Ask a Manager https://www.askamanager.org Sat, 23 Jan 2021 05:04:41 +0000 en-US hourly 1 weekend open thread – January 23-24, 2021 https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/weekend-open-thread-january-23-24-2021.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/weekend-open-thread-january-23-24-2021.html#comments Sat, 23 Jan 2021 05:01:42 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=20865 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: I Suck at Girls, by Justin Halpern. A very funny book of essays about the author’s dating life from boyhood on, entwined throughout with highly amusing advice […]

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

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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: I Suck at Girls, by Justin Halpern. A very funny book of essays about the author’s dating life from boyhood on, entwined throughout with highly amusing advice from his dad on all aspects of life. (You may know the dad from the author’s viral Twitter account, Shit My Dad Says.)

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

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

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it’s your Friday good news https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/its-your-friday-good-news-37.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/its-your-friday-good-news-37.html#comments Fri, 22 Jan 2021 17:00:50 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=20880 It’s your Friday good news, with more accounts of success even in this weird time. 1. I’m very surprised to be one of the people writing in for good news Friday, but here I am! Attempting to leave academia this year, I was feeling fairly doomed. But thanks to an unconventional hiring process that prioritized […]

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

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It’s your Friday good news, with more accounts of success even in this weird time.

1. I’m very surprised to be one of the people writing in for good news Friday, but here I am! Attempting to leave academia this year, I was feeling fairly doomed. But thanks to an unconventional hiring process that prioritized small writing tests over CVs in the first instance, I’ve been offered a position at a tech company– not only that, a position the company added just for me. Coming from a background in academia and the arts, it was an amazing reminder that there actually are industries out there who have the money and will to invest in people they believe in, even in COVID times.

2. I just got the news that I had won a longed-for promotion. I am an academic, so promotion is a strictly codified system where you can apply once a year and you have to make your own case for promotion. There is a lot of paperwork!

For years, I had self-sabotaged by talking myself out of applying each year when the applications for promotion opened, because I was much more focused on what I wasn’t achieving than on what I was. Call it a galloping case of impostor syndrome…! Reading your column helped me to internalise that one can be imperfect but still a valuable colleague; and that women in particular benefit from more often and more loudly asserting our right to be appropriately recognised for the work we are doing.

I admire how realistic but how constructive your advice always is. Reading your blog has been more useful than any other training video or CPD I’ve seen. Thank you!

3. I have been working as in intern in a work-study setting during almost all of undergrad, and I am set to graduate this coming December. Throughout my first corporate experience, reading your blog and listening your podcast has been instrumental in helping me frame my expectations of a job. I try to be receptive to feedback from my managers, I know when and how to draw the line respectfully while working in a male-dominated field, and in general I work to be a good employee.

More recently, as I have been recruiting for my first entry level full-time job, your info on resume/cover letters, the hiring process, and navigating offer letters and salary negotiations helped me land four offers! I was shocked to see this especially due to COVID times, so I am happy to report that I accepted an offer from my “reach” company with an awesome salary, benefits, and work culture!

I used to feel a sense of anxiety and imposter syndrome in terms of my work and school life, and I realized early in my job search that this mindset was depriving me of opportunities that similar candidates would easily be reaching for. Switching into feeling confident and positive about myself (easier said than done!) was key in my success during interviews and the entire recruiting process.

I also realized the importance of salary sharing with peers when possible. By talking to friends graduating with the same degree as me, I was able to get a sense of salary norms within my field, and found out that my general expectation was about 18% less than what my offer ended up being! The offer I received and accepted was the same salary offered to one of my male counterparts for the same position, and actually 3.7% more than another.

I am thrilled to have reached this milestone, and I’m glad to be aware of ways I was potentially “selling myself short.” Thank you very much for helping me understand workplace norms better, as well as providing me with some much needed entertainment too!

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

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open thread – January 22-23, 2021 https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/open-thread-january-22-23-2021.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/open-thread-january-22-23-2021.html#comments Fri, 22 Jan 2021 16:00:43 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=20866 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. * […]

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

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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.

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

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anti-vaxx coworker is verifying vaccinations, paying for a cover letter, and more https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/anti-vaxx-coworker-is-verifying-vaccinations-paying-for-a-cover-letter-and-more.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/anti-vaxx-coworker-is-verifying-vaccinations-paying-for-a-cover-letter-and-more.html#comments Fri, 22 Jan 2021 05:03:55 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=20890 It’s four answers to four questions. Here we go… 1. Anti-vaxx coworker has job verifying vaccinations I work at a college as an admin assistant. One of the other admin assistants will be assisting in measles vaccination verification soon. She is an anti-vaxxer. What makes this situation trickier is that she has had integrity issues. […]

anti-vaxx coworker is verifying vaccinations, paying for a cover letter, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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

1. Anti-vaxx coworker has job verifying vaccinations

I work at a college as an admin assistant. One of the other admin assistants will be assisting in measles vaccination verification soon. She is an anti-vaxxer. What makes this situation trickier is that she has had integrity issues.

A specific example of this involves timesheet reporting. We’re teleworking because of COVID. Most of our duties as admins involve scheduling/receptionist work. Because of the way our softphones work, only one of us can answer the phones at a time. So, we work the phones in blocks of time. One morning, during her block, the phone kept ringing without being answered. I texted her and she called back. She said for me to keep her on the schedule, but she wasn’t working that day. She didn’t want to use up her sick days.

I gave our boss a brief heads-up about the situation, but there’s a reason my coworker knew this would fly. He kept her on the schedule and I did all the work.

Anyway, that boss is gone now. Our college has undergone massive cuts and reorganization. Our new boss is someone we haven’t worked under before. The new boss is aware that my coworker has had ongoing issues with fudging her timesheet and is willing to give her a fresh start, I think seeing it as a problem of prior management.

The timesheet stuff isn’t the only integrity issue. The other stuff is a little more gut feeling, wishy washy, sin of omission stuff. Does this vector into her anti-vaxx stance and new job duties? Should I bring it up at all?

You should 100% inform your new boss that the person assigned to assist in vaccination verification is an anti-vaxxer. If she doesn’t think it’s a concern, she doesn’t need to act on it — but she should have that information so she can make that call.

I would say it this way: “With Jane slated to begin assisting with vaccination verification, I felt I should let you know that she’s been vocal about her opposition to vaccinations. I have no idea if it would affect the way she approaches the work, but I didn’t feel comfortable knowing that and not flagging it for you.”

Your boss already knows Jane has been fudging her timesheets (!) so hopefully will have the sense to realize that the two of these together could add up to serious concerns. (Frankly, the anti-vaxxer stuff on its own is a concern for someone involved in vaccination work but it’s made worse when the person already has known integrity issues.)

2. Paying for a cover letter

I’m a member of an online community of professional writers. Most of the members are freelancers, though I hold a director-level content position at a company where I have been a hiring manager in the past. Today, a member of the community posted a question about being approached by someone to write their cover letter for them. They mentioned turning down the opportunity, a move I agree with. But (I’m not exaggerating here) a dozen people responded to the post saying there’s nothing wrong with being paid to write someone else’s cover letter, and that they do so frequently. Alison, I felt like I was taking crazy pills! Is paying for a professional to write your cover letters for you that common? Should hiring managers expect this? How is it at all ethical?

Only one other person agreed with me; everyone else was like, “Go for it! Make your easy money writing someone else’s cover letter! It’s no different from paying a resume writer!” I couldn’t disagree more. To me, a cover letter is an example of someone’s communications skills, which are important in roles beyond just content/writing/editing roles. Am I the one who’s off-base here?

Whoa, no, you aren’t the one who’s off-base. A cover letter is supposed to be an example of the applicant’s communication skills. If I found out a candidate had paid someone else to write it for them, it would be a serious strike against their judgment. On top of that, it’s hard to imagine how a stranger could write a truly compelling cover letter for someone else; a strong cover letter talks about reasons the person would excel at the job that aren’t in their resume and gives insight into person beyond the data on their resume. Writing a truly good cover letter for a stranger (one worth paying for) would either take a massive investment of time in getting to know them or be so blah as to do them a disservice … or, I guess, could just be full of made-up info about them.

People like to point out that not everyone writes well, and that’s true! And if you’re applying for jobs that don’t require great writing, then your cover letter doesn’t need to show great writing either; it just needs to show that you communicate reasonably competently in writing. (And if you don’t, that’s relevant info for the hiring manager).

But whether anyone thinks it should be this way or not, the reality is that hiring managers assume cover letters are your own work. Even if you got help editing it, the convention is that they’re understood to be the work of the person who signed their name at the bottom.

It’s not surprising that there’s a market for it anyway, but it’s not ethical on either side. To illustrate that: There would be no problem with disclosing that a resume writer helped you with your resume if it came up for some reason — because resumes are inventories of your professional life; they’re not intended to illustrate your communication skills — but I doubt anyone would want to announce that someone wrote their cover letter for them (and that’s because they know it would go over like a lead balloon).

3. Should I tell my boss I don’t like my new job?

I started a new job around six months ago and my probationary period is ending with my upcoming review. I do not like the job at all. While it is in my field, I no longer get to do any of the things I enjoy doing and spend all day at a desk (I did not with my previous job) and don’t get to do much higher level work. The management style of my boss doesn’t really work for me, as she is very overly involved in her pet projects and then not at all involved in the other projects. I receive very little feedback (what I do receive has been positive). I know she will ask in the review what I think of the job and I don’t know what to say. My instinct is to keep my head down and say it’s fine and start looking for something else, but should I be honest and tell her it’s not really working out? If so how do I word it?

Don’t tell her it’s not working out unless you’re prepared to be pushed out before you’ve found a new job. Typically it only makes sense to tell your boss you’re unhappy with the job if there’s something actionable you’re asking to change — like if you were told you’d spend most of your time on X but you’re spending most of your time on Y, or something else your manager could feasibly address. If it’s just that you dislike the work or dislike your boss, announcing that you’re unhappy has a pretty high risk of your manager concluding it’s not working out and making moves toward replacing you, which might happen on a faster timeline than you’d want. That’s especially true when you’re still pretty new, since she may figure it doesn’t make sense to keep investing in training you.

That said, if you were led to believe you’d be doing higher level work, you can certainly talk to your boss about that. I just wouldn’t announce that you’re unhappy without a specific request attached to it.

4. How early is too early to tell my bosses I’m pregnant?

I’m newly pregnant (yay!) and I’ve dug through the archives, but I haven’t found a great answer to my question: is there a reason other than “you may miscarry” to not tell work you’re pregnant?

Normally I’d wait, but I’m in a scenario where my boss(es) knowing earlier will give us a unique window to plan things to account for my maternity leave (adjusting the caliber of additional support we’re hiring, setting timelines for projects where I’m a non-negotiable contributor, etc). We’re making these business decisions very soon, before I even plan on telling my family!

It would also help me 1) explain a handful of appointments I have in the next month and 2) let me work from home full-time until this god-awful morningALL DAY sickness abates. (We currently go into the office on a rotation, but I don’t really need to.)

My bosses are all across the country from me, so I could conceivably keep this to myself for months, but it feels like it would help me to tell them earlier. Also, I’m not brand new in my role, but I’m certainly don’t have a long tenure. Our company supports parents and parental leave. Is there something I’m not considering?

Mostly the reason people wait until they’re past their first trimester is in case they miscarry. Sometimes there are other reasons too — like if you’re being considered for a promotion and don’t want the knowledge of your pregnancy to (unconsciously or otherwise) influence that decision — but if you don’t have anything specific like that, you’re generally fine telling people whenever you’re comfortable with it.

And although the advice to wait for your second trimester is common, a lot of people do end up telling their boss earlier because it just makes it easier to deal with morning sickness, fatigue, appointments, etc.

anti-vaxx coworker is verifying vaccinations, paying for a cover letter, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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my networking meetings aren’t leading to interviews https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/my-networking-meetings-arent-leading-to-interviews.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/my-networking-meetings-arent-leading-to-interviews.html#comments Thu, 21 Jan 2021 18:59:07 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=20877 A reader writes: I’ve been job-hunting for many, many months now, and recently a personal connection was able to introduce me to several high-level contacts in my desired industry. (I am three years post-college graduation and looking for a role in social justice/community organizing.) Through this contact I have spoken to senior/executive-director level people at […]

my networking meetings aren’t leading to interviews was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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A reader writes:

I’ve been job-hunting for many, many months now, and recently a personal connection was able to introduce me to several high-level contacts in my desired industry. (I am three years post-college graduation and looking for a role in social justice/community organizing.) Through this contact I have spoken to senior/executive-director level people at several government and nonprofit agencies that I would love to work for.)

However, with the exception of one conversation where we directly discussed openings at their organization, these conversations have generally been networking/informational interviewing. My connections who referred me to these contacts always seem a little surprised that the conversations have not led directly to at least an interview, but I’ve been very wary of being too demanding of these senior-level people who have taken time to speak to someone as inexperienced as me. I’ve asked them in-depth questions about what choices they made re: grad school, how they selected their interest area, and what directions they think would be offering growth and opportunity in this time, but otherwise I haven’t asked if they can refer me to specific positions.

Am I doing something wrong in these conversations? Is there a tactful way to follow up with a request to know about any suitable openings in their organizations?

It’s the people who think these conversations should lead directly to interviews who are doing something wrong!

It’s a common misconception about networking, but it’s not how these meetings usually work. And if they really do expect that, they’re being pretty disingenuous when they reach out to their connections on your behalf … because it’s unlikely they’re saying “do you want to interview Tangerina Smith for a job?” They’re saying “Tangerina Smith is looking for work in your industry. Would you be willing to talk with her about the field and what YourOrg does?” And those contacts are then agreeing on the assumption that Tangerina Smith understands this will not be an interview but that she will still find the time valuable.

It’s actually not great for your contacts to ask people to spend their (probably valuable and scarce) time having an informational chat with you if what they’re really expecting is that these people will somehow find you a job. As someone who has been on the receiving end of way too many requests for informational meetings that the person hopes will become an interview, the indirectness is frustrating. When I know that what someone really wants is to be considered for a job, I can save us both time and just point them to our application process, rather than spending half an hour answering questions that they’re not that invested in hearing the answers to.

But none of that is your fault! You’re accepting the connections your contacts offer, and it sounds like you’re trying to be respectful of the connections’ time and ask them thoughtful questions. You don’t sound like you are treating these meetings as a promise of anything more. The contacts who are connecting you are the ones being unrealistic about how this works.

Anyway. At the end of these meetings, it’s absolutely fine to say something like, “‘I’m really interested in the work you’re doing! If you have any openings that you think might be the right match for me, or if you hear of any at other organizations, I’d love to know about them, even down the road.” You can also follow up on the meeting later by emailing your resume with a thank-you and a similar note. (Do check their job listings ahead of time, of course, so that you’re not asking something that you could have already answered by looking on their website.)

That’s normal to do and it’s not rude as long as you were actively engaged in the meeting itself. Sometimes someone asks for an informational interview, shows up totally unprepared with hardly any questions to ask, expects the person who granted the meeting to do all the work of guiding the conversation, doesn’t seem terribly interested in the info they’re getting, and then follows up by asking about job openings. That reads as “I wasted your time so I could get an in to ask you about job leads.” Don’t do that.

But assuming you’re prepared, engaged, and genuinely interested, the fact that these meetings aren’t turning into interviews or job leads doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong. It means the people you’re meeting with are taking your mutual contacts at their word that you’re looking for general advice and information, and that’s normal.

My one caveat: Do you want general advice and information? Are you finding these meetings useful? It’s always good to make contacts in the field you want to work in, especially with senior-level people, and so there’s inherent value just from that. But if you’re not really that interested in what you’re learning from the conversations and you’d rather just talk about applying for work with them (or job leads in the field generally), please be up-front when you first connect — as in, “Would you have time to talk with me about potential openings at YourOrg or in the broader field for someone with my background and how I can best position myself for roles like X and Y?” Doing that means you’ll have fewer of these meetings (because some people will just tell you to go through their normal application process), but the people who do meet with you will be clearer on what you’re looking for and how they can help, and it’s a more respectful approach to people’s time.

But if you’re finding the more general meetings useful, carry on!

my networking meetings aren’t leading to interviews was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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update: we’re being re-hired for work that doesn’t exist https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/update-were-being-re-hired-for-work-that-doesnt-exist.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/update-were-being-re-hired-for-work-that-doesnt-exist.html#comments Thu, 21 Jan 2021 17:29:37 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=20531 Remember the letter-writer whose employer — a theater — had laid everyone off but then re-hired them when they got a federal pandemic loan, and she was worried they’d just be laid off again when the loan ran out? (#4 at the link) Here’s the update. You answered my question about this in 2020, and […]

update: we’re being re-hired for work that doesn’t exist was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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Remember the letter-writer whose employer — a theater — had laid everyone off but then re-hired them when they got a federal pandemic loan, and she was worried they’d just be laid off again when the loan ran out? (#4 at the link) Here’s the update.

You answered my question about this in 2020, and it was helpful.

I had the issue that my nonprofit theatre laid us all off, cancelled ALL programming, and then rehired us under the guise of “business as usual” when that literally could not happen because *pandemic life.* After we were laid off and rehired, they did in fact lay (some of) us off again. They laid us off in May, a month before the stipulations were met, so that they could give us a month’s severance for our permanent layoff. In the lay-off email, they also said people would be getting an additional two week severance for every 5 years they worked there. I was at 4.5 years, and I asked if they could round up my time for an additional two weeks. They did. I knew I had nothing to lose by asking for a little bit more, and not only did they give it to me, they rounded up for ANYONE that was within 6 months of being 5, 10 or whatever years at the company. (I think because EVERYONE probably asked for that.)

They did tell us that we were ineligible for unemployment because of the severance package, but that turned out to be not true. Some people lost out on their unemployment because of that misinformation.

There were some people in the comments who were concerned that I’d rather be on unemployment than work, and that simply isn’t true. First of all, it’s part of the benefits package, which is part of my compensation. Also, the place I worked at was incredibly hostile (and I do mean the legal definition of a hostile work environment, with an HR that made things WORSE!), and this was the best way to finally get out of that situation. And most importantly, I had been looking for work in an adjacent field. I had time to focus on getting my certification for my next career move, and thankfully the boost in unemployment allowed me to completely focus on that, rather than stressing myself out trying to work because people are only useful when they’re working. (Eyeroll to all those “productivity” trolls.) I am happy to say that within a week or two of the layoff I was offered and accepted a position that pays more than $15,000 more a year (which is more than 1/3 more than what I made), with a start date 6 weeks later. I had time to do a bucket-list road trip, see family, and all the appropriate quarantining in between.

I also wanted to add that this column has gotten me through some rough times by letting me know what is and isn’t acceptable, and how to best handle the worst moments so that I can focus on the long game: getting paid and getting out. I’ve landed several jobs thanks to the resume, cover letter, and interview techniques you talk about.

Thanks for all of this. I miss the podcast, but I appreciate you advocating for an appropriate work/life balance.

update: we’re being re-hired for work that doesn’t exist was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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household employees keep ghosting me https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/household-employees-keep-ghosting-me.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/household-employees-keep-ghosting-me.html#comments Thu, 21 Jan 2021 15:59:54 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=20821 It’s the Thursday “ask the readers” question. A reader writes: I’m the manager (also parent) for the lives of two kids under 5 years old. Their first childcare provider was a miraculously perfect fit for part-time work; lived nearby (convenient for last minute shifts, never late due to 5 minute car commute) was very flexible, […]

household employees keep ghosting me was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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

I’m the manager (also parent) for the lives of two kids under 5 years old. Their first childcare provider was a miraculously perfect fit for part-time work; lived nearby (convenient for last minute shifts, never late due to 5 minute car commute) was very flexible, a self starter, mature, patient, kind, and experienced. After three wonderful years with her, we moved out of state. (I gave her two months notice of our departure, a month of severance pay, and a glowing reference letter, as well as putting her in touch with her next two employers. All of which a Good Manager can and should do, I think, but just to demonstrate that I have a modicum of sense and emotional investment in the process.)

Several subsequent childcare providers have ghosted. I do not think I changed my interview process from the first time. I used the same website (care.com if that matters), asked the same thing on my post (“please state your availability on [a specific date] in your first message to me” to confirm that people were tailoring their response to my post instead of spamming multiple job openings), kept the same contract (paid vacation time, holidays, and sick days), and offered competitive pay (not the lowest and not the highest hourly rate for our area, but higher than average). There is a lot of flexibility in the position (I provide a variety of options, but the final schedule for the kids is at the discretion of the childcare provider; I have a flexible job, so I can typically accommodate any schedule changes necessary for the childcare provider with advance notice, such as if they have an appointment or prefer different start and end times).

The position is mildly contingent on the whims of two small children getting along with the childcare provider, but for the most part the children have loved (and been loved by, according to the providers) their childcare providers. However, Other Stuff always comes up and this job is the first thing on the chopping block for most of the people who have held the position. I’m not angry about not hearing back from long-time providers, but none of them have ever officially quit, so I am concerned about what I might be doing to cause this and I am sad that the children do not really get to say a proper goodbye to people who have been important in their lives.

Our current situation is for 10-15 hours a week (consistent days, flexible times) with someone I hired who is a friend of a friend, so a somewhat known entity. They had worked here occasionally pre-covid, and started back about two months ago as Covid restrictions lifted here (but we still wear masks etc). They live practically next door, but are consistently 15-60 minutes late and / or agree to work dates that they end up not bring available. They mentioned wanting more hours, but also took off one week with one day’s late notice to go on a vacation to a high risk area, and then took off the following week to get test results. They tested negative, agreed to work today 9 am to noon, then cancelled via text at 7 am and offered to come later in the week instead.

I can be flexible, but not so flexible that I can rearrange my entire work schedule and cancel appointments (that charge a fee for late cancellations) at two hour notice. I know that Stuff Happens, but this is a consistent pattern of behavior. I am also Solo Parenting, so this person is currently my only option.

How do I manage this situation? I would prefer not to have to find yet another childcare provider. I’d like to better manage the situation with the person who already has the position. What other benefits or incentives can I use to encourage punctuality and advance notice regarding scheduling changes? I know this is a particularly trying time with the global pandemic, but this is a persistent issue I have experienced as a person who works from home and needs someone to watch two young children. Is this just a Bad Job (watching little kids is exhausting, there are no health insurance benefits [US context], no retirement funds, etc, although I do pay into their unemployment fund through a payroll)? How can I be a Better Boss? Am I being too flexible, or too petty about punctuality? I think I would not be asking the latter part of this question if it weren’t a job that is done in my home, but since this is a pandemic and we don’t ever go anywhere, I could see why someone might think it wouldn’t matter when they show up.

I’m going to throw this out to readers to help with, but first some random thoughts from me:

* Are you checking references before hiring people? If not, I’d add that into your process right away, since people who have a track record of being reliable are more likely to continue being reliable (and vice versa).

* Have you considered going through an agency to find childcare? It might be more expensive but it also might garner you more consistently reliable providers. (Or not! I’m just guessing.)

* Part-time, in-home work seems to be ripe for this problem, for a whole bunch of complicated reasons.

Okay, readers, have at it — especially readers who have hired in-home childcare workers or done that work yourself.

household employees keep ghosting me was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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yelling at work, coworkers smokes e-cigarettes after being told to stop, and more https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/yelling-at-work-coworkers-smokes-e-cigarettes-after-being-told-to-stop-and-more.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/yelling-at-work-coworkers-smokes-e-cigarettes-after-being-told-to-stop-and-more.html#comments Thu, 21 Jan 2021 05:03:59 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=20885 It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go… 1. Is it ever okay to yell at work? I know you give the advice that yelling is unprofessional, but is it ever acceptable? Years and years ago, I had a coworker who didn’t respect personal boundaries. The first time he touched me, it was a […]

yelling at work, coworkers smokes e-cigarettes after being told to stop, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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

1. Is it ever okay to yell at work?

I know you give the advice that yelling is unprofessional, but is it ever acceptable?

Years and years ago, I had a coworker who didn’t respect personal boundaries. The first time he touched me, it was a pat on the arm. I very sternly told him I do not like to be touched and to never do it again. The second time, a few weeks later he came up behind me and started rubbing my shoulders. Just writing this, I can feel his hands on my shoulders and it makes me cringe all over again. I immediately whipped around and shouted, “I told you to never touch me again.” I marched back to my desk and sat down. Another coworker asked if I was okay and I said I was. After calming myself down, I actually went to the company lawyer/HR and told him of the incident. The offending coworker was fired the same day.

I don’t regret yelling, but I wonder if I should have done something different. There were people on phones near by that I probably disturbed. Should I have just walked away and gone to HR?

There are a couple of exceptions to “never yell at work,” like if you’re alerting people to a fire or other imminent danger, or if you’re reacting viscerally to someone groping you. You’re fine.

It’s unusual that your coworker got fired on the spot for this, so I’d bet that it was a final straw in a list of complaints against him and he’d probably been warned before.

