At Work from Creators Syndicate https://www.creators.com/read/at-work-lindsey-novak Creators Syndicate is an international syndication company that represents cartoonists and columnists of the highest caliber. en Thu, 23 May 2019 21:16:41 -0700 https://www.creators.com/ http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/tech/rss At Work from Creators Syndicate https://cdn.creators.com/features/at-work-thumb.jpg https://www.creators.com/read/at-work-lindsey-novak a6b00bd79efaeb827553b36a708e1e51 Undermanagement Causes Financial Chaos for 05/23/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/at-work-lindsey-novak/05/19/undermanagement-causes-financial-chaos Thu, 23 May 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Q: I have a bachelor's degree in business administration, but I accepted a financial job that didn't require a degree at a pension management company. My boss, who was not a certified public accountant, had never reviewed the work of the woman I replaced. I began reviewing all her work and discovered problems in every area. She had never balanced the books or the bank reconciliations. </p> <p>I explained the problems to the boss, so he brought in outside auditors to review the accounts. I furnished all the records to the auditors, and they corrected everything. I have maintained accurate records since that time. <p>Updated: Thu May 23, 2019</p> 63923ff8cfac01c409a1f30f5d706d74 Ousting Bad Teacher Helps Students for 05/16/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/at-work-lindsey-novak/05/19/ousting-bad-teacher-helps-students Thu, 16 May 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Q: I'm an English literature teacher who also independently tutors students from the other small, local colleges in the area. A student from one of those colleges hired me to meet with him weekly because he was confused by the assignments he had been given. I decided the student was sharp, intelligent and serious but that his teacher was terrible.</p> <p>The students were required to answer questions and write an analysis each week for various reading assignments. When I reviewed the assignments and the teacher's feedback on each paper, the problem became obvious to me. The student was not the one with the problem: the teacher was. The instructions and requirements for each assignment were so poorly explained even I could not understand what the teacher wanted. I discussed with the student the teacher's flaws, only to find out this teacher is the head of the English department at that school. <p>Updated: Thu May 16, 2019</p> 9d20d9d0dd180407d168af5a5f560c50 Brother Works Brother into Poverty for 05/09/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/at-work-lindsey-novak/05/19/brother-works-brother-into-poverty Thu, 09 May 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Q: My brother convinced me to visit him in the U.S., so I applied for a temporary visa and came. I left many friends and family members there. I miss them and my life. </p> <p>After arriving here, he met an American girl, fell in love, married her and now has children, so he has established his life here. He was setting up a business and wanted me to come here to help him, which I did. He paid me well, and I worked on construction for him 10-12 hours daily. When my visa was close to expiring, he talked me into staying illegally so I could continue working for him. <p>Updated: Thu May 09, 2019</p> c1e10e1415481cc6bcf6dd84ad579c1f Your Career Path Is Your Own for 05/02/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/at-work-lindsey-novak/05/19/your-career-path-is-your-own Thu, 02 May 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Q: Money wasn't important to me, so I didn't negotiate a salary when one that I thought was too low was offered. I didn't even think someone could negotiate salary unless it was for a management position. Also, I never wanted to be a manager, as I had no desire to be hanging over others, telling them what to do. I wanted a job where I could work independently, do the work well and leave at the end of the day and not be faced with people problems.</p> <p>I am now looking for a new job, and I've been asked if I've ever had others report to me. I say "no," but should I explain that I chose not to at that time? I worry it will reflect poorly on me. The truth is I didn't want to feel higher than others as if I am better than them, and I certainly can't tell an interviewer I never cared about money. Have I dug myself into a hole too deep to get out of? I have always had excellent performance reviews, and I would like to now move into management.