It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…
1. I got drunk at a work event — but it was because of my medication
I have been at my company for six years and attend two or three in-person events a year that always include alcohol. The last event, my pharmacy gave me a higher dose antidepressant without my knowledge and the first night I had a couple drinks that ended up making me very drunk. Normally, the two to three drinks I had would not had affected me as they did that night. I didn’t do anything wrong, was just (not just … but didn’t cause a scene or fall on my face, etc.) intoxicated in front of our board of directors.
Naturally, my CEO wrote me up. I said I understood and apologized. I wasn’t defensive because I understand I was in the wrong but I did mention the medication issue.
I received the formal write-up and it leaves space for me to comment. Do I comment saying anything about the medication mix-up or just sign off and move on?
I certainly would; this is a record of the incident that will stay in your employee file, and I’d want it to contain the full story — because this wasn’t a situation where you just decided to pound shots at a work event with reckless abandon; this was you reacting to a medication in a way you had no reason to anticipate. In fact, I’m not convinced you shouldn’t push back on the write-up itself, given the circumstances — but that’ll depend on your sense of your boss, how much it will matter, your own capital, etc.
All that said, I’d argue “two to three” drinks at a work event is on the high side, regardless of your medication situation. Two might be fine, but three can be a lot in a work context.
2. Can I be friends with managers who aren’t my manager?
I know I’m not supposed to be friends with my manager, but what about other managers in different parts of the organization? What if they used to be my manager, but now they aren’t? Can we move from friendly to actual friends?
The potential friends I’m thinking of are in positions higher up the org chart than I am, but they are over other teams, so I don’t report to them, nor does anyone else on my team. So, no direct hiring/firing authority over me. But in a lot of ways they are also more the peers of my manager than me because of their roles. Any particular issues where this could cause problems at work (or outside of work)?
Also, one of the could-be friends used to be my boss. I reported to them in my previous role (in the same organization), then a few years ago I switched to a different role and started reporting to someone else. We get along well, we have some mutual friends, and it seems like this person wants to hang out more outside of work. Could this be weird given the past boss/employee relationship? Is this an issue if I ever needed to list this person as a reference?
I’m in a role where I often interact with other teams around the organization, and I often interact with people at different “levels” of the organization. I also have a hand in some decision making that might not be expected based on the “level” of my role alone. All of this makes it difficult to define who my peers are in my workplace, which just adds to the challenge in making friends at work!
If you’re not currently in each other’s chain of command, there’s no reason to avoid these friendships. It is worth thinking about whether you might ever be in each other’s chain of command in the future and whether that could cause issues — for example, if you become good friends with Jane, be aware that it might be complicated if you want to transfer on to Jane’s team in the future.
Reference-wise: as a hiring manager, I’d rather not talk to a reference who’s a very close friend of yours (because of bias) but realistically, reference-checkers are pretty unlikely to know it’s a close friendship unless one of you volunteers it.
3. My boss decided I can’t work remotely, but I turned down another job offer to do it
I informed my boss I was moving out of state. He asked if I would consider working remotely. After a bit of thought, he clarified that I would work remotely for five months with a review of how it was working “for both of us” in two. (Timeline is tied to an academic calendar.) I had a job offer elsewhere, which I mentioned — but I decided to stay. At the review, he said I’d be done in May because he “needs his team in person.” I was gracious but now want to revisit this. I wrongly assumed the review would be about how to adjust, not that I was done. Although I say so myself, I am great at my job. Is it worth asking him to reconsider or for a longer exit time? My field is dismal in terms of openings.
Oh no. Yeah, his statement that you could do it for five months meant that nothing beyond that was guaranteed (and the point of assessing two months in was presumably so that you’d have those three months of notice if he didn’t want to continue).
You could certainly ask him if there are adjustments that would make the situation more workable, or for a longer exit time. Who knows, he might be open to that — but I would be prepared for him to feel like he laid out the terms pretty clearly at the beginning (that he was only committing to trying it for five months).
4. How can I make fewer typos in my emails?
I have so many typos at work. Mostly small occurrences, rarely does it change the intent of the email, but nevertheless I feel so unprofessional when I look back at things I’ve sent. I’ve tried drafting emails and stepping away for a moment so I can proofread with fresh eyes, but I still manage to make minor mistakes. I’ve caught two this morning already! I typed “of” instead of “or” and I left off the “ed” in a sentence in a different email (“I insert Person’s Name to claim this”).
It’s never been mentioned in a performance review or pointed out by my coworkers, but I can’t help but think people have noticed. I know I notice other people’s typos (usually because it makes me feel better about my own!). I re-read all my emails before sending, English is my first language, I’m well spoken verbally – why am I so bad at emails? Any thoughts on how to improve my written communication and catch these before I hit send? Just looking through the last week of emails I think it’s happening like, A LOT.
If you do good work and you don’t have typos when they would really matter (like in public communications, not in casual internal emails), it’s very unlikely that this is an issue. People make the sort of typos you described in casual internal emails — you’re typing fast, you’re being efficient, and it’s not always efficient to let an email sit for hours so you can re-read it with truly fresh eyes. In casual contexts, it’s not likely to be a big deal.
That said, since you’re looking for ways to combat it, you could try reading some of the emails out loud to yourself — for a lot of people that’s an effective way to spot typos that your eyes will gloss right over. (Although obviously if you don’t have your own office, it’s not practical — and it’s potentially weird and annoying to your neighbors — to read all your emails out loud to yourself.) There are other proofreading tricks like reading a sentence backwards, but realistically those are likely to slow you down enough that they’re not worth the trade-off except in situations where it’s particularly important that the message be flawless.
5. I couldn’t submit my application without contact info for managers from over a decade ago
I am job searching, as my current position is being eliminated after budget cuts. I’ve worked for my current organization for just over a decade, and can offer five different glowing references for my various positions with them, including my current manager. I recently filled in a job application that asked if they could contact my managers from all of my previous jobs. If I clicked “yes”, it also asked for those references’ names, phone numbers, and emails as required fields. I clicked “no” because I do not have that information readily accessible for managers from over a decade ago. Should I have waited to apply until I had tracked all of them down just so I could choose “yes” for that question? It seems like a lot to ask in an initial application before I’ve even had a phone screen interview. Do organizations really care that much about references from jobs going that far back into my employment history?
That’s bad application design, but as a general rule you should avoid checking “no” as the answer to “can we contact the manager from X job” unless you absolutely have to. You meant “no” as in “I can’t facilitate that process/don’t have their contact info” but employers tend to read “no” as “I do not give you permission talk to that employer, even if you can figure out how to contact them.”
Ideally you would have selected “yes” and either looked up the general contact info for the employer (company contact info would be fine; it wouldn’t have to be the manager’s personal contact info if you don’t have it) or put in a placeholder for the time being.
The hiring manager might not care about talking to references from 10 years ago, but at this point you were just trying to get your application accepted by an electronic system that isn’t set up to deal with that kind of nuance.
stop saying “no” when job applications ask “can we contact this manager?”
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