Ask a Manager https://www.askamanager.org Fri, 17 Sep 2021 16:17:01 +0000 en-US hourly 1 it’s your Friday good news https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/its-your-friday-good-news-70.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/its-your-friday-good-news-70.html#comments Fri, 17 Sep 2021 16:00:28 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22298 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 have read you over the years, and I’ve been fortunate over the last 2 years to have been consistently employed during a whirlwind of a time. About 6 months ago, even though I was only 2 years into my current position, I got the itch to start moving […]

]]>
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 have read you over the years, and I’ve been fortunate over the last 2 years to have been consistently employed during a whirlwind of a time. About 6 months ago, even though I was only 2 years into my current position, I got the itch to start moving on, and not just regular old moving on, but I needed a career change that came with a break. I’ve been in IT, doing break/fix and SysAdmin work starting in college and for the last 17 years. Through 5 jobs, there’s been one constant: lots of long hours at little to no extra pay or time off. Customers who run 24 hours a day mean that you’re on call 24 hours a day, even if there’s a rotation to help you get a break for some of those weeks. I’d had enough, and had started hinting to my friends that if they heard of anything to let me know. I was willing to stake out a totally different line of work, I just couldn’t take the grind anymore.

A friend reached out with a position that they were trying to fill in her organization for a Business Analyst, and while I had never had the title, I had experience with a lot of the tasks of the position, so I threw my hat in the ring. I had barely sent the email out with my resume and cover letter (the accomplishment-style resume wowed them, even though most of my accomplishments didn’t come with hard metrics numbers behind them) when I got a call from the recruiter to set up an interview, and saying that I was already looking strong. They were upfront about wages and benefits, even before the interview. I was already looking at a $15k raise, and the new position would be hourly, meaning they would compensate me for my time after 40 hours a week, which was actually more exciting given my state of burnout.

I interviewed on Friday afternoon, and we had a great discussion about the position and what I could bring to the organization. I used a few of your interview questions, and they had great responses that made me feel good about them. I was fortunate enough to have an offer in hand before the day was through, and accepted the next Monday. My old job even came back with a counteroffer that technically would have put me over the new job’s salary, but (as you so eloquently put it) “it’s okay to turn down money because you don’t like the price it comes at.”

Today as I write this, it’s the start of a 4-day weekend in which I don’t have to worry about customer calls, staying by my phone, or lugging my laptop with me everywhere I go. When I start Tuesday, I won’t have to take calls on my drive home, rushing to throw open the laptop to put out the fire. Thank you for your resources, and your gentle guidance for everyone to do better for themselves.

2. I’ve been reading your blog since college, and have used your advice many many times, but I wanted to say a special thank you for the interview with Em who works at an Employee Assistance Program. I had put off finding a therapist after I was phased out of my university’s service for years. I felt overwhelmed at the prospect of finding a therapist who was accepting new clients and my insurance and nervous about the potential cost if I get it wrong – the US health care system really scares me.

But, reading the interview with Em struck a chord, and I finally reached out! I have an appointment with a therapist next week who is in network, and the first several sessions are covered by the EAP so I can see if we click before being hundreds of dollars out of pocket. I am so excited but wouldn’t have used that resource if not for the empathetic and insightful responses from Em. Thank you so much to both of you!

3. Several years ago I went to work for an international non-governmental organization with various offices and “departments” around the world. This was a dream job that I had spent many years applying for. I found the work to be fulfilling, and the city it was located in to be quite liveable and exciting. However, the particular part of the organization that I was working for has a definite time limit on how long you can stay (though you can return after some time). So when I neared the limit, I searched almost desperately for a job in an another part of the organization. I ended up getting a job with just a few months left, but a medical clearance was required as part of the recruitment process. In the process, they found an abnormality which led to a diagnosis of a kind of cancer that can be life threatening, but which there are now amazing, but very expensive, treatment options. The new job was in a less developed part of the world and it took many weeks to clear me to go. I was shocked and distraught and told pretty much all of my co-workers and boss.

Eventually I was cleared and went to the new job. It was a fascinating job and again, fulfilling, but the location was not ideal for me. The nearest specialist for my condition was a 3 1/2 hour car drive and border crossing away. Still, I made the best of it and adapted by occasionally visiting my old city and doctor, although it was a long flight. Well, I could also visit old friends while there. After about a year, one of those friends – a very close friend – messaged me saying that she missed me a lot more than she had expected. We started an intercontinental long-distance relationship, and perhaps understandably my frequency of visit increased, and I began trying to get a job back in the old city and previous organization.

I had thought I had a good reputation there and since I had served my time away, I thought I would be able to get a job in the previous city fairly quickly. This did not turn out to be the case. Application after application seemed to be simply ignored. My partner and I both became frustrated and it put a lot of strain on the relationship. I worried that maybe what was holding me back was the fact that I had told everyone about the diagnosis. Maybe that part of the organization did not want to bear the cost of the treatment in the future or generally avoid someone sick.

Well, it turned out not to be the case. In the end, I found out I had been held back by other factors that eventually cleared. I was first offered a temporary contract in the old city with my old group. Soon after I was given an amazing promotion and a more permanent contract, and that job is even more of a dream job to me than the first – and one where your advice has really come in handy. The illness is still there, but is still being monitored hasn’t required treatment yet. My partner and I got married just before COVID-19 hit and now live what I think is a pretty nice and beautiful life, and I am grateful for every day.

]]>
https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/its-your-friday-good-news-70.html/feed 10
open thread – September 17-18, 2021 https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/open-thread-september-17-18-2021.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/open-thread-september-17-18-2021.html#comments Fri, 17 Sep 2021 15:00:54 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22288 This post, open thread – September 17-18, 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. * […]

]]>
This post, open thread – September 17-18, 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.

]]>
https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/open-thread-september-17-18-2021.html/feed 996
employer wouldn’t give me paid time off for Covid, my job won’t let me quit, and more https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/employer-wouldnt-give-me-paid-time-off-for-covid-my-job-wont-let-me-quit-and-more.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/employer-wouldnt-give-me-paid-time-off-for-covid-my-job-wont-let-me-quit-and-more.html#comments Fri, 17 Sep 2021 04:03:37 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22312 This post, employer wouldn’t give me paid time off for Covid, my job won’t let me quit, and more , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

It’s four answers to four questions. Here we go… 1. My new employer wouldn’t give me paid time off to recover from Covid I started a new job a few months ago and it seemed to be going alright and my supervisor seemed to be happy with my work. Well, I recently came down with […]

]]>
This post, employer wouldn’t give me paid time off for Covid, my job won’t let me quit, and more , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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

1. My new employer wouldn’t give me paid time off to recover from Covid

I started a new job a few months ago and it seemed to be going alright and my supervisor seemed to be happy with my work.

Well, I recently came down with Covid (one of the rare breakthrough cases — lucky me). I let my supervisor know, explaining I’d need a few days off to sleep it off before I’m able to work again. (It’s a WFH job, so the two weeks isolation wouldn’t directly interfere with work.)

Despite being salaried and having benefits, I was told that since I have only worked there for two months, I’ve only accrued two days of PTO (one sick, one vacation) but our flex time allows me to work when I’m feeling well enough to do so, or I could always take unpaid days off if I needed more than two days off for Covid. In other words, I was told my options were essentially to work through it or get a cut in my pay.

Needless to say, I was mad at this turn of events. The next day, I told my supervisor that I was angry over not getting any more sick leave during a global pandemic, and I still needed more time off. They recommended I schedule an appointment with HR to discuss my options, as “it’s murky.”

I reiterated that I need time off, meaning I will not be available for appointments with HR or otherwise, and will not be available. I stated I would be taking the remainder of the week off to recover from Covid, and that if they could not accommodate my sick leave then to consider this my resignation, effective immediately.

Some additional context here: this is a university hospital for a public institution. My job is decidedly back-office. I would have been happy to try and salvage the situation, but don’t really see the point if they’re going to make every sick leave 100x worse with their bureaucratic pandora’s box layered with maudlin well wishes. I’m struggling to interpret this as anything other than, “They are very, very wrong and I’m definitely less wrong.” So I guess my question is, on a scale of 1 to Cheap Ass Rolls, how in the wrong am I here?

On the 1 to Cheap Ass Rolls scale (as explained here) … you’re nowhere near Cheap Ass Rolls. This employer sucks for not working with you to find a solution so that you wouldn’t be stuck taking unpaid leave to deal with Covid. And they’re a hospital! A good employer would have at least offered to advance you some leave. A good manager would have offered to talk to HR on your behalf, not suggested you make an appointment with them when you were already out sick.

That said, you probably reacted more heatedly than you had to. Your conclusion that they’d make every future sick leave difficult probably isn’t correct; it’s more likely that they’re just extremely rigid but that it would have gone differently if you’d had more accrued leave. Unfortunately a lot of companies are rigid about not letting people take leave they don’t have; it’s Covid that makes this different.

It does seem like you moved pretty quickly to announcing you’d quit over it; ideally I would have liked you to at least have talked to your manager and/or HR once you were feeling better. But you get to decide that you don’t like what this says about your employer and you get to quit over it if you want to.

2. My job won’t let me quit

I recently got into an argument with my second job, and I want to know if I handled it correctly. The second job is a babysitting service and had been an easy second job. I picked it during school breaks to supplement my primary job as a substitute teacher and then as a teacher’s aide. The arrangement had been great, and then they were bought.

Suddenly, I needed to work for them in the hours I was needed in my primary job. I was expected to respond to jobs with 5 minutes rather than 1-2 hours. Jobs were rescinded if I didn’t respond within 2 hours even if they came in late at night. Maximum driving distrance was raised to 25 miles. I realized I could not meet the new demands without putting my primary job in jeopardy so I sent a letter explaining my reasons for leaving. I had assumed it was over, but they did not accept my resignation. Instead, they said they’re making an exception for me not being available every week and they’re no longer requiring me to take the further away jobs. Do I have to accept this, or can I say “no”?

Following that, they removed me from being auto-assigned to jobs and now need to respond when I see something in my availability. While this means I won’t be in the awkward position of my phone ringing at work it does mean a few extra steps to getting sitting jobs, plus now I can’t work for a different company or for tutoring because I’m still their employee. I’m also worried I set myself up for retaliation and may now be fired rather than amicably quit due to new demands.

Should I just grit my teeth and continue to work for this company since it seems my only other option is to get fired? Should I just quietly quit by no longer asking for jobs? Should I just work for them during school breaks and weekends as was the original agreement?

What, no! They can’t force you to remain employed by them. And I doubt that’s their intent — it sounds like they just misunderstood and thought they were solving the problems you had with the scheduling.

Contact the person there who you tried to resign to and say this: “I appreciate your willingness to be flexible, but the job no longer works with my schedule and I am resigning, effective (date). Can you please remove me from the system?”

That should be the end of it. If for some reason it’s not, you could send a certified letter informing them that you resigned on (date) but are still being contacted and need to be formally removed from their employment. Keep a copy of that letter and the delivery confirmation for your own records in case they later claim you never quit. But it’s unlikely that you’ll need to do that once you clarify that you are in fact resigning.

You absolutely do not need to continue working from this company just because they haven’t removed you!

3. My coworker changed my hotel without telling me

I am headed to another state tomorrow for a work trip. I had my hotel reservation pre-arranged and had selected my hotel because of its amenities. A coworker who is based in the state I am visiting just sent me an email saying she saying she had changed my hotel to one she believes is better. (She contacted our administrative folks to have them cancel the original hotel, then contacted her friend who works at her preferred hotel to get a reservation. She forwarded me the confirmation number for the new reservation. She is friends with the owners of the replacement hotel.) Should I say something to this coworker?

WTF, that’s an overstep! Yes, say something to her. For example: “I picked my hotel for specific reasons. Can you please change it back ASAP?” (Or, if you don’t trust that she’ll change it back or are worried she won’t do it in time, change that last sentence to: “I’m going to change it back right away.”) If there’s any chance this could happen again (or even if there’s not), add, “Please check with me before changing anything like this in the future.”

You might also talk to the person who changed your reservation at her request so they know not to let other people change your travel arrangements without checking with you first.

4. Docking pay for a vacation when you still worked 39 hours that week

Recently my wife, who is a salaried nurse working for a small company, took a one-week vacation. She started her vacation on a Friday after she had already worked 39 hours. (This was the plan.) Yesterday when she went back to work, HR informed her they were docking her one day of pay because she did not work a five-day week even though she put in the hours. Is this legal?

Nope. The specific reason why it’s illegal will depend on whether she’s exempt or non-exempt (nurses can be either). If she’s exempt, they can’t dock her pay for any week in which she works part of the week (except in a few limited circumstances, like if she’s working a partial week when she starts or leaves the job). If she’s non-exempt, they have to pay her for all hours worked, so they would owe her for the 39 hours she worked that week. They could dock her one hour if she normally works a 40-hour week, but not a full day.

Either way, it’s illegal.

]]>
https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/employer-wouldnt-give-me-paid-time-off-for-covid-my-job-wont-let-me-quit-and-more.html/feed 494
interview with a person who responds to Glassdoor reviews for her company https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/interview-with-a-person-who-responds-to-glassdoor-reviews-for-her-company.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/interview-with-a-person-who-responds-to-glassdoor-reviews-for-her-company.html#comments Thu, 16 Sep 2021 17:59:01 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22303 This post, interview with a person who responds to Glassdoor reviews for her company , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Last month, a reader mentioned that she’s in charge of writing her company’s response to Glassdoor reviews. I asked if she would be willing to tell us more about how that works, and she graciously agreed. Here’s our conversation. So what exactly is your job in this regard? And  what is your job more broadly? I […]

]]>
This post, interview with a person who responds to Glassdoor reviews for her company , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Last month, a reader mentioned that she’s in charge of writing her company’s response to Glassdoor reviews. I asked if she would be willing to tell us more about how that works, and she graciously agreed. Here’s our conversation.

So what exactly is your job in this regard? And  what is your job more broadly?

I work on our talent marketing team, growing awareness of our employer brand and engaging people in certain target talent areas and places in the world that we’re looking to hire. (But I’m not a recruiter and have no actual contact with candidates.)

What would you say your company’s goals are in responding to reviews?

On the whole, our goal is to appear as an engaged and responsive company to candidates. It’s not a medium for us to really engage with our employees and understand what things they like or want changed. Glassdoor is not a great tool to measure the internal pulse; it’s a lagging indicator and contains data from both current and former employees, so it’s not really relevant from an internal engagement perspective.

Responding to Glassdoor reviews is more about us showing to candidates that we take feedback seriously, respond to it respectfully, and give a channel for people to reach out to if they want to share more. It’s important to not invalidate people’s experiences, even if I can tell what they’re saying is just not true, and seek to learn more to address those problems, rather than to just say “that didn’t happen how you wrote it, so this entire review is BS.”

How do you decide what you do and don’t respond to?

It’s more an art than a science. We don’t respond to all reviews but want to make sure we have a good mix of positive and negative review responses. Too many positive responses can appear like we’re ignoring problems and too many negative responses can look like we’re only using Glassdoor to get in front of problems, rather than actually listening. In that vein, however, because we view Glassdoor as mainly candidate-facing, ultimately the goal is to get in front of issues and show that we’re proactive; we just don’t want to look that way. We want it to appear authentic and not like marketing/HR is using responses to rug-sweep.

What makes a good response? What would be a bad response?

A good response validates the person’s experience and resolves to always be doing better. It sounds simple, but it can actually be kind of difficult and I see why so many companies get it wrong.

Many reviews allege things that I truly do not think are true, or are at least misrepresenting things, and when you like where you work, you feel passionate about saying, “That’s not what happened.” Even though that kind of response is genuine, it doesn’t do you any favors for a potential candidate reading your reviews. It would be better to say something like, “At our company, [alleged behavior/activity] is not acceptable. It’s important that employees here feel valued and heard, so please know I’ll look into this. If you have questions or more feedback, contact us at abc@company.com.” While generic, that response hits at what we’d want to see: not dismissive of the review, opening a channel of communication if they want it, ensuring we show that any kind of wrong doing is taken very seriously.

In your experience, is that true of your company more broadly — do they take feedback seriously and give real thought to it? Or does it more about valuing the appearance of taking it seriously?

I do believe they take feedback seriously. There is a lot of care and attention taken to do internal surveys at least twice a year, and we see the results of those and actions taken where needed. I think in any company, there’s not always something to be done about complaints, even if that feedback is valid and consistent, but I do truly believe my company does their best to follow through on what they can, and I think we as employees have a lot of opportunity to share feedback and for action to be taken on it.

People often worry about their reviews not being anonymous, because there’s enough identifying detail that a company insider could make a good guess (based on things like title, timing, and specific complaints). What’s your take on that?

It’s all dependent on the context of the details in your review and the size and scope of your company, but I do think it’s theoretically possible to determine who wrote a review. I work at a large, global company, so the chances of me being able to identify a particular person from their review is very low. We did get one recently where I was 99% sure who wrote it because I was present for the incident that led to that person’s departure from the company, and their review was very specific to that situation, but that is exceedingly rare for me. At least at larger companies, I truly don’t think anyone cares enough or is reading every review closely enough to be seriously guessing on every review – there’s not enough hours in a week to do that and your actual job.

And to be clear, other than guessing based on context clues, there is no way for an employer on Glassdoor to see who wrote a review or see any information on the backend that you did not provide in the review. Glassdoor does not provide that information, nor should they.

Sometimes people allege that companies that buy an employer plan with Glassdoor can artificially boost their ratings and/or get negative reviews removed. Any insight into that?

That is absolutely false. Pretty much the only way a company can get a review removed is if a review names a non-public employee (for example, they can post the CEO’s name, but they can’t post my name since I’m just a cog here) or if a review is flagrantly false (like the level of false of saying the company is shutting down when it’s not; “this company treats people poorly/discriminates/doesn’t do good work” would not generally qualify, even if that’s generally not true).

If a company wants to improve its rating, we’re encouraged to ask people to write honest reviews. Current employees generally rate higher than former employees, so that tactic works well, but asking employees to give a positive review is not in the spirit of the site, and I would consider that unethical (not to say that doesn’t ever happen).

We are occasionally contacted by companies who offer a paid service to get negative reviews removed. At least at my company, these services would go against our ethical standards and we don’t ever engage; I would suspect most larger, corporate companies would not engage as well, since the downsides of getting caught are much higher than the benefits of getting a couple reviews removed.

Do you know how those companies that offer a paid service to get negative reviews removed could do that, if the only way to get reviews removed is if a reviewer names a non-public employee or is blatantly false? Is your sense that that they’re making promises they won’t be able to back up, or that there truly are ways to pull off something shady like that? Or maybe that they know how to work the system with Glassdoor to argue that some negative reviews fall under those exceptions?

I really don’t know. Without having looked deep into it, since that’s not something we’d ever be interested in, my guess is they attempt to report “false” information and are successful some of the time. If you can nitpick one tiny thing that’s not accurate, perhaps it could be taken down on some sites, but that’s nothing I couldn’t report myself and I don’t think it would work well on Glassdoor since their standards are very clear and strict.

You mentioned that current employees generally write more positive reviews than former ones. Why do you think that happens?

Glassdoor is very much a Yelp-style site – if you have a very bad experience or an extremely good experience, you’re going to go much further out of your way to share that. People who have bad experiences and leave low star reviews are likely to have left the company, while people who have great experiences have no reason to leave, so they’d rate higher when they leave a review. This isn’t true 100% of the time, but overall that’s how it goes.

Do you ever have individual managers or others press you to try to counter negative reviews in a way that you know will be counterproductive? If so, how do you handle that?

I actually don’t encounter that often. Like I mentioned, there are better ways to understand what’s actually happening inside your company than through Glassdoor reviews, and I think leadership here knows that. I am the Glassdoor expert at my company, so I have the room to say if something won’t work, and even at the highest levels that would be respected. If a leader does insist on counterproductive ideas, I try my best to meet them in the middle on expressing a certain sentiment, but ultimately I know what’s best and absolutely won’t publish something that I know would not go over well. I have a great boss who would back me up if it came to that.

Did you leave Glassdoor reviews before this job? Do you think you will in the future?

I have left a review before just to get access to Glassdoor since it’s required in order to make an account, but likely won’t again unless I have an experience that really needs to be shared. I’ve just never felt the need. If I apply to a job, I look up their Glassdoor reviews, but I only really am looking to see if people generally like working there or if they generally don’t; given my experience on the employer side, I don’t put a ton of stock into the specifics of Glassdoor reviews since for the most part I really don’t think they tell the story of what’s going on at that company at that time.

Anything else you think people should know about Glassdoor?

Just that Glassdoor is not some kind of conspiracy or unethical thing; it’s just a tool. I think a lot of people don’t understand how it works and think employers have access to swaths of data from there to use against you or that we have tight control over what reviews are up and what come down. The data you see in reviews is basically what we’re able to see on the backend as well. And if you’re evaluating working at a company, just make sure to take anything you see on Glassdoor as a data point and only one piece of the puzzle. Look at their press releases, their social media, search the company name on social media and see what people are saying, ask people in your network, look at a company’s Fishbowl/Blind page, etc. and take everything you learn from all sorts of sources to form your opinion.

Amen to that. Thank you for talking to us about this!

]]>
https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/interview-with-a-person-who-responds-to-glassdoor-reviews-for-her-company.html/feed 156
update: is my former employer telling reference checkers I was fired? https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/update-is-my-former-employer-telling-reference-checkers-i-was-fired.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/update-is-my-former-employer-telling-reference-checkers-i-was-fired.html#comments Thu, 16 Sep 2021 16:29:55 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22299 This post, update: is my former employer telling reference checkers I was fired? , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Three years ago, I answered a letter from someone who had heard that her former employer was telling reference checkers that she had been fired even though she hadn’t been (#4 at the link). Here’s the update. When you very kindly answered my question three years ago, I had been completely devastated by my time […]

]]>
This post, update: is my former employer telling reference checkers I was fired? , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Three years ago, I answered a letter from someone who had heard that her former employer was telling reference checkers that she had been fired even though she hadn’t been (#4 at the link). Here’s the update.

When you very kindly answered my question three years ago, I had been completely devastated by my time at the software job I mentioned. I had so much shame about my performance and “firing” that until late 2018 I couldn’t think about that job without having what I now know was a panic attack. In fact, I had been so ashamed after that conversation with the state employee that I never even went online to see if I’d qualified for unemployment – despite how much that money would have helped.

As you might guess, I did exactly the same thing with the email I sent you. I only found out while digging through some old emails today that you’d answered me at all!

You were spot on that my resume and cover letter were part of the problem. So was the job application process itself. I had imposter syndrome to the max and felt completely undeserving of anything – so who would hire me? And applying for a job made me think about my old job, which caused a panic attack, which meant I applied to new jobs very, very slowly. In retrospect, I hadn’t sent anywhere near the number of applications where I’d need to start worrying.

The third thing keeping me from getting callbacks was so obvious I can’t believe I didn’t start thinking about it sooner: demographics! The area I was in had only a couple larger employers. The company I’d worked at is known for making hundreds of people leave every year, many of them with similar-but-more experience than mine. Several local schools also produce thousands of graduates with very similar resumes. Ultimately, there aren’t very many jobs for that many people. I didn’t work again until I’d moved.

Since then things have changed for the better. I did very well in interviews for an administrative job I wanted in early 2019, but eventually got passed over. I got back into the workplace a few weeks later with a front desk job. I really didn’t enjoy this job, but it was crucial to me getting back on my feet. I made myself absolutely indispensable and that gave me the confidence back that I needed to navigate the workplace without flinching every thirty seconds. And six months later, I actually got the job I’d been passed over for! They’d reopened it and remembered me.

I’ve been there two years, and while I’ve still had some trouble with depression affecting my work, I’ve always bounced back and my boss thinks highly of me. I got to work mostly from home during the pandemic and I’m now making more than I did at my old software job. My girlfriend in the old letter is now my wife, and just as she was a huge factor in keeping me going at my lowest, I was able to help her when she had a similar crisis this past year. (She’s doing much better now, and I hope she’ll have some good news for a Friday very soon.) Thanks to this job’s insurance, I’ve been able to get cheap (!!!) psychiatry and therapy. I feel better than I’ve felt in the last decade; my panic attacks are long gone. We’re going to move again in the next year or two, and when it’s time to apply to jobs again, I’m very confident in my skills, my resume, and my cover letter. Even with everything that’s happened to the US in the past two years, the future is bright for me.

All this is just to say, I guess, that readers who feel like they’re near their bottom, or who are losing hope, hang in there. All of the events that helped turn me around (the move, getting those jobs, getting that insurance) happened almost completely by chance! I had no idea any of them would happen until shortly before they took place. When I was suffering, the future seemed completely set in stone, and it was a bleak one. I didn’t see any way things would get better. But that’s not realistic at all! It hurts to wait on chance, but no one has a life completely devoid of good turns. They will come to you eventually, even if you never see them coming.

Finally, about the company I left. The awful, awful culture there was one of the biggest reasons this happened to me. I didn’t even know it was toxic at the time. Leaving that job is hands down one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I have managed to mostly forgive my manager, who I know had no experience and less support. Given what I saw just before I quit, I would like to think they have at least mostly fixed the problem. However, I have absolutely no faith in the company as a whole.

Since that time, software companies have seen so, so, so many discoveries of terrible working conditions, discrimination, cruelty, and carelessness with human lives. The 747 Max’s uncaught crash-causing bug and the recent revelations about Activision and Blizzard spring to mind. My hope is that one day someone will expose my former employer for their discrimination, their carelessness with human safety, and their cruelty to the employees who were affected. There are some other companies in the same space who I suspect have similar problems. One day, this will all be behind us.

]]>
https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/update-is-my-former-employer-telling-reference-checkers-i-was-fired.html/feed 49
how do I manage an unmanageable workload? https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/how-do-i-manage-an-unmanageable-workload.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/how-do-i-manage-an-unmanageable-workload.html#comments Thu, 16 Sep 2021 14:59:54 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=21863 This post, how do I manage an unmanageable workload? , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

It’s the Thursday “ask the readers” question. A reader writes: I work in Big 4 Accounting, in tax. This industry is notorious for long hours during busy season and lack of work/life balance. My firm has flexibility, good benefits, and nice people; so, despite the hours, I’m reasonably happy. While I dream of taking a […]

]]>
This post, how do I manage an unmanageable workload? , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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

I work in Big 4 Accounting, in tax. This industry is notorious for long hours during busy season and lack of work/life balance. My firm has flexibility, good benefits, and nice people; so, despite the hours, I’m reasonably happy. While I dream of taking a normal job, this is currently what I have to do to pay my bills.

