The 10 Most Annoying Things in Your Office

by Evil HR Lady on January 30, 2015

While it’s true that our co-workers, bosses, clients, and vendors can sometimes drive us up the wall, they aren’t alone in their frustration-inducing powers. Thethings in an office can also raise blood pressure and drive us to the vending machine.

Expert Market surveyed 1,000 employees in the U.K. and came up with the top 10 things that drive people up the wall. Does your office suffer from some of these?

1. Slow, old computer. When the IT people groan when they see your number come up on their phone, it’s probably time for the boss to spring for an updated computer. You can work much more efficiently if your computer isn’t always freezing.

To keep reading, click here: The 10 Most Annoying Things in Your Office

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TBT: Telecommuting Bosses

by Evil HR Lady on January 29, 2015

This post was originally published March 2009 here.

I’m interested in your thoughts on management by telecommuters. I worked for 10 years for a large non-profit organization in DC. About 2 or 3 years ago, they began to allow more people to telecommute. My much younger, green director worked from home 2 or 3 days a week. Her immediate boss (the dept. head) lived out of state was only in the office 2 weeks of the month. I could have opted to work from home (WFH) myself, but I was in a “body-count dependent” carpool, plus I would be bored and distracted at home all day.

I had been friendly coworkers with my boss for several years before she became the director. She had 4 children under the age of 7 and a long commute, so I completely understood her desire to WFH. Therefore, I was shocked one day on a con call when I told someone I couldn’t talk to them that afternoon at 1:00 because I had a doctor’s appointment, but could we do it later in the afternoon. My boss, who was also on the call from her home, caught me completely by surprise when she called me out about going to the appointment that she knew nothing about. Mind you, this organization was pretty laid back about these types of things and it had been close to a decade since I had to get prior permission to visit a doctor, particularly since I was going during my lunch. Also, the topic to be discussed was not of a timely nature.

One hour, 15 minutes later, when I returned from the doctor’s, I had waiting for me both an email and a VM informing me to code my time as PTO and, in the future, to always let her know when I was going to be out of the office. This from a woman who could be getting a pedicure at that very moment for all the rest of us knew. I always just assumed that during her WFH time, she was caring for her children, taking them to the doctor, picking them up from school, etc. It certainly did not bother me because it’s a new world, right? It’s all about results and not so much about bottom-time-in-the-chair, right? Well, apparently not for the daily schleppers.

Every morning I fought traffic to meet my carpool at 7:30. We then jumped from one car to another, in all weathers, schlepping bags, laptops, coats, etc. Then we fought traffic again to get to DC. In the evening, we did it all over again. I did this five days/week for years only to be called out on a doctor’s appointment by someone wearing a bathrobe?? I was livid. What a ridiculous (and hypocritical) double standard. Needless to say, a huge row ensued. I decided right then I was leaving the organization. I stayed there until I found another job (about 3 months) and have now been happily employed for 16 months, with another telecommuter for a boss. However, he has never treated any employee this way. He is older and more seasoned and — I suspect — knows how to pick his battles.

I’d be interested in your comments on this situation and how telecommuters can successfully manage daily schleppers without such hypocrisy.

I think you’ve mistaken telecommuting for not working.

That bugs me.

If your boss, with 4 children under 7, has them home with her while she’s working, she’s remiss in her duties. Yes, yes, I’m all about results, but you cannot effectively put in an 8 hour day with 4 little helpers. Sure, keeping an infant nearby is one thing, but 4 is impossible.

My bet is that your boss had them in daycare. Or she had a nanny. I’m sure she occasionally picked them up or took them to doctor’s appointments. She undoubtedly told her boss she was doing so as well.

I agree with you that your boss over-reacted about your doctor’s appointment. But, why didn’t you talk to her about it then? Instead, you had a huge fight with her where you probably made comments about working in a bathrobe. This is what we like to call foolish.

You could have apologized and explained that your previous boss hadn’t required prior notification for short amounts of time out of the office. She probably would have accepted your apology and life would go on.

You pointed out that she used to be a peer. She probably felt like her new underlings weren’t respecting her and chose to assert herself in this situation to “show who is boss.” It was a foolish and inexperienced thing to do. But, it had NOTHING to do with telecommuting.

I’m a fan of telecommuting. Ideally, I like to see partial telecommuting and partial in office time. I think that is the best solution for team cohesiveness and work-life balance–for those who desire to work from home. Not everybody does. I telecommute because of commuting distance, but if I lived close to the office, I’d prefer to work in one.

You decided you couldn’t work for this woman, so you found a new job. Yeah! Many people would suffer and moan and complain. You actively sought work elsewhere and found it. It’s possible you could have salvaged the relationship, but you chose not to. This is fine.

