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how to respond when coworkers IM me “hi” with no indication of what they need

Ask a Manager

A reader writes: At my work, we have an instant messaging system. A lot of people will send an initial message that says nothing but “IM?” or “hi.” ” In addition to making me irrationally annoyed (just tell me you want already!!),

I sacrificed for my boyfriend’s business and might get nothing, renting a house from my boss, and more

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It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…. I sacrificed for my boyfriend’s business — and I might get nothing. In early 2010, I started to date my boyfriend who owned a small business. Two years later, I decided to “partner” with him to expand/re-design his business.

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my employees don’t want to return to work because they’re making more from unemployment

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A reader writes: I’m a small business owner who had about 45 employees before the COVID-19 shutdown hit us hard. We laid off or furloughed the entire staff, and we’ve now been approved for and received a PPP loan.

how to vent responsibly (and win a free book!)

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If you’ve ever worried you’re venting about your job too much, or secretly wished your friends or coworkers would vent a little less about theirs, you have a lot of company. People vent about their jobs! Sometimes a lot.

How To 118

ABCs of Data Normalization for B2B Marketers

Data normalization. It’s not a far stretch to suggest that the topic isn’t exactly what gets marketers excited in their day-to-day workflow. However, if lead generation, reporting, and measuring ROI is important to your marketing team, then data normalization matters - a lot. In this eBook, we’ll break down the ins and outs of data normalization and review why it’s so critical for your marketing strategies and goals!

what’s reasonable for managers to expect of parents working from home?

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A reader writes: What are reasonable expectations for managers whose employees are now working from home? For myself, I can adhere to my normal schedule while homebound, but I have a great employee who, having gone above and beyond in normal times, pleads child care issues now that she is home.

our boss pushes us to share how we’re doing emotionally at team meetings

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A reader writes: In our weekly team meetings, my supervisor has started having everyone answer the question, “How are you doing emotionally and mentally?”. On one hand, he seems to mean well and be genuine in his concern.

I’m running out of patience when we need patience the most

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A reader writes: I wonder if you have any ideas about dealing with minor annoyances that don’t seem so minor in the current situation.

updates: using time off to nanny, the Secret Santa gift, and more

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It’s a special “where are you now?” season at Ask a Manager, when I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past. Here are three updates from past letter-writers. Can I used my unlimited time off to do part-time nanny work?

exactly where to report employers for violating shelter-in-place orders, by state

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When I wrote on Wednesday about what to do if your employer is violating shelter-in-place orders , commenters were a wealth of information for individual states. Here’s crowd-sourced info on where to report non-compliant employers, by state.

Report 142

Scaling the Digitally-Ready Workforce

The digital future will require a new set of skills, behaviors, and ways of working, but most organizations have not defined the critical competencies needed to compete in an age of disruption and do not have a process in place to assess digital readiness in their own people, a new Aon study finds. For HR leaders, the continuous state of disruption requires a new, more flexible approach to workforce planning and development. Download the full report, which shares insights from 1,551 senior business executives, HR leaders, and employees from around the world, to learn the 5 key insights and the steps your organization can take to transform your approach to people, jobs, and rewards to thrive in an uncertain digital future.

I pierced my nose in quarantine, a disgusting boss, and more

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It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…. How do I stop clients from ranting about why we haven’t reopened yet? I work for a national nonprofit that does hands-on, in-person work.

Video 101

an example of starting with grace when you’re frustrated with someone

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A reader writes: I wanted to share a recent example where in the heat of a frustrating situation I took a step back and tried (sort of…) compassion, which completely changed my understanding of the situation.

what to do if your company isn’t handling coronavirus well

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I am getting a lot of mail about coronavirus, and one common theme is employers who aren’t acting with any urgency at all — not having people work from home where they can, not canceling travel or events, etc. Here’s some advice if you’re in that situation. •

updates: the interrupting boss, the surprise criticism, and more

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It’s a special “where are you now?” season at Ask a Manager, when I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past. Here are three updates from past letter-writers. Can I ask my boss to stop interrupting my presentations? (#3 3 at the link).

Why Smoking Costs Employers More Than They Realize

Your employees are smoking, and at a cost of $7,000 per year for each employee who smokes, that adds up - fast! This free report will show you how an effective cessation program pays for itself.

how do I respond to colleagues who are jealous of my furlough?

