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

1. My new coworkers keep saying I’m going to hate my job

Two months ago, I started working at a new company. I’m about two years into my career, and this new job is in a different field from my previous work and is on a 24-month contract working on client-facing projects. I knew there would be long days and tight deadlines sometimes, but having worked in a highly stressful and toxic role previously I was confident in my ability to manage it. Plus, the work seemed interesting. This has largely borne out: lots of work, sometimes long days, but I’m managing it well and find it interesting and challenging in a positive way. The money is pretty good and I have a lot of flexibility. In many ways, this is a good place to be.

The trouble is, I keep getting comments from colleagues along the lines of “wait until you’ve been here a bit longer,” “you’re lucky you’re on a two-year contract and then you can get out of here,” and even “you have the worst job ever” whenever I express that I’m enjoying the role! I could put this down to one or even a few people being negative, poorly trying to make jokes, or projecting their own experiences, but these kinds of comments have come from multiple sources across various business areas, including the senior manager I report to, someone more senior but in a different function to me, and one of my peers in the same role.

These comments are freaking me out a bit! I’m a pretty positive person and I tend to just laugh them off, albeit slightly awkwardly, but their frequency has me starting to wonder if they’re right and I should get out of dodge before my probation is up. I wouldn’t say my professional instincts are fully honed yet, and I wonder if I missed any red flags in the interview process. I’m scared I’ll find myself stuck in a toxic work environment again. What’s the best thing to do here?

There are a few possibilities: (1) The stuff that has bothered your colleagues might not bother you that much, and so your experience will be different from theirs. (2) Or you’re all grading on a curve. Your previous job was toxic and stressful and this one is a lot better, so to you this might be a relative cakewalk. Your coworkers might be judging by a different set of standards. That doesn’t necessarily mean any of you are wrong; you’d just be bringing different frames of reference to it. (3) Or the job really is a terrible one, and that’s going to become clear to you as time goes on.

I can see why you’re unsettled — what are they all seeing that you’re not seeing? But why not start asking? Your colleagues sound pretty open about their dislikes, so there’s a lot of room to ask for more information.

Go back to any or all of the people who have made the comments and say, “You and others have commented that I’m in the worst job ever or will want to leave as soon as my contract is up, and I’m wondering what’s behind that! I’m pretty happy here so far, but hearing so many comments has me wondering if there’s something I haven’t picked up on yet or if something awful is lurking down the road.”

2. Parents posting their kids’ resumes on LinkedIn

I recently came across a post from a parent in my professional network who was advertising her kid’s resume on LinkedIn. Her kid was about to graduate college and was looking for internships that could lead to jobs; she tagged about 20 people in the post, including her kid.

I felt really divided about this. While I know it comes from a good place, actions like this seem to privilege the kids of well-connected parents over those of us (I recognize my bias here!) who are breaking fresh into an industry or who do not have any prior connections to speak of. It seems to only reinforce the divide between the have’s and have-not’s. Not only that, but I feel like a recommendation from a parent is generally worthless; the parent hasn’t worked with the kid and cannot provide a true assessment of their kid’s worth.

What do you think about this? Lots of people in the comments of the original post seemed to think it was a laudable move, but I just really feel like it’s not. And is there any way to gently push back (either as a comment to the post or as a DM to the parent) so that bystanders like me can nudge for more inclusive postures? Or is that inappropriate too?

Not a fan. In theory, it’s not that different from parents reaching out to specific contacts on their kids’ behalf, but there’s something about doing it as a mass post that feels different than one-on-one contact. And of course, the parent isn’t really recommending the kid (as you point out, they can’t). Instead, what they’re doing is using the good will of their network — people who might be interested in helping a contact’s kid because they like the parent/want to do the parent a favor/etc. That’s part of why a mass post feels ickier; without that individual connection piece, it’s just laying bare, publicly, that the parent is asking for a leg up for their kid that other people might not get. It’s a little embarrassing for the kid.

