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Apr 24 / Jim

Dear Evil Skippy: My Employee Won’t Attend The Company Picnic If Beer Is Served

images-127Dear Evil Skippy:

The company where I work hosts a summer picnic every year for employees and their families. One of the people who I supervise informed me that she and her family will not attend the event this year if beer is available like last year. She said providing alcohol sends the wrong message to young people. (Her sons are 2 and 3). I hate to have anyone miss out on the event, but we would take a lot of heat if we stopped having beer. What would you have told the employee in my place?

– Phil

Dear Phil:

I would have said, “More beer for me!”

                    — Evil Skippy

I’m confused at exactly what “message” your employee is worried about. Is it, “Some adults drink beer at summer picnics” or “My parents say beer is bad but all of these people seem OK so maybe my parents are nuts”?

If your employee wants to boycott the picnic, that’s her business. Be respectful and don’t make a big deal about her stance. As long as beer is not being forced on anyone and someone is making sure your employees who drink at the picnic behave responsibly, there’s nothing you need to do about your employee’s concern.

As for what I would have said to this employee, it would have been a simple, “We’ll miss you.”


 

 

You can find (and “like”) “Evil Skippy at Work” on Facebook and also follow ES on Twitter (@EvilSkippySays).

Evil Skippy and/or Jim are available to speak at your conferences and seminars! For information or to send a question for Evil Skippy to answer, contact us at:

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Apr 23 / Jim

Dear Evil Skippy: Why Do Employers Lose Lawsuits?

LawsuitDear Evil Skippy:

I am putting together a workshop for new supervisors where I work. I am surveying many experts and would like your opinion. What factor most often leads to employers losing discrimination lawsuits?

– Supervisor

Dear Supervisor:

Witnesses. After witnesses, it’s facts.

– Evil Skippy

I can’t argue with that. Of course, the witnesses have to be credible and the facts have to be proven. An employer may have done everything right, but if no one documented those efforts it is as if the good things never happened.

To minimize the chance of losing lawsuits, it all boils down to this:

(a)    Don’t do anything wrong.

(b)    If you do something wrong, don’t leave behind witnesses or other evidence.

(c)    Ignore (b) unless your name is Evil Skippy.

(d)    If something does go wrong, fix the problem. Most lawsuits happen because management ignores a problem until the employee feels as if the only option left is litigation.

(e)    Document, document, document.


 

You can find (and “like”) “Evil Skippy at Work” on Facebook and also follow ES on Twitter (@EvilSkippySays).

Evil Skippy and/or Jim are available to speak at your conferences and seminars! For information or to send a question for Evil Skippy to answer, contact us at:

[email protected]

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Apr 22 / Jim

Dear Evil Skippy: Should We Throw A Surprise Baby Shower For Our Co-Worker?

images-126Dear Evil Skippy:

Is it appropriate to throw a surprise baby shower for a co-worker? Someone thought showers are supposed to be hosted only by family members. Do you think it is OK to have a work group do something like this?

– Etiquette Novice

Dear E.N.:

First, is your co-worker really expecting?  You’d hate to shout surprise only to find out you’re mistaken.  

My personal philosophy is that practically anything beats working, so of course you should have a party. Have two or three. Have as many as you can before management tells you to knock it off.  Fake a pregnancy or an engagement if you have to.

By the way, just how big of a “surprise” did you have in mind? If you’re going to induce labor, I might pay to go to that office party.

– Evil Skippy

I have no idea what the etiquette experts would say, but I know baby showers are a workplace staple. If they violate Ms. Manners’ rules, it’s a frequent violation. If you have the type of camaraderie that makes you want to throw a shower, throw a shower – on your own time, of course.


 

You can find (and “like”) “Evil Skippy at Work” on Facebook and also follow ES on Twitter (@EvilSkippySays).

Evil Skippy and/or Jim are available to speak at your conferences and seminars! For information or to send a question for Evil Skippy to answer, contact us at:

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Apr 21 / Jim

Dear Evil Skippy: Someone Is Leaving Trash In My Desk Drawer

images-124Dear Evil Skippy:

Someone keeps leaving empty candy wrappers in my desk drawer. I try to keep my work area neat and I think the person is teasing me about my efforts.   This doesn’t seem important enough to involve my supervisor. I don’t want to seem like a nut. Do you have any ideas about how I can figure out who it is and make the person stop?

– Neat Freak

Dear Freak:

I certainly do have ideas but you can’t afford them. The plan would involve the latest surveillance equipment and bribes to certain government agencies that I am not allowed to mention under various federal laws.

Here is a more economical approach. Hide under your desk with a mallet. Don’t drink any soda before you crawl under because you may be there a while. When the culprit deposits a wrapper, whack his or her knees.