During busy season, I usually can’t keep up with emails. I focus on my main deliverables and triage, but the mounting total in my inbox gives me underlying anxiety. The slow season is somehow worse. I check emails all day long, trying to catch up and keep up, and have trouble finding time to work on back-burner projects and plan for busy season.

I’ve made a real go at implementing David Allen’s Getting Things Done for probably 4 years now. I’ll get into a flow where I’m on top of my workload and projects, doing my weekly and daily reviews, and then Something Happens (work gets busy, I have vacation or a couple sick days…) and I’m just drowning in backlog for weeks or months.

My question isn’t really how to push back, delegate, or set boundaries. The workload is the workload and I’m at a level where I can delegate a lot. Just… how do I keep up with something that can’t be kept up with? My workplace is reasonably understanding when backburner things fall behind because everyone is in the same boat (obviously, there’s no room for error in filing tax returns on time) but I want to be as efficient and effective as I can.

How do I know I’m working on the right projects when I don’t have time to organize? How do I organize without spending all my time organizing? How do I ignore my inbox and get work done? How do I not miss the vital emails in my inbox that I’m ignoring?

I feel like I missed a class. Any advice you can offer would be much appreciated.

Readers, what’s your advice?

]]>
https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/how-do-i-manage-an-unmanageable-workload.html/feed 312
grandboss’s favoritism toward a new hire, lunch meeting without masks in a small room, and more https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/grandbosss-favoritism-toward-a-new-hire-lunch-meeting-without-masks-in-a-small-room-and-more.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/grandbosss-favoritism-toward-a-new-hire-lunch-meeting-without-masks-in-a-small-room-and-more.html#comments Thu, 16 Sep 2021 04:03:30 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22310 This post, grandboss’s favoritism toward a new hire, lunch meeting without masks in a small room, and more , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go… 1. Should I speak up about my grandboss’s favoritism toward a new hire? I am an entry-level employee. My boss’s boss, Jane, is a fairly recent hire who has only been with us for a few months. Jane is very senior at our company and has […]

]]>
This post, grandboss’s favoritism toward a new hire, lunch meeting without masks in a small room, and more , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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

1. Should I speak up about my grandboss’s favoritism toward a new hire?

I am an entry-level employee. My boss’s boss, Jane, is a fairly recent hire who has only been with us for a few months. Jane is very senior at our company and has a lot of hiring power. We were recently hiring an entry-level employee, and Jane referred and recommended Mary, someone she’d worked with at her previous job. Mary ended up being hired — we have different bosses, but have the same title and both have Jane as a grand-boss.

Jane and Mary are both very friendly and do good work. They also clearly have inside jokes from their previous workplace and a good personal relationship, which often comes up in our company-wide Slack channels. (Jane will start the day with jokey messages like “Good morning to everyone except Mary” or get into back-and-forths with Mary about how something being discussed is related to something that happened at their old workplace.) Jane is also in at least one group chat with Mary related to their previous job, and both of them occasionally post on social media about occurrences in this group chat.

Some other entry-level employees and I are wondering if this is appropriate. We know that it’s not really our business what Jane and Mary do outside of work as it doesn’t directly impact our work. However, we are worried that Mary could get preferential treatment over us when it comes to things like promotions and layoffs since she has this pre-existing relationship with someone who is so high up in the company, even if Jane does not intend for that to happen. Is this something we should mind our own business about, or is there anything it would be reasonable for us to do about it?

I’d leave it alone. It’s a good illustration of why managers need to be careful about the impressions and anxieties this kind of thing can create, but it’s not so egregious that you should spend your own capital on it, especially since you’re entry-level and Jane is very senior and your boss’s boss.

My answer would be different if you were seeing obvious evidence of preferential treatment and it harmed you (like if work you liked was being taken away from you and given to Mary), although even then you’d need to proceed with caution given the relative levels of power involved.

2. My boss wants to have a lunch meeting without masks in a small room

My company has a policy that requires all employees to wear a mask when they are within six feet of another employee, regardless of vaccination status. The CDC also has similar recommendations. I am a firm follower of such rules and, even though I’m vaccinated, refuse to be maskless near another employee and I always ask them to put their mask on when they’re near me. I like them all fine … I just don’t trust anyone to not spread Covid, especially the newest variant. Furthermore, I have OCD and anxiety about contamination. I’ve worked hard to get comfortable with being at work in-person, and can really only manage with people wearing masks when near me.

Here’s the problem. My boss scheduled a “lunch and learn” meeting tomorrow. Five of us will be in a not-very-big conference room, eating lunch and talking about a new project. Since we will be eating, we will be maskless. There is also not enough room to stay six feet apart while doing so, and we’ll be in a small room without great circulation. In short, there’s no way for us to eat lunch while following company policy and CDC guidelines. I am against even being in the room while everyone is unmasked and eating, but skipping the meeting will very negatively impact me.

I’m not sure what I can do here. If I don’t go, I’ll be reprimanded. If I do go, I will be so wracked with anxiety about contamination that I won’t be able to focus. I also know that I absolutely will not eat, and this meeting takes place during the only time I have available during the day for lunch, due to other meetings. How do I navigate not eating? How do I navigate being in a room with unmasked people?

Wait, the choices aren’t limited to go or don’t go! Why not say to your boss, “Is there a larger space we can hold this meeting in? If we’re eating, the size of the room means we won’t be able to follow company policy about staying six feet apart unless we’re masked. Could we meet in a larger space or even outside if people will be eating?” Emphasizing “company policy” might be enough to get her to change her plans. If she doesn’t, you could say, “Could I plan to call in from my desk rather than attending in person? I’m being really careful right now, and I really want to follow our six-feet rule.”

3. Should I use my dad’s connections in my job search?

I am a recent graduate who has been looking for full-time employment since spring. Most of my friends are older, and seeing their own experiences made me want to make sure I’m at a solid company. Earlier this summer, I had a few interviews and even an offer, but nothing that I am really interested in has worked out. Currently, I have a temp position at the local university, but I’m not interested in that field long-term.

Throughout my job search, my dad reminds me that he knows a lot of people (in different industries than I’m interested in) and that they could be a good ways to get noticed by a company, presumably by referral links. In fact, I was able to get an interview with a company using one of his contact’s referrals, but unfortunately the company ghosted me.

I understand that it’s “not what you know but who you know” and connections and networking matter, but I feel that these random acquaintances would not be the best people to vouch for me. It seems that even if I called them and had a conversation, it wouldn’t really be enough. I also may be stubborn in asking for help because I want to find a job based solely on my merit, and not because my dad randomly knew someone. The search is taking an emotional toll and I want to know if I should be taking advantage of his help?

Yes, take advantage of his help!

People are often surprisingly willing to help out second-degree connections (like the daughter of a friend or colleague). They wouldn’t be vouching for you based on your work, of course, since they’ve never worked with you; it would be more like, “Can you take a look at Jane Mulberry’s application? I talked with her and she seems great/really motivated/passionate about our field/worth looking at.” You might be thinking that’s not much to go on, and it’s not — but it will often get a candidate a closer look. It doesn’t guarantee an interview and it definitely doesn’t guarantee a job, but it can give you a leg up in a sea of similarly qualified candidates. Sometimes, too, those people can tell you about job leads you wouldn’t otherwise have known about (like that Company X has an unadvertised apprenticeship that’s perfect for you, or that Company Y is hiring someone to cover an employee’s year-long maternity leave). It’s definitely worth giving it a try.

4. Can I ask my interviewer about something the previous person in the role told me?

I’m currently working on a job application. I’m a librarian and I applied for a very similar job at this same library at the end of 2019, which I did not end up getting. Fast forward to earlier this year, I was at a work party for a staff member who was leaving (at a different library) and I ran into the person who had gotten the job. They ended up telling me that they had left the job soon after getting it.

They left because after accepting the position, they had been informed that they would not only be working at the library, but also would be the librarian at a local school a few days a week. None of this had been mentioned in either the application info or the interview, which I can personally attest to. And that was not something they were interested in doing, especially since this had all come after accepting the position. 

Now the position is listed again and I am going to apply. There is nothing mentioned in the job description relating to schools, but since there wasn’t last time either, that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. If I am offered an interview, what would be the best way to ask about this? If I was offered the position, I would like to be fully in the know.

“I’d heard at one point that this position also works at the school a few days a week. Is that still the case for this role?”

It would be odd for your interviewer to demand to know where you heard that, but if they do and your sense is that they might not love you getting intel from someone who didn’t work out, it’s fine to be vague (“I’m not positive, it was a few months back”).

5. Am I wrong in not attending the funeral for my boss’s father-in-law?

My boss’s father-in-law just passed away. I gave my boss a snack basket as a way of showing support sympathy for his family. Today, I was approached by a coworker from my department. Boss’s father in law’s viewing and funeral is being held near the office. She and another coworker are planning on attending the viewing and asked if I wanted to join. I said no, and she began to pressure me saying that we needed to show a “unified company presence” of support as our boss’s closest coworkers. I think my face must have turned into something scary looking because she then said she didn’t mean to pressure me, and I countered that that was exactly what she was doing. She returned to her desk and began muttering to herself.

I’ve met my boss’s wife briefly, but I don’t know her well, and going to the viewing for her father feels presumptuous and awkward. Plus, the last time I got pressured into attending the funeral of a coworker’s relative, I began crying, even though I’d never met the deceased. I was embarrassed and found a corner to collect myself. It felt like the opposite of being supportive.

Am I being immature here? I asked a couple friends and they think my coworker is way out of line, but I’m an anxious person and this has got me shaken up, and I’d like additional reassurance.

No, you’re fine. The idea of needing a “unified company presence” at the funeral of your boss’s wife’s father is … not usually a thing. (And I’m just one data point but personally I really, really would not want my husband’s employees showing up at my parent’s funeral because they felt professionally obligated; it’s not a work event. But others may feel differently, of course; there’s no one universal standard about this.)

You showed support for your boss in a different way. You’re fine.

]]>
https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/grandbosss-favoritism-toward-a-new-hire-lunch-meeting-without-masks-in-a-small-room-and-more.html/feed 331
my friend is angry that I can’t help more in her job search https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/my-friend-is-angry-that-i-cant-help-more-in-her-job-search.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/my-friend-is-angry-that-i-cant-help-more-in-her-job-search.html#comments Wed, 15 Sep 2021 17:59:43 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22306 This post, my friend is angry that I can’t help more in her job search , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes: How do I align a friend’s expectations of how I can help with her job search with how much time and support I can ACTUALLY provide? I’m a career bureaucrat. Most of my connections are in government and nonprofit industries. My friend is miserable in her job, and has been for a […]

]]>
This post, my friend is angry that I can’t help more in her job search , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes:

How do I align a friend’s expectations of how I can help with her job search with how much time and support I can ACTUALLY provide?

I’m a career bureaucrat. Most of my connections are in government and nonprofit industries. My friend is miserable in her job, and has been for a while. She never hesitates to tell me how much she wants a new job, and constantly has applications and interviews lined up (but never gets an offer). She uses her whole network (friends, family, professional contacts) to try and get job referrals. My network will typically yield government and nonprofits (which she doesn’t want because of “low pay” even though government can pay just fine if you find the right role).

She gets frustrated and mad at me that I won’t “shake my network harder” to find the tech and corporate jobs she wants. When I tell her I’ve reached out as much as I can but have no leads, she tells me that I’m not trying hard enough.

I’m at the point where I’ll tell her I can’t help any more … but I know what it’s like to be in her position and WANT to help. Thanks for any advice.

You’re being too accommodating to someone who’s not treating you very well!

You’ve offered her access to your network. She doesn’t want what you’ve offered. She wants you to magically offer her something else, which you can’t. You’ve told her that you’ve done as much as you can, and she told you that you weren’t trying hard enough. That … is not really up to her to say. It’s your network, your time, your efforts, your sense of how much more is possible.

If she thinks there’s more you could be doing, she should tell you specifically what she’s hoping for. “Shake your network harder” isn’t that. It would be one thing if she were asking, for example, for an intro to Rupert Bumblesplat at Company X. But “there’s more you can, I don’t know what it is, just do it” isn’t reasonable.

And getting angry at you that you’re not doing more is over the line.

Frankly, even if there were more you could do, you’d be entitled to decide you weren’t comfortable doing it. Your reputation is on the line when you vouch for someone to your network, and you get decide when and how you’ll let people borrow that reputation.

How close a friendship is this? If you’re not close, I’d seriously consider distancing yourself — not because she’s asking for your help but because she’s being a jerk about it.

If you are close, it’s worth sitting down with her and saying, “Okay, tell me specifically what you want me to do that I haven’t done yet, because I can’t figure out what other help I can offer. Are there specific people in my network you’re targeting, or what specific things would you like me to do to help?” Unless that clears it up (or even if it does, frankly), you also probably need to tell her that it’s not okay to accuse you of not helping her when you’ve done as much as you can come up with, and that it’s not okay to be angry with you for not having the sorcery skills to conjure up the exact sort of contacts she wants.

Lots of people struggle with job searches and ask their friends for help and don’t berate them and get angry at them when jobs don’t materialize. I’d take a look at what else might be going on with her or the friendship.

]]>
https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/my-friend-is-angry-that-i-cant-help-more-in-her-job-search.html/feed 238
how do I fire a volunteer who’s not getting her work done? https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/how-do-i-fire-a-volunteer-whos-not-getting-her-work-done.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/how-do-i-fire-a-volunteer-whos-not-getting-her-work-done.html#comments Wed, 15 Sep 2021 16:29:33 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22237 This post, how do I fire a volunteer who’s not getting her work done? , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes: I am the president of a local industry society with an all-volunteer board of directors. We have a very large project that one non-board volunteer eagerly agreed to lead. It was supposed to start last fall, but due to circumstances beyond her control, it’s just now getting started. We gathered up a […]

]]>
This post, how do I fire a volunteer who’s not getting her work done? , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes:

I am the president of a local industry society with an all-volunteer board of directors. We have a very large project that one non-board volunteer eagerly agreed to lead. It was supposed to start last fall, but due to circumstances beyond her control, it’s just now getting started.

We gathered up a dozen volunteers to help on the project and are having a kickoff meeting soon, but the volunteer still hasn’t contacted those people to let them know it’s happening now. I’ve followed up with her several times, and each time the response is “I’m working on it today” or “I’ll get it out this week.” I have spoken with this volunteer about ensuring she has the time to commit to this project and she reassures me she does, though I’m not seeing any action on her part. Over the last 10 months I’ve given her several opportunities to gracefully bow out, but she doesn’t take me up on it. It’s very frustrating. I’m ready to find someone else to lead the project, but how do I fire her?

I answer this question — and two 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:

  • Did this job candidate mislead us about college?
  • My employee’s boyfriend asked for my permission to marry her
]]>
https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/how-do-i-fire-a-volunteer-whos-not-getting-her-work-done.html/feed 340
is there a way to find out if someone secretly has two full-time jobs? https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/is-there-a-way-to-find-out-if-someone-secretly-has-two-full-time-jobs.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/is-there-a-way-to-find-out-if-someone-secretly-has-two-full-time-jobs.html#comments Wed, 15 Sep 2021 14:59:38 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22305 This post, is there a way to find out if someone secretly has two full-time jobs? , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes: Is there any way to find out if someone is working a second full-time remote job on the side? A good friend is facing a problem with one of his employees. Members of his team are convinced that a poor performing colleague, let’s call her Ariel, has a second full-time job. She […]

]]>
This post, is there a way to find out if someone secretly has two full-time jobs? , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes:

Is there any way to find out if someone is working a second full-time remote job on the side?

A good friend is facing a problem with one of his employees. Members of his team are convinced that a poor performing colleague, let’s call her Ariel, has a second full-time job.

She joined the fully remote team late last year. Her colleagues have observed a pattern of her frequently looking at a second laptop (the company did not provide her with this equipment) while on video calls, dropping on and off camera constantly, and appearing to be speaking while on mute despite being alone, and she denies all of this behavior asked about it. She also generally fails to remember the most basic of information about where team documents live. Her manager is working on documenting the issues and putting together a PIP for Ariel.

Ariel also does not list her role at the company on her LinkedIn or mention the company (despite being fairly active on the platform).

For context, this is at a pretty well-known company in the Bay Area with all the perks, benefits, and six-figure compensation package that comes with it. I totally empathize with those who are forced to work multiple full-time jobs to make ends meet when our minimum wage is abysmal and unsustainable most places nationwide!

I’m curious if there’s any guidance or steps my friend could or should take to address the odd behavior outside the PIP, especially when his other employees are raising their concerns and speculation about her possibly having a second full-time job.

I can’t think of any way you could prove someone had another full-time job unless they put it on their LinkedIn or other social media (which would be incredibly short-sighted of them) or if you found them listed as an employee (like on another company’s website or in a press release announcing their hire).

But you also don’t really need to. If Ariel isn’t attentive during meetings, doesn’t retain information, and isn’t generally isn’t doing a good job, those are all things her manager can and should should address forthrightly. You mentioned that your friend is working on documenting the issues and putting together an improvement plan, which is good — but ideally that would be something he does today, with a relatively short timeline for improvement. It shouldn’t be something that drags out over months.

He can also address problems right in the moment as they occur. If Ariel keeps looking at something else during video calls, he can say, “Ariel, it looks like you’re distracted — can we have your full attention?” (This is a little obnoxious and schoolmarmish and I wouldn’t recommend it normally; people are allowed to be distracted sometimes! It’s specific to what’s going on here.) If she keeps dropping on and off camera or speaking on mute when no one else is there, he can call her right after the meeting and say, “You kept dropping off camera and speaking on mute — what’s going on?” and/or “Is there something else going on during our work hours that’s taking your attention?” By calling her on it every time, he can make it really uncomfortable for her to keep doing it. (And if it turns out there’s another, less nefarious reason for it, this gives her an opportunity to explain that.)

He could also just … ask, directly. Not necessarily “Are you working a second job?” but there’s no reason not to say, “I get the sense that your attention is divided during the work day, and it’s affecting your work. What’s going on?”

And of course, if her work isn’t good, he needs to be regularly addressing that with her, asking about the issues, being highly engaged in reviewing her work and giving feedback and coaching, and deciding sooner rather than later whether it makes sense to keep her in the job or not.

I get that it would be easier if he could just prove she’s simultaneously working another job, since his company probably would consider it an immediate firing offense and he wouldn’t have to go through whatever progressive stages of discipline they’ll otherwise require. But by managing her really actively he can probably resolve this pretty quickly regardless.

]]>
https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/is-there-a-way-to-find-out-if-someone-secretly-has-two-full-time-jobs.html/feed 416
guilt about applying for a new job, new hire didn’t negotiate, and more https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/guilt-about-applying-for-a-new-job-new-hire-didnt-negotiate-and-more.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/guilt-about-applying-for-a-new-job-new-hire-didnt-negotiate-and-more.html#comments Wed, 15 Sep 2021 04:03:12 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22304 This post, guilt about applying for a new job, new hire didn’t negotiate, and more , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go… 1. I feel guilty about applying for another job I work in a department of three — me, a coworker with the same title and responsibilities as me, and our manager. Recently my coworker was out on maternity leave and was expected to return after five […]

]]>
This post, guilt about applying for a new job, new hire didn’t negotiate, and more , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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

1. I feel guilty about applying for another job

I work in a department of three — me, a coworker with the same title and responsibilities as me, and our manager. Recently my coworker was out on maternity leave and was expected to return after five months. My manager really doesn’t know how to do a lot of the tasks we do and so a lot fell on me, although my manager did try to help here and there. Well, my coworker decided that she wasn’t going to come back at all. My manager has made some comments that seem to imply that we don’t need to hire someone else to replace her and that perhaps we can make some changes to ease some of my workload without hiring anyone else. There hasn’t been any discussions yet on what those changes would be and I’m feeling very burnt out.

I noticed a job opening with a different company that is very similar to what I do now. I’ve heard it’s a great place to work and they are transparent about their salaries, so I know I could be making at least $8-10K more per year if I were to interview and get the job. My guilt is holding me back from applying though. If I leave, my manager will be the only one left and there’s so much that he can’t do. I know he would be disappointed and upset. The thought of even telling him I’m leaving for another position fills me with dread. I like where I work. It’s a great atmosphere and I have a great manager, but I just don’t know how much longer I can sustain this. Do you have any suggestions for how to move past my guilt? It just feels like a crappy thing to do to leave my manager high and dry when we’re already understaffed but I also need to do what’s best for me as well. I’m really struggling with this!

Apply for the other job. If your manager is concerned about being left alone without knowing how to cover your work, he has lots of opportunities to mitigate that risk — like cross-training, ensuring your processes are well documented, and not removing the only other position that does what you do. But even aside from that, this is just not something that should control what career decisions you make. You need to do what’s in your interests, just as your company will do what’s in its. If your manager is in an inconvenient position when you leave, he will get by — people always do! He can hire temp help or all sorts of other possibilities. It’ll be fine. (And even if it’s not fine, it’s not a reason to put your career on hold. That is not the sort of sacrifice you are being paid for. But it will be fine.)

Meanwhile, though, in case this job doesn’t pan out, speak up about your boss’s plan not to replace your coworker! Say that covering for her has been difficult and you were willing to do it while it was temporary but it’s not something you can do much longer-term, and it’s important to you that her role is filled. (And if your boss doesn’t act on that, you should move forward with even less guilt!)

I am positive I didn’t used to get as many letters as I do now from people feeling guilty about leaving their jobs! I’m going to write a book called You Can Leave Your Job Without Guilt, and it will just be that sentence repeated in a variety of fonts for 200 pages.

2. New hire didn’t negotiate

I just hired my first-ever direct report. I’m very excited, but the process was not without bumps.

We offered the position to one strong candidate who tried to negotiate for a salary over 30% higher than what we had offered. That … didn’t work out.

But when we offered the job to our second choice (who was also an incredible candidate), she didn’t negotiate AT ALL and took the salary we offered her immediately. While I am extremely pleased that she’s going to be working for us, I’m wondering if at some point I should say something to her. We did have budget to pay more than our original offer (not 30% more, but a few thousand more). I don’t want to bring it up immediately, of course, and it’s awkward when I’d have a say over negotiating future raises and promotions, but I feel like this woman deserves a pep talk about arguing for what she’s worth!

It’s surprisingly common! A ton of people don’t negotiate when they get a job offer and just accept the first salary offered. More women than men, as we so often hear, but men too.

It would be a professional kindness to encourage her to negotiate at some point, but I’d wait until you have a natural opening at some point — a conversation one day about hiring in general, or a discussion of negotiating with a vendor, or whatever gives you an organic opening to bring it up. (In part that’s because you don’t want it to land too pointedly as, “I had more money to give you if only you’d asked, too bad!” … which could be a demoralizing takeaway, especially when the job is new.)

3. Recruiter asked me to re-take a test on camera

I’m in the middle of job hunting, and recently took a CCAT assessment for a job. The recruiter reached out for a first-round interview a few hours after I took the assessment and requested I retake the assessment on camera with another recruiter watching. I’ve taken the test before but never had this come up. Is this standard practice?

Nope. That’s a recruiter who for some reason thinks you might have cheated and is trying to verify that you took the test without help or cheating.

Feel free to say, “I’m happy to redo it, but was there a concern with my original assessment?”

4. Job opening gets reposted every month

Last year I applied to a job through a third-party hiring organization on LinkedIn. The job was for a company I know and respect. I don’t know the third party contractor, but they seem legitimate (I found them through a trusted aquaintance). I got a polite automated email several weeks later saying they appreciated my interest but were not going to interview me. No big deal.

I put an alert on that particular job title, since it was exactly what I was looking for. Since then, I’ve noticed that exact job posting gets posted every four or six weeks, only on LinkedIn, only by that third party. The opening doesn’t appear on the company’s website. Because it is an area with a high turnover rate (we live in a military town, and this is normal — not really a red flag), my husband suggested they like to keep a pool of applicants ready in case of an unexpected opening. My father, who works in a position where he often does hiring, suggested that it’s an automated system and nobody is looking at the applications at all.

Is this weird? Have you seen this before? I guess I could reach out to the LinkedIn page where its posted, but they’re a large company that has probably hundreds of postings for multiple agencies. I could technically reach out to the company itself, but I’d prefer not to look like a fool in case I end up applying there again. What’s your take?

They could indeed be keeping a pool of applicants if it’s a job they have to hire for frequently, either because of turnover or because they have multiple slots and/or keep increasing the size of that team. (I used to hire a for a position that was posted nearly constantly, because the team kept growing and it was hard to hire for, so we were willing to consider applicants all the time and hire anyone we found who was right.) It’s also possible, though, that this is a weird thing the outside recruiter is doing — that the company doesn’t consider this position currently “open” but the recruiter is advertising it that way to collect resumes … which could be for the legit purpose of being ready to pitch those candidates to the company when the role does open again or could be for the sketchy purpose of finding candidates to pitch to other companies for other openings, which is a thing that happens. The fact that it’s a third party posting and isn’t on the company’s own website, if their other jobs are, might point to that. But it could also just be a coincidence.

That said, I would just ignore the postings! You applied and they appear to have considered your application and concluded you’re not quite what they’re looking for. That can happen even when they’re continuing to actively (and constantly) search for other candidates. I wouldn’t worry about what’s going on with it or contact the company about it; just assume this position isn’t a match right now for whatever reason.

5. Should I send my references gift cards?

I’ve been interviewing for a job. The hiring manager wanted to hear from two past managers. For me, this means reaching 5+ years into my past and asking old coworkers who live in different cities to be references. If they were local, I’d take them out for coffee to say thanks, but they’re across the country. I want to send them a token of appreciation, but does it seem weirdly transactional to send them a coffee gift card?

Yeah, don’t do it! Giving references for colleagues whose work you respect is part of work life; if you offer a gift in exchange for doing it, it risks coming across as … not payment exactly, but not quite in the spirit of references either. Send an enthusiastic thanks and let them know if you get the job — that’s all people really want or expect!

