employee is too focused on typos, can I put my cat’s TikTok account on my resume, and more

Jan 6, 2023

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

1. My employee is too focused on typos

I am a new manager with a new employee who is a couple months in, and she has a habit of calling out my errors. Some are super silly spelling errors as I am training and typing at same time. I read everything before I send it so I can fix it, but she doesn’t give me a chance. Honestly, her fixation on minor grammar shows she is not focusing on the instruction.

When it happens while I’m training her, I say, “Let me get this out and I will go back to review it before I send my email response.” I explained to her I wanted to give her full visibility into my work, but trying to multitask doesn’t always work and I have said, “I know there are mistakes. Please just give me time to fix it as a typo is not the issue here.” She will apologize and say that she was trying not to say anything, but it overcomes her and she has to point out the typo. Meanwhile, I’ve spent 20 minutes training her on something she hasn’t retained since she saw me create the typo.

Recently she pointed out a mistake I made in a large email chain. My mistake was not even relevant to the issue being addressed in the email, and she actually confused everyone and derailed the request.

You have to tell her clearly to stop — not just in the moment or case by case, but addressing the pattern. For example: “I need you to stop pointing out typos. I understand they jump out to you and distract you, but it is preventing you from focusing on training and it’s taking me off-track. When you pointed out a typo in that email chain about the new porridge launch, it caused confusion and derailed the discussion. So from now on, I need you to not point out typos unless you’ve specifically been asked to proofread.” You might also need to say, “I agree that polished communications are important in many contexts, but they’re not always the highest priority when I’m typing quickly and will go back to proofread later or in informal communications.”

If she says that she can’t help herself because it “overcomes her” (!), you should say, “Regardless, I need you to find a way to shut down that impulse and stay focused on what we’re doing.”

This is a reasonable request and it’s highly likely that she can rein it in once you tell her it needs to stop — but you’ll need to say it clearly and without softening the message.

2. How do I deal with all these informational interview requests?

I’m in a management position at a well-respected company in my field. We are in the fortunate position of being a company that a lot of people want to work for. A lot. I frequently get requests for “informational interviews” that are really people seeking a job. They usually find me on LinkedIn, via obscure connections. Sometimes they know someone who knows someone who knows me, and the request comes in the form of an email from someone I do know.

I used to happily grant informational interviews, as a way to pay it forward. A lot of people helped me in my career, and I’d like to help younger people now that I am in a position to do so. But I get so many requests now and just can’t do it.

When I started getting more numerous requests, I would connect them with a colleague. But now, just coordinating that is taking time and ends up just shoving off the time commitment onto someone else.

While I empathize with someone just trying to get a job, I just don’t have time to do it anymore but I’m struggling with a polite way of declining the requests. Some of these people may be great future employees (or clients or partners), so I don’t want to alienate anyone or seem rude or uncaring. I don’t want to give the responsibility to someone else, because I need them to focus on work and they surely get their own requests to deal with.

Do I just ignore the LinkedIn messages (but that seems rude)? What about times when someone I do know sends me an email, requesting an informational interview on behalf of someone else?

You get to set boundaries on your time! You don’t have to respond to every LinkedIn request from a stranger; lots of people aren’t particularly attentive to their social media inboxes. But it’s also perfectly okay to respond, “I wish I could say yes but the volume of requests I receive for informational interviews is very high and my schedule is in triage mode right now. I’m unable to meet, but I wish you all the best.”

When the request comes from a connection who you know, you could say, “Thanks for thinking of me. I’ve tried to say yes to as many of these requests as I could in the past, but my schedule is so packed that I’m having to be really disciplined about not adding to it. That said, Jane sounds great and I wish her the best of luck.” If you’re wiling to offer this you could add, “But if she has one or two specific questions I can answer over email, I’d be glad to take a look at those.” (This will often weed out the people who are just angling for your time so they can pitch you on hiring them.)

3. Can I put my cat’s TikTok account on my resume?

I can’t believe I’m about to ask this question. I am an older millennial (mid-30’s) who wasn’t really into TikTok as that seems like it’s for a younger generation than me. However, I have a pet who has a weird talent so I put a few videos on TikTok and it became quite popular — nearly 30,000 followers in about 3-4 months — and I guess what would be considered a micro-influencer. Licensing requests, some small sponsorship things, etc.

I work in the marketing/communications field and am polishing up my resume. Is it insane to list this on my resume for jobs that might have a social media element? Or is it too quirky/weird, especially since it’s an account for a cat (which I fully realize is crazy, but it’s very funny to me how much people enjoy him)?

For jobs that involve social media or marketing and don’t seem completely stuffy, you can put it on your resume. The key part, though, is that you have to include context that makes the relevant part of the accomplishment clear (like garnered X followers in X months, work with brands to do XYZ, etc.). That context is what makes it relevant experience.

Of course, that’s only if you are in fact running the accounts, not your cat.

4. Corporate sabbaticals

I have only ever heard of the term sabbaticals as it related to professors back while I was still in school and working in the college of business. However, the company that I work for has recently acquired another company. There was a lot of back and forth about what benefits would carry over, etc. Through the grapevine, I heard that the acquired company had grandfathered in for their employees a five-week sabbatical for every five years that they are with the company. This is in addition to the paid annual leave they already receive.

I could see this as a huge benefit to everyone, especially someone who wants to do extensive traveling, etc. I am upset that not everyone gets this perk, but my question is, is this a common thing in finance or companies in general? I have only worked for one company since I left teaching, so I don’t have a wide set of information to go on.

Not common, very awesome.

5. What are the best professional development courses you’ve done?

I work for an education related nonprofit in learning and development. I’m wondering if you or your readers could recommend the best professional development opportunities they’ve ever participated in. My job offers ~$1000/year for professional development, but I’m having trouble finding opportunities and knowing whether they are high quality (aka worth my time). Bonus points if it falls within that budget and/or is around topics such as leadership development, women and leadership, DEI, communication, coaching and training and development.

Readers, please share in the comments.

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