But don’t let her inexperience put you against telecommuting. And don’t let your pesky gender bias get in your way either. I noticed you haven’t accused your new, male boss off extra-curricular activities during the day. Be careful what you assume. It can come back to bite you.

 

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Joe Saul-Sehy, who gave financial advice as Average Joe Money, wanted to host a great financial podcast, so he listened around and found the best of the best. After reading Austin Kleon’s Steal Like an Artist, he decided to steal his way to success. Kleon advises taking great ideas and spinning them into your own “art.” The idea worked, the podcast, Stacking Benjamins, just won thePlutus award for best financial podcast of 2014.

Here’s what Saul-Sehy and his co-host (the Other Guy or OG) stole, and how he spun this into his own podcast.

To keep reading, click here: How Did An Average Joe Get An Award Winning Podcast? He Stole It.

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Ideally, your boss would give you general guidance when you needed it, answer questions when you have them, and give you a nice year end bonus. But, unfortunately, that’s not how many managers operate. Sometimes you can end up with a micromanaging boss who is constantly looking over your shoulder, driving you nuts.

Most micromanaging bosses aren’t bad people, just misguided managers. You can use these five tips to improve your relationship with your boss.

To keep reading, click here: 5 Tips to Improve Your Relationship with Your Micromanaging Boss

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Do evil HR people ever get busted?

by Evil HR Lady on January 27, 2015

Hi! Love your blog. On the heels of being figuratively kicked down the stairs by another great employer and potential supervisor via another truly evil HR lady, do they EVER get in trouble for the way they treat recruits? This one was so bad it’s practically a cartoon. She was wearing a see through shirt that revealed both her undergarments and her tattoos (BEYOND awkward), was completely negative in her line of questioning (then seemed irritated when my answers were also negative), and I was bait and switched. I was promised two interviews for positions I expressed interest in and agreed to, then told I would only be interviewed for one of them when I arrived. The supervisor and other staffer expressed genuine interest in having me back to meet the team and to keep the process moving, but I received an email in less than two days. They have chosen to continue searching for someone more qualified (even though I exceed their education and experience requirements).

Do they EVER get caught? It seems like the perfect job. Most potential employees are going to just roll with it and not complain, and the few who do step up will be immediately identified as having a bad attitude and therefore bad candidates. What does it take for positive change? It truly is unfortunate as this is a good little community hospital with tons of great people to work with.

Yes, sometimes they do. But, like you, I am boggled by a company that puts up with that. And, it brings up the question, how on earth did such a person even get a job, let alone a position that involved hiring others.

How does this happen?

Well, we can’t blame everything on the recruiters. A hiring manager who wanted to have you proceed in the interview process wouldn’t be overruled by the tattooed-bra-baring recruiter. And “searching for someone more qualified” is the nice, pat-you-on-the-head thing to say instead of, “we interviewed you and didn’t like you one bit.” Of course, there may be some truth to the more qualified thing. People are often bad judges of their own qualifications. We say, “oh I have a degree so I’m more qualified than that person without the degree” or “I have 5 years of marketing experience so I’m qualified for this marketing job” even though that may or may not be true.

But, let’s get back to recruiters. How do they get away with being rotten? How do they get away with not following up with people who have interviewed? (Although, I’ll give credit where credit is due–this recruiter did get back to you.) How do they get away with rejecting candidate over little irrelevant details? How do they get away with rejecting candidates for scuffed heels while their own undergarments are showing?

Well, the reality is, for a very long time unemployment has been really high. Which means that the main goal of an in house recruiter is not to recruit but to reject. When you get 100 resumes for a position, you can’t possibly interview all 100 and only need to hire 1 so the real job is rejecting the 99.

Unfortunately, some recruiters are so good at rejecting that that is all they do. They blame it on their systems, but the reality is, it’s laziness. If you have 100 people apply for an average job, numerous people on that list are going to be able to do the job with the proper training. But, companies think that there are so many people out there that they shouldn’t have to train anyone. The ideal candidate will walk in the door with the exact knowledge, skills and abilities already under his belt and having the employee handbook memorized to boot.

Because managers believe that the perfect person is out there they assume that the recruiter is doing her job in rejecting the non-perfect ones, they tolerate it. And then they wonder why it takes so long to fill a job and then they scream talent shortage.

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20 Ways to Cheer Up an Office on Blue Monday

by Evil HR Lady on January 26, 2015

Winter is depressing in general, but a lot of people think the most depressing* day is the third Monday of January–so much that it’s been called “Blue Monday.” While the scientific evidence that this particular day is more depressing than others is slim, we could all use some cheering up at the office. Here are 20 ideas to make your Blue Monday a lot better.

