my coworker will quit if I’m promoted, shimmer body oil at work, and more — Ask a Manager

here are the 10 best questions to ask your job interviewer — Ask a Manager

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. My office mate announces all their comings and goings

How do I get my office mate to stop announcing every time they enter or leave the office? “I’m going to lunch.” “I’m back.” “So many trips to the copier?” “Okay, I’m going to a meeting.”

None of this is in any way relevant to either of our jobs. I’ve told them several times I have ADHD and that it really disrupts me when they do this, but they continue. When I mentioned the ADHD, they just kind of looked at me like they didn’t really understand.

I need a way to drive home that idle chatter and constant interruptions are not just bothersome to me but make me angry. I know it’s not a rational response, but I don’t like it and it really bothers me and I would hope that someone would acknowledge that and appreciate it. I just need to know how to say that without sounding like a complete jerk.

Rather than trying to educate them about ADHD, try simplifying it: “It really breaks my concentration when you tell me that you’re coming or going, and then it takes me a while to be able to refocus. I know you might feel rude just walking in or out without saying anything, but it really would help me maintain my focus.”

If they keep it up after that: headphones.

2. My coworker will quit if I’m promoted

I’ve found myself in a bit of a pickle. My manager wants to promote me, but my coworker says she will quit if it happens. I expect it would be a messy departure. Should I warn my manager about this?

This coworker, “Becky,” and I share the same title and basic responsibilities, but she has significantly less experience than me and is not a great fit for the job we have. She’s cooled down a bit but is emotionally volatile and has quite the mean streak. I’m constantly walking on eggshells, and nearly any task handed to me and not her sends her blood boiling.

Due to her nature and history, I’m expecting a pretty epic blowout when news of this promotion comes to light. Big enough that I’m actually hesitant to take the role. I don’t know if Becky will follow through on actually quitting (though she has mentioned this hypothetical several times), but the interpersonal drama will be inevitable, even if she stays. It’s frankly burning me out just to work with her currently, and I don’t know that I have the capacity to weather the explosion, even if it will eventually blow over.

Other than this one person, I really like my job, company, and team. I’m ready for new challenges, but don’t want to actually leave if I don’t have to — not that I’ve had any success in trying anyway — and this promotion will give me much needed skills to further my career.

It’s messy business to bring up another coworker leaving to one’s manager, and I don’t want to proceed with something unethical. Do you have any advice or scripts on how to navigate this while protecting myself?

If Becky causes some messy drama because a coworker is promoted, that’s on Becky, not you. You’re not obligated to warn your manager about that, especially if it there’s any chance that it warning her could derail your promotion.

But if you want to warn your manager, there’s nothing unethical about doing that. How aware is your boss about the problems with Becky? Assuming they have a general idea of her issues, there’s nothing wrong with saying, “I want to warn you that I think it’s likely that there will be some drama with Becky if I’m promoted, and I don’t want you to be blindsided by it.” An additional benefit to that conversation is that, as long as you handle it professionally, it could help position you as above the fray and more level-headed than Becky, as well as help your boss see you as a leader who’s thinking about team dynamics as a whole (usually a good thing for promotions).

Beyond that, though … why not just let Becky implode?  It sounds like it would be a good thing if she leaves! Let her quit in a huff. On the other hand, if it’s just going to cause weeks of drama that doesn’t end in her departure, then be aware that that says as much about your manager as it does about Becky — because your manager shouldn’t permit that to happen.

But don’t let your fear of Becky’s volatility keep you from accepting a promotion you’d otherwise want. She’s going to act however she acts, and you don’t need to engage.

3. Shimmer body oil at work

Do you think shimmer body oil is appropriate in a workplace setting? You can catch a few flecks of the glitter.

For daytime/office jobs with professional dress codes, no. (And based on where your email signature says you work — a large firm with a fairly conservative reputation  — definitely no.)

Is it the worst dress code violation someone will commit this summer? No. But you’re better off not shimmering in an office.

4. Should I “out” a candidate who want to cheat on their job with us?

I serve on a community board for an organization that is now hiring its first employee. This contract employee will work 20-40 hours per week at a competitive hourly rate with hours set to reflect their availability and our needs, which change seasonally.

We’ve screened several candidates, and one person shared that they have a full-time job which, based on their duties, requires that they work only 25 hours per week. They would plan to keep this job in addition to ours. This was a red flag for us anyway, but the issue I’m having is that their employer is also on our board of directors!

I feel crummy at the idea of telling my colleague, knowing that doing so could get this candidate fired, and I feel crummy keeping such a secret from someone with whom I have a professional relationship. What should I do?

To make sure I’m clear, their employer thinks they’ll be working 40 hours a week but they really plan to work for you during part of that time? Yeah, don’t hire that person. Not only are there the obvious integrity issues (which they’re apparently so cavalier about that they didn’t hesitate to announce their plan to you!), but you’d also be setting yourself up for problems when the needs of the two jobs conflict. It’s one thing to say, “Well, I really only have 25 hours of work to complete” — but what’s going to happen when they’ve committed to doing something for you Thursday afternoon and suddenly the first job needs them to be in a last-minute meeting then?

Whether to out them to your board member is a different question. I’d default to not doing that unless you’re close to the board member, and then I think those loyalties would need to win out. But you could certainly tell the candidate their employer is on your board and ask for their thoughts on how that would get navigated…

5. Returning to work after a medical incident that happened in front of coworkers

I work in HR for a medium-sized company, officially contracted to our head office but in practice working remotely. Last week I went in to our office for the first time in a couple of months for a full department (30 people) meeting. Towards the end of the meeting I began to feel very dizzy and a coworker came with me to get some air. There I started shaking uncontrollably and felt absolutely horrible.

This went on for a while, to the point that I was sat on a bench outside my office while five colleagues, including my boss and boss’s boss (C suite level), stood around me and an ambulance was called. To compound this, I had never met my boss’s boss previously and had only had a brief conversation over Teams. I was taken to the hospital and once they’d established there was nothing physically wrong, the suggestion was put forward that I’d had a panic attack. Truthfully this makes sense, I’ve been very stressed recently, primarily as I’m awaiting surgery with no date yet and also for work-related reasons. It made me realize I’ve been having moderate anxiety pretty consistently for a few months now and have just been doing my best to ignore it (top tip: don’t do that).

I’m taking some time off to sort myself out and get used to the medication I’ve been prescribed to alleviate the physical symptoms. That said, I’m already concerned about when I return to work, because frankly it was embarrassing. I’ve already had more time off than I would like to deal with my physical health, and now to top it off I’ve had this in front of colleagues (and more senior ones at that). I worry that people will be losing patience while I try and get my health together and, unreasonable though it is, I feel this has made me look weak and unreliable. What would be your advice for dealing with this upon my return?

This is the sort of thing that is sometimes mortifying to the person it happens to, while the people who were around for it almost never have a reaction that would warrant mortification. Your colleagues are almost certainly just going to be concerned about you being okay; it’s incredibly unlikely that they’ll regard you as weak or think less of you in any way. After all, imagine yourself in their shoes: if a colleague you’d never met before had a medical emergency in front of you, wouldn’t you truly just be concerned for them afterwards? (Also keep in mind, they don’t know and don’t need to know that it was a panic attack, if that’s part of what’s worrying you.)

When you return, try to keep this in the forefront of your mind: unless people are monsters, they generally have good will toward someone who’s been through a medical crisis in front of them and will just be glad you’re okay.

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