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my employer fined me $90 for being late

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A reader writes

My company has a ridiculous late fine policy: you will be fined $2 for every minute, starting from 9:01 a.m. So if you come in at 9:05 a.m., that’s $10 you gotta pay up in cash. (This is not somewhere where down-to-the-minute coverage would be essential. It’s just typical deskbound, back-end work. I can see why the receptionist who gets the calls will need to be there smack on the dot, but the rest of us — not really.)

I’ve been here for over a year, and have been fined maybe three times. They were for 9:01 a.m., 9:02 a.m. and 9:08 a.m. I was intensely annoyed and embarrassed, but okay, I can still absorb the $2-$16 financial pinch.

I hate this policy because it nickel and dimes employees down to the first minute, and at a very high rate. I hate this policy because coming in at 9:01 a.m. does not makes you any less productive than the dude who came in at 9:00 a.m., whose bloody computer is still starting up.

A few days ago, I overslept for the first time. I somehow slept through my usual TWO alarms and woke up with a start at 8:30 a.m. — an hour late. I immediately texted my manager that I had overslept and asked if it was possible to get an emergency, UNPAID, half-day leave. I had calculated that coming in an hour late would result in a $120 fine, which is painfully difficult for me to absorb. I’m a junior employee.

My manager said no. She wanted me to come in anyway because “it’s the right thing to do.” I cried some tears of frustration, but told her okay and rushed like hell down, but not before racking up 45 minutes worth of late fine — $90.

Alison, I understand that she wants me to be punished accordingly. I accept that sleeping through two alarms was all on me.

At the same time — and I don’t know if this matters — I’m a relatively high performer at work. I truly enjoy what I do and do a decent job at it. I just received a glowing annual appraisal and got publicly commended by the director, in spite of my young age (this is my first job out of college) and junior position. Furthermore, I work overtime every day because my workload is high, even though we don’t get any overtime pay. And I’m not chronically late — this was my first time oversleeping.

And yet, my manager rejected my request for an UNPAID, half-day leave. Technically, she is right and I deserved it. But I don’t think being rigidly strict here was warranted. Am I just entitled for feeling this way? If you divide my monthly salary by 30 days, $90 is what I earn in one day. I will have to cough up an entire day’s salary (worth three weeks of lunch expenses!) for this, and my manager was cool with that? I’m fuming, yet I don’t know if I have the right to be.

Part of me wants to talk about this with my manager to see if it could’ve been handled differently — if I could’ve been given the unpaid, half-day leave. Is this worth revisiting with her about, and if so, how should I approach it?

This is utter bullshit.

I am IRATE over this.

If you’re not in a job where coverage matters (like one where you need to answer phones or meet with clients starting at a precise time), then it really, really doesn’t matter if you’re two minutes late. I would think it was ridiculous for a manager even just to have a stern talk with someone for being two minutes late in a job where it doesn’t have any practical impact — but fining you?

No.

You are a professional adult holding down a professional job. The entire concept of fining you is offensive and ridiculous.

If your manager has a problem with your time of arrival, she can do what a decent manager would do and talk to you about it. If it continues after that, she can decide what the consequences are. But they need to be normal work consequences (up to and including firing you if it’s that big of a deal, although I’m skeptical that it should be) — it can’t be digging through your wallet and taking whatever cash she finds there, or insisting you cut off two inches of your hair, or that you change your name to Xavier Sebastian Pumpernickel. And it can’t be making you turn over your own money for the privilege of working there.

Or at least it shouldn’t be.

Legally, though, in a lot of cases it would be allowed. I talked with employment lawyer Donna Ballman, author of the excellent book Stand Up For Yourself Without Getting Fired, who agreed that federal law does allow this, as long the fine doesn’t take your pay for that period below minimum wage. But she noted that you might live in a state that prohibits it, and it’s worth checking into that. Also, if you’re non-exempt, they can dock your pay for the actual time you were late … although if you’re exempt, that docking could negate your exempt status, make you effectively non-exempt, and mean that you’d be entitled to overtime pay when you work over 40 hours in a week. (There’s an explanation about exempt and non-exempt here, but the gist is that “exempt” is a government classification meaning that the nature of the work you do makes you exempt from receiving overtime pay. If you’re exempt, they can’t dock your pay when you work fewer hours. If they do that anyway, they can end up owing you overtime pay, including retroactively.)