<p>Updated: Thu May 02, 2019</p> 3077bba03b8b6485a6ae6500394d550a The Price of Not Checking References for 04/25/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/at-work-lindsey-novak/04/19/the-price-of-not-checking-references Thu, 25 Apr 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Q: I headed a team at a marketing company, and we needed one more person to balance the talent. The company lined up the people for me to interview, and I made recommendations to the vice president of the department. Human resources said it would handle the reference checking, so that was good. I interviewed a guy whose resume was impressive. He knew a lot about the business, so his background and jobs were believable. He was a little weird in the interview, but I couldn't tell why. The company went ahead and hired him to join my team. </p> <p>In his first two weeks, he told me he had severe ADHD and took five tranquilizers to calm himself down for the interview. He grew progressively worse and acted like a rabid animal when I asked him to do things. He couldn't complete any of the tasks and then came his outbursts. He admitted to me that he was also bipolar. Disregarding his mental issues, he never could complete any of the jobs. He would start each one and then freak out and not work on anything. <p>Updated: Thu Apr 25, 2019</p> decc99ad57aea3ab803fc2dc36ed7e79 When College Takes a Back Seat to Life for 04/18/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/at-work-lindsey-novak/04/19/when-college-takes-a-back-seat-to-life Thu, 18 Apr 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Q: My friends and I have many questions about college, jobs and success in life. If college is necessary, does it matter if it's a top university or a small local college? What are the best majors and minors to pursue? What are the most useless majors? Are there majors that require graduate degrees in order to get a job?</p> <p>Schools are so expensive that we want to know the unbiased truth. Some of our parents won't listen to what we say.<p>Updated: Thu Apr 18, 2019</p> e59d4d2041a9e663454f797a61d618e5 Jealousy at Work Stops Work for 04/11/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/at-work-lindsey-novak/04/19/jealousy-at-work-stops-work Thu, 11 Apr 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Q: I am in my 30s and have a degree in marketing. I had three people reporting to me at my job, but I took what I thought was a positive risk and accepted a job at a newly formed company. The owner is a few years older than I am. He said he wasn't moving up fast enough, so he left to start his own company. When I interviewed with him, he said it would be great to have someone who could potentially be a partner. I thought, "Here's a guy who would treat me like a partner because of my experience and abilities."</p> <p>He liked my ideas for projects, which included client presentations, and we were off to a great start. After he complimented my work for several months, he turned sarcastic and didn't solicit ideas from me as often. I thought this change in attitude would be temporary, maybe due to having a hard time in his personal life, which he keeps fairly private. <p>Updated: Thu Apr 11, 2019</p> 46bc642dc4f2f3299dc0bc72953795bb Favoritism to Replace Mentorship Favors All for 04/04/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/at-work-lindsey-novak/04/19/favoritism-to-replace-mentorship-favors-all Thu, 04 Apr 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p><span class="column--highlighted-text">Employees dislike favoritism, especially when they are not the ones receiving favor.</span> It means they are not being given chances to develop their abilities and talents, not being given the help needed to learn at breakneck speeds, not being offered the opportunities to advance to realize their potential. </p> <p>For employees receiving favor, it's an optimal environment. They are assigned challenging projects and given the help and guidance to do well on each one. They learn more quickly with help, as if they had a private tutor; they reach their goals; and along the learning path, they receive the emotional support to boost their confidence. The employee wins, and the organization wins. This is what can happen when mentorship replaces favoritism. With a mentorship program in place, employees can receive the answers they need as each week unfolds, the guidance they need to produce a better work product &#8212; and all as it is needed. Employees would then have the opportunity to rise to a potential they may never have reached before. <p>Updated: Thu Apr 04, 2019</p> d8cf3554f49593a0cc39e21a4cdde498 He Talks to Impress, Not to Express for 03/28/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/at-work-lindsey-novak/03/19/he-talks-to-impress-not-to-express Thu, 28 Mar 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p>Q: I work in a legal department where all of the employees are smart. The problem I have is only with one of the lawyers. He uses words that most people don't use or even know. He has an extensive vocabulary filed with less commonly used or archaic words. Most of us, even though we are intelligent, are not familiar with the words he chooses and have to continually ask him what each word means. Others just let it go by without asking, which is what I did at first. </p> <p>He seems kind and considerate, so I don't think he uses such words to make us feel like dolts. I think he uses language just because he can and he wants