terse answer Thursday — 7 short answers to 7 short questions

It’s terse answer Thursday — seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…

1. Should I accept my former HR person’s LinkedIn request?

A request to connect has been steaming gently in my Inbox on LinkedIn for the last two weeks. It’s from the HR person at my former employer (she’s still there). I’m not sure what to do about it.

On the plus side, she was always professional with me. On the minus side, she was the one managing all of the paperwork and the negotiation regarding my termination and severance. So I have mixed feelings about connecting to her. I can decline the connection without stating a reason, and no harm done. My network’s in OK shape; she wasn’t someone I knew at all aside from our connection within the company. Thoughts?

If you don’t want to connect with her, don’t connect with her. If you want to stay in touch or think the connection could be useful, connect. But stop agonizing over it.

2. Asking for a raise after breaking something on the job

The 6-month anniversary of my being employed with my company is coming up in 3 days, and I would like to ask for a raise, but am apprehensive to do so because two days ago I accidentally broke something. The item i broke is something immobile that I ran into and accidentally tore through. I’m not really sure if the repairs are coming out of my check, as I am afraid to ask. Other than this incident, I’m rather good at my job. My question to you is, should I ask for a raise even after breaking something expensive?

You shouldn’t ask for a raise because you’ve only been there six months. Wait until it’s been a year. However, generally speaking, don’t ask for a raise when you’re in the doghouse; ask for a raise when your boss is feeling particularly good about your work. (I have no idea if you’re in the doghouse or not; breaking whatever you broke might not have been a big deal.)

And the repairs should not be coming out of your check — the company should cover it as a cost of doing business.

3. I don’t want my coworker’s wife on our team

I work in a small group of 5 that takes care of the implementations of a specific software. We have one new coworker who is very sensitive and stubborn and who keeps to himself. Our company currently needs to hire at least 4 people in the next 2 months within our group, so he’s been pushing hard for his wife to join because he believes she is qualified. One of my coworkers and I have been called in by the big boss to voice our opinion on the hire. My coworker voiced his concerns about the possibility of the group becoming too cliquey. I am not sure what to say because i like her personally, but I am not comfortable with her in the company. Is it wrong to not want her to join? This coworker is very stubborn and I don’t want any conflicts in my team. How can I say that diplomatically? What is your experience with couples working together?

If you’re not comfortable with having a couple on your team, say so. That’s really normal — many companies prohibit it, because there’s potential for all kinds of problems, as described here.

4. Should I address my interviewers by their first names?

I’m in the process of writing up my follow-up e-mails to the 3 people I interviewed with yesterday. I was told to address them by their first name in the interview. Should I address them by their first name in the follow-up e-mail or by their last names?

First names. Talk to them like you’d talk to coworkers. You want them to envision you as a colleague.

And for the record, unless you’re in a very unusual industry (or geographic region?), or dealing with very stodgy elders, address everyone by their first names; you don’t need to wait to be told to. In this day and age, most people find it bizarre to be addressed as Mr. or Ms. Whatever in the workplace.

5. Asking salaried workers to clock in and out

I love your blog, and actually just got a new job out of listening to your advice. On my first day, I learned that the work schedule had been changed literally that morning. We will be moving to a four-days/ten-hours schedule, which is great for me. My question is this: they are asking everyone, hourly and salaried employees alike to clock in and out. Can they do that?

Sure. It doesn’t make logical sense for do it for exempt employees (and sends an annoyingly infantilizing message), but yes. They can’t dock exempt workers’ pay, but they can require them to track their hours however they want.

6. Salary negotiations when you’ve already discussed the posted range

A job at a nonprofit I applied to had a small range listed for the pay ($30-33k). In interviews when asked, I replied that I understand nonprofits have different limitations on the salaries they can offer, but if possible I would appreciate being considered on the higher end of the range, as I’m not quite entry level and am bilingual. Well, I was offered the job (yippee!) and the offer is slightly more ($35k) than what was listed. In this situation, is the possible negotiation already over because they had initially declared a number? Is it just a case where you would accept or reject?

The possible negotiation is already over because it already happened. They listed a range, you made a case for more, and they gave it to you. In fact, they gave you more than you asked for — you asked for the high end of their range, and they gave you $2,000 over that. The negotiation is done.

7. I asked for a raise four months ago and haven’t heard back

My recent review, like all previous reviews, went well, and I also recently completed my Master’s degree. Unfortunately, the raise that accompanied my recent review was not so well. When I asked my manager what I could do to improve the raise, I was told to put together a case. So I presented to him my case, which included recent projects, cost savings, salary surveys, and comparable posts from local job boards that included salary. My manager said he would have to discuss with his director and HR and that they would get back to me.

That was four months ago. Every so often, my manager will e-mail an “update” that he hasn’t gotten an answer from the director. Additionally my manager is now out of the office for a month for personal issues. I’m at a loss for how to proceed with this one. In my mind, I’ve accepted that the answer is probably “no” but I still want closure. Do I talk to the director, talk to HR, or do I wait for my manager to return?

Don’t let stuff like this drag out four months; assert yourself. It doesn’t take four months to get an answer from the director. At this point, you need to wait for your boss to get back, because this is really between you and him, and HR is unlikely to move on it without his involvement. But ideally you would have talked to him months ago and asked for a specific timeline for resolving this. If you’re unassertive about it, you signal that you’re not really going to push the issue. You’re entitled to an answer — you’re not entitled to a “yes,” but you’re certainly entitled to an answer. When your manager is back, tell him (professionally and pleasantly) that you’re frustrated with the delay and you’d like a timeline for getting it resolved.

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