Workplace Q&A: Part 13

Q: Do I have to tell my manager about my upcoming job interview at a competing company?

“Next week, I have a job interview with a competing company. Do I need to tell my manager where I’m going?”

A: No.

That said, you do need to tell your manager that you’ll be out of the office on a vacation day or personal day, depending on the policy of your company. If your company routinely lets people leave early for personal business, you need only notify your manager you’ll be out of the office.

In fact, you should not tell your manager about even the possibility of another job until you have a firm offer in writing.

You should also avoid showing up at work dressed in “interview” attire. Signaling that you’re on your way out before you actually receive another job offer can seriously impact your compensation, bonus and opportunities for promotion if the new job prospect later falls through.


Q: Can my company force me to accept a promotion?

“I was offered a promotion to a management position. I wasn’t told that I had to take the offer. But a senior manager made it perfectly clear that the promotion was a big deal. From his point of view, why would anyone in his right mind turn it down?

“Well, I have been a manager, and I hated it. I like the job I have now. I am good at it. And I don’t get stressed out. Can my company force me to accept the promotion?”

A: No.

You should certainly not take a job that you don’t want or that won’t be a good fit for you. When you decline the promotion, you should explain that you have been a manager, and that you find your current position much more rewarding. You also should stress that you can contribute much more to the company in your current role.

In all likelihood, the company will accept your decision and forget about it. Still, you can’t discount the possibility that it will leave a bad aftertaste. Unfortunately, there is a strong bias in our culture about the desirability of “moving up.” Senior management may not look favorably on your future requests for salary increases or new assignments.

One possible solution is to explore a lateral job move. That way, you can advance your career and still earn the company’s good will, especially if you’re moving to a position that the company has had difficulty filling.

Q: Do I have to attend the upcoming company party to celebrate a new client?

“My company has planned an extravagant party to celebrate the acquisition of an important new client. I really hate parties. Do I have to go?”

A: It depends.

If you work for a large company, the party may be so big that your absence will go unnoticed. The company is unlikely to insist that attendance at such a huge party is required for you to perform your job satisfactorily.

On the other hand, if you work for a small company or if the new client will be attending the event, your company could very well argue that attendance is an essential part of your job. In that case, you’ll have to show up.

In any case, it’s not a bad idea to learn to tolerate these sorts of events. Celebrations are common in just about every work environment, and many companies view them not only as job related events, but also a form of team building.

There are numerous techniques for making company social gatherings tolerable, but that’s a topic for another post.


Copyright © 2013–2014 Johanna Harris

Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. This post contains numerous questions describing common recurring problems in the workplace. The circumstances described in these questions, including the names of characters and business firms, are fictitious.

About the Author: Johanna Harris has been a trial attorney with the U.S. Department of Labor and in-house labor counsel for two multinational corporations. She is currently the CEO of Hire Fire and Retire LLC. Her new book, USE PROTECTION: An Employee’s Guide to Advancement in the Workplace (i Book, Kindle, Amazon Paperback), is intended to help you learn enough about labor law and personnel practices so that you don’t get derailed from the career track you should be on.


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