keeps telling me to clean up my office I work in a non-teaching position at a large university. I accepted my current position mid-pandemic, at which time the department was streamlined down to just my supervisor, “Angela,” and myself. Angela is exacting and […]

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This post, my boss keeps telling me to clean up my office, carpooling with someone I manage, and more , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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

1. My boss keeps telling me to clean up my office

I work in a non-teaching position at a large university. I accepted my current position mid-pandemic, at which time the department was streamlined down to just my supervisor, “Angela,” and myself. Angela is exacting and stern but excellent at her job and I can generally roll with her quirks as I enjoy my work and the school is an amazing employer. I’m trying to decide how to handle one of the areas where I struggle with her. Angela determines which of us will work on specific projects and creates a shared spreadsheet with these tasks, noting the due date, who will be completing it, and any details. This is fine except that twice now, she has listed under my tasks: “clean and organize your office space.”

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the most organized person, but my office is exactly that — mine. No one goes inside it except me and the night cleaning crew. We have several meeting spaces for use when we need to speak with students or faculty, as well as a large public-facing desk that we share. No one else ever has any reason to come inside my office. I contain any clutter to areas that only I use. In addition, my mess isn’t piles of garbage or rotting food. It’s stacks of paper on my desk that I keep procrastinating organizing and a book shelf that doesn’t isn’t up to the standards of the Bodleian Library. I can understand being asked to clean if I were creating a health hazard or piling my things in shared spaces, but this is simply papers in my own space. Last time she put this on the spreadsheet, I half-heartedly shuffled some things around. This time I’m tempted to simply pretend I didn’t see that particular assignment on the spreadsheet.

How would you approach this? If it matters, I feel like I do an excellent job. I’ve gotten consistently glowing evaluations from university administration and lots of positive feedback from the students and staff I work with. Angela largely expresses positive feelings about my work, but I have to be careful to catch her in a good mood if I want to discuss anything work-related… or anything else, actually.

Talk to her. She clearly has expectations about your office that you don’t agree with, and the way to handle that isn’t to ignore them or try to do the bare minimum you can get away with; that’s just going to guarantee that each of you ends up annoyed.

It’s fine to push back with your boss on something like this, but it needs to be in the form of an explicit conversation — not in the form of just not doing what she asked.

So raise it head-on! Tell her that the way your office is set up works for you and no one else comes in, and you’re wondering if there’s a concern she’s seeing that you’re missing. Go into the conversation open to the possibility that she might have a legitimate reason so that you don’t sound defensive — and because she really might. (For example, if she ever needs to find things in your office when you’re out, she might be reasonably concerned that she won’t be able to.)

2. Can I offer to carpool with someone I manage?

I’m a supervisor. I just moved and now live extremely close to one of my employees; we live in a suburb that’s a pretty far drive from the office. Would it be appropriate to see if they want to carpool occasionally? On the one hand, it seems ridiculous for the earth and our wallets for us to drive separately, and I think they would appreciate the offer. On the other hand, I wouldn’t want them to feel compelled to ride with me, and I wouldn’t want the other employees to feel like they’re not in the secret carpool club.

My gut says no, but then my other gut says I’m being ridiculous. If it helps, it’s a congenial office where people generally get along. Though I would say that — I’m the boss.

Because you’re the boss, I don’t think you should set up a regular carpooling situation; that would risk making other people on your team feel that one employee is getting daily bonding time with you that they’re not getting. It also risks setting up a situation where your employee wants to stop carpooling but doesn’t know how to get out of it.

But sharing an occasional ride shouldn’t be a big deal if you offer it in a way that makes it very easy for them to decline. In fact, do it in a way where they could get away with never mentioning it again if they’d rather not — like, “We live so close to each other, let me know if you ever need a ride to or from work.”

3. Employer won’t accept that I’ve said no to their job offer

I have been interviewing for jobs over the last few months and received a job offer last week. After my interview with the person who would be my supervisor, I got a vibe that wasn’t settling right with me (think, very abrasive; I was told by this person that they’ll offend me on a regular basis, and I’m to get over it). I asked for a day to think about the offer, and to determine if I could work with that style of management.

During that day, we found that one of my parents has a very serious medical condition and will need on-going treatment and surgery for at least three months. As I’ll be needed to help with care, transportation, medication, etc., I withdrew from the position with a nice email, explaining my reasons (ill parent, not wanting to start a new position by asking to take three months off, that I have FMLA protection at my current job, and that I’m not the best fit for that management style), thanking them, and wishing them the best of luck finding a candidate for the role.

I’m now receiving phone calls and emails about talking with them more and trying to make arrangements. While I appreciate the offer, I am truly not interested in the position any longer, and I keep repeating that. I don’t want to be completely rude and just ignore the them (small town, people talk a lot), but I have personal matters that need my attention. How do I get them to understand? Do I just stop answering? I don’t want to ghost anyone, but I don’t know if repeating myself is helping.

I’m going to assume that you’ve been clear about your no and not softened it to the point that they think you would welcome their help in making the job work out. Assuming that’s the case, they’re the ones being rude by ignoring your answer At this point, it wouldn’t be rude for you to stop responding — you gave them your answer and you’re not leaving them hanging. But if you want to respond one more time, say this: “I am formally declining the position. I’ve got my hands full with a family situation right now so I won’t be able to respond to further messages, but best of luck filling the role.” And then stop responding — they won’t keep trying forever.

4. Half our internships are awarded by nepotism

I work in a large company that strives to be progressive and equitable. We have full health benefits for domestic partners, paid parental leave for birth or adoptive parents of any gender, and a diversity task force that aims to ensure all employees feel welcome and valued.

This is all great, but my beef is this: my department frequently gets the child/friend/niece/neighbor of some executive gifted to us as an intern. We usually hire our own intern as well, meaning we have two interns total. The hired intern must undergo a rigorous process that includes multiple rounds of interviews and submitting work samples. The nepotism intern still needs to submit a resume and do an interview, but those are just formalities.

My sense of equity and fairness grates at how the company says it wants to promote equity and social justice and yet engages in this practice. Our department VP is unlikely to challenge it because the intern is free for us (i.e. their pay comes out of someone else’s budget) and we’re understaffed so frankly we could use the help. My question is, do I point out how this practice contradicts our stated values or do I just keep my mouth shut and don’t look the gift horse in the mouth?

For what it’s worth, I’m a manager who reports to the department VP. I don’t supervise the interns directly, but they work on my team. My team’s general attitude toward the situation is a mix of resignation, annoyance, and gratitude for any help we can get. They are professional and treat both interns equally, but there is a lot of sighing and “ugh, why” behind closed doors.

You’d be doing a good thing if you pointed out to your diversity task force that awarding half of your internships by nepotism perpetuates the privilege pipeline where students with connections get more opportunities than students without them, and that it directly contradicts the values your company professes.

5. What’s up with employers checking references after they’ve already made an offer?

My partner recently got a job offer for a field he’s more interested in and with a nice raise, as well, which we are both very excited about! However, HR asked for his references after offering him the job, making the offer conditional on the reference check. Why do companies do this? This happened to him for the job he’s currently in, as well as to me in my current role!

The frustrating part is that despite having received the offer a week ago, he still hasn’t been able to give his notice at his current job. You never know if a reference will unexpectedly burn you, or just say something that the reference checker doesn’t love and suddenly, the job offer is rescinded. But the longer he waits to give his notice, the more likely it is he’ll need to push his start date, but he won’t know what start date works for him until he can give his notice!

So why do companies do this? Wouldn’t it be easier for everyone to do the reference checks before sending the job offer? That way the candidate isn’t in this weird gray zone where they need to figure out a start date before knowing when they can even leave their current job! I understand that it’s maybe easier for HR, since that way they’re only contacting references if the candidate is interested in accepting, but on the other hand they’ve already had to draft up a new job offer with an adjusted start date, so it seems like more of a hassle for them, too.

Yep, it’s a terrible practice. Typically employers that do this see the reference check as a rubber-stamp where they’re just checking to make sure you didn’t misrepresent your experience — they’re basically looking for a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down rather than the more nuanced discussion that a thorough reference-checker would do. They’re treating it as similar to a criminal records check or degree verification, which is not what it actually should be.

It’s a bad practice because it means the offer could still be yanked so it’s not a real offer at all but candidates don’t always realize that, and also because it denies hiring managers the ability to include insights from references in their decision-making before they settle on a candidate.

Your partner is absolutely right to wait to resign until the contingency on his offer is cleared, and if he does need to push the start date back because of that, it’s okay for him to explain to the new employer that he’s not comfortable giving notice until the offer is a final one.

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weekend open thread – October 16-17, 2021 https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/weekend-open-thread-october-16-17-2021.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/weekend-open-thread-october-16-17-2021.html#comments Sat, 16 Oct 2021 04:15:27 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22416 This post, weekend open thread – October 16-17, 2021 , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

This comment section is open for any non-work-related discussion you’d like to have with other readers, by popular demand. Here are the rules for the weekend posts. Book recommendation of the week: The Husbands, by Chandler Baker. In a neighborhood of high-powered, accomplished women and their extremely supportive, housework-loving husbands, all is not what it seems.  I make […]

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This post, weekend open thread – October 16-17, 2021 , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

This comment section is open for any non-work-related discussion you’d like to have with other readers, by popular demand.

Here are the rules for the weekend posts.

Book recommendation of the week: The Husbands, by Chandler Baker. In a neighborhood of high-powered, accomplished women and their extremely supportive, housework-loving husbands, all is not what it seems.

 I make a commission if you use that Amazon link.

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it’s your Friday good news https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/its-your-friday-good-news-74.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/its-your-friday-good-news-74.html#comments Fri, 15 Oct 2021 16:00:38 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22435 This post, it’s your Friday good news , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

It’s your Friday good news! 1.  “I emailed you a few weeks ago asking for advice after I was told that I would never be promoted again even though I had just received a great 1-year review and a promotion. (Note from Alison: this exchange was unpublished.) Well, I took your advice and went back […]

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This post, it’s your Friday good news , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

It’s your Friday good news!