]]>
https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/guilt-about-applying-for-a-new-job-new-hire-didnt-negotiate-and-more.html/feed 417
my ex-boss isn’t that into me (but I’m still into her) https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/my-ex-boss-isnt-that-into-me-but-im-still-into-her.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/my-ex-boss-isnt-that-into-me-but-im-still-into-her.html#comments Tue, 14 Sep 2021 17:59:37 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22295 This post, my ex-boss isn’t that into me (but I’m still into her) , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes: I recently left my old remote job of one year for a role with a new team in the same company. I thought I was close with my manager (messaging regularly for business and casual friendly text chats, Christmas gift, birthday gift — even drove one hour to ship me sweets from […]

]]>
This post, my ex-boss isn’t that into me (but I’m still into her) , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes:

I recently left my old remote job of one year for a role with a new team in the same company. I thought I was close with my manager (messaging regularly for business and casual friendly text chats, Christmas gift, birthday gift — even drove one hour to ship me sweets from my favorite bakery), but she gave me the cold shoulder and a lecture on my last day. Instead of the usual warm fuzzies as you would expect on a last day, she asked for only “business critical” updates. Mind you, this was literally the last 15 minutes we’d talk as manager-employee and my transition plan had already been discussed weeks prior. In the lecture, she didn’t seem too jazzed with my two-week notice (she’d asked before if it could be pushed back). It felt like a bad break-up. I didn’t hear from her until a month later when she messaged me to check-in. I don’t know what to do. My feelings were hurt. Do I let her know? Should I try to clear the air?

It’s worth noting part of the reason I left was that she has an unexplainable allegiance to one of her other direct reports who I think does sub-par work and I often had to pick up the slack. When I started during the pandemic I was told that person could not be expected to prioritize work because she had young kids at home. The greater team culture is also very inclusive where they don’t really point out people’s mistakes and everyone gets a participation trophy for different levels of work/contribution. Also, I felt like I was working around the clock and not being compensated for it other than really big THANK YOUs. So I asked for more money. I phrased it as, “What would you need to see to get me to X salary?” In truth I was hoping for just some acknowledgement of my contributions (other than the all too frequent team thank-yous) or at the very least a counter or rebranding my role (something I’d casually mentioned before). None of this happened. After three months at our quarterly check-in, I was told my ask was out of the range for my role (while also stating she didn’t know the top range for my role) and to look elsewhere. I didn’t really believe she looked into it like she said she did and it made me feel undervalued and dispensable. So I took her advice and looked elsewhere. So that’s why I’m confused about her reaction to my leaving.

Is it worth trying to re-establish a friendship with this person? Can I just ignore any other check-in messages and only respond to business critical questions (which are unlikely)?

Honestly, sometimes I feel a bit used for the last year and it is causing a lot of resentment. Is this normal?

Is there anything I could have done differently to change the outcome? I think my ideal outcome was either to have less things on my plate (unlikely) or more money. I didn’t want to leave, but they seem to be doing just fine without me. That hurts too. What do I do? How can I put this behind me and move on?

There’s lot of stuff going on in this letter!

Most importantly, I think your expectations are out of sync with what the relationship really was. You’re responding as if this were a friendship … but this wasn’t a friendship! Your boss was friendly, but she was your boss. It makes sense that you haven’t had much contact since you left, because that’s how it normally goes when you leave a job! Typically when someone leaves a job, they might never interact with their manager again — or if they do, it’s likely to be very sporadic, more toward the once or twice a year end of the spectrum. Since there was a warm relationship, having her email you to check in about a month after you left sounds pretty normal … but then I’d expect there might not be a lot of (or any) contact for a long while after that.

There are exceptions to this, of course! Some people do stay in closer contact with former managers — but that’s more the exception than the rule, and you shouldn’t read anything into it not happening here.

Generally, manager/employee relationships — even when very warm and friendly while working together — are much more transient than what I think you’re envisioning. That’s true even when birthday and Christmas gifts are exchanged and cookies sent. Those things are just … stuff a manager might do because they have warm relationships with their employees. It doesn’t indicate a personal relationship that transcends the employment one.

I am also concerned that you asked about your salary while hoping for a whole range of other things (more acknowledgement of your work, a rebranding of your role, etc.) and then were frustrated that you didn’t get any of it. It’s legitimate to be frustrated that you didn’t get a raise you felt you’d earned. But the other stuff — if you wanted those things, you should ask for those things! Otherwise you’re expecting your boss to read your mind instead of being straightforward about what you want.

About your feelings that you were used … the employment relationship is sort of about being used. You are using the work to get a paycheck and your employer is using money to get the labor they need. That’s the arrangement in a nutshell. I suspect you feel used partly because you went above and beyond in the expectation that you would get things beyond a paycheck — things like loyalty, more vocal appreciation, better and fairer treatment, etc. Those are reasonable things to want! But if you don’t get them, it’s not personal. It’s just … an employer who sucks at those things, and so then you need to decide if you want to stay under those conditions or if you’d rather take your labor elsewhere. But I also suspect you feel used because you saw your boss as a friend, and she hasn’t been treating you like a friend. But again, she’s not a friend; she was your employer.

Now, it does sound like she mishandled your departure. Some managers respond to resignations as if they’re personal betrayals. That’s unreasonable and generally a sign of real dysfunction in the person’s approach to management, but it happens. If it happened here, it’s on her and not on you. (That would be the case regardless, but it’s especially the case after she told you to job search because they couldn’t meet your salary request!)

You definitely should not tell your former manager that your feelings were hurt by how she’s acted. That’s putting expectations on her that aren’t appropriate for the relationship. Similarly, there’s no “re-establishing” a friendship, for that same reason. If you want to have a warm, collegial relationship going forward, you can probably have that! But it won’t happen if you ignore other check-in messages and only respond to business-critical questions. If you want a warm, collegial relationship, you have to respond to her in a warm, collegial way.

Ultimately, what this sounds like is an employer who overworked you, declined to pay you more when asked, and then was shocked when you left over it. That happens a lot. As for whether you could have done something differently to change the outcome, I don’t think so. You wanted less work (which you knew was unlikely) or more money, so you asked for more money and when you didn’t get it, you found a different job that seems to meet your needs better. That all makes sense.

The thing to do differently is … well, to see work as work. It’s a job! Your boss isn’t your friend (and shouldn’t be — in fact, if she is, that’s a problem). When you want something different in exchange for your labor, ask for it straightforwardly. If you don’t get it, then decide if you still want the job on those terms or not. When you leave, assume they will do fine without you.

Right now you are seeing this all through the framework of a friendship, but it’s not.

]]>
https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/my-ex-boss-isnt-that-into-me-but-im-still-into-her.html/feed 276
my job offer was rescinded — after I already quit my old job https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/my-job-offer-was-rescinded-after-i-already-quit-my-old-job.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/my-job-offer-was-rescinded-after-i-already-quit-my-old-job.html#comments Tue, 14 Sep 2021 16:29:16 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22286 This post, my job offer was rescinded — after I already quit my old job , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes: Well, it happened to me: the dreaded rescinded job offer. Everything was going great with the interview process for this job. I had gotten to the reference stage and provided information for five people who I knew would represent me well. I got a call the following week from the HR manager, […]

]]>
This post, my job offer was rescinded — after I already quit my old job , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes:

Well, it happened to me: the dreaded rescinded job offer.

Everything was going great with the interview process for this job. I had gotten to the reference stage and provided information for five people who I knew would represent me well. I got a call the following week from the HR manager, and she asked if the hiring manager would be able to speak to my previous boss.

My previous boss had a personal vendetta against me and made my time working for her really difficult. Eventually, I was moved out from under her to a different team within the same department. So when asked, I simply told the HR person that my previous boss and I didn’t have a good relationship, and that I could not rely on her for a reference.

After that conversation, I got a conditional job offer, contingent on a background check, and then a final offer, containing the following clause: “This final confirming offer remains contingent on satisfactory receipt of a reference from your current manager as of this letter date.” I asked the HR manager for the new job what that was about and she told me that I should give my notice at my current job, and then follow up with my manager’s contact information.

At this point, it’s a done deal, right? My current manager and I haven’t always seen eye to eye but I have always been hard working, professional, and respectful. I gave my notice, and asked my manager if she would be able to give me a positive reference, and she agreed she would. She seemed genuinely happy for me that I would be moving on in my career, and it was a positive interaction.

That was last week. This morning, I got a call from the HR manager for the new job to tell me, quite unceremoniously, that the offer had been rescinded. She was also unable to tell me why, as she didn’t have all of the information, but that she wanted to let me know right away that the offer is off the table.

So now I’m in the awkward position of having to ask for my job back – which of course is in no way guaranteed – or face having to desperately scramble for a new one. My question is, what do I do now? Do I contact HR and demand answers? Do I outright ask my boss if she said anything negatively about me? Do I have any legal avenues to pursue? The state I live in is an at-will state but the new employer basically encouraged me to quit while there was a contingent offer in the works. Finally, what should I have done to protect myself and what should I do in the future to prevent this situation from happening?

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

]]>
https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/my-job-offer-was-rescinded-after-i-already-quit-my-old-job.html/feed 297
employer wants friends and family to participate in 360 feedback reviews https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/employer-wants-friends-and-family-to-participate-in-360-feedback-reviews.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/employer-wants-friends-and-family-to-participate-in-360-feedback-reviews.html#comments Tue, 14 Sep 2021 14:59:44 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22296 This post, employer wants friends and family to participate in 360 feedback reviews , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes: Something odd happened to me today, and I wanted to see if I’m the one off-base for being confused by it. I received a request to fill out a 360 review for my sister. My sister and I are not coworkers; we do not work for the same company (we aren’t even […]

]]>
This post, employer wants friends and family to participate in 360 feedback reviews , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes:

Something odd happened to me today, and I wanted to see if I’m the one off-base for being confused by it.

I received a request to fill out a 360 review for my sister. My sister and I are not coworkers; we do not work for the same company (we aren’t even in the same industry!). When I asked my sister about this request, she said she was encouraged to have her friends and family fill it out because some people are different by profession then they are by nature?(!). Her supervisors made her feel that this review will help her get a better view of areas in her life she could improve.

Luckily for my sister, I don’t really have anything negative to say about her, so if I fill out this review, I’m not worried it will impact her career advancement. But I thought it was overly invasive, a point my sister understood but she thought I was being paranoid. I can’t think of any way getting a 360 review from your friends and family will help you in your career, but I can think of a LOT of ways it could hurt you.

So I’m wondering if this is some new trend? Or is this a common thing, and I’ve just never experienced it yet?

WHAT.

No, this is not a new trend. This is inappropriate and boundary-crossing and weird.

It’s none of an employer’s business what an employee’s friends and family think of them, and if an employee wants “a better view of areas in life where they could improve,” they can ask their friends and family for that on their own.

WHY IS THIS A WORK ACTIVITY?

Yes, some people are different at work than they are in their personal lives. (In many cases, that’s a very good thing.) If it’s unconnected to how they operate at work, then it’s irrelevant for work purposes.

This is a massive overstep by your sister’s employer. They aren’t her therapist or life coach. They seem to have a fundamental misunderstanding of what an employment relationship is and what is and isn’t in their purview.

And really, if her feedback from friends and family comes back with issues that she’s never displayed at work, is her manager going to coach her on, like, how to stop arguing with her husband and her need to show up for more family events and why Aunt Meryl doesn’t feel more connected to her? (My hunch is that the answer to that is no — that they’ll leave that stuff alone and it’s just there for your sister’s own personal use, but THIS IS NOT SOMETHING WORK NEEDS TO COORDINATE FOR HER.)

This may be the last time you hear from me because my blood pressure is so high right now that I believe my demise is nigh.

]]>
https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/employer-wants-friends-and-family-to-participate-in-360-feedback-reviews.html/feed 446
is it ungrateful to ask for more money when you get promoted, my mentee is out of touch, and more https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/is-it-ungrateful-to-ask-for-more-money-when-you-get-promoted-my-mentee-is-out-of-touch-and-more.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/is-it-ungrateful-to-ask-for-more-money-when-you-get-promoted-my-mentee-is-out-of-touch-and-more.html#comments Tue, 14 Sep 2021 04:03:17 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22294 This post, is it ungrateful to ask for more money when you get promoted, my mentee is out of touch, and more , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go… 1. Is it ungrateful to ask for more money when you get a promotion? My boss recently told me that you are not supposed to negotiate your salary when you are offered a promotion (that it makes you seem ungrateful). I’ve asked around at work, to […]

]]>
This post, is it ungrateful to ask for more money when you get promoted, my mentee is out of touch, and more , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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

1. Is it ungrateful to ask for more money when you get a promotion?

My boss recently told me that you are not supposed to negotiate your salary when you are offered a promotion (that it makes you seem ungrateful). I’ve asked around at work, to those who are discreet and trustworthy, and the response has differed. Some say yes, you most definitely should counter whether it be a promotion, a new role, etc. Others agree with my boss that you are not supposed to counter a promotional offer. What’s the truth?

I’m sure your boss would like that to be the case — it’s certainly in her interests if you believe it! — but it’s categorically untrue.

It is very, very normal to negotiate the salary for a promotion. You get to decide what price would make the extra responsibility worth it to you! You don’t need to just accept what your employer offers you. People negotiate promotions all the time.

And her reasoning is that you should be “grateful”? You don’t need to be grateful when you receive a promotion! Your employer isn’t promoting you as a favor; they’re promoting you because it makes business sense for them. You don’t need to be grateful, any more than you need to be grateful when they hire you or pay you or ask you to take on a project they need to. You can certainly appreciate them if they’re a good employer who go out of their way to recognize and reward good work — as they can appreciate you for doing said good work — but being grateful implies they’re giving you something you don’t deserve.

Your boss has just revealed that she has really weird ideas about the power dynamics of employment. Keep that in mind when you’re dealing with her!

2. My mentee is out of touch with how our office works

I am a year into my first professional job after college. My company has a junior staff mentorship system where each incoming hire is assigned someone roughly a year ahead of them to be their peer mentor. It is supposed to be a casual and informal relationship, to establish a first relationship and get a sense of the company and have someone to go to for advice or tips. There is also a separate, more formal mentorship program where the mentor gives feedback, assists with career advancement, and other more serious things.

My problem comes with my new peer mentee, Jane. Jane is about a month into the job, and I have noticed some weird quirks I am not sure how to handle. Mainly, her manner comes across as a little rude/out of touch, which (I think!) is unintentional, but really rubs people the wrong way. I had heard that she almost didn’t receive an offer after her internship because of her demeanor, so I am not the only one to whom this stands out. For instance, we are expected to meet every two weeks to check in and discuss how work is going for her. She has failed to see/respond to/attend meeting invites with me multiple times, and brushes it off or doesn’t acknowledge the mistake, even when I have hinted that if she is doing this on her work teams, people won’t respond well. She also seems to misunderstand our relationship (despite my describing it to her); for example, once as we were discussing her work, she cut me off and said, “But enough about me, how are YOU doing?” even though the whole meeting is supposed to be about her work! Most recently, after showing up 10 minutes late to our meeting, after about 15 minutes (and before the scheduled end of the meeting) she said she had some other things to do and had to drop off. Normally, if a situation like that comes up, people at my office are pretty flexible (i.e., if an urgent email comes in during a meeting, you can say, “Something just came up, sorry about that, let’s reschedule,” etc). In this instance, though, nothing new came up for Jane, she just decided she was done. At my office you typically don’t do that if the meeting is scheduled for a certain slot ahead of time. Plus these meetings aren’t optional for her!

Essentially, nothing she does is particularly egregious, but it comes off as very presumptuous, not very respectful, and out of touch with our office norms. Since it is nothing crazy, however, and since I am relatively junior and not the one responsible for giving her feedback, what, if anything, should I do to address this? I don’t want to overstep, but in addition to stopping this annoying behavior for my own benefit, I would like to help her adjust to the office since I know I am not the only one put off by this.

Stop hinting and tell her directly! It’s not overstepping to let her know what your office’s expectations are in these regards; in fact, it’s likely that you’re expected to do that. That’s part of the point of mentoring, even with peer mentoring.

Sample script for your next meeting: “You’ve been not responding to the invitations for these meetings and sometimes showing up late or not at all. I want to make sure you know that’s a big deal here; people will expect you to actively manage your calendar and be on time for meetings. You should also plan on us using the full amount of time scheduled, unless we both agree we should end early. I’m setting aside time in my schedule, and I want to make sure we’re both invested in using it fully.” You can say this in a tone of “hey, you might not realize this, so let me me tell you something that will help you succeed here,” rather than a chastising tone — but do say it.

It’s also okay to address other off-key things right in the moment. Like if she says something that indicates she misunderstands the whole point of these meetings, you could just matter-of-factly say, “So, to clarify, these meetings are to discuss XYZ.” I suspect you feel weird doing that (because it feels weird that you’d need to do that), but you’re doing her a service by recalibrating her to your company’s norms if you can.

At the same time, though, don’t feel like you’ve failed if it doesn’t work. Some people are very hard to get through to, particularly if you’re not in a position of authority (and even sometimes then), and as a peer mentor your tools to reach her are limited. Give it a shot because it’ll be helpful for everyone if it works, but don’t stress too much if you can’t get through.

3. My spouse keeps asking me for career advice, and it’s too much

I am in the midst of developing career services consulting to assist job seekers with attaining new employment. Thus far, the process is slow-moving intentionally, but those I’ve shared my interests with are very excited about the venture, especially my spouse. My spouse is in the middle of job hunting themselves, so there have been times where they ask me for advice or insight. Of course, being my spouse, I’m more than happy to help every so often … but now they are expecting that I resolve every issue they run into and answer every minute question that comes up. Sure, my spouse wants to put their best feet forward and I want that for them, too; however, they’re regularly interrupting my daily motions (current 9-5, etc.). If this were any other person, I would have already sent an invoice, scheduled times to interact, and set those boundaries. Should I keep giving my spouse free career advice, stop all together—or do I charge them for my services? (That last suggestion is more joke than not, but it’s something that’s been suggested to me.)

If you were really good at accounting and your spouse kept interrupting your full-time job with constant accounting questions, at some point you’d need to say, “I can help you with this when I’m not working, but I need you to hold all these questions until after my work day is over so I can focus on my job.” And depending on the number of questions you then faced in your off-hours, at some point you also might say, “I’m happy to help you out here and there, but we’re spending a lot of time on accounting when I’d rather be relaxing with you. For the good of our relationship, let’s find you an accountant who’s not me.”

The principle here is the same: it’s okay (and necessary) to set boundaries so that it’s not interrupting your work or overwhelming your off-hours. It’s reasonable to tell your spouse you need your workday to be free of job-search questions, and to set limits on how much you’re up for doing the rest of the time. It also might help to schedule specific times for it — like deciding that you’ll spend an hour on it a few times a week, but it won’t intrude on all your time together.

That’s the nitty-gritty of how to navigate it … but more broadly, this is your spouse! Talk to them about how you’re feeling, and how they’re feeling, and figure out an arrangement that you both feel good about. When you’re at the point of wondering if you should charge your spouse for your help (even half-jokingly) and they don’t realize how put upon you feel, there’s a big communication gap to address!

4. We’re required to forward work calls to our personal cell phones

I work for a large organization in a role that was full-time in-office pre-Covid. Once Covid hit, those of us who could work remotely did so. My team has been high functioning and made the best of the past year, but was hoping to come back to a hybrid schedule, which we were told was approved. However, our department’s director decided what that looked like was giving up our offices and keeping a few hot desks (ugh). Part of losing our dedicated desk space also means losing our desk phones.

We were recently told that we would keep the actual phone number but are expected to have it forwarded to our personal cell phones. Our organization provides services 24/7, and many of our company phone numbers were previously assigned to other departments, so some of those phones ring at all hours. Not a problem when we aren’t in the office, but a very annoying problem when it’s your cell phone ringing at 2 am on a Sunday. Furthermore, they are not contributing to our cell phone bills. I’m super annoyed and don’t feel it’s fair to tell my team that the company will be forwarding calls to their cell phones. Is this normal and I’m just being overly annoyed? Or are phones a cost of doing business and they should be either providing us cell phones or subsidizing our phone bill?

That’s actually a pretty common set-up when people are working remotely or on a hybrid schedule without dedicated desks — although it’s also common for companies that do that to reimburse a portion of your phone costs, and that’s something you should push for. In some states, employers are legally required to reimburse you for business expenses, so you should check if yours is one of them. (More info here.)

The easiest way to deal with the calls outside of work hours, though, is to set up a Google Voice number that the calls forward to, because you can program that to only ring though on certain days and hours and to go straight to voicemail the rest of the time.

5. Formatting business letters sent by email

I have a random, very low-stakes question. Every once in a while I have to write a business letter that’s to be sent by email. Is there a modern format for the “block” on the letter, when there’s no physical address for either party? It always seems to look weird however I format it.

If you’re writing the letter in the body of the email, you don’t use the same formatting that you would with a physical letter — no date, addresses, etc. With email, you just launch in with your salutation (“dear Bob” or “hi Jane” or however you’re opening the letter). In part that’s because email puts the relevant information in the message headers already, and in part it’s because this is the convention with email.

If you’re attaching the letter to the email (because it’s something formal on letterhead or so forth), you’d put the date at the top but it’s okay to leave off the address block if you don’t have the other party’s address.

]]>
https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/is-it-ungrateful-to-ask-for-more-money-when-you-get-promoted-my-mentee-is-out-of-touch-and-more.html/feed 255
my boss is angry that I lied about the reason for my vacation https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/my-boss-is-angry-that-i-lied-about-the-reason-for-my-vacation.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/my-boss-is-angry-that-i-lied-about-the-reason-for-my-vacation.html#comments Mon, 13 Sep 2021 17:59:14 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22285 This post, my boss is angry that I lied about the reason for my vacation , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes: At the beginning of the pandemic, I started a relationship with my now-boyfriend, who lives in another country. We met online and had been planning on taking a vacation together as soon as the borders of our countries, which were closed due to COVID restrictions, opened . During the summer, I had […]

]]>
This post, my boss is angry that I lied about the reason for my vacation , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes:

At the beginning of the pandemic, I started a relationship with my now-boyfriend, who lives in another country. We met online and had been planning on taking a vacation together as soon as the borders of our countries, which were closed due to COVID restrictions, opened . During the summer, I had fallen and broken my foot, as well as had a cyst removed from my tailbone. Towards the end of the summer, when the borders reopened for tourism, I was feeling well enough again and was looking forward to finally meeting my boyfriend in person.

In July, I emailed my boss asking for the last week of August off to take a vacation, which was approved. I work as a librarian in a Catholic high school and have many coworkers who love to gossip and spread judgment, which can create a really negative atmosphere. Because of that, I made the decision to tell my boss that I was going on a family vacation.

A couple weeks before I left, my boss had told me that I was taking vacation at an inconvenient time and while she had approved it this time, I shouldn’t take off during that time period again. I made note of that statement, told my closest friend at work the true nature of my trip, made final plans, checked the COVID policy with my work, made sure I had full coverage, made my social media accounts private, and took my vacation.

Near the end of my vacation, my friend from work notified me that my boss had somehow figured out that I wasn’t actually on a family vacation. In order to get ahead of the issue, I emailed her to explain that I didn’t tell her the true nature of my vacation because I was trying to avoid gossip, and that I had multiple negative Covid tests which would approve me to return to work if that was her concern. She told me that we would discuss this matter when I returned.

Upon my return, my boss pulled me into a conference room and told me that she was angry with me for lying to her and breaking her trust, that if I were to have handled this situation better I would have made an attempt to discuss the reason for my vacation in person (even though I was injured and wasn’t working in person), was upset that I decided to take vacation during an inconvenient time, accused me of lying so that I would get those days approved because I was worried that she wouldn’t approve them, and questioned my dedication to the school and my position. She also mentioned that she didn’t believe that I was trying to avoid gossip and thought I had an ulterior motive. I apologized and said that I would be honest about my plans for time off from here on out, but that I was warranted privacy during my time off and what I do on my own time.

I am fully aware that lying was not the best course of action for this situation, but I strongly believe that what I choose to do on my own vacation time should not affect the approval of my vacation time. Was I fully in the wrong in this situation? Or was my boss’s reaction out of line?

Nah, your boss’s reaction was over-the-top.

In theory you’re right that what you plan to do on vacation shouldn’t affect whether or not it’s approved. In reality, though, it can be more complicated. Let’s say that you submit a vacation request and it’s a hard date to for your boss to accommodate (maybe other people will be out that day and she needs coverage, or it’s the day before a major event and she needs all hands on deck, or so forth). If you just want the day off to the go to the park, your boss might reasonably ask you to find a different day. But if it’s the day of your kid’s wedding, most of us would expect her to find a way to make that work. So we tend to accept that sometimes the reason for a specific set of dates matters.

It gets a lot more problematic, though, when the plans in question aren’t so obviously toward the “my kid’s getting married” end of that spectrum. And most of the time, people are rightly uncomfortable with managers deciding what’s “important enough” to accommodate and what isn’t … even as we also recognize exceptions like weddings.

But it’s possible that your boss considered a family trip closer to the wedding end of the spectrum than a trip to meet a boyfriend would be, and maybe she approved not-ideal dates for that reason. It’s possible that that’s why she’s pissed off now — maybe she went out of her way to accommodate difficult dates because you told her it was a family thing, and now she thinks you lied so she would do that. Her reaction was still over-the-top — this should have been a much calmer conversation — but she would have more of a basis for being bothered. (For the record, though, I don’t think managers should be adjudicating the importance of one trip vs. another like that unless it’s something more like the wedding vs. park example and the dates are difficult ones to approve.)

Or it might not be that at all. She might just be overly controlling and think she’s entitled to know more about your personal plans than she really is. She might be so focused on the lie that she’s not seeing that it didn’t really matter what you were using your time off for because it’s still your time off.

You can probably figure out which of these it is based on (a) what you know of your boss in general and (b) how inconvenient those particular dates really were. If they were seriously inconvenient for your team, it’s probably the first explanation. If they weren’t, it’s more likely the second.

]]>
https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/my-boss-is-angry-that-i-lied-about-the-reason-for-my-vacation.html/feed 611
can I turn a request for free help into paid consulting? https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/can-i-turn-a-request-for-free-help-into-paid-consulting.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/can-i-turn-a-request-for-free-help-into-paid-consulting.html#comments Mon, 13 Sep 2021 16:29:50 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22236 This post, can I turn a request for free help into paid consulting? , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes: I work in a pretty specific niche area. I was recently at a conference describing my work, and a leader from another organization came up to me to ask me how he could find someone like me to work for him. I emailed him some information about the graduate school I attended, […]

]]>
This post, can I turn a request for free help into paid consulting? , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes:

I work in a pretty specific niche area. I was recently at a conference describing my work, and a leader from another organization came up to me to ask me how he could find someone like me to work for him. I emailed him some information about the graduate school I attended, where there are many students who would dream to work for such an organization. I also pointed him in the direction of a popular job board for my field.

