asking for a higher raise, my manager wants me to start telemarketing, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. My manager wants me to start telemarketing

I work for a small financial firm, and a lot of our business comes from referrals and leads from other types of businesses in the area (insurance companies, etc). Lately work has been kind of slow, so the owners of the firm (a husband-wife team) hired someone specifically for “telemarketing” – cold calling people to ask if they’re interested in our services.

Before they hired this person, the husband asked me if I would be comfortable making calls like this, and I told him that I would not. I consider myself a financial professional and don’t think it’s in my job description to be a telemarketer (I wouldn’t like it, and I wouldn’t even be good at it). I thought the problem was solved since they made the hire, but yesterday the wife pulled me aside and insisted that I start making these calls too. She gave me a list with hundreds of names and phone numbers, and didn’t even give me a chance to say no. Basically, I was told rather than asked.

I don’t know what to do now since A) I have zero interest in being a telemarketer for them, and I extremely dislike the idea of it, and B) they hired someone specifically for this role, so I don’t understand why I have to be forced to participate as well – especially since it’s so outside my job description. If I wanted to be a telemarketer, I’d work for a telemarketing company! Is there any way that I can tell them that I don’t want to do this? Or am I obligated to “do as I’m told”?

You always have the option of pushing back if your job changes in ways you don’t like. Say something like this: “I’m really not comfortable making cold calls, and it’s far afield from the work I came on to do. My understanding was that we hired Jane to focus on calling, so that I could continue focusing on X and Y, which is my professional focus. I’d like to continue keeping my focus there — is that possible?”

From there, it’s certainly your employer’s prerogative to say, “Sorry, I hear you but this is how we’re doing it now” — in which case you’d have to decide if you still want the job under these changed conditions — but often a simple conversation will resolve the issue.

2. I just got a raise — can I ask for more?

I’ve been in my current job for a year, and just had a positive performance evaluation. I didn’t ask for a raise in the evaluation meeting because, to be honest, I wasn’t sure how the evaluation was going to go. I had lots of evidence that I excelled in my position, but my boss isn’t forthcoming with feedback and is frequently out of the office, so it wasn’t clear to me how she felt about my performance until we sat down to talk about it. Now, two weeks later, I received a notice via mail that I’ve gotten a raise – which, while appreciated, was lower than I was planning on requesting. Is it bad form to negotiate it? I’d like the chance to at least make a case for a higher percentage, but I don’t want to overstep a boundary.

If it matters, I sit in on the budget meetings, so I know the range set for raises. My raise was on the lower end of that scale.

Sure, you can go back to your boss and make the case for more, explaining why you deserve more. (Leave your knowledge of other people’s raises out of it, though — it can be background info to inform your thinking but shouldn’t be part of the case you make to your manager.)

Keep in mind, though, that your window for renegotiating this has probably passed. In many organizations, you would have needed to do this before raises were finalized; at this point, the budget might be set. (That’s especially likely in an organization that notifies people about raises by mail. Nothing really screams “bureaucracy” like conveying big updates by postal mail.) But there’s nothing wrong with having the conversation and finding out.

3. My coworker keeps cc’ing my boss on minor issues

I have a peer who always CC’s my boss when asking me to follow up on minor issues. I get along with this person really well and have a lot of respect for them, but this really makes me feel like I’m not being trusted to get something done. What’s the best way to approach this?

“Hi Jane, I noticed you’ve been cc’ing Percival on minor issues. It made me wonder if you have concerns about my responsiveness. Is there a reason you’re looping Percival in as well?”

4. Did HR mishandle my sick coworker’s resignation?

A coworker recently quit because of health issues.She was unable to give notice because she no longer had any vacation days or sick days left and was too unwell to continue to work. HR said that because she quit without notice, she was not allowed to say goodbye to anyone. She was shocked and very sad about this. She was allowed to clear her desk, but then had to leave the office immediately.

This sort of procedure is usually what happens when someone is fired. Her leaving came a surprise to many people when it was announced a day later by email which didn’t explain the circumstances. There is a feeling that HR behaved in a very mean way. What would be a normal procedure if someone quits without notice?

That’s ridiculous. While quitting without notice is usually a Bad Thing, there are certain types of situations where it’s totally understandable — like health issues that make it impossible to continue. The appropriate response to that is sympathy for the person with the health issues, understanding of the circumstances, and wishing them well. It’s not to treat them like someone you’ve just fired, which is what your HR department did. Someone on that team has a misunderstanding of some very basic concepts.

5. I flubbed an answer to a recruiter

I just had a call with a head recruiter, and I mispoke regarding where I was in the process with other companies I have been applying to. I wasn’t used to being asked about whether or not I was actively interviewing elsewhere. I corrected the mistake quickly. Later I discovered one of the companies I mentioned had decided to wait and regroup before continuing with any candidates (it’s a small but promising startup). I let the aforementioned recruiter know via email, but it all feels sloppy. How much does a recruiter weigh into final hiring decisions? I have an in-person interview at the company next week and now I am frazzled. The phone interview with the hiring manager went well, and the call with the recruiter, which followed the in-person invite and was really about prepping for the in-person interview, is the first call I felt I didn’t sound my best. Now I am wondering if I should be worried or anxious about what role he may play in the final hiring choice.

Should I be concerned about the fact that I flubbed a bit and was flustered by the question? (I’ve been prepared for others, but this caught me by surprise) Was it a bad move to share the information about the other company that decided to wait? Does that make me seem undesirable, honest, none of the above?

You’re over-thinking it! First, it’s not a big deal at all that you didn’t have perfect info about some other company’s hiring process; no one would expect you to. (And in fact, you didn’t need to follow up and correct your answer afterwards.) Interviewers sometimes ask about where you’re at with other companies because they want a sense of whether they might have to move you through their process particularly quickly or not. Your answer doesn’t need to be precise, and even if it is, it’s common for things to change.

Second, recruiters aren’t usually a major voice in final hiring decisions; their decision-making is much more at the start of the process, where they decide who to interview and who to move forward to the hiring manager. They might still give input and relay info back and forth, but it’s highly unlikely that something like this would factor in at all.

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