1.  “I emailed you a few weeks ago asking for advice after I was told that I would never be promoted again even though I had just received a great 1-year review and a promotion. (Note from Alison: this exchange was unpublished.)

Well, I took your advice and went back to my boss to ask for clarification. I cited all the higher level work I had been asked to do in my current position and floated an idea for a new role that would include more higher level leadership and training work. My boss said she liked the idea and would see what she could do. Today my boss told me that she’s worked with HR to create new position for me at a higher level. This new position will involve a lot more strategy and policy work, which I love, and it comes with a 10-15% pay bump.

I’m really excited and I wanted to thank you for your advice and for encouraging me to advocate for myself. Your blog has taught me so much.”

2.  “As of December 2019, I’d been in my first job out of college for about four and half years. It had been a great place to start my career, but as often happens, things changed. My amazing boss left, and the new boss wasn’t as great. There wasn’t a path to promotion unless I was willing to move locations, and several years into the role, I wasn’t learning as much. I decided it was time to start looking.

Between December 2019 and February 2020, I had several informational interviews with people in my network. I updated my resume and LinkedIn and started reading all of your resources on writing cover letters. Plus, I had just started a new volunteering gig adjacent to the field I wanted to enter.

And then, pandemic. The job opportunities I’d been looking at disappeared, seemingly overnight, and the work my team did was severely impacted by COVID-19. While we thankfully didn’t go through any lay-offs, the company did decrease our pay 5% and delayed our bonuses.

I wasn’t confident about being able to find a new job with so much uncertainty in the world, but I kept up a light search. After applying to maybe 10 roles and not hearing anything back, I noticed that a local (huge) tech company was hiring like crazy. I asked a friend who worked there if she would refer me – I didn’t have a tech background but figured some of my skills might be transferrable. She put in the referral. From there, I had two phone interviews, followed by a full day of video interviews with several members of the team. I heavily relied on the AAM interviewing resources and of course, asked the ‘magic question’ (some version of – what distinguishes someone who is good at this role from someone who is great at it), which landed well! My (now) manager seemed impressed, and she told me that one of my (now) colleagues was really the epitome of what great looked like in the role, so I had the bonus benefit of knowing who to pay attention to. Without ever meeting anyone in person, I received an offer in June 2020 for 30% more than I was making previously, with much better opportunity for upward mobility.

I’ve been in that role now for over a year, and it’s been a great step in my career. The work is more interesting than what I did previously, I’m gaining valuable skills, and I’m (virtually) meeting a ton of great people. I’m glad I didn’t give up the search, even when things were so uncertain.”

3.  “At the end of 2019 I was the team lead of, let’s say, Teapot Refining, which includes Painters and Glazers. While I was working part-time due to family stuff we re-hired a Teapot Glazer, Jake, who had left a year before and had a similar seniority to me when he left, before I was promoted to team lead. A couple months later when I was back full-time, my boss told me he was splitting the team up into Painters, led by me, and Glazers, led by Jake, because ‘he didn’t think Jake would handle working under me well.’ (Yeah, I’m a woman.) That left me as lead for an entire one other Teapot Painter. I was not thrilled.

Review time was coming up and I asked Jake (who I got on with quite well actually) if he’d tell me what salary they’d hired him back at. Surprise, his salary was 20% higher than mine, with a promise of an additional raise in 2020 which would have put it at 27% higher. I suspect that they didn’t want him on my team because I would be seeing salary numbers at review time.

Both HR and my boss had waggled their eyebrows and indicated a big raise in the making. It turned out to be 10% more than my current salary, so they were splitting the difference. I said I didn’t think that was quite fair, given Jake’s salary for an equivalent position. There was a lot of bluster about this being the best they could do, and I shouldn’t compare myself to Jake, and there would be another raise next year, and money wasn’t everything, etc etc. I had practiced this scenario with my wife in advance and kept my cool. Indicated I would quit, because I would have! My boss said he’d get back to me.

They came up to within 3% of Jake’s current salary plus my suggestion of a guaranteed month of remote work from another country, plus a promotion plan towards Head of Teapot Refining and Packing.

We set up some goals and a timeline. 2020 rolled on, I wasn’t sure about taking on the “And Packing” part, my boss couldn’t articulate exactly what duties the position would entail while pushing me to come up with A Vision for it – it was rocky. When a headhunter dangled a pure Head of Teapot Refining position in front of me with a team size of 10+ people for a 28% higher salary, I was interested. The company culture sounded great, there were a ton of interviews, they loved me, I loved them, I accepted their offer.

The timing, though. While the interview process was happening, review time was coming up. I learned from my boss that they would offer me another raise for my core job duties (which would keep me at 3% under Jake’s 2020 salary). And that they would finalize the promotion for Head of Teapot Painting and Packing… but not Refining… and the promotion would not come with its own raise. I put in my resignation letter instead of having a review meeting. They were puzzled.

I’ve just passed three months at the new job and I couldn’t be happier. My new boss and team gave me rave reviews, the company culture is amazingly good, I am challenged and excited and still turning my computer off right after 8 hours. And it’s 100% remote!”

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open thread – October 15-16, 2021 https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/open-thread-october-15-16-2021.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/open-thread-october-15-16-2021.html#comments Fri, 15 Oct 2021 15:00:26 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22415 This post, open thread – October 15-16, 2021 , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

It’s the Friday open thread! The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on anything work-related that you want to talk about (that includes school). If you want an answer from me, emailing me is still your best bet*, but this is a chance to talk to other readers. * […]

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This post, open thread – October 15-16, 2021 , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

It’s the Friday open thread! The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on anything work-related that you want to talk about (that includes school). If you want an answer from me, emailing me is still your best bet*, but this is a chance to talk to other readers.

* If you submitted a question to me recently, please do not repost it here, as it may be in my queue to answer.

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my friend’s work problems are stressing me out, I got accused of trash-talking a former job, and more https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/my-friends-work-problems-are-stressing-me-out-i-got-accused-of-trash-talking-a-former-job-and-more.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/my-friends-work-problems-are-stressing-me-out-i-got-accused-of-trash-talking-a-former-job-and-more.html#comments Fri, 15 Oct 2021 04:03:31 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22456 This post, my friend’s work problems are stressing me out, I got accused of trash-talking a former job, and more , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

It’s four answers to four questions. Here we go… 1. My friend’s work problems are making me anxious I have a friend who can’t seem to hold down a job for very long before becoming very frustrated with it. Every workplace has an issue: coworkers who are catty, management that isn’t supportive, information that isn’t […]

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This post, my friend’s work problems are stressing me out, I got accused of trash-talking a former job, and more , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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

1. My friend’s work problems are making me anxious

I have a friend who can’t seem to hold down a job for very long before becoming very frustrated with it. Every workplace has an issue: coworkers who are catty, management that isn’t supportive, information that isn’t clear, and demands that are unrealistic.

From my vantage point, they are similar and benign issues that most workplaces have and there are ways around them. But whenever I try to share thoughts like that, she gets mad at me for not being supportive. So I have been trying to just listen and let her vent.

However, now I notice that I am getting very anxious. I fear she is jeopardizing her jobs with her behavior but she doesn’t see it. She needs the job so it’s not like she is trying to sabotage them. She genuinely seems confused about why they aren’t going well and doesn’t see her own role in the difficulties.

How do I best help her here? Is it better to just be the friend who listens or should I try to help her understand the work world a little better?

It sounds like you’ve tried to help her understand what’s going on and she’s gotten angry at you. But that doesn’t mean you need to let her vent to you endlessly either; at some point it’s reasonable to say, “I support you and I know you’re struggling with this stuff, but when I’ve tried to share my thoughts on it, you’ve gotten angry. I’m at the limits of how I can help, so can we talk about stuff other than work instead?” Friendship does not require you to endlessly listen at the expense of your own peace of mind; you are allowed to set limits.

If she’s a very good friend, you could try saying, “I see this really differently than you do, and I think you’re causing problems for yourself that you don’t see. It’s making me worried for you. Would you like me to share my perspective?” But if you try it and she’s unmoved, then you’re back to the above.

Alternately, every time she complains about work, you can try saying, “So what do you think you’ll do about it?” … but if that gets you labeled as “unsupportive” as well, then you’re back to the above too.

2. My manager’s phrasing is driving me nuts

I think I may be overly sensitive on this one, but I need some perspective. My manager has recently starting messaging me saying, “Can we do X?” as a way to assign me tasks. It absolutely drives me crazy. I prefer direct communication, and would much rather she ask, “Can you do X?”

Using “we” makes me feel like she doesn’t respect my contributions and that anything I do is just something “we” have done together. Plus, I worry that the lack of clarity will cause issues down the road — I imagine a situation where she thinks she assigned me something and I think that she is working on it. I’ve started replying with “yes, I can do that” to try to get her to recognize what she is doing without raising it directly. I feel like I’m being too nit-picky with her language, but this is something that really bothers me. Is there something I can do to get her to stop?

I’d recommend trying to let it go since asking her to stop likely will come off as nit-picky and overly controlling. The part of this that you have the most control over is your reaction to it. Can you focus on trying to change that instead?

That said … are you seeing any other evidence that your boss doesn’t respect your contributions and/or takes credit for your work? If so, those are substantive issues and worth addressing (totally aside from the language issue). If you’re not seeing any signs of that and it’s really just her use of “we” that annoys you, that’s all the more reason to try to get past it. We all have annoying verbal tics.

(For the record: Managers shouldn’t do this! If she were writing to me, I’d tell her to stop doing it and to be clearer when she’s assigning work, and ask if she’s using “we” out of a discomfort with authority. But she’s not the one writing for advice.)

3. I got accused of trashing my former company

I left a niche industry over eight years ago. Very dysfunctional, small company, family-run business. I was there more than 10 years. The last several years, it was obvious my boss barely tolerated me. When I finally found a chance to move on and gave my two weeks, my boss barely spoke to me.