But the questions didn’t end there. We then talked for around half and hour about my responsibilities, his organization, recommendations I would make for him at this point, future directions he might look into, etc. Later that same day, he asked me what a fair salary range is for the position he’s hoping to hire.

I’m flattered by his interest, and would genuinely be happy to help him find the right person. But it isn’t feasible for me to join his organization at this time.

My fear, however, is that I’ve put myself in the position of giving unlimited free advice and recruiting. I would be willing to offer limited services (e.g. draft a job description, assist in making a strategic plan) as an independent contractor.

What I am wondering is how I can pivot our current conversations into an independent contracting offer. It feels awkward to say at this point that I’m unwilling to chat with him more for free. It’s one thing to make conversation at a conference, but he mentioned that there would be many more emails coming my way,.

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.

]]>
https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/can-i-turn-a-request-for-free-help-into-paid-consulting.html/feed 38
my employee sent me a “letter of intent” to look for another job https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/my-employee-sent-me-a-letter-of-intent-to-look-for-another-job.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/my-employee-sent-me-a-letter-of-intent-to-look-for-another-job.html#comments Mon, 13 Sep 2021 14:59:02 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22282 This post, my employee sent me a “letter of intent” to look for another job , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes: I manage a small department at a state agency. One of my direct reports, who had been having some issues with other employees (faults on both sides, honestly), just sent me a Letter of Intent to look for another job. The letter itself was beyond odd. It listed all of his contributions […]

]]>
This post, my employee sent me a “letter of intent” to look for another job , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes:

I manage a small department at a state agency. One of my direct reports, who had been having some issues with other employees (faults on both sides, honestly), just sent me a Letter of Intent to look for another job. The letter itself was beyond odd. It listed all of his contributions to the program (which are significant!) and demanded, if we wanted him to stay, a position that doesn’t exist and can’t be created without involvement at a much higher level, a much higher salary than the salary band permitted by the state, and a fancy title that doesn’t exist in our system.

The letter then asked me if I want him to work until December or through spring. The problem? He’s got a year-long contract that runs through June, and it’s utterly unclear whether a letter of intent to apply for other jobs actually constitutes a resignation or, if he can’t get another job by January, we’re obligated to continue to employ him until June. (Note: the probability that he will find another job matching what the letter says he wants by January is slim to none.)

Now, his demands are so off-the-wall that I not only have no desire to meet them, it’s completely impossible for me to do so, even if I wanted to. I have a call in to the contract person for our agency to figure out if a letter of intent for applying to other jobs constitutes a resignation from his contract or not. If he’s not going to be here in January, I need to start the hiring process NOW. If he is, I don’t want to hire someone else for that time period and have no work for them.

Have you ever heard of anyone issuing a letter of intent to start job searching before? Does it constitute a resignation? Does it mean anything? The letter was clearly written in a state of extreme annoyance, but I’m half expecting him to try to walk it back once his blood cools. FWIW, I ran into him in a common area today, and he avoided interacting with me.

This is EXTREMELY STRANGE.

People do not give their employers “letters of intent” to announce they plan to begin job searching. They just … begin job searching.

This is not a thing!

My guess is that either:

1. He’s hoping you’ll respond by begging him to stay, which is what most people want when they issue a dramatic Intent To Flounce … but he’s somehow oblivious to the fact that he has a contract through June.

2. He genuinely has no idea of workplace norms and thinks he’s supposed to notify you when he starts formally looking for other work … ? Maybe it’s connected in some way to the contract, like he thinks the formality of the contract demands this sort of formality when he’s thinking about breaking it? I dunno.

I’m skeptical that he has seemed to have a strong grasp of workplace norms up until this point, so I’m guessing you’ve seen other stuff from him that will let you figure out if it’s more likely to be #1 or #2.

As for whether it constitutes a resignation … it depends on whether your purposes are practical or legal ones. For practical purposes and if there weren’t a contract involved, I’d treat it as a resignation — he’s asking if you want him to leave by December or in the spring, so I’d decide which one you want (advice: December, if not earlier) and let him know. As in, “Let’s plan on December then, and we’ll set December 12 as your last day.” Or, if you judge that it would be harmful to have stick around that long because of his work or his conduct, you could say, “Let’s actually plan to have you wrap up by (insert earlier date).”

But there’s a contract involved, so you’ve got to go by what the contract requires in terms of notice on both sides, etc. You can certainly decide to let him out of the contract earlier (and it sounds like you should), but when a binding contract is in play, that’s going to govern how you can respond, at least to some extent.

All that said … if this guy’s work was good up until now and you’d actually prefer it if he’d stay — and if and this isn’t characteristic of his conduct before now — another approach is to just ask him what’s up. Call him in for a meeting and ask what’s going on. Explain you can’t meet the demands in the letter and ask what he wants to do, given that. Talk to him enough to get a sense of what this is all about. Was there some precipitating incident that pushed him over the edge into weird I Am Writing To Notify You I Am Thinking About Leaving territory? Did he feel mortified right after sending the letter and wishes he could take it back? Did he send these letters at all his past jobs when he was ready to leave? Unless the letter struck you as utterly typical of him, it’s probably worth a conversation to find out what’s going on before you do anything else.

]]>
https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/my-employee-sent-me-a-letter-of-intent-to-look-for-another-job.html/feed 678
I have two bosses, my manager attends a notoriously bigoted university, and more https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/i-have-two-bosses-my-manager-attends-a-notoriously-bigoted-university-and-more.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/i-have-two-bosses-my-manager-attends-a-notoriously-bigoted-university-and-more.html#comments Mon, 13 Sep 2021 04:03:40 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22283 This post, I have two bosses, my manager attends a notoriously bigoted university, and more , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go… 1. How do I navigate two bosses? I have worked for my organization for two years, as a manager. I technically have one director who I report to (Jane) I report to, and another (Niles) who I also report to but less officially. Jane and Niles […]

]]>
This post, I have two bosses, my manager attends a notoriously bigoted university, and more , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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

1. How do I navigate two bosses?

I have worked for my organization for two years, as a manager. I technically have one director who I report to (Jane) I report to, and another (Niles) who I also report to but less officially. Jane and Niles have vastly different concepts of how things need to be handled. Niles is not clear and I very rarely understand what he wants. (If I do, it’s because I ask a lot of questions!) I’m not the only one in my organization who has this problem — in fact, most staff do not know how to communicate with him at all. (When I tried to talk to Niles about this, he told me that the entire staff doesn’t know how to communicate and he doesn’t see how that is his problem.)

So, I carry out duties as directed by Jane because (a) I understand what she wants and (b) she is my direct supervisor. The problem comes in when Jane makes a decision and Niles has an issue with it … which inevitably is only addressed by Niles to me, not addressed with Jane. Niles is Jane’s boss, so I sort of have to report to each of them. I can’t simply say something like, “I’m sorry, but Jane has assigned me to take care of the task in this manner. I can’t proceed in the way you would like until I get the all clear from her.”

I’m at my wits’ end trying to get the two of them to communicate and to get Niles to communicate properly with the rest of the organization. Jane is pretty understanding about the situation but it’s starting to get out of hand. How do I navigate two bosses?

First and foremost, it’s not your job to get Jane and Niles to communicate, and it’s definitely not your job to get Niles to communicate better with the rest of the organization. Those two things are both clearly problems, but they’re above your pay grade so free yourself from whatever’s making you feel responsible for fixing those. If the people with the power to fix those them aren’t doing it, you definitely won’t be able to — and you’re just adding additional stressors to your plate that don’t need to be there.

With the conflicting instructions, you’ve got to keep in mind that Niles is Jane’s boss and he has more authority than she does. That doesn’t mean you should just abandon Jane’s instructions when he tells you to something differently, but you also shouldn’t respond with “I cannot do what you are asking” (your proposed language). That comes across as pretty rigid! Instead, just explain she asked you for something different and so you’ll go back to her and relay what he wants. For example: “Ah, let me talk to Jane. She’d wanted X, so I’ll let her know that you’re saying Y.” Or, in some situations: “Jane told me to do X earlier. Could I pull her into this conversation so we’re all on the same page?”

You should also have a big-picture conversation with Jane about the pattern — “Niles sometimes give me instructions that contradict yours. How do you want me to handle it when that happens?”

2. My manager attends a notoriously bigoted university

I’m new to my job (two months in) and so I’m only just getting to know my new supervisor (all virtual/over Zoom). She seems lovely and supportive. But I recently learned that she is enrolled to get an advanced degree at one of the most notoriously anti-gay, anti-trans, anti-civil-rights, etc. etc. evangelical universities in the country. I’ll call it University X.

This isn’t a matter of what’s physically close to her, because it’s all online. It’s not a matter of saving money, because it’s being paid for by employers who would pay any tuition. It’s almost certainly not a matter of academic excellence, because this place just isn’t academically excellent. While I give a lot of leeway to where people get their undergrad degrees — an 18-year-old is functionally a child and most are under the thumbs of their parents — this is a woman closer to middle age who would have made the decision to enroll in grad school at University X with both eyes open and a plethora of other options.

As a supervisor, what is her duty here? Our employer is outspoken about support for the queer community. But I can imagine hearing from her that she was enrolled at University X and feeling super unsafe about talking to her about anything in my life that was even the least bit non-normative. Whether I count as “queer” is sort of up for debate within the community, but this question isn’t really about me so much as it is a hypothetical: What would you advise my supervisor to do here? Should she have chosen a different school from the get-go? Should she omit the name of the school when she discusses her academic work with subordinates? Should she mention the school but insert a disclaimer, “I know that University X has a really awful reputation for being queer-friendly, but I just want to let you know I don’t condone that”?

She shouldn’t attend a school that’s notoriously anti-gay, anti-trans, and anti-civil-rights, period. With the context you gave (eyes wide open and other options), you’ve got to assume she either actively supports their positions or simply doesn’t care (which for all intents and purposes isn’t that different from supporting them) and that’s a real problem for her as a manager (and as a human). If your employer is paying for her to get a degree there, they need to revisit what they pay for.

3. Hiring managers are asking how I thought the interview went before they offer me the job

I’ve recently been job searching and accepted a new job and turned down several offers. One thing I ran into several times was that post-interview, I would receive a call from the interviewer. We’d exchange the usual pleasantries but then they would ask me how I thought the interview went.

Every time this happened, it was incredibly awkward. I had no idea what they wanted from me as an answer and in the moment it felt like answering it wrong might lose me the job. Each time they ended up offering me the job after I answered.

Once when this happened, it was a job that I’d planned to email the next day to withdraw from consideration. They asked me how it went, I said that it didn’t seem to be a good fit for me. They said, “Well, you might think that you didn’t come across well or didn’t answer the questions perfectly but it’s good news — we’d like to offer you the job.” As you can imagine, my politely declining the offer was so much more awkward than it would have been without that spiel.

Is there some logic behind this question that I’m not seeing? What is the “right” answer? Please tell me they aren’t doing this to people they reject?

That is a strange way to open a conversation that’s leading up to a job offer. My guess is that they really mean, “How are you feeling about things?” and they’re expecting you to say that you’re really interested in the job, which they will then respond to by offering it to you.

The problem, of course, is that they don’t seem to be contemplating that you might not respond that way — or at least they’re not adjust their script when that happens, as evidenced by the person who, upon being told you didn’t think the job was a good fit, responded that they had “good news” anyway. It apparently never occurred to them that you might have felt they were not a good fit for you and that you weren’t simply waiting for their judgment of you.

It’s also totally unnecessary! If they want to offer you the job, they can just open the conversation with, “I’m calling because we’d like to offer you the job.” Done!

As for a good response to “how did you feel the interview went?” if you are still interested in the job, you can go with something generically positive, like, “I really enjoyed talking with you, and I’m very interested in the position.”

4. Can I warn a vendor about our difficult IT director?

My workplace has recently identified a piece of software we need to replace, and we’ve selected one that meets our needs well. I’ve been working closely with the vendor during this process to evaluate the software and their proposals and have a very good relationship with them.
The only hurdle we have left is IT approval. The problem is the head of IT is a real [insert not nice word here]. In past interactions with vendors, he’s only been happy when he thinks he’s getting one over on them. I have heard him berate salespeople and hang up on technical reps who he’s specifically requested to be a part of the call. (I’m very happy to not be in his chain of command.) I’m also a woman in a typically male-dominated role (where I’m expected to be THE expert on some things). I’ve had him specifically ask my opinion about things in my area of expertise (which he knows little to nothing about) and dismiss my opinion when I didn’t agree with him.

I will have to keep working with this vendor through the purchase and implementation of the software, and longer if we go with the remote-hosted option that seems the best fit. We have a meeting next week with a technical rep from the vendor and our head of IT to get all IT questions answered so we can move forward. Ethically it seems like I should warn the vendor that the head of IT isn’t particularly nice and may be spectacularly unreceptive to the proposal, but I genuinely have no idea how I would go about that. Is there anything I can say that wouldn’t be badmouthing an exec?

There’s no reason you can’t discreetly say, “Roger can be difficult in these meetings, but you won’t have much contact with him afterwards. I’m the one you’d be working with throughout the purchase and implementation.” If there’s anything you can specifically recommend the vendor do to prepare for the conversation (like “Roger always looks at X really carefully and will likely have questions on Y”), that’s useful too.

5. How do I pass on institutional knowledge before I retire?

I’m a bit over a year from retiring. I currently manage a small environmental regulation group that I was an inspector in for almost 30 years, and when I retire I will have been here for 32ish years. We’re a niche program in a field that really didn’t exist until the early 80s; I got started in it in 1982 at another city, so I was in on the ground floor. In my time here as an inspector, I have always been the subject matter expert here. My three employees total about half my experience in the field.

We have decent policies and procedures, all of which we’re updating/rewriting over the next year. But how do I transfer what’s in my brain? Like I know the answer to something because I read an EPA guidance letter about it 30 years ago that will be difficult to find a copy of, but don’t “know” I know it until the question comes up. We have a good library of guidance documents, and most of them are available online, but half the battle is just knowing where to look and I can’t figure out how to pass that along.

You can’t really pass that kind of thing along. That kind of institutional memory can’t just be written up into a manual or downloaded into someone else’s brain. Even if you had a colleague closely shadow you for the remaining year, you wouldn’t be able to transfer all of that. It would make sense to spend a good part of your remaining time mentoring colleagues, but your bar for success can’t be “they know everything I know”; that just won’t happen.

But this might indicate you could do a few hours a week/month of lucrative consulting work after you’re gone, if you wanted to!

]]>
https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/i-have-two-bosses-my-manager-attends-a-notoriously-bigoted-university-and-more.html/feed 639
weekend open thread – September 11-12, 2021 https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/weekend-open-thread-september-11-12-2021.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/weekend-open-thread-september-11-12-2021.html#comments Sat, 11 Sep 2021 05:00:27 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22262 This post, weekend open thread – September 11-12, 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. Recommendation of the week: Instead of a book, this week I’m recommending a Netlix series: The Chair, about drama in a college English department. It’s like a David Lodge novel […]

]]>
This post, weekend open thread – September 11-12, 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.

Recommendation of the week: Instead of a book, this week I’m recommending a Netlix series: The Chair, about drama in a college English department. It’s like a David Lodge novel come to life. Highly enjoyable.

]]>
https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/weekend-open-thread-september-11-12-2021.html/feed 1067
it’s your Friday good news https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/its-your-friday-good-news-69.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/its-your-friday-good-news-69.html#comments Fri, 10 Sep 2021 16:00:22 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22268 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. The company I (30s, she/her) work for was hit hard by the “great resignation” earlier this year and hiring went through a dry spell, and we had a pretty bad gender skew in both, taking us from fairly balanced to predominantly men. As part of a panel of employee resource […]

]]>
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. The company I (30s, she/her) work for was hit hard by the “great resignation” earlier this year and hiring went through a dry spell, and we had a pretty bad gender skew in both, taking us from fairly balanced to predominantly men.

As part of a panel of employee resource group representatives, we brought up the lack of competitive pay and the poor way we handled internal promotions and positions changes. E.g., someone who came in at an entry level position in one department might end up with a significantly lower salary after being transferred and promoted simply because they had a lower starting salary, and the employees most impacted by this were women and people without advanced degrees.

The executive team took the concerns seriously, and spent time restructuring our pay bands, assessing salary inequality, comparing to market rates, etc.

I honestly didn’t think of myself when talking about this: while I knew my pay was on the low end for market value, I have always been on the high end of % increases and was satisfied enough since I enjoy my co-workers and work.

But just got a 30% salary increase as a compensation adjustment (meaning it won’t impact my annual performance review raise potential), putting me at a competitive market rate for the first time in a while, and didn’t realize until I got it that it was actually bothering me.

Since our new hires are skewing towards men, we were seeing women who had risen to the same position from internal jobs making notably less, and I am so relieved that (1) they are correcting this and (2) they are finally making salaries more competitive.

I hope it will help us attract and retain more employees again, and on a personal note, I feel more valued and like my concerns were heard. And very sad to see some of my peers leave this past year, but my thanks to them for sending the message to the company “sorry, you have to actually pay us what we’re worth”.

Fingers crossed that more companies start to re-evaluate the true cost of underpaying employees and address their pay inequality issues!

2. I wanted to share a counter-offer success story! I’m a longtime reader of your site and 2 years ago, after negotiating a salary correction that almost, but didn’t quite, get me to parity with others in my role, I decided to put out feelers to see what else was out there. I received a job offer in February 2020 for a similar role in the same organization (but different company, I am a gov’t contractor) with an almost 30% pay increase! Since I knew that the government was not interested in increasing my rate in my old position and there wasn’t any other similar position in my current company, I didn’t think they would be interested in countering. Well, I was wrong. When my grandboss found out I had put my notice in, he called me for a meeting and flat out offered to meet the new salary, plus a $5,000 signing bonus and parking (which amounts to another $2,000/year) and they were creating a new position for me in corporate, which would give me more flexibility and allow me to grow my skills beyond chief of staff type roles, which is what I’d been doing for 5 years and what the new position was offering.

After a lot of reading and thinking and discussion, I decided to accept the counter offer. Part of my calculation was that I was just coming out of maternity leave and now had 3 kids, so guaranteed flexibility was important. In addition, the fact that they were specific about wanting me to grow and branch out and pursue certification/education was huge, as I was great at what I did, but I don’t have any formal training or certification in my field. I truly liked my company, they had listened when I spoke up about some policies and benefits that were terrible and made changes that benefited employees, and I had a good relationship with leadership and coworkers. Finally, the company had tripled in size from less than 100 to almost 300 in my 3.5 years with them and they were on track to continue growing, so there was a lot of potential for internal career growth. The other company had a great reputation as well, but the position would have been more of the same, just with a bigger paycheck.

And it was a great thing that I accepted the counter offer. I started my new job on March 2, 2020, which was my first day back from maternity leave. The world shut down, with all 3 kids suddenly home from school, 2 weeks later. 2 weeks after that, my marriage imploded pretty spectacularly and I ended up having to move myself and the kids 2 weeks after THAT. My company was incredible during all of the initial upheaval and has continued to be supportive. I think the fact that I had almost 4 years of high quality performance and a great reputation as a team player (and straight shooter, as I’d done research and presented evidence on how the previous crappy policies and benefits were hurting company growth when I spoke up) really helped my boss grant me the grace and flexibility I needed as I transitioned to being a solo parent with kids who were dealing with some trauma. That flexibility allowed me to get my work done, even as I also homeschooled and navigated what has turned out to be an incredibly acrimonious divorce. During the last 18 months, I actually picked up a title change that is essentially a promotion and received a performance bonus. Now that I’m moving out of personal crisis management mode, my boss and I are looking ahead to get me some of those certifications and formal education so I can really progress.

None of this would have been possible if I hadn’t had the skills to negotiate the offers, advice on how to clearly evaluate both offers and the ability (and confidence) to clearly communicate with my leadership on what I can and cannot deliver. The reputation I built at the company was due in part to the advice here on how to advocate for yourself and the general “this is what a healthy workplace looks like” stories. Most of my working life has felt like floating along with whatever is happening, it’s been incredible to take control and come up with a plan for what’s ahead. Thank you!

3. This saga starts in May 2019, when my husband was transferred to a new boss. The new boss was someone who should never have been allowed to manage people. After almost 25 years, my husband was done, and he started looking seriously to leave.

In July 2019, a job came open that a friend who used to work at the new place strongly encouraged my husband to apply for. My husband hadn’t written a resume in years, so he asked for my help. I had him write out what he thought it should look like, then I used Alison’s resume writing advice to take it from mediocre at best to really good. I convinced him to concentrate on achievements, since there were a lot of them after 25 years in higher education IT. He also wrote a really robust cover letter detailing why he would be a good fit for the job.

The combination of the cover letter and resume got him the interview in mid-August. I bought him a new suit, and I persuaded him to go to my stylist to get a good haircut. That, along with the interview practice I got him to do with his friend, helped him ace the interview. Four days later, he had an offer for more than he asked for. He started at the new position that October.

I knew that if he got the job, I would need to start looking for a new job because it wasn’t reasonable for him to commute 100 miles each way indefinitely. I took the resume that I had used to earn two promotions in the hospital where I worked for 25 years, and I updated it to reflect the most current accomplishments. 

I applied for a job at the nearby academic medical center and I was almost immediately asked to do a phone screening with the recruiter. That was on Monday. On Thursday, I interviewed with the manager and team lead for the position. A week later, I had a second interview with the manager and her director, where they told me to expect an offer within 48 hours. I accepted the offer, as it was about a 25% increase over what I was making.

I started the new position in December 2019. We continued to commute until March 2020, when we closed on a new house. The weekend we moved, the shutdown orders began. My husband and I have been working from home since then.

I couldn’t ask for a better employer. The health system I work for prioritizes patient care, patient safety, and science in everything we do. We have an incredible team where the most common statement is “I appreciate everything you do.” I know that the work I do, in revenue cycle informatics, is making a difference.

4.  I just started a new job last week after a few months of unemployment. I was made redundant after an acquisition after only being in the position for a year. I was almost relieved to be laid off as I was sinking deeper into a depression as each day was passing — I absolutely HATED my supervisor, my boss, and the company. I spent nearly every day trying to work up the courage to ask you a question, but couldn’t even begin to figure out what problem I had that could be solved with anything other than “leave.” After I cried a whole bunch post-layoff, I took some time (with severance and unemployment in hand, thank god) to visit friends and family I hadn’t seen since the pandemic. I had a few interviews make it to final rounds, and finally cinched the job I’m in now.

When I tell you this job is night and day from my last, I could not be more serious. My bosses laugh with me, respect my opinion, and are genuinely happy in both the company and their decision to hire me. (It certainly doesn’t hurt that the job came with a 16% salary increase!) I feel my old confidence coming back and I couldn’t be more grateful to you and your blog for helping me cling to the shreds when the walls felt like they were closing in on me. Time after time I returned to Ask A Manager, for both advice on staying professional and moral support.

I know a new job doesn’t solve all my problems, but I finally feel like I’m on the right path to move forward.

]]>
https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/its-your-friday-good-news-69.html/feed 40
open thread – September 10-11, 2021 https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/open-thread-september-10-11-2021.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/open-thread-september-10-11-2021.html#comments Fri, 10 Sep 2021 15:00:28 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22263 This post, open thread – September 10-11, 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. * […]

]]>
This post, open thread – September 10-11, 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.

]]>
https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/open-thread-september-10-11-2021.html/feed 1204
does sloppy writing indicate lack of attention to detail, resigning when I won’t go back to the office, and more https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/does-sloppy-writing-indicate-lack-of-attention-to-detail-resigning-when-i-wont-go-back-to-the-office-and-more.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/does-sloppy-writing-indicate-lack-of-attention-to-detail-resigning-when-i-wont-go-back-to-the-office-and-more.html#comments Fri, 10 Sep 2021 04:03:00 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22280 This post, does sloppy writing indicate lack of attention to detail, resigning when I won’t go back to the office, and more , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go… 1. Does sloppy writing indicate a lack of attention to detail? I’m working in recruiting currently, and I’m getting a lot of applicants for jobs like welders, electricians, etc. These resumes tend to have more mistakes (think grammar and spelling errors). I’m having a hard time […]

]]>
This post, does sloppy writing indicate lack of attention to detail, resigning when I won’t go back to the office, and more , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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

1. Does sloppy writing indicate a lack of attention to detail?

I’m working in recruiting currently, and I’m getting a lot of applicants for jobs like welders, electricians, etc. These resumes tend to have more mistakes (think grammar and spelling errors). I’m having a hard time figuring out if their attention to detail on the resume is actually a reflection of their ability to do a good job in these jobs. I’m interested in hearing your opinions because for other positions (like admin or office) I would strongly consider the attention to detail.

As a general rule, if a job won’t involve written communication I wouldn’t penalize people at all for weaknesses in their writing. Assess them on the skills they’ll actually use on the job! I get that you’re concerned it could signal a lack attention to detail, but I don’t think it correlates — people can be bad/sloppy writers or spellers and be absolutely fantastic at something unrelated.

2. Resigning when I’m not willing to return to the office

My employer has a return-to-the-office date of January 2022. It is possible this could get moved, but if not, I have no intention of returning to the office. I am financially secure and could semi-retire for a while if I wanted to (I don’t have enough for the rest of my life, but I do have enough for several decades). I generally take most of my vacation time around the holidays, so I don’t particularly want to offer my two-week notice in December for fear they would just let me go and I wouldn’t get my vacation time for the year. Should I offer my two-week notice when I come back in January and just offer to work from home for that period? Or just resign effective immediately? What if they refuse to have me work from home for my notice period?

When you resign in January, explain that you’re resigning in part because you’re not comfortable returning to the office. It’s very unlikely that they’ll say you have to come in for your final two weeks when you haven’t been there in over a year. But if they do, you can explain that’s not an option for you and ask if they still want you to work out your notice period or not; if they don’t, they’ll let you know, but it’s unlikely that will happen (particularly if they’re relying on you for any transition work). It’ll be far less disruptive to them to have you for two more weeks (wrapping up projects and transitioning things), even from home, than to have you abruptly gone that day — but you can let them decide which they prefer.

