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 a low performer asks for a massive raise.

One of my employees has handed me a letter asking for a promotion and a 30 percent pay raise, detailing their desired new job title and new job description! This letter has shocked me, to say the least, as this person is underperforming in his current role and only last week he and I agreed that we would give it six months for his performance to improve and get him back on track.

I believe this employee is feeling hard done by, as we recently hired a more senior position on the team. He did not express any interest in applying for this more senior position and has not taken any responsibility for his own development. Are you able to offer any advice as to how to deal with this situation without upsetting him?

Green responds:

Wow, that's...nervy.

Say this: "Right now, we're focused on getting your performance where it needs to be for your current job, as we talked about last week. I'd need to see you meet the bar we laid out last week, and sustain your performance at that level for a sustained period before we could consider increasing your pay or promoting you."

You probably should add, "This has me concerned that I wasn't clear enough when we met last week. Right now, you're in danger of losing your current job because of the performance issues we discussed. This request makes me think you may not fully realize that." (And this is a flag for you to make sure that you were very clear in that last meeting and explicitly said that his job is in jeopardy, explained that the issues are serious ones, etc.)

Your main goal cannot be to avoid upsetting him. The main goal is ensuring that he understands the severity of his performance issues and what he needs to do to fix them. You can't allow a fear that he'll be upset to get in the way of you doing your job as his manager. And really, the clearer and more direct you are, the kinder you are being to him in the long-run, especially since it doesn't sound like he gets it so far.

2. Employee dating drama.

I own and manage a small entertainment company with about 20 contracted employees. Two of them are dating each other and have been doing so for years. They live together.

A third employee recently came to me because the male half of the couple popped up on an online dating app she was using. In his profile, he said it was there for "research." We have no idea if the woman he is dating knows about this online profile. It all seems so sketchy.

The third employee, who is the man's designated mentor, is unsure of what to do. Should she tell him she found him online, essentially confronting him on a personal matter, or should she let the woman know what she found and let them resolve it privately? Should she do nothing? We are unsure what's worse: Telling the woman and giving off the sense that company leadership doesn't trust this man, or telling the man and making him answer questions about his private life to his mentor or boss.

Green responds:

Oh my goodness, do nothing. This is 100 percent not anyone's business at work. Maybe they have an open relationship, maybe they don't, who knows. It's not the province of anyone at work to step into this. Tell everyone to move along and let people have private lives outside of work.

3. Should I tell an employer their offer is below industry standard?

I received a job offer today and what they offered was way below industry standard. In fact, it was about 25 percent too low. It was even lower than my salary as an entry-level employee at my first job out of college.

Should I point this out to them? I've worked in this industry for almost 10 years, so I know it well and have done my research and know what the position is worth and what the range should be. This company has a good reputation and from speaking with some colleagues that have worked there, I've never heard that they pay their employees this far below industry standard.

The HR rep I spoke to said the offer over the phone and then it was in the offer letter, so I know it isn't a mistake. What if I just said, "This offer is well below industry standard. I've done some research and the salary range for this position, with this amount of experience, in our state is X. It may be tough to find someone with as much experience as you're looking for to agree to that salary."

Green responds:

It's absolutely worth pointing out that they're paying way under market, especially if you're willing to walk away from the offer (which I assume you are, given the description here).

But I think you can strengthen that wording and drive the point home more effectively. In this context, "I've done some research" isn't especially effective, because they'll just assume that their research is better than yours (especially because when candidates say this, they've often relied on overly broad salary surveys). So instead of that, I'd say, "To give you some context, it's lower than my entry-level salary 10 years ago, and well below what I've seen people earn in comparable roles since."

4. My bosses spend early morning meetings on small talk

I have a couple of bosses who are very social and outgoing. They talk about non-work stuff a lot, which is generally fine, but every Monday we have a meeting first thing in the morning. I am in a different time zone, so I have to attend very early in the morning on the first day after the weekend. It's work so I am OK with it, of course. Except we only start talking about actual work 30-45 minutes into the meeting. The first half hour is just chatting about sports or the news. They are very talkative and I can't get a word in edgewise. So I get up really early to listen to other people talk about nothing for a half hour, when I could be getting another half hour of sleep.

Is it acceptable to start showing up late to these meetings? Or is there another way to handle this?

Green responds:

Don't just start showing up late. They may not realize how long they spend doing this, and so you'll just look like you're suddenly showing up late with no particular reason. Instead, at the end of the next meeting, say this: "As you know, I'm calling in at 5 a.m. my time for these meetings. I've noticed that typically the first half hour of the call is spent catching up on news and other chat. Since I'm getting up so early to make these calls, would it be OK if I joined at 5:30 instead of 5? If I'm not needed for the first part of the call, it would be great to be able to call in a little later."

5. How do interim roles work?

A few months ago, I applied for a job I'm pretty excited about. The hiring process was put on hold after the hiring manager left for another position, and now that they've replaced that person, they're bringing me in for an interview next week.

After some LinkedIn searching, I discovered that someone who was previously in a more junior position at the company has been acting as the "interim [job title]" while they waited to fill the role. I don't have any experience with interim positions and wondered if you could shed some light on how this kind of thing works. Is it more likely that they'll hire the interim person for the role? Will they drop back down to their original job title if someone else is hired? Is there no consistency in how it works?

And how does salary work if you're in that situation? Do you get bumped up to the more senior salary level temporarily, if you revert to your original, more junior position after the hiring process is completed?

Green responds:

It totally depends. Sometimes the interim person does end up getting hired into the role. Sometimes they're a serious candidate but someone external ends up being better and gets the job instead. And sometimes it's pretty clear from the start that they're not the right person for the job long-term and they're simply being asked to keep things running at a basic level while the employer searches for a better match. In the last case, they usually return to their previous job once someone is hired to take over the role.

Someone acting in an interim role is usually given a temporary salary bump. It's not necessarily the same salary the position would normally pay, in part because interim roles are often streamlined versions of the "real" role and so the demands aren't quite as high. But it really just depends on how the company does things and what the interim person negotiates.

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