Years of gaslighting, inappropriate comments, intrusive questions about personal matters … on and on it went. So I left with minimal contact with ex-coworkers. There was one person I did like working with and I stayed in touch with for a while, meeting up for the occasional coffee.

This past weekend, my husband and I were in a retail establishment, and low and behold next to me waiting to be served was the owner’s son from that job. After a few pleasantries, he went off — demanding to know why I trashed his dad and the company when I left. Totally taken aback, I said, “What are you talking about?” He went off calling me a liar and said, “Oh, so everyone made that up?” I have no idea what I allegedly said, nor did he provide specifics. I’m totally baffled. Furthermore, I would hope that I would have been more professional than that because I know it’s professional suicide to trash ex-employers. I have been racking my brain and honestly nothing is coming to me that could have been construed as badmouthing. And the fact that they waited this long to call me out?

Any advice? I know for a fact It won’t do me any good to try to talk to him about it further.

Leave it alone. it doesn’t sound like there’s anything to be gained from trying to engage. Who knows what he’s talking about — maybe someone there misrepresented your actions after you left (it sounds like the sort of place where that could happen), maybe he misconstrued something he heard, maybe he completely mistook who you are and thought you’re someone else entirely. Regardless, this is someone who thinks it’s okay to confront someone in public eight years after they left a job. He’s not someone whose judgment you should put a lot of stock in.

You’re not in touch with that company anymore or even in the same industry. You don’t need to put energy into sorting out what the owner’s son thinks.

4. My employee is applying for an internal job but doesn’t know I’m on the hiring committee

One of my direct reports, Jane, has applied for an internal open position. This position is in my department but does not report to me.

The trouble is that I am on the hiring committee and I don’t believe Jane knows this. She hasn’t said anything to me about applying. She had a phone interview last week with the committee head (other members were not involved, which is standard) and it wasn’t discussed there either. When I learned Jane had applied, I offered to recuse myself from the search, but the committee head didn’t feel it was necessary.

How should I approach this with Jane, if at all? Mostly I want to spare her the experience of coming for an in-person interview and seeing her boss on the other side of the table.

She might have not mentioned to you because she didn’t think she needed to, but she could also be worried that you’d respond badly to hearing that she’s looking to move on. (Of course, she may or may not be actively looking to move on; it’s possible she’s just interested in this particular job.) So the key thing is to make it clear that you’re not upset that she applied for another job.

I’d say it this way: “I wanted to give you a heads-up that I’m on the hiring committee for the X position so I’ll be in the interviews next week. I didn’t want you to be blindsided by that! I’m excited to talk more about the role with you.” If you think she’s a good candidate, add something supportive — “I think it could be a great next step for you” or “I could see you being really good at this” or “I’d hate to lose you, but I’d be glad the company is keeping you” or whatever makes sense for the context.

If she doesn’t get the job and you’d ideally like to keep her, talk with her about whether there are ways she’d like her current job to evolve. Are there areas where she wants to develop/projects she wants to take on/etc. and are those things you can realistically offer?

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when the red flags are even more ominous than you know… https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/when-the-red-flags-are-even-more-ominous-than-you-know.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/when-the-red-flags-are-even-more-ominous-than-you-know.html#comments Thu, 14 Oct 2021 17:59:03 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22452 This post, when the red flags are even more ominous than you know… , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

In 2014, I received this letter. I get more mail than I can answer, and this one didn’t end up getting published. But read on, because there’s a twist coming. After following your cover letter and resume advice, I landed an interview for a position I would love to have. It is similar to my […]

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This post, when the red flags are even more ominous than you know… , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

In 2014, I received this letter. I get more mail than I can answer, and this one didn’t end up getting published. But read on, because there’s a twist coming.

After following your cover letter and resume advice, I landed an interview for a position I would love to have. It is similar to my current work but would allow me to be more proactive and have greater ownership over the work.

My issue is with the prospective company’s hiring practices. I would like to question them in the interview to gain some insight in their company culture and structure, but I don’t want to come across as overly critical. After two in-person interviews, one phone interview and one skype interview, the company is flying me out to their headquarters in California to interview with an unnamed “panel” (the actual job is in Arizona.) The scheduler keeps moving my interview date every few days and it’s been pushed back 6 times now, including 3 plane tickets. I’m also concerned that they don’t trust their Arizona team with this hire, when it seems from the conversations I’ve had, I would have little interaction with the California team. How do I approach the question of the constant rescheduling and the trust issues? Or do you think that both are non-issues?

Back to 2021. The writer of this letter recently emailed me about something else and included this note:

I noticed a question I submitted back in 2014 about some warning signs from an interview process I was embedded with at the time — and it was for a position at THERANOS! It was the craziest, most disorganized, lengthy hiring process I’ve ever experienced. I’m really thankful I didn’t pass the final interview.

I asked the letter-writer if she’d share more details and she obliged:

I had completely forgotten that I reached out for advice, and reading it over now with SO much hindsight, I should have said “no thank you” based on their constant rescheduling! It was an incredibly stressful process because I would schedule a day off from work to fly to California, and then have to reach back out to my supervisor and change the request- six times. A total red flag for my current job, but they didn’t seem to notice. At the time, Theranos had JUST emerged to the national scene and were in Walgreens test stores in Arizona, with a full board of directors including several high-profile military leaders, so I thought it would be a good opportunity and there was only glowing, credible press about their mission and future. They provided a voucher to go through the nanotainer collection process at a local Walgreens, but I didn’t have a chance — and I’m glad now since it’s been revealed that false positives were abundant in their testing.

On the interview day, I flew to Palo Alto into the last step of a three-month process (my fifth interview), and they had this weird stipulation that if you took a taxi, you wouldn’t be reimbursed for travel, only if you took public transportation or rental car/shuttle service — but with the timing of landing to interview time (they determined both), there was no time for any of the reimbursable options. The building was super secure and I had to wait in a stark lobby behind multiple security doors for at least an hour, but that was actually the fun part of the day, chatting about the Chicago Bulls with the security guards. When someone finally arrived, I was led to a smaller lobby, where, after another half hour (now 1.5 hours later than originally scheduled), I had an extremely abrupt, short, cold interview with one person from HR. We didn’t vibe at all, so I wasn’t shocked that I didn’t get the job, but I WAS surprised that after all of the effort on both of our sides, I received a generic email form letter signed “Kind Regards, Theranos Human Resources.”

Another part of the interview process that I’ll never forget was the Skype interview with Sunny Balwani. He looked absolutely miserable, stressed, and rushed. Like he had been sleeping at his desk for weeks and was just absolutely hating that he had to talk with me. I’ve heard in the meantime that Elizabeth Holmes’ defense was going to portray him as a conniving Svengali, which didn’t match at all what I saw back then!

My lesson learned from this experience was that red flags are called red for a reason, and I just kept ignoring them. Rescheduling an out-of-state interview six times to meet with one person should have clued me in that this would not be a great place to work! I think we all make excuses because we’re so wrapped up in the process and start imagining ourselves out of our current situation without detecting dysfunction in the future opportunity. I’m glad I was spared that job, because a year and a half later, the Wall Street Journal started exposing the company, ultimately leading to them liquidating. But boy, that year and a half would be full of stories I’d never forget, probably!!

I want to just give 2014 me a hug that she was trying SO HARD to impress people at this incredibly dysfunctional, toxic workplace.

But three companies later, I am happy and well-adjusted. Thanks again for all your great advice over the years!

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update: how much of a red flag is it if a job candidate was fired twice previously? https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/update-how-much-of-a-red-flag-is-it-if-a-job-candidate-was-fired-twice-previously.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/update-how-much-of-a-red-flag-is-it-if-a-job-candidate-was-fired-twice-previously.html#comments Thu, 14 Oct 2021 16:29:04 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22437 This post, update: how much of a red flag is it if a job candidate was fired twice previously? , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Remember the letter-writer asked about a job candidate who had been fired twice previously? Here’s the update. I wrote in about six months about a job candidate who was fired twice previously, and my uncertainty about whether to move them forward in the process. As I said in the update in the comments section, I […]

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This post, update: how much of a red flag is it if a job candidate was fired twice previously? , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Remember the letter-writer asked about a job candidate who had been fired twice previously? Here’s the update.

I wrote in about six months about a job candidate who was fired twice previously, and my uncertainty about whether to move them forward in the process. As I said in the update in the comments section, I did end up interviewing the candidate again, but I felt like they weren’t quite the right fit for what I needed.

In the end, I went with the candidate who had been my top choice from the first round of interviews. She started a few months ago, and she is an absolute dream. Conscientious, diplomatic, flexible, really open to feedback, willing to ask questions until she understands something and then able to apply that knowledge and work independently much faster than I would have anticipated. We have a really complicated bureaucracy and I never expect anyone to really know what they’re doing for months, but she’s already figured out how to get stuff done that I didn’t even know could get done. It took her a bit to trust me when I said I was very open to her improving systems as we went, but now that she both trusts me and trusts herself to understand the systems, she’s making really helpful improvements. She is also doing such a conscientious job at one of her data entry tasks that upper management commented on how much easier it is to run reports now, because they don’t have to do the same extensive data clean-up that used to be required. I feel like she’s regularly trying to figure out how to make other team members’ jobs easier, while still being clear about her own boundaries, and it’s just really helping the team function amazingly well overall.

I really appreciated the comments on my original letter reminding me (and the commenters!) that I wasn’t hiring in a vacuum and that I had to compare the candidates to each other. I definitely want to continue giving candidates a fair shot and not make assumptions about their backgrounds, but I’m also glad that I learned I can trust my instincts, too. And I’m so grateful for this website and your book, Alison. My reports have all recently said how much they appreciate my management style (one of them described it as “laidback but with high standards”) and I know I owe a lot of that to you! Thank you so much.