3. My boss is pressuring me to meet a goal that no one on my team is meeting

I work in a creative field and my job revolves around creating products (let’s say teapots) on short timelines. I work on a team of five people who all produce teapots. When I joined about a year ago, my manager, Bob, told me that my goal should be to produce two teapots per week — he knew that this was very ambitious and I wouldn’t be at that pace immediately, but that I should be working towards it. I am new to this field and, while that seemed like quite a fast pace, I trusted that Bob (who has been in the field quite a while and is respected) knew what he was talking about.

A year later, I still am not quite averaging two teapots per week, but it’s close — often 1.5 to 1.75. Bob has begun calculating these paces and bringing them up in our past few performance reviews, always saying things like, “You averaged X teapots per week this quarter, which is great, but remember, the goal is two teapots per week, so keep working for that.” (He is otherwise very complimentary about my work, this is usually his only negative feedback.) I have begun rushing my teapots, reworking my schedule, and taking other things off my plate so that I can meet this pace, as it seems like something he really wants from me.

However, I am noticing that I have (by far) the highest teapot output on our team. I have been looking at the spreadsheet where we track teapot output, and most of my team (who have the same title and salary as I do) is averaging less than one teapot per week. I find this confusing and a bit frustrating. Am I wrong to wonder whether I’m the only one that Bob is pushing to bust my butt and achieve this fast pace, and whether that’s fair if so? Or, would it be fair to take these results as evidence that the goal he’s asking for is unrealistic, and would that be a reasonable thing to bring up with him?

It’s possible there’s an explanation you’re not aware of — like that your coworkers have other projects that you don’t have and so their teapot production goals are lower … or it’s possible that Bob is pushing you (and maybe your whole team) to meet an unreasonable goal because he thinks it will motivate you. (I once worked with someone who was convinced this was how you could get the best out of people — but what he saw as “pushing people to achieve their best” was really “stressing and demoralizing people by giving them unattainable targets and making them think their work will never be good enough.”)

In any case, it’s a reasonable thing to ask about! I’d say it this way: “I have a question about the two teapots a week goal. I’ve been trying really hard to meet it and have been stressed out that I’ve been falling short — but I noticed on our tracking spreadsheet that my production is the highest on the team and most people average less than one a week. Is two a week the goal for everyone, or does my role have different targets?”

You also might also ask your teammates what goals they’ve been given.

4. Should I ask my boss if we’re going to be laid off?

I have a suspicion my job may be terminated by year’s end, not because of performance but rather a restructuring of business operations.

A few red flags: I recently received a request to sign a confidentiality agreement … HR sent a notice (to all employees) about a month ago that they would no longer be paying out unused PTO pay upon termination or resignation … A new technology system relevant to my position is currently being tested without any of my team’s involvement.

I really want to ask my boss but don’t know how to go about it. And even if there are plans to eliminate my department, how could I even know if they would be honest about it?

If they’re planning to do layoffs, it’s very, very unlikely that they’ll tell you just because you asked. It’s very common for layoffs not to be announced until they’re happening (and instead to offer severance in lieu of notice) — in part because sometimes plans can still change and in part because a lot of employers believe that announcing layoffs but keeping people on for a while can make the environment more difficult for everyone, including people who aren’t being laid off. (More on that here.) And even when employers are willing to tell you ahead of time, that’s generally a big decision with lots of thought put into the timing — not something you’ll get a straight answer to just because you happened to ask one day.

That said, occasionally a manager will be straight with you, so you can ask if you want to. But if they tell you your job is safe, you can’t really count on that — so if you’re worried, the safest thing is to proceed as if layoffs are likely so you’re not blindsided (or starting from scratch with a job search) if they do happen.

5. Saying no to recruiters

I’ve recently had several recruiters reach out to me about positions related to my field. It’s happened periodically in the past, but companies are scrambling for talent right now and I’ve gotten way more inquiries than I think someone like me would expect. I’m younger (26) and just starting to get marketable skills and experience (implementation/project management).

I’m not really looking to change jobs right now. I work for a Fortune 500 company with decent pay, a great office culture, and a kick-ass boss who always has my back. But big companies can change quickly. While I am happy in my role with my current boss, if things changed and I got put on another team, I don’t know if I’d feel the same way. Is there a good way to tell recruiters I’m not interested right now while still leaving the door open for opportunities in the future?

It’s super normal! Saying no to a recruiter doesn’t burn a bridge in any way; it’s a normal part of their work. You can just say, “I’m not looking to make a move right now, but I’d like to get back in touch with you if that changes in the future.”

]]>
https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/does-sloppy-writing-indicate-lack-of-attention-to-detail-resigning-when-i-wont-go-back-to-the-office-and-more.html/feed 450
if I don’t accept calendar invitations, will people assume I won’t be at meetings? https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/if-i-dont-accept-calendar-invitations-will-people-assume-i-wont-be-at-meetings.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/if-i-dont-accept-calendar-invitations-will-people-assume-i-wont-be-at-meetings.html#comments Thu, 09 Sep 2021 17:59:39 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22267 This post, if I don’t accept calendar invitations, will people assume I won’t be at meetings? , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes: Something happened this morning and I’m wondering if you can settle it: Am I a mega jerk for the way I manage meeting requests? If someone does not actively decline a meeting request, is that meeting request assumed to be accepted? Here’s what happened: – I had a one-on-one meeting scheduled at […]

]]>
This post, if I don’t accept calendar invitations, will people assume I won’t be at meetings? , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes:

Something happened this morning and I’m wondering if you can settle it: Am I a mega jerk for the way I manage meeting requests? If someone does not actively decline a meeting request, is that meeting request assumed to be accepted?

Here’s what happened:
– I had a one-on-one meeting scheduled at 9 am in the office.
– At 8:45 am, when I was already a few minutes away from the office, the organizer cancelled the meeting with no note. I continued into the office anyway as I was so close and arrived right at 9 am.
– When I arrived, I saw the organizer was also in the office, but had his office door shut. I did not stop in to say good morning — I assumed it was an urgent conflict for him to cancel the meeting so last-minute, and so I assumed he was on that urgent call.
– Around 9:30 am, the organizer walked by my office and was surprised to see me. He said he was looking forward to catching up but I hadn’t accepted the meeting request, so he cancelled. There was no conflict, he just assumed I was blowing him off.
– I am now extremely mortified and feel like a jerk.

Some additional context:
– I work from home primarily, but go into the office ~2 days a week, when I need to. Same situation with the organizer.
– We are both very senior staff who manage our own schedules. He’s one level above me but not in a reporting relationship, but he is C-suite so his time is more valuable.
– This was not a time-sensitive or critical meeting.
– Neither of us have difficult or long commutes and also both enjoy being in the office and have no issues coming in when it’s needed.

So I feel like a jerk. But am I? Have I been making a meeting etiquette faux pas for years? If someone does not DECLINE a meeting, I assume they have accepted. I don’t check to make sure someone has accepted a meeting before I dial in or show up. Never in my life have I even checked. Only if they actively decline do I then reschedule. I thought everyone operated the same way — declining if they had a conflict, otherwise it’s assumed accepted. But of course, now I’m mortified because I’ve wasted a C-suite member’s time.

So what’s the etiquette here? In the best of cases, everyone would respond and ideally he could have checked in earlier to see if I was coming, but was he right to cancel the meeting just because I hadn’t explicitly accepted it?

You’re going to find different takes on this, but it really comes down to office culture — and also to what contact, if any, you’d already had about the meeting.

If you had discussed a plan to meet to talk about X on Tuesday morning, then it’s a bit much for him to have assumed the meeting was canceled just because you never accepted the calendar invite. But if you’d never discussed it and he sent you the invite out of the blue and you never acknowledged in any way … I can see him not being sure if the meeting was happening, although it’s odd that he didn’t just contact you to confirm.

At least it’s odd in my world. But there are offices with all sorts of norms around meeting invitations, including ones where you’re expected to accept meeting invitations and not accepting signals you won’t be there. It’s more typical, though, to let the other person know you can’t attend and/or propose a new time, often using whatever system your calendaring software has for that. That’s especially true with one-on-one meetings, where not alerting the other person that you won’t be there would normally be seen as pretty rude.

My guess is that the assumptions you’ve been making about meeting invitations do hold true in your office, at least with most people — because you’ve been functioning like this for years, presumably without any indication that people are baffled by your presence when you arrive for meetings.

That said, the culture around this can differ not only from company to company, but also from team to team. So who knows, maybe he’s perfectly in line with the norms of the people he works most closely with.

I’d just write it off to being one of those things that people handle differently … but also, going forward, know that it’s safer to accept meeting invitations if you plan to attend!

]]>
https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/if-i-dont-accept-calendar-invitations-will-people-assume-i-wont-be-at-meetings.html/feed 691
disgusting shared fridges, loud talkers, and other things we haven’t missed about the office https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/disgusting-shared-fridges-loud-talkers-and-other-things-we-havent-missed-about-the-office.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/disgusting-shared-fridges-loud-talkers-and-other-things-we-havent-missed-about-the-office.html#comments Thu, 09 Sep 2021 16:29:54 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22201 This post, disgusting shared fridges, loud talkers, and other things we haven’t missed about the office , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

I’ve mentioned here before that my mail changed drastically when the pandemic started, and stayed changed until very recently. I normally receive loads of letters about all the ways that working with other people can be annoying — whether it’s the coworker who takes all his phone calls on speaker phone to the reliably disgusting […]

]]>
This post, disgusting shared fridges, loud talkers, and other things we haven’t missed about the office , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

I’ve mentioned here before that my mail changed drastically when the pandemic started, and stayed changed until very recently. I normally receive loads of letters about all the ways that working with other people can be annoying — whether it’s the coworker who takes all his phone calls on speaker phone to the reliably disgusting state of the office kitchen — and those completely dried up for most of the last 16 months. Only recently have people’s more minor irritations with coworkers begun to creep back into my inbox.

I recorded a piece for the BBC about what has been missing from my mail during the pandemic, and the irritations that those of us working from home did not miss about the office.

It’s three minutes long and you can listen here.

]]>
https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/disgusting-shared-fridges-loud-talkers-and-other-things-we-havent-missed-about-the-office.html/feed 172
how can I ease the transition back to working from the office? https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/how-can-i-ease-the-transition-back-to-working-from-the-office.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/how-can-i-ease-the-transition-back-to-working-from-the-office.html#comments Thu, 09 Sep 2021 14:59:57 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=21922 This post, how can I ease the transition back to working from the office? , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

It’s the Thursday “ask the readers” question. A reader writes: As many offices start to bring employees back, what do you recommend employees do to ease the transition back into the office? Both for themselves and their colleagues? I miss the office, but I’ve gotten really settled into my 100% telework life and I know […]

]]>
This post, how can I ease the transition back to working from the office? , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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

As many offices start to bring employees back, what do you recommend employees do to ease the transition back into the office? Both for themselves and their colleagues? I miss the office, but I’ve gotten really settled into my 100% telework life and I know it’s going to be rough going back.

Readers who have already made this transition — or are making it now — what have you found helpful?

]]>
https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/how-can-i-ease-the-transition-back-to-working-from-the-office.html/feed 315
compliments I don’t deserve, people keep giving me plants, and more https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/compliments-i-dont-deserve-people-keep-giving-me-plants-and-more.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/compliments-i-dont-deserve-people-keep-giving-me-plants-and-more.html#comments Thu, 09 Sep 2021 04:03:14 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22277 This post, compliments I don’t deserve, people keep giving me plants, and more , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go… 1. My colleagues keep complimenting me on a job poorly done I recently had to present some of my work to a client, and they absolutely hated it. They were extremely passive aggressive and rolled their eyes when I tried to suggest solutions. I eventually just […]

]]>
This post, compliments I don’t deserve, people keep giving me plants, and more , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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

1. My colleagues keep complimenting me on a job poorly done

I recently had to present some of my work to a client, and they absolutely hated it. They were extremely passive aggressive and rolled their eyes when I tried to suggest solutions. I eventually just took notes on all the things they said I did wrong and told them I’d run some new ideas that implemented these changes by them next week. I didn’t take any of the feedback personally, just attentively drew their ideas out to help with the next iteration of the project. I was receptive to feedback, but I wasn’t super proactive because, frankly, they were pretty insulting of me and my intelligence on the call and I was a bit shocked.

A lot of my team was with me on the call. They jumped in and offered suggestions and helped assuage the client’s fears. They were all awesome!

Here’s the issue: My team keeps heaping praise on me for my in call performance, but I don’t deserve it. They say that some clients are harder than others and that I took their feedback so well. They call me a trooper and resilient and excellent, but … I messed up! That’s why we’re in this situation. I did a poor job on the presentation and the client is now doubting my competency and my company. Being able to take feedback is great, sure, but jeez! The level of compliments I’ve received is outrageous (~10 channel wide slack messages, 4 DMs, and ~15 minutes of our weekly company wide meeting were spent complimenting me). I messed up. Why am I getting all this praise?

I’m worried that because I’m the youngest on the team and a woman they feel like they need to coddle me to not hurt my feelings, but … my feelings aren’t hurt! I missed the mark, but I know how to fix it. It was tough feedback, but I don’t mind it. I don’t know how to get them to stop treating me like I’m made from glass after a hard call. Any advice?

If you’ve never seen this behavior from your colleagues before (or other signs of them patronizing you), I suspect it’s happening now because the client was such a jerk! If I were on a call where a client insulted my colleague’s intelligence and otherwise was an ass to them, I’d be horrified and would probably bend over backwards to try to counter that too. People are likely imagining how horrified they might feel in your shoes and trying to make sure you know you don’t need to worry.

But if it keeps happening, you could say, “Y’all, I appreciate the kudos, but I’m not made of glass! I can handle tough feedback from a client.”

2. My boss and coworkers keep giving me plants

This is a fairly low stakes question, but I don’t know what to do. About two years ago, my team (boss and coworkers) gave me an orchid when a family member died.

I can’t keep plants alive to save my life. I did everything I could, including watching YouTube tutorials about plant care, and it died a month in. Since then, I’ve been gifted five other plants (four pre-Covid) by various coworkers and my boss. After the first one died, I’ve made many jokes about how I’m like the kiss of death to plants, yet they continue.

Last week, I was given a cactus that is now also on its way to death. It doesn’t help that I’m in a cube with no access to direct sunlight.

Short of not accepting the plants, how can I get them to save the plants by not giving them to me?

Why is everyone giving you plants?! Is everyone in your office receiving so many or just you?

In a lot of cases you could solve it by cultivating a (humorous) reputation for being the grim reaper of plants. It sounds like you’ve tried that, but maybe you need to take it a step further — like a funny email to your team with a formal announcement that while you appreciate their efforts to build your plant-nurturing skills, you are admitting defeat and asking that they stop entrusting living things to your care.

If that doesn’t work … if other people in your office receive a ton of plants too and some of them seem to enjoy having them, you could ask if you can immediately transfer all future plants to them. Or you can put future plants in a common area and announce that you have created a community garden (perhaps in remembrance of all the plants sacrificed at your hands).

3. Getting files from an ex-employee

I work producing digital assets. Previously I had one other digital asset creator who worked with me. Doris has completed her contract and moved on.

Management has been chaotic and sporadic, with our boss, Dave, often throwing things at us that he’s deemed urgent to supersede everything else. This is why Doris spent her last week working on creating an (URGENT!) digital asset, rather than focusing on backing up files, making locations of documents clear, and working on a smooth handover.

This isn’t on Doris. Dave is now after some files that Doris might have. Unfortunately, Dave being Dave, needs them NOW.

What I’ve heard from Doris is that she knows that the files are needed, knows the urgency and will get them to us as soon as she can. They’re big files, and getting them over takes a while. It might also take up the hardware’s resources, making it difficult for her to do other things while the transfer is happening.

After Dave called her at strange times of night, Doris blocked his number. Dave is now asking me to keep pressing her for updates on the file transfer. I’m pushing back on this, reminding him that she no longer works for us, yet he keeps countering with the urgency and with questions about her character, implying that she’s deliberately avoiding us. She might be, but she no longer works for us. She might even be drunk in a field. Good for her — she no longer works for us.

This has picked up in frequency over the last few days, and I’m trying to push back where I can. Thankfully, my way out is in sight so for the most part I’m letting these stressors float past me, but I like Doris and I don’t want to be harassing her by proxy. What’s the best option here? I’m happy to tread water until I get out of this awful workplace and have set up contingencies to not be in the same position when I leave, so while I’m happy to maybe let a bridge break down with Dave, I’d rather not be made to burn one with Doris.

Tell Dave that Doris has made it clear that she’s aware of the urgency and will get you the files as soon as she can, but it won’t be immediate because the process takes a while and she has another job now. Say that if you continue to push, there’s a risk that it will make the process take longer or you might not even get the files at all. (Don’t imply Doris said that if she didn’t, just that any reasonable person has limits to how much pushiness they’re willing to tolerate.)

And definitely don’t keep bothering Doris. If Dave insists in a way you feel you can’t refuse, feel free to explain the situation to Doris and suggest she might need to block your number as well.

4. Employer said they don’t care about cost of living

I work for county government, and one of our routine employee news emails has a section where employees can ask HR questions. This was the questions/answer included in today’s email: “Dear Jane, we received our annual job family market adjustments in January, which is great, but I’m concerned these adjustments won’t enable me to keep up with the increasing cost of living. Signed, Concerned.”

The answer was: Dear Concerned, X County provides market adjustments to keep pace with the increases in the cost of hiring and paying employees, not the cost of living in a certain geographic area. Unlike Social Security or some pensions, which provide annual adjustments for the increasing cost of gas, food, housing, and other items, our market increases are primarily determined by the cost of employment. Few employers can afford to provide increases in line with the cost of living and trying to match these costs with market increases raises the risk of over or underpaying for our talent. If we pay less than market, we would not be able to hire the talent we need to provide high-quality services to the residents of X County, and it is not financially sustainable to consistently pay more than we need to.”

Admittedly, my job is high stress and today has been particularly bad, so I’m already feeling a little defeated, but am I wrong in thinking that that’s an objectively bad answer from an employee perspective? I know for a fact that my department has high turnover, and it the job postings I see for other departments are any indication, we’re not alone. I have a relevant degree and almost 15 years of semi-related experience, and I make roughly $2,000 a year too much to qualify for affordable housing. Many of my coworkers make even less – we spend all day helping our clients find resources, and then turn around and apply for the same ones ourselves.

Is there any point to responding to HR to let them know that this answer feels like a more politely worded “F you” to employees who are struggling to get by? Or am I better off spending my energy on looking for a new job where cost of living might actually be considered in salary calculations?

Yeah, that’s a crap answer. It basically says, “We don’t care that your buying power is less than it was a year ago, effectively giving you a pay cut. We’re only concerned with what it takes for us to hire new employees.” That may be true, but (a) it’s pretty odd that they didn’t realize how it would come across and (b) it sounds like they don’t realize that cost-of-living increases are in fact a pretty normal thing other employers do — not universally, but it’s not an outrageous luxury no one can pull off.

Whether or not there’s any point in pointing that out depends on your sense of your office culture and leadership, whether they’d care, and whether you’d be likely to get any blowback (and how much you’d care if you did). If you do raise it, I’d probably raise it to your agency’s leadership, not HR. But doing that and looking for a new job aren’t mutually exclusive!

5. Books on career exploration

As a regular reader of your site and someone who has embarked on career exploration in the past two years, I am curious as to your opinion on career books. Specifically, books that focus on heavy introspection and list-making, as if there should be a “click” once you’re done with mountains of exercises. Do you find any value in these books or do they tread dangerously toward self-help?

Some people find value in them! Some people don’t. It just depends on what resonates with you. There’s not really more to it than that, I don’t think! (But also, “trending toward self-help” isn’t an inherently bad thing; that’s another category that some people find helpful and some people don’t, and both viewpoints are fine.)

]]>
https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/compliments-i-dont-deserve-people-keep-giving-me-plants-and-more.html/feed 434
the intern who set up a cot and other stories of internships gone wrong https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/the-intern-who-set-up-a-cot-and-other-stories-of-internships-gone-wrong.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/the-intern-who-set-up-a-cot-and-other-stories-of-internships-gone-wrong.html#comments Wed, 08 Sep 2021 17:59:50 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22259 This post, the intern who set up a cot and other stories of internships gone wrong , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

With summer internships ending, here are 10 of the most intriguing intern stories that readers have shared in the past. But first, for the record, most interns are great! But when things go wrong, they tend to really go wrong. Read these with nostalgia for what it’s like to be new to the work world. […]

]]>
This post, the intern who set up a cot and other stories of internships gone wrong , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

With summer internships ending, here are 10 of the most intriguing intern stories that readers have shared in the past.

But first, for the record, most interns are great! But when things go wrong, they tend to really go wrong. Read these with nostalgia for what it’s like to be new to the work world. And if you manage interns, remember that you need to provide them with guidance and mentorship so they avoid disasters.

1. The cot

“Our office was one of those super modern open floor plan models, where everyone sits at a table, regardless of title. Our office had a lot of those lux amenities, like a gym, hair salon and convenience store, so a lot of interns viewed it as their own take on Google. I came in one day and found a very neat cot made up next to the large common table, complete with sheets, pillows and even shams. Our company did frequently have health observance displays, so I thought maybe it was a sleep hygiene demonstration – but no. An intern had decided he needed a midday nap and had purchased and set up a cot. His manager worked in a different area and rarely came to this building. When she did and saw the cot, and found out it was the intern’s sleeping place, her rage was epic and horrifying.”

2. The music fan

“A brand new co-op student came into our lunch room for the first time, listened to about 10 minutes of our usual conversation (sports, major world events, Game of Thrones, and other TV), and announced that those topics didn’t interest her and that we should be talking about classical music instead. One of my colleagues asked how that would go, and in a very condescending tone she said, ‘Well, if I was to say the name Beethoven, would you know who I meant?'”

3. The love

“I had a young employee who used to invite her boyfriend to work so she and him could make out.I still remember her expression when I pulled her aside to tell her that this was not okay. She stared at me for a good 30 seconds before saying, ‘But I love him.’ I still don’t know what she expected me to say to that.”

4. The brother

“I had a student intern who, unbeknownst to me, brought her brother in to do her work while she studied. She had been assigned to shelve items in our library stacks. When I went out to check on her, I found [her] sitting at a table reading while her brother was off shelving. Aside from the legalities of having a random stranger doing the work that had been assigned to a paid intern, this guy had no official training whatsoever; apparently she just told him what to do. I didn’t even want to know what their family dynamics were. All I know is my brothers would never, ever do my job (if they were even capable of doing it) without getting paid. A few days after I thought I had laid down the law on this mess, she and her brother pulled the same thing again! I ran the brother off for good this time, and – needless to say – his sister did not last long with us.”

5. “We don’t use that language around the congressman.”

“I am a very level-headed person but had an alcohol-fueled adventure in front of some very important people one night. I was a political intern, and there is an annual convention that (in all honesty) is just a big, drunken booze-fest – and I did partake. My biggest embarrassments of the night were falling over drunk on the governor (his security detail had to step in because I was so tipsy) and being kicked out of a hospitality suite for reasons I don’t remember, but all I recall are the words ‘we don’t use that language around the congressman.’”

6. The pajamas

“We had a summer associate who decided it would be a good idea to PUT ON HER PAJAMAS and take a nap ON TOP OF HER DESK one summer. … She was not offered a position at the end of the summer.”

7. The patio

“At an old gig, generally when assigning IT equipment, managers and up got laptops and everyone else got PCs. I was responsible for walking new user through their setup. When I started talking about how to log into your PC, the intern began grimace and appear to begin having a panic attack. When I asked what was wrong she said, ‘Why can’t I have a laptop?’ Slightly freaked out but cool on the surface, I explained the general IT assignments.

She began to weep.

Totally freaked out, I just looked at her for a minute as she lamented, ‘What if I want to go outside? Or I see something that inspires me on the patio? How could you do this? Why?!’ She didn’t last long that summer.”

8. The wine

(This one isn’t disastrous, just funny.)

“I was working at a government agency the summer after my sophomore year of college. I was 20 years old, doing pretty well, having a good time, getting to know my coworkers. Near the end of the internship, I mentioned off-hand to a woman who had become something of a mentor to me that I would be leaving soon, to which she said, ‘We’ll have to celebrate. We’ll buy you some candy and wine.’

Now, I had about 8 months until my 21st birthday, so without thinking, I said, ‘Candy sounds great, but let’s hold off around 8 months on the wine.’

I didn’t realize what I had implied until she awkwardly tried to congratulate me. To this day, I wonder if she ever realized that I was not, in fact, pregnant.”

9. The pay inequality

“My office had an intern once who was ultimately let go for issues around lack of professionalism. After he was let go, we discovered his twitter account where he’d spent weeks complaining that gender-based pay inequality wasn’t real because he (an intern) was being paid less than us (his managers, all women, who had all been with the company for 5+years at that point.)

This wasn’t even an unpaid internship! He was making more than minimum wage in an entry level internship as his first job out of college! But apparently him not making manager money as an intern proved ‘reverse sexism’ was real and alive, somehow.”

10. Rick’s List

“My company hires several interns from the local university every summer, and most of them come in with the idea that they know more than the rest of us and they are going to change the face of the company as we know it. The one I was saddled with a few summers back didn’t seem this way, so I thought there wouldn’t be any issues … until I went on vacation for a week.

While I was gone, I had ‘Rick’ contact all of our suppliers to make sure that we had all of their latest terms and conditions on file. I thought, what harm could there be calling suppliers and asking a simple request that they’re accustomed to? Well, apparently Rick took it upon himself to ‘negotiate’ existing terms and pricing with our established suppliers. Mind you, many of these contracts are quite intricate and many months in the making, and usually include some verbiage to the effect of ‘these terms are set, don’t come back and ask for better pricing just because.’

The gasoline on the fire was when Rick decided to get tough and told some of them, ‘Well, if you can’t give us better pricing, then we’ll go to someone who can,’ then proceeded to call said alternative suppliers and supply them with all of the specs and current pricing for our materials (all proprietary by the way).

In our industry, the supplier-purchaser relationship is very tricky and tentative at best. In many cases, companies are not only suppliers, but also customers, and in some cases competition. … Because of the exchange of certain proprietary information and bad blood, in general we now have a list of companies we can’t or shouldn’t buy from or sell to. We’ve named it Rick’s List in his honor.”

