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my coworker put a magical curse on her boss

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I am very happy to be starting 2021 with a letter about witchcraft. A reader writes: I am an employee at a gas station. We have been hiring new people to fill a few positions, and I have been asked to train our new members of the team.

how to become a slacker … with Laurie Ruettimann

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I’ve long been an admirer of Laurie Ruettimann , since her days running Punk Rock HR, a hilarious blog where she called out the BS of HR. The blog is no more, but she now has a podcast of the same name.)


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I accidentally threw a sandwich and it caused a work crisis

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A reader writes: OK, this is a ridiculous situation, but it’s also serious and spiralled out of control (we think?) and my coworker and I dug ourselves into a hole by staying silent. Our grandboss is, let’s say, frosty.

the head of my division gave me (and my niece and friend) COVID-19 and no one cares

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A reader writes: I’m working remotely but I had to go in for a once-a-year task that can only be done from the office and is legally required to be completed. While I was there, I ran into my division head (my manager’s manager). She said she was asked to quickly pick something by her manager.

Video 114

How HR Can Promote Mental Health at Work (Actionable Advice to Help Your People Thrive)

HR leaders are on the frontlines of a mental health crisis, but the topic can still be taboo—or at least something that’s only talked about reluctantly. What can HR do to help? Download our latest guide to learn the 4 ways you can support the mental health of your employees and identify warning signs of burnout.

quitting would destroy my company, I gossiped about a coworker, and more

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It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…. Taking a better paying job would destroy my current company. I’m currently working in a small private practice as an optician.

the best office holiday party date story of all time

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Last year, someone shared what I consider to be the best holiday date story of all time, and it must be shared here again. Enjoy: When I was fresh out of college, a dude in my social circle invited me to his fancy work Christmas party.

can I freeze out my coworkers who aren’t social distancing and refuse to work with them?

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A reader writes: I work in a large furniture warehouse in the UK, employing around 200 people. Despite several national and local COVID-19 lockdowns, we’ve kept operating through the entire pandemic and we are all designated as “key workers.”

update: my employee keeps getting deadnamed by a coworker

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It’s the launch of this year’s “where are you now?” month at Ask a Manager! Every day this month, I’ll be running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past. To kick us off…. Remember the letter-writer whose employee kept getting deadnamed by a coworker ?

my coworker asked me to hide my breast milk because she doesn’t like seeing it in the office fridge

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A reader writes: I have been pumping breast milk for over a year and today came across an issue at work. A coworker stopped me before I went in to pump to make a request: she would like me to keep my pump parts and breast milk bottles in a sealed bag.

Course 103

The Role of Human Resources in Workplace Safety

While it may seem obvious to say that safety is important for any company to embrace, making it a priority as an HR representative will not only be beneficial to your employees but to your bottom line too. Download this whitepaper to learn more!

should we let an employee resign instead of being fired?

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A reader writes: I am the director of a pretty independent division in my company. I founded the area and we have grown to 13 employees in the past few years. I do most of the supervision but last year had my assistant director, Mark, take on more supervision tasks as a growth area.

really aggressive spam callers are giving me anxiety attacks

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It’s the Thursday “ask the readers” question. A reader writes: Most of my company has been working from home due to the pandemic, like everyone. The only people in the office consistently right now are me, our VP, and occasionally the president.

I didn’t even get interviewed for an internal role I was told I was a strong candidate for

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A reader writes: I’m on my department’s leadership team, with three business functions under my umbrella. One of the VP-level leaders on my team had a position open up in his organization, in a function I’ve previously worked in and am hoping to return to.

I resent coworkers coming back from furlough, I took over a colleague’s work, and more

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It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…. My coworker’s work was given to me, and I feel awkward about it. I was promoted from a subject matter expert to a senior position in my org.

Five Reasons Leaders Invest in Language Training

Communication is the lifeforce of any company. Without it, productivity, employee happiness, and ultimately your business suffers. Investing in language learning better positions global business leaders to see gains in organizational effectiveness as a result.

Microsoft’s creepy new “productivity score” tells your boss how often you attend meetings, answer email, and use Word

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am I being inflexible for not doing non-work things during work hours?

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A reader writes: Am I a jerk for “being inflexible” and not wanting to do non-work stuff during work hours? I’m a librarian and work part-time at two different libraries. Both are closed to the public.

interviewer asked what I’d do with a live elephant, coworker doesn’t think I should take vacation, and more

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It’s five answers to five questions, plus a bonus. Here we go…. Interviewer asked what I’d do with a live elephant in the parking lot. I had an interview today that involved a very odd question: What would I do if a client dropped off a live elephant in our parking lot?

we went to the home of an employee who didn’t show up for work — and it went badly

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A reader writes: Years ago, my husband owned a small computer business with a few employees. I occasionally helped him with it. One of the employees was an insulin-dependent middle-aged woman who lived alone.