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what should I bring to the office now that we’re going back? https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/what-should-i-bring-to-the-office-now-that-were-going-back.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/what-should-i-bring-to-the-office-now-that-were-going-back.html#comments Thu, 14 Oct 2021 14:59:41 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22429 This post, what should I bring to the office now that we’re going back? , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

It’s the Thursday “ask the readers” question. A reader writes: I graduated in May 2020 and started my job fully remote. I luckily have a really great group of coworkers who made a huge effort to include me in the broader office even while virtual and I really love the work so far. But we […]

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This post, what should I bring to the office now that we’re going back? , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

It’s the Thursday “ask the readers” question. A reader writes:

I graduated in May 2020 and started my job fully remote. I luckily have a really great group of coworkers who made a huge effort to include me in the broader office even while virtual and I really love the work so far. But we are now slowly starting to work from the office on a hybrid schedule and I realized I have no idea what do with an office and desk! I had internship experiences in college, but not in an office environment, and the office is currently undergoing a lot of restructuring, so there actually aren’t many folks fully settled into their desk space currently to base my set-up on.

We have shared offices (I’ll be in an office of three) with individual desks and some built-in cabinets.

This feels silly to ask, but what sort of things should I keep at my office? What supplies should I bring versus ask for the office to order for me? What kind of decoration is appropriate? Do I need to keep any additional clothes at the office in case of emergency? I feel a little lost and embarrassed to ask my coworkers, so I thought maybe you or the fine readers of Ask A Manager may have some advice!

Readers, have at it in the comments!

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boss says we can’t share our lunches, employee fell for a scam, and more https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/boss-says-we-cant-share-our-lunches-employee-fell-for-a-scam-and-more.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/boss-says-we-cant-share-our-lunches-employee-fell-for-a-scam-and-more.html#comments Thu, 14 Oct 2021 04:03:01 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22454 This post, boss says we can’t share our lunches, employee fell for a scam, and more , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go… 1. Our boss told us we can’t share lunches with each other I have been having lunch with some of my coworkers for over four years. Sometimes we bring food and share it among us. Last month, my boss told me and everyone else that we […]

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This post, boss says we can’t share our lunches, employee fell for a scam, and more , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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

1. Our boss told us we can’t share lunches with each other

I have been having lunch with some of my coworkers for over four years. Sometimes we bring food and share it among us. Last month, my boss told me and everyone else that we had lunch with that we can no longer share our food with each other. Apparently, someone who does not eat with us complained about us having lunch together and sharing our meals with each other. My boss said that it was favoritism because we were not inviting everyone else in the department to eat with us and share our food with them. So basically, we can’t bring our own food and share it with my closest friends at work because we are showing favoritism by not inviting the whole department to eat with and not sharing our food with them.

That is ridiculous. You are adults, not children, and you should be able to share your food with whoever you damn well want.

Obviously, if you were ostentatiously making a point of excluding one particular person, that would be jerkish and your boss should tell you to stop being an ass. But a small group of coworkers sharing lunch is not a big deal, and your boss appears to believe he’s running a kindergarten.

I don’t know if it’s a battle you feel like fighting or not, but you’d be on solid ground in saying, “This is our lunch break, when we’re on our own time. We’re not trying to be exclusionary, but we’re all adults here and we think it’s up to us who we share our own food with.”

Otherwise, you might consider leaving the office for your lunches.

2. My employee fell for a scam

I run a small retail business and while I was out this afternoon, someone came in and scammed one of my employees into giving him $300 in cash from the register. He told my employee that I was buying some furniture from him and we had spoken about, so she handed him the cash, then realized what she’d done and called me.

How do I proceed from here? I know that confidence tricksters are professionals, but handing over $300 without checking with the boss — I’m good at telling my team when changes are happening and would never ask anyone other than me to pay someone — seems like a big lapse in judgment. That is not an insignificant sum to the business — it’s an average day’s takings.

Any advice on how to handle this with this employee would be appreciated.

The business should cover the expense, just like you would if she made a totally different type of error in her work that cost you money. Absorbing the cost of errors is part of the cost of doing business. You shouldn’t ask an employee to pay for something that happened while they were performing their job in good faith.

But take this as impetus to train all your staff on spotting scams and handling similar situations that could come up in the future.

3. How can we be fair without being rigid?

I’m involved in a formal business coaching agreement with a husband and wife team that own a business near mine. They also happen to be close personal friends, so I know quite a bit about the business, and THEIR business. The business they own is a national franchise of a home services trade.

The question in front of us right now is: how do we accommodate the technicians (employees, not independent contractors) who need flexibility in start times due to circumstances beyond their control, while still maintaining standards and a sense of fairness among all the employees (particularly the other technicians)? Some are single parents, some of them have children whose schools have different start times, sometimes all of them are dealing with the variable of which schools are open in-person and which ones have closed due to exposure or quarantine-style restrictions? (Meaning, the need for flexibility exists for each individual tech, not just from tech to tech.) Explicitly, 7:45 am is considered “on time,” but one or two cannot arrive before 8:30 am without serious disruption to their family obligations. How can they enforce rules around tardiness, provide the needed flexibility, and still maintain a sense of fairness?

Four general principles:

* Strive to give people the maximum amount of flexibility you can without harm to the business’s operations. Stay away from rules that exist for rules’ sake.

* Spend some time figuring out where you can and can’t be flexible. Maybe start times aren’t a big deal. Maybe they are. Maybe you can accommodate a couple of people coming in late, but not everyone doing that. Figure out where the lines are, and communicate them openly and directly with your team. If there are some things you definitely can’t accommodate or can’t accommodate more than rarely, be up-front about those.

* If someone’s flexibility means that other employees get stuck with more work or less desirable work, make sure you recognize that in tangible ways (like money, extra time off, accommodating other things that are important to that person, or whatever makes sense for the context).

* Make sure that your flexibility isn’t limited to parents; non-parents generally have obligations in their lives that also matter. Make sure you don’t set up a parent/non-parent divide on your team. At the same time, though, the reality is that parents are operating under a uniquely crappy set of circumstances right now, and it’s okay to recognize that as long as you’re not ignoring non-parents’ realities too.

4. Should I mention I’m trans when interviewing?

After many years with my employer, I’ve decided to look for another situation. I am a management professional in a progressive city in a progressive region—which is great because I am transgender, and job hunting as a trans person is beyond stressful in any area. I’m very fortunate that I am far enough along in my transition that I’m clocked reliably as male 100% of the time. It would never come up in conversation with coworkers if I didn’t make a point to be open about it. Which I am. I have gotten reasonably deft at finding appropriate ways to disclose this information at what I consider to be the right time depending on the person.

Should I tell prospective employers that I am transgender during the application phase? My partner thinks I should because it could be an advantage to my prospects due to interest in hiring diversity. I don’t think it is appropriate—it’s not relevant to my profession, and as a hiring manager, I find it problematic when someone discloses a protected status before they’ve been hired (after all, one may never know why they didn’t get the job). Also, I already feel uncomfortable with the obvious male privilege I am afforded on a daily basis. I don’t feel right trying to game the system further.

I could find a way to work this information into an interview as a “gauging the culture” question. Should I?

Legally, employers can’t consider it (even in your favor) when deciding whether or not to hire you. In reality, though, employers consider illegal factors all the time, consciously or not. And given that trans people face discrimination more often than they face positive bias in hiring, it’s at least as likely to hurt you as to help you.

But there’s potentially value in that, if it helps you screen out bigoted employers. If you have the luxury of being at least somewhat choosy in your search, it can make a lot of sense to mention things that will help you screen out places you wouldn’t want to work. Doing it via a question about culture is a good approach so it doesn’t seem randomly shoehorned into the conversation.

5. Applying after withdrawing past applications

How many times can you continue to apply at a company after withdrawing previous applications? I’ve applied to the same company twice in the past couple of years, then I withdrew my application each time after they offered me an interview. The first time I had already accepted another job offer and I was honest about this via email; the second time I decided to stay at my then-current job, so over the phone I gave an excuse about my circumstances changing.

Now I have left my most recent job, that same company is advertising again, and I’m interested. But I’m also applying elsewhere, and if I keep withdrawing my application, I’m worried I’ll become like Ben Wyatt in Parks and Recreation, repeatedly letting down the accounting firm.

So, what’s the etiquette? Am I fine to keep applying to this company? Or should I start to approach this situation with more caution, in case they form a view of me as an unreliable candidate?

You’re fine applying again. The first withdrawal barely counts — there’s nothing flaky about having already accepted another job by the time they contacted you. The second time wouldn’t be remarkable on its own either; it’s only the fact that it’s the second time that could make it more of a thing of interest.

Go ahead and apply again if you want, as long as you’re sure you’d go to an interview if it’s offered (assuming, of course, that you haven’t already accepted a different job in the meantime; there’s no controlling for that).

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our head of security took upskirt photos of an intern https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/our-head-of-security-took-upskirt-photos-of-an-intern.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/our-head-of-security-took-upskirt-photos-of-an-intern.html#comments Wed, 13 Oct 2021 17:59:36 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22447 This post, our head of security took upskirt photos of an intern , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes: Curious to hear your take on a situation that came up a long time ago at a previous workplace. Shortly out of college, I got a job working for a nonprofit cultural institution that had a fair share of unpaid interns working across the organization. Our head of security had a reputation […]

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This post, our head of security took upskirt photos of an intern , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes:

Curious to hear your take on a situation that came up a long time ago at a previous workplace. Shortly out of college, I got a job working for a nonprofit cultural institution that had a fair share of unpaid interns working across the organization.

Our head of security had a reputation for being gross/inappropriate around women at the company, so much so that my female supervisor and head of my department both took me aside my first week to quietly warn me to “watch out for myself” around him. As this was an organization that was often open to the public, this guy managed a team of security guards as well as a fairly sophisticated video security system throughout the building/grounds. That fact was always at the back of my mind whenever I was working alone early or late — this guy that multiple female colleagues had warned me about had the ability to surveil me as I sat at my desk — which, I realize, sounds dramatic — but just wait.