to. Once I started asking him the meaning of every word he used that I didn't know, he would define them using clearly understood and commonly known words. </p> <p>Despite his being nice, this is a ridiculous and ineffective way to communicate. Each unfamiliar word I have looked up has had many common synonyms, and the word he has used is listed as the least preferred. These are not legal words; they are regular words not commonly used in daily language. When I asked him why he doesn't use more commonly known words, he said he doesn't want to appear "simple." <span class="column--highlighted-text">Perhaps he thinks his vocabulary raises him above most others. I think it's inconsiderate and ineffective, as the point of communicating is to get a clear message across.</span> How do I convince him that most people don't share his use of the language and he should make clarity and brevity his goals?<p>Updated: Thu Mar 28, 2019</p> f76cc956511cf025d1b285a18901b703 Copycat Co-Worker Scares Employee for 03/21/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/at-work-lindsey-novak/03/19/copycat-co-worker-scares-employee Thu, 21 Mar 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Q: One of my co-workers imitates me in every way possible &#8212; not like sarcastic imitation, but she copies my overall style in clothing, shoes, hair, makeup and everything else she notices about me. She has never said anything over the edge or creepy about it; she just shows up one day to work in a similar dress to what I wore, same shoes, coat or outfits that I had put together, such as a certain color sweater with a certain color pair of leggings. I haven't wanted to say anything because I think that would assume a situation that may not be true.</p> <p>I do have really good taste and style, and I suppose imitation is the best flattery. But how do I know where to draw the line between flattery and stalking? I don't want to seem arrogant, like, "Of course, you are copying me because I'm so amazing." I also don't want to take a normal but overboard situation of flattery and turn it into something it isn't. That would make things weird for both of us and for my co-workers whom I've told about it. <p>Updated: Thu Mar 21, 2019</p> a365984016f4d2227070304dc352c5bb How to Hire a Qualified Independent Contractor for 03/14/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/at-work-lindsey-novak/03/19/how-to-hire-a-qualified-independent-contractor Thu, 14 Mar 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Q: I worked for large companies most of my career. When I decided to go off on my own, I hired a website designer I felt I could trust. I was impressed by his sites and hired him. I didn't know enough to ask the detailed questions, but I assumed the sites were functional. He answered openly, so I felt comfortable hiring him. </p> <p>Independent web designers seem to ask for a large portion of their fees upfront, so I didn't object. The site was attractive, but the design elements on each page were not consistent throughout the site. To correct these issues, he wanted more money. I thought that was inappropriate, so I decided not to spend more than his original quote. Later, IT professionals told me the site was not set up for interaction with visitors. When I called the guy to ask about it, he had no knowledge of those features. <p>Updated: Thu Mar 14, 2019</p> 8273e42bb4de11d39f37ab81f96f93ec Nothing to Wear Shouldn't Kill a Job Interview for 03/07/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/at-work-lindsey-novak/03/19/nothing-to-wear-shouldnt-kill-a-job-interview Thu, 07 Mar 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Q: This happened many years ago, but it bothers me to this day. I applied in person at a small local business for a job advertised in the newspaper. I really wanted this job. It was convenient to where I lived. It was a job I knew I could do and one I would really enjoy. </p> <p>I dressed in my best clothes, which is not the kind of clothing I would be wearing if hired for the job. I interviewed well and was asked to return for a second interview and turn in my resume. Again, I dressed nicely for the interview. To my surprise, I was asked to come in for a third interview. But I had run out of good clothing to wear, so I never returned. <p>Updated: Thu Mar 07, 2019</p> 73691adbaaa471d8a2bc11b82de7d6b0 Take the Wrong Job to Get the Right Job for 02/28/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/at-work-lindsey-novak/02/19/take-the-wrong-job-to-get-the-right-job Thu, 28 Feb 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Most job seekers know about the code words designed to digitally weed out resumes that supposedly don't suit an advertised job opening. What recruiters haven't accounted for is the talent they are missing out on thanks to the computerized weeding process. They also haven't accounted for job applicants' knowing how to use code words to get interviewed without having the required experience. Once invited for an interview, an intelligent, creative thinker has the opportunity to convince the interviewer that he or she can perform according to &#8212; or above and beyond &#8212; the organization's needs.