Donna also pointed out: “The other thing I’d say you’d have to look at is the reason the employee was late. If it was to care for a sick child, spouse or parent, then punishing them might violate FMLA. If it related to a disability, then they might be violating the Americans With Disabilities Act. If it’s applied unevenly, then other discrimination laws could kick in. I’d say an employer doing this is, number one, a terrible employer, and, number two, taking a huge risk that they are violating some law.”

As for what you can do here …

First, it’s worth looking into the potential legal issues Donna raises. If there’s a legal violation here, your employers deserves to have someone pursue it.

Second, look into whether you’re correctly classified as exempt. You said you don’t get overtime pay even when you work overtime, which means they’re treating you as exempt. I would bet good money that they’ve misclassified you (which many employers do), especially considering that this is your first job out of school and first jobs often don’t meet the bar to be exempt. And if that’s the case, they owe you a ton of overtime back pay. Even if you ultimately choose not to pursue that, it would be really handy leverage to have in any discussions about the fining.

Third, recalibrate your expectations. Because this is your first job after college, you might be thinking this is more acceptable than it actually is. But it’s not normal to treated salaried professionals this way. It’s not something you should expect to find at future jobs. It’s not something you should be okay with now.

And you have every right to be fuming about that $90 fine. You are not being entitled. You are being absolutely, entirely reasonable.

So fourth, go back and talk to your manager. Say something like this: “I’m asking you to waive this $90 fine. $90 is what I earn in a day. I can’t afford to pay back an entire day’s salary. I work overtime every day, and it makes no sense for me to work long hours when I’m not given even a minute of leeway on the other end. I’m not chronically late, and I do excellent work. I don’t think I should be subject to a financial hardship for a one-time occurrence.”

Fifth, consider pushing back on this entire abhorrent policy with a group of your coworkers. People have unionized over less.

my employer fined me $90 for being late was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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pfctdayelise
21 hours ago
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Melbourne, Australia
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how to be successful without hurting men’s feelings

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The following is an excerpt from Sarah Cooper’s brand new book, How to Be Successful Without Hurting Men’s Feelings: Non-threatening Leadership Strategies for Women, which is hilarious and wonderful and will make you laugh while also making you dig your fingernails into yourself painfully because of how true it is. You should buy this book.

(Text and images shared with permission from the author.)

Excerpt from Chapter 1: How to Ace Your Interview Without Over-Acing It

In today’s competitive job market, it’s important for women to be very careful about how they present themselves. We have to be friendly, but not too friendly; awesome, but not too awesome; and completely comfortable in our own skin as long as we fit right in. Oftentimes following all the rules seems impossible, and that’s because it is. Here are a few rules to keep in mind if you want to nail your next job interview.

 

how to be successful without hurting men’s feelings was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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pfctdayelise
15 days ago
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Melbourne, Australia
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my new job is a nightmare built on a hellmouth

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A reader writes:

I spent almost seven years in property management before vowing to never, ever, ever go back. I don’t know if it is just my local market or if it is like this everywhere, but in the course of working for several different companies I encountered everything from sexual discrimination, retaliation, and a whole host of other crazy, unacceptable things culminating in being fired by a manager because she thought I might try to take her job.

After that (and my vow to get as far away from property management as possible) I was lucky enough to be offered a great job as a project manager at a local printing and direct mail company. I loved working there, not because I was on fire for the industry, but because I got to use problem solving skills daily, I liked having a lot of interaction with various departments and coworkers, I got treated like a human being by everyone, and I didn’t have to worry about any of the crazy shenanigans that seem to plague my old field. Unfortunately, I was unlucky enough to be the last project manager hired before an extreme slowdown in their business, and after just shy of a year I was laid off.

