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“update: I think a colleague asked me out” plus 2 more Ask a Manager

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“update: I think a colleague asked me out” plus 2 more Ask a Manager


update: I think a colleague asked me out

Posted: 30 Dec 2016 09:03 PM PST

It’s our last update of the year! It’s from the letter-writer in November who had received an ambiguous lunch invitation from a work contact and wanted to decline since she was pretty sure he was asking for a date although he hadn’t been clear about that (#3 at the link). Here’s the update:

I did not expect such vigorous and thoughtful debate in the comments section, but the variety of viewpoints helped inform my response.

I ended up saying I was too busy for social lunches for the foreseeable future, and then I added — almost as an afterthought — that I was probably misinterpreting the situation, but that I wanted to let him know that I am in a serious relationship. As expected, he did not then reveal a work-related reason for lunch, which further supported my hunch that he had been asking for a date. This face-saving solution has made subsequent hallway run-ins less awkward than they could have been!

The asker seems like a lovely person, and it’s not like he did something egregious, but the whole situation has helped me develop some best practices that I’d advise to anyone considering asking out a colleague. Before asking, put more effort into gauging whether there is chemistry or mutual interest than you might with a person from another context, because with someone you see a lot, the possibility for awkwardness after such an invitation is high. And when you do make the invitation, make it explicit that it is social. While it was clear to me that this was not a work thing, the fact that he hadn't SAID that was what really flustered me as I was trying to respond… Normally when a co-worker invites you to grab lunch, it would be inappropriate to respond with, "Not interested" or "I have a boyfriend." And, make it clear that it’s totally fine to decline. In summation, here’s the email I wish I’d received: "Hey, do you have any interest in grabbing lunch in the next couple of weeks? I'm interested in hanging out with you socially – but if you're not on the same page, no problem!"

update: I think a colleague asked me out was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

updates: can I ask my boss to lunch, telling someone to arrive to work earlier, and more

Posted: 30 Dec 2016 10:30 AM PST

Continuing our annual December "where are they now" series, here are six more updates from people who had their questions answered here this year.

1. Can I ask my boss to lunch? (#3 at the link)

I followed your advice and asked my boss if she had time for lunch. She did – we went to lunch yesterday! It was nice to get to know her better, and the casual setting was a good change of pace too. She shared a lot about her professional background, and I realized she has a lot more experience than I thought she did. She was also pretty candid with her thoughts on what roles would suit me well in the future and gave me some new ideas. It was definitely a good use of time. As I figured she would, she insisted on paying even though I was the one who asked her to join me for lunch.

2. Should I tell a low-performing employee that she needs to arrive at work earlier?

After your advice and input from readers, I decided to talk with the employee about her lateness, mentioning how it was damaging her reputation and how it also meant she wasn’t working the full week for which she was paid. She got better. Not perfect, but better.

The low-performing employee continued to not meet expectations, and I wanted to let her go. Unfortunately, we were planning a reorganization around the same time, and the powers that be wanted me to wait until other layoffs happened. I worry that she may not have learned the lesson – that she really wasn’t working at an appropriate standard – as she was laid off in a group rather than let go because it wasn’t working out. But, for better or worse, that decision wasn’t open to me so I try not to spend too much energy on it.

I have to say, I am extremely grateful to those who commented with the perspective of a colleague of this low performing junior person. I have another staffer working in the same position who is a superstar. Hearing from commenters about how being in a similar situation to her impacted their morale was really helpful. She is absolutely fantastic, and keeping her happy and still working for us is key to making my life run smoothly!

In the period between when I knew low-performer wasn’t working out, but before the lay offs, I focused on trying to make sure that superstar knew that she was valued, and addressing the aspects with the low-performer that were most visible and had most impact on others. I also advocated hard for the superstar during the reorg planning process and I think she’s happy where things turned out.

3. How can I avoid talking about my wedding at work? (#2 at the link)

After reading your and other readers’ responses I realized that I was being overly-anxious about the situation. But I can probably chalk that up as being a side effect of the stress of planning a wedding.

When I got back to work after my week off for the honeymoon, it was just like some readers had suggested it would be: no big deal. A few coworkers noticed my ring and asked if I had gotten married. Per your advice I kept the answer informative enough but short as well. “Yes I did! We had a small ceremony up in [scenic town just outside of the city]. It was a great experience!” worked great as a response. If they asked any further questions I just shifted into talking about our honeymoon to Rocky Mountain National Park which provided a lot of topics to talk about while still not getting too personal for me.

