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“skipping a team-building event during your notice period, wearing a face mask to work, and more” plus 3 more Ask a Manager

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“skipping a team-building event during your notice period, wearing a face mask to work, and more” plus 3 more Ask a Manager


skipping a team-building event during your notice period, wearing a face mask to work, and more

Posted: 05 Jan 2017 09:03 PM PST

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

1. Skipping a team-building event that's during my notice period

I have recently given my three months notice, as I’m contractually obliged to do. During that time a team-building event of sorts is planned, in which the entire team (including remote colleagues) are present for an entire week to discuss strategy and priorities for the next few months. It always takes place in a mountain retreat, so that everyone spends all their waking hours with the entire group. These events are tiring and usually little progress is actually made.

I know that during the notice period I am still an employee and they can make me go even though I don’t see the point. After all, talking about strategy, priorities, and how best to tackle projects I won’t be working on seems like a waste of time: my opinion is somewhat irrelevant at this point. I am not a manager with influence, just a lowly worker bee, so it’s not that my input generally has had a huge impact. I usually tend to have different views on, say, how to best make teapots, but that hardly matters if the only person capable of manufacturing them differently leaves after a while: me.

Is there a professional way of saying I doubt my presence during the retreat will be beneficial to the company / team, particularly in light of my imminent departure?

"Since I'm leaving, I’d like to skip the retreat because I think it would be a better use of my remaining time to work on wrapping up my projects and documenting everything for my replacement. Would that be okay with you?"

If you get any push-back, then be more explicit: "To be totally transparent, my strong preference would be not to go since those events can be so intensive and draining, and I'm not in a role where I'll be offering a lot of input. Unless you feel strongly that I need to be there, I'd definitely rather stay here and focus on wrapping things up."

Alternately, if your sense of your manager is that she's likely to push you to go, you could skip all this and just have an unmovable conflict that week. While that might not normally fly, you're more likely to get away with it when you're already leaving.

2. Wearing a face mask to work when I have a cold

My employer doesn’t provide any sick time (yay for being a temp!) and taking a day off unpaid when I’m sick means choosing between paying rent or buying groceries that month. Fortunately I rarely ever get anything close to resembling a stomach/intestinal bug, but I do get one or two reeeally bad colds every winter/spring. Would it look horribly passive aggressive or martyr-y if I were to come into work those days wearing a face mask?

I don’t want to get other people sick, but I also really can’t afford losing a day’s worth of pay. It’s bad enough when there’s a federal holiday and I have to hit up the food pantry for groceries that week, and I feel like there’s a federal holiday every month now! (Except for March- hallelujah for March!!!)

Nope, I don't think it'll look passive-aggressive or martyr-y. You'll probably just look conscientious; I don't think most people are likely to connect all the dots about why you're there.

But you might get people who, upon realizing that you're wearing it because you have a cold, encourage you to go home (not wanting to get sick themselves, just like you don't want to), so you'll want to be prepared for that.

You are hopefully job-searching?

3. Interview attire when you're asked to come in that same day

Does a breach of norms on one side in an interview situation allow for logical consequence breaches on the other side?

Yesterday my husband scheduled a job interview for next Thursday. He’s a teacher working a leave replacement and needs something for after. He scheduled the interview for immediately after his current school day. This morning (after school hours started) he got a call asking if it could be rescheduled to this afternoon instead. (They’re on a tight timeline due to complicated reasons involving the bureaucracy of public schools).

Obviously, when he goes to this interview, he will be wearing whatever he happened to wear to work this morning rather than the sort of thing he would dress in for an interview. I’m not really worried in this case, because he’s worked with this school before and they reached out to him about the position, but would people generally understand lack of a suit, etc. as the logical consequence of scheduling a last-minute interview?

Yes. Just spell it out when they call to ask for the same-day meeting: "I'd love to come in. I should mention that I'm dressed pretty casually today because I wasn't expecting an interview, but if you're fine with that, I'll see you at 3:00!" You can also say something similar when you first arrive: "Excuse my lack of a suit — since we scheduled this after I was already at work this morning, you caught me in khakis."

They will be fine with it; they get that it was last-minute and that you agreed to accommodate them. (But it’s still worth spelling it out in case someone gets absent-minded and forgets that was the context.)

4. Reference check after I've been on the job for six months

I've been at my current job for almost six months. I got a call today from one of the references who I put on my application, saying that my employer just called her and had never contacted her before today. Why would they wait that long to call? It just seems very strange to me.

Yes, that's extremely strange. I'd ask about it. Say this to your boss: "One of the references who I put down when I applied here told me that they just got a call this week asking for a reference for me. Do you know what that's about?”

