my employee sleeps in and misses work, can my coworkers read cursive, and more — Ask a Manager

here are the 10 best questions to ask your job interviewer — Ask a Manager

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

1. How do I talk to my employee about sleeping in and missing work?

I have a direct report who is not a morning person. We have a hybrid schedule (two full team in-office days, remainder WFH). Our day starts at 8 to accommodate half day Fridays, which she takes. She is always last to arrive to the office, typically around 9:15, blaming traffic despite living 10 minutes from our office . She isn’t communicative/visible on Slack until late morning on WFH days. Our team has a very flexible/be-an-adult vibe, which we all appreciate and factor into planning our days/lives — it’s truly great. The issue is, she will miss meetings or join late (often still wearing her nightguard/retainer), turn in incomplete or hurried work, and has been open about accidentally sleeping in on numerous occasions (when she was “caught”). She will be managing our intern this summer, who is working hourly and thus will need to be “in” during typical work hours. Is it possible to change somebody’s sleep habits?

You’re asking the wrong question! Instead, how clear have you been as her manager that she currently isn’t meeting the requirements of her job and about specifically what needs to change? How much she is or isn’t willing to try to change her sleep habits is something for her to manage; the way she shows up at work is yours. Focus on the latter.

Tell her, as bluntly and clearly as possible, that she needs to arrive on time on in-office days, cannot miss meetings or join late, must be communicative and responsive on Slack at the start of work hours, and cannot turn in incomplete or hurried work (and that last one is a really big deal). This needs to be a serious conversation, where it’s clear that these aren’t suggestions or hopes; they’re requirements. You’re doing her no favor if you downplay that; she needs to understand that this has the potential to jeopardize her job — which it should — so that she takes it seriously.

If she has a sleep issue that makes it impossible for her to meet those expectations, she should raise it and you can figure out what to do at that point, and whether there’s a way to structure her job and her schedule that she’s not turning in rushed or incomplete work. But right now, at this stage, your job is to be clear about what needs to change.

2. A business lunch at an ethically shady restaurant

I work for a large Fortune 500 that has multiple locations in five states. My line’s VP is coming in from out of state to do a visit. The visit itself is very low concern, just a basic “Hey! How are you? How’s life? Are you happy here?” etc. However, she’s taking about a dozen of us to lunch. And here is where I have an issue. Morally, I do not spend any money at this restaurant. I used to, until they supported a person convicted of child sexual assault (multiple victims). The perpetrator was employed by them before, during, and after the trial (he’s a cousin to the owner). They did term any employee under 18 and do not hire anyone under 18. Unfortunately, we do not have a lot of “nice” options open at lunch and this place is just down the road from the office. Would it be wrong of me to bring this up to the VP, essentially stating many of us do not support this restaurant? She’s not from our area and would have no idea about this situation.

Since you said many of your coworkers feel this way too, raise it! You have relevant info that she doesn’t have.

For example: “You have no way of knowing this, but some of us prefer not to eat at X because of their support for a cousin of the owner convicted of really awful crimes against children. Could we go to Y or Z instead?” It’s okay if Y and Z are further away. Or if they’re unrealistically far: “What we usually do if we want somewhere nice is ____ (whatever you usually do in that situation).”

3. Break room etiquette

My office has a little break room in the basement that is honestly pretty depressing. As a result, not many people tend to use it, which I think has skewed how some people use it.

Within the past month, I’ve never shared it with more than one coworker at a time and these coworkers all seem to act like they’re alone. One would loudly talk to their partner on the phone the whole time, then later broke up with them while I was there! Another had a significant other make a surprise visit and they made lovey eyes at each other with me stuck as an awkward third wheel. And currently another is watching videos loudly at the table next to me.

I just started sharing an office so I need to use the break room now and I dread it every day! Am I being overly critical of how they use the room? How do I learn to handle this?

Someone broke up with their partner while you sat there! Amazing.

I don’t think you’re wrong in thinking people should be more considerate of others who are using the space … but I also don’t think it’s unreasonable for someone to take a call in the break room or sit with a visitor there, particularly if there aren’t other logical spaces to do those things. It’s actually more awkward because you’re the only other person there; it there were 20 people in there, those things would be less noticeable.

The person playing loud videos is more out of line. And technically you’d be on solid ground if you wanted to say something like, “Would you be willing to use headphones while you’re watching those? My head is killing me and I came here to try to get a break from noise.”

But it does seem like the culture in your office is for people to use that space for whatever kind of break they want, noise included. Any chance your office would be open to setting up a quiet room for people who want it? That sounds like it would get you more of what you want.

4. Can my younger coworkers read cursive?

Recently, I’ve signed a going-away card for a colleague and I’ve passed a handwritten note to a direct report during a training. I used cursive on both, because that’s what I default to, but now I’m wondering if I should stop using cursive as a default? I really like using it because it’s pretty, but obviously I really like people being able to read what I write, too. The colleague’s a peer, age-wise, but my direct report is a recent college grad. Should I only use it with people my own age? Is there a cut-off where people are going to be more unlikely to be able to read it? I’ve been complimented on my handwriting a lot, so it’s legible if you can read cursive, but I realize that’s a dying skill.

I honestly have no idea. I think cursive is pretty readable even if you can’t write it yourself, as long as it’s neatly written (and messy cursive was never all that readable to anyone anyway). But I’m incredibly old. Let’s toss this out to readers who still have more of the bloom of youth upon them and see what they say. (Also, the idea that we all used to learn basically a second font to write in is pretty fascinating.)

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