Home » my noisy coworker won’t mute himself on conference calls, checking references after someone’s hired, and more

my noisy coworker won’t mute himself on conference calls, checking references after someone’s hired, and more

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

1. My noisy coworker won’t mute himself on conference calls

I have an etiquette question today that is driving me nuts. I work on a team where most of us are remote. We have a lot of daily check-in calls on Webex or Skype where the entire team gets together to talk about project work or issues we are having. Most of the time, this process works well and everyone mutes until they want to talk, which cuts down on the background noise and makes it easier to follow the conversation.

We have one coworker, however, who will never mute himself upon joining a call, despite people asking point-blank for him to do so. The background noise around him is one thing, but he’s also constantly making bodily noises (coughing, snorting, throat clearing, etc). Sometimes he’s even eating on these calls — unmuted! It makes it so hard to pay attention to the person presenting, and it’s disrupting to the meeting to need to consistently stop and ask him to mute. When people ask him to mute, he will do so, but it’s only effective for that one call we are on. During the next call it’s the same song and dance.

Do you have any advice on how to get it to stick that he needs to go on mute so that I can regain my sanity?

You have a few options:
* You could ask the person who most often convenes/moderates these calls to address it with him: “Hey, could you ask Roland to be more vigilant about muting himself? He usually forgets and it can be really distracting on the calls.”
* Depending on the dynamics on your team, you could say something yourself at the start of the call: “This is a reminder for everyone to mute themselves.” Or even, if you have a decent relationship with this dude that allows for some ribbing, “Roland, this means you.”
* You could message him during the call: “Hey, can you mute yourself? I’m hearing a lot of distracting noise.”
* You could address it with him directly outside of a call: “Hey, I’m having a lot of trouble hearing clearly on conference calls and I think it’s because you don’t reliably mute yourself. Could you make more of a point of doing it?”
* If you try all that and none of it works, you could ask his manager to address it.

People are weird.

2. My company is checking references — after someone is hired

Due to my role, I support every function of our HR team. One of my tasks is to check references for candidates who we have extended offers to. However, lately the recruiter who sends me the references to check has gotten in the habit of sending the references to me after the person has already begun working for us! She will tell me no rush on getting it done (because the person is here already) but send her the feedback when I get it. This puts me in an uncomfortable position when I call said references because they usually know we have already hired this person and they have started and they call me out on this. What can I do to avoid this? I have already told this recruiter about some unfriendly encounters with references due to this, but nothing has changed. Also, from emails I am forwarded, she is not asking for candidates references until after they join either. Should I approach this uncomfortable situation with my boss since it has happened multiple times?

Yes, absolutely you should. At best, this recruiter is making your company look ridiculous to new hires and their references — as if the reference-check process is such a bureaucratic rubber-stamp that it’s not even getting done until after someone is hired. (And there’s really no point in checking references at all if you’re waiting until someone is hired; the idea is that it’s supposed to be part of the hiring decision, not some sort of dotting of i’s and crossing of t’s after the fact.) But worse, and more likely, she’s probably causing your new hires a lot of angst and concern — because they’re going to wonder what the hell is going on and whether this means their new job is not in fact a done deal.

So yes, talk to your boss, tell her that you think this is making the company look terrible to references and freaking out new hires (and that you’ve already had some references respond badly, as well they should).

3. I think I know who the office pee-er is

I have a question that isn’t exactly Earth-shattering but I’m curious on your take. I feel weird asking this, but we have a coworker who pees all over the seat and floor around the toilet on a regular basis. I work in an office with 120 employees that is a retail location. While there are no issues in the public customer restrooms, someone keeps peeing all over the seat and the floor around the toilet in the mens’ and womens’ bathrooms reserved for employees. It’s the norm here to use the other bathroom (mens/womens) if the other is in use. The bathrooms are only 1 room with a locking door and don’t have stalls, so you are never in a bathroom at the same time as another person.

