Ask a Boss

Insightful and practical workplace advice from career expert Alison Green. In addition to “Ask a Boss,” she has run her own career-advice website, Ask a Manager, for 15 years and is the author of Ask a Manager: How to Navigate Clueless Colleagues, Lunch-Stealing Bosses, and the Rest of Your Life at Work and Managing to Change the World: The Nonprofit Manager’s Guide to Getting Results.

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How to Give Constructive Criticism Without Making It Awkward

If it’s done well, giving feedback at work doesn’t have to be unpleasant.

More From ‘Ask a Boss’

  1. ‘I Work From Home and Can’t Focus’Some people are not cut out for remote work, but it’s also possible that you’re just burned out.
  2. How Much Severance Pay Am I Entitled To?Everything you need to know to negotiate the stressful world of severance pay.
  3. ‘This Is My First Job Postgrad. Is My Boss’s Behavior Normal?’Well, there’s how things should be and then there’s how things actually are.
  4. How to Write an Out-of-Office MessageToo many people share too much information.
  5. ‘Should I Give My Boss a Holiday Gift?’All your questions about holiday gift-giving at work, answered.
  6. How to Survive the Office Holiday PartyYes, you should go. But as long as you spend a few minutes talking to your boss, you can probably get away with leaving early.
  7. How to Be a Good InterviewerIt might sound obvious, but you need to seriously consider what qualifications you’re looking for, and how to assess them.
  8. 45 Gifts for Every Type of EmployeeWhen you’re the boss giving gifts to your team, you can find thoughtful things for each person without playing favorites.
  9. Ask a Boss: ‘My Office Goes Overboard for Halloween’Workplace-advice columnist Alison Green answers questions from readers about keeping it professional on Halloween.
  10. 10 Ways to Nail Your Video InterviewPants are not optional. Also, eliminate distractions and make sure your facial expressions are communicating what you want them to.
  11. ‘My Boss Says She Expects Me to Always Be Available on My Days Off’I wonder whether she meant her statement the way you heard it. It could be you’d only get a call in the case of an emergency, if at all.
  12. How to Find a Job Long-DistanceThere are ways to improve your chances of getting a response when applying to jobs out of state.
  13. ‘I’m Sick of Covering for My Co-workers Who Have Kids’The problem: Your colleagues’ flexibility is coming at your expense rather than the company’s expense.
  14. How to Make a Résumé Interviewers Actually Want to ReadHiring managers spend about 20 seconds scanning a résumé. Here’s how to get their attention.
  15. 10 Things You Need to Do Before You ResignYou’ve made the decision to quit your job. But before you resign, take these steps first to ensure an easy transition.
  16. How to Write a Cover Letter That Will Get You a JobI’ve read thousands of cover letters in my career. Here are all the elements of an actually good one.
  17. ‘I Just Found Out I’m Being Underpaid. Now What?’Even if you get a raise now, this is a company that’s much too comfortable paying you less than your work is worth.
  18. How to Ask for a RaiseBefore approaching your boss, here’s everything you should know.
  19. ‘My Boss Won’t Do Anything About My Slacker Co-worker’It can be liberating to acknowledge there’s nothing you can do to manage this problem.
  20. How to Write a Perfect Resignation LetterFor one, it’s not the place to air your grievances. For another, it shouldn’t be how your boss finds out you’re leaving.
  21. ‘My Boss Has Been Impossible to Work With Ever Since I Gave Notice’It’s almost a hallmark of poorly run companies that people are mistreated during their notice periods.
  22. How to Gracefully Decline a Job OfferIt’s completely okay for you to reject an employer, just as it’s normal for employers to turn down applicants.
  23. ‘Should I Interview for an Attractive Job If I Like My Current One?’If you’re intrigued by the opening and think it could be a good fit, it makes sense to take the interview and learn more.
  24. ‘I Had a Great Job Interview — Why Haven’t I Heard Back?’It’s impossible to tell from the outside what might be going on, so you should never, ever assume a job is a lock.
