my boss grabbed my hair, no one will tell me why I’m getting rejected, and more

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It’s five answers to five questions.

But first, in case you missed the late-breaking post on Tuesday, you should read about this fairly shocking development with the new overtime rule.

And now to the questions …

1. My boss grabbed my hair

I work in a big office at a public agency. Near the end of the day, I had to ask my manager for his opinion on something. As we came over to my desk, he half-jokingly complained that he wanted to get home for his anniversary, grabbed onto my hair, and shook my head a few times. This happened in front of one of my colleagues who was about to work on the same problem. In the moment, I asked him not to do it again, and we proceeded to work together on the issue.

When we were done, I approached him one-on-one at his desk, and asked him politely but firmly not to do it again. I was expecting an apology. Instead I got mumbled lines like “you already said that” and “it was only once, okay, okay.” He clearly wanted me to go away. At that point, I dropped it and went home for the day.

For what it’s worth, we’re both men (I’m 30, he’s 50ish). I don’t think he was trying to be intimidating or anything. I’m also new (been there about 10 weeks) and wary of making waves. That said, I was surprised not to get an apology, and I’m still a little shaken. Do you think this is worth escalating to the big boss? How would you proceed?

No. You told him not to do it, and he said okay. You told him again, and he said okay again. It’s been dealt with.

It sounds like he was joking and didn’t realize he was crossing a line with you. Now he knows. He shouldn’t have needed to be told and it was certainly bad judgment on his part, but you’ve addressed it. If he had pushed back when you told him not to do it again, you’d have something to escalate. But in this case you have someone who heard your no and seems to have accepted it.

Certainly if other issues emerge with your manager, it could turn out that this is part of a pattern of disrespect and violating boundaries. But unless that happens, I’d figure that you made your point and move on.

2. No one will tell me why I’m getting rejected

Why does absolutely no one tell you why you weren’t hired/why you were rejected anymore? After being rejected for a flight attendant job and having to wait six months just to do a video interview again, and then be greeted with essentially a “just because” in the form of “unfortunately, we are unable to disclose interview details” in an email, my faith in the hiring process is shot. This isn’t the first time this has happened and I have no way of knowing what it is I need to improve if no company will even so much as talk to me about what it takes.

Well, it’s not really their job to coach you on being a stronger candidate. It’s certainly nice when a company does give feedback, but it’s not something they’re obligated to do (and many companies don’t do it because some many candidates end up arguing with them or becoming hostile).

But there are other things you can do to work on being a stronger candidate — read the hell out of my (free) guide on how to prepare for an interview and do everything it suggests in there (not just one or two things but seriously everything) … talk to a brutally honest friend or former coworker about how you might be coming across … do a mock interview with someone you know who hires people and ask for blunt feedback afterwards … and look to see who did get hired for the jobs you were rejected for (check the company’s website or LinkedIn) and see what those people’s backgrounds are.

3. My coworker wants to take all of December off, leaving the rest of us to cover for him

My company provides three weeks vacation and closes down for a week at Christmas, so this gives us four weeks off in total. We’re required to book our time off for the year by the end of January. We’re allowed to move dates around throughout the year, but the idea is to kind of ensure that we don’t have 10 developers and three account managers taking a week off at the same time.

It’s the end of the year, and three colleagues on my team and I each have a few days left over. We were talking about which days we want off (the company is very flexible, but it could be an issue if all three of us want to take the same days) when our fourth coworker breezily announced that he has used almost no vacation days all year and intends to take almost all of December off. He was laughing about how HR was pushing back on this request, and said they could either make an exception to let him carry the days over or let him take them all in December.

I don’t want to cause problems for my team member, but I think it was pretty irresponsible for him not to think about the fact that the rest of us have to cover his work while he’s gone. I’m considered the back-up person for one of his accounts, which means that I’ll be responsible for all of my own work and approximately half of his for an entire month. It’s also December, which is when we’re typically winding down — the office is more relaxed, people leave a little early kind of thing — and instead I’ll be working extra hours all month. I have a couple vacation days leftover that I was hoping to use in December as well, and it looks like I won’t be able to do that without being absolutely swamped the rest of the time.

Our manager is new, and only just took over a couple of weeks ago, so this situation was beyond her control. It sounds like HR is already involved, so I’m not sure if it would make more sense to just leave it alone, or talk to HR, or to discuss the impact this employee’s vacation will have on my workload with my manager.

At first I thought what he was doing was going to prevent you from using your own vacation days in December, but it sounds like the issue is just that you’ll have to cover his work for him while he’s gone, and thus won’t get to enjoy a more relaxed December, right? If that’s accurate, I can see why you’re really annoyed, but I also don’t think it’s the kind of thing you can really push back on. It sounds like you’d normally have to cover for him when he’s out, and the issue here is just that it’s going to happen during a month that you’d (understandably) like to be more leisurely.

