On the Job with Ken Lloyd: Fundraising for Your Kids at Work a Discomfort
Question: My manager has two teenage children, and they are involved in activities that have fundraisers that give them prizes for raising the most cash. For the past few years, my manager has come to all six of us in the department and asked for "donations." Although a donation is not required, there is no question that we are expected to give something. I'm getting annoyed over her requests, but I'm not sure what to do next.
Answer: It is wrong, unfair and unprofessional for your manager to place any kind of expectation or pressure on you to make a contribution to her children's fundraisers. In fact, it would not be surprising to find that her behavior is in violation of company policy. Employees are typically prohibited from soliciting others during work hours. And regardless of the timing of such solicitations, a manager's soliciting of his or her employees clearly strains the working relationship.
Assuming that some of your fellow employees are also annoyed with this campaign of forced giving, you should meet with your manager as a group to express your concerns. Tell her that you believe this expectation is creating stress and distress for many of you. Also, let her know that you are concerned that she will think less of you if you do not donate. If she does not get the hint, you should discuss this matter with the Human Resources manager if your company has one, or with your manager's manager.
Question: For the most part, we get the help we need from the IT Department. However, one technician has a new habit that concerns me. After she fixes something on a computer, she expects a gift, such as a discount card for a restaurant or online store. I never give her anything, and now she is very slow to get around to my requests. What should I do?
Answer: In the first place, this employee should not have gifts bestowed upon her for doing her job, nor should she be accepting any gifts that are offered to her in such a context. While such niceties can be called "gifts," they are actually bribes that are designed to generate faster service. The message is that unless an employee goes along with this program, his or her computer programs will suffer.
You can approach this employee and discuss your concerns about the appropriateness and ethics of this practice, but you are not likely to get very far. She has faced no repercussions from her little adventure, and she probably would not set aside time to meet with you unless you are bearing gifts.
You should discuss this matter with her manager. Unless the manager is in this "gifted program," he or she will take prompt action. After all, any decisions regarding whom to help first with IT issues should be based on clearly established standards, such as the severity of problem, costs associated with delays in correcting it, and the like. The one criterion that should have nothing to do with the support that this technician provides is the kind of gift she will receive in return. And speaking of gifts in return, she should be required to return all of them.