One day, a teammate was in the empty lobby a few feet from the head of security and his second-in-command. An intern wearing a skirt was hanging up signs along the stairwell above, and the head of security holds out his phone with the back of it facing upwards toward the stairwell when the unmistakable click of his phone’s camera rang through the lobby loud enough for his second-in-command and my colleague to hear it and look at each other. He was taking upskirt photos of an intern and was caught in the act.

Both my teammate and the member of the security team who witnessed the event went to our head of HR to report what they had seen, and the company did … absolutely nothing. Possibly he was spoken to (I can’t say for sure), but years later the guy still has his job running the security department at the organization.

Is there any universe where retaining this guy is an okay move? Aren’t upskirt photos in the workplace with MULTIPLE witnesses grounds for an automatic fire? What gives? And what could I and/or a group of my coworkers have done to demand that this lech get canned?

WTF.

YES, this should have been an automatic firing. NO, there is no universe where retaining this guy was okay.

Of course, that assumes that this really was what it looks like — that he was indeed taking upskirt photos and not just, I don’t know, photographing the elegantly carved staircase bannisters or something, a fact that could have been easily verified by demanding to see his phone (and firing him if he refused to show the photo he’d just taken).

This would be unacceptable for anyone, but he was the head of security — a person with special access in a job that requires a high degree of trust. There should be nowhere in the cosmos where “oh, we’ll give him a warning and then set him loose among employees again” is considered a reasonable response.

That your company did nothing is … well, it’s maybe what we should expect from a company that had already continued to employ a head of security who was so known to be gross around women that multiple members of your management team warned you about him.

Whatever led to him still being around despite those complaints (hint: deeply entrenched sexism and a dismissal of women) is the same thing responsible for them keeping him on after the photo incident.

As for what you and your coworkers could have done: in theory a group of you could have demanded further action be taken. What that could have looked like in practice would depend on what you were willing to do — anything from making loud demands within the organization to being willing to quit over it to going to your board of directors to going to the media or even to funders. Sometimes those things work! Sometimes they don’t. They work more often now, but since this was years ago, it might not have worked then.

Is he still there? If so, you and your old colleagues might consider writing to the board now and sharing your experiences with him.

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my employees keep contacting me when I’m off work https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/my-employees-keep-contacting-me-when-im-off-work.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/my-employees-keep-contacting-me-when-im-off-work.html#comments Wed, 13 Oct 2021 16:29:58 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22384 This post, my employees keep contacting me when I’m off work , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes: I manage a staff of 18 who work varying shift times. When I’m out of the office, whether that’s due to vacation, illness, or just regular days off, my staff constantly contacts me. It’s mostly questions about things that could easily be handled by someone else in the building, management or not. […]

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This post, my employees keep contacting me when I’m off work , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes:

I manage a staff of 18 who work varying shift times. When I’m out of the office, whether that’s due to vacation, illness, or just regular days off, my staff constantly contacts me. It’s mostly questions about things that could easily be handled by someone else in the building, management or not. Sometimes it’s something urgent, but rarely ever. And sometimes it’s at all hours of the day and night, like 3 a.m. to say they can’t make it to work in the morning, when there are clear guidelines on when they should contact me in that situation, which is at the earliest 6 a.m. Or they’ll contact me about schedule changes or switches, which is something I cannot do when I’m at home.

Our work can be very stressful, and it’s important for everyone (including me) to have time to decompress. I don’t feel it’s unreasonable to ask that I’m not contacted when I’m off, especially when other management is there to address the situation. Am I being unreasonable here? Do I have to answer their texts and calls?

I answer this question — and four others — over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and sometimes updating/expanding my answers to them). You can read it here.

Other questions I’m answering there today include:

  • How can I shut down weight talk on my team?
  • Who should communicate a lay-off?
  • People who ask questions that were answered in the same email they’re replying to
  • When is a reference too old to use?
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the boss who fired me got hired at my new job — and she’s joking about how bad my work was https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/the-boss-who-fired-me-got-hired-at-my-new-job-and-shes-joking-about-how-bad-my-work-was.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/the-boss-who-fired-me-got-hired-at-my-new-job-and-shes-joking-about-how-bad-my-work-was.html#comments Wed, 13 Oct 2021 14:59:53 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22434 This post, the boss who fired me got hired at my new job — and she’s joking about how bad my work was , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes: About seven years ago, I worked for Company A. I met a lot of nice folks, and there is a lot of good to be said for the company. But the actual job function I was paid to do I hated, and it was in an industry I came to have a […]

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This post, the boss who fired me got hired at my new job — and she’s joking about how bad my work was , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes:

About seven years ago, I worked for Company A. I met a lot of nice folks, and there is a lot of good to be said for the company. But the actual job function I was paid to do I hated, and it was in an industry I came to have a dim view of. As you can probably guess, I was not very good at this job. Throw in some unpleasant things going on in my personal life at the time, and the whole situation was very bad.

Eventually my boss had to fire me, and I deserved to be fired! My boss (Jane) handled the firing with all the dignity and sensitivity that I could have hoped for. No complaints there. I took some time after the firing to really think about my life, what I wanted, and what I wanted out of work. I made some changes, and one of those was to go to work for a nonprofit that advocates on an issue I care deeply about. I am MUCH better at this job, have received a couple promotions along the way, and feel like I have the respect of my colleagues. I am in a much better place compared to where I was with Company A.

Last month my nonprofit was onboarding some new hires, and I was surprised to see Jane among them. She wanted a change, and thus went from Company A to us. She had no idea I was working here. I work on the advocacy side, she works on the financial side, but our job titles are approximately equal. We spent a few pleasant minutes catching up. I was genuinely glad to see her.

Unfortunately, things have taken a turn. I have started hearing rumors that Jane has been regaling our colleagues with stories of what a screw-up I was back at Company A. While the stories are superficially true, they lack the context I described above and do not consider my good work since then, so I find these stories both embarrassing and unfair. I have asked Jane to stop doing this, but she feels I am overreacting as it is all meant in good fun.

But I am already seeing people become a lot more particular in their dealings with me. For example, I organize several public facing events with one of my colleagues. These events have always gone well, and he has been easy to work with; he tells me what he needs, I tell him what I need, then we do what needs to be done. Lately, he has been checking, and double checking, and triple checking that I understand what is required and my progress on meeting those requirements. That never happened before Jane. And when I called him out on it, he replied that my “track record” justified his attention. I replied that my track record with him was unblemished, and he sheepishly said, “Yeah, but I hear from Jane …”

I am appreciative of how Jane treated me back in the day, so I want to cut her all the slack I can. I do not believe she is being malicious. I think she just wants to integrate herself with her new colleagues and thinks telling funny stories is a way to do so. But she has badly misjudged the effect these stories have had. Do you have any thoughts on how I can get her to stop?

WTF Jane.

Since you know her and I don’t and you don’t think she’s being malicious, I’ll try to give her that benefit of the doubt too — but this is really messed up. She’s come into a place where you’ve established a reputation for yourself and is chipping away at it in the name of … what? Entertaining her new colleagues? That’s honestly really crappy.

It would be one thing if she’d made one or two comments without realizing they could have real effects for you at work, and then stopped when you pointed it out. But you talked to her about it and she blew you off. “It’s all in good fun” is BS once the person who’s the target of the “fun” asks you to stop.

If you believe Jane is genuinely a good person and is just badly misjudging how her stories are being received, it’s worth another conversation. This time, be very explicit about the ways her stories are harming you, so that it’s clear you’re not just bristling at some teasing but are seeing concrete effects on your work. For example, you could say: “I want to ask you again to stop joking around about my work at Company A. I understand you mean it in good fun, but it is not being taken that way. I have worked hard to establish a good reputation here, but since you started sharing these stories, people have started double- and tripling-checking my work and supervising my progress on projects much more closely. I’ve asked why, and at least one person told me it’s because of what he’s heard from you. So even though you mean this to be light-hearted, people are taking it seriously and it’s harming the reputation I’ve worked to build.”

You could also say, “I had some difficult things happening in my life when I was at Company A, and I was really struggling. It’s not something I want to see turned into entertaining stories for others. It was very serious for me.”

And/or you could say, “I was so grateful to you for how you handled the ending of my employment at Company A. I felt you really cared about preserving my dignity. I’m asking you to extend that same dignity to me now.”

If Jane refuses to back off after that, she’ll be demonstrating pretty clearly that she’s not the good person you thought she was — just a bully and a jerk. Who knows why — maybe there’s stuff going on in her life now that wasn’t affecting her when you worked together the first time; I tend to think jerks often are struggling with something or other. But if she doesn’t budge after you spell it out for her, let yourself see her for who she really is right now.

If that’s the case, your best bet is to address it directly with your other coworkers. For example, with that colleague who told you that Jane’s stories made him distrust you, you could say, “You have X years of experience working with me. Do those stories reflect what you know of me? I’m asking that you trust what I’ve shown you about how I operate, not stories from years ago.”

Or: “Yep, I screwed up in a job years ago. Different job, different work, different time. Can we go on what you’ve seen from years of working with me in this job?”

Ultimately, your work will be the strongest antidote to the stories Jane is telling, but you may need to explicitly connect those dots for some of your coworkers.

But man, I do not like Jane.

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another manager complained about my employee, resigning before you’re fired, and more https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/another-manager-complained-about-my-employee-resigning-before-youre-fired-and-more.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/another-manager-complained-about-my-employee-resigning-before-youre-fired-and-more.html#comments Wed, 13 Oct 2021 04:03:08 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22445 This post, another manager complained about my employee, resigning before you’re fired, and more , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go… 1. Another manager complained about my employee I work for a small company and we have a part-time student employee who reports to me. About a week ago, another manager came to me and politely asked if she could “borrow” my staff member for a small […]

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This post, another manager complained about my employee, resigning before you’re fired, and more , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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

1. Another manager complained about my employee

I work for a small company and we have a part-time student employee who reports to me. About a week ago, another manager came to me and politely asked if she could “borrow” my staff member for a small project and I agreed. I was a little disappointed when a week later, she emailed our leadership team (department heads) to complain about my staff member supposedly slacking off on the project. I asked my staff member if he was given a timeline for completing the project. He said he asked the manager and was told that it was not a high priority and he can complete “just whenever.”