5. I had a verbal offer but now there's a hiring freeze

I’ve had an informal phone conversation, a formal interview, and a few follow-up calls with a hiring manager who a professional acquaintance connected me to. We have clicked very well and she’s been up-front about how much she likes me–yay! During our last call, she told me she’d be asking HR to make me an offer. She discussed my general spot within the salary range and noted that she didn’t handle negotiations, but wanted me to have a sense of where I was at. She also said that because it was right before the holidays, she wasn’t sure if the HR contact was in the office or not, but that I should expect a call that day or early the following week.

I waited until the middle of the following week (which was a short week because of Christmas) and on the last day before the holidays, reached out to her. My email was along the lines of “I haven’t heard anything, and wanted to make sure you’re not waiting on something from me.” She responded with a friendly and brief email telling me that she thought folks were just out for the holidays, but also mentioned that she had run into a “snag”–a hiring freeze. She said she’d find out more after the holidays and keep me posted. Since then, radio silence. I did shoot her back an email inquiring about the timeframe, which she didn’t respond to.

I am applying for other jobs, but I’m also wondering if I can/should follow up. If so, what do I say? The conversations around this opening originated before Thanksgiving, and while I want to continue to express interest, I don’t want to come across as naggy.

Lots of people are slow at answering emails at this time of year, having just returned from vacation. And of course, some hiring managers go silent when they have nothing to report, which also could be happening here.

I think you can follow up once more at the very end of the month (which seems like a long time to wait, but you've already emailed her once about this, and you might as well give it a few weeks before checking back in since it's unlikely that the hiring freeze will lift before then). Meanwhile I'd move on and do whatever you'd be doing if this job possibility didn't exist since, for now at least, that's the case.

skipping a team-building event during your notice period, wearing a face mask to work, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

my husband doesn’t want to comply with my company’s trading policy

Posted: 05 Jan 2017 10:30 AM PST

A reader writes:

I am an accountant in Australia. Three weeks ago, I joined a global company which has an investment arm. A few days ago, everyone else in my department got an email saying that our designation had changed to make us “access persons” and we had to comply with an attached personal trading policy, and would have to log into a new system and declare securities we hold by January 9. I didn’t have time to read the PDF but mentioned it to my husband because, although I don’t have shareholdings, he has some under my name, as well as some under his own dating back to a time when he wasn’t tax-resident and I was.

The last day before the Christmas break, I carefully read the info and it turns out that for my designation, I have to declare all non-ETF securities that my spouse holds as well as my own, AND that neither myself or my spouse can enter into trades without submitting them to my employer for pre-clearance. (For people who actually work in the investment arm, spouses are totally banned from any trading!) I rang my husband to let him know and his reaction was: “I won’t do that. I don’t mind declaring but I won’t ask permission.”

I forwarded him the PDF and he got very testy, insisting there must be a minimum amount (no) or that there was a way to request exemption for spouses (no). Eventually he recognized there wasn’t and said he’d need to look at it further. I was very calm after the initial surprise and phrased the situation as: “You’ll need to let me know very soon, because if you don’t comply I will need to leave my job” rather than “You have to do it.” He said maybe he’d divest all his holdings (<100K) and put money into ETFs instead and we left it there.

Partly by necessity and partly by design, I had held the latter half of the conversation in full hearing of the finance team. To maximize my transparency, I pulled my boss into a meeting room and said: “You might have overheard the words ‘have to leave my job’ in that phone call I just had. Don’t worry, I’m not leaving my job. My husband’s not in finance and didn’t like the trading policy and I thought best to make the consequences of non-compliance clear to him.” Boss smiled awkwardly (can’t blame him) and said “Everything all right then?” I said yes.

But I don’t know if it IS all right. I don’t want to push my husband on this at least for a few days after Christmas, but I’m concerned that rather than (a) comply like a normal person or (b) divest all his holdings as he suggested, he might (c) get rid of the stuff under my name but make it clear that what I don’t know won’t hurt me for the rest.

I have no intention of lying to my organization, so what should I do? Australian employee protection laws are strong but even if I weren’t under introductory probation, refusing to comply with a company policy is surely grounds for termination anyway. Should I go to HR? Somebody in compliance?

For background information and armchair psychologists: We each contribute to a joint account but do not have merged finances, we could afford for me to lose my job, and he is being treated for major depression and PTSD. His therapist identified narcissistic tendencies.

Ugh. I think this ideally wouldn't be a "you have to do this" conversation but rather a "this is what my job requires; let's talk about how to proceed" conversation.

I don't think he's wrong in bristling at having this sprung on him unilaterally. Naive, maybe — but not wrong to be put off by it. That doesn't mean that he shouldn't ultimately comply, but it should be a conversation to work through what makes sense for the two of you as a partnership, rather than him just being told he has to do it for your job.

Now, it's probably likely that once you have that conversation, you'll both conclude that it doesn't make sense to jeopardize your job over this — but it really does need to be a discussion first, if for no other reason than out of respect for him as an independent person with free will.

