We’re midway through the summer intern season. Hopefully, it’s going well. Internships can be a bit of a challenge-adjusting to an office environment after years of school can be a bit difficult for all involved. Frequently, the people managing interns are low-level supervisors and sometimes it’s their very first time managing another person. The result of this can be a lot of unmet expectations on both sides. The solution?

Every boss of a summer intern should make an appointment with her her intern to do a mid-internship check up and it should begin with the following question:“What did you expect to do or learn at this internship that hasn’t happened?”

This question can open up a conversation that can be invaluable. Your intern may have grand expectations of being a project lead or presenting to the board. She may be frustrated that so far she just gets to sit in on meetings and hasn’t led anything. On the other hand, she may have had very reasonable expectations but has been stuck doing grunt work because everyone in the department gives her their unpleasant tasks. Either way, you’ll find out.

To keep reading, click here:  The One Thing Every Boss Should Say to Her Summer Intern

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Even though most jobs don’t require smooth talking skills, getting through the interview often does. You don’t have to answer every interview question perfectly, but you can improve your interview skills. Here are 10 interview skills that will help you land the job.

1. Do your background research.

This may not seem like an actual interview skill, but it is. If you walk into an interview saying, “Now, what do you do again?” and “Do you guys have funding yet?” you’re doomed before you begin. No matter how sparkly your personality is, you have to do the background research.

2. Be polite to everyone.

You may have heard stories of people who were rude to the receptionist, cut someone off in the parking lot, or yelled at the barista at the coffee shop around the corner and then didn’t get the job. These things happen, and they can ruin your chances. I will never, ever, not in a million years hire the person who is rude to the receptionist or barista. Many recruiters and hiring managers feel the same.

To keep reading, click here: 10 Interview Skills You Need to Get Hired (and How to Improve at Them)

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Death to the Feedback Sandwich

by Evil HR Lady on June 29, 2016

I got an email from a colleague the other day at the place I volunteer. We have parallel roles — she heads up one organization, and I head up another. The first paragraph was filled with praise about how she admired my work and my parenting (really). As I read this, I knew what was coming next: a criticism.

I was not disappointed. The second paragraph was about what I was doing wrong, and how she would change it if she were me.

In true feedback sandwich style, paragraph three was glowing praise for me again.

Now, in theory, this feedback sandwich — bad news sandwiched between the Wonder Bread of praise — is how you are supposed to do it. It’s supposed to soften the blow of the bad news. Instead, it made me cringe. Now, if this woman had regularly sent me emails praising my parenting, it would have been fine, but she doesn’t.

To keep reading, click here: Death to the Feedback Sandwich

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Job Deception, Low Pay, and More

by Evil HR Lady on June 28, 2016

Hello! I have read your posts for years now and finally decided I had a problem worth your time.

I am a Sr.Supervisor in Supply Chain with 16 direct reports spread out over two departments. When I interviewed and negotiated it was for the job over one of the two departments with 8 direct report. I was hired to replace the previous manager over that one department. On my first day, I was notified and handed a paper to sign saying I would now be over the two departments (16 direct reports) instead of the one I originally interviewed, negotiated and accepted the offer for (8 direct reports).

The first issue here is that they switched the responsibility on me and did not adjust pay, grade or title. Second is I replace a Manager that was two job grades above me and had only the one group of 8. Many people commented to me about how I should have a higher title since I had so many direct reports–I’m a supervisor but replaced a manager.

With this going on for about 18 months, at first, I was just happy to have the opportunity. However, as more and more people said something to me I started to discuss it back and agree with them.

I spoke up on a few occasions to both Mgmt and HR and they just did not seem to want to hear me out.

At the end of the day, my pay grade is the same as the Sr people who work for me. I made comments to some of those employees that I am in the same pay grade as them. I did this as I began to get more frustrated with the situation. I was tricked into more responsibility with the same pay and then find out that my pay grade is the same is the people who work for me and lower than many peers I am expected to work with daily from other departments. I am expected to be a leader without the appropriate pay.

