It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…
1. How many doctor’s appointments are too many?
How many doctor’s appointments are too many? I’m a salaried employee at a casual, tech-style agency. While I’m generally healthy, I did have cancer as a baby (don’t worry, I’m fine now!) and thus I don’t shy away from preemptive care in addition to regular check ups.
There have not been any concerns about my performance, I always get my work done, and we have unlimited sick leave but I sometimes feel like I may be scheduling too many appointments compared to the rest of my team. I see a therapist once a month. I have a slew of annual appointments (dental, well check, etc.) that are all scheduled individually. I’m a runner so occasionally I see a sports doctor about injuries. I go in waves of seeing a dermatologist about stubborn adult acne. Every now and then, I like to get my hair cut and colored and there are almost never weekend appointments available. I’ve even moved appointments around to accommodate meetings that pop up when I can, but I can’t always predict when I’ll need to see a doctor.
In a good month, it might just be one or even none. A bad month could be three or four. I had four in January, none in February, but already three in May (all of my annual appointments fall in the spring). I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I’ll always spend more time in doctors’ offices than the average person but I don’t want my team to get the wrong idea.
I don’t think that I should have to disclose my extensive medical history to anyone — especially since I’m technically healthy now — and I do my best to schedule appointments in the early mornings/later afternoons to mitigate the time I’m away from the office. I always block off my calendar ahead of time. No one has said anything to me about it but I still feel awkward. This is my first job out of school and I’ve been here for three years with a great record. I worry that people think I’m out interviewing all the time which just isn’t true!
Yeah, it sounds on the high side compared to most people, but not outrageously so if you’re able to manage your own schedule and arrange things so that it doesn’t impact your work. (There are offices where this would be enough out of the norm that I’d urge you not to do the hair stuff during the work day, but if no one has said anything to you about it and you’re not noticing weirdness from your manager about it, this probably isn’t one of them. But in your next job, get a read on the culture in this regard since it can vary from office to office.)
In any case, I don’t think it would be a bad idea to give your manager some context in case she starts wondering if something is going on — but that doesn’t mean that you need to share details. You could just say something like, “Hey, I wanted to mention that I have a couple of recurring medical appointments, sometimes monthly, sometimes a few times a month. I always make sure they’re not impacting my work, but I didn’t want you to wonder or worry if you noticed. And it’s nothing serious — just some stuff I have to take care of.”
2. I’m nervous about mentoring a smart intern
My boss has asked me to mentor a college-level junior for the summer. The guidelines I got were to make half the experience valuable to her (the mentee) and half valuable to us (the team, i.e. have her do some real work).
He sent me the information on the student and it’s obvious that she is much smarter than me, at least from a class work standpoint. She has studied things I’ve only thought about.
I’m a bit nervous at approaching this task. I really want it to be a good one for the student and the team!
She may or may not be smarter than you (although the fact that she’s studied subjects you haven’t studied doesn’t indicate that!), but you have work experience that she doesn’t have, and that’s what’s most relevant when she’s interning with you.
When she starts, talk to her about what she’s hoping to gain from the internship, and then think about ways you/your organization might be able to provide that. (That could include anything from particular types of projects to sitting in on relevant meetings to connecting her with people who do the type of work she’s interested in.) You might also talk to people in your organization who have managed interns in the past and find out what worked and what didn’t. Use your boss as a resource too — he may have input on what sorts of projects it makes sense to give her.
But really, she’s interning because she wants work experience and she wants to learn. It’s very unlikely that she’s going to be thinking about who’s smarter than who (and if she did, that would be a weird posture for an intern to take).
3. The pregnancy pause
Have you seen this? What’s your take?
Excerpt: “Motherhood shouldn’t have to be defended in a job interview, says the agency, but moms are often dismissed by potential employers because of the gaps in their resumes. To help remedy the problem, the agency is introducing ‘The Pregnancy Pause,’ an effort that gives job-hunting moms an easy way to treat time taken away from the office to raise a child like any other full-time job. […] Hiring managers that call ‘The Pregnancy Pause’ number will hear the pre-recorded greeting: ‘Hello, you have reached The Pregnancy Pause. You must be calling about a candidate’s resume that has mentioned her time spent here. While here, she spent innumerable hours raising a child, which has surely offered her invaluable experience as a prospective employee. Visit our website ThePregnancyPause.org to learn more, and remember, maternity leave is a full-time job.’”
Nooooo, that’s really not useful to job seekers. First, they want you to list it on your resume as if you worked there, which is deceptive and really not going to go over with employers once they realize what you’ve done.
Second, that recorded message is awful. Claiming that parenting is “invaluable experience as a prospective employee” is going to generate eye rolls, not respect. It’s not that parenting isn’t important and challenging — of course it is — but it’s not professional work or job experience, which is what your resume is for, and it’s not the same as being held accountable for results to people outside of your family. This “service” is doing a disservice to the people it’s purporting to help.
This is a classic case of good intentions and terrible execution.
4. Is this contest unfair?
I generally like my job. I do! My manager is a very good boss, supportive and fair most of the time. But this, I think, is not fair: We share writing blog posts. Our marketing manager has posted a contest saying that whoever can increase their post count by the greatest percentage by the end of next month will win a $50 gift card.
I have five blog posts so far. The person who has the least has two. The others are somewhat in the middle.
We’re a small team to begin with. I think he’s trying to motivate those that haven’t contributed as much to step up their game next month, but I can’t help but feel punished for being prolific. What do you think? Is this a clever way to motivate those who do not contribute or a way to alienate those who do?
Yeah, you’re right that you’re at a disadvantage in winning the prize since you’d have to write more posts that your coworkers would to win the prize. Maybe you could suggest that it be calculated not on percentage increase but on numerical increase.
If they don’t go for that, though, and if this disparity between you and your coworkers is the usual state of things, consider this part of what makes you excel at your job and incorporate it the next time you’re asking for a raise.
5. I’m going to be away for my intern’s whole first week
I have recently hired a summer intern (John) who is scheduled to start his first day in a couple of weeks. Unfortunately, I’ve just received news of a death in the family, and the funeral is scheduled the same week that John is starting. I will need to be out that entire week, as the funeral is in another country (where my partner is from and where most of my partner’s family still remains).
What do I do with regard to John? Do I try to push back his start date by a week? Do I have him start even though I won’t be there and see if someone else on my team can act as his “welcoming committee”? I’m concerned that if I keep his start date the same, he could have a poor first impression/experience, with limited direction or resources if he has questions, and a sense that he isn’t a valued member of the team. I’m also concerned that others on my team might feel put upon, since I’m really the only one on the team who does what I do and they probably wouldn’t have much work to give John. However, I’m afraid that if I push his start date back, he’ll be out of a week’s pay, and perhaps he is counting on that to cover living and other expenses for the summer. I’m hoping you and your readers can give me some guidance on the best path forward.
Why not give him the choice? You could explain the situation and say something like, “Would you like to push your start date back by one week, to (date)? Or alternatively, if you’d rather not do that, we can stick to your original start date, with the caveat that the first week will be a bit slow since I won’t be there. I can someone else here act as your point person while I’m away, but I want to be transparent with you that you won’t get as much guidance that week as you will once I’m back. But either option is absolutely fine — is there one you’d prefer over the other?”
You may find he doesn’t care about the missed pay, or that he cares very much. But rather than making the choice for him, let him make it!
how many doctor’s appointments are too many, nervous about mentoring a smart intern, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.