2. My coworker smokes e-cigarettes at work but it’s illegal

I work at a small company based in a city and state that both have laws against smoking e-cigarettes in the office. In mid-2019, I saw someone very senior in my company (think C-suite) smoking e-cigarettes in the office several times. I raised the issue officially each time (3-4x total) with my boss (also C-suite), the regional GM, HR, etc. I was told that it would stop; this person was very sorry and just didn’t know the local rules (they are from another country, so this is a reasonable explanation although still annoying). I hadn’t seen anything since so assumed it was nipped in the bud.

We have all been working remotely due to the pandemic and I don’t have a lot of meetings with this person. But about a month ago, I was on a video chat with them and I could tell they were in our office e-smoking again. Nobody else was in that day, so my partner told me to just let it go. Despite the fact that secondhand smoke can remain on walls and furniture for a long time … and at some point I will be asked to return to the office and subsequently inhale this stuff. But whatever. I let it go.

Then last week on an all-office video call, the smoker is in the office again, sitting one chair away from another employee (sans masks — don’t get me started) e-smoking again. I am livid! I took a screengrab so that I have proof. Obviously this person is knowingly ignoring local and state law so I’m not sure what the next step should be.

When all this originally went down in 2019, I was pregnant. Nobody at work knew and I didn’t want my pregnancy to be the only reason to stop smoking in the office so I always made the issue about it being illegal. At the time, I also had a conversation with a friend who is an employment lawyer. He told me that I could involve lawyers and being pregnant would help my case, but ultimately they’d likely find a reason to get rid of me because I raised too much hell. So I never did anything then.

Now that it’s happening again, I’m thinking about submitting an anonymous complaint to the local department of labor, but since we’re so small it will likely get tracked back to me and I can’t afford to lose my job.

So what should I do? Should I just continue to let it go since I likely won’t be back in the office til spring anyway? Should I talk to management / HR again? Should I continue to gather evidence and use this as an excuse to just try and work from home permanently once the office reopens? Should I file that labor department complaint? I can’t afford to lose my job and there aren’t a lot of other options right now in my industry. But I’m beyond pissed off and really want to do something.

You could go the department of labor route, but the chances of them following up on it are … less than high while they’re getting flooded with bigger violations related to the pandemic. But you could talk to them and get a sense of how likely they’d be to act on it and whether they’d keep your name out of it if they did, but my money would be on nothing much coming of it.

You’re more likely to get results if you talk to whoever was the most responsive last time you raised the issue. You could say that despite the person promising to stop, it’s still happening, you’re concerned it’s putting company in violation of state and local law, and you’re concerned it’ll still be happening when more people return to the office.

That said, my bet is that you’ll have more of an impact if you save your capital for when you’re back in the office. Right now it’s going to sound like you’re complaining on principle (nothing wrong with that, but it doesn’t always carry the same weight), and you’ll have more standing if it’s happening once you’re back.

3. Is it okay to do a virtual interview against a blank wall?

I have a job interview next week that will be conducted via Microsoft teams. This is a very important interview because my work is highly specialized, so opportunities for advancement are few and far between. I have never done an interview virtually before.

When I sit at my desk, I have a blank wall behind me. I am conscious that others have a beautiful backdrop of plants and art. I am considering if I should take some time to decorate the wall or if it is acceptable to blur my background. If a stylish wall is going to leave a good impression with the hiring managers, I’ll do it. I’m worried that blurring my background will come across the wrong way — i.e., make me look guarded or unprofessional. What is better — a plain wall behind me or a blurred background? Or should I suck it up and put up some art?

A plain wall is totally fine! Blurring the background isn’t the worst thing in the world, but it can be distracting and there’s really no need for it. Embrace your plain wall.

4. My boss encouraged me to apply to other jobs to know my value

I wanted to share a story about speaking up which also highlights the difference between most managers and my awesome manager.

I work in an industry that is doing very well these days, where jobs are plentiful and people tend to move every 2-3 years to move up the career ladder. Because I’ve been happy with my colleagues, the flexibility of my job and the customers we support, I’ve not looked for 9 years. I told my manager I was going to look for a new job, not because I wanted to leave but because my raises have seemed smaller than they should be the last 2-3 years and I wanted to know what the market was like.

Her response? “Go for it, you should know your value.”

After I looked around, had a few interviews and got a few offers, I came back to her with what was interesting about each, and what was better about my current job. We had a frank discussion about the importance of varying levers (time off, health care, bonuses, etc.) and she came back with a significantly higher salary and more PTO.

She again reiterated that she wished more people understood that their career is in their own hands and that she was proud of me for standing up for myself and for looking.

I’ve got maybe 5 years to go until I retire. As long as this person is my manager, I cannot imagine leaving here. She models every day what mentoring and integrity look like.

Well … It worked for you and you feel good about it, so she might be the exact right manager for you. But people shouldn’t have to go off and interview for multiple jobs and bring back a bunch of other offers (or even one offer) in order to get paid what their work is worth. That’s a lot of work to expect you to do rather than your company managing their own compensation decisions themselves. (And by using that strategy, she risked you leaving for one of those other offers.) Again, I like that you feel good about it. But I wouldn’t encourage managers to emulate this!

5. Can I take my bachelor’s degree off my resume?

I did my undergraduate at a religious institute and obtained a religious degree. I’ve never done anything with that training in my professional life and honestly my personal feelings toward that experience have shifted over the years. I’ve since gone on to get my M.Ed and additional certifications specifically relevant to my field. If your resume is marketing material, this isn’t something I really want to advertise about myself. Would there be a downside to just dropping it? Since I have an advanced degree, it’s a given that I have a bachelors but I wonder if it would just bring up more questions in a hiring manager’s mind or cause some other difficulties.

Yeah, it’s so very much the convention to include your bachelor’s if you’re listing a master’s that omitting it will raise questions about why it’s not there. I know you don’t want to call attention to it, but interviewers are far more likely to ask about your undergraduate schooling if it’s missing than if you list it.

You don’t need to get specific about the degree though — it would be enough to just list School Name, B.A. and leave it at that (as opposed to B.A. in Religious Studies or so forth).

yelling at work, coworkers smokes e-cigarettes after being told to stop, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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my awful former boss is my new coworker’s sister https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/my-awful-former-boss-is-my-new-coworkers-sister.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/my-awful-former-boss-is-my-new-coworkers-sister.html#comments Wed, 20 Jan 2021 18:59:42 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=20879 A reader writes: I’m a freelancer in a creative industry, and recently I’ve started a new project with a new company. The other night I was invited to their monthly team drinks as a way to welcome me aboard. One of the managers I was introduced to, Bob, said he had read my resume and […]

my awful former boss is my new coworker’s sister was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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A reader writes:

I’m a freelancer in a creative industry, and recently I’ve started a new project with a new company. The other night I was invited to their monthly team drinks as a way to welcome me aboard. One of the managers I was introduced to, Bob, said he had read my resume and had noticed I used to work for Company X. He asked me a few questions about working there — what it was like, who I worked for, and whether or not I enjoyed it. Company X is relatively well-known in our industry, so it made sense to me that he’d ask about my time there.

I said it was fine, and I really enjoyed the project I was on, but the company wasn’t the right fit for me and that’s why I had decided to end my contract. He kept pressing for details about it, so eventually I told him the truth: my manager there would regularly ignore calls and emails from the freelancers for weeks on end, which made us wonder at times if we’d been ghosted; we all had a lot of trouble getting paid on time; and there were even some instances of full-time workers being given credit for work I had prepared myself. I tried to handle the situation as best I could when I was there, but ultimately it began to impact how happy I was outside of work hours, so I gave notice. (I didn’t sound angry, just explained things factually.)

Bob seemed surprised but accepted that answer, and we moved on to another topic of conversation.

And then later on I heard from another member of staff that Bob’s sister actually works at Company X. I put two and two together and did some quick social media research and found out Bob’s sister is actually my old manager.

I feel like I’ve really put my foot in it now. I’m wishing I had handled Bob’s questions more professionally — maybe I should’ve just changed the topic of conversation? Even though I know I didn’t do anything wrong at Company X, I’m worried I’ve done something wrong in this situation. Do you think I should talk to Bob about what I said? Or just forget it all happened and hope for the best?

Bob is the one who should be feeling like he put his foot in it. Pushing for details about your experience there without mentioning that his sister is a manager there was a jerk move.

Frankly, even if his sister didn’t work there, continually pressing you for details that you were obviously not offering up initially was pretty rude. It’s generally understood that people often try not to badmouth former employers, and I don’t like that he kept pushing you to say more.

But more importantly, not mentioning that his sister was a manager there at the same time he was pressing you for details … that was a seriously crappy thing for him to do. If he’d said, “Oh, my sister manages the finance team over there, what was your experience like?” you’d presumably have given him a very different answer. And on some level he surely knows that, because there was a point in that conversation where it became weird that he hadn’t shared it … and that point was pretty early on.

Now, all that said, yeah, you probably said too much. Your initial (vaguer) answer was presumably the amount you were comfortable sharing, and you didn’t need to let Bob pressure you into sharing more.

But there’s also real value in people sharing information like “Company X doesn’t pay their freelancers without constant hassle.” And exchanging info about employers in your field is a key way people learn who they do and don’t want to work for or what landmines they need to watch out for. You didn’t say anything that wasn’t factually correct, and it doesn’t sound like you badmouthed anyone by name. You didn’t go on a hostile tirade; you were just matter-of-fact about the business problems you encountered.

That stuff is legitimate to share with trusted colleagues. It gets a little trickier with someone you just met, though. You didn’t yet know how Bob operates, if he had an agenda, or who he might be aligned with. With a new person, you’ve got to figure that anything you share could get repeated to anyone and decide if you’re okay with that possibility.

So: Is your discomfort about the possibility of what you told Bob getting back to his sister? Or is it more about the awkwardness of having criticized Bob’s family member to him?

If you’re worried about it getting back to his sister … it’s not ideal, but the stuff you said was factual and doesn’t sound like anything she should be surprised to hear. Maybe a little stung, but maybe it’s not a bad thing for her to hear people’s experiences working on her team. (If she’s both vindictive and influential, I’d be more concerned but since you didn’t note that she is, I’m going to assume she’s not.)

If your worry is more just that you criticized Bob’s sister to his face without realizing it … well, Bob created that situation and got the awkward moment he deserves. If you’d get more peace of mind by addressing it, you could go back to him now and say, “I just realized your sister works at OldCompany — you didn’t mention it when we were talking the other day.” See what he says. Or you could skip mentioning his sister entirely and just say, “I normally wouldn’t share that kind of thing about an old employer, and I hope you’ll forget I said anything. I really did enjoy the work I did there.”

But I also think it’s fine if you just leave things where they are.

Either way, I’d try to find some ways to be (a) scrupulously professional and (b) impressive around Bob in the coming weeks if you have the opportunity.

And either way don’t trust Bob going forward.

my awful former boss is my new coworker’s sister was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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how big of a deal is lying on a resume? https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/how-big-of-a-deal-is-lying-on-a-resume.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/how-big-of-a-deal-is-lying-on-a-resume.html#comments Wed, 20 Jan 2021 17:29:21 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=20841 A reader writes: I am a director of a local nonprofit with a very visible presence in our area. Two years ago, I hired a new associate director, Gina, after she had amazing interviews and strong references. She has proven to be exceptional in her role. Eager, great sense of humor, very intelligent, poised, I […]

how big of a deal is lying on a resume? was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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A reader writes:

I am a director of a local nonprofit with a very visible presence in our area.

Two years ago, I hired a new associate director, Gina, after she had amazing interviews and strong references. She has proven to be exceptional in her role. Eager, great sense of humor, very intelligent, poised, I could go on. She, like myself, is a single mother and I cleared a path through our company for her to return to school and get an MBA. Within the past two years our company has really blossomed, and part of that is directly related to Gina’s hard work.

But a week ago, I was at a work conference. While speaking to one of the event coordinators, Gina’s name came up. He stated that he worked with her briefly at her previous job and disclosed to me that she was fired. I was shocked. I distinctly remember from her interview that when I asked why she wanted to leave her current position, she stated that she wanted to return to the nonprofit field. The man delivered this information to me in an “Oh, I’m glad she got something she likes, but I assume you knew she was fired” kind of way, so it wasn’t as though he was trying to toss her under the bus.

When I returned to work, I checked her personnel file, and her resume clearly listed her previous job as still ongoing when she applied with me. I haven’t told anyone, and no one would know. Do I speak with her? Do I terminate her? Neither of these things feels right to me. She made a mistake, but there is nothing in her two-year performance that suggests anything other than a highly qualified and committed individual who has gone above and beyond in her role. I’m torn over this, and to be honest, I wish I never knew this information.

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.

how big of a deal is lying on a resume? was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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my coworker is changing her appearance to match mine and rips my work off the walls when she’s mad https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/my-coworker-is-changing-her-appearance-to-match-mine-and-rips-my-work-off-the-walls-when-shes-mad.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/my-coworker-is-changing-her-appearance-to-match-mine-and-rips-my-work-off-the-walls-when-shes-mad.html#comments Wed, 20 Jan 2021 15:59:59 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=20873 A reader writes: I’m an elementary school employee and relatively new to the job. I get along well with most of my coworkers, with the exception of “Therese.” Therese is in her 60s and works next door to me, and when I first started this job, I thought she was a friendly (if eccentric) coworker. […]

my coworker is changing her appearance to match mine and rips my work off the walls when she’s mad was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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A reader writes:

I’m an elementary school employee and relatively new to the job. I get along well with most of my coworkers, with the exception of “Therese.”

Therese is in her 60s and works next door to me, and when I first started this job, I thought she was a friendly (if eccentric) coworker. She called me “new bestie” when I started setting up my classroom, and I thought that was just a quirky way of welcoming me to the school. But it seems like she genuinely means this.

I could have been fine with that, and am always very professional with her, but strange things have been happening since I started working. These include:

– Therese started dying her hair a brighter shade so that it matches my hair color. We both have the same color hair, but mine is much lighter. The dye job happened a few months into me starting at the school.

– Therese has started styling her hair like mine. Originally, she would (I think) put her wet hair in a braid and leave it that way throughout the day. Around the same time she dyed her hair, she adopted my hair style, which is pretty unique and labor-intensive.

– Therese often asks about my love life, even when I say that I just don’t want to talk about it/there’s nothing to report. (I don’t like the idea of talking about my partner/anything romantic at work, because we work with kids and it seems weird to have discussions about my personal life when a bunch of eight-year-olds are walking by.) At one point, Therese was also convinced that I was engaged and just not telling anyone. That was absolutely not the case, and I don’t even know how she got that idea.

– Therese, who never used to wear makeup to work, began wearing bright lipstick in the same shade I wear, in addition to using makeup to make her eyebrows the same color as mine.

– Therese has started dressing like me. I typically dress very formally for work and usually wear the same shades of clothing. Therese used to wear athletic wear, but she has started to wear the same kinds of shoes and tops that I wear, in the color that I wear them, and other coworkers have commented on this.

– During my prep time, Therese will come into my room and ask me to answer questions for her. Often, they’re questions I’ve already answered (sometimes questions I’ve answered that day, or the day before). When she gets her answer, she will just find a place in my room to sit and either do her work or just sit and look at me.

– On more than one occasion, I’ve seen Therese in my room taking phone calls when I am not in the room. This is concerning to me. When I go into the room, she’ll leave, but only after a few minutes, and never with an explanation about why she can’t be in her own room or any of the empty rooms in our ring.

– I’ve tried to be polite and say that I have work to do and don’t have time to chat when she comes into my room, but she either won’t listen or guilt trips me until I look like a bully.

– Sometimes Therese will ask me to do favors for cash. When I tell her that I’m too busy, I’ll often still find her cash sitting on my desk with a thank-you/instruction note. I’ve given it back and told her that I really don’t have the time, but then she will get upset again. Once I stepped in and covered a class for another teacher, and Theresa made a passive aggressive remark about how I “must not have been that busy.”

Beyond all of that, though, this is the part that really concerns me:

– She usually sits next to me at lunch. I don’t really want to sit by her, but I’m not going to be rude and get up and leave. One day, I sat next to a different teacher and there was no space for Therese. She stated daggers at me, and then later that day, I saw that all of the student work I had hung around my door had been ripped down. Theresa said that her student must have done it accidentally, but when I pulled that student aside and (very gently) asked what happened, he explained that Therese told him to tear the work down.

That makes me afraid of any direct confrontation. I already talked to my boss, right after the tearing things down incident, and I told her everything. She sympathizes, but Therese is tenured, so there isn’t much they can do. And my principal knows that I’m worried about Therese retaliating, so she says it would be best not to pull her in to talk. I’m kind of inclined to agree, because I don’t want any weird retaliation either.

I’m still probationary, so I can be dismissed for any reason. I don’t want to get a reputation as someone who causes problems or doesn’t play well with others, because I can’t afford to lose this job. But I’m honestly not sure what to do about this situation anymore. I love my job, but I’m very uncomfortable with this coworker (and these examples are only a few of many).

I’ve heard she’s had problems with other teachers in the past (I asked a close colleague about her, and he said there have been problems and it’s best to stay on her good side). I’m not super close to the other teachers in my ring, though, and they tend to be unfazed by her antics, so I don’t feel like I could talk to any of them about her.

I don’t think I’d go as far as saying I feel unsafe, more just unsettled. I don’t think she’d do anything to physically hurt me, but I’m worried that she’d do something like make up a rumor or something to hurt my career if she’s upset with me.

Any advice you have would be much appreciated.

I’m unsettled just reading this.

If Therese were just copying your clothes and your hair, I wouldn’t be that alarmed and would tell you to let it go. It’s a little annoying, but trying to call dibs on clothes or hair styles at work doesn’t have much upside.

And if it were just a matter of her trying to chat too often or hanging out in your room, I’d tell you to get more direct — that it’s okay to ask her to leave your room or stop taking calls there and not to worry about her guilt trips when you set those boundaries.

But what worries me — and I’m sure what worries you — is the punitive streak she’s bringing to all this. She feels entitled to your time and attention, and she’s reacting as if you’ve wronged her when she doesn’t get it. The snarky and immature “you must not have been that busy” remark is bad enough, but having a student tear down artwork from your door? That takes this from “immature and annoying clingy colleague” to “seriously troubled.”

In a different situation, I might suggest you be really, really direct and tell Therese to lay off what she’s doing — to make it clear that she’s alienated you and violated your boundaries and that the behavior needs to stop.

But I’m worried about advising that when you’re worried she’ll try to hurt you professionally if she feels rejected (and where there seems to be good reason for that worry). Given that, three other things might be worth trying:

1. Be pleasant but relentlessly distant. Greet her cheerfully. Spend a minute talking if she initiates conversation but then be busy with something else you need to do. Keep doing stuff like returning her unsolicited cash (!) and if she makes passive-aggressive remarks about how you don’t seem that busy, stay cheerful and upbeat: “Yep, stuff keeps coming up!” Ignore the snark and the resentment and just stay steadily upbeat when you’re dealing with her. But keep her at a distance — don’t share anything, don’t let down your guard, and don’t let her pull you further into her orbit.

If you’re thinking this sounds exhausting: Yes! It sounds exhausting to me too.

2. Do you have any options for building more physical distance between the two of you? Can you try to get assigned to a different room and/or a different lunch period next year?

3. Perhaps most importantly, really work on building relationships with other teachers there, and your administration as well. You might find people who have some insight into Therese and what might be effective with her (and who are more willing to share that when they know you better / trust you more) — but even if you don’t, strong relationships with others can only help if Therese does escalate in some way.

Ultimately, will this be enough to make the situation better? I don’t know. It might not be.

It’s frustrating that the person with authority to step in and deal with this, your principal, is washing her hands of it. If you had downplayed the situation in any way when you spoke to your boss, I’d encourage you to go back and share the full scope of it now. But it sounds like you already did, and she’s declining to act.

And that claim that she can’t do anything because Therese has tenure — tenure doesn’t prohibit a conversation about what’s going on, and tenure doesn’t prevent saying, “This behavior is unsettling people and needs to stop.” (It does make it harder to put real teeth behind that if it becomes necessary, but it’s ridiculous for her to act as if she’s just a bystander with no ability to shape anything that goes on among her teachers.)

Ugh, this is an awful situation, and made more so because your options are so limited. What do others think?

my coworker is changing her appearance to match mine and rips my work off the walls when she’s mad was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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should I tell a candidate her goals are unrealistic, I don’t want to lead all our meetings, and more https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/should-i-tell-a-candidate-her-goals-are-unrealistic-i-dont-want-to-lead-all-our-meetings-and-more.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/should-i-tell-a-candidate-her-goals-are-unrealistic-i-dont-want-to-lead-all-our-meetings-and-more.html#comments Wed, 20 Jan 2021 05:03:54 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=20878 It’s four answers to four questions, plus a story. Here we go… 1. Should I tell a candidate her career aspirations are unrealistic? I am currently in the process of hiring for a position that I would consider just above entry level. It is a role in an operations department that supports an organization in […]

should I tell a candidate her goals are unrealistic, I don’t want to lead all our meetings, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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It’s four answers to four questions, plus a story. Here we go…

1. Should I tell a candidate her career aspirations are unrealistic?

I am currently in the process of hiring for a position that I would consider just above entry level. It is a role in an operations department that supports an organization in a very “sexy” industry.

Today we interviewed a great candidate who has the right education, experience, and personality to be a real success. Unfortunately, in answer to our question about career aspirations, she answered that she hoped to use the position to get a foot in the door to the “sexy” side of what we do. It’s great she was honest, and if that’s what she truly wants then I wish her all the very best. But … while it’s not impossible, it’s definitely a one in a million shot for her. Her education and experience mean that she’s highly unlikely to ever even get an interview, let alone land a position. In 25 years in the industry, I’ve seen it happen only once, by what I can only call stealth, if not outright deception, and frankly that was not a success. To top it off, working with us isn’t going to give her the type of experience or leg up she obviously thinks it will.

I fully intend to let her know that if that’s what she truly wants this isn’t the role for her, but is there any value in explaining that her likelihood of success in her goal is so small, and that people with far more education and experience than her are struggling to find even entry level roles in that side of the industry? Would I just be crushing her dreams for no reason or, worse, to my own ends?

I don’t think you need to crush her dreams. It’s usually not a closely guarded secret that job X is highly competitive and tends to go to people with Y and Z in their backgrounds, so if she sticks around your industry for very long, she’ll presumably figure it out for herself.

But I do think you should give her accurate information so she can make the best decisions for herself. Don’t say, “You’ll never make it in this industry!” Say, “I want to be up-front with you that to be considered for jobs like X, you’d need Y and Z. Without Y and Z, most places won’t interview you — and even with Y and Z, it’s highly competitive. I think you’d be great at JobI’mHiringFor but I want to make sure you know it wouldn’t be a stepping stone to Job X, with us or in the larger field.”

You don’t need to hammer it in more than that. Give her the info in a matter-of-fact way, plant the seed, and from there what she does with it is up to her.

2. My coworkers call to check on their emails right after sending them

I pride myself on my quick turnaround and address 90% of the emails I receive during the work day within an hour, often less than half an hour. But I find myself looking for “nice” or even “nicesty” (thank you, Reginald D. Hunter) ways to get through to people who call to “make sure you got/see if you’ve had a chance to look at my email” … which they sent not five minutes earlier. Some of these people don’t give me one lousy minute to open their email before they pick the phone!

Subtle hints –“It’s been pretty hectic today and I haven’t had a chance to look at it yet, but I do see it there in my inbox, looks like it came in about three and a half minutes ago and I’ll take a look at it as soon as I can” — haven’t worked. The emails are all regarding routine, non-emergency, non-time-sensitive matters, and the people in question are not superiors with standing to say, “Drop whatever you’re doing and look at my email this instant.” These are intra-agency “customers” who in many cases are lower pay grades than me. It’s disruptive of my workflow (first in, first out) and it’s undermining their ability to get what they want from me as quickly as possible. Is there a professional, diplomatic but assertive way to shut this nonsense down?

Try making the phone calls as utterly unsatisfying for these colleagues as you can — don’t even confirm you’ve received the email and instead explain that you’re in the middle of something else. As in, “I’m right in the middle of something else right now so I haven’t checked, but if I don’t see it there once I’m able to check, I’ll let you know.” If they get that response a few times, they’re much less likely to keep calling.

Alternately, you could say, “Yes, I just received it a minute ago. I didn’t see that it was marked urgent — is there an emergency?” And when they presumably say no, you can say, “Oh, okay, no need to call unless something is an emergency. I usually respond quickly.” That’s fairly pointed, but it’s not unwarranted. I read this again after it published and thought, “What?! No.” There’s no need to be so passive about it. The next suggestion is really all you need. My apologies.

Or you can just address it directly: “I’m really on top of my email, so no need to call unless you haven’t received a response by when you need it. A lot of people call right after emailing and it can end up slowing things down!”

Caveat: It doesn’t sound like these callers are senior to you, but if someone senior does it, you generally would need to be more accommodating.

3. I don’t want to lead our meetings every time

I joined a small department within a larger company as part of a managerial team two years ago. Four managers report up to one director. Overall, I love working with the team and the company, and the director and I worked together in a previous life so we have a pretty good working relationship.

Not long after I joined the team, my director took leave and I was given a temporary promotion to run the department with the other managers for half a year. It was a bit odd, as I’d only been at the job a few months and the other managers had been there for years, but they were all juggling the care of young children with work, so I didn’t think much of it. During that time I took the visibility of being the temporary director — being the lead on budget, running staff meetings, etc.