I finally was called into my bosses office and scolded because I spoke to my employees as well as my peers about my pay grade and that I planned to talk to Mgmt and HR about it. I was told how if HR found out about this they would not like it and so on. I know technically it is bad practice to discuss salary with others especially my salary with an employee..but in this case, it was not salary but job grade that was mentioned.

Now I feel I have this target on my back. My boss and her boss seem to treat me different. I was unofficially told I only have to worry about the one department but nothing official. I now have a weekly 1:1 with my boss and each time she usually has a list of “feedback” for me to improve on. The feedback is usually 2nd party via skip levels with my employees. This makes for a strange environment because my employees do not respect me as my boss does not seem to. My boss seems to encourage this by allowing them to run to her to fix it if I say or ask them to do something they don’t agree with. I am being undermined.

Did I do anything wrong in this case? What should I do? I feel scared for my job because I spoke up about an obvious issue. My people don’t respect me and seem to want me to fail. I am a good fair boss. Help!

Okay, I’m going to apologize at the beginning because this is a long and complicated question and I’m sure I’m going to miss something, although I suspect my readers will point it out and solve it for you.

You’ve got lots of problems, let’s talk about them one by one.

The job deception.

They could have completely lied to you, or they could have had things change between the interview and the start of work. This does happen from time to time–someone could have resigned, and they just decided to not to fill the position.

Additionally, it’s not necessarily wrong or evil that you’re a lower grade than your predecessor. Jobs get re-evaluated all the time. The job description could have changed, or you could have fewer qualifications. It happens the other way too. Once upon a time I quit a job and they hired three people to replace me at a higher salary and grade than I had. I don’t know whether I should be honored that I was doing so much work that they needed 3 people to replace me or angry that I was underpaid and overworked.

So, the pay grade in itself isn’t a bad thing. The change in workload is terrible, but it may not have been an intentional deception.

However, how your boss handled it was completely bonkers.

The pay problem.

Your pay was probably correct to manage one group. As I said, the job could have been reclassified and, obviously, you thought it was fair or you wouldn’t have taken it. But, now that you are doing the work of two people, you certainly deserve a pay raise and a promotion, (I’m presuming you are doing a good job, but if you’re not, well, then you haven’t earned a pay and a promotion.)

The discussion problem.

Here’s the deal, discussing salary with your coworkers is part of discussing workplace conditions and they can’t stop you from doing it, nor can they (legally) punish you for doing so. That said, it’s not generally wise to complain to your direct reports about your salary. Your boss? Your peers? Better idea. You messed up complaining to your direct reports.

You didn’t mess up complaining to your boss, though.

The management problem.

With your boss actively undermining your management, and you complaining to your staff about your pay, it’s no wonder you’re having difficulty managing the people. You treated them like peers and your boss is acting like their boss, so it makes sense that they don’t respect you as a manager.

Solving this mess.

Get a pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, your favorite, sit on the couch and watch Netflix.  I really liked The Mentalist, but I warn you the ending of the series is dumb.

Oh, wait, that will make you feel temporarily better, but it won’t solve your problems long term.

Today. 

Stop treating your direct reports like your peers. You don’t complain to them about anything except their performance. No complaining about your salary, your assignments, the number of people you manage, your parking spot, or the food available in the cafeteria. Got it? You toe the company line when you are around your direct reports. Period.

Over the long term.

In your one:one meetings with your boss you need to address these things, one at a time. He’s shown that he’s not really excited about the idea of giving you a raise and a promotion, nor is he excited about helping you succeed as a manager. That’s a problem, but you need to find out why. Maybe your performance isn’t that hot. Maybe he’s gotten pressure from above to cut his budgets. Maybe he’s a jerk.

Address the management issues first. Here’s a sample of what to say (which you should rephrase to fit your personality).

You: I know I screwed up by discussing my pay problems with my direct employees. It was wrong of me to treat them like peers when they are not. I won’t make that mistake again.

