It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…
1. My boss suggests hiring her boyfriend for everything
My current supervisor is a real go-getter. In the way that she’s unaware of how many heads she steps on to be validated in her success. And successful she is! She’s roughly 27 and has worked for our Fortune 500 company for the entirety of her professional career, beginning as a waiter in the executive dining suite and progressing quickly through channels to reach her current, significantly elevated position leading the events planning team.
Leaving aside my personal feelings about her management style in general, I’m really struggling on how to approach her about her tendency to suggest using her boyfriend, let’s call him Sam, for a number of tech-related projects for our team. She always suggests this solution when her supervisor is out of the room, thus making her the ranking “person in charge” and always with a tone suggesting the boyfriend could provide this service to our team better and more efficiently than using the existing company-approved channels. In one meeting she even went as far as to say that we should hear what the company tech group has to say, and then “when they fail our expectations” we can bring on Sam and ask for forgiveness when it’s done.
Worth mentioning — I happen to know that Sam, with whom she lives, is currently unemployed and working as a “consultant for a financial thing.” So does everyone else on our staff. I mention this because his employment would have a clear positive effect on her financially as well, given their cohabitation, and it makes it feel extra-sticky inappropriate for the workplace.
In as much as it irritates me that she is influencing our very young staff (I’m only 36 but I feel ancient in this crowd) to believe it’s okay to ignore company policies and procedure in favor of a personal connection — and others are beginning to imitate her behaviors — I also think that this makes her appear very immature and that it’s inappropriate. Is there any way to politely tell her how unseemly these proposals sound?
Agh, yes, that’s really inappropriate.
How does she normally handle opinions that are different from her own? And what kind of relationship do you have with her? If you have decent rapport with her and she doesn’t penalize people who disagree with her, I think there’s a lot of room to say something here.
First, check to see if your company has a conflict-of-interest policy. It probably does, and she’d probably be in violation of it if she gave paid work to her live-in boyfriend.
Then, approach her privately, one-on-one, and say something like this: “Jane, I know you’ve suggested a few times that we could hire Sam to do work for us. I wanted to mention that I think we could get in trouble if we do that. Because he’s your boyfriend, we’d be in violation of the company’s conflict-of-interest policy. I figured you might not realize that.” (The “we” here isn’t strictly accurate, of course; it’s Jane who would get in trouble. But sometimes that formulation can make this kind of thing sound less adversarial, without changing your actual message.)
2. Someone threw out my boots
I have a question about lost property and responsibility for it. When I come into my office, I wear snow boots that I take off and leave in my recycling bin so they don’t get the carpet wet. I have other shoes at my office that I change into. I was under the weather on Wednesday and wasn’t really myself. After I left the office, I realized I had walked out in my office shoes and not the snow boots. I worked remotely the next day since I was still not feeling great, and when I arrived on Friday there was nothing in my recycling bin.
I’m afraid that my boots were thrown away by the cleaning staff, which would be really upsetting — they were expensive and I’ve only had them for a few months. I reached out to the person who manages the property and she also thinks they were probably thrown away. Had I been thinking clearly, I definitely wouldn’t have left them, but I also can’t understand why someone would have thrown them away rather than erring on the side of caution and thinking, “These don’t actually look like garbage.”
The janitorial team is contracted through a vendor and are not employed by my company. Does anyone have an obligation to me here? I just can’t believe that a momentary lapse in memory resulted in my $140 boots being thrown in the garbage.
No, I’m sorry. I totally get why this is upsetting — it sucks! But … well, you left them in the recycling bin, so it’s understandable that the people in charge of emptying recycling bins assumed they were being thrown out. It’s not that different than if you’d put them in your trash can and they’d gotten thrown away. They aren’t expected to double-check that the things in trash and recycling bins are really meant to be there. You could certainly try contacting the janitorial vendor on the off chance that they know anything about the boots, but if they don’t, there’s no standing here to ask anyone to compensate you.
3. How much weight should I put on bad Glassdoor reviews?
I am a college senior, and I landed an interview with a very prestigious company (in a month). When looking through Glassdoor, I started to get really worried about the company culture.
Many people are complaining about the work-life balance, but I think you have a lot of good scripts on how to handle unreasonable requests! What I am more worried about is what one reviewer said is a company culture of subtle racism and sexism. White male researchers supposedly get more complex and exciting work than women and minorities. As I fit into those categories, I’m obviously concerned. Is there a way during the full-day interview to try to suss out if this has changed at all over the last few years? Also, the CEO has a reputation on Glassdoor as screaming at people, being emotionally abusive, reducing even senior staff to tears at meetings, and often switching priorities with no warning so that hours are suddenly crazy.
This place is really prestigious, and obviously I’d really love a job. But I’m really new to the work world, and I’ve only had really great experiences interning. Should these be major red flags? How much weight can I give these Glassdoor reviews?
Yeah, they’re pretty major red flags. If the majority of reviews are positive and it’s a small minority that are negative, it wouldn’t worry me so much. There will always be some people where the culture just wasn’t the right fit. But if you’re seeing multiple people report that the CEO screams, is abusive, and make people cry (and it sounds like you are), I’d take that very seriously. Switching priorities without much warning isn’t great, but it’s not on the same level as verbal abuse and I wouldn’t let that on its own deter you. It’s the rest of the picture that’s an issue.
Can you find anyone in your network who’s connected to someone who works there or has worked there in the past? If so, that person might be able to talk with you confidentially about their experience there.
I’ve also got some advice here about how you can spot problems before you take a job … but candidly, it can be hard to suss that out competently when you’re brand new to the work world, so I’d put a lot of weight on what you’re reading. (And pay attention to the age of those reviews too — how recent are they?)
4. The person who got me an interview just got fired
I’m looking to switch fields, and networked my way into a coffee appointment with a hiring manager who seemed to like me. However, the friend who got me the coffee appointment and subsequent offer of an in-person interview and portfolio presentation just got fired. I’m really not sure what this means for me and the prospects at this company. I only know their side of the story, so I’m trying to work out whether this lead is worth pursuing or whether this will affect my candidacy.
It’s hard to know from the outside! If you and the person who got fired are very good friends and they know that, it could potentially impact their interest in hiring you. (For example, they may worry that you’ve heard a not-very-accurate version of what happened from your friend and that they’d be starting things on a weird foot, and if they have other good candidates, it might be easier for them to just not deal with that.) Or if they were basing their interest in you largely on a glowing recommendation from your friend, and they now don’t trust her judgment, that could have an impact on your candidacy. But in a lot of cases, this wouldn’t impact you — your friend did the work of connecting you, and if you’re a good candidate, they might just proceed with you the way they would in any other case. It’s going to be hard to know until you see how it plays out. I’d just move forward with the interview and see how things go.
5. Running into my interviewer after I interviewed badly
Earlier this year, I applied for a job and didn’t get it; I underprepared for the interview and really wasn’t at my best that day. Now I’m starting an organization in the same very small industry, and I’m very likely to run into the CEO of the company where I didn’t get the job. I’d like to stay on positive terms with her if and when we see each other at the same conferences. Should I be worried that she’ll hold a grudge against me? Should I be doing something preemptively to smooth things over?
It’s very unlikely that she would hold any sort of grudge against you! Sometimes interviews just don’t go well. Interviewers don’t normally take that personally or hold it against the candidate in non-interview contexts. If anything, she may worry that you feel negatively toward her and the company; that’s the more common concern with rejected candidates in a small industry. When you see her, just make a point to be warm, friendly, and normal!
my boss suggests hiring her boyfriend for everything, someone threw out my boots, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.