I was terrified when it happened. I had been unemployed for a stretch before that job, and my savings still hadn’t recovered from that. The day I got laid off, I called a former manager of mine (one of the good ones) from my not-so-long-ago property management days because she was always one of the most plugged-in networkers in town. I was absolutely floored when, the very next day, she offered me a position as her assistant manager at a nice pay upgrade from what I had been making at the printing company job. Apparently they were about to move forward with a candidate and then I dropped in out of the sky. She told me that both account delinquency and the paperwork at the property were a mess, and that she was in the process of retraining the residents (apparently previous management had been, um, not good and the residents were running wild), but that it wasn’t anything that I couldn’t handle. Even though I really never wanted to go back to property management, I felt that I wasn’t in a position to say no. And hey, I figured that maybe things would be different this time, and if not I could just do a good job for a year or so, save up a ton of money, and then move on to something I would enjoy. I went in legitimately filled with optimism.

Well, I am two months and 19 days in, and … I think I’m about to crack. It’s a nice looking property in a nice area, but I legitimately wonder if this place is built on a native burial ground, or perhaps a Hellmouth. In the short amount of time that I’ve been here, I’ve experienced the following:

1) Been verbally assaulted by residents in what I would consider an extreme way four times, two of which resulted in me crying in the back room after they left

2) Witnessed an unstable employee losing it/dramatically quitting and then coming back three times in one hour

3) Discovered an employee running a side car repair business all day, every day at work instead of actually doing work for the company

4) Been present when a dude high on meth and road rage followed my coworker onto property and spent an hour chasing maintenance employees with a bat and trying to break into our front office (this is one of three times we have had to call the police SINCE I’VE STARTED)

5) Had a resident I had never spoken to before walk into our office and then aggressively run up to my desk with no preamble and scream that I am a “bitch from hell” in a possessed sounding voice while throwing money orders for her late rent in my face

6) Been questioned in an extensive and vaguely threatening way by what turned out to be an unmedicated paranoid schizophrenic resident about whether or not I am “of God” before he left the office, had a full meltdown, and had to be handcuffed by the police and taken in for psychiatric observation

7) Been present for the hit and run of a maintenance man driving the company golf cart on property (he is okay)

8) Had a non-resident family that was crashing our pool refuse to leave and instruct their children to poop in the pool after we asked them to go (yes, they pooped)

9) Discovered that a convicted murderer somehow got through our criminal screening process and now runs a large number of sketchy illegal occupants (who may have something to do with a number of car break-ins and acts of vandalism that have recently occurred on property) in and out of his apartment

All of that is in addition to two apartment fires, buildings being struck by lightning, a host of just plain WEIRD natural phenomena, and EVERYONE HERE ACTS LIKE THIS IS ALL VERY NORMAL. But it seems like a LOT for under three months. I’ve never worked anywhere that has had a comparable volume of this sort of stuff happening. And as far as rest of the job goes, well … I cleaned up the account delinquency pretty quickly and have largely done good things, but frankly the training has been inadequate and I’m repeatedly being assigned numerous impossible tasks/deadlines. Which I hate. I’m also extremely isolated, as the front office only has three other employees and there’s this weird dynamic because I’m under the manager but over the leasing consultants. Everyone is pleasant, but it’s really stratified and it doesn’t seem like that will change. I’m very unhappy. It’s so bad that lately I find myself increasingly freezing and being unable to even complete simple, doable tasks (which really isn’t like me!). I have to give myself a pep talk just to get in the car and go to work (also a new, not normal for me thing).

I obviously can’t just bail, and a big part of me feels like a terrible person for wanting to head for the hills already when my manager just brought me on in good faith (at a great salary). But the place itself is terrible/appears to be cursed and I don’t enjoy the work. I honestly don’t think I can make it a full year. When is the soonest I can start applying for new jobs without looking like a total flake to prospective employers? How do I explain the reasons why I want to leave my current job to prospective employers in a way that is honest but doesn’t make me sound like a melodramatic crazy person? “Because if I stay I’m pretty sure that I will be murdered or possibly swallowed by the sinkhole that is inevitably going to drag that place to some netherworld/hell dimension; also, I would like to be given projects that are challenging but not unrealistic” is clearly not the way to go.