2021 Recruitment Strategies: Work Smarter Not Harder

Hours spent sourcing. Constantly checking different recruiting channels. Sifting through a sea of resumes. There’s no denying that the current hiring landscape is fragmented, complex, and full of frustrations. As you plan for 2021, take a moment to reflect on your current strategies and evaluate how you can work smarter, not harder in the new year. Download our guide where we break down different stages of the recruitment journey—and share several potential paths to hiring success.

my boss sits outside my house for hours, parking woes, and more

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It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…. My boss sits outside my house in her car for hours. Due to health reasons, I have been working remotely during the pandemic. I’m grateful to have the type of job where this is possible, and I appreciate my boss’s flexibility.

pretending to be Canadian, and other Machiavellian triumphs at work

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Last week, I asked about Machiavellian things you’ve seen or done at work. It turns out … there were a lot of stories. So many that I couldn’t fit my favorites in one post. Here’s part one, and part two is coming tomorrow. The job hunting assistance.

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. About two years ago, my worklife was becoming untenable – it’s one of those “family” places that was not quite toxic, but toed the line. Then I saw a posting for my dream job.

is it a red flag when a job is posted for a long time?

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A reader writes: Is a job being posted for a long time a red flag about the business hiring? There is an organization I would like to work for and they’ve had a position they have been trying to fill for over a year.

The Pro’s Guide To Getting The Best ROI From Your New LMS

You need a Learning Management System when your courses and training programs need to be accessible online. Quickly build the perfect business case and easily determine which LMS will provide the best return on investment you need with this how-to eBook!

the hostage videos, the barfing owl, and other holiday gift debacles

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Earlier this month, I asked you to share the worst and weirdest office holiday gift debacles you’ve seen. Here are eight of my favorites. Not all are safe for work!).

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.

most popular posts of 2020

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Here are the posts that interested people the most this year, via two lists: the most read posts and the most commented on posts. Most read posts of 2020: 10. Our boss told us to camp in tents when we travel for business. The Leap Day employee finally gets her birthday off this year.

my boss bought me new clothes, couriers who don’t wear masks, and more

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It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…. My boss bought new clothes for me. I work at a furniture store and just had an odd meeting with my store manager and am not sure what to think. My sales have been low this last month so we had to do a touch base to find areas to improve.

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.

the Christmas tantrum, the dirty elf, and other tales of holidays at work

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Over the years, readers have submitted a tremendous number of amusing stories about holidays at work. In lieu of any more posts today since it’s Thanksgiving, here are some of my favorites from the last 13 years. The duet.

ATS 118

is this resume writer shady, telling my boss I’m sober, and more

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It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…. Is this resume writer’s price worth it? I am currently looking for a job and have been posting my resume on job recommendations I find on LinkedIn. I received a response from one of those professional resume writing places.

coworker is throwing a tantrum over having to interview for a promotion, inviting coworkers to your wedding, and more

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It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…. Internal candidate is threatening to withdraw if he has to interview for the job. We are hiring for a senior manager role in my organization for the second time in a year.

my favorite posts of 2020

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Here are my favorite posts of 2020, in no particular order: 1. I messed up at work and I’m so ashamed. Because so many people deal with this, and fixing it can bring you so much peace. Update: my coworker is blackmailing me not to take time off for my honeymoon. Because this was epic.

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!

my employee doesn’t wear a bra on Zoom meetings — should I say anything?

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A reader writes: I’m a man who manages a team of eight. We are all remote since COVID started. It’s become noticeable in the last few months that a woman on the team, let’s call her Samantha, is not wearing a bra during zoom calls. She isn’t dressing provocatively or sexy.

update: my company won’t pay us if we don’t install spy software on our personal computers

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We have so many updates this year that I’m going to be posting six to seven times a day this week — so keep checking back throughout the entire day. It’s “where are you now?”

update: my coworkers complained that the look of my breasts post-mastectomy is making them uncomfortable

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It’s “where are you now?” month at Ask a Manager, and all December I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past. Remember the letter-writer whose coworkers complained that the look of her breasts after her mastectomy was making them uncomfortable ?

open thread – January 15-16, 2021

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It’s the Friday open thread! The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on anything work-related that you want to talk about (that includes school). If you want an answer from me, emailing me is still your best bet*, but this is a chance to talk to other readers. *


Free Webinar: How To Create A 100% Virtual Onboarding Experience

Speaker: David Secunda, CEO, WorkBright

Are you struggling with virtual onboarding? Whether you are making the switch to remote work or biding your time until you can get back to the office – you need a solution that works. Check out our webinar on November 12th at 1 PM E.T. for more information.