I’m not one to not offer to help out, and the other managers help in many other ways, but since my director has returned, I’m often designated as her “shadow” to help on various emergency projects. I’m fine with giving added support, and I know everyone in the department works hard.

There is one thing that is irking me though. We have weekly department meetings and whenever my director is unable to host the meeting, she asks for a volunteer. At first I was doing them as need be, but then I noticed no one else was stepping up to lead. I’ve even hung back a few times when my director calls for a volunteer to see if someone else will volunteer and they never do. Last week, I joined an afternoon meeting a few minutes late that anyone could have started. My director usually hosts this meeting, but couldn’t make it that day. I quickly learned that everyone was waiting around for me to start the meeting. We all carry the same level of responsibility in the organization and we make the same pay. I’m beginning to get a bit resentful. I’ve brought it up lightly a few times in our managerial meetings, reminding them that staff must be getting sick of my voice (as I host several other meetings on a regular basis throughout the week), but no dice.

Any advice on how I can stop being the default host? It’s nice that they trust me, but does it always have to be me?

It sounds like you’re starting to be seen as something like a second-in-command — you filled in for the director when she was away and she’s been having you work as her deputy since she’s been back. If your colleagues now see you as the director’s back-up … well, that’s not a bad thing for you professionally. It can give you more influence, more access, and higher-profile projects, and it positions you well for a promotion at some point. (That assumes you want that stuff! If you don’t, at some point it might be worth talking with your boss about where you do and don’t want your career to go.) In that context, it’s not surprising people are looking to you to lead the meetings.

But if you don’t want to do it every time, you need to say something more directly. You’ve been pretty indirect so far! Saying that staff must be getting sick of your voice sounds like you’re just being self-deprecating; it doesn’t communicate “I don’t want to do this.” So at the next meeting where people assume you’ll take the lead, say more directly, “I’d prefer not to lead the meetings every time. Can we rotate the duty so it’s more evenly shared?”

4. Saying I’m interested in a new job because of the hours

I’m considering applying for a position for which I am qualified (possibly overqualified) and think I would like, but it is very different from my current job. The biggest reason I would want to apply is because its hours are much better for my family (no nights and weekends, which I have to work frequently right now). I like my job right now a lot, but I’ve been getting more stressed about family life and putting the burden of meals and bedtime on my spouse. In interviews I’ve always been asked why I applied for the position. I don’t want to be untruthful but I also don’t want to say it’s because of the hours and look like I’m not interested in the job itself. What’s the best way to approach this in an interview?

Yeah, don’t say it’s because of the hours! Interviewers are usually looking for people who are interested in the work itself and if your primary interest seems to be the hours, you won’t look very invested. Talk about aspects of the work itself that appeal to you and why you think you’d be good at the job. That’s not being untruthful; it’s speaking to what the interviewer is most interested in hearing about.

(That said, you could mention the hours as something prompting you to consider moving on from your current job — just not as the reason for the appeal of the new one.)

5. Another speaking up success story

Monday’s success story motivated me to tell my own — less consequential — success story.

I live in a country where driver’s licenses are provisional for the first two years. For some infractions there’s a mandatory additional course that’s expensive and somewhat time-consuming. I work for a company with fewer than 30 employees. The “company car” doubles as the owner’s family car. The owner’s son was caught speeding in a camera trap and photographed, and the photo was sent to the person to whom the vehicle is registered — my boss. Since his son just had a week or so left on his provisional license, my boss claimed not to know the driver of the vehicle. Since it’s a company car, it could have been any of us or anyone we let drive it. I heard about this in a three-way conversation with a client, the boss, and me. The plan was to deny knowing who the driver was and sit it out.

A few days later, my boss came into my office and said agitatedly, “A police officer will be here shortly. If he shows you a photo of [Son] you don’t know him.” He then disappeared to a meeting with four colleagues. I worked for a half hour or so and decided this would be a good time to run a work errand. When I came back, the officer was there, and the visit was coming to an end. He had asked the receptionist if she could identify the driver and talked to the boss and the other person in leadership. I later heard that the photo was compared to a team photo on display in the lobby.

Even though the situation was over, I was dissatisfied and I remembered your advice to push back as a group if possible. After talking with a few colleagues, it was clear that the boss hadn’t spoken to everyone when he made his agitated request and that it would be difficult to find common ground. One of my colleagues encouraged me to talk to him myself since the boss prefers handling things one-on-one and she said, “What you say has weight because you don’t complain about every little thing.”

After stewing through my lunch break, I approached him and said I hadn’t been okay wiith his request and that if I had been caught speeding with the company car on a provisional license I would have taken the additional training. (I got my license after I started working for the company.) He brushed it off, saying nothing had happened, no one (except the receptionist) was asked to identify the driver on the photo.

When I said goodbye for the evening, he brought it up again and said he’d been caught up in the moment. He maintained that it was his decision as a father whether to try to spare his son the ticket and the additional training, but apologized and said that it had been wrong of him to involve his employees.

Thanks for the encouragement to stand up.

should I tell a candidate her goals are unrealistic, I don’t want to lead all our meetings, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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am I being a dress code snob? https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/am-i-being-a-dress-code-snob.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/am-i-being-a-dress-code-snob.html#comments Tue, 19 Jan 2021 18:59:44 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=20872 A reader writes: About five months ago, I started a new job as a manager in a nonprofit with approximately 30 full-time employees and over 100 part-time employees. In my department, I inherited one full-time assistant and 15 part-time direct reports. We are a public-facing department with a large social media presence. The organization’s employee […]

am I being a dress code snob? was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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A reader writes:

About five months ago, I started a new job as a manager in a nonprofit with approximately 30 full-time employees and over 100 part-time employees. In my department, I inherited one full-time assistant and 15 part-time direct reports. We are a public-facing department with a large social media presence.

The organization’s employee handbook has a clearly-defined business casual dress code policy: no jeans, t-shirts, sneakers, etc. However, everyone here dresses like a slob. On my first day, my assistant was wearing rumpled cargo shorts and a t-shirt with holes. My part-timers routinely show up in jeans, sweatpants, and the type of clothing I’d usually reserve for yard work. My own supervisor wears jeans and an untucked t-shirt.

I’ve always been someone who enjoys dressing up for work. My typical work wardrobe consists of dresses, skirts or slacks, blouses, and blazers. It drives me nuts when people look unpolished and unprofessional at work, but that seems to be the accepted culture around here.

Would it be out of line to enforce the company dress code in my own department, even if it’s not enforced anywhere else? Or am I just being an elitist?

It sounds like in reality the dress code is different from what the handbook says. Sometimes you see that in situations where, for example, the handbook was written 15 years ago and no one has bothered to update it since then, but meanwhile what’s considered acceptable in the organization has changed.

Have you asked anyone about it? Before you go changing something this significant — and believe me, what people wear to work (and what clothes they therefore have to buy) is significant to them — you’d really need to talk to people and get a better understanding of what’s going on. Maybe the dress code was written under old leadership, the new leadership doesn’t care, and you’d look out of sync with the culture if you tried to enforce the outdated one. Maybe the dress code became more casual as the organization noticed the people it serves responded better to that. Maybe the dress code was intentionally relaxed as a perk and no one bothered to update the handbook. Or sure, maybe the change wasn’t intentional and an objective observer would agree that things have gotten too casual for the work you do — but maybe you’d still have a mutiny on your hands if you try to change it at this moment in time.

I don’t know what the context might be — but it sounds like you don’t either, and you need to understand that before you consider trying to change something that matters to people. You don’t change something this significant to other people just because you like to dress nicely yourself.

So talk to people. Start by asking your own boss. Say you noticed the handbook says one thing but the practice seems to be another and ask about the difference. If your boss doesn’t shut down the idea for a change, then talk to your own people — ask what their thoughts are and how they think the current practice does/doesn’t impact the results they’re getting.

And then really focus in on that question yourself. Does your team do work where being more nicely dressed has an impact on their work? You noted they’re public-facing, but public-facing can mean “won’t be trusted if we’re not in suits” or it can mean “won’t be trusted if we are in suits” and all kinds of variations in between. Particularly in some types of social service work, some traditional ideas of “professionalism” can create problematic distance between staff and the people they’re serving.

So before you consider changing anything, get really clear on the problem you’re trying to solve. That problem can’t be “it drives me nuts when people look unpolished and unprofessional at work.” It would need to be something like “clients trust us less,” “the public sees us as a rag-tag band of incompetents when we need them to see us as skilled professionals,” “our clothing is detracting from our message when we speak to the media,” or so forth.

You’ve also got to bring some nuance to it. An untucked shirt can be fine in a context where a t-shirt with holes isn’t.

And to be clear, I’d be surprised to see people turn up to work in sweatpants and t-shirts with holes too. But you’re talking about changing an established culture that apparently your own manager participates in, and you might be talking about people needing to buy entirely new wardrobes. You’ve got to have legit reasons to push for that.

If there really isn’t a work reason for pushing people to change something they’ve been doing for a while and probably value as a perk of the job, you’d be better off pushing for the handbook to more accurately reflect the dress code instead of the other way around.

am I being a dress code snob? was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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my coworker hijacks our meetings with endless questions https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/my-coworker-hijacks-our-meetings-with-endless-questions.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/my-coworker-hijacks-our-meetings-with-endless-questions.html#comments Tue, 19 Jan 2021 17:29:26 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=20864 A reader writes: I have a question about a coworker, Sam, who has LOTS of questions in our weekly team meetings. Because of the busy nature of our job and our small team, we have lots of situations where we have guidelines to follow but are free to make judgment calls as needed since there’s […]

my coworker hijacks our meetings with endless questions was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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A reader writes:

I have a question about a coworker, Sam, who has LOTS of questions in our weekly team meetings. Because of the busy nature of our job and our small team, we have lots of situations where we have guidelines to follow but are free to make judgment calls as needed since there’s no way to have a rule book that will apply to every situation. Our leadership is very clear that we won’t be punished for a wrong decision made with good intentions in an unusual situation.

Sam has lots and lots of questions in our team meetings where he seems to want a clear cut answer about The One Right Way to do something, where there’s usually not a one-size-fits-all answer for the situation. It ends up dragging out the meeting by quite a bit, which is exacerbated by the fact that our manager, Carolyn, tends to be long-winded, so each clarifying question turns into another whole spiel. The meetings often end up being largely conversations between Sam and Carolyn that seem better suited for individual check-ins (which we have once a week), and I can see other admins becoming visibly frustrated and wanting to get back to work. To make this worse, these conversations often come when the meeting has clearly wrapped up and Carolyn throws out a quick, “Does anyone have any last questions?”

My title is senior admin, and my function is basically that of a team lead or shift supervisor. Carolyn manages all of us, the rest of our team comes to me with questions first and I pass them along only if I can’t answer, and Carolyn asks me to report to her on how staff are doing and to check in with them during their shifts to see if they have questions, but I don’t have any actual management responsibilities. I’m also good friends with Sam outside of work, and I feel both of these things make me well-suited to help resolve this and save the sanity of myself and our fellow admins.

After the last meeting where this happened, Sam texted me afterward to ask if he was being “annoying,” and I told him that he seems to be asking about one way to do things when often the answer is not so clear cut or it’s all case by case. He responded that he often feels like Carolyn was meandering and not really answering his question, which is why he keeps trying to clarify and repeat his questions, and that he asks them during our group meetings because he feels the answers would be important for all of us to know. From my perspective, I feel that a) the questions he usually asks are basic questions about processes that have been in place for months and which we are all familiar with and have followed many times (i.e., not questions anyone else has or an answer anyone else needs to hear) and b) Carolyn is answering his questions but the answers are essentially “it depends,” when he seems to be trying to get her to say yes or no.

Is there something you’d recommend I say in the moment, or to Sam or our boss privately, about this or is this just the reality of meetings and something we’ll have to live with?

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

my coworker hijacks our meetings with endless questions was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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my boss wants me to help him jump the line for the Covid vaccine https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/my-boss-wants-me-to-help-him-jump-the-line-for-the-covid-vaccine.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/my-boss-wants-me-to-help-him-jump-the-line-for-the-covid-vaccine.html#comments Tue, 19 Jan 2021 15:59:56 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=20870 A reader writes: I work in a medium-sized office in HR. My company’s CEO, a man in his early 40’s, has requested that my boss (the VP of human resources) help him get on a list for a Covid vaccine within the next few days. This task has been passed down to me. However, my […]

my boss wants me to help him jump the line for the Covid vaccine was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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A reader writes:

I work in a medium-sized office in HR. My company’s CEO, a man in his early 40’s, has requested that my boss (the VP of human resources) help him get on a list for a Covid vaccine within the next few days. This task has been passed down to me. However, my state is currently only vaccinating health care workers and patients over 65. My CEO is not either of those things. I did call the hospital and was told there was nothing they could do, but my boss insisted I call again and keep pushing.

When the task was given to me, I was told that they wanted me to call because they didn’t want it to seem like a rich CEO was trying to cut his way to the front of the line. That made my stomach go up in knots because, well, frankly that’s exactly what it sounds like. I’ve been putting off calling again because it’s increasing my anxiety. There are people out there who are severely at risk and it feels awful that my CEO is trying to push his way in when he isn’t that at risk.

Is this a normal request for HR to help with? I feel scummy making these calls but don’t know how or if I should push back.

No, this is not a normal request for HR to help with.

It’s not a normal request for anyone to make.

It’s the request of a crap person who thinks he’s entitled to cut in line ahead of people who have a greater medical need than he does. And with the vaccine in such short supply, that means someone who needs it more — perhaps a health care worker, perhaps someone at high risk of dying if they’re infected — will remain vulnerable longer.

It’s grossly entitled.

It’s certainly true that wealthy and well-connected people have managed to get special treatment throughout the pandemic, like faster access to testing and better treatments. And I don’t doubt that some of them will find ways to jump the line with the vaccine too. We’re already seeing that Black Americans are getting access to the vaccine at far lower rates than white Americans.

But if your state is currently only vaccinating health care workers and people over 65, I’m curious exactly how he thinks you’ll be able to procure a slot for him. And “in the next few days”! What exactly does he think you can do? For that matter, what does the VP of HR who passed the assignment to you think you can do?

I’d go back and talk to your boss and ask her specifically what she thinks is within your power to do … and then point out how very, very bad it could be PR-wise if people found out your CEO used his position to jump the line ahead of people with a higher need. I’d say to point out the ethics too, but it seems pretty clear they don’t care about that.

my boss wants me to help him jump the line for the Covid vaccine was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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should I apologize if my fly is down, telling my bosses they need to work more, and more https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/should-i-apologize-if-my-fly-is-down-telling-my-bosses-they-need-to-work-more-and-more.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/should-i-apologize-if-my-fly-is-down-telling-my-bosses-they-need-to-work-more-and-more.html#comments Tue, 19 Jan 2021 05:03:01 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=20871 It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go… 1. Should I tell my bosses they need to work more? I work at a small real estate brokerage in a major U.S. city. I was brought in to help organize their systems and to increase productivity. The owners are a married couple and I’m their […]

should I apologize if my fly is down, telling my bosses they need to work more, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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

1. Should I tell my bosses they need to work more?

I work at a small real estate brokerage in a major U.S. city. I was brought in to help organize their systems and to increase productivity. The owners are a married couple and I’m their second in command. My bosses say they want to do more business, but they rarely work and leave for weeks at a time. When averaged, I estimate they work for one hour a day. But they honestly believe they are incredibly busy high-functioning professionals.

I like them as people and want to tell them the problem so that they can be successful. However, they would be certainly be offended and regularly ignore my counsel on other matters as it is. Do I tell them where the problem truly lies? I’m currently looking for a new job, but I will still need their reference in the future. (This is the highest level job I’ve had thus far.) So do I ever tell them?

It doesn’t sound like there would be much point. They already regularly ignore your counsel! There’s no reason to think this would be any different, particularly when you’d be advising them to make what would amount to a major lifestyle shift. And even if that weren’t the case, it’s not like “if you want more business, you need to work for more than an hour a day” is a particularly difficult-to-obtain insight. Surely they’re capable of connecting those dots themselves if they want to. If they want more business, they’ll work more. It seems like they don’t want it enough to do that.

It’s not your job to try to find a way to get through to them, particularly when you’re concerned you could offend them and jeopardize future references. Enjoy the spectacle of two people believing they’re incredibly busy while working an hour a day and keep searching for a new job.

2. Should I apologize for my fly being down?

I’m male, and I was talking with one of my female coworkers last week for about 10 minutes, and then I went back to my desk and sat down and I realized that my fly was open the whole time we were chatting. Do you think I should apologize the next time I see her or just say nothing?

Say nothing. It happens. If you’d noticed while you were talking to her, you could have said, “Excuse me!” and turned away and fixed it. But unless you have a very bad reputation, she assumed it was an accident (if she noticed at all) and bringing it up afterwards would only make things awkward. (If anything, bringing it afterwards might push things slightly toward the “is he creeping on me?” end of the spectrum).

Wardrobe malfunctions happen!

3. Should I talk to my boss about herpes?

I have bad bouts of herpes two or three times a year. Usually it comes on when I’m a bit run down after a cold, or stressed at work, or having a a home life crisis.

When I get the flare, I usually feel like I have the flu for a few days beforehand — achy, headaches, lethargy etc. Then, the skin lesions for five days, and at that point I feel a bit tired and grouchy. It takes about a week after the lesions disappear for me to feel well again. So, I can feel unwell or lingeringly tired for about three to four weeks.

Prior to the pandemic, I just “kept on and carried on,” coping with drooping eyelids at work, taking occasional painkillers and anti-virals. Since the pandemic, I’ve had one flare only and was able to work from my bed during that time. I was amazed at how much faster I recovered — it took only a week to feel well again and I was significantly less unwell than usual.

I’d like to have a script to present to my team leader (who is a bit of a stickler for presenteeism in non-pandemic times and I suspect will revert to that when things go back to normal) to ask that I’m allowed to work from home if I’m feeling a flare coming on in the future. Do I mention what condition is causing this? I’ve learned to live with herpes and don’t feel any particular shame about it anymore, but don’t want to overshare.

Of note, my productivity initially took a dip at the beginning of the pandemic, but I’m now more productive than I was in-office. Of second note, I don’t need advice on how to manage this condition. I’m big on integrating self-care with conventional medicine, so if there’s a remedy, I’ve tried it!

Nope, don’t specify that it’s herpes. You really don’t need to share details about any medical condition at work. And even if you’re comfortable sharing it, your team leader is likely to feel like it’s too much personal information that she doesn’t need and would rather not have.

The “doesn’t need” part is important there — you can ask for what you want without naming a diagnosis. You could simply say, “I have a medical condition that flares up a couple of times a year, and I usually feel unwell for three to four weeks when it happens. During the pandemic, I was able to work from home when it happened and I found I recovered much faster — in only a week — and felt much less sick than usual. Now that I know it shortens my recovery so significantly, would you be open to me working from home in the future when I have a flare-up? It would likely be one week two or three times a year.”

4. A piece from my portfolio has a term I wouldn’t use now

In 2013, I published a short pop history article in a magazine. It was well received, and the next year I won an industry award for it. Naturally, I added the article to my writing portfolio.

In 2018, the leadership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints formally asked people to stop using the popular term (Mormons) for the Church and its members. My article had the term prominently in the title and throughout the text. I took it out of my portfolio at once, but it’s still floating around online, including in connection with the award it received.

How should I handle questions about this article? Right now, my script is something on the order of, “The article used a term broadly accepted at the time. I wouldn’t use that term today, so I’ve taken it out of my portfolio.”

Keep it in your portfolio! You won an award for it, after all. Just include a note leading into it that says, “This article was written before the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints asked people to stop using the term ‘Mormons’ and thus the term appears throughout.”

I think you intentionally avoided using the term in your proposed script, but doing that is likely to confuse people who aren’t aware of the church’s request and won’t know what you’re referencing.

5. I run two fan accounts for musicians — can it go on my resume?

I have somewhat-unusual online experience that I’d like to include in my resume or cover letter. I currently run two “official” fan/update Instagram accounts for musicians. In addition to posting about their new songs, albums, interviews, etc., I also make photo and video edits, and post my own art (drawing/painting) related to the artists.

For the more famous of the two artists, there are about 30 accounts from 18 different countries in a group chat with a representative from the artist’s management team — that’s the “official” part. The rep sends us promo content to post, and if live shows ever come back, we’ll be the ones they’ll call if they need help in our respective cities. For the just-starting-out artist, I have direct contact with both the artist and her manager, and they send me exclusive content and information before it’s officially released.

For the larger artist, I’m the most followed account and the “president” of our worldwide fan club. For the smaller, I’m basically the only active update account, and definitely the only one who she talks to regularly.

Bonus, if it matters: about 95% of my posting and communication are done in my second language (for both accounts).

I’m now trying to change careers into something music-marketing-related. Can I include these accounts on my resume, or talk about them in my cover letter more or less how I’ve explained them here? I’m taking online classes in both music business and marketing, but I don’t have much experience otherwise. (And if any readers are in this industry and want to throw out suggestions, I’d love those too!)

Yes! It’s directly relevant to the work you’re hoping to do in music marketing.

For anyone wondering why this is different from yesterday’s letter about helping to home-school relatives and swapping tutoring with friends: This has outside accountability to people who aren’t friends or family, and the letter writer has built something that’s visible online for employers to look at. It’s much more akin to a volunteer job or running a volunteer organization.

should I apologize if my fly is down, telling my bosses they need to work more, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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I pushed back on my coworker’s bigotry: a success story https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/i-pushed-back-on-my-coworkers-bigotry.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/i-pushed-back-on-my-coworkers-bigotry.html#comments Mon, 18 Jan 2021 17:29:57 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=20859 A reader writes: This isn’t a question, I just wanted to reach out and let you know how much your blog has helped me get through this situation at work! I work in healthcare, specifically pediatrics. I’ve worked in healthcare for over a decade, and I’ve been in some truly toxic workplaces, but the clinic […]

I pushed back on my coworker’s bigotry: a success story was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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A reader writes:

This isn’t a question, I just wanted to reach out and let you know how much your blog has helped me get through this situation at work!

I work in healthcare, specifically pediatrics. I’ve worked in healthcare for over a decade, and I’ve been in some truly toxic workplaces, but the clinic I currently work in is not one of them! My boss is an amazing person, the literal dream boss. She listens, she isn’t afraid to jump in and work the front lines with us, she isn’t only open to feedback but actively encourages it. Plus, she is quick to let us know when we are appreciated.

The other day, I overheard one of our providers, Mallory, asking her nurse to properly document a transgender patient’s names/pronouns. The nurse, Cheryl, didn’t know how to do this (it doesn’t come up super often and she’s a newer hire, so this wasn’t a big deal), so I volunteered to walk her through it. Our electronic medical record has functions to facilitate this, so that you can look at a patient’s chart and immediately see names and pronouns while leaving legal names and biological sex unchanged for medical and insurance reasons.

As I was walking Cheryl through this, she immediately started making comments like, “I don’t have a problem with it, but…” and “None of my friends were like that in high school.” I responded that I didn’t have any friends who were twins in high school, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t exist back then, and she said, “This is a new thing, it just keeps happening younger and younger.”

Then, she said something along the lines of, “It’s just weird to me. I don’t understand it. Like, you’re supposed to call them ‘it,’ right? Mallory told me to just call them ‘it’.”

I was speechless!

After what felt like forever, but I’m sure it was only a second, I said, “No, never, never, ever call transgender patients that. Don’t call anyone ‘it,’ that’s really dehumanizing.”

The comment was bad enough on its own, but it’s even worse when you consider that I had literally just helped her document that the patient used she/her pronouns (!).

Afterwards, I felt like I handled the situation okay in the moment. I wish I had said a few other things, but I didn’t just let the comments slide in the moment, and I’m proud of myself for that. I’m generally the kind of person who does not like conflict and prefers to stay silent, but I spoke up.

But, as I thought about it more, I started to feel like it wasn’t enough and I realized I needed to say something to my boss.

Like I said, my boss (Lana) is really the dream boss. But I was still anxious about talking to her. Unfortunately, transgender rights is politicized, but I knew I had a solid foundation discussing it from a place of best practices for our patients, and our company policy is very inclusive. I also had to fight the voice in my head that said I was “tattling” on Cheryl.

Pre-COVID, Lana asked us all for feedback on in-service ideas/topics for staff meetings. She is amazing at having our monthly staff meetings revolve around exploring deeper topics and she has invited guests to speak with us. They aren’t just boring policy meetings, they are insightful and informative and enjoyable. Way back when she asked, I told her I thought we should do an in-service on transgender/non-binary patients and discuss best practices to support them, and she thought it was a good idea. But COVID disrupted things and our monthly staff meetings have been more like emergency sessions. So, I decided that I could use that conversation as a framework to discuss my interaction with Cheryl. Instead of just bringing her a problem, I could bring a solution too!

I decided to email her (patient care makes it difficult to carve out time to talk, plus I was anxious and wanted to write things down so I could organize my thoughts). Lana quickly responded to the email saying to talk with one of our mental health providers about planning an in-service (yay!), but she also sent me an IM asking to talk with her when I got a minute.

