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. Should I email my whole team my grievances when I resign?

Would it be career suicide to send an email to everyone at my current job explaining why I'm leaving it? 

My boss turned out to be a two-faced liar who viciously targeted and drove out several coworkers (while quite a few more left because they couldn't stomach how others were being treated). I'm still angry at what was done to so many people. She was eventually forced to leave, but still, HR and upper management sat on these problems for over a year! I'm also upset that to many she's seen as an angel and they think that I'm leaving to show support of her. Should I send a letter to my whole team outlining all of this?

Green responds:

Do not, do not, do not!

Sending an email like this, no matter how right you are in what you're saying, will reflect far worse on you than it does on your company's management. Rightly or wrongly, it'll make you look unprofessional and like you have bad judgment. It's likely to be seen not as an attempt to set the record straight, but rather as a bridge-burning act and a middle finger to your company. It's the kind of thing that will make people uncomfortable to refer you to jobs in the future, even your allies.

Believe me, we've all had fantasies of doing this kind of thing. But you've got to resist the urge, because it really will hurt you more than anyone else.

However, you can discreetly let people you trust and are close to know your reasons for leaving in one-on-one conversations (and not in email -- you don't want a paper trail of this after you leave). Do it calmly and objectively, and you'll get the message out while preserving your credibility.

2. How can I reconcile my view of management with my boss's?

My boss and I have very different management styles. She believes her role as a manager is to convey company policies and to rally her team to comply to them. I, on the other hand, feel like my role is to articulate to management how these new rules will impact my team. I see myself as an advocate for my direct reports, and sometimes I disagree with company policies because I felt they negatively affect affect morale. My personal rule is that I will always voice my opinion but I will follow my boss' direction regardless of my feelings (I'm not defiant by any means).

However, I'm concerned that my boss thinks I'm a negative nelly because there's been a series of new policies that I've strongly disagreed with. She does not have a problem with these policies, and she truly believes that they're created with the best intensions. But overall morale is low and many people have quit over the new policies. Our GlassDoor reviews are atrocious. She's disconnected with the pulse of the staff, but I don't think I can change her mind. What advice can you give on how I can communicate better with her

Green responds:

It's possible that you're both right. It's true that part of being a good manager is making sure that management above you understands how new policies will affect your team. But it's also true that part of being a good manager is hearing when those above you are telling you that they've judged that others things need to take priority, and having a good feel for what battles are worth fighting and where to spend political capital.

If you get to the point where the conflict between what you think they need to hear and what they're willing to hear is too large for you to live with comfortably, that's a flag that you might need to move on -- but a lot of this comes down to judging how far you can push with the people above you without compromising your effectiveness.

As for how to change your boss's mind, you may not be able to. You can lay out your point of view and why you have it, but she's presumably seeing the same turnover numbers and GlassDoor reviews as you are. At some point, it might make sense to say to her, "We have really different takes on X and Y. I don't want to be annoying in how much I'm pushing my perspective, but I also don't want you to be blindsided by what I think are growing problems on the staff. Do you want me to keep raising this kind of thing or ....?"

3. Company won't reimburse business trip airplane ticket after I resigned

I've just landed a dream job in my dream field. My problem comes in leaving my current job. I've been here for 2-1/2 years and for the past 6 months have been working remotely from across the country (a 4-hour plane ride). Our agreement was that my company would pay for plane travel, and I would pay for all of my other travel expenses. Well, when it came time to plan for my next in-person visit to the company in mid-December, they said the plane tickets were too expensive - the company credit cards have a $500 limit - and asked if I would front the money and submit an expense report to be reimbursed.

At the time, I hadn't yet applied for my new job and was still planning on making this work trip, so I purchased the plane ticket and submitted the expense report about a week later. The new job happened really fast - I applied, was interviewed, and offered the job all in a two-week whirlwind. I just gave notice, and my director at old job denied my expense report that was pending. She hasn't said a word to me about it, I just received an auto-email that it had been denied. The ticket I purchased had to be approved by my company, and they gave me a budget that did not allow for a refundable ticket. Do I suck it up and accept that I've lost the $500+ for the ticket, or should I escalate this to someone in our HR department? I hate to burn bridges by doing that, but this is a substantial chunk of money.

Green responds:

Hell, no, do not suck it up. This was a business expense that they agreed to pay, and they need to pay it. It would be the height of pettiness and frankly nastiness for them to refuse to pay because you've put in your notice.

Try contacting your manager and saying, "I received a denial of this expense reimbursement, which I think must be a mistake since this was an approved business expense. I realize, of course, that my resignation means that I won't be making the trip, but it was a business expense, not a personal one, and I bought the ticket with the company's okay. Will there be an issue with approving this?"

If you don't get it resolved that way, then yes, you should absolutely escalate it. They have a clear ethical obligation to pay this.

4. Is this employee getting two lunch breaks?

I have an employee who takes an hour off-site every day, then comes back and heats up a full lunch and eats at her desk (while working). Now it is going on with two other employees as well. I am an office supervisor with an admin and director who think this is fine, but I do not. What do you suggest?

Green responds:

Are they as productive when they work while eating as they would be if they weren't eating? If so, I don't see a problem there. If eating while they work means that they're not getting as much done during that period, that would be a legitimate thing to raise. But otherwise, this is probably someone who's working out or running errands during their mid-day break and then eating when they return to work, and as long as it's not impacting their work output, you should let it go.

5. Can I tell an employer I really want a higher level position than the one I'm interviewing for?

I'm a computer programmer/systems analyst, and I've gone through some denied-a-promotion adventures this year for a team lead position. That was six months ago, and I've been job hunting ever since.

While I was applying for team lead positions (a step up), I recently started looking at the lateral moves to another organization just for the sake of getting out of my current work environment. I'm starting to get some traction with both the team lead positions and the lateral positions and have interviews coming up.

In the interviews for the lateral positions, is it worthwhile mentioning that I really am looking for a position that is one level higher than what the posted position is for? How will that come across? I could mention it as a 5-year goal, but the reality is that I'm not prepared to wait that long and genuinely feel that I am overdue for this.

Green responds:

Nope, you shouldn't mention that you're really looking for a higher level position; that's basically like announcing "I don't actually want the job that you're trying to fill and will quickly be trying to move out of it." Employers want to hire people who are excited about the job they're putting them in, not already feeling overdue to move up.

In fact, I think you probably need to resolve that mentally before you keep applying for lateral moves. If you're going to feel frustrated six months into one of those jobs, you'll have done yourself and the employer a disservice. I think you've got to either figure out a way to be reasonably happy at that level for a couple of years, or apply for positions that are at the level you want to be at.
 

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