]]>
https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/the-intern-who-set-up-a-cot-and-other-stories-of-internships-gone-wrong.html/feed 538
my employees have been mocking a coworker behind his back https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/my-employees-have-been-mocking-a-coworker-behind-his-back.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/my-employees-have-been-mocking-a-coworker-behind-his-back.html#comments Wed, 08 Sep 2021 16:29:20 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22235 This post, my employees have been mocking a coworker behind his back , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes: I’m a young business owner and new manager, and I could use your advice. We recently had an employee (we’ll call him Alex) resign to take on a new position. He left on a good note. While I was creating a backup of his company computer, I came across Skype conversations where […]

]]>
This post, my employees have been mocking a coworker behind his back , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes:

I’m a young business owner and new manager, and I could use your advice.

We recently had an employee (we’ll call him Alex) resign to take on a new position. He left on a good note. While I was creating a backup of his company computer, I came across Skype conversations where he and a current employee (Jane) were ridiculing another employee (“Bob”). The conversations were (my opinion) unprofessional and childish. They mocked Bob at a professional and personal level: work quality, lack of knowledge, attempts at humor and social awkwardness, and even how loudly he chews were all targets. Bob does not, thankfully, know about these.

This happened during work hours over many months, on company machines, through Skype accounts set up for work use using work email addresses. Alex provided us with his password for Skype when he left.

A month ago, Alex and Jane brought up issues about Bob’s work quality. Some of the issues were valid and we worked with Bob to improve things. Jane has mentioned that she’s seen a difference (but kept on mocking him in private). Bob brings a variety of skills and value to the business. Other employees seem to value his experience and willingness to help. He’s also stepped up, big time, to take on new responsibilities after Alex’s departure.

I was already planning to have a conversation with Jane about her communication and treatment of coworkers, which two other employees (not Bob) have brought up. That conversation would have included a discussion about what was happening and why, clear explanations about what we wanted to see change, and an offer to provide tools or training to help her achieve them.

She’ll be mortified that what she said was seen, and I don’t want to make her defensive. That said, and what she did is clearly bullying so I feel uncomfortable letting it slide. Should I bring up the Skype messages?

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.

]]>
https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/my-employees-have-been-mocking-a-coworker-behind-his-back.html/feed 135
should I explain I quit on my second day because my coworker was overwhelmingly difficult? https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/should-i-explain-i-quit-on-my-second-day-because-my-coworker-was-overwhelmingly-difficult.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/should-i-explain-i-quit-on-my-second-day-because-my-coworker-was-overwhelmingly-difficult.html#comments Wed, 08 Sep 2021 14:59:57 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22274 This post, should I explain I quit on my second day because my coworker was overwhelmingly difficult? , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes: I quit a job three months ago and I keep running into the board members who hired me. I lied about why I quit because it was such an insane reason I didn’t know what to do. My boyfriend says I should have been honest, but I wouldn’t know where to start. […]

]]>
This post, should I explain I quit on my second day because my coworker was overwhelmingly difficult? , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes:

I quit a job three months ago and I keep running into the board members who hired me. I lied about why I quit because it was such an insane reason I didn’t know what to do. My boyfriend says I should have been honest, but I wouldn’t know where to start.

I got laid off during the pandemic and was finally able to find part-time work at a community arts center run by a local art nonprofit. It was only 20 hours a week, but it was a great opportunity in a field I love to help provide some fun and joy. I was so excited.

This is where things went bad. I met with “Amy,” the woman who was supposed to train me and be my coworker. It was raining my first day and there were a few rumbles of thunder in the distance. Amy (who I had never met before) greets me at the locked office door and, terrified, asks me through the mail slot, “Did a plane crash into the building?!?”

No. It was thunder.

Things only went downhill from there. Amy and I were the only people there and my training was only four hours. I got home and immediately had to lay down. Being with Amy for four hours was actual torture. She didn’t show me how to do anything or talk about the job, it was just The Amy Show: I am now privy to her entire medical history, which included three incredibly personal and traumatizing situations that she described in graphic detail. I know too much about her sex life, reproductive health, her childhood, her marriage, and more. After a few attempts to get her on track by asking work-related questions, I gave up.

When she lost steam on her personal life, she cataloged every perceived insult, slight, and personal tussle she’d had with the nonprofit that ran the gallery, every visiting artist and instructor she hated, and why. And that was literally just the first hour. When she finally did start training me, she showed me how to turn the lights on — just regular labeled switches — for 45 minutes.

She spent another hour telling me how hard it was to operate the point of sale software, which didn’t look hard to operate at all when I finally got a look at it. When she did interact with the only customer we had that day, she was so awful and oversharing that the customer and I both got another performance, this time of why Amy’s son is in prison. The customer left, very bewildered, and I was dying of embarrassment.

I decided to stick it out and go to my next day’s training with a plan to keep Amy on track and deflect her over-sharing.

Reader, it did not work. I’m not good with oversharing and I get overwhelmed really fast with emotional labor. I didn’t think Amy could possibly top what she told me the day before but holy crap. I had to call my roommate to come to get me because by the end of my shift I was having panic attack symptoms. When I got home, I made an emergency appointment to see a therapist for the first time in over a year. After speaking to my therapist, partner, and my friends, I emailed the board of directors and quit, making up a story about a family emergency.

That was back in June. I keep running into members of the nonprofit board at my new job (yay!) because two of their spouses work in my department. The board members aren’t professionally affiliated with my new job at all, I just happen to work with their spouses. It’s a small city. They’ve been really sweet but keep asking me for details about why I left, one of them even asked pointed questions about how I got along with Amy. Should I have been honest that working with Amy was so uncomfortable and upsetting that I couldn’t even finish out my first week? I want to have empathy for her but it was like being held hostage.

Oh my goodness, please tell them.

It is very likely that they already sense there are issues with Amy; that’s why one of them is asking you those pointed questions. Plus, if they’ve had to interact with her at all, they must know there are Issues.

Why they haven’t done anything about her is a different question — but this is a small nonprofit and their board members likely have a zillion other things pulling their attention away, and if Amy has more or less kept things running (and especially if this is the first time they’ve tried to hire someone to work with her), they might not realize the extent of the problem.

You had an incredibly bad experience with their employee. If these were smaller quirks — just a little oversharing or a little incompetence — that would be different. But this was scaring off customers, oversharing to the point that you sought emergency therapy, and 45 minutes of how to switch on a standard light switch. It also sounds like it was constant; it wasn’t “ugh, I had to spend 15 minutes with a difficult person,” but your entire experience there.

The board members — who are Amy’s boss, either directly or indirectly — are asking you what went wrong. Tell them.

I suspect you’re hesitating because it feels unkind to explain how very problematic Amy is. But they want to know, and if you don’t tell them, they’re going to hire someone else who’s going to have the same experience. And at a small nonprofit, one out-of-control employee can have an outsized impact, to the point that Amy could end up causing significant and long-lasting harm to the organization and its mission.

Get in touch with the board member who asked you the pointed questions and say, “I didn’t want to speak critically of my experience, but I’ve given it some thought and I’d like to answer your questions about why I left if you’re still interested.” And then lay out what you laid out here without sugarcoating it or pulling punches (if you do tone it down, there’s always a risk that the true intensity of the problems will be missed). Hell, you could send the board a link to this letter, which explains the situation pretty compellingly.

]]>
https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/should-i-explain-i-quit-on-my-second-day-because-my-coworker-was-overwhelmingly-difficult.html/feed 323
my boss asked us to share deeply painful experiences, smelly candles, and more https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/my-boss-asked-us-to-share-deeply-painful-experiences-smelly-candles-and-more.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/my-boss-asked-us-to-share-deeply-painful-experiences-smelly-candles-and-more.html#comments Wed, 08 Sep 2021 04:03:06 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22271 This post, my boss asked us to share deeply painful experiences, smelly candles, 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 asked us to share deeply painful experiences I work as a teacher at a nonprofit charter school that is strongly oriented around a mission of racial equity and empowerment. Today, our new principal opened a professional development session about mindfulness with an activity […]

]]>
This post, my boss asked us to share deeply painful experiences, smelly candles, 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 asked us to share deeply painful experiences

I work as a teacher at a nonprofit charter school that is strongly oriented around a mission of racial equity and empowerment. Today, our new principal opened a professional development session about mindfulness with an activity asking teachers and staff to share with each other a painful experience we have had. The examples he gave were the death of a family member or of a pet, but he said we didn’t have to share anything we were uncomfortable sharing (although we did all have to share). Unfortunately, because some people did share very traumatic or tragic memories, there was a lot of pressure to dig deep and personal to show our buy-in.

A lot of us were really unhappy about how this went, and some of us felt triggered for the rest of the day. The justification was that it made us feel vulnerable, which will help us understand our students better. I, personally, would prefer not to feel vulnerable around my colleagues at all. I know boundaries can be weird at nonprofits, but was this an okay activity? Was it justified by the explanation given?

I’m skeptical that you needed an activity about mindfulness at all, but if you did it shouldn’t have needed to rely on deeply painful, personal experiences. “It makes you feel vulnerable” is not a good justification — vulnerability isn’t an inherently valuable thing in every context, and it can be directly harmful in some (particularly in some professional contexts). It’s also a lot easier to make yourself vulnerable when you’re starting from a position of power and/or being like the majority; it can be a very different experience when you’re not. It’s true that there can be slightly different boundaries when you’re working in education and/or on racial equity issues … but you can find empathy for students in lots of other ways. This exercise was a weirdly blunt instrument for generating it, if that was indeed the goal.

You and some of your coworkers who shared your discomfort might consider giving that feedback to your principal — say it felt inappropriate for the context and did the opposite of promoting mindfulness for you, and ask that future activities be less invasive. That said, if the school’s philosophy is built around this kind of personal vulnerability, you might need to decide if it’s the right culture for you.

Related: forcing employees to talk about their feelings isn’t good for our mental health

2. My coworker brought in a horrible-smelling candle warmer

My coworker brought in a candle melter/warmer to our small office and the scent is HORRIBLE! It’s giving me a headache (I’m a frequent migraine sufferer) and aggravating my asthma! I feel like such a complainer to complain about this, but it’s awful! What should I do?

You need to speak up! When something in your work environment is giving you headaches and aggravating your asthma, that’s a big deal! Frankly, it’s not terribly considerate of your coworker to bring in a product whose whole point is to inject a scent into the air that everyone else is breathing, and you are on very solid ground in explaining it’s bothering you and asking her to take it home. Your need to work without physical discomfort trumps her interest in scenting the air around her.

It’s beyond reasonable to say to your coworker, “I’m so sorry, but I’ve realized your candle melter is aggravating my asthma. Could you keep it at home instead?” With most people, that will be all it takes. But if it doesn’t resolve it, ask your boss to intervene. You’re not being a complainer, any more than you’d be a complainer if you alerted your office to a ceiling leak dripping on your head or had a deathly allergy to a visiting dog.

3. Have I been blacklisted?

I think that I’ve been blacklisted from obtaining employment in my profession where I currently live.

Recently I had a brief contract assignment that concluded earlier than planned. My contract house contact was as surprised as I was. When asked for feedback, the assignment company gave a very cryptic response (“It is not their work performance, it is something else”).

Since then, I have been continuing to apply for many positions that match my skills and experience, through contract houses and direct applications to companies. I had quite a few that made it to the phone interview phase. However, something strange happens after initial phone interviews: Nothing. I do not mean that I receive the “position has been filled” email. All communication just ceases.

I recently had a phone meeting about a job through a contract company. We were scheduled to talk again two days later at a scheduled time, and I even received a confirmation via email. On the day of the meeting — nothing. No phone call, not even a follow-up email stating the position had been filled or that the appointment had to be cancelled. I reached out by phone and email to inquire if there had been a schedule conflict or if the position had been filled, but no response.

I have to ask myself if there has been some misinformation disseminated that is damaging my credibility without my knowledge. If so, are there any steps that can be taken to repair the potential misinformation? I know receiving rejection notices during an employment search is part of the process. But what does it mean when communication just ceases during an interview process? I would greatly appreciate understanding what has happened.

I don’t think you’ve been blacklisted; it sounds like you’re having a pretty normal job search. It’s incredibly common for companies to have some initial contact with a candidate and then completely ghost them and ignore the person’s attempts to make contact. It’s rude, but it’s so, so common. It’s not a sign that there’s a problem with your reputation or that you’ve been blacklisted. I’d be more concerned if it were happening at the end of hiring processes — if you were getting enthusiastic feedback right up until the point when they checked references.

I can see why you’re worried since this came right after that cryptic feedback. But a company ending a contract early and saying “It’s not their work performance, it’s something else” sounds like it’s something that has nothing to do with you at all — a reorg or money issues or something else on their end.

4. Why aren’t small employers covered by workplace protection laws?

I have a general inquiry regarding worker rights for small organizations or companies. Many workplace laws don’t take effect until the employer has 10-15 employees, but I’ve not come across a reason for that, nor any guidance on what protections you may still be entitled to if your employer doesn’t have that many employees. For instance, why wouldn’t a worker who is pregnant in an organization of eight not enjoy the same level of protection against harassment or discrimination as an organization of 15?

In my field, it’s not uncommon for organizations to be small (10 employees or less) and with most part-time. Other than in urban areas, it’s difficult to find employment with more than 10-15 employees in an organization.

I’d like to be able to advocate for myself and others, but finding answers has been beyond frustrating. Other than state laws that may supplement federal law, could you illuminate what protections or rights employees or workers with fewer employees have?

You’re right that federal anti-discrimination laws apply to employers with 15+ employees (except for age discrimination, which applies at 20). And FMLA covers employers with 50+ people. However, the Fair Labor Standards Act, which contains the rules about minimum wage and overtime pay, covers employers of all sizes.

When the laws were being passed, Congress was concerned about the impact on small businesses and exempted employers under a certain size from the some of them. The thinking was that it can be significantly harder for a four-person business to accommodate an employee’s long medical or parental leave than it is for a larger one. But it’s not at all clear why that same logic would apply to, say, harassment protections. (Interestingly, it’s been large businesses that have been exempted from more recent laws — like last year’s emergency paid family and medical leave law, which has since expired but which only applied to employers with fewer than 500 employees.)

Your best bet if you’re working at an employer with fewer than 15 employees is to look to your state laws. A lot of states have passed protections that kick in at much lower thresholds.

5. Should we let people make up holidays they missed?

Our leadership is currently discussing the best way to handle holidays for staff who have alternative schedules. We’re open M-F from early morning to late evening and some Saturdays to best serve our population. Some of our staff members who provide direct services are able to set their own preferred flexible schedules, for example, four 10-hour days, or Tuesday-Thursday part-time. Our issue is when the entire organization is closed for a holiday, like Labor Day on Monday. In those cases where a staff member’s schedule never has them working on a Monday, they are asking for an “in lieu” day off as their holiday.

Should we continue to offer this? The advantage to offering it is, of course, continuing an existing perk, but the two main cons are that we don’t offer this flex schedule to support staff members and we end up with less needed coverage on the “in lieu” days they take. If we do decide to keep the “in lieu” option, at a minimum, we need to put down some parameters so that people aren’t requesting this time off after their schedules are already full of clients. That has been disruptive both to our operations team and to our clients. What would you suggest for us moving forward?

Different companies do this different ways. Some employers do give employees the option of taking a different day off if a holiday falls on their regular day off. Others don’t. In a situation like yours, where people are setting their own flexible schedules, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to decide that one trade-off of that flexibility is that you’re not going to offer holiday make-up days for people who have picked their own schedules.

Ideally, though, you should decide based on the business impact. If you can afford to do it and it’s not disruptive, not yanking away a perk people enjoy is usually the better option. But you need to structure it in a way that doesn’t cause disruption to your client schedules and coverage; putting some restrictions on it to minimize disruption is likely the right compromise.

]]>
https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/my-boss-asked-us-to-share-deeply-painful-experiences-smelly-candles-and-more.html/feed 562
update: I accidentally threw condoms all over my interviewer’s desk https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/update-i-accidentally-threw-condoms-all-over-my-interviewers-desk.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/update-i-accidentally-threw-condoms-all-over-my-interviewers-desk.html#comments Tue, 07 Sep 2021 17:59:38 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22260 This post, update: I accidentally threw condoms all over my interviewer’s desk , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Remember the letter-writer who accidentally tossed condoms all over his interviewer’s desk? He had mentioned in the comments that he had been contacted for a second interview, and here’s the update. I’m so thrilled to already have an update for you about the infamous Condom Throwing Incident. First things first: I GOT THE JOB! The […]

]]>
This post, update: I accidentally threw condoms all over my interviewer’s desk , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Remember the letter-writer who accidentally tossed condoms all over his interviewer’s desk? He had mentioned in the comments that he had been contacted for a second interview, and here’s the update.

I’m so thrilled to already have an update for you about the infamous Condom Throwing Incident.

First things first: I GOT THE JOB! The second interview I was called in for was not in fact a Mandated Anti-Deviancy Seminar but rather a Meet the Whole Team and Welcome Aboard situation. It all went so well that I couldn’t believe it; everyone was thrilled to have me get started, and I was so excited to be there (and so relieved that the condom situation was apparently behind us) (hah).

I spent the week shadowing / training with my initial interviewer (the condom incident eyewitness), and we hit it off so well that I almost wondered if I should bring up what had happened in my interview, just to clear the air. But she didn’t mention it, so I didn’t mention it. I figured everyone involved had just chosen to quietly look the other way, and my story would just live on via first date conversations / embarrassing story competitions for the rest of my life — or something to finally fess up to at my retirement party in forty years. All’s well that ends well, right?

Now here’s the real fun part: a few days after my official start, I was invited to a post-work happy hour with all my new colleagues. After a few cocktails and a long hilarious one-on-one chat with my new BFF, my interviewer/trainer/new colleague, I had to get it off my chest: I brought up the incident. I brought up the incident!! I had barely gotten the story (confession?) out before she started laughing so hard she had to sit down.

TURNS OUT: she did in fact remember the Condom Incident, but just barely — because as soon as we had concluded our initial interview, she had gone to the restroom and realized she had had lipstick all over her front teeth all the way through our conversation. News to me: I hadn’t noticed the lipstick because I was so mortified about the condoms; she barely remembered the condoms because she had been so mortified about the lipstick. My Condom Incident was her Lipstick Incident!

So despite the fact that I seem to have stumbled into some sort of workplace Three Stooges episode, we’re all good. After we picked ourselves up off the floor, we swore each other to secrecy, and I think I’m going to fit in just fine. The end!

PS — because a few commenters brought it up, the new job (and my industry) does indeed involve a lot of writing; I had certainly been feeling rusty after such a long long spell of unemployment, so reading positive feedback about that in particular was a great confidence booster. In fact, all of the supportive comments here were so uplifting as I staggered through a humiliating and agonizing post-interview period; I felt like I was being supported by a whole bunch of new friends!

]]>
https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/update-i-accidentally-threw-condoms-all-over-my-interviewers-desk.html/feed 173
how soon is too soon to leave a panic job? https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/how-soon-is-too-soon-to-leave-a-panic-job.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/how-soon-is-too-soon-to-leave-a-panic-job.html#comments Tue, 07 Sep 2021 16:29:31 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22253 This post, how soon is too soon to leave a panic job? , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes: I took an “any port in a storm” type job due to the pandemic and am wondering what comes next. The background: After suddenly losing my job last year, I was thrown into an urgent job hunt. Four months ago, I landed a job with a decent salary, doing much the same […]

]]>
This post, how soon is too soon to leave a panic job? , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes:

I took an “any port in a storm” type job due to the pandemic and am wondering what comes next.

The background: After suddenly losing my job last year, I was thrown into an urgent job hunt. Four months ago, I landed a job with a decent salary, doing much the same work I’d done previously but in a sector that I wouldn’t have chosen if I wasn’t desperate for a job. It was definitely an “I’m taking the job because it’s the first I’ve been offered” situation, but I was grateful to get it.

The people here are nice, and they’ve put a lot of time into training me. They are evidently expecting me to stay in the job for many years, as has been the pattern for most former employees in my role. I would like to work for myself in the future and am even thinking about completely changing fields, but that will take a long time to achieve and I need to stay employed for several years meanwhile. I figured this would be a good set-up for, say, the next five years.

But I’ve realized that I just don’t enjoy the job at all. I’m used to working on projects that don’t set my soul on fire, but this has been the most stressful job I’ve ever had by far. Part of that is due to inefficient working practices, which I should be able to have some influence on over time, but I don’t think they’ll completely go away. My department – and therefore me — also shoulders a huge workload that has nothing to do with my role and should be done by a totally different department. It really interferes with my ability to get my main job done and I’m working very long hours during busy weeks. I’ve been told that won’t change for the foreseeable future because of pressures from the pandemic. I’ve also encountered some ethical concerns with the company’s work that I didn’t expect.

I’d been telling myself that my unhappiness was just part of the adjustment to a new job and I should focus on feeling grateful for the paycheck and it would get better once I’d settled in more. Maybe that will be the case to some degree. But I’m getting that “dreading going to work” feeling on Sunday nights that I haven’t had for years and it really unsettles me. So I’m wondering whether it’s okay to just conclude that although it’s been a lifeline job, it isn’t a job for me in the long-term.

If I decide that, how long do I have to stay? I know I’ve got to do at least a year for my resume’s sake and job hunting could take ages anyway. But I think my employer would be really disappointed if left so quickly, and I don’t want to look flaky to recruiters and harm my ability to get work that I’d enjoy more. However, life feels too short to be unhappy with my working life and I feel sad at the thought of dreading Mondays for the next five years.

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

]]>
https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/how-soon-is-too-soon-to-leave-a-panic-job.html/feed 54
I’m upset that my friend wants to work for the company that laid me off https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/im-upset-that-my-friend-wants-to-work-for-the-company-that-laid-me-off.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/im-upset-that-my-friend-wants-to-work-for-the-company-that-laid-me-off.html#comments Tue, 07 Sep 2021 14:59:00 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22265 This post, I’m upset that my friend wants to work for the company that laid me off , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes: I have a bit of what I feel is an ethical dilemma and would like some help gaining perspective on how it is best to handle this type of situation. I was suddenly laid off from my dream job this past winter. And when I say suddenly, I mean one hour I […]

]]>
This post, I’m upset that my friend wants to work for the company that laid me off , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes:

I have a bit of what I feel is an ethical dilemma and would like some help gaining perspective on how it is best to handle this type of situation.

I was suddenly laid off from my dream job this past winter. And when I say suddenly, I mean one hour I was being given tasks and the next hour I was told they were coming to collect my work computer. Due to administrative decisions, my job was exported to another location so a different arm of the company would handle it. The kicker? I helped set up that arm of the company and ended up essentially training my replacement.

Obviously, I found this pretty traumatic and upsetting. You’d think that being told you have done nothing wrong when being let go is the ideal situation, but it was horrible to know there was no way I could have helped myself and that my skills and abilities were not at all part of the decision to let me go. It took me months to shake the feelings of inferiority and anxiety and start applying for work again, and my very good friend was there with me to help pick up the pieces.

Fast forward to several months later, when this friend suddenly tells me that they are applying for a job in the same department that laid me off. Not asked for input, just told me that it’s happening. It is worth noting that they are currently employed but feel unsatisfied in their job, so they aren’t desperate for money or work (which to me would change the situation).

The feeling of betrayal took me completely by surprise, but I find myself angry and hurt. As irrational as it is, I feel as though this friend is now stealing my dream job from me, even though the position they are applying for is not the same as the one that I was laid off from. I would take back my job in a heartbeat if it became available, I loved everything about it. And I know it is stupid to call dibs on a job or on a company — I have encouraged this friend to apply for the same jobs that I apply for in the past, so normally I do not feel possessive over work situations — but I want to tell this friend to go kick rocks.

I also worry that they will ask me to be a reference for them, as I am still well respected in that department (I have been asked to come back and contract every time the budget allows for it and have comfortable/friendly relationships with the people who still work there) and … well, I don’t want to. I do not want to help my friend secure something that I feel was taken out from under me. I know it is petty, I feel incredibly guilty for feeling this way, but I do.

What the heck do I do with this? I know my friend could do the job fairly okay-ish (I do believe that it is above their experience level) and the reasons I don’t want to help them are totally personal. There is no good reason for me to gatekeep this job or this company from them except for my hurt feelings. Should I suck it up and be helpful and encouraging to my friend? Am I being too petty by having feelings about this and wanting to distance myself from this person? How stupid will I sound if I tell them I think they are being weirdly inconsiderate by assuming that I would be enthusastic for them? Help.

You get to feel however you feel! But your friend hasn’t done anything wrong.

It sounds like intellectually you know that … but on a more visceral, emotional level you don’t.

I suspect there are two things going on. One, you feel like this company wronged you, and so loyalty demands that your friend not see them as a viable employer for themselves. You want them to see the company as Villain Who Mistreated Friend. Two, and probably bigger, you see your friend trying to take something for themselves that you feel belongs to you — and if you can’t have it, they definitely shouldn’t.

It sounds like you’re feeling similarly to how you might if you were mistreated by an ex and a friend comforted you through the break-up and got an intimate, close-up look at how hurt you were, and then attempted to date the ex themselves.

But this isn’t that! Your company wasn’t an ex. The relationships aren’t personal in the same way. Your friend needs to be able to do what’s best for their career, and they’re not wronging you by applying for a job at a company that laid you off.

And it’s not the same job! It’s not reasonable to expect an entire company to be off-limits to a friend because you once worked there and were let go. (That’s true regardless, but it’s even more true if you yourself have been doing contract work for them since leaving!)

With your feelings toward your company, I know it’s easy to say “it’s business, not personal” … but these are business relationships, not personal ones. Of course it’s awful to lose a job you loved, and it can feel personal. But at some point it’s better for your mental health — and for your decision-making going forward — to acknowledge that this is how business works: companies make the decisions that are in their best interests, just as you’ll make decisions that are in yours. They should treat you with dignity, of course! And they should pay you reasonable severance. But realistically, this is the nature of jobs. Not seeing that clearly leads people to make sacrifices for their employers that they shouldn’t make, like working unreasonably long hours for months on end, accepting poor pay and bad working conditions, and hesitating to move on because they feel guilty about leaving.

