Inc.com columnist Alison Green answers questions about workplace and management issues--everything from how to deal with a micromanaging boss to how to talk to someone on your team about body odor.

Here's a roundup of answers to five questions from readers.

1. My boss won't let me use any of my vacation time

While my job lets me accrue paid time off for vacation, I seem to be in a position where any time I request time off, I am denied by my manager. On the other hand, my manager takes vacation time off constantly. Am I missing something here? I have a family I would love to take vacation time with, but I am cut off any time I try. At the same time, my days off have accumulated to almost one month and I am just at a loss of how someone in good conscience would not even consider allowing me. How do I approach this situation?

Green responds:

Talk to your boss and say this: "I get X days of vacation each year as part of my benefits package, and it's important to me to be able to take it. You haven't approved my most recent vacation requests. Can we talk about what dates do work for me to take vacation time, so that I can schedule it?"

You can also try this: "I need to schedule a week away with my family in the next two months. Is there a time period that's best, or any weeks that won't work?"

If you get a flat-out "No, you can't take vacation," say this: "Are you saying I'm not able to use the vacation time I earn at all? Can you help me understand why?"

And then strongly consider whether you want to continue working somewhere that in practice gives you zero vacation days.

2. Our new hire is plotting a coup on her second day

I work in HR, and we had a new recruiter start yesterday. She seems to struggle with issues from her previous job with "corporate bullying" and may be unstable (lots of home problems, arrived extremely late on first day, complained about previous position extensively, etc.).

Today (her second day of employment), she pulled me aside and spoke disdainfully of my supervisor, who heads the HR department, saying that I could have his job in two years and everyone in Recruiting hates him, in an attempt to try to "recruit" me to sabotage my boss. This is all too much drama for someone starting their second day, and this tells me that her fellow recruiters are badmouthing my boss and telling her how awful he is. I'm not sure if they are encouraging her loose cannon behavior or are working as a group on this plot. But hatching a plan to overthrow my boss is taking it too far, makes me very uncomfortable, and is a crazy distraction. How should I approach this bizarre situation? Should I warn my boss?

Green responds:

Yes, tell your boss. What you're describing is astonishing behavior for someone's second day, and your boss needs to know what's going on. It's possible that it reflects on the other recruiters, but it absolutely, 100 percent for sure reflects on this new hire. Frankly, combined with the being extremely late on her first day and the complaining, this really indicates she's not the right hire -- and the sooner your boss concludes that, the better for everyone.

And if the new hire brings anything like this up to you again, say this: "That hasn't been my experience with [supervisor]. I'd take some time to get to know the office and the staff before you conclude something like that." Then refuse to discuss further.

3. Hiring a co-worker to babysit

I am a working mom to a 10-month-old boy. My husband and I are ready to branch out in terms of babysitters -- up until now it's been my parents and occasionally my sister-in-law. What's your opinion on hiring a co-worker who has expressed interest in babysitting? She and I are in the same 30-person department, and she is not a direct report. I work with her and her boss on a few small projects throughout the year, but not closely. Prior to her taking her current position at our company, she was a nanny, so I know she has good experience as caretaker. Babysitting would happen only occasionally, perhaps once a month.

Green responds:

It'll probably be fine, but if it goes bad, it has the potential to be pretty problematic, so you've got to decide if you're willing to risk that. For example, if you have issues with the way she cares for your baby, will it cause tension at work? If she's negligent or unkind to your child, will you be able to continue working with her? If she'll be caring for him in your home, are you comfortable with her having access to potentially personal or private things?

Odds are that everything will go fine -- but be aware of the potential for the stuff above to happen and weigh that against other babysitting options.

4. I think my former co-worker is trying to poach me

A former colleague, whom I get along well with, left my company recently to take a department manager position at another company in the same industry. She has sent me a couple of emails asking me to train her team on some software, and saying she'd like to meet up for a coffee or drink.

It's not in my company's interest to offer the training, and I've said no to that, but she has followed up again reiterating the offer of coffee. I'd be happy to see her and want to remain on good terms with her, as it's a very small industry and we may have opportunities to collaborate in the future (and also because I just like her). However, I'm reading this as her trying to recruit me, which I have no interest in. I like my company, my colleagues are great, and I'm happy with my duties, salary, title, etc.

How should I respond, and should I meet with her? After all, I don't know for sure what she wants. That said, I don't want to waste her time or be coy about it, and I'm just not interested in a change of situation right now. I suspect if I decline without a reason, or just say "sometime" and wait, this will come up again. What to do?

Green responds:

Would you be interested in having coffee with her if you knew it was just to catch up and not an attempt to poach you? If so, go have coffee with her -- and if she starts turning the conversation in a poaching direction, nicely but firmly cut her off and tell her it's not something you're interested in. Any reasonable person will stop pushing it if you clearly say, "I'm flattered, but really not interested in moving on right now; I'll let you know if that ever changes."

But if you're not particularly interested in catching up with her, it's fine to beg off; say that you're in a busy period and cutting everything you can out of your schedule or whatever you're comfortable saying. If you think she'll keep trying, though, you might want to just go, drink a coffee, and put it to rest once and for all.

5. Mentioning marriage and kids on a resume

I currently include on my resume (at the very bottom) personal information -- church membership, hobbies, and info about my family. I know that in an interview, it would be illegal to ask about marriage, family, etc. However, I don't mind including this info on my resume because I would consider only roles that would allow me some flexibility as a young mom (like the ability to leave early if a child is sick, etc.).

Bottom line, I'm very satisfied with my current position and not job hunting, but for future reference, is including this personal information unprofessional?

Here's the copy and past from my resume:

Personal Background
Married for 9 years to John Doe; and mother of two children, Joe and Jenny
Member of Anytown Presbyterian Church for 10 years; currently serving as an active elder, supporting the work of the Fellowship Committee.
Interests: Reading; cooking; gardening; hiking; canoeing; sport fishing; domestic and overseas church mission work; and supporting local animal rescue and pet adoption organizations.


Green responds:

Nooooo, don't do that! You absolutely, positively, 100 percent must take off any reference to your marriage or your kids. You should also remove the mention of church, unless you're including it to mention a leadership role you hold there. In the U.S. at least, including things like that is so very much not the convention that when a candidate does include them, it ends up looking really out of touch with professional norms. It's going to get you rejected -- not because hiring managers don't want to hire moms, but because you'll look like you don't know or don't care about professional boundaries.

You can leave the interests part of it if you really want to (most hiring managers won't find it relevant, but it's not going to hurt you), but it's unlikely to strengthen your candidacy and thus is taking up space that could instead be used for something that would.
 

Want to submit a question of your own? Send it to alison@askamanager.org.

Published on: May 13, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.