I’d like to fix things so that I can be an effective manager, but I need your help to do so. First of all, you told me that I was only responsible for Group A, but when we talk you set goals for me regarding Group B. Can I get some clarification around what my exact responsibilities are?

If he reaffirms that it’s group A that you are responsible for, after the meeting, send him an email that says, “Thanks for our discussion today. This email is just to confirm that I am only responsible for Group A and that someone else will manage Group B. Please let me know if this is false.” Under no circumstances should you ever delete that email.

From then on, when he asks you about Group B, say, “As we agreed on June 30, 2016, I’m not responsible for that group. Let’s talk about Group A.” Lather, rinse, repeat.

Next topic for you to discuss: Your ability to manage. Again, a sample dialogue.

In order to be an effective manager, I need you to have my back. If any of my people come to you with a problem, can you please direct them back to me? I will then take it up with you if I need support.

This will be a topic that you’ll have to repeat a lot. Additionally, you’ll need to address it with your direct reports. Sample dialogue:

Jane, I understand that you went to Bill about problem X. In the future, I need you to come to me first, and I’ll decide whether he needs to be looped in on that. Can you do that for me?

This will take a lot of repeating, because you and your manager have trained them otherwise.

The money.

This one is harder because I’m not a huge fan of complaining about a salary you thought was fair when you were hired. I think it was wrong of them to offer you a salary that was, apparently, below market rate, and I don’t blame you for making a mistake. Companies love the information asymetry of salary information and they use it against their employees all the time.

If your boss agrees to simply have you responsible for Group A, then I’d let the money and title thing go for a while–say until you hit your two year mark. If he wants you to take on Group B, here’s a sample dialogue:

Bill, when I agreed to a salary of $X, that was with the understanding that I would be responsible for Group A only. Now that I’m responsible for Group A and Group B, it makes sense that my title and salary grade and salary should reflect that responsibility. What do we need to do to get the ball rolling on this?

Now, while I told you to rephrase everthing in your own language the “we” in that last sentence is on purpose. It’s a sneaky little way of signally to his subconscious that you are in this together. It’s necessary for him to feel that way in order to get his help on this.

Will this work? Probably not.

What about HR?

If any HR person says boo to you about discussing your salary, I want you to respond, “The National Labor Relations Board allows me to discuss my working conditions, which includes my salary.”

Also start looking for a new job.

You may be able to salvage this one. I have high hopes (probably because of excessive ice cream consumption), but when your boss has shown himself to be problematic, and you’ve been in a job for 18 months already and it will likely take 6 or more months to find a better job, beginning the job search is never a bad idea. If it turns out that everything resolves and life is good, no problem. If it doesn’t, well, then you’ve got a back up plan in place.

 

 

 

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When you land a new job, there’s a ton to learn. You not only need to learn the business, but you also need to learn how best to use your team.

You may get lucky and walk into a perfectly performing team, but chances are, you’re going to have to make some changes.

To make those decisions, though, you’ll need the support of the team. How do you gain their support?

And how do you determine what does and does not need to be done? Hang, on, here we go.

To keep reading, click here: Congratulations, You’re Now The Boss: How to Take Over an Existing Team

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The Surprising Most Satisfying Job

by Evil HR Lady on June 24, 2016

Do you want a job that you love? That is likely to bring you satisfaction? Then you’ll want to pursue the job that is most likely to bring you great satisfaction. Unfortunately, it won’t bring you a paycheck.

Homemaker came out on top of life satisfaction survey conducted by LV Insurancecompany in the United Kingdom. Most of the people defined as homemakers were women-a stay at home mom. Here are the top five most satisfying jobs:

  • 87.2 percent Homemakers
  • 86.3 percent Hospitality and Events Management
  • 84.4 percent Creative Arts and Design
  • 83.9 percent Charity
  • 83.7 percent Sport and Tourism.

To keep reading, click here: The Surprising Most Satisfying Job

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Microsoft’s purchase of LinkedIn for $26.2 billion was big news, but The New York Times has theorized a non-public reason for the sale: LinkedIn’s compensation problems.

