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a tale of two companies

Ask a Manager

I want to highlight two very different approaches by employers that were described in the comments on one of last week’s letters.

office won’t call me “lord,” everyone has ideas but won’t do the work, and more

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It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…. Everyone has ideas, but no one wants to do the work. I belong to an all-volunteer organization that does a lot of good in our community. However, most of the work is done by a small core group of volunteers.

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I won money on a game show, and my coworkers resent that I wasn’t laid off

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A reader writes: Pre-pandemic, I was on a game show. The game show itself isn’t well known, but I did win a small but not life-changing sum (think like three months salary after taxes).

Course 102

my company is issuing new work-from-home standards because we should have the hang of it by now

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A reader writes: I’m in a senior position at a mid-sized company that has been working from home since March, and would love your thoughts on something that was communicated to us in a leadership meeting this week.

Benefits in a Pandemic: What HR Leaders Need to Know

Building a benefits program for a diverse workforce has always been a top priority, but now it’s become both more important and complex with so much change and uncertainty. Download our latest guide that features emerging benefits employees expect in 2021 and beyond.

should we just give money for the holidays, boss drops stress bombs, and more

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It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…. What should we do for the holidays this year? I’m the boss’s wife. I also, a little bit, work for the company. In addition to the small number of things I do, I’m responsible for the annual holiday party.

Survey 108

I’m too good at interviewing — and get offered jobs I can’t do

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A reader writes: This question may seem like bragging but I don’t intend for it to come across that way so if it’s too annoying I apologize (I understand, believe me). I’ve been told repeatedly throughout my life that I am a very charismatic person.

I don’t want to bring my “whole self” to work

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A reader writes: I am so excited about employers’ new-found willingness to assess and improve the degree to which they promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace these past few months, and have been collaborating with the HR department to do so in my own workplace (I am not in HR).

my mentor has become a QAnon conspiracist

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A reader writes: I need some career-adjacent advice that intersects with the current political climate. I’ve been a wreck for about two weeks, since discovering that a mentor of mine seems to have gotten sucked in by QAnon. Any other acquaintance would be written off unsentimentally.

my partner freaks out over any background noise when working from home

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A reader writes: My partner works in tech. He recently became a consultant after working for companies of various sizes, and he’s used to busy open offices, etc. The problem is, he’s derailed by any disturbances.

Use Chaos to Build a Stronger Organization

Speaker: Stacey Harris, Chief Research Officer & Managing Partner at Sapient Insights Group

As we look to tomorrow, it is time to ask ourselves what lessons have we learned and how do we create flexible organizations that can survive what the future holds. Stacey Harris, Chief Research Officer for Sapient Insights Group, will share insights, data, and tools that are helping organizations adapt and even thrive in this difficult environment. She’ll discuss the emerging trends in the Learning technology market, and how these exciting new approaches to creating micro, adaptive, and personalized content is changing the face of workforce development while creating strong connections to business outcomes.

staff doesn’t say thank you, reference checker only wanted to hear about “exceptional” candidates, and more

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It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…. Our staff doesn’t acknowledge the ways we’re trying to make them feel appreciated. I am a partner at a small (15-person) organization that has transitioned to remote work relatively easily since COVID.

I don’t want to be friends with my coworker, attendance contest, and more

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It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…. I don’t want to be friends with my coworker. I work in a bookshop.

my coworker slept with my boyfriend, feedback for an excellent employee, and more

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It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…. My coworker had an affair with my boyfriend. I became very close friends with a coworker. We work extremely closely, every single day, and that moved into a friendship outside of work too.

muting your boss, lavish virtual holiday parties, and more

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It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…. Did I mess up by muting my boss? I think I might have messed up by muting my boss. Last week my boss and I were co-presenting to our team in Zoom. He was speaking to the team about important updates when his cell phone started to ring.

eLearning demand is at an all-time high. Pick the right LMS!

The need for online learning is greater than ever having the right LMS is absolutely crucial. Quickly, easily, and cost-effectively decide which Learning Management System is right for you with this 12-step guide from LMS implementation experts.

my coworker told everyone we’re married … we’re not even dating

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A reader writes: Last year, I left on a leave of absence for a few months to take care of my elderly parents. Then I returned to work. Apparently during that time, one of my coworkers began telling people we were married … not as in “work wife,” as in legally married, and everyone believed him. Honestly, I had no idea he had any feelings for me and I don’t think he knew I would be coming back.

Course 109

how can we get dinner privacy with a live-in nanny?

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A reader writes: Due to COVID-19, we decided to hire a live-in nanny, “Jane.” Jane, though very sweet, takes so long to clean up at night that it is eating into our privacy. My husband and I both work during the day, and dinner is our time to be together after we feed our toddler.

employee keeps missing work because of possible Covid exposures in his social life

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A reader writes: Is there ever a point where it becomes acceptable to comment on an employee’s personal life/choices during COVID times?

my employee keeps getting deadnamed by a coworker

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A reader writes: I have managed “John,” a transgender man, for about two years. John does not keep his transgender status a secret, but he also doesn’t go out of his way to tell people, so some people know and some don’t.

The Best Sales Forecasting Models for Weathering Your Goals

Every sales forecasting model has a different strength and predictability method. It’s recommended to test out which one is best for your team. This way, you’ll be able to further enhance – and optimize – your newly-developed pipeline. Your future sales forecast? Sunny skies (and success) are just ahead!

we have to share our feelings on a color-coded scale, how to demote someone, and more

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It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…. We have to share our feelings on a color-coded scale. My manager has started asking our team to go around the virtual “room” and share our state of mind at the beginning of each meeting.