</p> <p>"Dinah" completed her master's in social work and passed the state exam to become a licensed clinical social worker. (For a state-by-state guide, see mswguide.org/licensure.) She wanted to work in a school system, which she eventually achieved. She was hired to assist the head of the counseling department in training social workers entering the school system and to counsel students, with a focus on high school students with anger issues.<p>Updated: Thu Feb 28, 2019</p> 0793057874b1eafbb24008b96133bb0d Knowing When a Job Is Worth Keeping for 02/21/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/at-work-lindsey-novak/02/19/knowing-when-a-job-is-worth-keeping Thu, 21 Feb 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Q: My title is manager but I am not allowed to manage anything. I am supposed to oversee a gated community of homes. The reality is that I have no authority to act as a manager, and I have to take up every issue I'm made aware of to the board of directors. That means I cannot decide anything on my own. It also delays the resolution process. I feel like an administrative assistant who is told what to do by the boss and cannot act on her own. The board members are reachable individually, but if it affects the entire community, their attitude is to wait until their regular meeting to discuss it and make a decision. </p> <p>Resident know they are to call the police for personal emergencies, but there are often problems that are not life or death, and the owners would like an immediate response. It's humiliating to tell the homeowners that I have to report it to the board so they can discuss it and get back to me. They may even wonder why my title is manager. I am trained to manage buildings, so it's not as if I have no education or experience in the field even though I am young. <p>Updated: Thu Feb 21, 2019</p> f6cb3527bd5adbb03d18586e61b07169 Fighting for What Is Right for 02/14/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/at-work-lindsey-novak/02/19/fighting-for-what-is-right Thu, 14 Feb 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Q: I have been a (100 percent) successful commissioned outside sales representative for the last 10 years at the same company. The company's overall sales began decreasing (reflected in the lower sales for some of the reps), so at the start of the new month, the sales manager gave me a one-month warning to increase my sales figures. Although a one-month warning to raise sales was unrealistic, he ignored the time limit he'd set and let me go. He ignored all the years of my past success, ignored that the company's overall sales were down, ignored that other reps had low sales and none of them were being let go and told me it was a corporate decision. I was, however, the only one over 50 years old, and it was known that the company was hiring younger employees to replace the ones who had left. </p> <p>Someone told me that our state is an "employment-at-will" state, so companies don't need a reason to terminate an employee. The company also warned me in writing that I had signed a nondisclosure agreement, so I was to keep confidential and not use my knowledge gained during my years of employment for any other company. This is as unfair as giving me one month to raise sales. I was clearly singled out.<p>Updated: Thu Feb 14, 2019</p> 8067926b69f4f0a03bab3d7c1f724129 No Such Thing as a Slam-Dunk Lawsuit for 02/07/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/at-work-lindsey-novak/02/19/no-such-thing-as-a-slam-dunk-lawsuit Thu, 07 Feb 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Q: Could a potential employee who is asked to sign a non-compete employment agreement just sign the document to "go with the flow" and not make waves if it looks unenforceable? Let's say a potential employee or job candidate is offered a job and presented with an employment contract stating that, for two years, he/she cannot write articles for any other media company competing in the same market. I think this seems unenforceable, so wouldn't it be easier to just sign it to make the company happy, especially if one thinks the contract is not worth the paper it was written on? Clearly, one would have to closely read the language.</p> <p>A: All contracts are serious, as an individual is signing away his or her rights. A contract may be much more than it seems, even if it appears straightforward to an individual outside of the legal field. Any reputable company asking its potential employees to sign an employment agreement will suggest and allow time for a legal review by a lawyer representing employees and not employers. Generally, attorneys will work for one side or the other, but not both, as it would be a conflict of interest. <span class="column--highlighted-text">If a company demands or pressures a potential hire to accept and sign an employment contract without allowing time for an attorney review, the potential hire should recognize that expectation as a warning sign for other potential coercive behavior in the future.