And finally, if I find a good, non-property management job, how do I leave without upsetting my manager, who will almost definitely feel personally betrayed? I’ve worked with her before, and I’ve seen her get touchy about things like this with employees at other properties. The person before me left the place in a shambles, and she moved me into that slot because she knows I’m trustworthy and loyal. I know she’s expecting me to be in it for the long haul.

I have to admit that I printed this letter in part because of your amazing list of disasters.

You can start applying for new jobs now. You’re presumably going to be applying to jobs outside of property management since you want to get out of that field, so you can explain your search this way: “I have a lot of experience in property management, but when I left in 2016, I’d hoped to move to a new field permanently. When I was laid off from my job at Teapots Inc., a previous manager offered me this position, but I really want to move into the ___ field, and I’m I’m excited about the position with you because ___.” (And then with that language at the end, you shift to why you’re applying for this job and take the focus off why you’re leaving the current one.)

Leaving quickly without upsetting your manager is a harder question. And it may not be possible, because her reaction is up to her rather than up to you. But what you can do is be very honest and very apologetic. Say something like this: “I’m incredibly grateful that you gave me a chance at this position, and I’ve been trying hard to make it work, but I’ve realized in the last few weeks that I don’t think I’m the right person for this role. I’m becoming so unhappy that I can see it impacting both my work and my off time. I’m so sorry about this because you really went out of your way to help me out and I know you put your faith in me. If there was any way I could make it work, I would — but I’m at the point where I need to be up-front with you that I’ve realized this isn’t for me.”

Now, will she she this as a personal betrayal? Maybe. But it wouldn’t be reasonable to expect you to stay in a job where you’re miserable out of loyalty to her. And you definitely shouldn’t stay in a job where you’re miserable out of fear of her reaction.

All you can do is to be up-front with her about where you’re at with this, acknowledge that it’s not a great outcome for her, and apologize that it didn’t work out.

She might be upset, but no reasonable manager wants someone to say in a job where they’re miserable. She might not be a reasonable manager, of course, and it’s not ideal that she’s so well-connected in case this really does piss her off (although fortunately you want to move out of her industry anyway), but none of this is a reason to stay in a job that you’re describing as a hellhole and where it’s starting to affect your ability to function.

You’re allowed to get out.

my new job is a nightmare built on a hellmouth was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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pfctdayelise
22 days ago
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Melbourne, Australia
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my employee keeps adjusting himself while we’re talking

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A reader writes:

I have a male employee who will adjust his balls (over top of his pants) during most conversations I have with him. It’s distracting, a bit uncomfortable, and I have no idea if I should have this conversation with him or if so, how I would approach this issue in a respectful way. Does he even know he is doing it? Am I being unreasonable in pointing it out as a habit that needs to change? Is this common and I only notice with him? I’m too embarrassed to even bring this up at work to ask anyone else how they could approach it. Thank you for some practical guidance and honest feedback on if this is worth the energy to discuss.

Well, this is incredibly awkward. You shouldn’t have to tell him that regularly touching his own genitalia during a work meeting is not okay, and I’m annoyed on your behalf that you need to.

I do think you should, though, because he should not be touching his balls while talking to people at work. I mean, most people aren’t going to take issue with one quick, discreet adjustment — but this does not sound like that.

After reading your letter, I had a good solid five minutes of not being able to come up with language for you to use, but I’ve come up with three options.

You could pointedly say, “Do you need a minute to yourself?”

Or you could be more direct: “Could you do that adjusting in the bathroom?”

Or: “I would feel more comfortable if you could do that in private.” And you could follow that up with, “Assume your coworkers might feel the same way.”

It’s going to be awkward, no matter what you say! Because referring to an employee’s balls is awkward AF. But he’s the one causing the awkwardness, not you, and you should be perfectly comfortable letting him shoulder all of that burden himself.

my employee keeps adjusting himself while we’re talking was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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pfctdayelise
22 days ago
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Melbourne, Australia
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Four short links: 5 October 2018

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Supply Chain Security, ML in FB Marketplace, Datasette Ideas, and Scraper DSL

  1. Motherboard Supply Chain Compromise (Bloomberg) -- fascinating story of Chinese compromise of SuperMicro motherboards, causing headaches for AWS, Apple, and the U.S. military, among many others. See also tech for spotting these things and some sanity checking on the article's claims.
  2. How Facebook Marketplace Uses Machine Learning -- nice. It's increasingly clear there's not much that's user-facing that can't benefit from machine learning to prompt, augment, and check user input.
  3. Interesting Ideas in Datasette (Simon Willison) -- solid technical reflection on non-obvious approaches and techniques in his project.
  4. Ferret -- interesting approach: a DSL for writing web scrapers.