I saw a coworker’s husband naked on Zoom – should I say anything?

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A reader writes: So … the other day we had a full day Zoom meeting/training (~12 people from our company, including the boss and the trainer from outside the company). During the lunch break, the Zoom was still going on, but we were encouraged to go eat, stretch, etc.

Video 109

my dysfunctional office only hires young people because we’re “blank slates”

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A reader writes: I work for a law firm that, due to Covid, has in recent months been downsized an incredible amount. The paralegal team which I am a part of went from ~10 people to basically 2.5.

my coworker berates me all day long

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A reader writes: For the past four years, I’ve worked at a small company of about 40 people spread over three states. I am the only person in my type of admin role and the only person who handles all of the documents coming into and out of all three offices.

Benefits benchmarking data for better employee and organizational wellbeing

Recognize your strengths and identify opportunities to retain valuable employees, increase employee engagement and achieve organizational goals. See where you stand against trends informed by nearly 4,000 employers and face your future with confidence.

my boss never praises my work

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A reader writes: I work as an assistant for the development team of a nonprofit. I’ve been in this role five years. My manager, Jane, who is far and away the most influential person in the organization, never praises me.

how can I stay organized when I’m working from home?

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It’s the Thursday “ask the readers” question. A reader writes: I’m an analyst, and we’re working at home during Covid. In the office, I used a lot of physical space to stay organized: white board wall, sticky notes, task lists, and I kept a lot of it in my head.

how can I encourage complaints from my employees?

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A reader writes: I’m relatively new to management. I’ve been in my role for about a year and a half. Prior to this, I haven’t had direct reports for over 20 years, and even then it was only for a year.

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. I’m pleased to be able to finally share some good news. I’ve had a really tough time during lockdown, struggling to concentrate and feeling like I’m only just keeping my head above water with home working.

How to Elevate Employee Voice to Guide a Culture Transformation

2020’s boldest people leaders are building and living core values along with their employees. Elevating Employee Voice engages an organization’s “collective hearts and habits” to drive transformation at scale. It connects every individual, manager and team in an authentic dialogue to create shared alignment, ownership and trust in the path ahead.

you’re exhausted and burned out because work is terrible

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I’m a big fan of the writer Anne Helen Petersen, who wrote the excellent “Scandals of Classic Hollywood” series at the now-defunct Hairpin and a series of fascinating profiles and lately has been writing more and more about work. Her newest book, out this week, is Can’t Even: How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation.

our office nurse thinks Covid is a hoax

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A reader writes: I work in an education-related nonprofit. There are plenty of dysfunctional things that happen at our place of business, but I cannot figure out how to approach this.

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should you create a fake workload to test how much pressure an employee can take?

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A reader writes: My husband works for a small firm founded by veterans. Last week, his supervisor assigned him an extreme amount of work, including some tasks that weren’t fully feasible. He ended up working back-to-back, 11-hour, stress-filled days, including starting the second day at 6 am.

update: our library staff have all been reassigned to do childcare for county workers

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Remember the letter from the library worker whose county was forcibly assigning library workers to provide childcare for county employees? Here’s the update.

Group Demonstration Webinar: 100% Remote New Employee Onboarding

Speaker: David Secunda, CEO, WorkBright

Companies are looking to adjust their new hire onboarding to accommodate unique ‘social distancing’ challenges like securely collecting personally identifiable information and understanding new compliance regulations like Form I-9 verification. Join Workbright on Thursday, August 27th, 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.

how to say “no, I won’t clean the bathroom”

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A reader writes: I work at a small nonprofit organization. My manager is always looking for ways to save money. Some make sense (think shopping around for the best price on office supplies). Others, not so much. We don’t have a janitor on staff, nor do we hire a service. We used to have someone (sort of like a rotating intern position) who would clean the office and the bathroom. That person would usually do it for a few months, then get pulled into other projects instead of cleaning.

what should our employer share with us when a coworker tests positive for COVID-19?

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A reader writes: I have learned from reading here that HIPAA does not generally apply to employers, it applies to health care providers and some other agencies.

new coworker is a rude know-it-all

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A reader writes: I have been working on a project for over a year, and over the last six months I have taken over the lead responsibilities. For the last year, our entire team of four has been women. Several weeks ago, a new coworker, “Mark,” started. Mark has experience in our field and has worked on similar projects with other companies. He keeps telling our team that he has very high expectations/standards and what we are doing is not meeting them.

my boss accused me of game-playing, eccentric references, and more

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It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…. My boss accused me of game-playing and hung up on me. My boss, who is normally pretty chill, yelled at me on a phone call earlier this week and hung up on me (it was just the two of us).

The D&I Garden: Seeds of Innovation that Grow into Creative Breakthroughs

Speaker: Donald Fan, Senior Director of the Global Office of Culture, Diversity & Inclusion at Walmart Inc.

In the digital era, rife with uncertainty and ambiguity, innovation plays an essential role in sustaining organic growth and outperforming the global competition. Research proves time and again, there exists a robust bond between innovation and diversity & inclusion (D&I); our challenge is to help our leaders understand how to plant the seeds of innovation in the fertile D&I garden in order to drive a strategic and competitive advantage from the office and in the digital landscape.