Why Your Coworker Gets Special Privileges

by Evil HR Lady on July 12, 2016

Your coworker seems to get special treatment all the time and it drives you crazy. Now, it’s possible that your boss is simply a bad manager who plays favorites (or who is too wimpy to stand up to an employee who doesn’t take her job seriously). However, while some managers totally stink, most are doing the best that they can and have very good reasons for why your coworker gets privileges that you don’t have. Here’s why her life seems to be better than yours:

She negotiated it when she was hired.

Most people know they can negotiate salary, but you can pretty much negotiate anything. Some things are easier to get than others–for instance, getting an extra week of vacation when you’re not an executive is practically impossible in many companies–but go ahead and ask. Things like flexible schedules, however, are becoming more and more common.

To keep reading, click here: Why Your Coworker Gets Special Privileges


Dilemma of the Month: Do I Need an MBA?

by Evil HR Lady on July 11, 2016

An English teacher has a dream of opening an arts school. She knows she needs more education. The question is, should she go for the arts degree with an MFA or the business degree with an MBA?

I have strong opinions, so hop over the Comstock and read it!

To read the answer, click here: Dilemma of the Month: Do I Need an MBA?


My Coworker is Tracking My Hours

by Evil HR Lady on July 8, 2016

I am an exempt employee and my boss has recently started having a co-worker of mine keep track of my hours. We have a soft start time of 7 am – 9 am at the latest. I know if I work 7 hours one day. I will work 9 hours the next day. My boss works remotely and is never in the office so I do not know how or why this was started. Just last week I was recognized for performance and do not understand where this is coming from. I heard from a coworker “so & so” that “boss lady” has you under a microscope and the person you share an office with is tracking your hours for the “boss lady”. I have never been approached by “boss lady” or made aware that there is a problem. I am starting to feel like I did something wrong, but I have no clue what I did.

There is a super simple solution to this: Pick up the phone and call your boss and ask what is going on.

You’ve just heard rumors. Your coworker may or may not be tracking your hours, and if she is, she may or may not be doing it because the boss asked her to.

This is one of those situations where you should ask sooner rather than later. Like, as soon as you get this answer, ask your boss.

Some people can’t stand any sort of flexibility that their coworkers may have. Some people are simply weenies. And some bosses are wimps who will ask someone else to track hours because they don’t want to manage by performance. But, since you were recognized for performance just last week, I suspect this is an over-stepping coworker.

So, pick up the phone and ask your boss directly if she’s asked your coworker to monitor your work.


Can I Please Quit without Notice?

by Evil HR Lady on July 7, 2016

To start off, yes I have read all the other posts of yours pertaining to this topic but none of the posts seem to apply to people working in positions other than office jobs. I work at Company A. Company A is a fast-food franchise popular for hiring young teenagers with no work experience, in the states. I want to work for Company B. Company B is a fast-paced industrial chain factory.

I have some good references for company B because the big boss is my great cousin, and his brother is the head of the department I want to work in. Unfortunately, the interviewer is on vacation for the next week or so. Which means I won’t have a solid answer about whether or not I will get hired for another week or so. So I can’t submit any sort of notice to company A for a bit.

But I know for a fact that once I do get hired, I will probably start the next Monday coming up afterwards. This will most likely not leave any sort of room for notice. Since company A is typically used to finding replacements for people who just don’t want to come in… I don’t see how they’d have a hard time filling in the shifts I didn’t complete.

But my biggest concerns are that, number one, I am a polite person who will try to never inconvenience anyone for my own benefit. It is literally against my morals to quit without notice. I also need a signature from my employer to apply for student loans, to claim any income I received during my pre-study period. If I quit without warning, I will probably never be allowed back.

So, if I do get hired at Company B, how do I break it to Company A in a way that’ll make it so they don’t hate me. I even told them at the start of summer that I would probably not go back to school and stay here longer than the summer, because they have a huge turnover rate at the end of summer as students go back to school. They hired me under the guise that I would be a long-term employee, rather than a part-time student.
It was probably unclear, but my question simply is this: Should I quit on the spot the day I get hired at Company B, or submit a 2-weeks notice right now and pray I get hired? And how do I do it in a way that doesn’t cause the entire town to hate me.

You should wait until you receive a formal offer from Company B and then tell company B that you can start in two weeks because you need to give your current employer two weeks notice.

Yes, I understand that lots of people quit on the spot in fast food and retail. Heck, when I worked at Kmart and submitted my two weeks notice, they were totally shocked when I showed up for my scheduled next shift because people don’t do that. But, people should.

Here’s the other thing: Company B would expect you to give two weeks notice if you were planning to leave that company, so they should have no problem with you wanting to give two weeks’ notice to your current job. If they do have a problem with it, that’s a red flag that they don’t respect their employees.

Additionally, I don’t think you’re guaranteed a job with Company B because you’re related. In fact, hiring relatives is generally a bad idea. (I say this as someone who had a great experience working for my dad for a summer, but I’ve seen more nightmares than successes.) Relatives at work can make everything awkward.

So, wait until you get the offer. Tell the new company you need to give notice at your current position. (You could probably be fine with one week, considering it’s fast food and turnover is expected.) Good luck.


A reader sent me an email asking if a “1.75 percent raise” was appropriate for salary in the 90k range. “It’s like giving a waitress a $7 tip on a $300 meal,” he wrote.

First of all, wouldn’t it be awesome to get a 15-20 percent raise each year? Second, if any of you leave a $7 tip on a $300 meal, you deserve a good smack down, but raises and tips are not the same things. The reality is a 1.75 percent raise can be an awesome raise, and it can be a terrible raise. Here’s what is going on behind the scenes.

Budgets. Unless you’re reporting to the CEO or maybe the CFO, your boss didn’t set the budget for raises. The executive team determined what the budget would be. This was based on numerous things-not just what the cost of living would be next year compared to last year. If the company doesn’t have tons of money to spare, budgets are going to be lean.

To keep reading, click here: Your Manager Loves You. Here’s Why Your Raise is Awful.


8 Questions a Hiring Manager Should Never Ask

by Evil HR Lady on July 5, 2016

Most people who conduct job interviews aren’t actually experts in hiring. In theory, recruiters should be (although, I’ve heard some horror stories about “professional” recruiters as well), but most hiring managers hire maybe one person per year. As a result, most hiring managers never become experts in hiring.

Job interviews should be designed to find people who are the most qualified for the job and who would also be the best fit for the department. You want to make sure you hire people who are reliable, talented, and will fit in. The desire to do this can sometimes lead a hiring manager to ask questions she shouldn’t ask. Additionally, sometimes hiring managers have prejudices that should be set aside for hiring. Remember, the only the thing you should be concerned with is the ability to do the job. Nothing else should matter.

To keep reading, click here: 8 Questions a Hiring Manager Should Never Ask

{ 1 comment }

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


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)


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


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.


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.