I went into her office. She asked me to close the door. I started panicking, and then she said, “I just want you to know that I was absolutely horrified by your email! What Cheryl said was completely inappropriate, and I’m just grateful that the patients or her parents didn’t overhear her, because that was not acceptable. Thank you for bringing it to my attention.”

She also mentioned that Mallory would never refer to a transgender patient as “it” and in fact Mallory is one of the providers who is most protective and knowledgeable about her transgender patients.

Reading your blog has given me the courage to speak up, and to do the right thing. I truly, truly love my patients and I knew I would feel awful if I didn’t say something and one of them got hurt by a fellow medical professional saying something so gross and dehumanizing. Plus, I now have the opportunity to streamline our transgender patient policy so all of our patients can come into our clinic safe in the knowledge that everyone, from the receptionist to their provider, will call them by their correct name and pronouns every time, and our office can be a safe place for them to get the healthcare they need!

Here’s what I love about this story:

* You don’t like conflict and prefer to stay silent, but you spoke up because you knew your voice was needed.

* Like most of us, afterwards you thought “I wish I had also said X or Y” but you got the important parts right (“this isn’t right / don’t do that”) and you don’t minimize that to yourself.

* You realized there was more you could do to help, and you did that too.

We have the rights and protections we have because people speak up, even when they’re uncomfortable. That work is not done. Let’s all keep doing it.

I pushed back on my coworker’s bigotry: a success story was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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what to do (even now) if you’re stuck in a job you hate https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/what-to-do-even-now-if-youre-stuck-in-a-job-you-hate.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/what-to-do-even-now-if-youre-stuck-in-a-job-you-hate.html#comments Mon, 18 Jan 2021 15:59:37 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=20856 I’ve always received a lot of letters from people who hate their jobs and want to leave, but since the pandemic started, a sizable portion of those people feel they have no way out. The job market makes them pessimistic about their chances of landing a new position, and with so many layoffs, they worry […]

what to do (even now) if you’re stuck in a job you hate was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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I’ve always received a lot of letters from people who hate their jobs and want to leave, but since the pandemic started, a sizable portion of those people feel they have no way out. The job market makes them pessimistic about their chances of landing a new position, and with so many layoffs, they worry that even if they do get a job offer, the new role might not be as secure as the one they’d be leaving behind.

At Slate today, I wrote about how so many people feel trapped in miserable situations right now–  and what to do if you feel stuck in a job you hate. You can read it here.

what to do (even now) if you’re stuck in a job you hate was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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my boss complains constantly, mending things with a job I ghosted, and more https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/my-boss-complains-constantly-mending-things-with-a-job-i-ghosted-and-more.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/my-boss-complains-constantly-mending-things-with-a-job-i-ghosted-and-more.html#comments Mon, 18 Jan 2021 05:03:42 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=20863 It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go… 1. My manager complains constantly My manager complains … a LOT. Their voice is very loud in a small office, so pretty much every one can hear. Our team consists of only three people on site — me, my coworker, and our manager. My manager has […]

my boss complains constantly, mending things with a job I ghosted, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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

1. My manager complains constantly

My manager complains … a LOT. Their voice is very loud in a small office, so pretty much every one can hear. Our team consists of only three people on site — me, my coworker, and our manager. My manager has no one but us subordinates to complain to, and my poor coworker has to listen to 98% of the rants because their office is closer and they have worked here longer. Sometimes my manager makes disparaging comments about other subordinates who work at different locations. I say sometimes, but it is oftentimes. The rants are mostly about how incompetent so and so is, how overworked they are, how corporate expects them to drop everything to do this and that, blah blah blah.

What is the most professional way to deal with them when they bring their rants into my office (it really only happens when my coworker has to day off)? The rants are daily, annoying as hell, and frankly, make me not want to come to work.

Your options are pretty limited, unfortunately, since this is your boss. But there are a few things you can try when they’re talking to directly to you that, in combination, might cut down on it:

* You’re busy — “that sounds frustrating, well, I should get back to X so I can finish it up today.” … “Sorry, I’ve got to make this call” (and then pick up the phone and actually make a call if possible) … etc.

* You’re on the move, about to head to the kitchen/bathroom/copier. Stand up and actually go to those places. If your boss follows you back to your desk afterwards, as you get to your desk (or doorway if you have an office), stop and say something that signals the end of the conversation like, “That sounds really frustrating. Well, I better get back to it!” There’s something about reaching the end of the physical journey that reinforces the message.

* You’re relentlessly positive — “Oh, but I know Jean means well!” … “She’s so sweet though” … “He’s a good guy, I think.” … “I’m just glad we’ve got the work — better than the alternative!” .. etc. If you become an unsatisfying person to complain to, they may stop complaining to you.

The rest of the time: headphones.

2. Can I put tutoring friends and family on a resume?

My friend is finishing an MA soon and plans on applying to teach at small private schools. She’d be teaching in fields related to her MA, but the degree isn’t in education or anything (it’s along the lines of somebody with a degree in medieval English literature becoming a high school writing teacher). This is a pretty normal background for the schools she’s looking at, and she will have the requisite certification as well. But she really wants to convey on her resume that she does have relevant experience, at least at the entry level. She’s volunteered with a tutoring program for a while, but most of her experience is actually things like teaching younger family members various subjects (they’re homeschooled) or swapping tutoring with friends. She’s rarely had something like a volunteer supervisor or even concrete start and end dates. How can she best express this kind of experience on a resume?

Of course, she’ll be able to discuss it in cover letters and interviews as well, but I think she feels like her “relevant work experience” section looks rather thin without it.

I’d love to tell you there’s a way to do it, but that kind of experience with friends and family doesn’t really go on a resume. It’s similar to how you couldn’t put taking care of your own child on your resume when applying for child care work, or your work organizing family reunions when applying for event planning jobs. You don’t have the same accountability you’d have at a paid job (or a formal volunteer job), and an employer won’t be able to assess what kind of rigor your friend brought to it. She could also look as if she doesn’t recognize the ways that doing those things in a professional context are different from doing them with friends and family.

She could refer to that experience in her cover letter when talking about her interest in the work (briefly, not as a major focus), but keep it off the actual resume.

3. How do I mend things with a job I ghosted eight years ago?

About eight years ago, I worked at a very small nonprofit as the on-site manager for a housing facility. I was part-time, working about 30 hours over a weekend once or twice a month. I was the only staff on shift during these times, so not showing up was a pretty big deal.

After working there for about a year and a half (at age 23) I had a pretty severe personal trauma — a friend overdosed in my living room the day before my shift. In my distraught state, I just couldn’t pull myself together enough to show up or even call in. The very sweet executive director called several times and sent the police to check on me. I confirmed with the police that I was okay. The next morning, still dealing with the trauma and deeply mortified for not showing up to my shift, I again skipped work. I was so embarrassed by my behavior that I never called or showed up to work again. I totally ghosted.

I continued to progress in my career at other local nonprofits without this blight coming up. For better or worse, I also include this job on my resume. Now, I was offered a position as the executive director of a closely aligned organization (literally down the road). The new organization is a housing facility serving people in recovery from addiction, and my journey here is a direct result of that day eight year ago when my friend died. Much of the reason I ghosted was because I didn’t know how or if to address what happened, given stigmas around drug use.

It is a matter of time before I run into my former ED or my name comes up in conversation with a mutual colleague. I am not worried about this impacting my career, but I am still deeply ashamed and a bit worried about an awkward encounter. Should I email her and apologize now, eight years later? What do I even say? Do I bring up the overdose, given its current professional relevance?

Yes, email her! Say you’ve always been mortified about how you left that job and explain what happened (if you’re comfortable sharing it — if not, you could just say you had a personal emergency, but telling the truth shouldn’t reflect badly on you, especially with the work you’re now doing). Then tell her about the job you’re doing now. It’s likely that she’ll be relieved to hear from you and to know what really happened, and happy you’re doing okay now. You’ll also probably feel much better yourself!

And if it helps, we all have deeply unprofessional things we did when we were young, most of them without as good of a reason as you had. Good lord, read these.

4. Should I dig in or get out?

I work at a nonprofit and I strongly dislike my job and organization. I’ve been here for two years and have been actively trying to get a new job elsewhere. A year ago, my boss approached me about a significant promotion. For reasons that sort of escape me, it never went through. Part of this was my fault; I didn’t push it because I wanted to get out and wasn’t sure how it would look to the places I was applying if I got this big promotion and then was trying to leave. But there were also organizational reasons it didn’t happen – it wasn’t a priority for my boss, etc.

At this point, I am doing the job I would have gotten the promotion to do. My responsibilities since COVID hit (and we laid off a number of people) have increased dramatically. As you can imagine, this has only increased my desire to leave — I’m overworked, underpaid, and resentful that more keeps coming to my plate with no recognition. At the same time, I’m having a really hard time finding a new position. Should I push for a raise and a promotion that reflects the work I’ve been doing for the last eight months? Ask that less be put on my plate? Double down on applying elsewhere? Maybe all three?

Definitely double down on your job search since you want to get out, and it doesn’t sound like the promotion would change that.

But meanwhile, push for the raise and promotion that your boss originally floated — point out that you’re now doing the work of the promotion and would like to formalize it. Don’t worry that it will look odd to jobs you’re applying for; it’s not that weird to leave soon after a promotion, especially one that really just formalizes work you were already doing. And the alternative would be letting your job search lapse when you’re hoping to leave.

5. Mentioning academic honors in a professional bio

I’m wondering about conventions around mentioning graduation honors in your professional bio. I often speak or teach freelance and am asked to provide a professional bio. I graduated from a fancy college with magna cum laude honors. I include this in my resume when applying to jobs, and it seems clear that I should continue to do so. (I don’t include a GPA, and never have, since that would be redundant to the magna cum laude, but also unnecessary after a first job out of college.)

However, I’ve also been including “magna cum laude” in my professional bio when the convention of the institution to which I’m submitting a bio (university I’m speaking at, fellowship I’m in) is to include education information. For example, in a concluding sentence I will list, “[My name] holds a B.A. in [my major], magna cum laude, from [fancy Ivy league school].

Is it advisable to continue to include honors, when I am 15 years out from college? Or would that be seen as self-aggrandizing — even though the point of your professional bio is to share impressive accomplishments?

I probably wouldn’t. It makes sense to include it on your resume next to the degree, but 15 years out you’ve got other stuff that’ll be more relevant in a professional bio. (That said, it’s not a shocking faux pas if you choose to keep it.)

my boss complains constantly, mending things with a job I ghosted, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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weekend open thread – January 16-17, 2021 https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/weekend-open-thread-january-16-17-2021.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/weekend-open-thread-january-16-17-2021.html#comments Sat, 16 Jan 2021 06:00:06 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=20818 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: Dear Mrs. Bird, by AJ Pearce. Set in London during World War II, it’s about a young woman who hopes to become a journalist but accidentally ends […]

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

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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: Dear Mrs. Bird, by AJ Pearce. Set in London during World War II, it’s about a young woman who hopes to become a journalist but accidentally ends up as the assistant to a ladies’ advice columnist … and begins to secretly write back to letter writers whose troubles the columnist deems too unpleasant to answer.

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

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

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it’s your Friday good news https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/its-your-friday-good-news-36.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/its-your-friday-good-news-36.html#comments Fri, 15 Jan 2021 17:00:41 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=20836 It’s your Friday good news, with more accounts of success even in this weird time. 1. About two years ago, my worklife was becoming untenable – it’s one of those “family” places that was not quite toxic, but toed the line. Then I saw a posting for my dream job. I progressed to a final […]

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

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It’s your Friday good news, with more accounts of success even in this weird time.

1. About two years ago, my worklife was becoming untenable – it’s one of those “family” places that was not quite toxic, but toed the line. Then I saw a posting for my dream job. I progressed to a final panel interview, which I felt was the best of my life. Then I waited, and waited, only to get a voicemail asking for a return call so I could be rejected in real-time. It was devastating–I thought I’d lost my one chance to get my dream job.

But then a year later, another “dream job” came up and I made it to the final interview. Again I was rejected by phone, but the recruiter was clear that I was a great candidate and the difficult decision came down to years of experience. I was disappointed but focused on my work, knowing that every additional day was another day of experience.

Well, it turns out there’s always another dream job. I’m happy to report that I accepted an offer last week for a position I could not be more excited about. It’s a great fit working with a fantastic team.

Your blog has been a beacon to me during this process. It helped temper expectations (you don’t have an offer until you have an offer!), prepare me for interviews, and handle rejection gracefully. It helped me navigate the offer and negotiation process. Now, as I prepare to give notice, I’m grateful for your resignation tips.

Thank you for your common sense advice, which truly helped save my sanity during this process. You and your readers are so appreciated!

PS: The night after I received an offer, I was unable to sleep, dreading the idea of quitting my job despite the toll it has taken on my health and family life. I scrolled twitter and what did I see? ThisImpeccable timing!

2. (A note about timeline — received in 2020.) I work for a multinational company (BigCo) that is fond of reorganization — not necessarily to reduce headcount, just the kind of place that’s always centralizing what’s decentralized and vice-versa, tinkering with things every year.

I work in a function where the standard professional title has “Manager” in it. Let’s say I was a Manager, Llama Grooming before BigCo. At BigCo, “Manager” is officially (with huge exceptions) reserved for people managers, so I came in as a “Senior Grooming Technician, Llamas”. I’ve been here about five years, and have been reorganized twice without a promotion.

The second reorg was two years ago. As part of a top-down reimagining of my function, I was given more responsibility and authority in a narrower area. I was one of four people in my new role — the other three had Manager-level titles.

I have basically defined what my role is for my division of BigCo. A minor shuffle earlier this year moved my former role-mates into other areas, leaving me as Senior Grooming Technician covering both llamas and alpacas, and mentoring our new hire, the Manager, Vicuna Grooming, while also acting as unofficial Llama Hair Follicle Expert and spending a lot of time liaising with the Dromedary and Guanaco divisions and a pan-BigCo think tank focused on hair structure. I and the new Manager were the only people doing what we do, and I was doing that for two groups that were each larger than the one she handled.

I’ve been pushing for a Manager-level title for a little over a year; I thought I had a shot in last year’s review process, but it didn’t happen. Making it more complicated is that BigCo is very much a “move around to move up” organization — but I like what I’m doing.

I’ve had many conversations this year with my manager about potential career paths and what he sees as my strengths in my current role. He tried to make the case for a mid-year promotion for me, but that didn’t work. He’s been clear and honest with me about the possibilities, particularly since there was a de facto hiring freeze most of the year.

The 2021 budgets came through recently. My manager was approved to hire three new Manager-level roles, covering different aspects of my current job: Manager, Llama Grooming; Manager, Alpaca Grooming; and Manager, Llama Hair Follicles. I reached out to colleagues who I thought would be interested in the Alpaca job and had informational interviews with several about my role and what it entails; at least one of them applied for that job.

I applied for the Manager, Llama Grooming position. BigCo takes hiring seriously, so I had to go through an HR screening and then interview with my manager for what was basically the job I started the year with, only with a higher title. (I have to admit I was briefly worried what would happen if BigCo hired three new people to do all of the parts of my job.)

Soon before Thanksgiving, I got the offer. I am now Manager, Llama Grooming. Once the other positions are hired, I can transition the flex work off my plate and focus on my core job. And I couldn’t have had those conversations with my manager without Ask A Manager — more than that, I don’t think I could have made it through this year, doing basically three jobs, without AAM. BigCo is a good company, if a little weird in its own way: AAM gave me the tools to see what was both good & weird about it.

3. Long time reader, first time caller :) I just wanted to say thanks to you and the amazing commenters of AAM. I’ve been a reader for years now and learned so much. I’ve been in a stagnant job for a while now, working for a dysfunctional non-profit that paid very badly and seemed determined to disregard every industry best-practice in the world.

This fall I’d finally had enough and started a job hunt with your book by my side. I’m happy to report I found a job with a great team who hired me to do the work I’m most interested in! On your advice I did tons of salary research and negotiated for a salary in line with industry norms and my experience – a 50% increase from the terrible non-profit job.

I’m sure the new gig will bring its share of challenges, but I’m so excited to be doing something new. Many thanks again AAM, I couldn’t have done it without you!

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

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open thread – January 15-16, 2021 https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/open-thread-january-15-16-2021.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/open-thread-january-15-16-2021.html#comments Fri, 15 Jan 2021 16:00:07 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=20819 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. * […]

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

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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.

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

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quitting would destroy my company, I gossiped about a coworker, and more https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/quitting-would-destroy-my-company-i-gossiped-about-a-coworker-and-more.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/quitting-would-destroy-my-company-i-gossiped-about-a-coworker-and-more.html#comments Fri, 15 Jan 2021 05:03:51 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=20857 It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go… 1. Taking a better paying job would destroy my current company I’m currently working in a small private practice as an optician. My manager is currently transitioning out because she found a better-paying job in a different field with room for growth, and I will be […]

quitting would destroy my company, I gossiped about a coworker, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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

1. Taking a better paying job would destroy my current company

I’m currently working in a small private practice as an optician. My manager is currently transitioning out because she found a better-paying job in a different field with room for growth, and I will be moving up to the manager position soon. We are trying to hire an optician for the role I’m moving up from. However, we are struggling to find anyone willing to work for such low pay; the pay is many dollars an hour less than the average. Furthermore, they are not willing to pay me the same wage my former manager was making, despite the fact that she was only working here two months longer than I have been and we have the same amount of experience in the field. It’s an accepted fact by people who have worked at the practice for over 10 years that there are no raises here. I’ll be paid $2 less per hour than my former manager, despite doing the same amount of work, if not more, as we can’t find anyone to take my current role. As a manager, I will still be making less than the average would be for my current role.

I also would like to find a better, more fairly-paying job in a field in which I can grow, but I know that if my manager and I were to both leave right now, it may actually ruin the small practice, as nobody would be in the role anymore, and despite the low pay, the role is crucial to the survival of the business. What should I do?

You’re feeling strangely loyal to a business that hasn’t treated you well!

If you leaving causes business problems for them, they’ll need to figure out how to solve them. Maybe they’ll realize they need to increase what they pay. Regardless, that’s for them to handle. You are not obligated to stay in a job that underpays you because they might struggle without you! If you’re that valuable to them, they should be paying you accordingly and they’re not. Don’t invest in their success at the expense of your own, especially when they’re not even remotely returning that favor.

(And for the record, even if they paid you well, you get to leave whenever you want to leave. These are business relationships, not personal ones. That’s by design! It’s okay to be okay with that.)

2. I gossiped and upset my coworker

I work in a mid-sized office with about 25 people. We are all roughly in our 20s and 30s. I was talking with a supervisor in another department when she expressed frustration with one of her employees — not that much, just that she is dealing with a lot. I then went to lunch and saw an ad for the same position posted on Indeed (previous employee trauma, I always check to see if my position is up there), and talked about it with a coworker in my department. We generically speculated what it might be. The office is growing, so we thought it could possibly be an internal transfer and they put it up for them to apply. But it’s also common knowledge that the employee in reference was on a PIP and we thought they might be heading out. The conversation was definitely very general and not specific.

I come in Monday to a full blown rumor mill situation with that employee thinking they are being fired and the supervisor upset that I would say that! I take full responsibility, I was the one that spoke about it and that’s on me, regardless of who spreads it. I apologized to the employee and their supervisor and said I truly didn’t mean to upset them and am so sorry they had to deal with it. I was given a verbal warning and told to not do that again.

Here is the thing, I’m not a gossiping person! I mostly stick to myself, but I made a poor choice and hurt someone. How do I let my company and the hurt employee know that this won’t be a pattern without completely walling myself off from everyone?

I know this isn’t a satisfying answer, but now that you’ve apologized, the only real way to show it is by demonstrating it through how you operate and that takes time. Going forward, be scrupulously professional and discreet and you should be able to repair any reputation damage.

But also … that supervisor who shared her frustration with you about the employee? That was a bigger breach than anything you did. She’s the one who had the real responsibility for discretion. Yes, you shouldn’t have shared what you heard, but she shouldn’t have said it to you in the first place. If she’s the person who chastised you, I hope she acknowledged her own responsibility as well.

(On top of that, if she’s already advertising someone’s position when they don’t know they’re going to be replaced, there are bigger problems here — although it’s not clear if that’s what the ad was.)

3. Negotiating salary when a job has less work from home than originally stated

I was recently approached by an in-house recruiter regarding an open position at an organization about 1.5 hours (one way) from my home. Since I live in a snowy climate and we’re in the middle of a pandemic, I asked during the initial phone conversation about the ability to work-from-home. She assured me that this position, an administrative one, would have the opportunity to work from home most days of the week. That sounded perfect! When she asked my salary range, I told her what I know to be in-line with the area and my needs, and she said that my range falls within their salary range as well. Perfect!

I was then contacted by the hiring manager for a Zoom interview, and it went really well. I have now had a phone call and another Zoom call with other members of the team, and everything seems to be moving closer to an offer.

However, through the course of these discussions, I’ve discovered that the recruiter was overly optimistic regarding the amount of work from home this position includes. For the first few months, I would be exclusively in the office — which are, of course, the worst months for winter weather. And even after that training period is over, I would still rarely be able to work from home more than one or two days per week, due to the nature of the position.

I’m still really interested, but would need more money than I originally stated due to the drive and extra time away from home. Assuming I receive an offer, is there any way to negotiate a higher salary, given the new information I have? I know you have said in the past that you can’t ask for more than you originally give them as a range. But I’m working with new info now.

Yes. You can say, “When we originally spoke, Jane told me I’d be able to work from home most days, with one to two days a week in the office. We’d discussed a salary range based on that understanding, but if the position is on-site most of the time, I’d be looking for something closer to $X.”

That said … a minimum of three hours a day commuting is a lot. Be sure you’re really up for that. (Would you have been interested if you’d known that from the start? Sometimes after you’ve invested in an interview process, it’s easier to convince yourself you’re okay with significant downsides like this. But make sure you really are because that is a huge bite out of your quality of life.)

4. When should I say that I’m interested in my boss’s job?

We recently found out our supervisor is transitioning to another role within the company. His supervisor told our team that as she starts looking for his replacement, we should let her know if we had any names of those we felt might be a good fit. They will only be posting the position internally for now.

I’m certainly interested in the position. Is it a good idea for me to speak up and sort of toot my own horn here? Or should I just silently apply for it once the job listing has been posted?

Speak up now and don’t wait. There’s rarely a downside to making your interest known at the outset, and there can be a risk in waiting (like that they may start to envision someone else in the job, get further in talks with someone else than you realize, etc.).

5. Changing my name because of a complicated family situation

My first name was given to me by my estranged father and was not the name my mother had planned for. Due to complications with my birth, she was not doing well and he swooped in to decide on my name when filling out all the official paperwork. In the end, she decided to go with it, but this has always bothered me. Coupled with the extreme abuse I suffered from him, it made me resent my name my whole life. I have tried different iterations and nicknames and they have all felt the same.

Recently I decided on finally going by a different name. I don’t plan on changing it legally, more treating it as a nickname using my initials. Think first and last initials L. U. and starting to go by Lu. In my personal life this has (mostly) gone swimmingly. Being referred to by a name I truly like and not feeling a gut punch every time someone says my name is completely life-changing to a level I never could have guessed beforehand.

The difficulty is at work. I am on a small team who aren’t social but are very familiar and casual with each other. I also have a lot of interactions with a large section of a company. Thus far I haven’t asked anyone at work to call me by the new name and I can’t seem to figure out how to do it without it being totally socially awkward and/or stressful. This isn’t a gender transition and the reason behind the name change is a lot to explain to coworkers. I had originally not planned on transitioning my name professionally, but it is wearing me down to hear my old name all the time.

Good for you for making the switch! You can do it at work too. You don’t need to give everyone the back story — it should be enough to say in a cheerful, matter-of-fact way, “I’ve been going by Lu in my personal life and I’m now making the change professionally as well. Going forward, please call me Lu (which is the name formed by my first and last initials). Thanks!” You could give your manager a heads-up first (not because you really need to, but just because sometimes changes are easier when your boss is in the loop first).

If anyone asks what prompted the switch, you could just say, “Some family stuff — a long story” or “I’ve used Lu for while socially, just hadn’t made the change at work yet.”

quitting would destroy my company, I gossiped about a coworker, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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is it a red flag when a job is posted for a long time? https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/is-it-a-red-flag-when-a-job-is-posted-for-a-long-time.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/is-it-a-red-flag-when-a-job-is-posted-for-a-long-time.html#comments Thu, 14 Jan 2021 18:59:37 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=20835 A reader writes: Is a job being posted for a long time a red flag about the business hiring? There is an organization I would like to work for and they’ve had a position they have been trying to fill for over a year. I do not qualify for the position, but I wonder if […]

is it a red flag when a job is posted for a long time? was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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A reader writes:

Is a job being posted for a long time a red flag about the business hiring? There is an organization I would like to work for and they’ve had a position they have been trying to fill for over a year. I do not qualify for the position, but I wonder if this sort of problem in hiring could be indicative of a bad work culture. There are some other things about this organization that give me some bad vibes, despite my interest in their work, but the difficulty filling this position is certainly something I am puzzled about.

