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. When is the best time of the day to quit your job?
When is the best time of the day to quit?
I expect to get a job offer soon and will need to give notice to my current job. But my boss is in the office kind of sporadically, so I never know how long he is going to stay.
Is it a bad idea to talk to him as soon as he comes in (and then having to work there for the rest of the day) or should I wait until towards the end of the day? Is there a standard "time" for this kind of talk?
The time of day doesn't really matter. I have a personal preference for hearing that kind of thing in the morning, because that allows me to immediately start doing all the things I'll need to do when someone resigns, whereas if I hear it late in the day, I might have to wait until the morning.
So if you can do it in the morning, it can be a kindness ... but the exact timing isn't really a big issue. In fact, it's more likely to be determined by when your boss can meet with you. And that's a perfectly fine thing to base the timing on.
2. My manager doesn't care that our new hire is awful
I work in a small office where we recently added a new position due to our growing business. Our jobs entail a lot of complicated tasks and require sharp memory and attention to detail.
Our new employee has been with us for four months. She does not like to follow directions, argues, and makes mistakes frequently. She always has a bad attitude. We have tried training her on things she makes mistakes on in the nicest way possible, but she still makes the same mistakes and is rude.
Our manager is pushing us to give her more tasks to learn when she is struggling with the little we have given her. When we told our boss our concerns, she turned everything back on the team like it is our fault she can't retain anything. The team morale is very low now. What can we do so that our boss address the issue?
Your manager doesn't sound great at managing, which might trump anything you try. However, it's her job to deal with this, so I'd continue to push the problem back to her to address.
Keep it dry and factual -- you don't want to sound your assessment of your coworker to sound personal -- but do go back to her with what you're seeing, and don't pull any punches. For instance: "We've tried X, Y, and Z to train Jane to handle these projects, but she hasn't caught on. She sent the wrong proof to the printer this week, and when the client complained, she told him it wasn't her problem and then left for the day. When Bob tried to coach her on fixing the problem the next day, she told him not to talk to her. All three of us who work closely with her have serious concerns about her ability to do the work she's charged with. How would you like us to handle this?"
If she tells you that you need to give Jane more training, then say, "I'm certainly willing to, but I've tried X, Y and Z. Can you help me figure out what else to try?"
But ultimately, you can't make your manager be a good manager. If she's resolved not to deal with performance problems, there might not be much you can do to change that.
3. Can employers blackball you from working in your field?
Can you be blackballed by HR if you left a position under unfavorable conditions? I know that when I was working with organizations in my field, we would go to conferences or have networking events where "things" would come up that seemed that they could hurt the person being referred to.
So I wondered if HR people talk to each other that way and make statements such as, "Oh Jane Doe! I would be leery of hiring her!" or other things that would inadvertently spread like wildfire through the community effectively blackballing Jane Doe.
Yes. People talk, and they talk about employees and job candidates -- just like they compare experiences with software, vendors, managers, or companies. This is one reason why reputation matters so much.
It's pretty unusual for this to result in someone being blackballed from an entire field, though, unless that field is extremely small.
4. Should I tell job applicants about errors on their resumes and cover letters?
As I'm reviewing resumes, I frequently see errors on resumes and cover letters (spelling mistakes, grammar errors, things like that). Should I let a candidate know, in the interest of helping them out? I'm more inclined to want to mention it when it's just one rather than when there are several.
Nah, not your job. I'm all for giving job candidates feedback once they've interviewed, but for simple spelling or grammatical mistakes and for people who aren't going to be asked to interview, I think that's something you need to leave them to manage on your own. Plus, it's not a great use of your time.
5. I cried in front of our director
The other day I was sick and ended up needing to leave early because I made a (last minute) doctor appointment. My team lead asked that I tell our director (my boss's boss) since my boss was on vacation. When I went to the director's office. I told her I wasn't feeling well and had made an appointment at my doctor but would need to leave right then. As I was telling her this, I started crying (I'm a crier when sick). I apologized and explained that I tend to cry when not feeling well. She told me to go ahead and asked if I would be ok to drive.
Now that I'm feeling better, should I apologize to her again? I don't think I necessarily need to pop into her office but if I run into her in the hall or something should I bring it up or wait and see if she does? This is the second embarrassing interaction I've had with her and don't want to come off as someone who is inept or awkward.
I don't think you need to apologize in the sense of owing her an apology, but I think you're right to acknowledge "hey, that was a slightly unusual moment between us" -- especially since you're feeling weird about it.
I'd just pop your head in her door and say, "Thank you for being so kind to me last week when I was sick. Apologies for the emotion -- that happens sometimes when I'm sick." That's it; don't make it a bigger deal than that (and you can frame it more as a thank-you than an apology).
Want to submit a question of your own? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.