I think not seeing that clearly is connected to why being laid off for reasons that had nothing to do with you made you feel inferior … when by definition, the decision wasn’t a commentary on you at all. Seeing that clearly can be pretty scary — it means that no matter how good your work is, you can’t count on your job being secure. If you’d never really processed that before, you’re going to be deeply rattled when you’re forced to! It’s going to shake the foundations of something you’d relied on for safety — and rather than confronting that, it can be easier to feel like it’s somehow your fault. But it’s not, and making your brain challenge that thinking will help you make better decisions for yourself going forward.

Anyway, it’s okay to have a bunch of complicated feelings about the situation. But try to see that your friend isn’t doing anything wrong.

If you really need to, you can tell your friend something like, “I hope it goes well for you, but it’s still a really tender spot for me — so I hope you’ll understand if I can’t hear much about it for now.”

As for the possibility of your friend asking for a reference: if you’ve never worked with them, you’re not well positioned to be a reference anyway. You could reasonably send a note saying, “My friend Tangerina Warbleworth is applying for the X job. I’ve never worked with her, but she’s smart and passionate about llamas and could be worth talking to.” That’s not really a reference; it’s more of a referral. If you feel you can’t do that, you can explain to your friend that it’s just too much of a sore spot … but keep in mind that that’s going to be hard to say credibly if you’re also doing contract work for this company!

You don’t need to be actively happy for your friend but you do need to strive to be at least neutral … and to see their career decisions as a separate thing from yours.

]]>
https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/im-upset-that-my-friend-wants-to-work-for-the-company-that-laid-me-off.html/feed 210
should I tell my boss I’m in therapy, coworker forged a signature, and more https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/should-i-tell-my-boss-im-in-therapy-coworker-forged-a-signature-and-more.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/should-i-tell-my-boss-im-in-therapy-coworker-forged-a-signature-and-more.html#comments Tue, 07 Sep 2021 04:03:50 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22264 This post, should I tell my boss I’m in therapy, coworker forged a signature, and more , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go… 1. Should I tell my boss I’m in therapy and on medication? I’m a high performer in my department and have consistently gotten high marks in performance reviews. My manager, “John,” and I get along very well. A few weeks ago, John pulled me aside and […]

]]>
This post, should I tell my boss I’m in therapy, coworker forged a signature, and more , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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

1. Should I tell my boss I’m in therapy and on medication?

I’m a high performer in my department and have consistently gotten high marks in performance reviews. My manager, “John,” and I get along very well. A few weeks ago, John pulled me aside and told me he noticed I’ve been snapping at people recently. This is true. Summer is our busiest time of the year, and we’re working 12-hour days the whole season. I’ve been struggling with my mental health and as a result have been moody and short with people at work.

John’s delaying my upcoming promotion because of this (a promotion I’m not even sure I want, but that’s a different question). I completely understand and I’m so embarrassed this even happened. I’ve worked here for years and have always gotten along well with people, but I’m really struggling. I immediately made an appointment with a therapist. I saw them last week, and they diagnosed me with depression and generalized anxiety disorder (neither come as a surprise). I’ve been put on medication for my anxiety.

Should I tell my manager that (a) I’m taking this very seriously and seeing a therapist to deal with it and/or (b) I’ve been put on medication to deal with the problem? This isn’t to get my promotion back on track. I want to make it clear I know this is unacceptable and can get along well with my coworkers.

I know this kind of information would probably be inappropriate in a normal workplace. But everyone at my office is very close. We are all foreign nationals from English-speaking countries, working in a small country where English isn’t a commonly spoken language. All of us, including John, are under 30. Because few other people speak our language, all of us are friends and we often go out together after work. We all know about each other’s lives. I want to tell John to show him that I’m taking this seriously and taking steps to solve it. But is this inappropriate or weird, even when we’re all so close? This is my first job out of college and I can’t really tell where the boundaries are.

As a general rule, don’t share mental health information with your boss. There’s too much risk of them ending up discriminating against you in some way, whether it’s treating you as too delicate for certain projects or denying you advancement opportunities that you’re perfectly capable of. That can be especially true in offices with lower boundaries; in your situation, it’s extra important not to signal to John that your mental health treatment is in any way up for discussion at work.

More on this here.

The most effective way to show John that you’re taking his feedback seriously is with real behavior changes. That’s more convincing than anything else! But if you want, you can also say something like, “I appreciate you giving me that feedback. I’ve thought a lot about what you said, and I’m taking it really seriously.” Back that up with real changes and you should be set.

2. My coworker forged a signature on training paperwork

I recently moved to a new position at my company and am in the process of training folks to cover some of my old tasks. Our training has a three-step sign-off. A trainer signs off the first two steps, then a subject matter expert observes the person perform the task and signs off if they do it correctly. In this case, I’m the final sign-off.

Well, one of the people I was training didn’t bring their paper with them, so I said bring it by tomorrow so I can sign off. She brought a blank sheet — no names or other signatures. I told her it needed to be completed before I could sign. She came back a few minutes later with it completed. Except … one of the signatures was from someone not there that day. I texted that person and verified they hadn’t come in to sign.

So, following our process, I reported the incident to our supervisors. But now I’m having second thoughts. She did commit malpractice, but I’m pretty sure the training was completed. Her supervisor (my old supervisor) is unlikely to approach it her, and may try to blame me for it. (This is his standard MO when someone makes a complaint against one of his employees.) Did I just make a big career mistake? Should I just have ignored it and signed off?

If you’re saying that your colleague forged someone’s signature, you 100% should not have ignored it, and had to report it. That’s a huge ethical violation! (And it’s so bizarre when she could have just waited until the person was back in the office.)

If your old manager blames you for reporting it, that is a startlingly high level of dysfunction. It’s hard to imagine you really made a huge career mistake, especially when you no longer report to this guy, although I can’t speak to the dynamics in your company. Your best approach is to treat the whole thing as blandly and matter-as-factly as possible — X happened, you reported X as required, he can do with it what he wants, now you are moving on to your new position, best of luck, goodbye.

But any decent manager — even any mildly decent manager — would want to know an employee was falsifying documents, no matter how low-stakes the document in question.

3. I don’t want to have weekly meetings with my boss

My boss suddenly wants to have weekly meetings with me after blowing them off for the longest time. But I don’t feel the need for weekly one-on-one meetings. My job is predictable and routine and while there are of course issues that arise, I do resolve them. A standing meeting once a month makes far more sense to me than a weekly chat.

I’m sure my boss has good reasons for sharing her time with me so I don’t want to come off as adversarial or ungrateful, but I sincerely don’t see a compelling need and I can’t imagine that I even have that much to say on a weekly basis.

Is it disrespectful to ask for monthly or possibly bi-weekly meetings instead?

Wait to see how the weekly meetings go first. If it’s clear they’re not a good use of time for either of you, you’ll have a lot more standing to suggest moving them to monthly instead. If you say it now, before you even see how she wants to use the time, it’s going to seem premature. If I wanted to meet with an employee more often and they were like “nah, I’m good,” I’d wonder if they had a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of our roles.

The thing is, it’s possible that meeting weekly won’t be helpful to you but will be helpful to your bossMaybe she’s realized she needs to be more in touch with what’s going on in your realm (or maybe someone above her told her that), and maybe she has a good sense of how she wants to use that time. Maybe she has concerns about your work and wants to work more closely with you until those are resolved. Or maybe it’s none of that, and she just heard this was a good thing to do and decided to try it out. If it seems like a waste of time after a few weeks, you can suggest lowering the frequency then. But wait to see how it goes first.

4. I don’t use the product of the company that I’m interviewing with … and they want passionate users

I recently was asked to interview with a hiring manager for a great company for a job position that would be great fit for my skill set, is in an industry that I’m super interested in, and (at least I believe) that I’m highly qualified for the position. The only thing is that I’ve been a loyal user of said product’s top competitor for years. It would be the equivalent of interviewing for Android after being an iPhone user for years, or Bose headphones when I use Beats … you get the gist.

Any tips on how to answer the questions “are you a user of X product?” or “what do you love about product X?”

Everything I gather from the company culture is that they want employees who are really passionate about the product and the industry. It’s not that I’m not passionate, in fact I’m able to see where their product is differentiated in the market for the one I’m currently using. I’ve done my research! Truthfully, I think the only reason I have their competitor is it was a gift many years ago and I just stayed loyal for that reason.

If the inevitable question comes up, it would feel wrong to lie, but I’d hate for it to preclude me from being a top contender for this position. I also don’t want to sound superficial or disingenuous in saying, “I actually use product Y, but if you pick me and I’ll promptly move over to product X!”

I’m probably overthinking it, but I know that having a compelling story for why you’re interested in the company or why you’re a great fit can really set you apart … or can hold you back. I feel the better prepared I am for the question, the better chance I have at moving forward.

If you know that the company culture is to hire people who are passionate users of the product, announcing that you aren’t risks being a strike against you. At a minimum, I’d try to get familiar enough with the product (maybe by borrowing one?) that you can talk about what you like about it. You might end up with an interviewer who doesn’t really care … but you also might end up with an interviewer who does. You shouldn’t lie and say you’re a lifelong user of the product when you’re not, but you want to at least sound like a genuine admirer of it.

5. After a layoff, do I have to teach someone else how to do my job?

My employer has terminated our entire group (library services), and now wants my colleague and I to teach the new library management group how to do our jobs in the month we have remaining at work. Do I have to do this? We’re research librarians. Our work is more complicated than our boss and VP understand — or want to understand. I’m happy to tell them about the responsibilities of the job, but not how I do it. It took me years to learn, and I don’t know how to professionally say that I can’t train in an hour.

Also, they gave the three youngest people different jobs in the corporation — but not me and my colleague, who are in our sixties and the most highly paid in the group.

Yeah, you do need to do it as long as you’re getting paid, as frustrating as that can be. But generally in situations like this, they’re not expecting you to transfer all your knowledge in a month, but to show them the sort of logistics you’d show to a new hire — meaning, for example, that they might expect you to walk them through the particular software your office uses, the work that needs to be done weekly/monthly/quarterly, and the status of existing projects, but not to impart detailed info on research methodology or in-depth lessons on developing programs. But if you think they’re expecting something more, it’s fine to say, “I can show you the basics and answer questions, but I want to be up-front that the work is complicated and generally takes people years to learn.”

Also, talk with a lawyer ASAP about the age breakdown in the layoffs — and don’t sign any severance agreement until you do. A lawyer might be able to negotiate much better severance for you than whatever the company originally offered.

]]>
https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/should-i-tell-my-boss-im-in-therapy-coworker-forged-a-signature-and-more.html/feed 379
Labor Day open thread https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/labor-day-open-thread-6.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/labor-day-open-thread-6.html#comments Mon, 06 Sep 2021 10:00:54 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22251 This post, Labor Day open thread , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

It’s Labor Day! The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on anything work-related that you want to talk about. 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 […]

]]>
This post, Labor Day open thread , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

It’s Labor Day! The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on anything work-related that you want to talk about. 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.

]]>
https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/labor-day-open-thread-6.html/feed 606
weekend open thread – September 4-6, 2021 https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/weekend-open-thread-september-4-6-2021.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/weekend-open-thread-september-4-6-2021.html#comments Sat, 04 Sep 2021 05:00:06 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22227 This post, weekend open thread – September 4-6, 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: We are the Brennans, by Tracey Lange. A daughter returns home to a family full of secrets, as well as to the man she left years […]

]]>
This post, weekend open thread – September 4-6, 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: We are the Brennans, by Tracey Lange. A daughter returns home to a family full of secrets, as well as to the man she left years before without explanation. This was like a delicious soap opera.

* I make a commission if you use that Amazon link.

]]>
https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/weekend-open-thread-september-4-6-2021.html/feed 1201
it’s your Friday good news https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/its-your-friday-good-news-68.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/its-your-friday-good-news-68.html#comments Fri, 03 Sep 2021 16:00:06 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22230 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 wanted to share some Friday good news, after using your advice to successfully leave a toxic job. I took a job in 2018 after being laid off during a corporate merger. I mainly accepted the job because I was desperate for benefits and steady income and have been half […]

]]>
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 wanted to share some Friday good news, after using your advice to successfully leave a toxic job. I took a job in 2018 after being laid off during a corporate merger. I mainly accepted the job because I was desperate for benefits and steady income and have been half heartedly trying to leave ever since. It was truly awful – bait and switch on what the job consisted of, hidden info about company instability (they hadn’t been able to make payroll in the weeks leading up to me starting my role), a terrible product, etc.

I was also on a team with the most toxic culture I’ve ever experienced. My manager was a horrible blend of toxic positivity combined with toxic masculinity. I had been interviewing off and on for 2 years but was struggling to make it past initial rounds of interviews, or getting ghosted by companies the few times I did have more conversations.

So I went back in your archives and read through lots of your advice, updating my resume and cover letters using your recommendations. I also overhauled my LinkedIn profile and started posting there more frequently. Only a few weeks after making these changes, I got contacted by a recruiter from my employer’s biggest industry competitor asking if I would be interested in a position helping to build a new department. It is exactly the type of work I love doing and I immediately had a good feeling talking to the hiring manager and the rest of the team I’ll be joining.

I got an offer less than 2 weeks after that initial message from the recruiter and will be making 30% more than my previous salary with an additional 10% quarterly bonus. They also gave me a stipend to outfit my home office with whatever I need to be comfortable, as their offices are closed indefinitely due to covid.

I gave my notice 2.5 weeks ago and my boss reacted terribly. He was a huge jerk the whole time we were working out a transition plan, which just emphasized what a good decision it was for me to leave. I start next week and I could not be more thrilled.

2. I’m about to start a new job that I would never have gotten if I didn’t read your site. But I don’t mean that I got the job because of your advice about personalizing cover letters, focusing on accomplishments in resumes, or turning interviews into two-way conversations. Don’t get me wrong; your advice really helped. (Although I wish you ran your “10 really good questions to ask in a job interview” article the day before my big interview instead of the day after.)

No, the reason I have this amazing new job is that you publish success stories from people who reach for—and get—substantial salary increases. Without that inspiration, I’d probably have stayed in my my current job and been frustrated by wanting to take on more responsibility without having the opportunity to. Or maybe I’d have stuck it out a while longer and then settled for a lateral-and-slightly-up move. Instead, when a more senior position opened up in my organization, I had the confidence to go for it, and next month I’ll have a shiny new title and a 32% increase in salary.

Thank you again to you and your amazing community.

3. I have an unusual work history that combines education, library work and nonprofits and a graduate degree in a field I no longer want to work in. Last year, I was working for an education-based nonprofit that relies on in-person work, so all of our offices were shut down for 6 months with the majority of staff furloughed.

When the office shut down and we were still getting paid, I spent some time revamping my resume based on your advice. When I got news of the furlough, I reached out to my network and three different people connected me with grant consultants who needed subcontractors. I discovered that I loved consulting as a grant writer because I get to work for a variety of clients, rather than writing for one organization over and over again. I wanted to consult full-time and read the archives of your site to look at all the considerations for doing that. I resolved to wait a year and make sure I had enough work to support me.

When our office reopened in the fall, I cut back to 3/4 time so I could continue subcontracting. I was getting a lot of work and having a lot of success, which I continued to enjoy. I also had some minor health concerns and was very concerned about consulting and paying for my own health insurance. I was also applying for my “dream job” as the executive director of a small nonprofit for which I had been volunteering.

While I was interviewing for the “dream job,” I was talking to my boss at one of the consulting firms I was subcontracting and mentioned that I was interviewing for a full-time job. She immediately offered me a job working for her full-time, fully remote, with benefits, with potential for growth, funds for professional development, including Grant Professional Certification, and IT support.

Because of the flexibility and growth potential, I determined that this was a better fit than my “dream job” and am excited to start after Labor Day.

4. Last month, I left my company of 10 years. After 5 years in the same lower-level management position, I had to accept that my company never would see me as anything more than a lower level manager. It was time for me to leave.

So, I polished up my resume and cover letters. I read lots of AAM tips and guidance and did several Zoom interviews. On a whim, I applied for a position that was in a smaller company. The commute seemed reasonable although it was not in the area that I was targeting. I had two great interviews (seriously, the “Magic Question” seemed to blow their minds!) and I received a job offer. They offered me more money than I was earning, a shorter work week, and no on-call/emergency hours. I was astonished! And the offer could not come at a better time as that was the day that I finally had a real moment of truth with my job and my supervisors that left me feeling so hurt and disrespected that I cried.

You know all those letters that you get about people who fear that them leaving their job will cause their programs to fall apart? Well, my program is still standing but my departure definitely caused some seismic disruptions. It was still the right choice. So many of my colleagues were astonished that I chose to leave. But I had been begging for supervision and support and a clear, honest answer about why I could not get promoted for a very long time and no one would take the time and show me the respect that I deserved. So I found a company that will. Even though I am new, my experience and knowledge is treated with respect. When I say something or offer my opinion, I no longer feel like I am sitting at the kids’ table waving for the adults to notice me.

I had some time off between jobs and I used that to rest and recover from being a mostly front-line worker during the pandemic. I’m proud of the work that I did and I am excited about the chances I have ahead of me. Turns out all of my years in my old job set me up to be excellent at this one!

Thank you so much for all of the information and guidance on Ask A Manager. It really helped me make what felt like a very scary decision.

]]>
https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/its-your-friday-good-news-68.html/feed 29
open thread – September 3-4, 2021 https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/open-thread-september-3-4-2021.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/open-thread-september-3-4-2021.html#comments Fri, 03 Sep 2021 15:00:05 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22226 This post, open thread – September 3-4, 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. * […]

]]>
This post, open thread – September 3-4, 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.

]]>
https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/open-thread-september-3-4-2021.html/feed 1169
will I be fired if I refuse a Covid test, I didn’t get a thank-you after helping someone, and more https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/will-i-be-fired-if-i-refuse-a-covid-test-i-didnt-get-a-thank-you-after-helping-someone-and-more.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/will-i-be-fired-if-i-refuse-a-covid-test-i-didnt-get-a-thank-you-after-helping-someone-and-more.html#comments Fri, 03 Sep 2021 04:03:00 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22252 This post, will I be fired if I refuse a Covid test, I didn’t get a thank-you after helping someone, and more , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go… 1. Will my employer fire me on the spot if I refuse to get a Covid test? On September 13, the healthcare company I work for will begin requiring unvaccinated employees to get weekly Covid testing, at employee expense, with results to be submitted to your […]

]]>
This post, will I be fired if I refuse a Covid test, I didn’t get a thank-you after helping someone, and more , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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

1. Will my employer fire me on the spot if I refuse to get a Covid test?

On September 13, the healthcare company I work for will begin requiring unvaccinated employees to get weekly Covid testing, at employee expense, with results to be submitted to your manager. I have submitted a vaccination exemption, which they have accepted, but I have no desire to test and also pay for it.

If I give two weeks notice on September 13 and don’t have the required test results, is it likely that they will terminate me on the spot? Or let me work out the two weeks?

I’d hope they’d terminate on the spot anyone who’s unvaccinated who also refuses to get tested, since you’d be explicitly saying that you’re not willing to take even minor steps to avoid infecting and potentially killing other people in your workplace. What a very odd stance for you to take.

Keep in mind that you’re likely to run into similar requirements to vaccinate or test at other employers, and rightly so.

2. Am I being petty about not getting a thank-you note after helping someone?

I recently had an informal informational interview with a young man who was referred to me by a colleague. The colleague in question is pretty big in our field and I was flattered that he thought of me as a resource for his student.

The interview was a very pleasant hour, I liked the young man, and as we were wrapping up I offered to connect him with a few potential contacts/opportunities. I’ll have to spend a little social capital for a few of the things I was thinking about, but not much, and our field is almost entirely relationship driven so I tend to view this as investing in a potential up and coming contact. Basically, I am happy to do it and have done similar things in the past.

The problem is that I haven’t gotten a thank-you note from him and am feeling a little miffed about it. I’m trying to figure out if I should let it go and still go the full mile out of respect for my colleague, or if I should do the bare minimum and not expend the capital I normally would (which feels a bit petty but also if he does the same to people I connect him to it might ding my reputation a little). Complicating this is that he’s a person of color and the field, like so many others, has been facing a real reckoning in the past year or so about how exclusionary it is, so I feel an ethical obligation to help him be successful.

At the end of our meeting, he asked me a quick question about the professionalism of some casual language he used in our email exchange, so the door might be open to me giving him a little professional advice, but I can’t figure out how to phrase “you should really be sending thank-yous” in a diplomatic and kind way. Any ideas about how I should move forward?

A lot of people were never taught they should send thank-you’s after this sort of meeting, especially if they’re newer to the world work. Don’t penalize him for not following every guideline in a playbook that he may not have been given. Do the same follow-up you’d already been planning to do, as a step toward leveling the playing field.

You have an easy opportunity to give him some guidance on thank-you notes though! When you contact him to connect him with others, you can say, “People early in their careers don’t always realize this so I wanted to mention it: Most people taking the time to meet with you will expect a thank-you note afterwards, and not sending them can make them think you didn’t appreciate their time. Let me know if you want any advice on writing them to Bob and Lucinda after you meet with them — I’d be happy help you figure out what to include if you want.”

3. My new hire is starting on my last day of work

I’m preparing to resign my position (for many reasons) and accept a great opportunity, thanks in large part to all your wonderful advice! However, we hired a new person who is supposed to report to me. The way things are shaking out, their first day will probably be my last day. I don’t have anyone else reporting to me. I know it’s my manager’s responsibility to make formal arrangements, but what do you think are my informal (like, just human) obligations? I want to be honest with the new person but not give them the list of grievances of why I’m leaving. And I want to set them up for success. How do you think I should break the news and what should I do in the interim?

If at all possible, tell the person now so they don’t get blindsided by the news on their first day. Contact them before they start, explain you’ve accepted another job and will be leaving, and let them know who’ll they be reporting to until your replacement is hired. Don’t get into your reasons for leaving. That’s not really appropriate; just let them know you accepted a great job somewhere else. And work closely with your boss to figure out how to ensure the new person’s first few weeks go smoothly; with you gone, there’s a risk they’ll be left to flounder unless some clear planning is done now to make sure that doesn’t happen.

4. Should I leave a religious mission off my resume?

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I served a volunteer “mission” for my church for 18 months between 2016-17. Without being overly religious, I have put this on my resume in a separate section (volunteer work) than my work experience to explain the gap in employment.

I am trying to relocate to another state which is located in the Bible Belt, which is notoriously rather hostile towards my religion. If I apply for jobs locally, I get a lot of callbacks and interviews but have had absolutely no luck with the jobs I’m applying for in the state I’m trying to move to. Is it possible that they see I’m a member of my church and immediately pass me over (it is on the bottom of my resume)? Would it be better to take it off now that it’s been a few years and my relevant work experience has happened after that anyway? To be honest, I would rather leave it off but I worry people would wonder why I have an 18-month gap in employment.

It’s possible. It’s more likely, though, that this is just about you not being a local candidate. In most fields (unless your work is very in-demand), it’s much harder to get interviews for jobs when you’re out-of-state, for all the reasons here. There are things you can do to help, like making the move sound like a done deal as much as possible (for example, naming a specific time frame by which you hope to be living there), putting your new location on your resume (like writing “relocating to Boston” directly below your address, or not including an address at all), and some of the other advice here. But out-of-state searches take longer.

That said, you could try experimenting with leaving your mission off your resume altogether and seeing if it changes anything. I know you want to explain the gap, but at least some people will think you’re touting it as work-like experience (which, given that missions are intended to proselytize, will be problematic).

5. Withdrawing from an interview process after getting promoted

In the middle of my job search, I received a promotion at work. The promotion, of course, came with a salary raise. For one job in particular, for which I’m halfway through the interviewing process, this raise puts me at the midpoint of the salary range they advertised. I love my job and the people I work with, so I’m in no hurry to leave. I was only searching for more responsibility and more money. Given that, the top of this job’s range is now my new floor to leave my job. What do you think is the right thing to do here? Should I remove myself from consideration (since it’s not likely any job would offer the tippity top of their range)? And if so, do I tell them it’s really all about money and I just got a raise?

Do you want to remove yourself from consideration? If you’re now happy with your job and not interested in leaving for the money you think you’d be offered, it’s fine to just email and say, “I wanted to let you know that I’ve been promoted at my current company to a more senior role and am no longer searching for a new position, so I’m withdrawing from consideration for the X job. Thanks for your time in talking with me, and best of luck in making a hire.”

That said, if you’d still be open to leaving for the top of their range, there’s an argument for staying in the process and seeing it through. In that case, it could still make sense to update them so you’re not wasting your or their time — “I’ve just been promoted and my salary raised at my current company. I’m still interested in the X role, but I want to be transparent that I’d be looking at the top of your range in order to make a move. Is that prohibitive on your end or should we keep talking?”

]]>
https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/will-i-be-fired-if-i-refuse-a-covid-test-i-didnt-get-a-thank-you-after-helping-someone-and-more.html/feed 1278
is there any good reason not to share salary bands within a company? https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/is-there-any-good-reason-not-to-share-salary-bands-within-a-company.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/is-there-any-good-reason-not-to-share-salary-bands-within-a-company.html#comments Thu, 02 Sep 2021 17:59:41 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22244 This post, is there any good reason not to share salary bands within a company? , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes: My company recently underwent a pay equity analysis, which revealed that we are in the middle of our industry for compensation and that we have a significant disproportion of white males in executive leadership. No big surprises there. However, part of the action plan is to create salary bands that will adhere […]

]]>
This post, is there any good reason not to share salary bands within a company? , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes:

My company recently underwent a pay equity analysis, which revealed that we are in the middle of our industry for compensation and that we have a significant disproportion of white males in executive leadership. No big surprises there. However, part of the action plan is to create salary bands that will adhere for the same job title across our company (about 1,000 people, distributed throughout the U.S.).

During the Q&A after the presentation, neither our HR nor the analyst they hired could give a good answer for why, once the bands are created, they won’t share them internally. Their specious reasoning was a) very few companies do that (not a good answer!!) and b) that the reasoning behind specific salaries and bands is “too complex” and involves “many factors,” and that employees should trust management to be paying them correctly (!).

It seems to me (an exec myself) that they just don’t want the folks in the low bands to know how much the execs are making, and they don’t want anyone to know how much they’re being (under)paid vs. their counterparts in the band. By which, I mean: they want to continue inequitable practices and not be held accountable.

