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 new employee lied on his résumé

I joined my current company last year and was recently promoted from my former position to managing another department. One of the team members in my new department expressed an interest in the role I was vacating. In the process of interviewing him for my old position, I discovered glaring errors on his résumé​. He has oversold his previous job experience, listed software and systems he has no actual knowledge of, and, when questioned directly about some parts of his résumé (education, previous positions), he couldn't even come up with a very good lie.

When I asked him why he seemed to have some discrepancies on his résumé, he shrugged and told me that his brother had helped him write it.

I already know this employee is not ranked very highly as a candidate for my previous position, but that means that he'll be staying in my department. Do I address these lies on his résumé? So far, his work for the company is competent, if not particularly thrilling, and it's not his fault that his previous manager didn't catch these issues when she was interviewing him for his original position. I would not want to punish him for lying on his résumé (because I don't feel his lies directly affect the quality of his current work), but I do want him to understand that this isn't acceptable. What's the best way to go about this?

Green responds:

Well, lying on a résumé is a good reason for firing someone. He lied to get the job, and he didn't even think it was a big deal when you talked to him about it. That says something pretty serious about his integrity and his trustworthiness. Are you going to trust this guy when it's his word against a client's, or when a story seems a bit off to you? I don't see how you'll ever be able to give him the benefit of the doubt, and that's a huge problem.

But if you want to keep him, I'd sit him down for a very serious conversation and explain that lying on a résumé is a fireable offense at many companies, that you've considered whether that would be appropriate in this case, that it raises serious issues about integrity and your ability to trust him, and that you're going to need to see impeccable integrity and ethics from him going forward. And then I'd keep an eagle eye on him for a long time, because I would bet money that you'll uncover other ethical issues if you watch closely enough.

2. I don't want my boss to email my team when I'm out

I work in the accounting department, and I called out sick because my kids were sick. I came into work the next day and saw an email that was sent out by my boss to the whole accounting team with the subject line "Jane Smith will not be in today." Is that really anyone's business but my own and my manager's?

I would think that putting an "out of office" reply to my email would be enough to notify people that I am out. Also, if someone in the same office is looking for me, if they notice that my computer is not on and it looks like I'm out, they should just be able to go to my boss directly if they needed something. I have heard people make comments about others who have been out, and I know other co-workers like to "track" that stuff, but in the end, I feel it's no one's business. The only person who should know if I'm out is my direct manager.

Green responds:

What your manager did is very, very normal. There's no expectation of privacy that your co-workers won't be alerted when you're out; to the contrary, many offices proactively inform people so that they're not left guessing. (Having to judge from whether your computer is off or on isn't a particularly efficient or effective method.)

You're fighting a losing battle on this one; it's just not going to be seen as a privacy violation. If someone is tracking your time off who shouldn't be, address that directly--but it's reasonable to send "Jane is out today" emails to your team.

3. Company didn't respond after I declined a job offer

I recently went through an interview process and received an offer from the company. I was thrilled and excited for a fresh start but ended up turning the offer down due to some major health-related issues. I was open about the reason, appreciative of the offer, and bummed out that the I couldn't accept. I emailed the department head and copied the hiring manager. I never heard back from either manager.

Is this standard behavior? Should I take the lack of response personally or as an insult? This position was for a major corporation where much of the hiring process is standardized. I'd love to work for this company in the future and had mentioned as much in my email but I'm very concerned that not receiving a response back is a bad sign. Is there a reason to worry? Is it rude to not respond to candidates who have declined offers?

Green responds:

It is indeed rude. They need to close the loop. If nothing else, they're leaving you to wonder whether they received your response or whether they're sitting there thinking that you just disappeared on them.

I'd approach it from that angle. Get back in touch and say, "I hadn't heard back from you and wanted to make sure you received my email. I know messages sometimes get lost, and I want to make sure that one this important was indeed received!"

4. My manager wants to send me home when I walk with a cane

I'm an admin for a medium-sized company, and I've been in the position for under a year. After I was hired, I disclosed a serious health condition to my general manager, who responded well. However, when I eventually had a flare-up, things went less swimmingly. I missed a few days of work and reported back after treatment with a doctor's note--and a cane, which I used for two weeks. My general manager immediately began to say things like "I don't want you to get out of your desk for anything--you make me too nervous" and "If you insist on walking around, I will send you home." The last was said as I made my way to the bathroom.

I'm having another flare-up, and I'll be using my cane again, but now I'm terrified of being sent home from work when I really am able to work, according to myself and my doctor. I honestly need the money. Am I being overly sensitive about this? If confronted again, should I say something to the general manager, or to the HR manager? Should I just ignore it? Can I really be sent home for needing a cane?

Green responds:

It sounds like your manager is expressing concern about your welfare without realizing the impact of what she's actually saying--as well as not realizing that she may be violating disability laws. I'd go and talk to HR preemptively; they're going to be much more up on their legal obligations here than your manager apparently is. Explain what happened last time, and that you're concerned that when you come in with a cane again, your manager will try to prevent you from working or moving about the office freely. Ask if they can help you to navigate this and to ensure that your manager won't prevent you from working.

And then, if your manager makes any comments like that again (which she hopefully won't, after HR educates her about disability law), say this: "I appreciate your concern, but it's actually much easier for me if you treat me just like you did when I wasn't using a cane." And if it persists after that, involve HR again.

5. Committing to a start date before the background check is done

I've recently been offered a new position I am super excited about with a great company. When working with the recruiter to accept my offer and make some negotiations, etc., she was taken back a little that I was insistent that I needed to wait for background to clear before I put in my two weeks' notice at my current job. It sounds like people don't request that often from her.

I'm just not comfortable resigning before the background check clears and the offer is final, even though my background will run squeaky clean.

What's the deal? Why do employers keep insisting on this? And why do new hires just keep letting them? I realize it delays filling the position, which isn't great for them, but in the big picture, it's our livelihood. In the end, the recruiter is allowing this, but I can't help feeling that I'm annoying them with such a request.

Green responds:

They do it because they see the background check as a rubber stamp and assume that it will come back fine, and--particularly annoyingly--that the only people who need to worry about it are the people with reason to fear that they won't pass the background check. But of course, sometimes people don't pass, and sometimes it's for good reason and other times it's not. Regardless, though, it's not at all unreasonable to decline to quit your job until they remove the background contingency from their offer. When they're ready to commit to you, you'll commit to them. Good for you for holding firm on that.
 

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

Published on: Aug 12, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.