California
clear sky
4 ° C
8.1 °
0.8 °
79 %
1.5kmh
0 %
Wed
14 °
Thu
12 °
Fri
14 °
Sat
12 °
Sun
16 °
California
clear sky
4 ° C
8.1 °
0.8 °
79 %
1.5kmh
0 %
Wed
14 °
Thu
12 °
Fri
14 °
Sat
12 °
Sun
16 °
Wednesday, November 23, 2022

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I don’t want to go to our holiday party, I think my coworker is working two jobs at once, and more


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

1. I don’t want to go to our holiday party

At out last meeting, we were discussing what to do for our holiday party and were asked to vote. The decision hasn’t been made yet, but most of the choices were in the city that is an hour-long drive from where I live. I said I would go if we chose to do something in the town close to where we work, and otherwise I probably wouldn’t go. I don’t want a two-hour round trip in winter for something that I wouldn’t enjoy. I live the farthest of all of us from said city so it would be hardest on me, but I am also aware that I just don’t really want to go in the first place. (I do not enjoy parties in general.) Am I being unreasonable?

It’s not unreasonable not to want to go, especially given the length of the drive.

It is worth asking, though, whether you’ll pay a professional price if you don’t go. In many workplaces, not going would be a complete non-issue. If you’re in one of those, skip it and have no qualms about staying home. In other workplaces, though, it can be A Thing if you don’t go — there are managers who will see you as not interested in being part of the team and there can be an opportunity cost to not attending. To be clear, this is ridiculous (unless you’re a manager, in which case it can be a part of your job to show up) but it’s still the reality on some teams … although definitely less than it used to be, given the pandemic (and if you have safety concerns about, say, indoor dining, that is a completely legitimate reason to skip it, even with a manager who really wants everyone there).

2. My coworker might be working two jobs at once

We recently hired a new scrum master for our team. Until he was hired, I was filling in for a few months in addition to serving as a product owner for two teams. The person we hired interviewed really well, but has not been working out as expected. As the scrum master he is supposed to facilitate our ceremonies in addition to other meetings we regularly have. He will regularly ask me to fill in at the last minute or will take off unexpectedly and not arrange for coverage. On two recent meetings, he has left his phone unmuted and we can hear another meeting unmuted in the background. Based on what is being said, I can tell it is another project-related meeting but does not include any participants from our team. It is highly unlikely that it is a simultaneous meeting for our company.

I don’t want to say anything to my leadership, because I do not have proof. The simultaneous calls and spotty meeting attendance is not concrete evidence. Even if it were, I hesitate to say anything because I am worried that it would backfire on me. I am at the point where I am getting burned out (in addition to his work, I am also taking on the responsibilities for someone else who recently left our team), but leadership does not care. I also don’t want to look like I am not a team player. I am unsure of what to do. I love the company I work for and don’t want to leave, but it is taking its toll.

You don’t need evidence that he’s working a second full-time job to talk to your boss about what you’re seeing. Regardless of the cause, it’s a problem that the new hire regularly asks you to fill in at the last minute or takes off unexpectedly without arranging for coverage. It’s also relevant that he seems to be participating in other meetings while he’s supposed to be meeting with you. Those things are all getting in the way of him doing the work you rely on him for, and are increasing the burden on you. That’s fair game to talk to your boss about (and would be even no matter what was causing it).

But also, this isn’t a court of law where you have to prove your case beyond a reasonable doubt. If what you’re seeing gives you the strong impression that your coworker is doing two jobs at once, you’re allowed to say, “While I don’t know for sure and can’t prove anything, X and Y and Z make me wonder if he’s working two jobs at once.” Your boss can (or at least should) take a closer look from there.

3. How to tell doctors they’re bad writers

I’m a senior employee in a field that is … not really adjacent to medicine, but it uses “medical” in the job title. My field requires a combination of two very different types of skills: 1) knowledge of medical terminology/the ability to understand articles in medical journals, and 2) strong writing skills.

Here is the problem: Most people, including most doctors, believe they are strong writers. Almost nobody, including most doctors, is actually a strong enough writer to do my job, which requires special training that is not really part of coursework offered at most universities, especially to pre-med and medical students.

The doctors do not know this, and a steady stream of people (strangers to me) who are looking to get out of direct care work contact me on LinkedIn and other platforms asking me to recommend them for a position. Each one assumes they are already overqualified by virtue of having an MD, even though nearly all of them send me letters full of basic errors demonstrating that they don’t have strong writing skills. (I think they believe they’re good writers, since they’re smart people who got good grades in school, but they’re really not.)

I hate to see so many people barking up the wrong tree and genuinely want to help them. But I often don’t respond, because I don’t know how to tell them they’re obviously not ready for the work. Also, I’ve worked for doctors before and find this is not a group that takes setbacks well! I don’t want to get a ton of hate mail from people who are disappointed they can’t waltz into my job.

What’s the gentlest possible way I can phrase a form letter for the MDs who want my job, are definitely not equipped to do my job, and don’t know that yet? Should I point them to the few places that offer the right courses and hope they get the hint?

You don’t need to tell them they’re not ready for the work or that they’re bad writers. They’re not asking you to assess that; they’re just asking if you can recommend them. It’s perfectly reasonable to decline to recommend someone you don’t know and have never worked with — you can’t vouch for someone if you can’t speak to their work — and that’s all you need to do.

It would actually be fine to just ignore these requests completely. These are strangers asking you for a favor (and a pretty audacious one); you’re not obligated to spend your time crafting responses explaining why you won’t. But if you want to reply, you could simply say, “I’d recommend simply applying on our website to get your application into our system. I’m not in a position to recommend you since we’ve never worked together but I wish you luck.” If you want, you could add, “One thing I’ve found helpful for people trying to move into this field from medicine is taking some of the courses in X and Y from Z.”

4. Should my time logging into work be paid?

I recently started a part-time job that is fully remote and paid hourly. In order to do my job, I need to log on to several websites and apps, a process that takes about five minutes or so. I can’t starting doing my job until I’m onto all of them. I usually start with a couple of tasks already in the queue as soon as I’m set up.

I’ve been clocking in and then start the process of logging in, but I’ve wondered if that’s appropriate, or if I should only clock in once I’m actually ready to start work?

You should clock in first, before you start the process of logging into the various websites. You’re only spending that time logging in because it’s part of your job, and so it’s time that counts as paid work. That’s not just my opinion; it’s straight from the Department of Labor, which has fined companies that don’t pay for that time.

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