1. Bring in a breakfast treat for your co-workers.

2. Go for a walk at lunch.

3. Ask three co-workers about their weekends. Really listen.

To read the rest, click here: 20 Ways to Cheer Up an Office on Blue Monday

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What is a “family friendly” workplace?

by Evil HR Lady on January 26, 2015

I have a small CPA office with only 3 employees and 6 during tax time. One staff also a CPA is a Mom with husband and 3 kids ages 4 – 10 and now 4 kids as she took in an exchange student age 12 for more money. I have given her what she wants part time from 9 – 2 to drop off and pickup kids from school. School and home is only a 10 minute drive. A year ago she only worked 3 days a week but last fall needed another 10 hours only to support a rental property they bought. She gets laid off for the summer so she can be with the kids. Last September I called her back to work and said that she put her resume into a large “Family Friendly” CPA firm and could not commit herself to me until she heard from them by October 31st. So I gave her the extra 10 hours even though I did not have the extra work and waited patiently for her to tell me whether or not she was staying. The firm she applied to did not give her an interview and in her cover letter she told them her expectations and hours of work.

I know she wants to work for this firm and did not even apply anywhere else and I am just a stopgap. I pay her well but cannot afford benefits. I have paid for her to take professional development courses and pay her wages at the same time. Her 10 years’ experience is audits but my firm provides corporate business and individual services. So while she is working for me she is getting experience she does not have. She does not do any professional reading at home as she said she has no time as she is a “Mommy”. So I give professional updates at the office. I don’t think she appreciates what I am doing for her. Even though she wants to start at 9 she sometimes is not in as she is running late dropping the kids off at school. Then later she is in an extreme hurry to pick up the kids and runs out the office.

I told her that her hours are 9 – 2 as she wanted. So if she arrives late she still leaves at 2. But she wants to work after 2 when she can so she can make up for lost wages. She will text me at the last minute or late the night before if she will be in late in the morning and why. It’s not occasional and is getting more frequent.

The problem is: She thinks she can shift her start and end times at her whim. According to her this is “Family Friendly”. Her excuses are that her other employer let her arrive late but she made up her time. But that employer was over an hour’s drive and she was working full-time in a much larger office. She never knows when her husband will be called to work as a cable guy and he takes priority . So if he is at home to look after the kids she thinks she can stay later and work beyond 2 pm. Is it unfair of me to not want to allow her to make up her time after 2 pm? (I can if I want to but not during tax time when she works 9 – 5). Also how should I handle things during tax time if she juggles her time?

She was not just late due to dropping off kids at school. The following are other reasons for her being late or not being able to come in at all:

1. They got a new dog so she had to go home during her working hours to feed and walk the dog numerous times

2. She had to take her Mother-in-law to the Doctors because everyone else was “working”

3. She forgot she volunteered to drive school kids to a field trip

4. She took time off to watch her daughter play volleyball

5. She took time off so she could go skating with the boys at school

6. She came in late after a number of Chiropractor appointments which I would think could have been scheduled better

7. She had to take the kids to either the Doctor or Dentist (this I totally understand)

8. And of course with 4 kids sick time to take care of them (this I totally understand)

I am going to speak to her tomorrow and tell her that we are “Family Friendly” and that she can take time off from 9 to 2 with my approval (I hardly disagree as you can see in the emails) but she will not be able to make up her time after 2 pm. During Tax Time she will have to work 9 -5 and if needing time off will require my approval.

But I would still like to have your opinion if I can.

Family friendly does not mean do whatever you want whenever you want. If she wants that she can darn well open her own firm. I mean, I’m self employed, so I can work whenever I want, and I can accept or turn down work based entirely on what I want on a particular day. Of course, that also means that I accept the consequences. For instance, if I tell a client, “No, I can’t do three articles for you this month, I can only do two because my precious snowflake has started violin lessons and between battling the teacher, who wants her to have a $4000 violin* to begin with, and listening to the practicing, I can’t handle the stress of an extra article!” then the client might just say, “Thanks, but no thanks, I’ll find someone else.” Additionally, if the client agrees to two articles, she certainly won’t pay me for three.

Personally, your set up sounds amazing and almost makes me want to be a CPA so I can work for you. (Okay, that’s a lie, as I would be the world’s worst accountant.) But, talk about a family friendly set up: She can be home to pick up and drop off her kids from school. She has summers off. (And you even lay her off so I presume she’s eligible for unemployment.) That IS family friendly.

When she’s working 9:00-2:00 she should be able to schedule most appointments outside of that time frame. I do say most because sometimes you simply take what you can get. But, for a dental cleaning or a pediatric check up or your regular chiropractor appointment you can schedule those so far out you can pick your times. (For the most part–I know there are exceptions, but realistically, if you call your dentist today and say, “I’d like to schedule a check up in June,” the response will be “what day and what time would you like?”)