I see this action as unprofessional on the part of the other manager because her email seems intended to throw my staff member under the bus when her role is to help the team complete company goals. How should I look at this situation and do I need to address this with her or my staff member?

It’s bad management and bad communication from your colleague. First, she should have given your employee a clearer sense of the expected timeline for finishing the work. Second, if she was concerned about his pace of work, she should have spoken to him and/or you. This isn’t something to email an entire leadership team about.

Speak with her directly now, say that your understanding from your employee was that he was told the project was “as time allowed,” and ask what the actual deadline is. Also, ask her to speak with you directly in the future if she has a concern about someone on your team, so that you’re in the loop and can help handle it. Feel free to say, “I was blindsided by your email about this, since I hadn’t heard anything about it and he tells me he hadn’t either.”

2. Senior execs keep using me as an advisor

I’m a mid-level professional and throughout my career have found that executives or very senior colleagues like to bounce ideas off of me for how to deal with people-related issues. For example, I once worked for an executive recruiter who would talk to me for hours about how to pitch a particular candidate or bring on a new client, and insisted that I was helping her a lot (I was 25 at the time, not sure how I was actually helping, but that was a large part of my role). Recently, I took a call from a grand-director for a group I’m temporarily working with, and he appreciated my input so much that he gave me a teamwork award through our internal kudos system (worth $500!).

So here’s my issue: my director on this project is struggling and has been calling me about how to prep for some tricky meetings, which is fine. But then a team member (Suzie) exploded on a call and announced she wanted off the project, then hung up. It was dramatic. The director called me to discuss it and wanted to just casually sideline Suzie. I pushed her to make a decision about Suzie — either implement a staffing change or keep her on the team but with a discussion around what’s up and changes that need to happen. I also mentioned that the director had made some mistakes with the team and project, and the discussion might go better if she started out by acknowledging those mistakes.

The director said yeah, that’s true, and asked me if I could be on that call with her. Um … I declined in an email a few hours later and she understood. But this is feeling inappropriate. I don’t usually work with this group and am here as a project manager, so not really involved much on the project work itself. Does that make me removed enough that I can function as a trusted advisor to someone three tiers above me? Part of me feels like this is a real skill that I should lean into, and another thinks that these are very senior level decisions way above my paygrade and I shouldn’t really be butting in. But I also know of some roles where more junior people are very trusted advisors to executives. Is that what this is? What do you think?

This happened to me throughout my career and I leaned into it because I liked doing it, found the issues interesting, and started seeing professional benefits from it. If you like it and you’re good at it, I’d keep leaning into it. The essential thing is to make sure that you set boundaries when you need to — like what you did when you said no to being on that call with Suzie (that was the right response! you didn’t belong on that call). You will sometimes find people like that exec who aren’t great at this stuff and are excited to find someone who can give them good advice, and who will then try to lean on you more than is appropriate. Without a clear sense of when to put up boundaries and say no to those requests, you can end up being asked to function with a level of authority you don’t actually have while your coworkers are rightly thinking “why the hell is Jane in this meeting?” and “isn’t Jane my peer?” and that can cause all sorts of problems. But if you stick to being a sounding board behind the scenes and you’re good at it, eventually you will probably see rewards from that, whether it’s more formal authority (and commensurate pay), a higher profile, more trust from people with influence, or so forth.

3. Could I have resigned before I got fired?

I was recently dismissed from my job after not being 100% successful with the conditions established by a PIP. In hindsight, I definitely feel like it should have been obvious to me at a point less than two weeks from the PIP’s end date that I wouldn’t have been able to succeed. If I had realized that then and given a two-week notice, do you think that the company and I would have parted on better terms? Or do you feel like, if that was only done less than two weeks before the PIP end date, they would have still terminated me, even with me opting for a better way out?

I also wonder about returning to that company in the future, in a different role. I am doing well in my new job don’t foresee leaving anytime soon. However, my industry has people frequently moving places, and there are a lot of things I do like about that company. If in the far future I see openings in another department which are closer to what I currently do, at which I’m far more successful, would I have a chance of being hired by that different department, assuming my current trend of success continues? Or would HR or the other department’s leadership not consider me, based on the circumstances of my previous dismissal?

You can nearly always resign during a PIP if you prefer to. It’s usually better for the company if you decide to (then they don’t have to fire you and usually won’t need to pay unemployment, and generally managers just prefer people to leave on their own if possible). The only exceptions would be if they uncovered something they felt they had to fire you for (like embezzlement or punching a coworker, although even then sometimes people are allowed to resign instead of being fired) or if you had a particularly horrid and vindictive manager (although if you quit before they fired you, they don’t get to undo time).

Whether a different department there would consider you in the future depends both on company and on what the performance problems were. Some companies are happy to do that; others consider anyone they fire to be ineligible for rehire. Some managers will be willing to look at what the previous issues were and decide if they think it could be a problem in the new role (for example, attitude issues or attention to detail are probably a no-go, but someone who struggled with coding applying for a job that has nothing to do with coding could be fine). It’s hard to know for sure, but you could always give it a shot down the road and see what happens.

4. Asking to WFH when it’s in my offer letter but I haven’t been doing it

I got recruited for a new opportunity with a promoted title, much higher wage, better medical benefits, more manageable workload, more in line with my professional passions … needless to say, it was an offer I could not refuse.

The one caveat of this job: it’s not primarily remote, which was a major bummer for me as I am much less stressed and more productive working at home/remotely. It’s just not a big part of their culture here, but (especially during COVID) when people do need to work from home occasionally, it’s not a big deal and is not frowned upon. I do recognize the benefits of collaborating in-person in an office. However, I did negotiate in my offer letter to include that I am permitted to work from home 1-2 days a week.

Well … I haven’t been doing that. I have been coming to the office almost every day to work. I’ve only worked from home on a handful of occasions, despite the fact that I’m allowed to do so more often. The reason being … I feel guilty! I’m one of only a few positions here that has the ability to work remotely, so I feel bad doing so when my coworkers can’t as easily.

Recently, I had an “aha” moment, courtesy of my family’s advice: “That’s not your problem. Your position can work remotely. You negotiated it in your offer letter. It’s not your fault that they can’t.” That flipped a switch in me. I DO deserve to work remotely. I’d love to do so 1-2 days a week like my offer letter states, but I don’t even know how to bring that up with my boss because I haven’t been working remotely on that schedule for the entire six months I’ve been here. Do you have any advice for how I can frame my ask? Any language you’d recommend using? I want to take advantage of what I negotiated! I’m tired of thinking I don’t deserve it.

One option is to frame it as a deliberate decision that makes you look extra conscientious — “I wanted to wait to begin the 1-2 days a week from home until I’d settled in and gotten familiar with everything. Now that I’m six months in, I’m planning to begin the remote 1-2 days/week we’d settled on when I was hired and planned to start with next Thursday at home.”

Do it now though! The longer you wait, the more risk there is of your boss feeling like it’s less what you agreed to from the start and more A Change that she wants to sign off on. I think you’re probably close to the borderline of that risk now, so don’t wait any longer!

Read an update to this letter here.

5. Contact info for references who are retired or dead

I’m retiring from a long career as a mathematics professor and dean in higher education. In my golden years, I’d like to work part-time as an instructional assistant with students in our local public school. I have always felt that this is the place where teachers make the most difference, by setting children off on the right foot, and I want to help with that effort. These are typically part-time jobs that pay minimum wage and require no more than a high school diploma or GED.

While applying for such a job, I’m finding that they require that I list every job I have ever held (six in the past 30 years) and provide complete contact information, including phone numbers and email addresses, for all supervisors I’ve ever had. Some of these people are no longer living, and many of them are retired themselves. At the same time, these fields are required, and the application system won’t let me bypass this section.

I understand and agree that it’s important to check the background and character of anyone who works with minors, and I certainly don’t think that I’m “special” and deserve to bypass the system. However, short of using a Ouija board, I have no idea how to manage this part of the process when the people they are asking me to reference aren’t available. Do you have tips?

It’s fine to just list contact information for the employer itself (like the school) rather than individual managers; they’ll be able to verify your employment by contacting the school. If you want, you can include a note like “manager now deceased” or “manager retired” so they have that context. They’ll likely still want you to provide individual references they can speak with at some point, but for this part of the process, just contact info for the school or the department you worked in should be fine.

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how do I talk to an employee about her distracting dog? https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/how-do-i-talk-to-an-employee-about-her-distracting-dog.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/how-do-i-talk-to-an-employee-about-her-distracting-dog.html#comments Tue, 12 Oct 2021 17:59:13 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22433 This post, how do I talk to an employee about her distracting dog? , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes: I know you’ve answered many letters over the years about poorly behaved dogs in the workplace. I’m wondering if you can provide some guidance on how to have a conversation with an employee about their dog’s bad behavior. Our organization hired a new executive director (Mary) in February. During this time, we […]

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This post, how do I talk to an employee about her distracting dog? , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes:

I know you’ve answered many letters over the years about poorly behaved dogs in the workplace. I’m wondering if you can provide some guidance on how to have a conversation with an employee about their dog’s bad behavior.

Our organization hired a new executive director (Mary) in February. During this time, we were all working remotely. When we returned to in-person work, Mary announced that our office would be dog-friendly. Mary has a small elderly dog with separation anxiety who comes to work daily. At least two other colleagues now bring their dogs each day. One of the dogs is large and poorly behaved (we’ll call him Max). He barks and growls as people walk past, and often lunges at my window when he’s outside (I guess he’s trying to get back in the building?). When this happens, the dog’s owner (we’ll call her April) often playfully scolds him.

April adopted Max during the pandemic and because they’ve never spent much time apart, Max has separation anxiety. This is even evident in the office — his behavior seems to escalate when he’s left alone in April’s office (which is often).