</span> <p>Updated: Thu Feb 07, 2019</p> 0d9cb1fbb153e6577a2d256eee905a61 Cover Letters That Make or Break You for 01/31/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/at-work-lindsey-novak/01/19/cover-letters-that-make-or-break-you Thu, 31 Jan 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Q: Articles say human resources departments no longer read cover letters, so why are they still expected? I also notice many online employment applications present attaching a cover letter as an option and not a requirement. But I've also read that a separate letter should be written for each company. This seems to conflict with the idea of scrapping them. </p> <p>I struggle with writing anything about myself, sometimes spending a couple of hours on each one. By the time I finish it, I already feel defeated, knowing that whatever I have written is not good enough. Will it be held against me if I don't include one? Will it be worse to include one that's poorly written? The process is painstaking for me, and I never know what to say.<p>Updated: Thu Jan 31, 2019</p> 00b075cc39ebb02f4355608473c33df0 All Suffer From Bad Hire for 01/24/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/at-work-lindsey-novak/01/19/all-suffer-from-bad-hire Thu, 24 Jan 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Q: I am a human resources professional (independent contractor) who was offered the full-time position of HR director, but I politely refused because I prefer working as an independent contractor. As such, I was given full control to interview and hire HR professionals for the company. For an unexplained reason, the president interviewed and hired a woman to be the director; during her interview trip to the company, I had only a brief conversation with her. He asked me to train her and introduce her to all the department heads. In the period of two months, she has alienated absolutely everyone. She has also told me to my face that she dislikes me. She hates everyone, sees everything as black or white and cannot negotiate middle ground. She is also a conniving liar, and her staff is afraid of her. </p> <p><span class="column--highlighted-text">While I was out of the office, she told the IT department head I had left the company so he should forward all my email to her.</span> I discovered this when I returned, and I had to explain it to the head of IT to undo what she had done. Now he, too, knows she is deceitful. She even defies the president's instructions, requests and orders. He told her to plan a goodbye party for me, which she ignored, refusing to invite anyone. <p>Updated: Thu Jan 24, 2019</p> efbbcc74826a4e1245a5f64ce1acf1af Helping a Co-Worker Above and Beyond the Expected for 01/17/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/at-work-lindsey-novak/01/19/helping-a-co-worker-above-and-beyond-the-expected Thu, 17 Jan 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Q: Working with others always takes some compromising and negotiating, so as to not be run over or used by co-workers or team members. But that also means we cover for each other when any one of us is going through a tough time, to avoid a leave of absence, a loss of income or, possibly, the loss of a job. The understanding is that these periods of covering for someone are only temporary. </p> <p>One of my teammates has been unable to handle whatever is going on in her life, and I have been covering for her. I thought she would work things out fairly soon. Instead, it has continued for months. When she started having problems in her personal life, I told her: "No worries. I've got your back." I know others who have done this for close co-workers, and it works out well. <p>Updated: Thu Jan 17, 2019</p> 65544d050f52e031a1524fd206f0c890 When a Career Is No Longer a Calling for 01/10/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/at-work-lindsey-novak/01/19/when-a-career-is-no-longer-a-calling Thu, 10 Jan 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Q: I'm a pastor for a Protestant church. When I decided to become a pastor, religion was important in my family, and my interest grew as my family became more involved. I wasn't forced into it, but their response to my wanting to follow this path was positive. I eventually had my own church and congregation, but as time passed, I started doubting my own beliefs.</p> <p>A young married couple searching for a church to join met with me to find out about the church. The young woman asked poignant questions about my beliefs, as well as the church's beliefs. I felt I had to be honest, so I expressed my doubts about my beliefs. <span class="column--highlighted-text">She looked me in the eyes and asked how I could preach to people if I questioned the very beliefs on which the church was based. I didn't have a good answer for her.</span> She then told me she had very strong beliefs, that she appreciated my time and honesty but was going to keep searching.<p>Updated: Thu Jan 10, 2019</p>