But am I missing something? Is there a good reason you’d keep this information away from your employees, that isn’t a CYA move? I know you’re in favor of sharing salary ranges in job ads (something I haven’t been able to get the company to do even for roles I am hiring, despite protests), and I would think that the more information employees have, the better. Am I missing something though?

You’re not missing anything.

The only reason for a company to keep pay bands a closely guarded secret is because they believe it makes life easier for them — it makes them less likely to have employees pointing out inequities by race and gender, and it denies employees data they could use to push for higher salaries for themselves.

“The reasoning behind specific salaries is too complex and involves many factors” means “we don’t use objective criteria to set salaries and we don’t want to bother explaining to someone why they fall in a particular spot within a pay band because we might not have compelling reasons to offer.”

“Employees should trust management to be paying them correctly” means “we are startlingly out-of-touch” or possibly “we know how ridiculous that sounds and we don’t care because we just want you to shut up, so here is a wall that you can’t get past.”

Hopefully your employees will realize that they can pool information on their salaries on their own and get a ton of useful data that way — a right that’s protected by the National Labor Relations Act. Unfortunately, that law doesn’t cover management employees, so as an exec you wouldn’t be legally protected if you participate in that, but perhaps you might discreetly ensure some lower-level staffers become aware of the law. (Or not discreetly — sometimes there’s cover in doing it very openly, as if it never occurred to you anyone might object … like by saying in discussions of the pay analysis, “Of course, federal law protects any non-management employees who choose to discuss their wages with other employees.” But you’ve got to know the politics in your company to know how safe that might be.)

]]>
https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/is-there-any-good-reason-not-to-share-salary-bands-within-a-company.html/feed 248
updates: the barking dog, the fan accounts, and more https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/updates-the-barking-dog-the-fan-accounts-and-more.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/updates-the-barking-dog-the-fan-accounts-and-more.html#comments Thu, 02 Sep 2021 16:29:17 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22229 This post, updates: the barking dog, the fan accounts, and more , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Here are three updates from past letter-writers. 1. My dog barks during work calls Thank you so much for publishing my letter! Your advice and those in the comments have been very helpful. Since I wrote in, my one-to-one meetings are now nonexistent apart from my manager so I am taking everyone’s advice to start […]

]]>
This post, updates: the barking dog, the fan accounts, and more , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Here are three updates from past letter-writers.

1. My dog barks during work calls

Thank you so much for publishing my letter! Your advice and those in the comments have been very helpful.

Since I wrote in, my one-to-one meetings are now nonexistent apart from my manager so I am taking everyone’s advice to start muting myself straight away in group meetings. I’m new to the professional world so I’m learning a lot! The day after I wrote in, one of my one-to-one meetings was interrupted by my superior’s children which was actually very sweet.

I did want to address some concerns in the comments: My neighbors were a part of the decision to rescue my dog! I made sure they knew about him and as I said in my original letter, he doesn’t bark often or for very long, he just has a very deep bark and I was unsure as to how to address this during meetings because my coworkers wanted to talk about him when I wanted to get on with the meeting!

However it looks like my problems will be solved because my partner is opening their own barber shop and will be taking our dog with them.

2. People keep asking me for meetings that could just be an email

I thought I’d share the good news that I was offered a contract this year in my dream role (more what I trained in than the meetings-fest role), which came with a 300% pay rise on my old job — and benefits.

I’ve just passed my probation period with flying colours and they’re training me in procedures that are both exciting to me and suggest I’ll be sticking around. I get so much coaching and praise, my own desk (!), and lots of wonderful structure.

ALSO, at this organisation, anything over a half-hour meeting is considered wildly long so my days of mystery meetings are over. Phew!

It’s hard enough to leave a job, but even harder to leave tiny nonprofits where a small team does net good. But this year has been a good reminder to put on your own oxygen mask first — that job was, after all, just a job, and now my quality of life is much improved. (And I can afford to, you know, go to the dentist, etc.)

3. I run two fan accounts for musicians — can it go on my resume? (#5 at the link)

Thank you again for answering my question.

A few months back, a new artist cold-DM’d one of my fan accounts with a link to his first single. Long story short, yesterday I started an internship with his record label! It’s a tiny indie group, so while my official title is something like A&R, I’ll be helping with basically everything they need, including marketing (which is my real passion). I’ve been helping out for a couple of weeks now, but I had my first official meeting with all the artists via Zoom yesterday, and I already love them! I followed your advice and basically my entire cover letter was about my fan accounts, so THANK YOU.

Unfortunately, it’s an unpaid internship, so for now I’m working looong days between that, my regular full-time job, and helping out an indie game developer with his social media. I’m busy and often stressed, but I’m still SO HAPPY.

And… last thing… the day before the Zoom, I met one of the artists for whom I have a fan account. It was the more famous of the two and he was exactly as lovely as he seems from the internet. I didn’t realize until that night exactly *how much* he and his team appreciate my work on the account – his manager couldn’t stop thanking me, and I think the artist hugged me four times. He also gave me a really nice gift and they let/forced (haha) me to watch the show from the side of the stage.

So, basically, this was the greatest weekend of my life, and I owe it all to these Instagram accounts. Thank you for not telling me I’m crazy for considering calling them “experience.”

]]>
https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/updates-the-barking-dog-the-fan-accounts-and-more.html/feed 59
how do I transition from a corporate job to non-office work? https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/how-do-i-transition-from-a-corporate-job-to-non-office-work.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/how-do-i-transition-from-a-corporate-job-to-non-office-work.html#comments Thu, 02 Sep 2021 14:59:12 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22099 This post, how do I transition from a corporate job to non-office work? , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

It’s the Thursday “ask the readers.” This week we’ve got two questions on similar themes. Letter 1 I am a young woman in my mid-20’s who by most accounts has followed the path to success. I graduated with a dual degree in less than four years, I got a steady job in my intended industry […]

]]>
This post, how do I transition from a corporate job to non-office work? , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

It’s the Thursday “ask the readers.” This week we’ve got two questions on similar themes.

Letter 1

I am a young woman in my mid-20’s who by most accounts has followed the path to success. I graduated with a dual degree in less than four years, I got a steady job in my intended industry (although as an admin, not doing the meat of the work). After a year in that role, I was offered a promotion to a position in HR and worked in that job for two years. While I didn’t love being an admin, I really didn’t like working in HR. About four months ago I started a program management job in the same industry, but doing very different work. The work is steady, I get paid decently, the people are friendly, the company is thoughtful. I have always been good at my job and well-liked both personally and professionally. Well. I am four months in and I do not like it. I thought the work would be different enough, the company would be better (which they are), and that would be enough, but it isn’t.

I have always considered, in the back of my mind, non-office jobs. I have even applied to some, like a national park job. Now that I have tried another new job and still don’t like it I am reconsidering my career path even more closely—I really don’t want to be miserable until I retire! I have thought about being a dental hygienist, a plumber, and a sewing machine repair person, among other things. Of course all of these things are a major jump from my background (although I am decently handy), and would require schooling, or a certification, or something.

So I guess my question is, how do people make major career changes? Not just from one corporate industry to another, but from a corporate job to something practical or outdoorsy? How do people test out what they might like without investing a ton of time and money while they figure it out? While I am unhappy, I also have a lot to lose (namely a steady and comfortable paycheck), which is making it more difficult for me to decide anything definitive. This might be a good ask the reader question, I am open to advice, stories, just hearing what interesting non-office jobs people have. If it makes any difference, I am in the D.C. metro area.

Letter 2

I have been in 3 similar jobs in the past 8-ish years. All as a cog in a large governmental-type organization. All good bosses, great benefits, and I am hugely lucky to have been hired for each of them.

I am single/no kids, so I do have a degree of flexibility.

Do you ever hear from people in my type of circumstances that just quit the rat race and find satisfaction in less lucrative (but less pressure) jobs? If I quit earning my excellent salary and went to work at a coffee shop or plant nursery, would I feel any different? I know every job has its headaches, and now is NOT the time to throw away my current position … but I feel like my soul dies a little with every un-necessary Skype meeting and performance-chart update.

I guess the bottom line is that I find my work stressful and unfulfilling, and I’m wondering if this is just a universal truth to be borne until I’m 65, or if I should be brave and just follow my (naive, but loud) heart. I feel like if I were 21 and feeling like this, I would ignore it; I am now 15 years past 21 and I don’t know if these feelings will ever go away.

Readers, what’s your advice?

]]>
https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/how-do-i-transition-from-a-corporate-job-to-non-office-work.html/feed 519
my boss reads my emails, TV’s best bosses, and more https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/my-boss-reads-my-emails-tvs-best-bosses-and-more.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/my-boss-reads-my-emails-tvs-best-bosses-and-more.html#comments Thu, 02 Sep 2021 04:03:23 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22247 This post, my boss reads my emails, TV’s best bosses, and more , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go… 1. I was laid off, and my old employer hasn’t contacted me now that they’re hiring again This past year has been a really hard one for me. I spent several years working in a job that was interesting, challenging, and helped me grow my skills. […]

]]>
This post, my boss reads my emails, TV’s best bosses, and more , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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

1. I was laid off, and my old employer hasn’t contacted me now that they’re hiring again

This past year has been a really hard one for me. I spent several years working in a job that was interesting, challenging, and helped me grow my skills. My industry was decimated by the pandemic and many of us were furloughed early on; after many months of wondering what would happen next, my position was eliminated last fall and I was devastated.

Now I am many months into a new job that pays me more than my old job, but is extremely dull. They praise my work but I am very unfulfilled. I am rarely busy and the work I am assigned is very one-note and doesn’t use many of my skills. I am applying to new roles because this place just doesn’t seem to be a good fit.

I have been distressed of late to see that my prior workplace has begun hiring again and the job of mine that was eliminated now apparently needs to be filled again. My prior workplace is rather dramatic and prone to firings and personnel-related upheaval, and the main managers of my department were fired shortly before the pandemic began and were replaced by new people who, when the pandemic hit, saved themselves and got rid of many of us. The way they treated us left a bitter taste in my mouth. They have not reached out to me to ask if I’d want to come back (though I worked there for several years and was well-regarded). My mentor-turned-friend who still works there keeps telling me he misses working with me and I miss working with him, too, but I do not feel comfortable reaching out to the new department heads about the job posting. They did, after all, lay me off and I think they should be the ones initiating contact. What irks me is that whenever I am on job boards, I keep seeing my old role being advertised since they are apparently unable to find someone with adequate skills. And it makes me mad and upset because my skills are good and I know how to perform the role.

My spirits are very low because of this situation. There are not a lot of jobs in my field in this town. But I have too much self respect to grovel at the feet of the people who laid me off. Do you think I am taking the right approach here?

It sounds like you’re making this very personal when it’s not. I know it feels personal — losing a job is a big deal. But these aren’t personal relationships; they’re business ones, and “they should be the ones initiating contact” just doesn’t apply here. And do you really want to hang your future professional happiness on that principle?

If you’d like to go back, just contact them yourself! They might be assuming you wouldn’t be interested since you have another job now (which they could know from LinkedIn or your friend who’s still there). Or they might not have thought of you because they didn’t work with you long. If you’d be interested in going back, just apply! Or if you want, you can contact them first, say you’d be interested in talking about returning, and ask if you should formally throw your hat in the ring. None of that is groveling. It’s just … normal business stuff.

However, you sound like you have a lot of bitterness toward the current managers, and if you return you’d presumably be working for them. So make sure you’re okay with that part of it first.

2. My boss reads my emails with customers

I’ve been at my job for close to five years, and my manager has been working here just about as long. Throughout this time, I’ve noticed that my manager will read through my email exchanges with customers. Since the vast majority of these occur through an alias customer service email address that the sales team all has access to (she and I and a part-time team member are the primary users of this account), I haven’t said anything about it because it doesn’t seem like she’s doing anything wrong, per se, so I don’t know how to bring it up without looking suspicious.

I’m not using these emails for anything other than business and don’t have anything I’m trying to hide (and no one has ever called my handling of customer emails into question aside from the usual sales strategy feedback), but it feels weirdly invasive and micromanagey and like she doesn’t trust me to do the job that I’ve been doing for five years. I’ve only noticed it happening when she mentions something to me or others that was discussed exclusively in an email conversation with a customer, and which wouldn’t have come across her desk without reading that email exchange. Since I always make sure to direct her to any emails that require her attention, I’m not certain what the goal is here.

I know that it doesn’t really matter on a large scale, but it has always really bothered me. It also feels like a strange use of time when we’re already understaffed and no concerns have been raised with me about my handling of issues. Am I wrong to feel like this is invasive, and untrusting? Is there something I can do about it?

If she is one of the multiple users of that email account, this isn’t necessarily shady. She could be in there for legitimate reasons and happen to come across those emails without specifically going out of her way to monitor you, right? I could see her thinking, “Oh, here’s an update from Client X, who I take an active interest in — where are things at with them?” I get why that feels like you’re being watched, but it can also just be part of the deal with a shared email account.

Since it’s bothering you, though, you could say, “Do you have any concerns about my handling of emails with customers? When you review my emails in the shared account, it’s made me wonder if you’re not confident that I’ll handle issues correctly.”

If she doesn’t need to be in the account for other reasons and she’s going in specifically to read your emails, that’s more unusual and you’re not wrong to feel untrusted — although there’s probably a reason it’s a shared account, and whatever that reason is might put it in context. There too, though, you could use the language above.

To be clear, managers should spot-check people’s work periodically to make sure they have a good feel for things they otherwise might never see. But monitoring emails without an explicit acknowledgement that that’s the system isn’t typical, so especially if it’s scenario #2, I’d want to know more about where she’s coming from.

3. Can you cite higher insurance premiums when negotiating for more money?

Is it considered acceptable, when negotiating a new job in a new organization, to use higher insurance premiums as a justification for requesting a higher salary? Does it matter if you verbally said a salary was good before seeing the insurance premiums?

You can absolutely say something like, “Your insurance premiums are much higher than I’m currently paying and change the math on the overall package for me. Given that, could you do $X?” If the premium cost difference would cancel out most/all of the salary bump you’d be getting by changing jobs, you can say that too; for example, “Unfortunately the cost of your insurance premiums is so much higher that I’d be taking a pay cut to join you. Could you go up to $X to cancel that out?” (Generally I don’t recommend talking about your current salary when negotiating pay, but where it helps you make the case for more money it’s fine to do. People understand you won’t want to take an effective pay cut, and they understand the concept of “I’d need $X to consider a move.”)

All this works even if you’d previously said a salary range sounded fine; if they wanted your full buy-in on that, they would have needed to show you the full benefits package then.

4. Can I ask for a different desk?

I feel a little petty even typing this, but I’d love your advice on how I can reframe my thinking about this to see it as less of an issue. I just got a new job (I used your cover letter tips!) and currently most of the team is remote but planning to go back in person soon. I got assigned a desk that can convert between standing and sitting. Before, I didn’t even know this was a possibility, but I got really excited about it. However, today I got an email that said I was reassigned to a different desk because someone else who was using it unofficially wanted to keep it because it’s bigger. I’m surprisingly crestfallen. I didn’t realize there would be such different levels of attractiveness between the different desks. And I can’t help but feel a little miffed that someone else “stole” my desk before I had a chance to go in. And the desk I got moved to is smaller and isn’t a standing desk. Should I reach out and make my preference known? I don’t want to be seen as someone who cares more about the desk than the work itself, but also a standing desk would make a big difference in my comfort level in the office.

You should ask if you can have the type of desk you want! They might have one they can give you, and if they can’t, they’ll let you know. It’s not a faux pas to write back, “Any chance there’s another standing/sitting desk available that I could use? I was pretty excited when you told me I was getting this one!” The answer might be no, but it’s fine to ask.

If the answer is no, though, keep in mind that this person didn’t steal your desk. They were already using it. It sounds like it was more their desk, and the person doing desk assignments just hadn’t realized that initially.

5. TV’s best boss

I was talking to my husband the other day about how I like Glenn from the TV show Superstore better as a manager than Michael Scott from The Office. In a lot of ways, they’re both sort of inept but somehow havereally good stores/offices, and they both say sort of inappropriate things and sometimes let their personal issues or values in the workplace too much. I think if I had to pick, I’d prefer someone like Glenn cause he’s way nicer, and some things he says might be inappropriate but aren’t as rude/mean/gross as Michael Scott, and I think Glenn is more amenable to being corrected/called out. It got me to thinking, who are the best and worst TV bosses?

I was thinking of people like Michael Scott from The Office, Glenn from Superstore, Leslie Knope from Parks and Rec, Captain Holt from Brooklyn 99, David from Schitt’s Creek (he does own a store after all, so I’m opening the possibility he’ll hire someone!), and Shannon from Kim’s Convenience. I think I might like Captain Holt the most and Michael Scott the least, even though I love both characters as a “they’re not real and this is purely amusing” kind of thing. Who’s your favorite TV boss (including those not on this list)?

I find most TV bosses truly terrible in painful ways (we covered Michael Scott and Leslie Knope recently), but Admiral Adama from Battlestar Galactica is excellent (although his fatherly affection for Kara is a weak spot). Also, weirdly enough, it seemed like Gus Fring on Breaking Bad might have been a good boss at his chicken stores, even though he was clearly problematic to work for in his drug business.

]]>
https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/my-boss-reads-my-emails-tvs-best-bosses-and-more.html/feed 680
how do I know if it’s safe to be out at work … and other questions about LGBTQ+ issues at work https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/lgbtq-issues-at-work.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/lgbtq-issues-at-work.html#comments Wed, 01 Sep 2021 17:59:29 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=22241 This post, how do I know if it’s safe to be out at work … and other questions about LGBTQ+ issues at work , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

After a post earlier this year about coming out as queer mid-career, an LGBTQ+ reader contacted me to ask if she could share more advice for LGBTQ+ readers and allies. Pulling from her own experience creating an LGBTQ+ employee resource group at her workplace and serving on the board of a nonprofit that serves the […]

]]>
This post, how do I know if it’s safe to be out at work … and other questions about LGBTQ+ issues at work , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

After a post earlier this year about coming out as queer mid-career, an LGBTQ+ reader contacted me to ask if she could share more advice for LGBTQ+ readers and allies. Pulling from her own experience creating an LGBTQ+ employee resource group at her workplace and serving on the board of a nonprofit that serves the LGBTQ+ community, she offered up answers to the following nine questions that come up in this realm frequently.

First, her caveat: “Please note that my guidelines below are U.S.-centric, and that unfortunately it is still unsafe for many people to come out in some or all areas of their lives. Each individual has a right to come out when and if they deem appropriate, and their reasons are not for anyone else to judge. If someone’s gender or sexual identity confuses you, consider saying nothing, instead of asking an inappropriate question to a stranger or work acquaintance.”

On to the FAQ!

1. How do I know if a company I’m interviewing at is LGBTQ+ friendly?

This one is tricky because you might have an affirming hiring manager but a really homophobic person in another department who makes life more difficult. LGBTQ+ affirming companies will show commitments to diversity and inclusion. For example, a company might have an affinity group for LGBTQ+ employees or be involved in local Pride parades or organizations such as the Human Rights Campaign or the National Diversity Council, as well as ensuring their polices are supportive of all people. Supportive policies and identifiers include things like same-sex partner benefits, trans-affirming healthcare, and the ability to identify gender as something other than male/female on forms.

Some companies giving lip service to inclusivity by making gestures like changing their logo to rainbow colors in June, but may not have laid any real groundwork to make  LGBTQ+ employees feel safe being out at work. To tell the difference, ask your interviewers about their commitments to diversity, inclusion, and equity, and listen to the response. Is it concrete, with examples? Or is it more of a vague idea of inclusiveness, with no concrete steps they can point to? If the latter, make sure you really do your research about the company and organization to ensure it is a workplace right for you.

2. How do I know if it’s okay to be out at work?

You are the best judge of your personal safety in your workplace based on your individual experience. That said, if other people are out at work, that may be an indication of how safe it is to be out at your workplace. Generally if there is an LGBTQ+ group at your company, you will likely be safer to out yourself if you choose to. If there aren’t any LGBTQ+ groups or people who are openly out, you can observe the behavior and communications of the people you work with, and look for signs of an affirming culture, such as pictures of same-sex couples on desks, mentions of same-sex partners and loved ones, and people talking positively about LGBTQ+ issues and rights.

For example, at one place I worked, I had one colleague and friend who was initially the only openly gay person in the office, and would talk about going on dates or going to Pride. Because that person was comfortable being who they were, others who were also not heterosexual felt safer coming out at work, myself included. Being the first openly out person is never easy, and I would never recommend coming out if you didn’t feel safe. If you’ve worked at a place for more than a couple months and feel comfortable with a colleague or two, you might try, for example, mentioning hanging out with a gay couple on the weekend and check for biases. That can help you start to get a better idea of if you would feel safe coming out.

3. How do I tell my boss/employer I will be transitioning?

I’d first recommend reaching out to your LGBTQ+ group if you have one at your workplace. If not, make sure that you are familiar with your rights and your company’s policies. Consider reaching out to LGBTQ+ affirming groups in your area, or organizations like Out in Tech, Out & Equal, Pride at Work, oStem, etc. While you may be the first person at your employer to transition, you are hopefully not the first person to transition at work in your state, and you will be able to research what has worked for others, as well as potentially network with other transgender people in your field.

4. How do I share my pronouns at work?

Normalize saying your name and your pronouns, such as “Hi, I’m Alison, I use she/her pronouns” or “Hi, I’m Chaz, I use they/them pronouns.” You can also put them in your signature if you like. Even if you are male-presenting and use he/him pronouns or female-presenting and use she/her pronouns, sharing your own pronouns creates space for others to share theirs. The HRC has more advice about this here.

5. How do I talk to my company about creating LGBTQ+ inclusive policies?

If you have an HR business partner, start with them. If you are at smaller company, start with whoever handles the HR type stuff, and prepare to take on some of the legwork as there likely will not be budget. Consider contacting organizations in your area that work on these issues; some might even be willing to review your existing policies and make recommendations.

When you talk to your contact, here’s a sample script you could use: “I really enjoy working here, and with last year’s Supreme Court ruling that sexual orientation and gender identity are federally protected from discrimination at work, we might want to ensure that our policies and procedures remain current in today’s workplace. This is an area I am passionate about, and I was wondering if I could help create LGBTQ+ inclusive policies for our company.”

If they agree, yay! Ask for time to review the existing policies to make recommendations. For example, you may want to ensure that language and dress code are gender neutral and your policies and insurance plans cover same-sex partners, coverage for surrogacy and adoption, and/or transgender-affirming medical procedures. If you get a non-answer or a no, say that you think it will be a bigger issue in the future and ask if you can check in again in six months.

6. How do I start an LGBTQ+ group at work?

If your company has other affinity groups, there are likely formal processes for creating one. Ask HR to share with you the process for creating an employee resource group or an affinity group, since your company might have a charter process already defined. Many of these will require having several potential members identified in order to present the charter.

If no other affinity group exists and this would be your company’s first, you’re going to need help getting this off the ground. If others at your company are interested in starting a group, recruit them to help you; usually 3-5 is good for a core leadership group. If your company has any sort of diversity and inclusion program or department, reach out to someone in that area for guidance. If you don’t have any of that but you have friends who work at a place with an LGBTQ+ group, ask if you could be put in touch with one of their leaders to get advice. Most group members are more than happy to share how their group got started.

If none of that exists, you may find this article helpful, as it outlines how a resource group can be created and even includes a charter template. That charter template inspired my own ERG charter. Be prepared to have lots of conversations internally with your colleagues and potential members, as well as externally to talk to other similar groups in your area.

7. I think I’m experiencing discrimination at work because I am a member of the LGBTQ+ community. What do I do?

First of all, I’m sorry you are experiencing discrimination. You are the best judge of your situation and the company. Personally, I did file a formal complaint after discriminatory comments in my workplace. I reported the issue, there was an investigation, and in the end the person who made the comments was told that their comments were unacceptable in the workplace and instructed to not talk to me unless it was directly related to work we needed to do together. I was thanked for coming forward. Ideally, something similar would be the norm when someone reports discrimination, but we all know that doesn’t happen in all cases. While gender identity and sexual orientation are protected classes, if your company culture tolerates racist or sexist comments they likely aren’t going to be on your side when it comes to homophobic or transphobic statements.

My recommendation would be to investigate if your company has a formal process for handling discrimination complaints and review the process and your company’s code of conduct. If your company has an anonymous ethics or complaint hotline, consider calling for advice and guidance. Think about what you want to happen if you complain – do you want an apology? Do you want the person fired? Do you just want to share what happened to you, so it doesn’t happen to anyone else? What’s your goal, and is it something that you think the company will be capable of doing?

For me, I was in a place where I felt secure in my role and job, even if my complaint was dismissed, which is not a luxury everyone has. It might be better for you personally to find a new job if you fear retaliation, because you deserve to work in a place that is not discriminating against you.

If you have local LGBTQ+ organizations in your area, they might be willing to help you navigate the situation. There are also national organizations that can provide guidance such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Human Rights Campaign, the National LGBTQ+ Task Force, and Lambda Legal Defense and Education fund, as well as many state and local organizations. You don’t have to go it alone.

8. What should I do if I use the wrong pronouns or misgender someone?

Apologize quickly and once per incident, do not agonize over your mistake, and resume the conversation using the correct pronouns.

9. How can allies help in the workplace?

An ally is a person who is supportive of the LGBTQ+ community and challenges personal and/or systemic discrimination. Typically, LGBTQ+ affinity groups are about half allies, half members of the LGBTQ+ community. Being an ally is an action, not just a label. Specific actions you can take at work include things like joining existing LGBTQ+ employee groups as an ally, advocating internally for gender-neutral language in job descriptions, and advocating for inclusive health care benefits or the ability to choose a gender other than male/female in the HR system. If your workplace has gender-specific dress codes, suggest inclusive changes to create one dress code for everyone. If you hear someone defaming LGBTQ+ people, speak up and say something. If you hear someone using the wrong pronouns or name for a person, gently correct them with the right ones. GLAAD shares other ideas on how to be an ally here and the HRC has this article with ideas and more resources.

For allies, and really everyone, respect is key – respect pronouns, chosen names, appearances, and partners. In addition, consider bringing awareness of LGBTQ+ issues and concerns to conversations about diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. Challenge your own internal biases and do not make assumptions or generalizations.

]]>
https://www.askamanager.org/2021/09/lgbtq-issues-at-work.html/feed 213