– Evil Skippy

No whacking knees with mallets (or anything else). That’s called “assault” in most jurisdictions. Besides, you’d probably get leg cramps waiting for the next littering attack.

I agree with you that it would feel weird to complain about this to a supervisor. So let him or her know without complaining. Here’s how: The next time the Wrapper Villain leaves something in your desk, don’t remove it. Find an excuse to get your supervisor near your desk and then develop a need for a pen. Open your drawer, sigh loudly and say, “Oh no. Not again. I wish whoever is leaving trash in my desk would stop.” I am pretty sure your supervisor will ask what’s going on.  Now you aren’t complaining. You are answering a direct question from your supervisor. If your supervisor fails to ask what’s happening, ask for his or her advice but say you hesitate to mention the situation at all because it seems so silly.

If you can’t carry out that charade, at the next team meeting (when your supervisor is present), raise your hand when the leader starts to end the meeting with the usual, “Does anyone have anything else to discuss?”  When called on, say that you would appreciate it if whoever is leaving candy wrappers in your desk would stop because it was a little funny at first but it’s gotten annoying.

Readers — what would you do?


 

You can find (and “like”) “Evil Skippy at Work” on Facebook and also follow ES on Twitter (@EvilSkippySays).

Evil Skippy and/or Jim are available to speak at your conferences and seminars! For information or to send a question for Evil Skippy to answer, contact us at:

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Apr 18 / Jim

Dear Evil Skippy: How Far Does Unwanted Attention Have To Go Before A Supervisor Intervenes?

QuestionsDear Evil Skippy:

I supervise a group of ten employees and am concerned that one of them may be giving unwanted romantic attention to another.  No one has complained so I have stayed out of it.  How far do things have to go before I should intervene?

– Supervisor

Dear “Supervisor”:

Far enough for you to feel compelled to write to some blog guy who you’ve never met.

–  Evil Skippy

You’re a supervisor, so supervise.  As soon as you were concerned, you should have done something.  By “something”, I do not mean an investigation or discipline.  I mean you should have talked to the target of Romeo or Juliet’s affections and asked how things are going.  If the target said “Fine”, you should have replied, “I’m glad.  I thought I noticed some attention from a co-worker that you might not welcome and I wanted to make sure everything was all right.  Is it really all right?”  (Pay attention to the fact that I did not name the other co-worker in this question.  There is no need to make your employee nervous about anyone if it turns out your concerns are mistaken.)

It’s not too late (I hope) to have that conversation, so talk to your employee at your earliest opportunity before the situation becomes more serious if indeed there is a problem.  (I suspect there is some sort of problem since you have concerns – they came from somewhere).  A huge mistake many supervisors make is waiting for a complaint rather than taking action when they suspect a workplace problem is brewing.

Here is the bottom line.  You are a supervisor and this is your job.  So do it.


 

You can find (and “like”) “Evil Skippy at Work” on Facebook and also follow ES on Twitter (@EvilSkippySays).

Evil Skippy and/or Jim are available to speak at your conferences and seminars!  For information or to send a question for Evil Skippy to answer, contact us at:

[email protected]

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Apr 17 / Jim

Dear Evil Skippy: My Supervisor Did Not Take My Complaint Seriously

SlapDear Evil Skippy:

A co-worker asked me out on a date and I said no.  He asked again and I gave the same answer and also told him to stop asking.  He asked a third time, so I reported him to my supervisor.  My supervisor (who is also a woman, like me) said she can’t imagine why I would turn down a date with such a nice guy.  What should I do next?

–  Cynthia

Dear Cynthia:

Take a lot of notes about what’s happening so you have good evidence for your lawsuit.

          –  Evil Skippy

Your supervisor is a dolt and I am issuing a serious slap her way.  Her obligation was to take your concern seriously and she failed to meet that simple standard.  It’s time to talk to your supervisor’s boss or the Human Resources Manager.

Contrary to ES’s response, I think it is premature to be thinking about a lawsuit.  Lawsuits usually aren’t worth the time, hassle and stress to the litigants and are a boon only to the lawyers.  (That’s one of the many reasons I went on to other pursuits).  I know that in some cases lawsuits are the only way to achieve something in the neighborhood of justice, especially when new ground is being broken (such as the first harassment cases or early discrimination claims).  They can also be the only option when stakes (i.e. potential damages or the number of claimants) are very high.  Unless more has happened to you, however, a lawsuit is not where you want to go.  You want your co-worker to do his job and leave you alone.

Your supervisor did you a disservice. Perhaps she is a dolt; perhaps she just spoke too quickly and realized her foot was in her mouth as soon as her toes were damp.  Either way, your concern should be addressed in a professional manner.  Give your employer another chance by talking to a higher level of management.  Report what your co-worker did and how your supervisor responded.  If you still hit brick walls, then it’s time to think about lawyers.  And taking notes.


