Editor's note: 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 employee keeps cc'ing my manager on everything.
I hired a team lead for my department, and now every single email she sends out she copies my manager! I can understand she is excited in this new role, but I feel a sense of disrespect when she copies my manager on emails regarding suggestions for my team that she has not discussed with me first. When she sends out these emails, she addresses my manager first. I feel like she is trying to show off, and she thinks some ideas have not already been discussed before she was hired, but they have been. She would know if these ideas had already been talked about if she would discuss them with me first. Also, when there's bad news like a missed deadline, she will not add him to that email string. She leaves that up to me.
I'm trying to find the right way to approach this as I do not want to seem like I am being a micromanager. It's really bothering me. Am I just being oversensitive and should I let her copy away?
You're her manager, so when she's behaving differently than you'd like, you need to let her know that--clearly, directly, and calmly. It's perfectly reasonable to want her to follow a chain of command (and to keep your own manager from being bothered by ideas that have already been fielded in some way). That's not micromanaging; that's just adhering to a structure that exists for good reason.
Say something like this: "Let's discuss things like this first before you loop Jane in. She and I both prefer to keep communications streamlined, and things like your email on X and your email on Y should go through me first. If you're not sure whether to include her on something, check with me first." You might also tell her what, if anything, it is good to cc your manager on, so that it's clear that you're not cutting off all communications in that direction.
If it continues after that, ask her directly why she's continuing and tell her directly to stop.
2. My new co-worker keeps distracting me during training.
I just started training for a new job last week and the training lasts for eight weeks. We're a small group (less than 20) and everyone is a great mix of personalities, but the person who sits next to me is overly chatty.
While I consider myself a quick learner, I'm starting to hit some bumps in training and her talking is distracting. She also constantly asks me to check her work for her, and often isn't sure what she should be doing because she wasn't paying attention. During a particularly difficult module today, she kept asking me what she should be doing, and I repeated a few times, "I don't know what I'm doing," while I was attempting reading the material over and over again. She got the message after the fourth time I said it, but I felt incredibly abrupt and rude by the last one, and I feel like I could handle this situation in a better way.
Be direct! You've tried hinting and it's not working, so it's time to just come out and say it:
- "Sorry, I can't talk it over because I need to focus on what the trainer is saying."
- "I'm having trouble following Jane, so I need to stop talking with you."
- "Sorry! I need to follow what Jane is saying."
- "I'm getting distracted by talking and need to focus on the training."
Really, these things are OK to say!
3. Telling my co-workers that I eloped.
My boyfriend and I are going on a vacation in a few weeks, and we decided a few days ago to elope while we are there. We have been talking about getting married for a while and we both would rather just have a stress-free ceremony while we are on vacation. We already told our friends and family and we plan to have a small celebration with them in my hometown in a few months.
However, I'm not sure how to go about telling my coworkers about our plans. I work in a small office that can be very gossipy. I didn't have a proposal with a ring, and I'm not interested in making a big deal about being engaged or having a wedding (hence why we are eloping). However, I am excited to be married and I would like to share that with my coworkers. I'm also planning to change my name and use the married name professionally. I think my coworkers will be surprised and think it's a little weird that we're getting married quickly without a traditional engagement and wedding. Any advice for the best way to casually make the announcement?
Just be straightforward: "Xavier and I are planning to get married while we're there, so I'll be Persephone Montblanc when I return." Or, if you don't mention it until you're back: "Xavier and I ended up getting married while we were there. I'm now Persephone Montblanc."
Maybe they'll think it's weird--but that's OK! You're happy with your plans, and you can respond to expressions of disapproval with "We're not big wedding people" or "We're really happy with the way with did it," followed by a shrug and/or "wow" if they persist. The correct response to an announcement that you just got married is "congratulations," not criticism--and I don't think you'll really get a ton of the latter after the fact. (It tends to be before you get married that people want to impose their beliefs about How One Should Wed; once the deed is done, they seem to lose interest--or move on to the state of your uterus.) Plus, you'll probably find some people who, having been through the headaches of planning a massive wedding, will fully understand and possibly even envy the way you've chosen to do it.
4. Leaving dates off a résumé.
I'm helping my dad rework his résumé and apply to positions after he was recently laid off--along with about 50 others--from his radiology job of eight years. He is almost 66 years old.
His experience is so broad and all-encompassing that I've decided to leave four positions on his résumé. These are mostly in chronological order and within the last 15 years. However, because he's also applying to oncology jobs, he's left an oncology position on there that is quite old. I've left all the dates off of these positions as it will be quite obvious that he is older. Instead of "2006-2014," can I write "8 years"? I don't want it to appear that he's a job hopper, but I also don't want to put dates.
Don't do that! You really need to include dates for each job; it's a big red flag if you don't. It's a neon sign screaming "trying to hide my age"--it actually draws more attention to it than if you just include the dates. (And the dates do matter. They show how recent the experience was and how long it lasted. It's legitimately relevant.)
5. Asking for extra vacation days during a salary freeze.
I have been working for 2.5 years at my current job, a family-owned company with about 20 employees. Each December, performance reviews are done. At each of my three performance reviews, I have been given nothing but stellar comments on how well I perform my job, as well as my willingness to go above and beyond. However, I have never gotten a raise. At the last two reviews (the only ones at which I might have anticipated a raise), I was told that there simply is not enough money and no one will be getting raises. I do believe this is true.
I plan to sit down with my manager to see if a raise may now be in the cards. I don't think the company will be able to give me one, though. If they aren't, would I be out of line in asking for an extra five or so days of paid time off? It would not affect my ability to complete my work, but would allow me to have a total of four weeks, or 20 days, paid time off (my company does not differentiate vacation time from sick time). Regardless of whether or not I get a raise, I do not plan to job search in the foreseeable future.
No, that's not out of line. Point out that you haven't had a raise since starting several years ago, not even a cost of living adjustment, and that you understand that the company has had a salary freeze but that you're wondering if there might be other ways to recognize your increased level of contribution, such as additional vacation days. If you're a great employee, a good manager will see this as a way to retain you when she can't do it via salary.
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