I have been in a position to hire others and know that sometimes you have to reopen a search because the right candidate didn’t present themselves, but a year seems like a different category. Am I wrong in taking this as a reason to be cautious about this organization’s culture and hiring process?

Sometimes it’s a red flag but sometimes it’s not. The best thing to do is to ask.

Sometimes a company keeps a job advertised for a long time (or forever) because they’re pretty much always looking for people who can do Role X (and have multiple slots for Role X on their staff) and when they find good candidates, they hire them.

Sometimes, too, a job is legitimately hard to fill. I used to hire for a job that required being an extraordinarily talented senior-level manager and being able to teach that skill to others and being able to advise on a wide range of management challenges in real time with strong answers every time and being great at quickly establishing trust and rapport with sometimes skeptical audiences. Know how difficult that is to find in one person? Very. The role was open all the time, we hired about five people for it a year (separate slots), and were nearly always accepting applications.

Sometimes the organization in the midst of growing. They think they need to hire one Role X, and then they realize they’re going to need another so the ad stays up. Then they hire a second and before they know it their growth means they need a third.

Sometimes it’s just a perfect storm — like the first hire didn’t work out and the second hire left for a family emergency/relocation/health crisis soon after starting, and boom now the organization has been recruiting for a year when you put it all together.

But other times — many times — it does indicate a problem with the organization: They’re terrible at hiring, or their culture is awful and no one will stay, or their standards are unrealistic and they’re too quick to fire, or the job is a bait and switch so they keep losing people.

It’s often hard to know from the outside what the explanation is, but during the interview process you can ask about turnover and how long people typically stay. And if the job you’re applying for is the one that’s been open forever, it’s completely fine to say, “I noticed this role has been advertised for a while — can you tell me anything about that?” You can also ask, “How long did the last person in this role stay, and what caused them to leave?” and “What’s the typical tenure been in this role?” You won’t always get entirely straight answers, but often you will (and even when you don’t, you’ll still often get more information, even if it’s “wow, the interviewer seemed really uncomfortable talking about that”).

In your case, the fact that other things are already giving you pause about the organization makes it more likely that the long posting is probably a red flag. But that’s just a guess. If you’re really interested in them, I wouldn’t assume anything — see if you can get an interview and learn more.

is it a red flag when a job is posted for a long time? was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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can I keep working from home after my office re-opens? https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/can-i-keep-working-from-home-after-my-office-re-opens.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/can-i-keep-working-from-home-after-my-office-re-opens.html#comments Thu, 14 Jan 2021 17:29:21 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=20830 A reader writes: I’m a young professional who works with a major company making a very good salary for my area and age. I’m very lucky to have gotten this job, and I don’t want to leave it anytime soon. Due to life circumstances I still live with my parents, and I haven’t gotten enough […]

can I keep working from home after my office re-opens? was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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A reader writes:

I’m a young professional who works with a major company making a very good salary for my area and age. I’m very lucky to have gotten this job, and I don’t want to leave it anytime soon.

Due to life circumstances I still live with my parents, and I haven’t gotten enough savings yet to move out on my own, even aside from the Covid situation. However, my parents are planning on moving within the year to another city.

I’m currently working from home due to the pandemic, but it’s been made clear that’s not going to be forever. Would it be weird to ask to keep working from home if/when the move occurs? I haven’t been working for the company for very long, but I’ve gotten good feedback from upper management and my team, so I’m pretty sure they would want me to stay if they could swing it. I’m pretty bad at advocating for myself at the best of times, so I’m not even sure how to approach this.

You can read my answer to this letter at Vice today. Head over there to read it.

can I keep working from home after my office re-opens? was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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how to become a slacker … with Laurie Ruettimann https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/how-to-become-a-slacker.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/how-to-become-a-slacker.html#comments Thu, 14 Jan 2021 15:59:11 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=20815 I’ve long been an admirer of Laurie Ruettimann, since her days running Punk Rock HR, a hilarious blog where she called out the BS of HR. (The blog is no more, but she now has a podcast of the same name.) Laurie has always called it like she sees it without pulling any punches, and […]

how to become a slacker … with Laurie Ruettimann was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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I’ve long been an admirer of Laurie Ruettimann, since her days running Punk Rock HR, a hilarious blog where she called out the BS of HR. (The blog is no more, but she now has a podcast of the same name.) Laurie has always called it like she sees it without pulling any punches, and the way she sees it is (a) often different from the conventional wisdom and (b) right.

Laurie worked in corporate HR for big companies like Pfizer for years, grew to hate it, and now helps executives and HR leaders fix their companies and avoid toxic work environments … and she calls out a lot of bad behavior along the way.

Her book just came out this week and it’s great — Betting On You: How to Put Yourself First and (Finally) Take Control of Your Career. As I confessed to her after reading it, I find a lot of books about work dry or predictable or personality-free. But hers is the opposite of that: It’s personal and engaging and fun to read, on top of being smart, insightful, and genuinely useful. It’s packed with good advice that you don’t often hear — for example, why you can ignore advice like “always be looking for a job” — and she tells a ton of amusing stories along the way … from how she handled whole range of tricky situations during her years in corporate HR to the time her husband thought a therapist who asked him about self-care was asking about masturbation.

Laurie agreed to let me run a short excerpt from the book (it’s below), and she’s also given me a copy to give away to a reader here.

To enter to win a free copy: Read the excerpt below on professional detachment and leave a comment below with your thoughts. I’ll pick a winner at random (or rather, random selector software will). All entries must be posted in the comments on this post by Friday, January 15, at 11:59 p.m. ET. To win, you must fill out the email address section of the comment form so I have a way of contacting you if you’re the winner. Giveaway is open to U.S. entrants only.

And if you don’t win this giveaway, I hope you will buy yourself a copy!


Excerpted from
BETTING ON YOU: How to Put Yourself First and (Finally) Take Control of Your Career by Laurie Ruettimann.
Published by Henry Holt and Company, January 12, 2021. Copyright © 2021 by Albany Park Partners, Inc.
All rights reserved.

Work won’t make you happy. You make you happy. It’s time to deprioritize your career and instead prioritize the good stuff: relationships, community, sleeping, eating nutritious meals, and enjoying time away from the screen. What’s the secret? Where’s the hack to this magical, mystical life balance?

There is no quick fix, but here’s my advice: be a slacker.

How To Become A Slacker

There’s no universal definition for a slacker, but the word loosely describes a person who will do anything to avoid work.

Every family has one. Maybe it’s your cousin, uncle, or sister-in-law who always asks for money and never pays you back. Or maybe it’s a nephew who never has cash but always wears nice clothes and has the newest iPhone. (Not my nephews, though. They are terrific. One works as an IT professional, and the other is in elementary school.) Most families have one individual who fulfills the “kids these days” stereotype. Maybe it’s you.

Every team has a slacker, too. It can be someone who comes in late, leaves early, and doesn’t contribute much to a project. Sometimes it’s the person who isn’t overly concerned with professional relationships and does not care about the growth of a company. Work slackers are seen as opportunists who cheat the system and think they’ve got everybody fooled.

Slackerism was elevated to an art form in the late twentieth century with movies like Office Space and The Big Lebowski, characters like Ferris Bueller and Bart Simpson, and musicians like Kurt Cobain and Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins who told us, “The world is a vampire.”

But being jaded and cynical hit a snag at the turn of the century with the onset of the global financial crisis. People couldn’t afford to do anything other than put chicken in the bucket for the man, as Stephen Fry once wrote. Western culture also retooled itself around the birth of the social Web, the growth of interconnected communication tools, and the mass adoption of commercialized surveillance systems. It’s hard to opt out of the rat race and speak your true mind when you’re on Facebook and hustling for work. Companies scan your work computer and watch for sexual harassment and corporate espionage in your Slack messages. Algorithms monitor where you browse online and predict whether you’re about to quit. There’s even a program out there that can read your keystrokes and predict if you’re at risk for suicide. Yes, really.

Speaking of the hustle, it’s hard to be a slacker when our #hustleporn culture pushes you to be productive twenty-four hours a day. If you are lucky, you work for a company that gives you a work-from-home stipend to cover the cost of printer ink and pays you to freeze your eggs — but doesn’t guarantee you equal pay for equal work or make your life easier when you finally unfreeze those embryos. If you are unlucky, you are a hustler who works on contract and struggles to make ends meet. And who wants to be a slacker under either of those circumstances?

Slackerism is not only frowned upon at the office, it’s weaponized — especially if you’re a person of color. Your well-intentioned attempt at work–life balance might be somebody else’s excuse to throw you under the bus.

Now that I’ve painted a bleak image of slackers, let me flip the script and say that while nobody wants to be seen as the jerk with a poor work ethic, slackerism might save your soul.

❍❍❍

Deanna is the VP of communications for a digital media organization. She worked hard throughout high school and college as a student athlete and scholar, then she went back to school as a working mom to pursue her MBA. Deanna is known for being a creative and compassionate leader. She pushes people to be their best while also leading by example, and she doesn’t shy away from hard work.

Deanna is the antithesis of a slacker, but after fifteen years as a corporate executive, she felt burned out and came looking for career advice. She’s an “elder millennial” who feels a little too elderly. Could I help her get off the hamster wheel and into a job that wouldn’t kill her? Was it possible to keep her current level of income with a role that didn’t require so much time and energy?

Before working with me, Deanna was hunting for a new job but every opportunity sounded the same: endless hours on Slack and too much time spent managing corporate politics rather than doing the fun work of innovation.

“I’m exhausted. My team can see it. My family tells me I work too much. And I can’t keep taking Zoloft forever.”

When I asked Deanna about her sleeping and eating habits, she laughed out loud. With two kids under the age of six — and one following her lead by showing an interest in sports — she doesn’t eat or sleep well. This was Deanna’s life before COVID-19: early morning wake-ups, daycare, carpool, a long commute to and from work, little flexibility, lots of responsibility with her kids, a spouse with an executive leadership role who doesn’t do dishes, and hobbies and interests that go unexplored because there aren’t enough hours in the day.

“I used to do yoga and run 5ks. Now I just participate in meetings all day long and check other people’s PowerPoint decks for errors before they go to the board.”

Deanna was suffering from arrival fallacy, the feeling of disappointment you get when you reach your goals but the result isn’t what you expected. Instead of being happy with your salary and enjoying your work, you ask yourself, “Is this all there is? There must be more.”

There’s not.

It’s not uncommon to unlock the next level of your career and still feel unhappy. But it’s important to know that the feelings of contentment and personal accomplishment don’t come from working sixty hours and hearing “good job” from your boss. They come from confidence and maturity. You’re doing great work when you solve problems, learn something new, and then spend time away from the office to support the people and activities you love.

When I suggested being a slacker to Deanna — working less, leaving early, establishing boundaries, spending time with her family, exercising, reading, and redefining what it means to be happy — she tried not to laugh again in my face.

“No offense, but people are watching me. I can’t say no. They’ll think I’m lazy.”

I asked her to hear me out. “Since people are watching you, let’s teach them something. Pretend your company is a client instead of a family. If you didn’t have so much skin in the game, how would you do things differently?”

Deanna needed to learn the skill of professional detachment — staying committed to your job, doing great work, but redefining the role so it isn’t your sole identity.

She didn’t say no, but she didn’t like it.

“This sounds risky, and I don’t want to be seen as cold or disconnected.”

This is a legitimate concern. Women and people of color are held to a double standard at work. They must be buttoned up but warm, savvy but deferential to the team, and data-driven yet still compassionate. Deanna told me she was always available to her team, even after business hours, which meant she wasn’t present with her husband and children. It would confuse her colleagues, she argued, if she suddenly stopped answering texts in the evening without explanation.

We brainstormed ways to lock the phone up at night and discussed what it takes to create a work environment where it’s safe to establish boundaries.

How could she improve daily communications but limit after-hours texting? Is it possible to track and analyze “emergencies,” and work backward to create processes and behaviors that prevent them? And how could her team reach her if needed?

Deanna called a meeting and asked her team for input. Were they feeling stressed? Could they describe what it feels like to have an evening interrupted with a so-called work emergency? Deanna took the lead and shared her struggle with putting down the phone at night, and others chimed in with their stories. Soon, they all agreed that they needed common definitions for “emergency” and “work crisis.”

Deanna asked her team to create a rules-of-the-road template for communicating after hours. They decided that if something was an emergency, it required a physical call. If the phone rang, and it was from a colleague, they’d try to answer the call right away or call back as soon as possible.

How did it end up working?

Deanna told me emergencies dropped 90 percent. She now has extra time to focus on her top priorities: family and personal well-being. Her evenings are free for exercise, spending time with her kids, or sitting on the couch and binge-watching TV without worrying too much about what happened at the office earlier.

Now we just need her husband to do the dishes. But I’m not a miracle worker.

“I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to checking my phone in the evening,” Deanna concluded. “But now I can really relax before I check my messages and get to bed.”

Not only does Deanna feel more balanced and connected, but she’s also taking this message to other parts of her organization. She’s partnered with her local HR manager to bring the work–life balance rules to other business units and teams within the company. Just recently, Deanna spoke on a panel at a leadership conference and sang the praises of professional detachment, honest communication, and personal accountability for well-being.

Professional detachment — the act of pausing, reflecting, and treating your job like a puzzle to solve instead of an extension of your identity — saved Deanna from leaving her company. She hasn’t labeled herself as a slacker, but I’ll do it for her. And you, too.

I’m thinking of making T-shirts.

* I make a commission if you use these links.

how to become a slacker … with Laurie Ruettimann was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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my boss sits outside my house for hours, parking woes, and more https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/my-boss-sits-outside-my-house-for-hours-parking-woes-and-more.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/my-boss-sits-outside-my-house-for-hours-parking-woes-and-more.html#comments Thu, 14 Jan 2021 05:03:22 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=20854 It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go… 1. My boss sits outside my house in her car for hours Due to health reasons, I have been working remotely during the pandemic. I’m grateful to have the type of job where this is possible, and I appreciate my boss’s flexibility. But my boss knows […]

my boss sits outside my house for hours, parking woes, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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

1. My boss sits outside my house in her car for hours

Due to health reasons, I have been working remotely during the pandemic. I’m grateful to have the type of job where this is possible, and I appreciate my boss’s flexibility.

But my boss knows where I live. I have the type of job where occasionally — and on a fixed schedule — I have to look at physical paperwork that my boss reviews before I do. She insists on dropping it off at my house, but instead of a simple handoff, she prefers to review the papers in real time outside my house, sitting in her car for hours directly outside my window. I’m not exaggerating: she camps out there for hours, in plain view of my living room, which also currently serves as my office space. I feel like she’s watching me, or doesn’t trust that I’m really home and really doing my work. The whole thing makes me incredibly uncomfortable. It also makes my husband (another remote worker) even more uncomfortable. I have offered to come pick up the paperwork myself at the office and meet her outside for a quick, masked handoff, but she won’t read between the lines. I think she believes she’s being helpful by bringing it my way. In theory, that’s true. In practice? Not so much.

How do I let her know that I would prefer she not sit outside my house like this? How can I tactfully insist that I go pick up these documents myself? It’s worth noting that I would already be back at work if she mandated masks and other COVID-safe protocols within the office. She doesn’t.

So she needs to review the papers before passing them to you and instead of reviewing them before she heads to your house, she drives to you, spends hours in her car reviewing them, and then brings them to your door? That is … odd.

I would take the easy way out on this and just blame it on neighbors — as in, “We’ve had neighbors tell us they feel uncomfortable having someone sit in a car outside their houses for hours, so I’m going to need to start picking the paperwork up from you. What time is good on Tuesday for me to grab it from you?” Don’t make it a discussion; it’s just an announcement — “this won’t work anymore, we’ll need to do this other thing instead, let’s set a time.”

2. Do hiring managers have to conduct a certain number of phone interviews?

Do hiring managers often have a certain number of phone interviews they’re required to conduct or schedule?

An organization headhunted me a while ago and set up a Zoom interview for 6 a.m. the next day. It was weirdly early but I would have been okay with that, except that they rushed through the interview. They spoke to me for about five minutes and only asked a couple questions. It felt like something they were doing to check a box. The interviewer was driving during the call, so her camera was off. Meanwhile, I felt all dressed up with nowhere to go. I never heard back from them, despite the fact that they were the ones to seek me out and I was perfectly polite and professional during the call. I even sent a thank-you email, but got no reply.

A couple days ago, I had another phone interview scheduled with a different organization. I had applied for this position without being headhunted, but the hiring manager had seemed very eager to set up the interview. Once again, the process of setting up the interview seemed a bit rushed – all the time slots I was given to choose between were within the next few days, despite the fact that the job isn’t available for several months. Well, the manager never called during the scheduled time. I left a voicemail after about 45 minutes, but I don’t think I’m going to hear back.

Why would employers be setting up interviews in which they have very little interest? It’s rude and I’m confused as to the purpose!

Sometimes hiring people do have a certain number of interviews they want to set up, which could be imposed from above or could just be their own preference.

But what’s more frequent is that there’s an enormous lack of consideration for candidates in many hiring processes. It’s incredibly common for interviewers not to call on time or at all for scheduled phone interviews or to be disrespectful of candidates’ time in other ways.

There are a bunch of possible explanations for the interviewer who seemed rushed and only spoke to you briefly — like that she was just a bad interviewer, or had lost interest after setting up the call (possibly because she found stronger candidates) so was giving you short shrift, or realized from one of your early answers that the fit wasn’t right, or was just having a bad morning and needed to deal with something else. Or maybe this was always intended to be a very short screening call and they hadn’t conveyed that well beforehand.

It’s not weird to want to schedule phone screens within a few days, even if the job doesn’t start for a few months. Hiring takes a long time, and it’s not odd to want to get initial screens done quickly, or the interviewer might have been booked up the following week, or who knows what. It’s also possible they would have suggested other slots if you’d told them the first set didn’t work for you. So that part isn’t weird. But a 6 a.m. phone call is ungodly early, and you definitely could have pushed back on that if you wanted to!

3. My office doesn’t give part-timers parking

For the past few years, I have worked part time at a local organization that is predominantly funded by, and is under the umbrella of our municipality. Our organization is located downtown, so there is not an abundance of parking, and we do not have our own parking lot. The full-time staff have all been given, by the city government, parking passes to a nearby parking lot, but the part-time staff have to either pay several hundred dollars a year for a parking pass in a city-owned lot, pay $1/hr at a meter that requires us to refill it every two hours, or try to nail down a few free two-hour spots, and then every two hours move our cars.

The moving of cars and paying of meters every two hours is incredibly disruptive because we then have to find a coworker to cover our desk so that customer service is not disrupted. I obviously think this is incredibly annoying, but it’s ultimately up to the city, not my organization, who also provide their full-time employees with parking passes but do not do the same for their part-time staff.

Can I ask our organization to cover the cost of all part-time staff getting parking passes from the city so that we don’t have to constantly jump through this ridiculous hoop, and if so, how should I best raise this? When I was first hired, I was shocked that this was never done; this has been the way things are done for years before I joined the organization. We are expecting possible cuts to our funding next year due to COVID-19 and we already have a pretty tight budget, so I’m worried about raising this right now, but I’m just so fed up with dealing with this issue every workday.

I had a job with a parking situation like this, where everyone who drove in had to move our cars every few hours because monthly passes for the nearby parking garages were way too expensive on nonprofit salaries. It sucked! (One colleague even made a complex spreadsheet to track parking enforcement patterns, which we all used to try to outsmart tickets.)

In any case, in a context like this parking subsidies aren’t an outrageous thing to ask for. Point out that people have to leave work every two hours to feed meters or move their cars and it causes disruption and ask if they’d be willing to subsidize parking for part-time workers so they can stop dealing with parking issues multiple times a day. The answer might be no, especially if the organization is worried about funding cuts, but it’s a reasonable thing to ask about and they might not realize it’s regularly interrupting work. (Be aware, though, that a potential risk of highlighting that they could tell you that you can’t keep running out every two hours and still not pay for parking.)

4. We have to share our professional goals with our team

My manager asked our team to share our professional goals with the team. The ask is to write these down and then have them be shared in a meeting — I’m guessing for some kind of discussion or perhaps for just team visibility.

I’m not really comfortable sharing my goals with anyone aside from my boss. Is it just me?

Are these work goals (like “increase the number of visitors our website from X to Y”) or are they your own personal goals (like “improve my writing skills” or “move into a management role”)? If it’s the former, it’s very normal to share those with your team. If it’s the latter, that’s much more unusual. And while some people would be fine with it, a not insignificant number would share your discomfort. There’s no reason your coworkers all need to know what your personal goals are, and in some ways sharing them requires you to make yourself vulnerable to people you might prefer not to be vulnerable around. And really, your personal ambitions aren’t anyone’s business (even your boss’s, for that matter, unless you choose to share them).

My guess is that your boss thinks she’s creating some sort of group accountability or learning environment, but there are better ways to do that.

If there’s room to simply offer up work goals instead, you could try that.

5. Do employers think I’m not local?

I was recently laid off and am starting to look for new jobs. I live in a tiny town about 15-20 minutes south of a state line, so many of the jobs I am applying for are just across the border in the other state. I am wondering if employers are looking at my address saying state X and thinking I am non-local when I am in fact local and don’t need to relocate— especially since the positions I am applying for are very junior and not the sort of jobs that generally entertain distance candidates. Additionally, most of my work experience is from when I was in college and living in a big city much further away, adding to this confusion. Should I leave my address off?

Well, if you’re only ~20 minutes away from the jobs you’re applying for, hiring managers are almost certainly used to getting candidates from across the state line and don’t assume you’re hundreds of miles away … but there’s no reason you need to include your full address on your resume these days and many people don’t. So go ahead and remove it and see if that helps.

Normally I do recommend that you keep at least your city and state on your resume if you’re local so employers don’t assume you’re not … but in case where you think it could be doing the opposite, it makes sense to experiment with removing it.

my boss sits outside my house for hours, parking woes, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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should we let an employee resign instead of being fired? https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/should-we-let-an-employee-resign-instead-of-being-fired.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/should-we-let-an-employee-resign-instead-of-being-fired.html#comments Wed, 13 Jan 2021 18:59:46 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=20852 A reader writes: I am the director of a pretty independent division in my company. I founded the area and we have grown to 13 employees in the past few years. I do most of the supervision but last year had my assistant director, Mark, take on more supervision tasks as a growth area. Some […]

should we let an employee resign instead of being fired? was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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A reader writes:

I am the director of a pretty independent division in my company. I founded the area and we have grown to 13 employees in the past few years. I do most of the supervision but last year had my assistant director, Mark, take on more supervision tasks as a growth area. Some of the staff are co-supervised depending on work assignments.

A junior employee in their first year (though with advanced education) has struggled to show up to meetings with other employees and clients. Mark brought the complaints to me, and I sat down with the employee to clearly go over expectations.

Things didn’t improve. We met again in two weeks. Things actually somehow seemed worse. We were clear that not showing up on time to meetings was not okay and was a fireable offense if it continued. The employee threatened to resign, and we left it up to them before they came back and attempted to apologize. We gave them another chance, in part to get documentation and the job description in order, in part from a tiny hope they could turn it around. After a few weeks and one good follow-up, they stopped showing up again.

We scheduled the follow-up meeting to fire them (and first offer a chance for resignation, as the graceful thing). They knew it was coming, and four minutes before our meeting started I got a resignation letter in my inbox. I can’t say I was surprised, but I spent the meeting going over logistics, thanking them for their self awareness about it not working out. Termination paperwork stated it was voluntary and mutual.

For me, this is a win of an outcome — no drama, easy paperwork, and they’re gone. Mark, the co-supervisor (who is also in his first professional job but has been here most of our existence) really wants to fire the person, even after they’ve resigned. He wants the employee to face “consequences” while I’m of the mind that once they have resigned, it’s not my job to mentor or supervise them. We’ve had multiple conversations about expectations and how if they didn’t get it beforehand, another conversation now won’t help.

His response makes me anxious to give him more management authority, as it plays into a bit of a punitive streak he has (he would call it a justice streak). Did I handle this right? How should I move forward?

If the employee resigned and saved you from having to fire them, that’s a good outcome. The employee gets to exercise some control over the situation, perhaps saves some face, and doesn’t need to tell prospective employers they were fired. You get to avoid firing someone (which is never pleasant, no matter how warranted it might be) and dramatically lower the chances of some of the drama and headaches that can accompany firings. It also means you’re not on the hook for paying unemployment, if that’s something you care about.

So what’s up with Mark’s desire to ignore all that and fire them anyway, to teach them some sort of lesson?

His instinct that the person needed to face “consequences” is troubling. First and foremost, that’s not what management is about. You’re not a parent, and you’re not there to teach anyone a lesson. You’re just there to get work done effectively. Sometimes that does mean imposing consequences, but only when it’s the logical outcome the situation requires; it shouldn’t be about punishing anyone. For example, if an employee struggles to meet deadlines on days they work from home, you might require them to work from the office. That wouldn’t be a punishment; it would be a logical consequence of the work issues.