 

You can find (and “like”) “Evil Skippy at Work” on Facebook and also follow ES on Twitter (@EvilSkippySays).

Evil Skippy and/or Jim are available to speak at your conferences and seminars!  For information or to send a question for Evil Skippy to answer, contact us at:

[email protected]

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Apr 16 / Jim

Dear Evil Skippy: My Co-Worker Booked Herself On My Cruise

427173_3267927867205_303038916_nDear Evil Skippy:

A friend of mine and I decided to book a cruise for next September.  After I mentioned my plans at work, a co-worker who I don’t care for all that much booked herself on the exact same cruise.  She told me the news as if she thought I would be happy but I was not.  I was stunned and did not react much at all to her face but I am upset about this.  I don’t care for the woman (although we work well together) and one of the many joys of this trip was going to be completely getting away from anything associated with work.  I know this is not something that I can take to my supervisor – so I am turning to you.  Is there a way I can convince my co-worker to change her plans without getting myself in trouble at work for being mean to her?

–  Shannon

Dear Shannon:

A good friend keeps telling me that one can find anything on Amazon.com.  Have you considered acquiring a backbone and telling your co-worker the truth?

If my friend is wrong and you can’t buy a backbone, don’t worry.  One little nudge while standing next to her at the rails an hour or two after the bon voyage party will take care of the problem.

–  Evil Skippy

ES is insane.  There are cameras all over cruise ships and you would never get away with it.  Whoops.  I meant to say:  ES is insane.  Murder is “wrong”.

ES is right about the backbone.  You don’t need to buy one but you should use the one you have.  As nicely as possible and in private, sit down with your co-worker and tell her that you had planned on this as a TOTAL vacation from work.  Tell her you will not be joining her for dinner or tours or walks on the promenade deck because you know you’d end up thinking about work.  Act as if you know she understands and agrees.  Explain you are telling her now so she won’t be surprised during the cruise.  The awkwardness of this conversation and the chance she may have hurt feelings should not stop you from taking action to protect the joy of your pending vacation.

Another option – and one that I like if it is possible because there is a bit of evil to it – is to contact the cruise line and change your date.  Unless you are doing a special cruise offering, there is a good chance that the line offers the same or a very similar itinerary the week before or after what you have already planned.  Change your date and, whatever else you do, don’t tell your co-worker.  (You will need to tell your supervisor about the change in vacation dates, but you can ask him or her not to tell anyone else about the change until later.  By “later”, I mean until it is too late for your co-worker to sign up for the same cruise.)  When your co-worker finds out (and she will, even if it is not until she realizes you aren’t on the ship after she embarks), she will undoubtedly express dismay that you did not tell her about the change in plan.  Whether she finds out soon or later, simply act surprised that she cared and tell her you had not realized she had planned on meeting up with you during the trip.  It requires a little acting and more than a touch of deceit, but happy vacations are worth it in my book.

All things considered, however, I’d go with the direct approach.  Mom always said, “Honesty within reason is the best policy”.  Mom was wise.

Readers – what would you do?


 

You can find (and “like”) “Evil Skippy at Work” on Facebook and also follow ES on Twitter (@EvilSkippySays).

Evil Skippy and/or Jim are available to speak at your conferences and seminars!  For information or to send a question for Evil Skippy to answer, contact us at:

[email protected]

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Apr 15 / Jim

Dear Evil Skippy: We’re Putting On A Show To Raise Money For Charity

images-123Dear Evil Skippy:

Our company organizes a big fundraiser every year to raise money for local charities.  We volunteer our time, but our employer pays for publicity and other expenses.  This year, we thought it would be fun to put on a musical starring employees and family members.  We are having trouble selecting a play that will be appropriate for most audiences and decided to give a vote to you.  Do you think we should do “Anything Goes” or “The Music Man”? We’d also like to hear what your readers would pick.

–  Organizer

Dear Organizer:

How can you not know that the only people who will willingly fork over money for tickets to your show are (a) Family members who owe you because you bought cookies/sponsored walkers/attended an auction/whatever to support them; or (b) Die-hard supporters of the charity who probably won’t bother filling a seat?

Instead of extorting from and torturing your loved ones and acquaintances, try thinking smart. Ask people to donate a nominal sum if you promise not to force them to watch you perform “You’re the Top” or “Shipoopi”.  I guarantee you will make a lot more money this way than by putting on the show.

If you do insist that I vote, I vote for “Anything Goes”.  Why?  You don’t need any kids in that one and kids always mean less drinking at rehearsal.

– Evil Skippy

Putting on a show?  Mickey Rooney would have been so proud.  Break all your legs!  I agree with ES’s choice of musical but not in order to promote drunken rehearsals.  Avoiding a production with child actors means there won’t be hard feelings among the employee-parents whose miraculously talented offspring aren’t cast in the main kids’ roles.  Hell hath no fury like a spurned stage parent.

