My Manager Banned “TGIF”

imagesDear Evil Skippy:

I supervise a unit of twenty people in a professional office. A new manager just took over our division and she has some ideas that are making a lot of us roll our eyes. The latest is that she has forbidden anyone from saying “TGIF” or using the phrase in emails or other messages. She says that making a big deal about the fact that it is Friday creates “negative energy” because it implies people would rather not have to be at work. She has told me to instruct people not to use the phrase, coach anyone who “slides” and move on to discipline if they fail to comply. What is your reaction to all this? What would you do?

– Supervisor

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How Do I Get My Co-Workers To Invite Me To Thanksgiving Dinner?

images-195Dear Evil Skippy:

I moved to Chicago in the summer of 2013 and did not know a soul in town. At my then-new workplace, a couple of co-workers mentioned several times that they like to “adopt orphans” for Thanksgiving dinner. I dropped lots of hints about being an orphan for the holidays but did not receive a single dinner invitation and ended up having soup at home. The same co-workers have already mentioned their “orphan tradition” this year. I can’t make it home for Thanksgiving and would love not eating alone. How would you wrangle an invitation if you were in my place? These co-workers can be dense.

– M.L.

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My Manager Distrusts My Employee Because His Dog Hates Her

images-194Dear Evil Skippy:

My manager hosted a party at his house to thank his departments for a successful sales campaign. One of the employees who reports to me attended the party and did not make a good impression on my manager because of the way my manager’s dog reacted to her. Although the dog did not seem to have a problem with anyone else attending, he growled at my employee every time he saw her. She tried to laugh it off and said the dog must have known she was not a big fan of pets.

A few days later, my boss started asking pointed questions about my employee’s performance, sales figures and job history. (She’s worked here for just over a year and is doing fine – not a superstar, but fine.) He told me “confidentially” that if his dog does not trust someone, it is a “sign”. He said he can’t trust this employee and wants to make sure that I do not assign her to work on any sensitive projects. I could tell he was not joking.

I’m not going to start treating my employee differently, but I’m nervous about the manager. What should I do?

– In The Middle

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Evil Skippy’s Top Ten Reference Checks

Supervisors and human resources professionals often ask me how to spot a fake resume. My first response is to check references and whenever I mention references, memorable past background checks come to my mind.  (It beats thinking about real work).   Here they are.  Enjoy.  Share.  Tweet.  Whatever.

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Should I Rank My Employee With A Great Attitude As “Needs Improvement” or “Satisfactory”?

Dear Evil Skippy –

I supervise four people and do their evaluations each year. I just submitted a draft evaluation for one of my employees, who happens to be my worst performer.   I work more with Jack (not his real name) than anyone. It is mainly related to things he should already know how to do, or things that he should have done correctly that we are re-doing. Sometimes I have trouble doing my own work because I am focused on him.

Although Jack is not a great performer, he has a great attitude. I know he is trying his best and that he wants to pull his weight. Because he has a great attitude, I want to give him a “Satisfactory” ranking for overall performance.   My manager disagrees and is insisting that I give Jack a “Needs Improvement.” This seems unfair since my manager does not monitor performance. He should defer to me because I have first-hand knowledge of how Jack does his job. I also know that anything less than “Satisfactory” will be a big blow to Jack. I need to keep his morale up if there is to be any chance of improving his performance.

Here’s what I want – some “magic words” to tell my boss so he will let me give the evaluation the way that I think is best.

Sincerely,

Struggling for Power

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My Supervisor Told Me To Ignore Jokes About My Height

Dear Evil Skippy –

I work in a department with six other co-workers and my supervisor. I am the only woman in the department. I am just over six feet tall. My supervisor and co-workers are all 5’7” or less. I was very self-conscious about being so tall when I was in high school and college, but over the years have gotten over the periodic stares and stupid comments.   Recently, one of my co-workers started referring to our team as “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”. It began as a single comment at a conference (it got a big laugh – including from me). My co-worker won’t let it go and keeps using the phrase. It is no longer funny to me and I told my supervisor that the “joke” is getting on my nerves. He said that I should just ignore the comments.   Am I being too sensitive? After all, my supervisor is being called a dwarf and he does not seem bothered.

- Not Laughing

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H.R. Won’t Do Anything About A Smelly Employee

Dear Evil Skippy:

I’ve read your blog for years – it’s become part of my morning routine. I never thought I would send a question, but I’ve found myself in the middle of an Evil Skippy @ Work cliché – the smelly employee. I supervise 25 people and, recently, one of my employees told me in confidence that another co-worker smells terrible. The allegedly pungent person and I do not interact often in closed spaces, so I had not noticed a problem on my own. I made up an excuse to get closer while indoors and now agree that the lady is a stinker. In private, I told her I’d noticed the body odor issue on my own a few times so I did not have to reveal that a co-worker had squealed. She sat quietly, thanked me for my “opinion” and then filed a harassment charge against me. Human Resources dismissed the charge after looking into it, but also told me that it was rude of me to criticize an employee for something “organic”. (That confused me – I always thought organic meant no pesticides). The Human Resources rep said it would be better if everyone just “let it go”.

ES, this employee SMELLS. I am not over-sensitive and can put up with a lot, but this lady is making people’s eyes water. How can I get HR to back us up?

– Supervisor

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My Co-Worker Makes Insensitive Comments About My Down Syndrome Son

Dear Evil Skippy:

I’m expecting my first baby.  We told friends and family our good news, and the news is out at work too.  My husband and I learned during routine tests that we are having a baby boy, and also that he has Down Syndrome.  We are working on adjusting to this news – our bottom line is that this is our baby boy and we know we are going to love him.

One of my co-workers is the problem.  We talk a lot at work, but hardly ever socialize otherwise.  She has always been rather bossy.  I did not mind before because I had no problem filtering out and ignoring the annoying stuff.  It changed for me when I told her what we had learned from the tests.  Her first question was whether or not I was going to terminate the pregnancy.  I told her absolutely not, and she looked shocked.   Now she keeps telling me how “brave” my husband and I are and how she would never have gone through with it.  I hope she is trying to be supportive, but her repeated comments make me want to strangle her.  Maybe it is hormones and maybe it is just my true self emerging.

Please tell me a few Evil Skippy approaches to use with this person that I can celebrate in my mind.  (I am too restrained to actually BE you, so I have to pretend).  Next, what can I really do to make my co-worker drop the platitudes and also fend off well-meaning but upsetting comments or questions from the rest of the cubicle gang.

– Mom to Be

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