I have a professional crush on my boss, should I tell my office when I’m vaccinated, and more — Ask a Manager

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

1. I have a professional crush on my manager

I’m a senior member of a team of 30 people. During this current working from home period, “Olivia” joined our company as a manager for our team. I really enjoy working with her. She’s a huge inspiration and I feel like I make a lot of progress as an employee and a human being when we work together. I feel like we really click and it makes me happy. I have kind of a professional crush on her, which makes me want to do great work to make her happy. I don’t think it’s romantic feelings.

I think Olivia enjoys working with me as well. During our one-on-one today, she told me she thinks about me 3,000 times a day, about things she wants to tell me. Thinking about that gives me butterflies, but also makes me a little apprehensive. Probably these are just mutual feelings of enjoying working together, but who knows? I really appreciate working with Olivia and I want to keep growing under her excellent guidance, so I’m wondering how I can make sure this stays inspiring and professional and doesn’t turn into anything distracting and tangled.

There is such a thing as a platonic crush, and hopefully that’s all this is on both sides. I say “hopefully” because since Olivia is your boss, it would be strongly against your interests (and hers) for either of you to develop romantic feelings for the other. It could really mess up both your professional lives.

Now, I might be misinterpreting, but you sound awfully open to it turning into something more — and also as if you think it would be out of your hands if that happened. But you keep things professional by … committing to keeping them professional. There’s no real secret to it; you just respect the boundaries that must exist with someone in your chain of command, out of respect for them and your coworkers. Appreciate her as a boss and as a colleague and stay very conscious of the boundaries you’re both obligated to have.

But if you just get along well, like working together, and find yourself motivated to impress her? Those are good things! Those things make work more satisfying and more fun, and that kind of rapport has the potential to do great things for you professionally. (Just don’t put her on a pedestal. Some day she may have to turn down your raise request, give you feedback you disagree with, or even lay you off. Hopefully none of that happens, but if it does, you don’t want it to feel extra devastating because it’s coming from her.)

2. Should I tell my boss when I’m vaccinated?

I was wondering how to navigate informing your boss and/or coworkers after you’ve received the vaccine. It wouldn’t be assumed that I qualify for the vaccine in my state, but I do and will be fully vaccinated in a month. Do I tell my boss? Wait? Never share the info?

I feel like it would help when making decisions about me going into the office as needed or other things that I or my boss wouldn’t want me to do unvaccinated. Of course I would still be masked and socially distanced, but with a slightly less heightened level of caution.

I also know there is an aspect of jealousy or an unnerving feeling right now concerning who is able to get vaccinated and who isn’t, so I’d like to be sensitive of that as well.

You’re not obligated to share that you’ve been vaccinated if you prefer to keep it private, but it’s perfectly fine to share if you’re comfortable with it and it seems relevant. If you’re willing to do more things now, especially if that would keep someone unvaccinated from having to do them, it makes sense to speak up.

It does mean potentially opening yourself up to questions about why you were eligible, and not everyone wants to share with colleagues that they have, for example, a qualifying medical condition (which is a good reason for people to stop asking). One option if you don’t want to share personal info is to say something like, “I’m pretty private about the details, but I qualified under the groups they’re doing now.”

3. When the person who hires you leaves after a few months

When I was offered my current job a few months ago, I asked HR up-front if the hiring manager who would also be my boss would be in that position for at least a year. Over the last several years, I’ve had two experiences where the person who hired me left the organization within a few months. Both times, the boss I liked and had hoped to work for for a while was replaced by someone who wanted to build his or her own team or had no interest in my work, and definitely no interest in my success there. In one situation I was laid off; in another, I was pushed out and my job was given to the boss’ friend.

As you can imagine, I’m careful about who I end up working for and their future with an organization. I’ve always found that the people I know who’ve succeeded at their organizations spend at least a good year or two with the person who brought them on board. And isn’t that one good reason to accept a job — you have a good feeling about who you’ll be reporting to? I’ve never accepted a job where I walked out of an interview thinking, “Oh wow, that was horrible.”

