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Lily Garcia
Tuesday, April 6, 2010; 11:00 AM

Washington Post job expert Lily Garcia discussed workplace issues.

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Lily Garcia: Let's begin.

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Human Resources Problem: Hi Lily,What do you do when the HR department (for a large multi-location organization) is totally dysfunctional? Our hiring process drags out forever because they won't forward applications to the hiring committee, new employees' pay and benefits are messed up for months, etc. Is this something to take to the very top? They seem like they operate separately with no accountability, but they are really interfering with our ability to do our jobs.Thanks for your advice.

Lily Garcia: If you can provide specific examples, it will make follow-up easier.

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Emplyees vs. employers: Hola Lily: What can employees do, besides walking away from a company, to convince their emplyers that the employees are the real assets of any company, and that they (the employees) should be treated as such -- economically and with respect?

Lily Garcia:

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A Bully At Work: I've had a counseling session with my Manager. A bully and I were written up for her offenses. The bully agreed to stop the bullying (not talking to me for weeks and making me live in silence at work as part of a three person team). A few days after the counseling session the bully then filed a harassment charge against me for talking to them when they didn't want to be talked to. They never told me to not talk with them. The bully and another person just didn't talk to me anymore at work. R in Centreville

Lily Garcia: If your manager supports your coworker's decision not to speak with you, then seek guidance regarding how you can nevertheless productively work together.

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Fairfax: Good morning. I work for a non-profit in the metro area. The people I work with are very nice, the mission of the organization is one I agree with, and my supervisor is great. However, I am just. so. bored. I want a chance to develop leadership skills, I want more responsibility, and I want bigger projects. There really isn't room in this organization to move up a ladder since it is small. Are these things to tell my supervisor or should I just look for a new job? Thanks.

Lily Garcia: Make sure that you explain not only how these additional challenges would excite you, but also how they would benefit the organization.

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Work ethic: Lily, what according to you is a good work ethic? I am back to work after maternity leave and am sometimes struggling to keep up with the challenges of my job, when should i know my baby comes first and when should I let the demands of my work rule?

Lily Garcia: If you are unsure of where you stand, have a talk with your manager.So, give yourself a break and a little permission to not do everything perfectly all of the time.

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Keeping my fingers crossed: Hi Lilly,I had an internal interview recently and I was wondering if the protocol for thank you notes is the same as for an normal interview with a different employer.Thanks!

Lily Garcia: Yes, except that you can probably afford to be a bit more casual in your tone if you had a pre-existing relationship with the interviewer(s).

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Interview questions: As one nears the end of an interview cycle, what questions can a prospective employee ask the new company/agency? Is it acceptable to ask about telework, anticipated overtime, or pace of the job? I'm interested in making a change, but I would like as accurate of a view of a new job before I would accept an offer. I'm concerned about being required to stay late every day, but I don't want to come off as lazy.

Lily Garcia: Only do this if the organization is large enough that you will not run the risk of the employee "reporting" your overture to HR or the hiring manager.

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Employees as Babysitters?: Several senior executives at my company have lower-level employees babysit for their children in their homes during non-work hours. Doesn't this put all non-babysitting employees at a disadvantage? If layoffs happen, I doubt the executives are going to get rid of their babysitters. What's your opinion?

Lily Garcia: For this reason, many organizations have adopted policies explicitly prohibiting employees from entering into separate business relationships.

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Two-week notices: Hi Lily, I wanted to know if you've ever heard of any legal cases involving employees who have given less than the "expected two weeks" of notice before departure, in an at-will employment situation in D.C. Thank you for your help!

Lily Garcia: In an at-will employment relationship, you are not legally required to give any particular amount of notice.

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how do I post my current schooling into resume: I am currently going back into the job search and would like to show that I would like to be considered for a position that would reflect my degree in the future. Thanks.

Lily Garcia: "B.A. expected [insert date]."

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Babies at the office: I've run into a really odd problem at my workplace. Many new parents have been bringing in their babies for extended periods of time. This is not out of necessity; it's more of a show-and-tell. They will bring them to each employee's desk, which can take an hour or more. They do this regardless of whether the person is busy or even interested in meeting the baby. It's very strange and I've never seen anything like it in the various places I've worked. Is this new? Specific to this office perhaps? How would one take this to HR?

Lily Garcia: You may otherwise risk alienating yourself from others in your office.

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Application follow-up: I applied for a job through Washington Post Jobs three weeks ago, and never heard back. Since then, the position has been re-listed three more times. I know I'm qualified for the job (possibly even overqualified), so it's more than a little frustrating. Should I try and follow up and ask for an interview, or just keep waiting? I realize it's a buyer's market when it comes to jobs these days, but it seems a bit insensitive to just keep people dangling like this.

Lily Garcia: In the meantime, you should move on to other opportunities.

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recognition of service: I'm trying not to take this personally, but it is hard. I'm the exec. asst to the President of our non profit environmental firm. I've been with the group for 20 years this past February. My anniversary came and went without acknowledgement. Granted the HR department usually keeps tabs of these things and he was on a leave of absence during the time. After I grumbled to a couple of coworkers, word got back to the HR department. I was quickly sent a lovely bouquet of flowers two weeks after with a nice note stating they were from my boss. Well, my boss had nothing to do with it as he was overseas. Now we are preparing for a board meeting this month and my boss is wanting me to start work on getting a lovely engraved gift and card ready along with a celebratory luncheon at the board meeting for another coworker who is celebrating her 25th anniversary. He still has never said a word to me about my anniversary. Actually no one in my department has. They all commented on my flowers but that was about it. I also attend the board meetings and a few board members actually acknowledged my anniversary with emails. So, it will be pretty awkward at the board meeting when we are all celebrating a coworker's 25th anniversary and nothing is said about mine. At this point do I say something or just let it drop.

Lily Garcia: After you have this conversation with you boss, regardless of how he responds, you should allow the issue to drop.

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Unresolved Animosity: I guess I'm looking for coping skills.

Lily Garcia: Eventually, their unfriendly and destructive habits will begin to naturally fall away.

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application: Hi lilly, I'm applying to a job and downloaded their application form. There is a question asking if one has ever been discharged or asked to leave a position. I was laid off from a job (not fired, but laid-off with 8 other people due to budget cuts) about 8 years ago. Is that applicable? Thanks!

Lily Garcia: I think that a layoff would be encompassed by that question.

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Anniversary Recognition: Not to be insensitive, but seriously? Isn't your paycheck recognition of your work? And on a similar note, maybe the organization recognizes 25th anniversaries with special recognition as a policy.

Lily Garcia: After 20 years of service, I think that the reader is understandably hurt.

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appropriate question during an interview: Do you think its appropriate to ask during an interview the dress code, casual fridays? Am I allow to wear jeans?

Lily Garcia: Unless that is a deal breaker for you, I would skip the jeans question.

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Two-Weeks: Hi Lily, Even though at-will employees don't NEED to give notice, it's a good idea. I had an employee give me 1.5 days' notice, and she said that she was really giving me two weeks' notice because she was owed two weeks of vacation! Unbelievable. She will never get a good reference from me. She had the nerve to ask for one about a year after she left.

Lily Garcia: But I think the other reader was specifically asking about the legality of leaving on short notice.

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Lily Garcia: Although I may not be able to respond immediately, I will answer every question.Until then, best wishes.Lily


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