So I think this is a suck-it-up-for-two-weeks situation, unfortunately … but you can definitely ask your coworker and your manager to ensure that this doesn’t happen in future years.

4. My manager set up a conference call with my predecessor

I am an event planner who is a contractor for a nonprofit that I’ve been employed with for several years. At the end of our contracts, everyone writes wrap reports and stores files in the company’s drive for year-round employees to review in the off season and for the contractor who performs the job next year. Last Friday, my manager asked for photos from a specific event last year. There were none and I relayed that information to him. In general, the wrap report and documentation is rather thin but is not an issue for me since it’s pretty easy to connect the dots.

Monday morning, my manager comes up to me and tells me he spoke to my predecessor and received the photos from him. He also said that he set up a conference call with him, my predecessor, and me to “pick his brain” for later on that day. I was really offended that he chose to do that without asking me first. I intend to take ownership of the role in my own way with my style and abilities. I could see if I was struggling with my work, but I’ve been ahead of my deadlines and he’s expressed that he’s been happy in my work in our previous meetings. I was also alarmed because he hasn’t set up a call with anyone else in our department to “pick the brain” of their predecessors.

Although I was disappointed, I still got on the call. My manager and my predecessor pretty much did all of the talking for the entire 30 minutes and there was nothing said that didn’t already know. The one exception was my manger brought up something important that he didn’t mention to me that is something I need to be on alert for and asked my predecessor for his opinion. I thought that something like that should have been communicated to me in our weekly meetings and not have sprung up on on a call. At the end of the call, my predecessor spoke about how I can only be as successful as the information I am given and that he’s a phone call away whenever I need advice. He also mentioned that he has tons of documentation that he can send to me. Documentation that should be stored on the company’s drive the whole time and he failed to do at the end of his contract.

What do you think would be the best way to voice my concern of this to my manager? I do not really feel the need to contact my predecessor regarding for advice. Not because I’m offended by the call, but by the fact that I have believe I have enough documentation, resources, and coworkers (that are still employed by the company) around me to do this job efficiently.

Let it go. There’s really nothing to be offended here by. Maybe your manager realized that the documentation your predecessor left was thin, or maybe in talking to him about the photos, the guy offered to do a joint call if it would be helpful. Regardless, it’s not a slight toward you. Sometimes people do these sorts of phone calls because they can be genuinely useful.

But do follow up with the contractor on his offer to send the “tons of documentation.” Tell him you’d like to have it all in one place so you know what’s available, and ask him to send all of it over. Don’t get hung up on the fact that he should have already done it. He apparently didn’t, but he’s offering to now, so tell him yes.

I get that it’s annoying to get unsolicited advice from the person who used to do your job. But you’ll look stronger if you don’t seem offended by it. Certainly if it becomes a pattern and it’s interfering in your work, you’d want to address that, but it doesn’t sound like anything more than a one-off incident so far.

5. Asking to be paid for guest lectures

I recently moved to a new state and started working in a museum in a position that requires an advanced degree (MLIS or equivalent). One aspect of the job is my coworkers are guest lecturers at the local university in the school of the advanced degree. I was very excited about this possibility as I have been a guest lecturer in my old state and enjoyed the experience. The thing is, my coworkers haven’t gotten paid for any of these lectures and I found this surprising as I always did. When I mentioned that to my coworker, she said the lectures started out as a favor to one specific professor and now more professors are asking, so it has become a regular aspect of the job. She also mentioned she didn’t know she could ask for payment. She figured the trade-off for free lectures was “professional experience.”

Because I am new, I want to wait and see how things go, but if this is going to be a regular weekly thing (which so far it looks like it is), I’m not thrilled with the university not paying us for our knowledge. Is there a way I can broach the subject of me and my coworkers getting paid for our time and if so, how should we go about it?

Yes. Lots of programs pay for guest lectures, but some do not. But it’s still perfectly reasonable to ask about it, especially if the lectures are weekly, which is a huge time commitment. Whoever coordinates the lectures should say something like this: “We were glad to be able to help out free of charge for a while, but now that these have become a regular feature of your classes, we’d like to talk about a guest lecture fee. Is that something you’re open to?”

(Of course, make sure that this isn’t something the museum is intentionally offering for free. If someone above you has chosen to do that, you obviously wouldn’t want to mess with it.)

my boss grabbed my hair, no one will tell me why I’m getting rejected, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

HR

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November 22, 2016 at 03:10PM

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