Well, HR said at the time that there was absolutely no way the hiring manager would be leaving and that he had even expressed that himself to HR. She more or less said I had nothing to worry about. So I accepted the offer. Well, three months later, he was let go and replaced a few days later by someone from in-house. (I think he was let go due to some conflicts with one of the top managers. My boss was very competent, well-liked, and pleasant to work for. It appeared he had a boss who did not like him and found a reason to get him out.) My new boss and I have met only a handful of times on Zoom. I think it will be okay, but I’m not too sure.

I feel duped and my first instinct is to start looking for a new job. I had a lot of great projects planned with the boss who hired me. He was happy to have me, he understood my skill set, spelled out a clear career path, and was willing to send me to seminars and bring me along on conferences to network (after Covid ends, of course). I don’t feel too hopeful about things like that with my new boss. If anything, I’m hearing about cuts and micromanagy limitations during meetings. He’s already looking to hire new people he may be more interested in cultivating. I haven’t been there long enough to have a safe place and feel confident in my role.

I’m trying not to feel negative. Still, after being through a similar situation twice already, I can’t help but imagine the writing is already on the wall with new hires and probably some restructuring planned. Can this work out without someone in my corner? Am I right to start looking?

I think it would be premature to start looking, or at least premature to leave. Give it some time to get to know your new boss and see how things play out. In particular, make an effort to talk with him more — ask to schedule a call and talk about your priorities and what you’re hoping for from your relationship with him. If you start seeing real signs of danger, then yes, start looking.

But the thing is, managers leave jobs all the time for all sorts of reasons. This one was pushed out, but he also could have left because a better offer dropped in his lap, or because of a health crisis, or his spouse getting a job somewhere else, or all sorts of things. That’s not something people will necessarily be able to predict when you’re being hired (it’s definitely not something you should count on HR to know or share). I wouldn’t assume you were duped; things change.

If you figure you have to leave every time a manager leaves, you’re ceding a lot of control over your career to someone else’s decisions. That’s not to say that it’s not disappointing; you’re right that a manager can be a big draw in deciding whether or not to take a job. But if you’re only taking the job because that manager is there, that’s very risky — because you just can never know for sure what other people will end up doing.

4. Can my boss make me change my working hours?

I work for a small company that for the last few years has been entirely remote. I work in customer service with one other person and we both work a very standard 8 am -5 pm schedule Mon-Fri. Our boss recently asked us to take turns shifting our schedules so that we take off 30 minutes early and then work that 30 minutes later that night or over the weekend, so that customers aren’t waiting as long for an answer to their emails. This request is rubbing me the wrong way because I have a family, and I want to work my standard hours and then not work until the next day. My boss is a workaholic who replies to emails late into the night and I think might have trouble understanding that most people don’t want to work all day.

Is this legal of him to ask? Both my coworker and I are salaried employees (she is eligible for overtime, I am not due to my slightly higher pay). Can I push back on this since we were both hired with assumption that we’d work standard hours or do we need to suck it up and be team players? I feel like if we agree to this modified schedule, it could be allowing for the possibility of even more expanded hours into the future.

Yes, it’s legal of him to ask or even require. Employers can decide to change your schedule at any point. But you can also push back against the request! You and your colleague can explain you have commitments in the evening and aren’t available for work then. (If possible, coordinate with her so that she doesn’t get stuck with the whole thing.) It’ll probably help if you suggest other ways to ensure customers don’t feel they’re waiting too long, even if it’s just an auto-reply letting them know when they can expect to hear back, or evidence that not many emails come in during those hours, or so forth.

5. Should you put union leadership experience on your resume?

Is my union leadership experience helping or hurting my resume?

I’ve spent the last year and a half searching for a work opportunity to launch one of several different possible career paths. In the meantime, I have volunteered and increased my responsibilities with my current labor union. The leadership and initiative is relevant to many of the jobs I apply for. How do hiring managers feel about union leaders, even if they cannot cite union involvement as a legitimate disqualifier for a job?

Depending on the kind of work you’re doing for the union, it could hurt you with some managers, who will think it means you’re more likely to be a rabble-rouser or otherwise difficult to manage. (You might decide you’re happy to screen them out, though.) Others won’t care, and others will appreciate the leadership and organizing skills involved.

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