It seems that LinkedIn gave a huge percentage of its compensation in stock. While many people enjoy this-if the company you work for does well, you can have a sweet retirement-if the company does poorly, it can be a huge problem.

That’s what happened at LinkedIn. According to the NYT:

On one grim day in early February, LinkedIn’s stock price plummeted more than 40 percent after it forecast weaker-than-expected growth for the year. The share price had hovered at $225 at the beginning of 2016; a month later it briefly got close to $100.

You can see why this might be a problem for employee retention. Employees freak out if the don’t get a yearly 3 percent increase. You can imagine how top talent isn’t willing to stick around in a company that just slashed their compensation.

To keep reading, click here: What’s Behind LinkedIn’s Big Compensation Problem

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Interview Questions Candidates Want You to Ask

by Evil HR Lady on June 22, 2016

We talk a lot about questions hiring managers and recruiters should ask, but we never talk about the questions that the job candidates actually want to be asked. If you want to find the best people for your open positions, try some of these questions:

“What makes you angry?” It made me think about how I apply my personal values in a work situation.

“Have you remained close with any former colleagues from past jobs?” It made me reflect on how shallow my work relationships have been.

“What’s the difference between a ’rounding error’ and a cost overrun?” The man who was going to hire me had used the dismissive phrase ’rounding error’ at least twice in his conversations with me, so when his manager asked this, I realized he wanted to know if I would challenge my boss.

To keep reading, click here: Interview Questions Candidates Want You to Ask

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Can I Get out of a Relocation Repayment?

by Evil HR Lady on June 21, 2016

I assumed a position with my company. However, after my arrival, I have been handed a completely different job altogether – as have many others.

Moreover, upon my arrival most employees left in the first few weeks on the job because they’d been promised better positions – my top person was told he would assume my job before they hired me. Each one of these people approached me to assure me that they didn’t leave because of me.

The work environment is quite bad and my family life is terrible since coming here. I considered a leave of absence, but I’d like to leave outright. However, I have a year more of indentured time to get off the hook for relocation.

I have another position lined up and am weighing the options. Is there a positive course of action to take to be relieved of this obligation?

First of all, to not answer your question, hiring managers stop this. This is the second email I’ve gotten in the past 24 hours with the same problem–relocation to a new job and the new job turns out to be nothing like what was offered in the interviews. Stop it. Why would you lie to get someone to take the job? You want someone that wants this job, not just a person. This is what happens when you misrepresent a job.

Okay, and now onto the question at hand.

There are a couple of things you can do.  First, you can speak to your new employer about paying you a sign on bonus equal to the relocation costs you owe. This isn’t as crazy as it sounds–it happens quite a bit for high-level employees. That said, I’d be hesitant to do so for an employee because if they are willing to leave their last position in less than one-two years, what’s to say they won’t do the same to me? But, I digress.

Second, you can consult an attorney (www.nela.org will list the employment attorneys in your area), about claiming breach of contract. They said the job was going to be X, it turned out to be Y, ergo they lied to you. However, (and remember, I’m not a lawyer, nor do I play one on the internet), you’d probably have to prove they knowingly lied to you. Companies are free to change job requirements and responsibilities at will unless you have a contract, which you most likely do not.

Third, you can also ask this attorney to help you negotiate an exit from the company. You can do this on your own, but depending on your negotiating skills and the level of rationality of a bunch of people who mislead you and who has a habit of misleading employees, you probably want legal help. You can say, essentially,  “Look, I thought I’d be doing X, I’m doing Y. It’s not a good fit for me, and it’s not a good fit for you. Let’s talk about either getting the position in line with what was promised or working on an exit strategy. While I’d like to make it clear that I’m not resigning, I’m offering to leave with no fuss in exchange for you waiving the requirement to repay the relocation costs.” They may be willing to do so.