It’s been a source of frustration in the office and the HR Director has sent emails and posted signs about how to appropriately use a bathroom. I have gone to the bathroom after one woman who I think is doing it. My reasons are: (1) I have used the bathroom before her, and then shortly after her and the pee mess wasn’t there before but it was after. Sorry for the TMI, but I had just drank a 32-ounce water so it was only about 20 minutes between each trip and the office wasn’t very crowded. (2) The woman wears a very strong perfume that lingers for some time after she leaves the bathroom so I know that she has just been there.

Now, I wouldn’t normally bother with this except that I know the HR Director (also a woman, as am I) was trying to figure out how to stop this. Everyone thinks it’s a man. I still think that the correct action is to keep my mouth shut, because I’m not 100% positive and also, pee in general isn’t something I want to talk about with my coworkers in the first place. I don’t have an obligation to report this, do I? Can I just ignore this whole thing without guilt?

You do not have an obligation to report on your coworkers’ bathroom habits! I free you from this burden.

4. My company made me a counter-offer so I turned down another offer — and now they’re not coming through

I was recently offered another job in a similar position for a new company but for slightly more money. When I informed my manager, she informed me that she didn’t want me to leave the company and would work on a counter offer. The counter offer included a pay increase (more than the salary I had been offered) and the chance to transfer into another department of the company that would allow me the progression and growth that I am ultimately looking for, as my current position doesn’t have any scope for growth. However, the managing director was away on holiday for two weeks so was unable to sign off on the department transfer, but as a managing team they had the ability to sign off on the pay.

Now the director is back and the transfer hasn’t been mentioned since. I asked for an update from my manager and she told me that they would be creating the position and will be interviewing. I hadn’t been informed that I would be required to interview, or that there would be other candidates.

It’s been almost four weeks since I turned down the other offer, and I’m starting to give up a little. I am now unsure that I made the right decision to stay. Should I inform my manager that I shall be continuing my search for another position if the transfer doesn’t materialize, or should I just cut my losses and go?

Your company screwed you.

You turned down another job offer because they offered you a different position, and now they’re telling you that other position isn’t a sure thing at all and that you’ll need to interview for it along with other candidates?!

They really screwed you. You took them at their word and gave up something of value to you, and then they changed their story.

There’s no real point in telling your manager that you’ll go back to job searching if they don’t come through for you, because they’ve already shown that they’re operating in bad faith and can’t be trusted.

Absolutely do resume your search — but even if they ultimately give you the position they promised, these aren’t people you want to be dealing with in the long-term.

5. Will I miss out on my bonus if I give extra notice of my resignation?

I am planning on quitting my job this fall in order to attend school, specifically, I am taking a CNA course. I want to provide my employer with as much notice as I can, but I also want to make sure that they are not going to use it against me. My concern is the company has not announced the bonuses yet. Bonuses are normally paid around the middle to end of July, and I won’t leave my job until late August or September. If I do the nice thing and give them plenty of warning so they can hire and fill my spot, can they use that to not pay my bonus?

They can, unfortunately. And some companies don’t pay out bonuses to people who are leaving (with the thinking being the bonuses are a retention device and you’re already leaving). Your best bet is to check your employee manual to see if this is addressed in there and, if it’s not, to see if you can find out how they’ve handled this for other people in the past. If you can’t find out for sure, then it’s a gamble based on what you know of them and how they operate — but you wouldn’t be wrong to decide to play it safe and wait until bonuses are paid before giving your notice.

On the subject of giving more-than-usual notice in general, you’ll find people who will tell you never to do it, that you only owe two weeks, etc. But there are cases where it makes sense to do, will generate significant good will, and you know you won’t be penalized for it. But it really only makes sense if you’re sure your employer won’t penalize you in some way — push you out early, deny you a bonus, etc. When you’re not sure about those things, err on the side of caution.

my noisy coworker won’t mute himself on conference calls, checking references after someone’s hired, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.


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