Readers – which show would you choose?


 

 

You can find (and “like”) “Evil Skippy at Work” on Facebook and also follow ES on Twitter (@EvilSkippySays).

Evil Skippy and/or Jim are available to speak at your conferences and seminars!  For information or to send a question for Evil Skippy to answer, contact us at:

[email protected]

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Apr 14 / Jim

Dear Evil Skippy: My Boss Got Mad When I Corrected Her At A Meeting

SlapDear Evil Skippy:

I attended a meeting with my supervisor that involved people from a couple of different departments as well as our manager.  My supervisor made a comment that was incorrect, so I jumped in and reminded her what had really happened.  She thanked me at the time, but when we returned to our department she told me to never make her look bad in front of upper management again.  She seemed real mad and since then has been acting cool toward me. Do you think it would have been better for me to let the meeting proceed with misinformation rather than to point out the error?

–  Just Tried To Help

Dear J.T.T.H.:

By limiting your options to (a) speak up and (b) don’t speak up, you are displaying the common logical fallacy known as “either/or” thinking.  In real life, there are seldom just one or two choices. You definitely had more than two, so start using your brain and be more creative.  For example, if your supervisor once again “mis-speaks”, you could:

  1. Pretend to faint to create a distraction, then whisper the truth to your supervisor when she checks your vital signs.
  2. Kick your supervisor under the table and mouth the words, “Retract! Retract!”
  3. Wait until after the meeting.  Then approach your manager and say, “My supervisor goes nuts if we correct her publicly, but I want you to know . . .”
  4. Experiment with mental telepathy.
  5. Slap your boss for being a dolt, as I am doing right now.

Of course, you could also be proactive and avoid all meetings in the future.  That’s would be my approach, but that’s just because I hate meetings.  

You’re welcome,

–  Evil Skippy

I agree with ES that your boss sounds like a dolt.  Provided you simply spoke up to correct a factual mis-statement, you handled the situation appropriately. (On the other hand, if you chortled and acted as if you thought she were a dolt for making the mistake, then you are the dolt. I wasn’t there so I don’t know what exactly happened).

I once had a boss who made lots of mistakes when speaking at meetings with clients, judges or other attorneys.  She was the type of person who would have reacted like your supervisor and been angry about being corrected in public. My approach was to say, “I’m not sure if I heard you correctly. Did you say [this] or [not this]?”  She almost always corrected herself (and also thought it was her idea to do so).  It was annoying to have to be so careful with my words, but it was better than being on the receiving end of one of her fits.

Readers – how would you have handled the meeting, and how would you handle working for this supervisor (at least until you could get a transfer)?


 

You can find (and “like”) “Evil Skippy at Work” on Facebook and also follow ES on Twitter (@EvilSkippySays).

Evil Skippy and/or Jim are available to speak at your conferences and seminars!  For information or to send a question for Evil Skippy to answer, contact us at:

[email protected]

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Apr 11 / Jim

Dear Evil Skippy: Do I Have To Give A Reason For Quitting?

images-122Dear Evil Skippy:

I gave my notice at my present job verbally.  They asked me to put it in writing, so I did.  Then they asked me to write it again and include the reason that I am resigning. I know I am being petty, but management here is not very respectful toward employees and I don’t want to say anything other than my last day of work.  Now they are telling me that I am required to state a reason. Is that true?

–  Off To A Better World

Dear Off:

Tell them you’re quitting because management is pushy and asks too many questions.  But why do you care?  What are they going to do? Fire you?

Therein lies your answer  — get fired.  (Notice how I effortlessly used “therein”? That’s what a law degree can do for you.)  Tell your management that you will not state a reason and, since they say it is required to give one, you assume that you have now been terminated.  Then ask about severance and unemployment benefits. 

–  Evil Skippy

As gratifying as paybacks may be, gracious exits are always the best choice.  You never know who knows who and word gets around.  You are not legally required to give a reason for resigning, although most employers would like to know. It sounds as though you were not a fan of your current place of employment.  Why would it hurt you to tell them the reasons the job stunk? Think of it as doing a small favor to future employees.  It’s possible that your information (or the accumulation of similar stories) will motivate someone with good business sense to address the work environment’s problems. You’re not doing it for your lame management — you are doing it for the poor suckers who come after you.

Still, it is strictly a personal choice. If you don’t want to explain, then don’t.


 

You can find (and “like”) “Evil Skippy at Work” on Facebook and also follow ES on Twitter (@EvilSkippySays).

Evil Skippy and/or Jim are available to speak at your conferences and seminars!  For information or to send a question for Evil Skippy to answer, contact us at:

[email protected]

Comments?  Click the bubble below.

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