Continue reading Four short links: 5 October 2018.

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pfctdayelise
38 days ago
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Melbourne, Australia
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Followership

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Everyone likes to talk about leadership—we are culturally conditioned to view success as a progression through leadership positions—but there is far less attention paid to being a good follower. In fact, when most people think of themselves as followers, it’s often accompanied with negative feelings, like being judged as meek or submissive. As if being a follower comes at the expense of being a leader. But in reality, every leader in an organization is following someone, and so it serves us well to remember to live up to those responsibilities.

Models of Followership

There are many models of Followership out there that give us a handy way of understanding follower behaviors for our reports and for ourselves. One model I’m fond of is the Chaleff model which describes two axes: the degree of support a follower gives a leader and the degree to which the follower is willing to question or challenge the leader’s behavior or policies. These axes give rise to four distinct follower styles:

Implementers demonstrate high support but low challenge. They are workhorses, in that they take orders and don’t ask questions. It’s easy to love this type of follower more than others because they just get things done. The downside is that they won’t speak up when they see that the direction is not aligned with the company’s ideals or vision.

Resources display low support and low challenge. They do what is requested of them, but little more. In general this type of followership shows up to work and does just enough to retain their position and no more. They’re just trying to get by.

Individualists demonstrate low support and high challenge. They tend to think for themselves and prefer to do as they want. This type of follower will speak up when others are silent, but is often marginalized due to being habitually antagonistic.

Partners display both high support and high challenge. They are strong supporters but will provide challenge where they deem necessary. These types of followers take full responsibility for their own, as well as the leader’s behaviors and act accordingly. They give their whole heart to the corporate vision and the initiatives of the leader, but are open and honest enough to speak up when something doesn’t mesh with the best interests of the organization.

 

Image of Chaleff Model of Followership

Practical Application

To date, I’ve used this model in a number of ways. The first being, at a basic level, just helping me understand the types of folks in my organization and how to bring them together into productive teams. Identifying potential tech leads (partners) with a supporting cast and being cognizant of the difficulties that might occur if an individualist gets that role.

I’ve also used followership concepts to frame career paths by setting expectations around follower behaviors at every level on the career ladder. Starting Engineers aren’t expected to be implementers or partners. Software Engineers, however, should be strong implementers, and Senior Software Engineers and above should be developing their ability to be partners. With those expectations set, I can ask interesting career progression questions. Followership gives me a framework to direct my feedback. For example, Engineer A needs to grow from a resource into an implementer. Or, Engineer B is too much of an individualist, and I need them to be a partner.

In a day-to-day leadership role, I use followership to keep me honest about embracing and rewarding strong partners. When words are spoken that I’d prefer not to hear, understanding followership helps me remember the positives of being challenged, and I would be well served to consider what is being said rather than dismiss it out of hand. It helps me avoid labeling people as troublemakers when they may, in fact, be influencing me in a better direction.

And finally, I’ve used followership to evaluate how I am following my manager. I have an imperative to express challenge when I feel strongly about something in the company’s interest. How am I living up to that responsibility? When my manager makes a decision, how am I undercutting or supporting them? What kind of follower does my manager need right now? These questions help me understand my performance and how I’m showing up in my role.

Conclusion

Good followers can influence leaders in positive ways that don’t always come in pleasant packages. Some of the most impactful work I’ve done has come as a result of listening to folks who disagreed with me. Moving beyond the concept of followers as just “people who do the work,” and adopting followership has helped me in numerous ways. As a follower, it helps clarify my responsibility to speak out and show support when appropriate. As a leader, followership reminds me that when I hear disagreement, it’s an opportunity to take a beat, listen, and appreciate.

The post Followership appeared first on Jason Wong's Blog.

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pfctdayelise
43 days ago
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