short answer Saturday — 6 short answers to 6 short questions

It’s short answer Saturday — six short answers to six short questions. Here we go…

1. Should I submit my application a second time now that I’ve found a new email contact?

I recently applied for a position that I found on a reputable job listings website. I submitted my materials via email to an anonymous email address, which I think is standard for this website. However, I just reviewed the posting on the website’s mobile site and this version of the posting lists a specific name and email address. Should I resubmit my materials to this specific email address with a note explaining why I’m resubmitting? Or is that overkill and will it make me look crazy and desperate? Should I just trust that the anonymous email address was correct? If you do suggest that I resubmit, would it be okay to also include a little summary of my cover letter stressing why I’m interested in the position, or should I just keep it simple and explain the issue?

Don’t resubmit. You already applied, and you’ll look either disorganized or neurotic if you submit a second time. It’s very possible that the anonymous email address that you originally emailed is the same person as the the second address you saw, but either way, yes, you should trust that it was correct. Employers usually get that part right!

2. Updating your LinkedIn profile with your new title, before you’ve started your job

I am thrilled to be starting a new job in a couple of weeks that I think is totally right for me at this stage in my career (I will be a mid-level manager at a well regarded nonprofit organization). This new position is the result of an intensive four-month job search following a layoff at the end of June. The job offer is official, and I have already filled out all my paperwork with HR and had a new employee orientation. The only reason I have not already started is that I had previous travel obligations. Can I update my LinkedIn profile to reflect the new job title/company information, or is it better to wait until I have actually started? My official start date on my paperwork is not until two weeks from now.

I’d wait until you start, since you aren’t actually in that job yet. While the potential for complications from updating is now is very small, it does exist — so wait until you’re really in the job.

3. Connecting on LinkedIn to people you met during a job search

During my recent job search, I went on a lot of interviews, and generally felt that I was a strong contender for most of the jobs I interviewed for. While I’ve now accepted a job, I met a lot of great people at other organizations throughout the interview process and I’d really like to keep in touch with them, because t I liked them on a personal level, admired their work and feel like I could potentially learn from them, and would consider working with/for them in the future if the right opportunity came up. I have said as much to some of them in follow-up emails when I either did not get a job or was offered a job but turned it down. And many of them have said the same to me (in a few cases it felt more like a courtesy, but in most cases it felt genuine).

Is it appropriate to use LinkedIn’s equivalent of “friend request” to stay connected with these folks? My thought is that I would send the request with a brief note to the effect of, “Hi Jane, as you can see, I recently started working as __ at __. I’m really thrilled to have landed here and think I will learn a lot. I really enjoyed meeting you and learning about your organization, and hope we can stay in touch professionally.”

What do you think about this strategy? On one hand, networking is highly valued in my field. On the other hand, I worry that it could be misconstrued as me “wanting” something from them, or otherwise make them feel awkward. Also, I worry that I am on the young side to be initiating contact with high level people — especially when I don’t necessarily have anything to “offer” them in the quid pro quo sense.

No, this is normal to do, regardless of being more junior. Do it and don’t think twice about it.

4. Boss is a jerk

I’m having trouble getting along with my manager. I work for a mid-size nonprofit and everyone knows each other well. She will be very nice to my face, and then badmouth me and undermine me behind my back. This is the most concerning part, as I am new and trying to develop my reputation. I’ve heard this from several coworkers. She will ocassionally talk to me in a very condescending tone, and says things like, “You’re new, you don’t know anything about how things work here.” She also tells people I am her personal assistant, which I am not. She has asked me to get her a drink before. She will come over and stand very close to me and loudly tell me when I made a minor mistake so that everyone can hear. There have been three people in my position within the last two years. The last person left work one day and never came back. I have repeatedly asked her if anything is wrong, which she denies. What do I do?

Stop asking “if anything is wrong,” and instead ask for feedback on your work. Ask where you could be doing better, and where she’d like to see you improve. Regarding the comments made to other people, bring them to the surface by saying something like, “I’m concerned because Jane mentioned that you were sharing doubts about the XYZ work I did. Can we talk about how I could approach that differently?” In other words, surface it all, and do it in a calm, pleasant, matter-of-fact way, like you would if you were discussing any other business problem.

Meanwhile, though, think about whether you want to work for her. You’re not required to.

5. Managing a tyrant manager

I’ve seen several posts on your site about how to deal with a boss who is a bully or tyrant. My question for you is how can I, as an HR Director, address an issue like this with the supervisor who is being the tyrant? I’ve spoken with the supervisor about the proper and appropriate behavior that we expect, and I honestly think the supervisor wants to do better but can’t see the behavior and the effect it’s having on employees. Are there coaches out their who do this kind of work? It feels like a fundamental change in a person that is beyond being “teachable” at this stage in life.

By the way, the person’s manager is wholeheartedly on board and pushing for the change, and we are both communicating that there are severe consequences (including possibly termination of employment). We are just trying to figure out how we can support and train this person who seems not self-aware.

You’re already on the right track by addressing it forthrightly and laying out consequences if the behavior doesn’t change. You should also set a fairly quick timeline for when you’ll be re-evaluating things, so that it’s clear that the situation is high priority and serious.

There are indeed executive coaches who will work with people like this. You want to find one who’s particularly blunt — avoid touchy-feely coaches and go for someone who will be direct and not pull any punches, and one who’s willing to take this on with a pretty short timeline, because you don’t want this dragging out for months. Can a coach help someone like this? Potentially. If the person isn’t inherently mean and is just oblivious to the effect of her actions, there’s hope. But if the issues are tied up in fundamental character problems, ego, etc., it’s a lot harder.

When you evaluate the supervisor’s progress, make sure you talk with the people she manages, and make it clear to them that they can give you feedback safely, without any repercussions from the manager herself or from others in the organization. That’s the best way to get the information you need.

6. Bereavement gifts for managers

I know you disagree with giving gifts to managers, but what about from a team (above and below the employee) for an occasion? My manager’s grandmother just passed away and my senior manager wants the group to send her something at home. I’m totally fine with this (my team is really close, there are 16 of us, and I think she would really appreciate the gesture) but I was wondering if this was an exception to your “no gifts to managers” rule.

Yes, I think bereavement is the big exception.

Any theories on why we’ve had so many gift-related questions lately?

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