However, if you talk it through and you still don't see eye-to-eye, at that point I'd get advice from someone with expertise on these policies about what the potential consequences are if your husband does go the "what you don’t know and what isn't in your name won’t hurt you" route, and whether it makes sense to alert your company that you worry that's a possibility (which is expertise that I don’t have, unfortunately).

my husband doesn’t want to comply with my company’s trading policy was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

a round-up of advice for managing people and projects

Posted: 05 Jan 2017 09:30 AM PST

I write a bunch of stuff for QuickBase's Fast Track blog. I worked with them to create a list that they’ve printed today of the best Fast Track posts from last year about managing people and projects — my articles and other people's too. It covers everything from how to help staff members be more innovative to how to talk about a failing project. You can read it here.

a round-up of advice for managing people and projects was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

why do interviewers act like I’m about to be hired, and then reject me?

Posted: 05 Jan 2017 07:59 AM PST

A reader writes:

Over the past two years, I’ve interviewed for many jobs. The most frustrating thing for me is two managers have pretended like I already had the job while interviewing me, then later told me I was not a good candidate for the position. Both of these jobs were jobs I REALLY REALLY wanted. Both of them (two different places) went out of their way to explain to me scheduling and how to ask for time off, and pretty much acted like I was the only person they were interviewing for the position. The most recent one flat-out told me that I was the only one she was interviewing and she said I sounded "absolutely perfect.” When I left, she said, “I just need to check scheduling and I’ll give you a call in a few days.” I called back to follow up and she didn’t even remember my name. The other woman showed me how to request time off, told me what holidays I could take, and went out of her way to show me the store and different jobs in the store I would be doing as well, as adding in something along the lines of “Barring any glaring problems on your background check I think we should be fine” before I left. She also went out of her way to introduce me to every one who worked there as if I was already a new hire.

I'm in my 30’s. I’ve had many job interviews. I am not “misreading” them. Have I gotten jobs where the manager acted like I had the job already? Yes. I’ve even been hired right on the spot. I’ve also left interviews knowing 100% I didn’t get the job and other interviews were more ambiguous. I know what signs people are giving me, and I’m wondering why managers would do this to people. It’s painful to find out they totally pretended to love you (and acted like you were on the verge of being hired) only to find out they were just being nice.

Why would they do this? Would you consider this unprofessional or out of the ordinary? Is there anyway to directly ask someone who is doing this how serious they are being, or would that make you less likely to get the job? I’d rather hear the truth, or even flat out that they don’t like me, so I stop getting my hopes up and move on.

Well, you say that you know you're not misreading them … but you actually are misreading them, as evidenced by the fact that these conversations aren't panning out into offers.

It would be different if any of these interviewers were giving a clear, explicit job offer — as in, "I'd like to offer you the job at $X salary and with a start date of January 16." But they're not. They're saying things that imply that they really like you, but that’s not the same thing as offering you the job. That’s where you’re making the mistake.

You are definitely entitled to leave these interviews feeling pretty good about things and thinking "that seemed like it went well." But you're making the leap from that to "I have the job," when there hasn't been an offer.

And you just don't have a job until you have an explicit offer for it.

Here's the thing: An interviewer might think you're a really strong candidate during the interview. She might think that she's very likely to offer you the job. And then later, she might interview someone who's an even stronger candidate. Or the job might change in ways that mean you're not longer as well matched with it. Or they might decide to hire the VP’s neighbor. There's just no way to know that you have the job until you hear an actual offer.

You're also reading into signs that don't really mean much. Some interviewers will explain scheduling or benefits to everyone they talk to, even people they’re likely to reject; it's just part of their standard interview spiel. The same is true of introducing candidates to other people in the office. And showing you the different projects you'd be working on is a pretty standard part of an interview — it means "this is what the person who ends up in the job will be doing," not "this is what you will be doing because we are hiring you."

Now, you're right that comments like "barring any glaring problems on your background check, I think we should be fine" are misleading — that's someone who's over-promising and inadvertently setting you up to be disappointed. That interviewer shouldn't have said that. But you also have a responsibility to recognize that that's not a job offer. It's a good sign, yes, but it's not an offer.

And no, you shouldn't ask how serious they are about you, or whether their positive comments will lead to an offer. You should just always operate with the assumption that if they are ready to offer you the job, you will find out when they offer you the job — and that nothing before that is in any way concrete.

We can debate whether or not interviewers should be more careful about how they frame things (and certainly a couple of yours should have), but ultimately you have the power to solve this entire thing by just remembering that you don’t have an offer until you have an offer. It’s truly that simple. Frustrating maybe, but so much less frustrating than believing an offer is coming and then getting let down.

More on this here:

you are reading way too much into things employers say to you

what your interviewer says / what you hear / what they mean

they loved me — why didn't I get the job?

why do interviewers act like I’m about to be hired, and then reject me? was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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