Second, this employee is facing consequences — their job didn’t work out and they’re leaving it, and presumably without a great reference. Mark’s desire for more consequences than that, when the problem the organization faced has already been solved, comes across like he wants to twist the knife just on principle.

And how exactly does he imagine this playing out? Responding to “I’m resigning” with “too late, we’re firing you!” would come across awfully poorly. The person is already parting ways with your organization. Making it more adversarial when it doesn’t need to be would make you and Mark look gratuitously punitive — not only to that employee, but to anyone else who heard about it. You don’t want the rest of your staff to hear that someone tried to leave graciously and Mark wouldn’t let them.

As for Mark’s self-described justice streak … I get wanting to mete out justice or set people straight — I struggle with that desire all the time. But managing a team cannot be an outlet for that impulse. It’ll make him look petty and vindictive, which will lose him the respect of his team, and over time good people won’t want to work for him. Even aside from that, it’s just not what the job is. He’d be prioritizing his own satisfaction (the satisfaction of “I’ll show you“) over what’s best for the organization.

That’s someone who likes power too much — and that’s a real red flag. You need managers who see authority as just another tool in their tool box to get things done. If they take pleasure in authority for authority’s sake, at best they’ll be too heavy-handed and at worst they’ll be jerks.

So I think you’re right to be concerned about giving him more management authority. In fact, I’d take a closer look at the authority he already has. You can’t have a punitive manager on your team. At a minimum, he needs real coaching around this. But that’s just a minimum, because if you’re seeing a punitive streak as his boss, it’s almost certain that the people he supervises are feeling more of it than you know.

should we let an employee resign instead of being fired? was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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updates: the micromanagement, the fertility treatments, and more https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/updates-the-micromanagement-the-fertility-treatments-and-more.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/updates-the-micromanagement-the-fertility-treatments-and-more.html#comments Wed, 13 Jan 2021 17:29:20 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=20822 Here are four updates from people who had their letters answered here in the past. 1. We have to send three updates a day while working from home I originally wrote to you in March and things have changed a lot since then. In regards to the 12pm check-ins, we were able to compromise with […]

updates: the micromanagement, the fertility treatments, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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

1. We have to send three updates a day while working from home

I originally wrote to you in March and things have changed a lot since then. In regards to the 12pm check-ins, we were able to compromise with our direct supervisor that these were unnecessary a few weeks after I wrote to you. But the 9am and 4pm emails were required until October!

My initial direct supervisor left in June and one of my coworkers was promoted. My new direct supervisor also despised the morning and afternoon task emails and was finally able to end them in October. The emails eventually became a basic list of my job duties that I copy and pasted each day.

I mentioned in my first letter that my organization had a brand new executive director start in March. We only had one week in-person with her before we transitioned to all remote. I eventually learned that the daily task emails continued as long as they did because she didn’t understand what we did all day long. She thought that if I said I was free Thursday afternoon or Friday morning for a meeting that I had no other work to do during that time. She never fully grasped the understanding that if I wasn’t scheduled an internal or external meeting, that I had other work to complete. Overall she wasn’t a great fit for our organization and will be moving on after only nine months. I’ve been at this organization for over five years and there’s been A LOT of turnover. I’m trying my best to keep my head down and get my work done, and will be moving on in less than a year when I finish grad school.

2. How do I approach my boss about time off for fertility treatments? (#5 at the link)

I’m the writer who was trying to figure out how to ask my boss for all the time off I’d need for upcoming fertility treatments, since they were going to be pretty frequent.

I talked to my boss, and initially I followed your script – I’ll be taking some doctor’s appointments pretty frequently, no cause of concern, etc. She was very understanding and said of course. During one of my 1:1s with her, I eventually just told her what was going on because she had been so understanding, and she immediately said (as many commenters had guessed) that she thought that was what I had been going through since she, too, had been through infertility treatments. So the support I got from my boss was amazing. As my brother said, this is why it’s great to have women in leadership positions.

As the treatments went, many commenters were also right on this front – I was able to get many of my appointments in before I even started the work day. I thank so many of the nurses and doctors who continued this work even through COVID, and who were so kind and supportive through the process.

Finally – I am pregnant! It’s still early, but after almost three years of trying and months of infertility treatments, my husband and I are so grateful. Thank you for your advice and all of the commenters support! It means so much. I hope everyone has a much lovelier 2021 than 2020.

3. My disgusting boss touches and chews on everything on my desk (first update here)

As an update to my update…my boss has probably given me COVID. 😡 He came to work very sick on Monday (and probably over Christmas break while I was gone). I was in the office long enough to hear how sick he was and left immediately. It still didn’t help because I’m sure he was in there touching everything. I suddenly lost my sense of smell yesterday, so got tested today. Unbelievable!

I’d like to add a message to employers as well. Please stay home if you’re sick! It doesn’t matter what you have, just stay home! And if your employees are sick, make them go home until they’re better.

4. My coworker showed up at my house when I wasn’t there and served my housemates bad food (#2 at the link)

I came back from my vacation and confronted her about it. Just put my foot down, saying something to the effect of, “You crossed a boundary, please don’t do it again.” All is well, she has since moved to another town so I’m not worried about her showing up out of the blue.

updates: the micromanagement, the fertility treatments, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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the head of my division gave me (and my niece and friend) COVID-19 and no one cares https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/the-head-of-my-division-gave-me-and-my-niece-and-friend-covid-19-and-no-one-cares.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/the-head-of-my-division-gave-me-and-my-niece-and-friend-covid-19-and-no-one-cares.html#comments Wed, 13 Jan 2021 15:59:11 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=20848 A reader writes: I’m working remotely but I had to go in for a once-a-year task that can only be done from the office and is legally required to be completed. While I was there, I ran into my division head (my manager’s manager). She said she was asked to quickly pick something by her […]

the head of my division gave me (and my niece and friend) COVID-19 and no one cares was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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A reader writes:

I’m working remotely but I had to go in for a once-a-year task that can only be done from the office and is legally required to be completed. While I was there, I ran into my division head (my manager’s manager). She said she was asked to quickly pick something by her manager. She was surprised to see me but when I mentioned what I was doing, she said she remembered my manager told her. She left and I continued working.

I have custody of my two-year-old niece. I’m on my own with her, but our building had been empty since we were sent home so I was fine with bringing her with me. She stayed in an office playing while I used the office and the printer room across from it. My manager approved this.

After I went in, I got sick. I asked a friend to take my niece because I felt so ill I couldn’t look after her as well as I wanted. My friend knew it was a risk, but she lives alone and works remotely and I didn’t even go near my friend when she picked up my niece. I tested positive and ended up in the hospital for a week. While I was there, my friend told me my niece was sick. She tested positive for COVID-19 and two days after my friend got sick and she tested positive too. Fortunately, neither of them needed to be hospitalized.

The trip to my office was the first time my niece and I had left the house since everything shut down. Before the pandemic, I already had my groceries delivered due to the convenience and that continued. I’ve chatted with neighbours over the fence but that’s outside and at least 20 feet away. If I talked to anyone else, it was over phone/email/text/video. The only person who came close to me was my division head. I only saw her for a few minutes and we didn’t get super close but it had to be her. My niece and I didn’t have close contact with anyone else or leave the house/backyard even once before this because we live in such a huge hotspot.

I’ve since found out from my manager, the division head’s manager, and HR that my division head had been going into the office every day for eight months since the pandemic despite the lockdown. Due to the rules here, only essential businesses could have workers that weren’t remote. She admitted to jamming the door so it could be opened without her card because the readers were locked. She was using the same empty office I did (no one used it pre-pandemic) every day because her own office would be recognized on video calls. If she had gotten in before me, I would have found her working in that office. She also often used the printer room, which I had used a lot the day I went in. Furthermore, she admitted she had not been feeling well but still didn’t stop coming in.

There are no words for how angry I am. I could have died. My niece and my friend could have died. My division head lives alone and had no reason to come in. She hid it from everyone. I was only allowed under the government rules because my task was legally required. Even the board of directors have not been allowed to come in. She admitted to interacting with my niece before talking to me in the printer room. I would have never let her near my niece. I would have used a different office and printer if I knew she was there and not well. She didn’t tell me she wasn’t feeling good.

She was even still going in when she knew I was in the hospital. But she is downplaying everything. She says everything turned out fine so there’s no need to be mad. My manager says I need to cut her some slack, and both HR and her manager say the matter is finished even though she got us sick and both she and the company had to pay fines to because she broke the rules.

She interacts with our team a lot, but I don’t want to have anything to do with her. If I didn’t have my niece, I would’ve already quit. I’m looking for a new job but in the meantime is there anything I can or should do to try and make my manager and HR understand how serious this is and how angry I am?

I’m so sorry. I would be furious too.

When I first started reading your letter, I thought your exposure was going to be accidental — I assumed you’d been infected when you ran into someone in the office while you both needed to be there and it was no one’s fault.

But your colleague had been secretly coming in every day for eight months against local rules, against company rules. She jammed the door so she could get in (!). She came in when she wasn’t feeling well. What is wrong with this woman? This is beyond having terrible judgment; she’s a menace, not to mention a legal liability to your company.

But wait, there’s more. She interacted with you and your niece without warning you she wasn’t feeling well. During a global pandemic that’s killing people. And now she says “everything turned out fine” after you spent a week in the hospital. (I know I’m overdoing it on the italics, but I Just Cannot.)

And now your manager says you should cut this person some slack? I mean, yes, if you are, like, plotting her violent demise, you should indeed back off of that, but otherwise you’re entitled to be really angry.

It’s not clear to me how your company has responded to this. It sounds like they were fined (good), but has anyone apologized to you? Has she apologized to you? Has she been stopped from coming in when she shouldn’t be there, and is she facing any discipline for that? It’s possible that your company has taken this seriously — that your division head faced some sort of real accountability for this and that they’ve put new procedures in place to make sure this can’t happen again — and if that’s the case, your manager and HR might be right that you and they now need to find a way to move forward.

If those things haven’t happened, ask for them. If you don’t get them … well, your company sucks and I’m sorry. You deserved oversight that wouldn’t have allowed this to happen in the first place, and you deserved a far better response once it did.

the head of my division gave me (and my niece and friend) COVID-19 and no one cares was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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I resent coworkers coming back from furlough, I took over a colleague’s work, and more https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/i-resent-coworkers-coming-back-from-furlough-i-took-over-a-colleagues-work-and-more.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/i-resent-coworkers-coming-back-from-furlough-i-took-over-a-colleagues-work-and-more.html#comments Wed, 13 Jan 2021 05:03:58 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=20846 It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go… 1. My coworker’s work was given to me, and I feel awkward about it I was promoted from a subject matter expert to a senior position in my org. At the same time, a colleague, who had arrived at their senior position due to nepotism from […]

I resent coworkers coming back from furlough, I took over a colleague’s work, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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

1. My coworker’s work was given to me, and I feel awkward about it

I was promoted from a subject matter expert to a senior position in my org. At the same time, a colleague, who had arrived at their senior position due to nepotism from a previous regime, had their position rewritten. A key part of that job — one that they enjoyed due to its power and prestige — was shifted to me. It actually makes more sense this way, but this duty was shifted for punitive reasons. Yes, they weren’t good at it, but there were also some significant behavioral issues including power hoarding and territorial behavior, resistance to feedback, and dogmatic adherence to outdated protocol. It was a painful transition and they were really hurt by it.

Here’s my issue: When they and I are in group meetings and questions arise about this specific duty, I always feel very awkward when I answer. I am hyper-aware of their (virtual) presence. I also know that they would have likely given a near-opposite answer than mine, or would’ve dissembled long enough to kick the can indefinitely.

How do I stop feeling awkward? In the moment I answer with confidence and have not heard any feedback that I am portraying discomfort (I’m neurodivergent; masking is sadly one of my superpowers). But I feel awkward and I’d like to stop. Any advice?

You say the work for shifted for punitive reasons — but reassigning a responsibility because the person who used to do it was territorial and resistant to feedback, dogmatically insisted on outdated protocol, and hoarded power doesn’t sound punitive to me. It sounds like a natural and necessary consequence of the way that person handled the work. So I urge you not to think of it as punishment; instead, the work was moved because your colleague demonstrated it couldn’t remain with them.

But as for not feeling awkward about it, sometimes all you can really do is fake it until you make it. Act as if you’d act if your coworker weren’t right there, or as you would if they’d been thrilled to give up the work to you. Sometimes faking your way through something like this for long enough will over time make it feel more natural (often simply through repetition and giving it a chance to become normal).

Also,, keep in mind that by answering questions about the work with skill and competence, you’re demonstrating why the work was moved to you! Unlike your colleague, you’re not dissembling or kicking the can down the road or answering poorly; your calm competence itself is illustrating the reason you’re now the one managing the work.

2. I resent my returning coworkers

I feel like a terrible person. Some coworkers on my team are getting called back from a long furlough. These are people I like, who got caught in a tough situation. The rational part of me knows it is a good thing they are returning. So why do I feel so resentful?

I have been working under a significant pay cut for most of the year, and working way more hours than normal. And now they are coming back and everyone is acting like the cavalry has arrived. And some of the new things I’ve taken on and enjoyed in their absence will go back to them.

Again, it’s a good thing these coworkers are coming back. I feel badly I’m not 100% thrilled. How can I stop feeling like such an awful person and coworker?

You’re not a terrible person! You’re having a human reaction, because you are a human.

I could tell you to remember that your returning coworkers probably had a hard year too, in different ways from yours … but I suspect you know that. You’re allowed to feel like this situation sucks for you too.

You’ve had a long, tough year. You’ve had to work more hours for less money. “Everyone is acting like the cavalry has arrived” probably indicates you’re feeling unappreciated too — and if you’re unappreciated, underpaid, and overworked, of course you don’t feel unmitigated delight at seeing your furloughed colleagues hailed as returning heroes. You’ve been a hero in this story too, and it’s going to grate if that’s unrecognized. Plus you’re losing projects you’ve enjoyed! It’s understandable to have mixed feelings. (And it doesn’t sound like you want people to stay unemployed! You’re just having a flood of feelings about the whole situation, and that’s okay.)

3. Pushy candidate won’t take any of my advice but keeps asking for help

I work at a large company that is a desirable employer, in a somewhat niche industry. Three years ago, a coworker sent me a resume for someone who was a candidate for a role in a different division because he wasn’t aware of who the hiring manager was. I responded to the candidate and forwarded the information to the hiring manager.

That person contacted me later via LinkedIn, asking about the status, I told her an internal candidate had been chosen but if she saw openings in my division, to contact me. I had an opening that was junior to her experience, and it’s not unusual to have people apply for such roles to get into the industry. That wasn’t of interest to her. I advised that several online schools offer specified courses and suggested she look into those after she indicated she’d read a book about the topic (the book doesn’t really apply, but candidates often take these courses to get into the industry). She did not take that advice.

Now she has IM’d me about an opening in a third division. I had a slight spidey-sense about her before, but that’s now gone off the charts. She said she had applied a few months ago and “I have not heard one word.” I was thinking about how to respond, and she IM’d me a week later to say she’d taken an online skill assessment, was really interested in the role, what an incredible candidate she’d be, and “Here’s the application number. Please advise.” I have told her multiple times the past that I have no contacts in the division that she has applied for, and that division is extremely competitive.

I responded advising patience, hiring takes time, and currently compounded by reorgs in HR and Covid. Her response: “I agree with patience and understand things are hard for everyone right now, but I’m out of work so this is very urgent for me” (her current resume shows she hasn’t worked in three years) and “maybe I should seek out some other people in the organization and contact them via LinkedIn.”

I don’t know her personally. I talked to the coworker who originally sent her resume, and he doesn’t know her (and can’t remember how they connected). In an odd twist of events, I do know the hiring manager. Rather than having her desired effect of getting her an “in,” the message I’m giving to him is more along the lines of “danger Will Robinson” and forwarding the “networker’s” IM’s.

This person has been in various professional roles for more than 15 years so this isn’t a newbie mistake. The whole interaction (and several previous ones that were slightly less pushy) make me want to give her feedback on how off-putting this can be, and may be hurting her chances. There are other things in the cover letter and resume that are cringe-worthy, but I won’t go into that other than it’s clear she didn’t read the job descriptions. Should I bother? Or maybe I am being overly-sensitive or jerky?

You’re not being a jerk. She’s being overly pushy, and “this is very urgent for me” shows a particular lack of understanding of how hiring works. (Typically in hiring, if you need an immediate answer, that answer will be no.)

But I don’t know that it’s worth trying to give feedback about it. You’ve already given her advice a couple of times and she’s ignored it, once even arguing with you. It sounds like the only thing she’s really interested in hearing from you is “I’ve recommended you to the hiring manager.” You could give her the feedback as a way of closing the door to further interactions if you wanted (“at this point I won’t be able to recommend you because XYZ”), but you’re probably better off saving your energy for someone who appreciates you taking the time to offer advice.

4. Taking a job where you’re already at the top of the salary range

I received a job offer at a salary level that I’m happy with, although it is pretty close to what I’m making now. The problem is, the hiring manager said he had to fight tooth and nail to get me this number (given my experience and current salary), and that I am at the very top of the range. When I asked about future increases, he wasn’t able to give me a straight answer. At my current job, I’m more or less guaranteed a pay bump of 2-3% each year. By taking this new role, I would start at a slightly higher salary but with no promise of any future movement, until potentially I am promoted in 3-5 years time (it is a small company so unlikely I make rapid moves). What are your thoughts on me potentially reaching my ceiling on day 1 of this new role?

To be on the safe side, assume no raises while you’re in this role — do you still want it? When you do the math, how does that compare to what you’d be earning at your current job in two or three years?

But yeah, I’d be concerned about taking a job where I was already at the salary ceiling for the role and couldn’t earn more regardless of my performance (and where inflation means that in a couple of years you’ll be earning less than what you started in, in terms of buying power), and I’d be even more concerned about a job where the manager wouldn’t give a straight answer when I asked about it.

5. Can I be forced to train a new hire for no extra pay?

Can my employer force me to train a new hire with no experience without compensating me? My position is a very skilled position and training will take away from my workload.

Yes, your employer can require you to train a new hire without paying you extra for it. In fact, it’s pretty common to be asked to help train new team members, and it’s rare for that to involve extra pay.

If you’re concerned it will take you away from other priorities, explain to your manager specifically what the impact will be — as in, “If I train Jane on X and Y this week, I won’t be able to complete Z. I’d need to bump it back to next week, which in turn would bump back W.” Or if it’s broader than that: “I’m concerned I won’t be able to meet my goals for this quarter if I spend a substantial amount of time training Jane. Is there someone else who could train her instead?”  (Or so forth.) But you can’t just flatly refuse; have a conversation about your concerns and see where your manager lands after hearing your input.

I resent coworkers coming back from furlough, I took over a colleague’s work, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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I didn’t even get interviewed for an internal role I was told I was a strong candidate for https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/i-didnt-even-get-interviewed-for-an-internal-role-i-was-told-i-was-a-strong-candidate-for.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/i-didnt-even-get-interviewed-for-an-internal-role-i-was-told-i-was-a-strong-candidate-for.html#comments Tue, 12 Jan 2021 18:59:15 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=20834 A reader writes: I’m on my department’s leadership team, with three business functions under my umbrella. One of the VP-level leaders on my team had a position open up in his organization, in a function I’ve previously worked in and am hoping to return to. He’s known about my interest in this area for about […]

I didn’t even get interviewed for an internal role I was told I was a strong candidate for was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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A reader writes:

I’m on my department’s leadership team, with three business functions under my umbrella. One of the VP-level leaders on my team had a position open up in his organization, in a function I’ve previously worked in and am hoping to return to. He’s known about my interest in this area for about six months and told me in various discussions towards the end of last year that he supported my candidacy and that I was a “strong applicant“ (that one I even have in writing!). I totally understood that he’d consider the broader applicant pool and that being internal was no guarantee I’d get the position. (Really, I get that. I hire people too.)

This role would oversee a team struggling to recover from a toxic former manager, and this team had repeatedly come to me, as someone in leadership, for help with that situation in the past. I know this team well, and my previous experience in this function was in a very similar niche market as the one at my current company.

The last I heard from the VP-level person about this position was about a month ago, when I formally applied.

Flash forward to yesterday: the VP tells me that our department “really rallied” to squeeze in three interviews at the end of last year and he’s confident he has his “person” in that group. I was so shocked that I had to gather myself and clarify that I would not even be interviewed. His explanation was that he didn’t see me coming out on top, so he wanted to be mindful of everyone’s time — and that the panel interviews were to get external candidates “caught up” to me.

Alison, I’m livid: I get great performance reviews, I’m well-liked, and I’ve been advocating for this team for over a year. I really don’t think this is a case of my company trying to send me a message about my future here.

It sounded like one factor was that these external candidates had qualitatively more years of experience under their belts. As an example, the job description said things like “seven years of experience in X,” which I had — but apparently other candidates had, say, 10 years of experience in X.

I think I’d be at peace with the decision if I’d at least had the chance to discuss my candidacy with the interview committee, but I don’t even know if they are aware I applied. I’m having a lot of trouble getting past the fact that this VP and I sit on the same leadership team and he didn’t let me know that I wouldn’t even be interviewed until long after he’d made that call. Possibly a month later.

I guess what I’m wondering is whether this is as egregious as it seems and what, if anything, I should do to address it. I feel enormously disrespected and disoriented. I wasn’t deserving of basic courtesy from someone who is on my team? I don’t see any way I could trust this person again, let alone work for him (he seems to want to figure out a way for me to work for him in some other capacity). I talked with my HR business partner briefly after I got the news, and she didn’t know that I’d applied or that this was the outcome (recruiting did, obviously). What are your thoughts?

Yeah, he handled this really badly.

When someone internal applies for a role on your team — especially someone who you’ve spoken with about the position in the past and encouraged to apply! — you have to do one of two things: Interview them or proactively explain why you’re not interviewing them.

It’s not an option to let their candidacy sit while you mentally move past them and then just casually mention to them a month later that, oh by the way, you’ve already finished the interviews and you’ve found a hire.

To be clear, it’s certainly possible that what your colleague told you was the truth: He did a round of initial interviews that you weren’t included in to get external candidates “caught up” to you (figuring it didn’t make sense to do early-stage interviews with you when you’re already a known quantity, and planning to bring you in in later stages) but then, after talking to those candidates, realized you weren’t competitive with that pool. That can happen! Sometimes someone internal seems like they’ll be the right choice until you talk to external people and see that they can offer different things.

But he should have talked to you. He should have either just interviewed you — out of respect for you and the previous conversations you’d had about the role, including the ones where he told you he supported your candidacy and you were a strong applicant — or he should have explained the situation. Your reaction probably would have been very different if he’d come to you and said, “I’d hoped to include you in our interview process for this role, but I want to be up-front that we ended up with several candidates who are more competitive because of XYZ. I didn’t foresee that at the start of the process, but that’s where we are.” (Although even then, in his shoes I’d still give you the chance to interview — for reasons of morale and respect, if nothing else.)

As for where to go from here, one option is to wait and see who he hires. Once you know a bit about the hire, it’s possible it’ll be clearer to you why he handled the interview process the way he did.

But if not, or if you don’t want to wait for that, talk to him! You could say something like, “Believe me, I understand how hiring goes, and that someone external can end up being the best candidate. I’ve had it happen when I’m hiring, and I get it. But I was surprised I wasn’t able to even interview after the conversations we’d had about the role earlier — or that we didn’t at least touch base so I knew where things stood, rather than finding out so late that I wouldn’t even be asked to interview.” You could also say, “I’m not arguing I was entitled to an interview if other candidates were stronger, but I was taken aback by the lack of communication after the many conversations we’d had about it.”

I didn’t even get interviewed for an internal role I was told I was a strong candidate for was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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my boss’s stress is out of control https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/my-bosss-stress-is-out-of-control.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/my-bosss-stress-is-out-of-control.html#comments Tue, 12 Jan 2021 17:29:06 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=20826 A reader writes: What can employees do when their managers are projecting tons of stress? I’m my manager’s only direct report, and I’m the first full-time person she’s managed. She’s always been bad at keeping her stress under wraps, but it’s gotten much worse with COVID. For the past month, in every one of our […]

my boss’s stress is out of control was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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A reader writes:

What can employees do when their managers are projecting tons of stress?

I’m my manager’s only direct report, and I’m the first full-time person she’s managed. She’s always been bad at keeping her stress under wraps, but it’s gotten much worse with COVID. For the past month, in every one of our one-on-one meetings she has conveyed a strong sense of being overwhelmed and stressed. For example, when I ask “How are you?” at the start of our weekly check-ins, she’ll respond with a deep sigh, shake her head, and say with a sarcastic tone, “Oh I’m just great.” Lots of temple rubbing in response to basic requests, that sort of thing. It makes me feel like I’m just one more burden that she has to deal with.

I’ve tried signaling that she’s coming across unprofessionally by saying things like, “Wow, it sounds like you have a lot on your plate right now, I’d love to help out if there’s anything I could take on to make your life easier” or “I realize you’re crazy busy right now, so I’m just going to do X unless I hear otherwise from you.” So far she hasn’t offered to unload anything on to me, which I suspect is part of a larger issue with her complete inability to delegate (the subject of a whole other letter).

