Here's a roundup of answers to five questions from readers.
1. How to get colleagues to stop texting after hours
I originally wanted to take a position at my current company because it seemed like a friendly work environment. And it is. But I regularly receive multi-recipient texts after work from my co-workers! Sometimes it's about work, but never anything urgent, and often it's purely social.
I've never had this problem before, so I don't know how to stop it. If I tell them not to include me on their message list, I will look insensitive. But I really don't want to receive so many messages after hours. I don't even talk to my family that much!
You're falling into the classic "I want them to stop, but I don't want to ask them to stop." You can only have one of those things -- if you want it to stop, you need to say something. It doesn't need to sound insensitive; I'd simply say, "I try to disconnect from work once I leave the office, so I'd prefer not to receive texts in the evening."
If it keeps happening after that (which it may, since people may just keep replying to existing group texts, and that will include you), you may need to remind them a couple of times. Alternatively, it might be easier to mute the conversation.
2. Hiring when you only have one candidate for the job
My company has a strong promote-from-within culture, so when I needed to hire, we started the process with an internal-only posting, which has generated one applicant.
The good news is, he's a great applicant. I haven't worked closely with "Chris," but I've interacted with him and his supervisor enough to know he is bright, personable, and a hard worker. He has the right degree and right amount of appropriate experience. From everything I know, I'd be happy to hire him, but I want to make sure I'm properly evaluating him and not just rubber-stamping. Any advice on handling this sort of only-one-candidate hiring/interview process?
Pretend that Chris isn't the only candidate, and do the type of evaluation that you'd do if this were a competitive, multi-candidate process. Otherwise, you run the risk of going in thinking "are there any deal breakers here?" when you really want your framing to be "am I excited about hiring this person and do I think they will excel at the work?" Those are two different mental frameworks. Just looking for deal breakers can lead you to hiring someone who ends up not excelling and just being kind of mediocre, which isn't what you want.
Also, before you think about Chris at all, spend some time getting really clear on what the must-have skills and traits are for the role, so that you can then compare him against those things -- and figure out exactly how you'll assess for each item on your list (specific questions to him or his references, exercises, looking at past accomplishments and work samples, etc.). Otherwise, you can end up doing a mushier evaluation that isn't tightly tied into what you actually need. This is true in normal hiring situations, too, but it's especially a danger when you're only talking to one candidate.
3. Can I leave my phone number off marketing materials?
Would it be acceptable to leave my phone number off of most of my freelance marketing materials (business cards, website, etc.)? What about my résumé, when I send it to individuals rather than businesses? It's my personal cellphone. I don't have a landline or (since I'm freelancing) an office phone, and I would rather be able to control that access at least until I have a chance to correspond with a client a little bit.
I think it will look odd to some people if you don't list a phone number, and others won't care. If you want to screen for clients who are happy to communicate over email and screen out the ones who aren't, this would be one way to do it. But if you're not able to be that picky yet, I'd include a phone number.
However, it doesn't have to be the number for your personal cell. Why not set up a Google Voice number and put that one down, and have people leave messages that you then check?
4. My employee keeps inviting himself into my conversations
I am currently having an issue with an employee on my team who reports directly to me. Every time someone comes to speak to me at my desk, he injects himself into the conversation and turns it into a kind of group discussion. Sometimes it's our director who wants to speak to me about work, and this person rolls around his chair and starts joining in by nodding and agreeing with what's being said. The other day, he even went so far as to make a suggestion of something I should do for the team in front of my director when the director had come to talk to me.
I don't want to be too harsh with him, as I can tell that he isn't trying to do anything, only look interested and show that he's engaged. I thought about organizing a one-to-one with him and giving him some good and bad points on how he is doing in the team so far and bringing it up this way. Or should I just approach it directly as a standalone issue? And how do you tell someone to butt out in a diplomatic way?
Hopefully, you're having regular one-on-one check-ins with him, and making feedback a regular part of those. If you're not, start doing it now -- because when you already have a regular forum established for feedback and you've made it a normal part of your routine, it's much easier to bring stuff like this up. So if that's not already happening, starting it (with all your employees, not just this one) will make your job easier in the long run and will make you a better manager.
As for how to say it, just be direct: "Bob, I've noticed that when someone comes to speak with me at my desk, you often join the conversation. It's great that you're interested and invested in your work, but I need to be able to have one-on-one conversations with people. So I need to ask you not to join those conversations unless you're asked to."
5. No-show employee wants a bonus
We had an employee who stopped coming to work with no call, no text, no warning, nothing. After two days of not hearing from her, we called the police to conduct a welfare check. They told us that it appeared that she was at home, but she wouldn't answer the door.
After another week of not hearing from her, we assumed she had voluntarily quit. We sent her a letter letting her know she violated the employee policy and that she should return the key.
Then we received a phone call from someone saying he was her friend and she was in an accident and had to be transported back to her home state to be taken care of by her family. He asked for a bonus for her. We told him she was not eligible since she voluntarily quit. We never heard back. Now two months later, she is emailing back threatening to show up to our office to pick up a check for a bonus that she is not going to get. The bonus is not part of any written contract and we give bonuses on a discretionary basis for employee appreciation.
Please advise on how to proceed. We don't want her to show up when we have patients and causing a scene.
Send her a letter by certified mail outlining the facts: She stopped showing up for work without contacting you, after two weeks of hearing nothing you sent her a letter confirming her separation from the organization, you issued her final paycheck on X date for $Y, no further wages are owed, bonuses are given at the discretion of the employer, and she is not eligible for one. You can email her back with the same statement too.
If she shows up at your office anyway (unlikely, but worth being prepared for), someone should be prepared to escort her out.
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