Fourth, you can negotiate a partial repayment. You said you had one more year left, so I’m guessing you’ve been there one year. They should be willing to accept a 50 percent repayment (and that should be in any relocation contract you sign in the future, as well as an agreement that you don’t have to pay it back if you are laid off), and may even accept a smaller amount–especially if you can cough of the cash now. As mean and nasty as HR departments are, they don’t like going to court to collect unpaid relocation debts either, and accepting a partial settlement may make everyone happy.

I’m sorry they lied to you. I wish companies would just stop doing that.

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My Coworkers Won’t Smile Back

by Evil HR Lady on June 20, 2016

I started a new job eager and attempted to smile and greet everyone. These greetings were usually not returned and, a year later, they are accompanied by dirty looks and eye rolls.

I’ve also overheard co-workers gossip and complain about how ineffective I am. I did check in to see if there were any issues with my performance after overhearing one of these conversations and was assured I was performing above expectations. However, the evil looks and ignored greetings continue.

Obviously, I don’t feel very comfortable or secure. Do you have any suggestions for dealing with a situation or ways to protect my position?

There are two distinct possibilities here: One is that you are the problem and the other is that they are the problem. It’s impossible for me to tell from here which one it is.

Now, to be clear, they shouldn’t be rude even if you are the problem, but it’s actually easier to fix if it’s you.

What do I mean by it might be you? You started a new job, and you were happy and eager and possibly you invaded their personal space before you should have. Did you try to be instant friends? Do you have a slightly annoying personality? Have you run into this problem before?

Sometimes people are socially awkward and don’t realize it. If there’s any possibility that this could be the case, go to your boss and say, “I know I can struggle with relationships, and I’ve noticed that I don’t seem to be fitting in here. Can you help me figure out what I can change?”

The advantage of asking this question is that you’re not blaming anyone else–even if they do deserve the blame (which they do, because even if you’re annoying they shouldn’t be rude back). You’re asking for help changing you, not changing them. If your manager is a good one, she’ll tell you ways in which you’re overstepping boundaries, not picking up on the vibe of the office, and other things that you could change to make the place better.

Now, if you’ve never had problems with relationships before, then it’s probably not that you’ve done anything wrong. Your new coworkers could not like you for a number of reasons not related to you:

  • You got the position one of them wanted, and the rest are taking her side.
  • You’re making more money than the rest of them.
  • You are doing a better job, and there has been a culture of slacking, and you’re ruining that for them.
  • You’re a different race/gender/religion/etc than they are, and they are just general horrible people.
  • The person who had your position previously was part of their group, and she got fired so they blame you, even though you had absolutely nothing to do with the firing.

Sometimes adults act like junior high school kids, and we all know how unpleasant that can be. If you think this is the case, then you can do two things. The first is to pick the least unfriendly of the bunch and approach her as follows: “Jane, can I talk to you for a minute? I’ve noticed that I don’t really fit in here, and I can’t figure out why. Could you possibly help me understand what I can do to fit in better?”

Now, if Jane is a nice enough person, she’ll recognize this as the calling out that it is. Note, again you’re not blaming them, you’re putting the focus on yourself. Why, when you’re not the problem? Because this isn’t about being right; it’s about fixing things. You want to fix things, not be right.

Jane may tell you that it’s nothing, and you’re fine, but you should see her softening. People can easily get stuck in the rut of being mean and cliquish, but when it’s brought to their attention, they can see they are being silly and stop.

If you can’t identify someone who might be rational, it’s time to go to your manager and ask a slightly different question. Instead of asking her what you can do, ask her what’s going on. “I’ve noticed that, even after a year, people don’t like me. It started right at the beginning, so I’m pretty sure it’s not something I’ve done. Is there some background that I’m missing?”

Hopefully, your boss will open up and explain what is going on. Then ask her for help in tackling the problem. It’s really up to the boss to pull her employees into line. Hopefully,this will prompt her to do it.

Pay attention to how people behave. Don’t go outside their norms. Keep your head down, and with your manager, you can get this problem solved.

 

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