I love dogs! I get along well with Max and April. I also have a dog (who stays home during the day) and a small child, so I’m very adept at tuning out these distractions. However, not everyone in our small office is able to ignore Max’s behavior and I’ve noticed some of my direct reports are becoming increasingly agitated.

April does not report to me. Her manager is brand new (both to the position and to managing) and I sense April’s manager is either indifferent to Max’s behavior, or she just doesn’t know how to address the behavior with April.

While I don’t have standing to change the dog policy, I do need to address Max’s impact on my team’s morale. Do I have standing to have a conversation with April about this? If so, what do I say?

Ideally this would get addressed organization-wide because (a) it’s an organization issue and (b) it’s likely to come up with other dogs in the future.

Frankly, it’s ridiculous for an office to implement a dog-friendly policy without any rules for it! Dog-friendly policies can work, but only when they’re accompanied by clear rules that specify what behavior isn’t okay (like excessive barking, damaging property, roaming unattended, or being aggressive toward humans or other dogs) and what happens if those rules are violated (generally, that’s that the dog can’t come to the office anymore), as well as a clear understanding that (a) bringing dogs to work is a privilege that can be revoked at any time and (b) will indeed be revoked if the dogs’ need and the human employees’ needs are in conflict … which includes everything from allergies to dog phobias to ability to focus.

What these rules are grounded in is the principle that people’s ability to do their jobs trumps people’s desire to bring dogs to work.

So ideally you’d raise the issue with whoever has the power to implement and enforce a better policy on dogs in the office.

But if that’s not a good option for some reason, you certainly have standing to talk directly with April and/or her manager.

I’d start with April herself unless you have a reason not to (like if she’s defensive or you have a terrible relationship). Say something like, “I know you’re working with Max on his separation anxiety. My team is having a lot of trouble focusing when he barks and growls or lunges at windows when he’s outside. Can you be more active about minimizing the disruption it’s having on people nearby?”

If that doesn’t work, talk with April’s manager and explain the problem. Say you’ve already spoken with April directly but Max is continuing to make it hard for your team to focus.

And if that doesn’t work, at that point it’s time to suggest that Max isn’t well-suited for the office (at least not now — maybe he could be if his behavior changes down the road). But if you’re doing that, it’ll be easier to do it in the context of setting up office-wide rules for dogs, which brings us back to: your office really needs a more formal plan. You don’t have standing to change that on your own, but as a manager of a team being impacted, you do have standing to ask for it to be addressed.

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what do I do about work if my kids are sent home to quarantine? https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/what-do-i-do-about-work-if-my-kids-are-sent-home-to-quarantine.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/what-do-i-do-about-work-if-my-kids-are-sent-home-to-quarantine.html#comments Tue, 12 Oct 2021 16:29:49 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22431 This post, what do I do about work if my kids are sent home to quarantine? , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes: After most of us being remote since March 2020 due to Covid, my office is now bringing everyone back a minimum of three days a week, with a clear preference for us to be there more than that. But I have two school-aged kids and every time they have a potential Covid […]

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This post, what do I do about work if my kids are sent home to quarantine? , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes:

After most of us being remote since March 2020 due to Covid, my office is now bringing everyone back a minimum of three days a week, with a clear preference for us to be there more than that. But I have two school-aged kids and every time they have a potential Covid exposure at school, they’ll be sent home for two weeks. They’re not old enough to stay by themselves, so my partner or I will need to stay home with them every time it happens. And I doubt this will just happen once. We could be looking at this happening regularly all winter.

How are parents of young kids supposed to juggle work and childcare responsibilities with offices opening back up and Covid not yet conquered? It feels like employers expect us to be back to normal when we’re definitely not at that point.

You can read my answer to this letter at New York Magazine today, along with answers to these questions:

  • Is it unprofessional to Zoom from your bedroom?
  • How do you take sick days when you work from home?
  • Can you tell job candidates your company doesn’t take Covid seriously?
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my boss flirts with (and sometimes sleeps with) our vendors — and tells me all about it https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/my-boss-flirts-with-and-sometimes-sleeps-with-our-vendors.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/my-boss-flirts-with-and-sometimes-sleeps-with-our-vendors.html#comments Tue, 12 Oct 2021 14:59:56 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22432 This post, my boss flirts with (and sometimes sleeps with) our vendors — and tells me all about it , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes: I am hoping for some help here. I’m really not a prude; I am afraid that is the way I might come off. My manager has put me in a weird position. I’m not sure if I’m overthinking things and would appreciate some advice. Within the past year, I have noticed that […]

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This post, my boss flirts with (and sometimes sleeps with) our vendors — and tells me all about it , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes:

I am hoping for some help here. I’m really not a prude; I am afraid that is the way I might come off. My manager has put me in a weird position. I’m not sure if I’m overthinking things and would appreciate some advice.

Within the past year, I have noticed that my manager has become increasingly narcissistic and inappropriate at work. She has always been a toxic manager, but the company I work for is good. I have been with the company for almost 10 years, and with this manager for almost five. I am a hard worker and they pay me fairly.

My manager tells me too much. A year ago, she confided in me that she is having an affair with a want-to-be vendor, whom my company has since purchased from due to my manager’s perseverance. And I know she has kissed other vendors at work events in the past. She will often attend industry events alone and tells us stories of how she likes to lead them on by allowing them to walk her to her hotel room.

She recently took this same vendor to a sporting event with company tickets. She did not invite anyone from our company to join them. I politely confronted her, explaining that I think this is inappropriate use of company tickets. She offered to get me a ticket by myself — in a different section — to attend the game. I declined. A few days after the game, she told me that it was wrong of me to say that to her and that I “need to remember that she is my superior and deserves my respect.” She essentially gaslighted me, telling me that I am the one in the wrong here.

Then this week, she last-minute invited our team to dinner with a different want-to-be vendor. The entire dinner, she continued to be flirty and made sexual innuendos at this person. I went to dinner to learn about this vendor’s product, not to learn about their inside jokes and how often they text.

We are in an extremely male-dominated industry. I want to be taken seriously as a woman in this business, but I feel like my manager’s actions are affecting how we are viewed.

Is it worth having another conversation asking her to tone down the flirting at work, or is it a lost cause? I know I need to find a new job, but it has been hard in this current climate.

I would not bother asking your boss to tone down the flirting. Based on what you’ve seen so far, it’s unlikely to work … and it’s likely to cause problems for you.

I can imagine a different set of circumstances with a different boss where it might be worthwhile to try. With a boss who wasn’t defensive and with whom you had pretty good rapport, I could imagine saying something like, “I know you’ve got a really friendly relationship with Ralph, but dinner last night was pretty uncomfortable for the rest of us.” Or, “I’m worried we’ll be violating the company’s conflict of interest policy if we push Ralph’s company since you have a relationship with him outside of work.”

In theory, you could say those things here too. But you’ve already tried to broach these issues with your boss and she (a) told you that you were the one who was wrong and (b) suggested you remember that she’s your boss (your “superior” even — ick) and need to respect her. Those are not signs that she’s open to feedback, at least on this. To the contrary, those are signs that she’ll push back hard if you try again and will use her authority in ways that make your life unpleasant.

What you can do, though, is to talk to someone else. Does your HR have a track record of dealing with issues competently? If so, you might consider talking with them about your concerns — not necessarily the flirting on its own (that’s probably not something in their purview) but the conflict of interest if she’s carrying on relationships with vendors/potential vendors and then pressing the company to use their services, as well as the sexual innuendo your team is getting subjected to.

If HR isn’t an option, you might be able to find someone senior to her who you trust to hear what’s going on and act on it appropriately.

But I doubt your boss is going to stop just because you ask her to. It’s going to have to come from someone above her.

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my manager talks about religion daily, my boss makes a huge profit on my work, and more https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/my-manager-talks-about-religion-daily-my-boss-makes-a-huge-profit-on-my-work-and-more.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/my-manager-talks-about-religion-daily-my-boss-makes-a-huge-profit-on-my-work-and-more.html#comments Tue, 12 Oct 2021 04:03:08 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22430 This post, my manager talks about religion daily, my boss makes a huge profit on my work, and more , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go… 1. My boss talks about religion every day I am currently one month into my new job and am so far excited about the possibilities of the position. The work seems like a good fit. It’s also fully remote and more money than I’ve ever made […]

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This post, my manager talks about religion daily, my boss makes a huge profit on my work, and more , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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

1. My boss talks about religion every day

I am currently one month into my new job and am so far excited about the possibilities of the position. The work seems like a good fit. It’s also fully remote and more money than I’ve ever made by a long shot. My boss is in the same town, so I (in theory) have that nearby support while the rest of the company is on the west coast.

The problem, though, is that my boss is bulldozing my boundaries. I am not religious but respect those who are, but she is extremely religious (though she said it’s spiritual when I brought up not being religious as a way to stop the conversation) and seems to have taken it upon herself to try to tell me the good news of her religion. Every day she brings this up and talks about how amazing it is for her and how it could benefit me.

She is also constantly asking me very personal questions and on the days we’ve worked in person she hugs me, strokes my shoulder, and rubs my arm. I dread our collaboration days and have had to up the dose on my anxiety medication.

I know I need to say something to her or HR, but I am so uncomfortable and so new and she is very well liked and helping to get our company to a new level of maturity. She’s also a close friends with a past boss I consider a mentor, who helped me get this position. This is also my third job in two years and I want to be able to establish longer experience and show stability, and don’t want to have to leave and I know this is also making me more hesitant to speak up. I’d appreciate any insight you could give on this situation!

Please speak up! It doesn’t have to be a big confrontation; it can just be, “I’m not comfortable talking about religion or spirituality at work, and would rather not continue to have these conversations. Thank you for respecting that.”

If that doesn’t stop it, then please do talk to HR. Your company has a legal obligation to prevent your boss from what she’s doing — legally it’s harassment on the basis of religion — and if they’re at all a decent company, they’d want to know it’s happening. You could frame it as, “I’ve asked Jane to stop talking to me about religion but she won’t stop, and I’d like to do my work free of religious pressure.”