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A reader writes: I’m furloughed, along with about 98% of my organization (~35,000 people), the vast majority of them public-facing retail.

my employees don’t like the way I coach them

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A reader writes: I’m a fairly new manager of a small team and recently received some feedback from an employee that I don’t know what to do about. A previous employee had also given me the same feedback so I’m starting to see a pattern. When team members come to me with questions, I tend not to give the answer right away, but ask them questions back to stimulate their thinking.

update: my boss makes me wear her clothes, eat her food, and say I’m grateful for my job

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Remember the letter-writer whose boss made her wear the boss’s clothes, eat the boss’s food, and say she was grateful for her job ? Here’s the update. First of all, I want to thank you and your readers for all the wonderful advice.

bosses are panic-buying spy software to monitor remote workers

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Well, this is a terrible indictment of employers’ utter lack of understanding about how to manage remote workers : I’m quoted (in part, questioning how these managers are getting any work done themselves).

100% Remote Onboarding: Group Demonstration

Speaker: David Secunda, CEO, WorkBright

Join WorkBright on Thursday, June 24th to get a first hand look at how a 100% remote onboarding process works using their system. They'll cover a few of the new COVID-19 related legislation changes and how they can be easily facilitated with their platform.

if you have a disability, do employers have to let you keep working from home after they re-open?

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A reader writes: My friend’s office is reopening and bringing everyone back to work. They’re refusing (or at the very least being VERY hesitant) to provide accommodations, even though she’s immunocompromised and has a doctor’s note verifying this.

sending work emails late at night, coworker read my notebook, and more

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It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…. Taking long bereavement leave during a busy time. A few years ago, I had a manager tragically lose her sister in an unexpected accident.

updates: the personal goal-sharing, the lunching interviewer, and more

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It’s a special “where are you now?” season at Ask a Manager, when I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past. Here are four updates from past letter-writers. My boss expects me to share my personal health/diet/spirituality/fitness goals every week.

coworker says I don’t respond to his emails, a bizarre company survey, and more

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It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…. My coworker says I don’t respond to his emails — which I never received. My department has been working from home due to the current situation, so we have been having a lot of Zoom meetings.

Get a Better Handle on Your Remote Workforce

During these uncertain times, more employees are working remotely than ever before. Form I-9 completion for remote employees can be particularly challenging for HR teams. Download this eBook from Equifax Workforce Solutions to help navigate offsite Form I-9 compliance.

it’s your Friday good news

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It’s your Friday good news, with more accounts of success even in this weird time.

updates: I caused a coronavirus panic, asking to go part-time, and more

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It’s a special “where are you now?” season at Ask a Manager, when I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past. Here are four updates from past letter-writers. Can I ask to go part-time since my work is slow? (#5 5 at the link).

updates: the alcoholic coworker, the bad morale, and more

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It’s a special “where are you now?” season at Ask a Manager, when I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past. Here are three updates from past letter-writers. I think my coworker is an alcoholic (first update here ). At this point, the update is pretty far removed from the original question, but it’s good news at a time when we can all use that.

workers want support and flexibility, not quizzes and costume contests

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As COVID-19 upends everything about how we work, many employers with newly remote staffs are trying to figure out how to support employees emotionally — and are leaning heavily on things like virtual happy hours, team games on Slack or Zoom, and personal check-ins centered on mental health. But in the process, some of them are actually increasing employees’ stress rather than easing it.

How to Keep Employees Engaged and Connected in the New Normal of Remote Working

Speaker: Elena Valentine, CEO, Skill Scout

The way we conduct work has completely changed. Before the pandemic, remote working or a few work from home days were allowed for certain employees. Now, remote working is our new normal. We have had to align our business to make sure that our employees are productive and have the necessary resources to succeed. But, did we make sure that they still feel connected with the rest of their team? Join Elena Valentine, CEO of Skill Scout, to learn how to make employee engagement a top priority even when everyone is working remotely.

why can’t you contact your spouse’s employer to advocate for them?

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A reader writes: Why are you telling people that spouses as a rule cannot contact their partner’s boss and saying that is unprofessional? Is that in every situation?

if your hours have been cut, you can collect unemployment benefits

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You should know that if your hours are cut due to coronavirus (or for any other reason), you can file for unemployment benefits in your state. I’ve heard from some people who incorrectly believed they had to be fully unemployed before they’d be eligible for unemployment.

my boss assumes we’re slacking off when we work from home

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A reader writes: I work for a small company with about 10 employees working full-time in the office. We all report directly to the CEO, Phil.

my boss wants to visit us during the stay-at-home order

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A reader writes: I was hoping you could help me address a request from my manager. I work on a small team (five of us altogether) where we are all the same gender, around the same age, and have a lot of similar interests — the perfect makings for a traditional “friend group.” ” Except that, of course, one of us is a manager (“Jordan”) so there needs to be some level of distance between us. The trouble is, Jordan has a hard time with this.

Building a Resilient Workforce: Employee Engagement and Communication are Key

When employees are engaged and empowered, an organization is better positioned to adapt to market conditions, crises, and complex problems. Find out how to prepare your workforce to better overcome challenges with this free eBook.