It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…
1. 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. In the spring, I found out that she had been seeing my long-term boyfriend behind my back (and the back of her fiance). Needless to say, working with her has been difficult, but I’ve done my best to remain professional and be as nice as possible, despite how hard it’s been. However, now my coworker’s work ethic is declining. Most people don’t know the full story and just think she’s going through a hard time because her wedding got called off. But now I’m picking up the slack and I’m not sure how to bring this up to our boss without it sounding like a personal vendetta.
The lowest-key option is just to set boundaries on picking up her slack in the same way you would do without the personal history if you didn’t have room to take on her work. But if you can’t feasibly do that — because your manager knows you have time to help, or because she’ll tell you to reprioritize to make room for it, or so forth — then it might indeed make sense to have a discreet conversation with your boss about the situation. It’s not about having a personal vendetta; it’s about giving her context so she understands a highly relevant dynamic on her team right now.
I’d say it this way: “I feel incredibly awkward sharing this with you and it’s not something I’d normally bring up, but asking me to help Jane with her work is putting me in an uncomfortable spot. I learned earlier this year that she was having an affair with my partner behind my back. I’ve made a point of staying professional at work, but I’d strongly prefer not to be asked to help with her projects if we can avoid that.”
2. Is it a problem to provide only positive feedback to my employee?
I’m new to managing and have a non-problem problem. I have a truly excellent employee on my team, “Dave.” He is bright, diligent, always volunteers for extra tasks and responsibility, and his work product is very high quality. I’m going to need to provide an annual review of Dave soon and I feel like I owe him more than “you’re doing everything perfectly, keep up the good work.”
I worry that 1) endless praise may seem disingenuous, 2) it might appear to Dave that I‘m not invested in coming up with ways to meaningfully coach him/help him improve, and 3) it could come off to my bosses that, as a new manager, I am naive about Dave’s abilities and am not evaluating critically enough. I’ll add that Dave and I were also coworkers/casual friends before I got promoted (though I think we’ve very successfully navigated into a manger/employee relationship and I don’t think this is coloring my view of his objectively excellent work). Dave really is an exceptional team member; am I overthinking? Is it ever a bad thing to only provide positive feedback?
Well, you want your feedback to accurately reflect Dave’s work, which sounds excellent. You can certainly bounce this off your boss and ask if jibes with her assessment as well (if she knows his work well enough to comment), but some people are just excellent at what they do! It’s not going to seem disingenuous as long as you’re nuanced and specific about why his work is so good.
However, feedback shouldn’t just be positive or negative; it should also be developmental, meaning feedback on how the person can go from good to even better. If Dave asked you for something he could work on to do an even better job in his role, what would you say? That’s worth reflecting on. Because you’re new to managing him, you might not have that perspective on his work yet, and that’s okay — but try to develop it as time goes on. Also, ask Dave where he wants to develop! What are his professional goals and how can you help him meet them?
You should also think about where you want to see Dave take the areas he’s responsible for in the future. Don’t just raise the bar for him because he’s so good, while not raising expectations for others doing similar work; you shouldn’t reward good work with a bigger pile of work. But in a lot of jobs, work goals always evolve year to year, and if this is one of those roles there are probably some really substantive conversations to have with him around what goals for his work should look like next year.
3. Family member died right before I started a new job
I just started a new job this week, after being unemployed since quarantine started. It’s a work from home position that pays very well, and I love the work. The only issue is that my grandmother died the day before I started. I’ve been trying to just act like nothing is happening, but it’s truly weighing on me. I’m not focused and am often having to turn off my microphone due to emotional moments. I feel like I should say something to my management team. I also don’t want to seem like I’m trying to cause problems or get sympathy when I’ve just barely started, and I don’t want pity from my coworkers either. I’m unsure how to proceed, or if I should say anything at all.
Let your boss know what’s going on! It’s not about asking for pity, just about providing helpful context. I’d want to know if my brand new employee was dealing with that on top of starting a new job! And if they do notice you seeming off in some way, it’s going to help for them to understand what might be happening.
It doesn’t have to be a big conversation, just something like, “I want to mention that I had a death in my family the day before I started, and I feel like I’m not as on my game as I ideally would be at a new job. I’m trying not to let it affect my focus, but I wanted to mention it just in case you noticed anything.”
(A good manager will likely ask if you need some time off, so think about whether you’d want that.)
I’m sorry about your grandma!
4. Should my resume include a part-time job outside my field?
My husband and I moved abroad from the states for his teaching career and plan to be here for a couple of years. I am looking forward to travel, so I am considering a part-time position vs a full-time position.
If I work part-time here, would I need to put that position on my resume once I go back stateside in a few years? I have a background in corporate banking and am not sure how a part-time position (entry level, non-industry related) would look to a potential future employer as the first thing on my resume. Do you advise leaving off part-time work?
You never need to put any particular position on your resume. You can leave things off if they don’t strengthen your candidacy overall.
But in general there’s no reason to exclude a job just because it was part-time. Part-time jobs warrant resume space just as much as full-time jobs! In this case, though, you might decide it doesn’t make sense to include it because it’s entry level (which I’m assuming you aren’t) and outside of your field. Or you might decide to briefly mention it so it’s clear what you’ve been doing during that time. Resume gaps aren’t the avoid-at-all-costs calamity that people sometimes worry they will be, but there can be value in showing you’ve stayed in the workforce. it’s really up to you though, and it depends on the specific factors you’re weighing with your specific resume.
5. Can I ask for detailed benefit info if I get a job offer?
I’m in final round interviews for a new job. I’m currently employed, but excited about the prospect of this new opportunity. However, I have really great benefits now (health insurance, 401k). If I’m offered the position, can I ask to see their benefit package in detail? Basically I want to compare it to what I have now, line by line. If I’m offered the job and choose not to accept because of the benefits or salary, is it appropriate to tell them that?
Absolutely, on both counts. It’s very normal to ask for details of the benefits package if an employer doesn’t offer it up on their own (although they often will). In fact, I’d recommend always asking to see it once you get an offer so you don’t have any unpleasant surprises once you start. And it’s perfectly fine to explain that you’re declining the job because of the salary or benefits, if that becomes the case. (It’s also genuinely useful feedback for them to hear — and can sometimes result in them sweetening the offer — so don’t be at all hesitant to say it.)
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my coworker slept with my boyfriend, feedback for an excellent employee, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.