And for the touching: “I’m not a big toucher — I like to have personal space!” (Some people find this easier to say if they say it in a self-deprecating way, with a tone of “this is just my weird thing.” It’s not weird and you shouldn’t have to downplay it, but if that makes it easier for you to say, go with what works.) You might have to say it a few times before the message sinks in. Feel free, too, to physically distance yourself from her. And sometimes having a more pronounced physical reaction when she strokes/rubs you (ick) — like jerking away or flinching — can help reinforce a “stop it” message.

As for being worried about speaking up because she’s well liked: Asking not to be touched and not to be proselytized at are both profoundly reasonable requests! If your past boss/mentor is a remotely reasonable person, she’d be horrified to hear about the religious harassment, not hold it against you for wanting it to stop. The same goes for anyone at your company who hears about it too.

2. My boss makes a huge profit on my work

In December of last year, I was approached by a woman who told me she had a very busy writing business and needed a second writer to come on board to help with her overflow work. I agreed to work with her at a good rate per word. Things went really well and I soon found myself writing quite a decent amount and earning a good salary as a result.

About a month or so ago, my boss asked me something about helping her to rewrite her website for the business, which made me realize that I had never seen her site. I then went to Google her and found a Fiverr account instead. Now I don’t mind Fiverr, but what surprised me was the rates I saw that my boss was asking for the work I was delivering. She earns at least double what what I earned on the projects I did, just for sending me briefs, proofreading my work and sending it to the client.

She obviously pays in 20% commission to Fiverr for using their platform, but even taking that into account she is making a huge profit on my writing, which is generally sent off to clients with minimal edits (in most cases completely unedited).

Am I right to be surprised by this? Or is this just business? For some reason I can’t shake the feeling that I’m being taken advantage of. I should also say that I have no desire to start a Fiverr profile of my own. My boss has Pro status and obviously worked hard to get there. I don’t want to be client-facing at all and am happy to continue working in my current capacity. I guess I’m just a little shocked that my boss is earning more than double what I get for each piece of writing I submit. Please tell me: am I being suckered here?

It’s really normal for a business to charge clients more than what they pay employees for doing that work; the difference goes to overhead expenses (like marketing, billing, tech, admin support, etc.) plus profit to make running the business worthwhile. But if your boss is just getting jobs on Fiverr and farming them out to you, she probably doesn’t have a ton of overhead.

If you felt your pay rate was fair before you found out where her business comes from, I’m hard pressed to say you’re being taken advantage of. And if you’re not interested in setting up your own Fiverr account and doing the work to get the visibility yourself that she has there, then this arrangement seems pretty reasonable.

But I can see why you feel weird about it, too. I think ultimately you’ll have to decide if you’re happy with the work you’re doing and the pay you’re getting, regardless of the profit she’s making on it. Alternately, though, now that you have this info, you could try asking for a higher rate of pay (factoring in that she’ll still need to make some kind of profit on your work in order for it to make sense for her to farm it out to you).

3. How much should I tell employees about my disability?

I work a full-time remote job and have a physical disability that often affects how and when I work. HR is aware of my condition, and I’ve informed my direct managers, but none of my coworkers know unless I tell them outright (and unless we’re especially close, I usually don’t).
I will likely be taking on a managerial role of my own in the near future.

Generally speaking, I’d assume that managerial etiquette involves telling your direct reports less and not more about your personal life—at least where it’s not immediately appropriate or relevant. But my disability does affect how I work: I often block off large chunks of my calendar for doctors’ appointments, get sick more often and more severely than your average person, and occasionally have to leave a meeting unexpectedly due to spontaneous flare-ups of pain.

Most significantly, I’m in a different time zone than most of the company, which means most coworkers are several hours of ahead of me—and rather than waking up early to attend early meetings, which would deprive me of sleep that I already struggle to get and desperately need, I’ve asked people for their patience in scheduling meetings at later times. I’m not the only employee in my time zone, but most others have will bend their schedules in a way that my health won’t allow. If I ever manage employees in a time zone significantly ahead of my own, this means they may not be able to reach me for the first several hours of their work day.

As a manager, should I disclose this information to my direct reports so they don’t assume I’m flaky or unreachable? Or is it none of their business what hours I work or when I can and can’t hold meetings? I’m not shy about or ashamed of having a disability, but I don’t want this to become a situation where it could be used against me by upper management or my own direct reports.

Disclose the parts that will be relevant to them, but you don’t need to get into specifics. It’s enough to say, “I have a medical condition that makes me pretty consistently unreachable before (time), and I might occasionally have to leave a meeting unexpectedly due to spontaneous flare-ups. I’ve been able to manage my work around it well, but I wanted you to have that context up-front.”

You shouldn’t take a “it’s none of their business when I do and don’t work or when I’m available” because if they don’t have the sort of context I suggested above, they’re likely to end up frustrated or annoyed at what could otherwise look like inflexibility. But for most people, that context will make your scheduling needs perfectly reasonable.

4. How do I stop adopting my coworkers’ demeanor?

I have had some work before but am new to the professional environment.

I have a tendency to subconsciously adopt my coworkers’ attitude about work while they’re around. Which isn’t the best if they’re burned out or having a rough time/bad day, and it’s not the best when I copy the ones who are always having Such A Fun Time at work. How do I conduct myself at work and how do I avoid subconsciously copying other people? I do like my job.

(BTW, I know this isn’t anyone’s fault but mine! I’m not pinning this on my coworkers.)

It sounds like you’ve got to be more deliberate in thinking through who you want to be at work. Can you spend some time reflecting on what image you want to project at work and what that does and doesn’t mean for how you’ll operate? Can you walk through past scenarios where you weren’t pleased with how you conducted yourself and think about what you wish you’d done differently and what that would have looked like?

But also, often this stems from not being confident about what your behavior should look like. So it can help to find colleagues who you admire and pay attention to what they do and don’t do in some of these same situations, and consciously model yourself on them for a while. Sometimes that can feel like acting, but if you practice it enough, eventually it’ll feel more natural.

Also, this may help, as well as the comments on this.

5. My new boss didn’t tell me she lives in another state

I recently started a new job that’s still mostly remote for now, although I’m expected to go into the office occasionally, with the frequency of on-site work ramping up over time. The interviewing and hiring process was all done remotely. I didn’t find out until my first week of work that my direct supervisor recently relocated to another state (before I applied for the job), so I will essentially never see her in person. That feels … weird to me, and it also makes me feel weird that this was never mentioned by her or by the HR person who was my other point of contact during the hiring process.

While on one hand, I guess it means that my boss will probably be more hands-off, which I prefer, on the other hand I don’t love that all of our face-to-face communication is going to be on Zoom, even when I’m on-site. I’m not sure it would have been a deal-breaker in terms of accepting the position, but it’s definitely a piece of info I would have liked to have had in making my decision. And it sort of makes me feel like I’m starting this job with a trust issue, to be honest. Am I off-base here?

You’re certainly entitled to be disappointed to learn she’s full-time remote, but I don’t think it should should make your distrust her or your new company. Yes, it would have been better for someone to mention it! But it sounds like a lot of their staff are still fully remote (if not all of them), so it might have felt unremarkable enough that no one involved in the process thought about it as a thing they should specifically flag for you. And of course, you could start any new job with a boss who’s on-site, only to have that person go remote shortly thereafter.

I’d look at it as a disappointment but not as as something they deliberately withheld or misled you about.

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employer says candidates must accept the job if it’s offered https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/employer-says-candidates-must-accept-the-job-if-they-offer-it.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/employer-says-candidates-must-accept-the-job-if-they-offer-it.html#comments Mon, 11 Oct 2021 17:59:34 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22422 This post, employer says candidates must accept the job if it’s offered , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes: I recently was referred to a job posting by a friend in my industry. While I am happily employed, it was definitely something I would consider. However, the posting ended with the line, “It is understood that any candidate applying for a full-time position will accept employment. Please do not apply if […]

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This post, employer says candidates must accept the job if it’s offered , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes:

I recently was referred to a job posting by a friend in my industry. While I am happily employed, it was definitely something I would consider. However, the posting ended with the line, “It is understood that any candidate applying for a full-time position will accept employment. Please do not apply if you do not plan to accept full-time employment, should it be offered.”

I know they obviously can’t hold candidates to that, and I will give them that they are completely transparent about the exact salary in the job posting. However, they also say that full benefits will only be discussed after the offer has been made. Moreover, this would not be a local position for me, or for most applicants at the level they are seeking, and I obviously can’t commit to moving my family across the country before even interviewing.

Just how big of a red flag is this line? Am I reading too much into things, or is this the mark of an employer with a warped view of power?

It’s a big red flag.

It says, “We think you should be willing to accept the job based solely on what’s in this ad, with no consideration of what you learn about the position, the company, the manager, or the team during the interview, and regardless of what salary and benefits we offer you.”

Which is obviously absurd and not how this works.

Any time you interview for a job, you are interviewing the employer as much as they are interviewing you. This would be like if you applied for jobs with a cover letter reading, “Please do not invite me to interview if you do not plan to offer me full-time employment.” Employers would immediately throw out your application, and rightly so. You would also look bizarrely out-of-touch and delusional and, again, rightly so.

That said, the specific wording they used and their emphasis on “full-time” makes me wonder if this is less about “you will accept whatever we offer and like it” and more about trying to ward off people who apply for the job and then try to negotiate for part-time. But if so, the way to handle it is to stress in the job posting that the role is full-time and cannot be made part-time.

I also wonder if it’s a reaction to candidates ghosting them on offers, as has been happening more and more. But this wording would be an odd response to that since someone who ghosts on an offer isn’t less likely to do it just because an ad warned them not to.

Plus, what’s up with “full benefits will only be discussed after the offer has been made”? That’s a weird thing to say in normal circumstances, and it’s especially ridiculous in the context of “you had better commit to taking this offer when you apply.”

So: big red flag, and something over there is indeed warped.

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