But she’s brought that same “I am barely holding it together, but don’t worry, I’m fine” energy to a couple of larger meetings recently, to the point that other staff members have commented to me that she looks like she’s really struggling. These employees often comment that our department must be swamped, when in reality I have loads of free time, she just won’t delegate! Obviously these are unusual, hard times and I want to be sympathetic, I don’t think she realizes that she’s coming across as unprofessional and over-stressed.

Is there anything I should say or do about this? She’s a first-time manager, and if I were in her shoes I would want someone to give me the heads up that I needed to be better about projecting stress. Her own manager is super hands-off and is likely unaware that this is going on. Given the organization’s hierarchy, I couldn’t reach out to him without wrecking my relationship with my manager. Should I just bite my tongue?

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

my boss’s stress is out of control was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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was my company right to fire my coworker for accidentally sending me a graphic email? https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/was-my-company-right-to-fire-my-coworker-for-accidentally-sending-me-a-graphic-email.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/was-my-company-right-to-fire-my-coworker-for-accidentally-sending-me-a-graphic-email.html#comments Tue, 12 Jan 2021 15:59:06 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=20832 A reader writes: I have a question about a situation that occurred quite a while ago. How it was handled has always bothered me, but I don’t know if maybe I was too close to the situation to see clearly, so I’d like your take. I was working on a matter with a colleague, and […]

was my company right to fire my coworker for accidentally sending me a graphic email? was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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A reader writes:

I have a question about a situation that occurred quite a while ago. How it was handled has always bothered me, but I don’t know if maybe I was too close to the situation to see clearly, so I’d like your take.

I was working on a matter with a colleague, and he replied to an email I’d sent. However, instead of answering my question, he copy/pasted what seemed to be a response that he would regularly send in response to “sex ads” on Craig’s List (though I have no experience in this area, so it’s just my best guess). Think: his measurements, a description about his preferences, etc. Without fetish-shaming, there were some things in there that would make even a fairly sexually liberated person a bit uncomfortable reading. (This individual was also married to a woman and the content of the email was same-sex in nature. I wouldn’t normally mention this but it does have bearing on my question below.)

Anyhow, I was a very junior employee at the time and I was shocked by the email and not sure what to do about it, so I forwarded it to my boss (the head of the legal department) for advice. She took the matter over from there and alerted our information security department as well as her boss and HR.

There was an investigation and it became clear that him copying that text to me was a complete accident. Apparently he felt terrible and he offered to apologize to me directly, but I declined (I was super embarrassed and really just wanted to forget the whole thing).

It was a small company (CEO down the hall, sort of thing), and the CEO asked me directly what I thought they should do and whether I feel more comfortable if he was fired. (In retrospect, that was weird. It almost felt like he wanted me to tell him that I couldn’t go on working with this guy anymore so that he could justify firing him.) I said that I could probably get past it eventually and continue working with the guy, and I didn’t think he should be fired because it was a mistake.

However, after several weeks of back and forth (including this guy basically begging to keep his job), the CEO decided to fire him. The reason he cited was that it was a violation of our information security policy to use a company laptop for the purposes of soliciting sex online (fair enough). However, it also is worth mentioning that our CEO was a very family-oriented, conservative man. So part of me always thought that it was the same-sex and graphic content of the email that really drove the nail into the coffin.

I also have carried around guilt over “getting this guy fired” for all these years. I know I couldn’t have kept the email to myself, and I was too junior to even know what to do in such a situation.

Do you think the company was right to let him go? Should I just let this go?

You’re not to blame for him getting fired.

If the company fired him for using a company laptop to solicit sex … well, it’s reasonable to say you can’t use company laptops for sexual purposes, even in off hours. Personally, with an otherwise good employee, I’d rather handle it via a serious “you cannot use our computers this way” conversation for a first offense, but a lot of companies have strict one-strike-and-you’re-out policies on this and I don’t think that’s wildly unreasonable.

But I’m not sure that’s really what happened here, since your CEO dithered for weeks about what to do, asked you what you thought should happen (and then ignored your input), and gave you the sense he was looking for a justification to take action against this guy.

If the policy is “one strike and you’re out if you use our computers for adult purposes,” then okay. But it sounds like the CEO made a personal call, based on his personal feelings, and that’s not how this should work. And if you’re right that it was the same-sex content that bothered him (as opposed to the graphic content in general), that’s not okay.

It’s a small company so it’s entirely plausible that this had just never come up before, but I wish we knew how he would have handled, for example, a straight dude getting caught looking at straight porn on his company laptop during a business trip and whether that guy would have been fired or just gotten a “Craig, don’t do this again” conversation.

In any case, you didn’t cause this! You were a junior employee who received a graphic email from a colleague, worked in the legal department, and alerted your boss for guidance. That was a reasonable action for you to take. Another option would have been to reply, “Whoa, I don’t think this is what you meant to send” (if you were sure it was a genuine mistake and not an attempt to harass), but you’re not obligated to do that. You get to be shocked when you receive graphic sexual material at work, and you get to decide that handling it is above your pay grade.

You didn’t get him fired.

(As an aside, how do people still not realize that company computers are not the place for their adult activities? Companies can see what you do on their computers! They don’t always care to look, but sometimes they do look. Sometimes they’re looking for reasons that have nothing to do with you. If they find your carefully sorted sex solicitations or your porn collection, that’s going to be a problem. Privacy and separate devices are a good thing.)

was my company right to fire my coworker for accidentally sending me a graphic email? was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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you need life insurance – and now you don’t need a medical exam https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/you-need-life-insurance-and-now-you-dont-need-a-medical-exam.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/you-need-life-insurance-and-now-you-dont-need-a-medical-exam.html#comments Tue, 12 Jan 2021 15:00:21 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=20833 And now a word from a sponsor… At the start of the new year, I always try to get all sorts of things in order. I make a budget for the year, analyze my spending last year, feel quiet anguish about upcoming tax payments, and take a fresh look at things like insurance policies to […]

you need life insurance – and now you don’t need a medical exam was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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And now a word from a sponsor…

At the start of the new year, I always try to get all sorts of things in order. I make a budget for the year, analyze my spending last year, feel quiet anguish about upcoming tax payments, and take a fresh look at things like insurance policies to make sure they’re still the best choices for my needs. If you’re doing stuff like that too – and if you’re not, I recommend it – it’s a good time to think about life insurance.

If your spouse, kids, or others depend on your income for their well-being, you probably need life insurance. Life insurance payouts can be used to help pay the mortgage, debts, daycare, future college tuition and the many other day-to-day expenses families have. (The payout is also usually tax-free and can be split among multiple beneficiaries.)

And even if you have some life insurance through work, work policies often aren’t enough to provide the full coverage your dependents will really need. Typically they provide only one to two times your annual salary – so if you make, say, $70,000, your beneficiary would receive $70,000 – $140,000 … which can go quickly if you’ve got a spouse and kids to provide for. (Experts usually suggest getting coverage that equals five to 10 times your salary.) Life insurance through work isn’t always portable either, which means you could lose your coverage if you switch jobs.

So I want to tell you about Bestow. Bestow offers a 100% digital (as in, no physical exam needed) way to buy term life insurance. As you might imagine, not requiring a medical exam greatly expands access to life insurance – which was exactly Bestow’s intent. Their mission is to create a world where everyone has access to financial protection … which means making life insurance so fast and painless that you can apply for it on your lunch break. (And they’re succeeding: 86% of their applicants are first-timers.) I love this about them!

With their model, what used to take weeks can now be done entirely online in as little as five minutes. Bestow’s digital life insurance experience never requires a doctor’s visit, phone screening, or medical exam. You find out instantly if you’re approved and, if so, can start coverage immediately. 

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Visit their site today to get a quote. A few minutes now could mean serious protection for your family later.

This post is sponsored by Bestow. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

you need life insurance – and now you don’t need a medical exam was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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can I ask my interviewer to get a Covid test, should my resume say I’ve been vaccinated, and more https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/can-i-ask-my-interviewer-to-get-a-covid-test-should-my-resume-say-ive-been-vaccinated-and-more.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/can-i-ask-my-interviewer-to-get-a-covid-test-should-my-resume-say-ive-been-vaccinated-and-more.html#comments Tue, 12 Jan 2021 05:03:54 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=20831 It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go… 1. Can I ask my interviewer to get a Covid test? I was recently offered an interview with a local organization that I would love to work for. The interviewer gave me two options: one, we could do a Zoom interview, or two, we could go […]

can I ask my interviewer to get a Covid test, should my resume say I’ve been vaccinated, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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

1. Can I ask my interviewer to get a Covid test?

I was recently offered an interview with a local organization that I would love to work for. The interviewer gave me two options: one, we could do a Zoom interview, or two, we could go somewhere outdoors or outdoors-ish at a socially distanced venue, like one of those restaurants with a bubble tent or something like that.

I ended up choosing the Zoom interview, largely because we were expected to get a significant amount of snow that week and I didn’t want to put my elderly car through that. However, I was considering taking him up on the restaurant offer only because I thought it might have given us the chance to make a better connection.

That said, I am very COVID-conscious, which was another factor in choosing a Zoom interview. However, I’m wondering if I could have asked him to get a COVID test beforehand. I would’ve done the same; I’ve been tested four times in the last few months as a precaution and have no problem doing so again. But is that something that I could have asked?

I wouldn’t advise it. You were better off taking the Zoom option, as you did. Requesting your interviewer get tested before meeting is a lot to ask for a job interview (which is in no way to dismiss your concerns about safety) and it wouldn’t even have given you reliable info, since you’d have no way of knowing if he’d been infected after taking the test, especially when you factor in the turnaround time needed before results are available (if you think rapid tests will solve that, read this). Remote interviews are the best way to go right now.

2. Am I over-explaining in my emails?

I’m a 2020 grad in my first real office job after college, and I had a question about professional email etiquette. My job is fully remote and most one-on-one communication with coworkers is over email. My organization is heavily involved with the local pandemic response, so our policies and procedures change pretty frequently and we have a lot of external constraints on our work. We’re encouraged to bring questions to a rotating group of team leads, and some tasks can only be done with team lead approval. However, I find myself sending my team leads a detailed email at least once a day where I basically summarize 30 minutes of troubleshooting to ask a simple question, i.e.,, “I need help with Z, here are the client’s details, I already tried solutions X and Y and re-read document ABC to make sure I wasn’t missing anything, could you okay me to start the relevant task?”

This is the first job I’ve had where I’ve had to communicate this much over email, and I’m worried I’m over-explaining or hitting the wrong tone. On one hand, I want to show I’ve done my due diligence and tried other solutions before asking for help, and in some cases it cuts down on back and forth of the “Did you double check X and Y first?” variety, especially with team leads I haven’t worked with before.

However, I don’t want to clutter up their inbox with a bunch of details that might not be necessary. I also don’t want to seem like I need too much external reassurance that I’m doing my job right. None of my team leads have ever said anything about my communication style, but right now people in my position don’t generally get any feedback, good or bad, unless something is seriously wrong. Is this a real problem or am I just overthinking things? And if it is a real problem, how do I figure out where to draw the line?

Ask! As in, “I’ve been including a lot of detail in my emails when I need things like X or Y because I want you to know what I’ve already tried and hopefully save us back and forth, but is it too much? Would you rather I just tell you what I need and skip all the context?” It’s fine to ask that kind of thing (always, but especially when you’re pretty junior).

Aside from that, I don’t know how long your emails are, but it’s always worth looking at whether they could be shortened without losing any of the info contained within them. Some people write five paragraphs when they really only need one or two. And if you’re writing everything out in narrative paragraph form, look at whether you can use bullet points — which are nearly always easier to quickly digest.

3. Should my resume mention I’ve been vaccinated for Covid?

I recently got the Covid vaccine due to my job working near first responders. Most of my career has been in traditional companies (I work in IT). If I start looking, should I add the fact that I have had the vaccine to my resume? I think an argument could be made that it offers an advantage over non-vaccinated candidates.

Nah, medical info doesn’t belong on your resume. It’s likely to seem weird there.

And really, you shouldn’t have an advantage over people who want the vaccine and haven’t been able to get it yet. If a colleague on a hiring committee proposed preferencing candidates that way, I’d think it very odd. And many other candidates are likely to be similarly vaccinated in the coming months anyway.

(It is very exciting to have gotten to the stage of receiving vaccination questions! This was my inbox 10 months ago.)

4. How to explain interviewing for a new job after working for yourself

I’ve been looking a leaving my job for mental health reasons that are directly tied to the job. Your head would explode if I went into detail. A teaser includes threats, harassment, intimidation, laughing at raises, intentional rumor starting, all to the point it has put several of us, myself included, on medication, and placement agents refuse to put anyone here.

One of my opportunities is I have my own small business that is slowly growing. If I leave to work on my own business and later have to go back to the workforce, how do I handle it being brought up in interviews? I know some wouldn’t judge but to others a failed small business might scream no hire for any sort of management position.

To make matters worse, my business is night and day from my industry (I’m in automation and industrial agriculture and my business is woodworking).

A failed small business isn’t usually a red flag in the way you’re thinking. Small businesses fail with great frequency, unfortunately, and unless you’re applying for a role doing something you weren’t good at in your own business (like accounting when you messed up your own books), it’s probably not going to be a serious source of alarm for interviewers. What’s more common, though, is that some (not all) interviewers worry that someone who’s been working for themselves won’t adapt well if they return to the reduced independence of traditional employment.

One way to frame that is that the experience made you more appreciative of traditional employment — which often is indeed the case. You could say something like, “I learned I really don’t like everything involved in running one’s own business — drumming up business, collecting payments, and all the rest that took me away from the core work I wanted to do. It gave me more appreciation for the scaffolding that working for a larger organization provides, and I’m really looking forward to returning to a job where I can focus on X and be part of a team.”

5. Applying to jobs at home while waiting to travel abroad for a different one

My current contract finishes at the end of February. I could probably extend it if I wanted to but there are many reasons why I won’t be doing that. I am in a good position to go without work while I look for other work, which I am actively doing. My preferred industry was hit hard by the pandemic but is bouncing back to the point where there are jobs, though I imagine the applicant pool is somewhat full at the moment.

Last year, a wildlife rescue/rehab center on a different continent was hit incredibly hard by the pandemic (no donations, no volunteers) and by extensive wildfires (no direct casualties, but it was close and it piled on a lot of pressure as firefighting was on them). I volunteered with them about a decade ago and decided to apply for a six-month staff position to help out. I have my second interview next week. If I get the job, I’d be flying out as soon as it is allowed. Which could be any time at all with no notice at all.

How do I juggle applications and potential offers, while waiting for an offer/unknown departure date for something abroad? Is it something to bring up at the offer stage of “home” jobs? Is there a way to phrase it to minimize the chances of losing an offer? My preferred industry is also primarily freelance/fixed contract. This probably means I’m more likely to just lose the offer, but it’s a small industry so I’d like to come across as professional.

I … don’t think you can do both. You should definitely continue applying for jobs while you wait to hear (because you might not get the wildlife job), but if you get another offer meanwhile, at that point you’d need to decide if you’re willing to forego the wildlife position or not. You can’t really accept a job knowing that you any day you might be leaving for six months.

If it were only for, say, one week, that would be something you could try to negotiate at the offer stage. But six months … it’s just incredibly unlikely an employer would agree to that for a brand new hire, let alone for a role that’s on a fixed term. To the point that even asking is likely to come across as out of touch, unfortunately.

can I ask my interviewer to get a Covid test, should my resume say I’ve been vaccinated, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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can I freeze out my coworkers who aren’t social distancing and refuse to work with them? https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/can-i-freeze-out-my-coworkers-who-arent-social-distancing-and-refuse-to-work-with-them.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/can-i-freeze-out-my-coworkers-who-arent-social-distancing-and-refuse-to-work-with-them.html#comments Mon, 11 Jan 2021 18:59:31 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=20824 A reader writes: I work in a large furniture warehouse in the UK, employing around 200 people. Despite several national and local COVID-19 lockdowns, we’ve kept operating through the entire pandemic and we are all designated as “key workers.” I’ve worked there for a year and a half and won Employee Of The Month a […]

can I freeze out my coworkers who aren’t social distancing and refuse to work with them? was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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A reader writes:

I work in a large furniture warehouse in the UK, employing around 200 people. Despite several national and local COVID-19 lockdowns, we’ve kept operating through the entire pandemic and we are all designated as “key workers.” I’ve worked there for a year and a half and won Employee Of The Month a few months ago. I’m responsible for training all new employees and my appraisals have been excellent, but I’m worried all of this is about to change.

Four of my coworkers have been persistently breaking social distancing laws throughout the pandemic. They are two women and two men who are very close friends, and I suspect each couple is attracted to their counterpart. Their feelings are none of my business, but on an almost daily basis, they are hugging, flirting, sharing sofas in the break room, not wearing masks around each other, sharing e-cigarettes, and getting rides to and from work in cars. They started months ago and I tolerated it (wrongly), but it’s been getting a lot worse recently. Our area of the country has also been placed in Tier 4 (the highest possible COVID restrictions) and has one of the worst infection rates in the country. They have been repeatedly warned by our management to follow social distancing guidelines, but their behavior remains unchanged.

Today I approached one of them and asked, “Do you think I should report people who don’t do social distancing?” He said, “I don’t know… it depends…” and I said, “Well, I’m about to. All of you.” He laughed, and I drove off in my electric order picker. I asked the same question to another of them, and once again the answer they gave was, “I’m not sure…” so I told them I was about to report them and got more laughter. I found the shift manager and asked to speak in private, then angrily told him about all the rule-breaking I’d witnessed. He confirmed that they’d been warned before and I said that they obviously don’t care because they’re still doing it over and over again. He said he would talk to all four of them and issue them with what our company calls a “safety talk” — an informal but written warning which is placed in their employee files.

I believed it would make no difference at all, and I was proved right at the end of the shift. Two of them signed out of the building by standing next to each other together even though there is red tape marking a two-meter boundary around the desk, which permits only one person to enter the space at a time. Knowing that I was the person who’d reported them, they both ignored me on the way out of the door.

Because of how strongly I disapprove of their careless behavior and their willingness to put us all at risk, I’ve decided to ghost them. To be clear on what this means:
• I will not make eye contact with them
• I will not engage in any conversation with them
• I will stand with my back to them wherever possible (if this is not possible, I will keep my arms and legs crossed at all times)
• I will not hold doors open for them
• I will not cooperate in any work with them, will not help them if they need assistance, and will refuse to be helped by them even if I need help
• I will not accept any attempt at an apology — it’s far too late and they have shown no signs of regret
• If coworkers or management try to mediate between us, I will not change my position
• Any coworker or manager who takes their side will also be ghosted
• I will continue to ghost them for the entirety of our time spent at work, however long this lasts

This course of action is obviously drastic and controversial, but it also reflects how angry I am at them and I will go as far as it takes to figuratively delete them from my workplace. However, because I recognize what a hostile decision this is, I am willing to listen to whatever advice you are willing to give. I am worried that I am overreacting and am about to go down a very dark path, but I cannot let go of my anger to these people who I believe are a danger to everybody and should be placed under house arrest until the pandemic is over. I am also worried that I will myself be disciplined or dismissed from my job if I continue this course of action. Is this possible?

Yes, it’s definitely possible that you will be disciplined or fired if you refuse to acknowledge coworkers or won’t cooperate on work with them. In fact, most employers would need to respond that way.

I’m sympathetic to your feelings. Your coworkers are free to take whatever risks they want with their own lives but they’re putting other people at risk, including the health care professionals they no doubt count on to be there whenever they’re in need of help, and they’re prolonging the pandemic for all of us. They’re being cavalier about other people’s safety — about other people’s deaths — and they suck. I’m angry too.

But when you’re at work, you’re being paid to do a job. You cannot refuse to acknowledge coworkers, refuse to cooperate on work, or refuse to provide help to colleagues when directed to. You don’t need to like them or socialize with them, but you do need to work with them without being openly rude if you want to keep your job. Work would be unworkable otherwise.

It sounds like you really, really want to make a point. Much of what you listed that you plan to do is mostly symbolic, like the refusal to make eye contact or standing with your back to them. And I can almost guarantee you, they won’t much care. In fact, some of those behaviors are so far outside the realm of what’s considered acceptable at work that it’s more likely to harm you in the long run than to harm them. It’s likely to lose you allies who otherwise would support you, because it will come across as excessively dramatic and, well, kind of juvenile.

That might seem unfair — why can’t you shun people who are actively harming the rest of us? But this just isn’t an effective way to get the change you’re seeking, and it’s likely to backfire on you.

By all means, work for change in your company! Find other coworkers who share your concerns, band together, and push the issue with your management. It’s ridiculous that your company is content to just repeatedly warn people who violate its social distancing rules but won’t put any real teeth behind that. Push for real enforcement. Push for consequences. Push for stronger safety measures.

But the other stuff — the turning your back and the refusing to talk and the pointed “do you think I should report people who don’t social distance?” conversations — that’s not going to get you anywhere, and will weaken your ability to effect real change. Focus on the stuff that could matter.

can I freeze out my coworkers who aren’t social distancing and refuse to work with them? was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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my employee overshares medical details https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/my-employee-overshares-medical-details.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/my-employee-overshares-medical-details.html#comments Mon, 11 Jan 2021 17:29:19 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=20820 A reader writes: I oversee a team of five members, and one person is very open about medical stuff. If she has a medical appointment, she not only informs me that she will be out of the office for the afternoon, but also what her symptoms and pain levels are, what kind of doctor she […]

my employee overshares medical details was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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A reader writes:

I oversee a team of five members, and one person is very open about medical stuff. If she has a medical appointment, she not only informs me that she will be out of the office for the afternoon, but also what her symptoms and pain levels are, what kind of doctor she will see, what they are looking for, etc. To be clear, I never prompt her to give me this kind of information. On a personal level, I don’t particularly mind hearing it — it’s not gory or gross, it’s more on par with what you might share with a close friend.

Is it okay that she shares all this information without prompting, or should I put a stop to it? I regularly remind the team of sick leave procedures, and at the same time remind them that their health status is private and that they have no obligation to disclose anything beyond the duration of their sick leave.

Also, I recently realized that this team member feels slighted by my apparent lack of concern! When she comes back from a medical examination or from leave, I simply say, “Welcome back.” I don’t ask if she’s okay or how her MRI went or what they found. I think she thinks it’s cold and distant of me. Should I address this, and if so, how?

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.

my employee overshares medical details was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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my coworker asked me to hide my breast milk because she doesn’t like seeing it in the office fridge https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/my-coworker-asked-me-to-hide-my-breast-milk-because-she-doesnt-like-seeing-it-in-the-office-fridge.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/my-coworker-asked-me-to-hide-my-breast-milk-because-she-doesnt-like-seeing-it-in-the-office-fridge.html#comments Mon, 11 Jan 2021 15:59:08 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=20823 A reader writes: I have been pumping breast milk for over a year and today came across an issue at work. A coworker stopped me before I went in to pump to make a request: she would like me to keep my pump parts and breast milk bottles in a sealed bag. She said that […]

my coworker asked me to hide my breast milk because she doesn’t like seeing it in the office fridge was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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A reader writes:

I have been pumping breast milk for over a year and today came across an issue at work.

A coworker stopped me before I went in to pump to make a request: she would like me to keep my pump parts and breast milk bottles in a sealed bag. She said that it has been getting uncomfortable for her since “this is a community fridge and we keep our lunches in here.” She also mentioned that the other day I left my stuff in the fridge, and I do agree as a courtesy we should always take home any food from the fridge before we leave work for the day.

I told her that I was sorry, and that I had no idea it was making her feel this way. From a coworker standpoint, its a simple request and we should always try to make people feel more comfortable.

I am surprised, really, that the issue has been brought up at this point in time. When my baby was younger and I pumped three times a day I would sometimes leave milk in the bottles with the flanges on because I had a meeting to catch. In hindsight I see how that could be a problem if it knocks over and spills.

But now, I only pump at lunch and I pour my milk in a sealed bottle and put the pump parts in a grocery bag to take home and wash.

To insist that a sealed bottle with breast milk should be hidden seems unreasonable. I feel strongly that nursing mothers have just as much right to use the fridge for their milk as other employees who put their lunches in there. I also feel strongly that breastfeeding and pumping should be normalized. Breast milk is not dirty or gross.

I don’t want to turn this into an argument, but I’m worried that by accommodating her that I’m being complicit in the marginalization of all breastfeeding women in the workplace. Is there another way?

P.S. Initially I was unsure of she was bothered by taking up space in the fridge or the risk of milk spilling. In our conversation, I did clarify that her concern is “seeing it and knowing it’s your breast milk.”

Please go with your instincts here — breast milk is not dirty or gross. It’s food. You do not need to hide it like it’s something shameful.

“We keep our lunches in here” — your coworker’s reason for objecting — makes it sound like the lunches will somehow be contaminated by being in the presence of … your baby’s food? How squeamish does one need to be to worry about their sandwich being stored on the same shelf as a bottle of milk? I would be far more concerned about that old pack of bologna someone brought in 10 months ago and never threw out.

