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.
Fired and asked to train my replacement.
I've been at my job for only four months, but the owner has already hired my replacement. She brought me into her office to let me know that "this isn't working out" and had a replacement in by that afternoon! She posted my job behind my back twice, has generally micromanaged and disrespected me as an employee, and clearly has no qualms about letting someone go on a whim. I agreed to stay on for the time being to train my replacement, but I'm at the point now where I just want to make a clean break. I am planning to relocate out of state anyway in a few weeks, so my question is this: Is it okay to simply leave this job now? This owner will literally push me out the door as soon as she feels that the new person can take over the role. Why put myself through the stress of helping her out when I may end up on the street in a few days anyway?
Well, ethically, there's no reason you shouldn't leave right away. She's the one who told you that you're being fired; it's not a resignation, where the professional thing to do is to give notice. You're allowed to exert some control over when your last day will be, and there's nothing wrong with saying, "Given our conversation, and since I've only been here four months, I think it makes sense for today to be my last day."
However, why not try to get something for yourself in exchange for training the new person? Specifically, you could agree to train the new person in exchange for a couple of weeks of severance pay (more than that is unlikely after just four months of work) or guaranteed pay through a specific date. Get this in writing if you agree to it, though.
I want my boss's job in five to seven years.
I am a hospitality manager at a nonprofit organization. I love what I do! I love the company I work for! I love everything about the job! Right now, I am way underpaid for what I do in the field that I am in. That is not a problem. I am more concerned about the limited advancement opportunities. I am worried that I am not going to be happy doing this job for the next 25 years. If I were to move into my boss's position when he retires (five to seven years), I believe I would be happy with the job and pay for the rest of my career. But I fear that they may choose someone from the outside. Most of my peers would not want the position, but we all do work closely together. HR may realize this as well and determine that an outside candidate would be best. That is where my boss came from.
I have asked multiple people about my future here and I have not had any solid answers. I had applied for a similar position to my boss's and it was filled internally (seemed political), which I am okay with. Should I consider other opportunities elsewhere? If I leave, would that open up that door when my boss retired?
It's normal to not think you'll be happy doing your current job for the next 25 years, even though you like it now. That's the case for most people. You shouldn't be getting anxious about the fact that you may eventually need to change jobs or companies; that's normal and something you should expect.
You can certainly mention to your boss that you'd love to be considered for his job when he retires in five to seven years, ask if he thinks they'd prefer external candidates, and ask what you can do now to start positioning yourself to be a strong candidate when that day comes--but keep in mind that that's a long way off. I wouldn't leave a job you love just because it might help you get a different job in seven years--the odds aren't good enough. Instead, just talk to your boss and get his advice.
Asking employees to be aware of how their absences affect others.
I work at a small bank and am being asked to explain to our employees why they should be cognizant of how their taking time off affects others. It seems that many of our employees feel like if they have gotten their work done, they should be free to take PTO. What they don't always realize is that when one person takes off, it affects someone else in the chain, i.e., if a loan processor is out, it affects the loan officer as they cannot complete the loan without the processor doing her part.
It is not that I don't want anyone to take off, but I want them to be aware of who they could be affecting and communicate with those folks so nobody has to deal with the stress. Everyone needs and deserves time off, but when you are going to be away you should communicate with those that your time away might affect, make sure there is someone else to fill your duties if they are doing something that cannot wait until you return, etc.
You need to be clear and direct about specifically what you're asking them to do. If you just tell them to be more aware of how their absences affect others, you're not being clear about the behavior you want to see. You risk people thinking you don't want them taking time off at all, or missing the whole point you're trying to make.
Instead, clearly explain that before taking planned PTO, they need to do A, B, and C. And when you approve PTO, you should inquire about what arrangements they've made to cover their work in their absence (and offer to help with that where appropriate). Assuming you're the manager, you simply need to explain how you want people to operate and then ensure that they do.
My boss is angry that we didn't question her own manager.
My boss was sick for five weeks and is now picking apart how our office handled things in her absence. In her absence, her bosses gave us template emails and instructions on who to send them out to. My boss is telling us we should have questioned them as to why they were being sent to those people and possibly even the content their templates contained. Her bosses both have PhDs and are privy to a lot of confidential information. I looked them over and corrected grammar and spelling if it needed to be corrected, but basically, my co-workers and I see it as our job as admin assistants to facilitate what they say to do and not question their instructions. Is it our job to really be questioning them on who to send emails to if they say to send them to "X" group? She's been picking apart many, many things we had to handle while she was gone, so I could be overreacting. Does she sound right in this?
If it was abundantly clear that the instructions your boss's bosses gave you were problematic and you didn't say anything solely because you didn't feel it was your place, even though you had context they didn't have, then I could see your manager being concerned that you didn't speak up. However, even then, she should understand why you didn't and should simply explain to you when and how it's appropriate to push back in that kind of situation in the future. And if that's not the case--if you couldn't have known that there was a problem with what her bosses were asking you to do--then she's out of line.
5. My co-worker isn't working the same hours as everyone else.
Our hours are 7:30-5pm Monday through Friday, with every other Friday off because we all work a 9/80 schedule. The chief's assistant comes in at 8ish everyday and then sits at her desk to apply her makeup for the next 30-45 minutes. The chief is not in the office that early so is unaware. I feel she should not be on the 9/80 schedule if she is not going to work those hours. How do I let the chief know without looking like I am tattling? I am so upset with this that I have gut rot because of my anger in everyone not being treated the same.
If this doesn't impact your work, it's not your problem to solve. Unless you have a very close relationship with your boss, I can't see any way you could bring this up without looking petty.
The reality is that everyone is not always treated the same at work. Work isn't really about fairness; it's about your organization meeting its goals, and the details of how they do that may not always look fair or even reasonable to you. If that's going to give you gut rot (which sounds terrible), your gut is likely to be in danger anywhere you work. It's going to be far better for your quality of life to let this go.
Want to submit a question of your own? Send it to email@example.com.