  25. When Should I Tell Potential Employers About My Disability?Since it’s not something they can legally take into consideration, wait until the offer stage.
  26. How to Answer ‘Tell Me About Yourself’ in a Job InterviewOnce you understand what your interviewer is looking for, this question gets much easier to approach.
  27. ‘Should I Be Honest in My Exit Interview?’Companies that truly want to hear employees’ input will solicit that input while you’re still working there, not once you’re walking out the door.
  28. How to Answer ‘Why Are You Interested in This Position?’ in a Job InterviewThis is usually one of the first questions asked in an interview, and you shouldn’t wing your answer.
  29. ‘I’m Sick of Having to Do My Incompetent Colleague’s Work’Talk to your manager. It sounds as if he might not realize how frustrated you are or how much it’s affecting your work or your hours.
  30. 10 Impressive Questions to Ask in a Job InterviewTo show employers you’re exceptional and to find out if it’s the right job for you.
  31. ‘I’m Working Remotely, But My Company Won’t Let Me Move Out of State’When you’re already remote, it’s easy to think, What difference does it make whether I’m working ten miles away or across the country?
  32. ‘My Boss Demands Unrealistic Timelines When Assigning Me Work’At this point she’s learned from experience that if she pushes you, you’ll find a way to get it done.
  33. ‘Should I Put More Effort Into Making Friends at Work?’There’s a really big middle ground between seeking out friendships at work and deliberately avoiding them: just being pleasant and friendly.
  34. ‘How Do I Say No to Administrative Tasks That Aren’t My Responsibility?’Once you start doing them, it can be hard to stop, because you become the person with the track record of doing them well.
  35. ‘My Co-worker Keeps Trying to Undermine Me’It doesn’t take a psychology degree to see that he feels insecure.
  36. ‘My Boss Is Taking One of My Reports. I’m Humiliated.’An individual employee’s feelings generally shouldn’t be big drivers of reporting structures.
  37. ‘My Boss Wants Me Back in the Office Full Time. Can I Push Back?’The more your employer doesn’t want to lose you, and the more willing you are to leave, the stronger the position you’re in for this discussion.
  38. ‘I’ve Been Overworked for Months and My Manager Won’t Help’You need to be less invested in keeping your office running smoothly.
  39. ‘How Much Time Can I Ask For to Consider a Job Offer?’It can be risky to say you’ll need more than a week.
  40. ‘Should I Feel Guilty About Having So Much Downtime at Work?’Ultimately, you’re being paid to produce certain results, and you are. Whatever you’re doing, it’s working.
  41. ‘The New Hires at Work Are Driving Me Up a Wall’Clarifying for yourself what you do and don’t need to act on will help make the situation more bearable.
  42. ‘My Job Offer Was Rescinded After I Asked for More Money’I realize it’s cold comfort right now, but you’re better off not working for a company that’s hostile to employees who advocate for their own worth.
  43. ‘Should I Tell My Boss About Problems at Home?’If your safety is threatened or your work is affected, yes.
  44. ‘Several of My Co-workers Were Fired. Am I Next?’It’s possible your company fires people without warning, but it’s just as possible there were warnings you weren’t privy to.
  45. ‘How Can I Get My Co-worker to Stop Complaining to Me?’You’re justified in putting limits on conversations and people that sap your energy and affect your quality of life.
  46. ‘My Boss Wants Me to Do Her Dirty Work’She’s trying to make you take the lead in a difficult situation so she doesn’t have to.
  47. ‘I Don’t Know How to Say ‘No’ at Work’You need to be less emotionally invested in doing a good job.
  48. ‘Should I Tell My Boss I’m Looking For a New Job?’Don’t do it!
  49. Was I Wrong To Quit My Job, Or Is It Just Nerves?Even when you have good reasons to quit, it’s nerve-wracking to leave a situation where you’re comfortable.
  50. ‘Can You End a Job Interview Early If You Know It’s Not a Good Fit?’You’re not merely there to be judged, but also to form your own judgments about whether you want this particular position.
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