Sick kids happen, and I’m thrilled that you accept that as part of life.

But the thing that actually concerns me the most about this woman is number 2. She had to take her Mother-in-law to the Doctors because everyone else was “working.” This totally demonstrates that she doesn’t see her job for you as “work” but rather an an income generator, which she seems quite fond of. (And note, this also demonstrates some family dynamics that need fixing–why is her job not considered “work” when other family members’ jobs are?) After all, she’s now got rental property and an exchange student in order to generate money. (Really? An exchange student as a profit center? I feel totally sorry for that kid! And isn’t 12 a bit young to be an exchange student?) The rental property isn’t working out to0 well if she needs to work more hours to afford it.

So, I wholeheartedly support your plan to be straightforward and set hard boundaries. I’d also add to it that if she can’t meet those restrictions, you’ll have to terminate her. For Mother-in-law appointments, MIL either needs to hit up one of her kids or schedule after 2:00 and not during tax season. Your employee needs to learn that the job is a priority. A top priority. Yes, if MIL falls and breaks her hip or the exchange student has a break down because she’s skimping money on his support in order to make a profit off him (I seriously can’t believe this part. Someone who has done exchange student hosting, help me out here. Is it possible to make a profit on this?), then that’s an emergency. But, other things need to be scheduled around work.

Now, I’m even going to be a little harsh here. If she was working full time, it would be totally realistic for her to have to take time off during the day for various things–and that would be family friendly. But, since her schedule is family friendly, she’s got to do her part to be business friendly. Sometimes, having a job means you have to miss the class party (sometimes this is a blessing, just saying).

The hardest part is going to be for you–to stand up to her. When she demands more hours, or comes in whenever or schedules things without prior approval, you’ll have to stand up to her. You may end up needing to terminate her. And, I bet there other CPA moms out there who would love the schedule you have. And who won’t take advantage of you.

*Seriously. Does my daughter’s violin teacher get a commission from the the music store? Because I’m not shelling out big bucks for a better violin. Twinkle Twinkle performed by a beginner would sound awful on the Vieuxtemps Guarneri, so let’s stick with the cheap violin until she proves herself to be dedicated.

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Is running a credit check part of your hiring procedures? Are you doing these credit checks legally? Lots of big named companies are getting sued for violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), including a new lawsuit at craft giant Michaels.

What’s the problem? Well, the law stipulates that you have to give candidates specific notice that you are going to run a credit check on them, and give them proper notice before taking any adverse action (usually, not hiring) them. The notice has to be clear and obvious–it can’t be buried on page 3 of some terms and conditions that you have to click through before filling out the online application.

The reality is that employment law is extremely complex, which is why you need anemployment lawyer on your speed dial. But the strange thing is, these companies aren’t little Mom and Pop operations where the owners hire their neighbor to do the legal work for setting up their business, buying their house, and reviewing their hiring forms. These are major corporations, with employees in the tens of thousands of employees. (In fact, Dollar General who is also being sued, has over 100,000 employees.)

To keep reading, click here: If You Run Credit Checks on Your Job Candidates, Now Would Be A Good Time To Panic

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You’d have far fewer problems in your business if you knew what the truth was all the time. Sometimes, unfortunately, your employees lie to you. How can you tell when they are lying?

Turns out you can use a fancy-dancy suit to track their joint movement to determine, with 75 percent accuracy, who is lying. Or at least that’s the claim of Xsens mocap suits. While this seems cool, it’s completely impractical for the business environment. Just imagine:

“Hey, John, I think you’re lying about something, so go ahead and put this suit on and we’ll see if you are!”

or

“Hey, John, come put this suit on. No reason! No reason at all! Now, let’s answer a few questions, shall we?”

Not going to work. But, you do need something that will work. Here are five things that will not only help you determine honesty, but encourage honesty in the office.

To keep reading, click here: How to Tell When Employees Are Lying (And What to Do About It)

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Can you help? Becoming your boss’s boss

by Evil HR Lady on January 22, 2015

There is a position open (for my manager’s manager). Higher level management asked me to apply for the position. From HR I will definitely get a question. How will you handle  your manager as a direct report?

I replied: Urgh, I don’t know. It’s a good question, and it’s probably pretty dependent on personalities, the job, etc. Want me to throw this out to my readers?

He responded:

My Present role is Technical Team Lead. My manager’s role is Operation Lead and he reports to the Global Lead. A few of the managers requested me to apply for Global Lead.
I know there will be an HR question, on how to deal that situation. Any pointers how to face? Sure please throw it to readers. Any inputs will be great.
So, any suggestions?

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