Now, it’s true that when you’re not used to thinking of something as food, it can be unsettling to see it in a fridge among everything else. Vegetarians often feel that way about hamburger meat, and vegans about cow’s milk. But when you’re using a communal fridge, you’ve got to accept that it’s not yours and you might see food that’s not part of your own daily consumption habits. So if you’re having an impulse to tell someone to hide something they’re storing there, you’ve really got to interrogate that impulse to figure out if it’s reasonable and fair. This one isn’t.

As for what to do, I’d just continue what you’re doing. If the coworker raises it again, you could say, “I gave it some thought and I’m not comfortable treating milk as something that’s dirty or needs to be hidden. It’s food and it goes in the fridge.” If you want to minimize awkwardness, say it cheerfully and then immediately follow up with a subject change. (If you wanted to be more pointed about it, don’t do the subject change. But then you’ll likely be drawn into a debate, which it sounds like you don’t want.)

Also, how supportive is your office of women in general, and nursing mothers in particular? If they’re pretty supportive, it could be worth talking to someone HR-ish to confirm they’re not going to back up your coworker, so you can then say breezily to the coworker, “Oh, I talked to HR and they confirmed it’s fine.” And maybe also, “We of course can’t tell women they need to hide all evidence of breastfeeding.”

(And really, if breast milk is gross and should not be seen, then the same must be true of milk from other mammals … but I’m betting your coworker hasn’t proposed keeping all containers of half and half in an opaque lockbox.)

my coworker asked me to hide my breast milk because she doesn’t like seeing it in the office fridge was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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is this resume writer shady, telling my boss I’m sober, and more https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/is-this-resume-writer-shady-telling-my-boss-im-sober-and-more.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/is-this-resume-writer-shady-telling-my-boss-im-sober-and-more.html#comments Mon, 11 Jan 2021 05:03:13 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=20825 It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go… 1. Is this resume writer’s price worth it? I am currently looking for a job and have been posting my resume on job recommendations I find on LinkedIn. I received a response from one of those professional resume writing places. They gave me a few suggestions […]

is this resume writer shady, telling my boss I’m sober, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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

1. Is this resume writer’s price worth it?

I am currently looking for a job and have been posting my resume on job recommendations I find on LinkedIn. I received a response from one of those professional resume writing places. They gave me a few suggestions to tweak my resume. However, in order for them to make my resume more appealing I have to pay $150! This seems so excessive, but I am wondering if it is worth it?

Do not do it! There are some good resume writers out there, but there are a lot more terrible ones — and the worst of the worst tend to be the ones who solicit people uninvited (because their business model is to start by convincing you that your resume is bad and you need to pay them to fix it). Many of them are downright scams. If you’re interested in resume help, ask around for recommendations; do not use someone who approaches you with an unsolicited critique.

(That said, if you do find a good one, that price is on the low end of what you should expect to pay.)

2. Should I tell my boss my sobriety has helped my work?

I started a new job in April, while I was going through a very non-traditional breakup and living at my childhood home due to Covid. This is a job that I’m really good at but it depends on me being crazy reliable. I was not, when I started.

Since then, I’ve gotten better at my new job … mostly because I’ve made a commitment to alcohol sobriety. (My first date with my current boyfriend ended with me having a withdrawal-induced seizure in his arms. The second seizure happened at family home, while on a Zoom with my work mentor. I’m doing much better now.)

My boss kinda lost his s*** at me at some point. Rightly so, I would HATE to have been managing a new employee who’s acting erratically while working from home for the first time. We’re on a more stable level of conversation now.

As a manager, how would you like to receive the information that my not drinking has directly related to my being wonderful at my job? Would you rather not know that, and just see my performance improve? My performance review is coming up. I’ve been trying to square how that massive life choice for me should factor into my work life.

I would handle it like any other medical issue: You were struggling with a health issue that affected you at work, and it is now under control and things are going much better.

In theory you could say that the health issue was alcoholism but there’s a lot of risk in doing that and not a ton to gain. Your boss has known you less than a year. You don’t say how long you’ve been sober, but without years of knowing you as dependable before the problems started, there’s a risk that hearing “drinking” will make him more concerned about your reliability, not less (even in the context of telling him all is well now). You risk things like him worrying about sending you on a business trip by yourself or sending you out with clients who are likely to drink — and you don’t want your boss second-guessing your sobriety. Simply saying that it was a health challenge that’s now under control communicates what you want to convey without opening that door.

For example, you could say, “I want to acknowledge XYZ problems from earlier in my tenure. I was struggling with a health issue that wasn’t under control at the time, and it affected my work. I’ve worked hard to resolve it, and I hope you see that in my work. I’m confident it’s fully under control now and those issues won’t arise again.”

3. Everyone liked the prospective candidate … except me

We recently had a candidate interview with us. We have three rounds of interviews at our company, and this was his second. This stage of the interview process requires the candidate to give a presentation on what they had done at their current company. He had some solid experience in our field, but as the presentation went on, I had some major concerns about his qualifications and knowledge. However, the rest of the hiring team didn’t share my sentiments and were actually quite positive about him. He’s currently scheduled to move on to the final round.

During our discussion after the interview, I wanted to speak out, but once everyone expressed their overwhelmingly positive sentiments, I shied away. This is the first time I’ve been on a hiring committee and, looking back, I hesitated to speak out because my fellow members on the committee have years of experience in both the company and the industry (I’m only a few months into both). I realize that they are more knowledgeable in many areas than I am, but I feel bad for not mentioning my concerns during that discussion. If this candidate ends up being a washout in the final round (an in-depth technical interview), I would feel somewhat responsible for wasting the company’s time in the hiring process.

Am I overthinking this, or is it worth doing more self-examination in this regard?

You’re not overthinking it! You were presumably included in the interview because whoever’s managing the hiring thought your input would be useful. And in fact, when everyone else has one assessment of a candidate,  it’s extra helpful to have someone who can present a different perspective. This is true generally, and it’s especially true if you happen to have a different frame of reference than the other interviewers in some way (which could be anything from race to gender to professional background).

Also, input on candidates is far more useful when it’s not influenced by what other members of the interview panel thought, so I wish your interview team hadn’t done the group discussion first thing. The most helpful way I’ve seen it done is to have everyone give their feedback individually to the hiring manager before talking to each other. You can have discussion after that, but it’s better to get people thoughts before they’ve had a chance to be biased by what others think.

If it’s not too late to speak up now, you could talk to the hiring manager and say you started doubting your assessment when no one else shared it, but you thought more on it later and want to pass it along your thoughts now. If it’s too late for that in this case, just resolve to speak up next time!

4. I was laid off and rehired three months later — how do I show that on my resume?

I know you have said that we won’t need to explain a gap on our resume during COVID, but how should we list them on resumes and LinkedIn? For example, I was laid off for three months and am being rehired into the same position. Is it important that I show that gap on LinkedIn? I don’t want to be dishonest in any way but fear it will also look weird.

During the time I was gone, it was an official layoff. I had to clean out my office and they had to pay out my vacation and everything. However, I am picking up exactly where I left off and keeping my seniority for vacation accrual, etc.

Because you’re keeping your seniority for vacation accrual and such, I might look at it as more of a furlough — they brought you back and had you resume as an employee right where you left off. Given that, I think it’s reasonable not to worry about needing to call out the three-month gap. However, what matters is what dates the company would confirm if asked. Would they say you worked there from 2015 (or whenever) until now, or would they say you worked there until March 2020, and then again from June 2020 to the present?

Although frankly, even if it’s the latter, I think most prospective employers would get you just calling it one period, especially given all the layoffs and rehiring of 2020.

As for LinkedIn, getting it absolutely precise there matters far less in a case like this.

5. Timing a relocation with a partner’s job search

I am searching for a new recruiting role in San Diego, as my partner and I are planning to move there this year. It will be our first time relocating together, and my first time as well. I don’t have a large amount of recruiting experience (I was only at my previous role for seven months due to the toxic work environment).

I’m running into a little bit of a catch-22. Recent interviewers have been asking how quickly I can relocate. I’ve been explaining that I can relocate when I find a new role in conjunction with my partner finding one as well.

Since we are both likely to secure new jobs at different times, my plan has been to find a new role and start remotely, and then make the move to California when my partner finds a new role. We are unable to start searching for a place to live out there until we have a joint income from positions that are California-based.

So far there has been resistance to this, as the interviewers want me to be on-site right away, which I can’t accommodate. However, there seems to also be unwillingness to accommodate what I think is a very reasonable solution: starting in a California-based role and working remotely, then committing to an on-site start date after my partner finds a role, in combination with finding a place to live there. Do you think that sounds like a reasonable idea? I would like to think that the merits of my candidacy and initiative I am displaying can supersede the local (and more convenient) candidate pool.

It’s a reasonable idea for you, the person who wants the job and wants to time your relocation with your partner’s … but it’s not necessarily an appealing idea to an employer who has strong local candidates who could be on-site right away. In other words, “reasonable” isn’t really the bar for whether this will be successful or not; it’s whether you can convince an employer to think you’re the strongest candidate despite that limitation in your availability.

Sometimes people can! If you’re a strong enough candidate that you’re head and shoulders above the local applicants, an employer might be happy to work with you … but with only seven months experience in the field, it might be a hard sell, especially in this job market with so many people looking for work. Alternately, if you’re interviewing with places whose staff are still mainly working from home and expect to be for a while, it might be less of an issue … although even then, employers worry about candidates who say they’ll move at some point in the future and then their plans change and they want to stay where they are. (That happens, and employers understandably want to avoid it.)

Ultimately, you might have to decide if you’re willing to move on a different timeline than your partner. It can be tough to coordinate two out-of-state job searches in the best of times, and people often end up needing to make that kind of not-ideal compromise to make it work.

is this resume writer shady, telling my boss I’m sober, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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weekend open thread – January 9-10, 2021 https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/weekend-open-thread-january-9-10-2021.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/weekend-open-thread-january-9-10-2021.html#comments Sat, 09 Jan 2021 06:00:14 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=20794 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: Dreamland, by Nancy Bilyeau. In 1911, an heiress is pressured into spending the summer at Coney Island with her rich family and her sister’s highly sketchy fiancé. […]

weekend open thread – January 9-10, 2021 was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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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: Dreamland, by Nancy Bilyeau. In 1911, an heiress is pressured into spending the summer at Coney Island with her rich family and her sister’s highly sketchy fiancé. There are murders and intrigue and way too much money.

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

weekend open thread – January 9-10, 2021 was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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it’s your Friday good news https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/its-your-friday-good-news-35.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/its-your-friday-good-news-35.html#comments Fri, 08 Jan 2021 17:00:53 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=20800 It’s your Friday good news, with more accounts of success even in this weird time. 1. I just wanted to send you a note thanking you for your amazing advice on adult ADHD. I’d always assumed that I was just late, disorganised, a procrastinator, time blind, and had mistake-ridden work because I was lazy or […]

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

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It’s your Friday good news, with more accounts of success even in this weird time.

1. I just wanted to send you a note thanking you for your amazing advice on adult ADHD. I’d always assumed that I was just late, disorganised, a procrastinator, time blind, and had mistake-ridden work because I was lazy or stupid and needed to try harder. Turns out that I have ADHD that nobody caught because I’m a woman, who did well in school, with anxiety hiding most of my ADHD symptoms! I only realised that “hey, this might be me” reading your column obsessively at work and seeing myself in the letter writer. I got diagnosed last week, and it’s a huge weight off my shoulders and now that I know how I’m wired, I can play to my strengths and cover for my weaknesses.

Thank you again, for treating this with such compassion and thought. It’s hard to find anything about ADHD that’s useful for adults or what it looks like in the workplace. I work as a project manager and it’s made my work output so much better now that I know I need to accept how I am and work with the flow, rather than giving myself panic attacks fighting how I am.

I know I’m just one of many internet strangers and this is probably super weird, but you’ve changed my life, for real. Thank you.

2. This good news is a few months old, but reading a recent compilation of happy ending posts you shared reminded me of it. As background, last spring one of our student workers unintentionally outed her roommate/coworker to me as non-binary by noticeably correcting her own pronoun usage. “She … They aren’t feeling well tonight.” I agonized for some time on whether I should follow up with the outed student. On the one hand, that information wasn’t something they had shared with me, and I had no intention of doing anything with it without their permission. On the other, if their roommate was casually using they/them pronouns for them in public and they weren’t ready to be out publicly, that was something I absolutely would have wanted to know in their shoes. In the end, I took my guidance on handling a deeply personal topic an employee may not feel comfortable discussing but could nonetheless affect their work from the boss whose employee had been raped by his nephew in the past. I hand-wrote a note that I slid in the student’s cubby at work. Essentially I said that I had noticed the pronoun switch and wanted to know if I should also use those pronouns for them. I also said they could respond however they felt comfortable, including not at all. I never did get a response, but that student gave me some very warm smiles afterward, so I assumed they got the message of my support for them.

Now comes the good news: even before the accidental outing, I had been lobbying with my co-supervisor to update our Safe Space policy to be more trans-inclusive by adding intentional misgendering or refusal to use preferred names/pronouns to the list of unacceptable behaviors, largely as a result of the post you published on that topic. We unveiled the new policy at our fall orientation this term (over Zoom because of COVID). Very soon afterward, that same student confirmed in a private chat to me that they were officially changing their name and shared their preferred pronouns. And that transition has gone amazingly well! No one has made an issue of it to my knowledge, and all misgendering has been unintentional with the person very open to correction and apologetic. It feels pretty great to have contributed to this job actually being a safe place for our non-binary student to be open about their true self. Definitely a happy ending!

3. I have regaled you with so many WTF stories about my grandboss (he’s the one who, among other things, made a sweatshirt with his direct report’s picture on it!) that I have to tell you! He finally left. He almost got me to retire but I kept saying, I can outlast him. And I did. He left in August and we got someone in temporarily that was such a completely different kind of leader! In just a very short time (under severely difficult circumstances, including COVID) I can feel things shifting already. Our new perm boss was just identified and started this week and he already seems so much more engaging and supportive of us and our mission than the original one. I appreciate you being a sounding board over the years. Your column helped me see that it wasn’t normal but also helped me to persevere in one of the best jobs I’ve ever had.

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

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open thread – January 8-9, 2021 https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/open-thread-january-8-9-2021.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/open-thread-january-8-9-2021.html#comments Fri, 08 Jan 2021 16:00:10 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=20793 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. * […]

open thread – January 8-9, 2021 was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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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.

open thread – January 8-9, 2021 was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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coworker is throwing a tantrum over having to interview for a promotion, inviting coworkers to your wedding, and more https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/coworker-is-throwing-a-tantrum-over-having-to-interview-for-a-promotion-inviting-coworkers-to-your-wedding-and-more.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/coworker-is-throwing-a-tantrum-over-having-to-interview-for-a-promotion-inviting-coworkers-to-your-wedding-and-more.html#comments Fri, 08 Jan 2021 05:03:49 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=20816 It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go… 1. Internal candidate is threatening to withdraw if he has to interview for the job We are hiring for a senior manager role in my organization for the second time in a year. The last round of interviews were a year ago and one of our […]

coworker is throwing a tantrum over having to interview for a promotion, inviting coworkers to your wedding, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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

1. Internal candidate is threatening to withdraw if he has to interview for the job

We are hiring for a senior manager role in my organization for the second time in a year. The last round of interviews were a year ago and one of our C-suite execs (Sterling) sat down with the internal finalists and promised a mentorship if they were unsuccessful. He’d work with them to address any weaknesses that were identified during the interview process. It was implied heavily that due to the mentorship, they’d be seconded into the senior manager role if it became available. Basically, the way it was described, they’d just be moved into the job. I know what was said because I was one of the candidates last year (the successful one, I’m pleased to say, thanks to Alison’s advice!) and got the same promise as the two unsuccessful candidates (Nate and Sophie).

However, Sterling is notorious for changing his mind and forgetting what he said. We’ve also had a lot of change in the organization,. which has meant higher than usual turnover in senior management level and we’re hiring to replace that role. The hiring manager has started to schedule interviews and Nate has pushed back very strongly. He doesn’t believe he should have to interview at all and thinks he should just get the role. Nate and Sophie are by far the favorite candidates, but there are other people interviewing who are also strong candidates and would do a good job.

I can understand Nate’s disappointment, but this comes across as a tantrum, especially as he’s threatening to withdraw if he’s not listened to. Sophie, on the other hand, has just continued on and accepted that she has to interview. Is this tantrum a red flag for Nate? Is this something that potentially warrants a closer examination of his general approach to work? I’m not sure I want to work on a team with someone who throws his toys out of his pram if things don’t go his way. It’s a stressful enough job without an extra layer of crud that comes with having to manage your words to someone. I have a really good relationship with the hiring manager. Should I say something?

Yes, it’s a red flag.

If Sterling implied to you, Nate, and Sophie that you were all shoo-ins for the job, that’s on him — and someone should talk to him about the false expectations (and apparently resentment) he created by doing that. But that doesn’t mean Nate is justified in throwing a tantrum (particularly when there’s already been a lot of change in the organization and one might assume that it would affect this role too). Nate could certainly express confusion or disappointment politely, but asserting that he shouldn’t have to interview at all and threatening to withdraw if he’s asked to says that Nate is … well, something. Immature? Unable to handle disappointment? Unable to handle things changing? I don’t know which it is, but I’d be wary of working with him too. At the very moment he’s being asked to show he’s well suited for a promotion, he’s showing he doesn’t have the very characteristics it takes to move into a senior leadership role.

You’re in a senior role yourself, it sounds like. If you have a vantage point on Nate that the hiring manager might not have and/or if you’d need to work with him if he gets the role, you have standing to pass along your feedback.

2. Do I have to invite my coworkers to my wedding?

My fiance and I got engaged back in June! Since then, we have moved to a new state for his job, but I have continued to work remotely for the same company I was with when we got engaged. We are planning a wedding in the city where we met, and where the home office of my small company is.

Overall there are about nine people I work closely with and six of them work from the home office. My coworkers have made a couple of passing comments about my wedding recently and it has led me to believe they may be expecting an invitation. Originally, I had not planned to invite them to the wedding as we are work colleagues and have a great relationship in the office, but we do not spend our time off work together. I am trying to keep my guest list to 130 people and without them on it, I am already planning on inviting closer to 160. I know some of the people I plan to invite will not be able to make it, but I still am worried that inviting them and their spouses will put me over budget. Do I have to invite my coworkers to my wedding?

You don’t need to invite your coworkers to your wedding. There’s no etiquette rule requiring that you invite them, and it’s very common not to! If you feel awkward about it, you can say things like, “We’re really struggling to get all our family members on the guest list” or “we’ve had to limit it to just family and close friends.”

3. Correcting people about my pronouns at work

I am in a creative industry that is very much a small world. I have been in it for twelve years now and have long-standing relationships with people in my field. I have known myself to be non-binary for several years, but only recently am I making the switch to they/them pronouns. Most people are perceptive enough to notice pronouns in my email signature or to ask what I use, but I also receive a fair amount of people reaching out or resharing my work while adamantly misgendering me (think: “you are an amazing female role model” “it’s amazing to see a woman excelling in this field”, etc). The compliments are nice and well-intended, but I would appreciate some scripts for acknowledging their kind words while also correcting their perception of my gender.

Matter-of-fact is good. For example: “That’s very kind of you to say. I’m actually non-binary (they/their rather than she/her) but thank you for the sentiment!”

Related: how to get better at using a coworker’s nonbinary pronouns

4. Do I have to list my current boss as a reference?

I’ve been with my company for three years now, and I see myself staying for a couple more years before moving on, since there is no opportunity for growth. I really like my boss and my colleagues, and ideally, when I start applying for new positions, I won’t have to tell my boss that I am looking elsewhere. But, I joined this company a year after completing graduate school and it is my first “real” job in my field. Because of this, I worry that when it comes time to apply for a new position, I’ll be forced to list my boss as my most recent reference, since she is the only boss I’ve had in my field post-graduation. Would it seem odd to a company not to list my current boss as a reference? How would you approach this? I’m afraid if my boss knows that I may leave, my work environment would become very awkward.

Nope, it’s very normal not to list your current boss as a reference; most employers understand that you won’t want your current employer to know you’re looking and are used to this.

Are there other people who have worked closely with you who you could list instead? Someone senior to you who has left the company but can speak to your work with nuance is a good choice, if such a person exists! Employers will generally want to speak to someone who has managed you, but it’s okay to list managers from jobs before this one, even though this is your first post-graduation job and even if those other jobs don’t feel relevant at all. Again, hiring managers will generally get it; most people don’t have a vast array of references when they’re leaving their first professional job for exactly this reason.

5. Can I take the home office deduction on my taxes this year?

How on earth will the home office deduction work with so many of us suddenly having an office at home, except it’s not really what the IRS probably considers an office?

The home office deduction for most workers was killed with the 2018 tax cut. You can still take it if you’re self-employed, but if you’re an employee it’s no longer allowed.

coworker is throwing a tantrum over having to interview for a promotion, inviting coworkers to your wedding, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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can we all just keep working from home forever now? https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/can-we-all-just-keep-working-from-home-forever-now.html https://www.askamanager.org/2021/01/can-we-all-just-keep-working-from-home-forever-now.html#comments Thu, 07 Jan 2021 18:59:57 +0000 https://www.askamanager.org/?p=20778 A reader writes: I’ve been working from home for five years. I know that some people currently work from home due to the pandemic hate it, but many love it and will want to continue after the pandemic ends. Their companies or managers wouldn’t allow it in the past. What I am wondering is: are […]

can we all just keep working from home forever now? was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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A reader writes:

I’ve been working from home for five years. I know that some people currently work from home due to the pandemic hate it, but many love it and will want to continue after the pandemic ends. Their companies or managers wouldn’t allow it in the past. What I am wondering is: are the managers noticing how many bullets they are dodging when employees work from home?

I mean, search the archives here and you will see how many questions are about dealing with the irritations that come with working in an office, rather than work per se. When I was a manager, I swear at least 25-50% of my time was spent on this kind of crap. So much of this disappears when everyone works from home.

Coffee/kitchen/food/cleanup problems: Gone! Coffee wars – done. Employees can do a Starbucks run without having to sneak out the back door to avoid having to pick up coffee for 10 other people. Eat that spicy food! If someone steals your lunch, you get to yell at them. Eat at your desk. Eat in the bathroom. Slurp. Eat with your mouth open. And hear that, managers? That’s the sound of no one complaining to you about it. Food police? Lie about the salad you’re having for lunch, when you’re getting takeout from The Heart Attack Grill.

All the noise, noise, noise, noise: Dear manager, not your problem now. Your employees can fart, burp, sneeze, cough, talk loudly, whisper, yell, sing, hum, clip their nails, and play Christian rock, all simultaneously if they are talented enough. Just teach everyone how to mute on Zoom/Skype/MS Teams.

My Fortune 500 team rarely gets on camera for meetings these days, but when we do, 90% of us look like we slept in a dumpster behind 7-11 last night. One guy looks like Gimli. No one cares. Fashion police complaints – down by 90%. (Incidentally, shorts or sweatpants are pretty comfy. No need to go full on No Pants. Avoid camera boo-boos.)

Smells? Gotcha covered, managers! Flatulence, essential oils, heavy perfume, spicy food, fish in the microwave, secondhand smoke, pet dander – no problem. The Smelly Employee issue is eliminated.

Dogs in the office? Sure! Dogs, cats, parakeets, hamsters, boa constrictors, tarantulas. Heck, get a llama.

Your employee always insisted their tardiness was due to the commute? Well, if they’re on time now, it really was the commute. Otherwise, they’re just a Permanently Tardy Employee.

What about the Other Employee Police? Buffy didn’t park within the lines in the parking lot, I saw Xander having lunch with some woman and I’m sure they’re having an affair, Willow leaves 5 minutes early every day, Giles takes too many sick/vacation days, I think Dawn is dealing drugs because she handed someone else a brown paper bag and they gave her money and it couldn’t have possibly have been bagels… Working from home just put a spoke in their wheel of never ending complaints.

So my question is: is remote work here to stay? Is everyone else finally catching up with my company? Because you cannot pry me away from working from home, even at double the salary – literally.

I know! It’s reflected in my mail too — the number of letters I get about annoying coworkers has gone down significantly since so many people started working remotely. That’s not to say we’re not finding ways to annoy each other remotely — we are, oh we are — but there’s far less opportunity than when you’re stuck in the office together.

And when you’re not policing dress code, hours, dirty kitchens, and all the rest that comes with working in an office, there’s a lot more room to focus on what has mattered most all along: what people are actually getting done, and how well they’re doing it. And that’s before you even look at the potential cost savings of not needing all that office space.

Once this is over, I do think many companies will be much more open to remote work than they used to be … but not to the extent you might assume. This has been a massive involuntary experiment in working from home — and while some employers have seen it’s more workable than they had expected, others have found real disadvantages to it. In some cases, discomfort with remote work is rooted in BS (managers who don’t know how to manage tend to get nervous when they can’t see people), but in other cases it’s legitimate. Some kinds of collaboration really are easier in person, for example. Some things are legitimately hard to do from home (not as much as companies sometimes purport, but definitely some of it).

But yeah, it’s going to be hard to put this entirely back in the bottle now that it’s out.

can we all just keep working from home forever now? was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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