I don’t know that it’s worth saying anything to the parent. In theory you could leave a comment encouraging people to use their networks for kids without connections too, but unless you hit on exactly the right wording there’s a high risk that it’ll come across as hijacking the post to virtue-signal.

3. My boss thinks I should drive my new employee home

I supervise a new employee who normally rides the bus home. With it getting dark earlier, my boss implied that I could give her a ride for safety. She lives 20 minutes in the opposite direction of my house (and my commute is already 30 minutes). What do I do?

You’re not obligated to drive employees home, buses are not unusually dangerous, and your employee is presumably an adult who’s comfortable managing her own transportation.

If your boss brings it up again, you could say, “I’ve usually got commitments after work and am not going straight home.”

4. Another team is cc’ing their manager on complaints about my team

I manage a team of five direct reports, and my team works with nearly every other department in the organization. Sometimes managers from one department that works with my team (but does not supervise them) will send a complaint to me about an error. I am very quick to address the errors with my team (within a day if not immediately). Lately I have noticed that the managers from the other department are cc’ing their supervisor on complaint emails to me. This just started within the past couple of weeks, and the emails seem to be more frequent than before. I’m thinking perhaps this group of managers is complaining to their supervisor about the errors and/or me and my team, and he’s asked to be looped in. I’ve never been given any feedback from anyone that the way I handle the complaints isn’t appropriate or doesn’t solve the problem. I always follow up with the managers to see if the problem has been resolved and if not, I will address it again, sometimes with a PIP or discipline depending on the situation.

I would like to know why the number of emails is increasing and why this other supervisor is being cc’d on them. Should I just ask him directly what’s up?

Yes. “I’ve noticed your staff recently started cc’ing you on emails to me about errors from my team, so I wanted to check in with you. If your team has concerns about the work they’re getting from us, I’d want to make sure I know about it and can address it.”

That said … it sounds like your team might be generating a lot of errors and complaints! If that’s the case, the other team might rightly be frustrated that you’re not addressing that pattern. Addressing each complaint individually is fine when they’re occasional, but when they’re frequent, there’s something bigger going on that you need to figure out.

5. My husband’s company has no paternity leave

My husband and I just found out that I’m expecting our second baby! After the first wave of enthusiasm, we’ve started talking logistics and I realized that my husband doesn’t have paternity leave! He didn’t for our first kid, but he’d only been employed for a few months at the time, and we both thought it was because he hadn’t been there long enough. But now it seems like I was just being hopeful.

The way his vacation and sick time works is that it’s five weeks yearly but all unpaid (he works with clients and his company pays him for however many clients he sees). Financially we’re doing fine and he could take those weeks unpaid, but doesn’t it seem a bit archaic, not to mention sexist, that his company doesn’t have a leave policy for non-birthing parents?

“Stodgy” is how I’d describe his company. The leadership is a collection of old white men, and throughout all the turmoil of the past year, they remained noticabley silent. I don’t have high hopes that anything will change, especially because my husband avoids conflict at all costs.

I know I don’t work there, and they don’t want to hear from me, and my husband would hate it if I reached out to them. But is there anything I can do? Or is there something my husband can do that won’t be anxiety inducing?

You definitely can’t contact them yourself! This is your husband’s job and his to manage; you don’t have any standing to contact his company, and you’d undermine your husband terribly if you did. But you can support him in speaking up if he decides he wants to push for better parental leave at his company.

However, at a company that doesn’t even provide paid sick or vacation time (which is pretty unusual for professional jobs), I’m skeptical that they’re going to be open to paid parental leave. In fact, I wonder if they even provide it for women — company-paid parental leave is a far less common offering in the U.S. than paid sick or vacation time is, so if they’re not providing regular PTO, I’m doubtful that they’re providing paid maternity leave.

If the company has at least 50 employees and your husband has worked there for at least a year, he’s eligible for FMLA — which gives him up to 12 weeks a year of leave for family and medical reasons, including the birth of a child. It doesn’t require them to pay him for that time and they can have him use up his sick and vacation leave as part of those 12 weeks, but it might be your most realistic option.

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