The only exception was my direct supervisor. He and I have always had a personality conflict, and as such I rarely engage with him on anything that’s not directly work related, so when he inquired about my ring and I told him what it was, he actually gave a pouting response of, “No one ever tells me anything!”. I was a bit caught off guard that he was apparently hurt by that. I simply responded by assuring him that I hadn’t told anyone, so he didn’t have any need to feel left out.

Other than that odd interaction, it was smooth sailing after I got back to work. Thanks to you and the AAM readers for helping me calm my nerves!

4. Job candidate called me four times in one day (first update is here)

I wrote in a couple of times concerning the job candidate who called me four times in one morning, used our company's instant messenger to get in contact with me, and sent a couple aggressive follow-up emails throughout the hiring process. I have an update that I honestly didn't see coming.

We hired her (that part wasn't surprising. She had an in from a long time ago.), and she has been one of the sweetest, easiest people to work with! I was definitely biased when she started but I mentioned my concerns to a coworker, who told me to give the new hire a chance. I'm so glad I did. We're not great friends or anything but we get along well and I have yet to receive any egregious demands from her. In fact, the first time she's asked me for help with something was this week, and it was a simple question that didn't detract attention from the project I was working on when she came in.

I still have no idea what was going on with the interview process. The secretary working here when the candidate left was (from what I've heard) absolutely useless. I'm very clearly a different person but maybe there was some residual uncertainty that the interview would be set up correctly, based on the information the candidate had about the last person. I could see how that and the general eagerness about the job would have had her exhausting her resources to get in touch. I still don't care for that behavior, but in this instance, it just goes to show that first impressions aren't everything.

Thanks to you and the commenters for rallying with me on this one! Although this didn't have the intended impact, the support I received on this issue has encouraged me to be more vocal about other issues around the office. I finally feel like my voice is being heard.

5. I lost an offer over salary, and I'm regretting holding firm during negotiations

I hoped to have a “happy ending” aka new job by now, but I’m still on the market.

Since this letter was posted I got another job offer from a different company that paid quite a bit more than my current position. I had to turn it down as so many red flags kept on popping up during the final rounds of the interviewing/vetting process. For example, when I would ask about access to tools that would allow me to do my job more efficiently, the hiring manager was quick to say no, but their boss would say yes. This made me feel like I was the boss’s pick, not the hiring manager’s pick and being such could potentially make my job more difficult. I was hesitant to step into what seemed like another issue ridden workplace. I don’t think that I wouldn’t have had the resolve to turn down this job offer if it wasn’t for the advice you gave me and the feedback that I received from the Ask A Manager community.

Another thing to come out during this job hunting process was finding out how woefully underpaid I am at my current job. When I would list my range (current salary plus 20% more, but negotiable depending on benefits) hiring companies would often say how that’s much lower than their current range they are looking to hire for. This is for positions similar to what I’m doing now. It definitely was a major bullet that I dodged when I turned down the the original job I wrote about because I would have taken a major pay cut. Also, for what it’s worth, I have adjusted my quoted range to the rates quoted by these other companies.

Things haven’t changed at my current job and it doesn’t look like it will anytime soon. If things were to change though and now empowered with the knowledge of how underpaid I am, I will still leave. I wouldn’t have gotten to this mindset about appreciating my value and what makes me happy if it wasn’t for the helpful advice and feedback that I received from Alison and all of the commenters at Ask A Manager.

6. Is it okay to be Facebook friends with people I manage?

Since you’re looking for updates, I wanted to let you know what happened. After reading your response, I unfriended the employee. He had also just left for a 2-week vacation, so we didn’t address it directly until he got back. When we discussed it, I used the approach you suggested, and he remarked that being Facebook friends with his boss was uncomfortable, but he didn’t know if he should unfriend me. So, he was glad that I did that. The twist at the end of this story is that after we talked about this, he gave me his 2-week notice and sent another friend request once he was gone. After this, though, I’m much more comfortable enforcing the manager-employee boundaries since it helps both me AND my team.

updates: can I ask my boss to lunch, telling someone to arrive to work earlier, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

open thread – December 30-31, 2016

Posted: 30 Dec 2016 08:00 AM PST

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. 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 don’t repost it here, as it may be in the to-be-answered queue :)

open thread – December 30-31, 2016 was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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