how do I navigate being naked around employees in a locker room, and more — Ask a Manager

It’s a special “where are you now?” season at Ask a Manager and I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past. Here are four updates from past letter-writers.

There will be more posts than usual this week, so keep checking back throughout the day — there’s more to come today.

1. How do I navigate being naked around employees in a locker room?

It’s been almost a year since I wrote in and I’m happy with how things have gone.

While not an official policy, I did speak to my team about better “reading the room.” Team member in a towel? Probably not the best person to help you fix that piece of equipment. Sometimes common sense is not so common, I guess? But it’s worked.

I also appreciated everyone’s comments around how to personally cover up while using the locker room. While it may sound super obvious (again, common sense isn’t always so common), I started wearing my clothes into the shower stall, hanging my gym bag on the outside door/hook, and just changing there before and after my showers. Easy fix, and it’s saving me time.

I also took some of Jeff Main’s advice by finding allies in the workplace, as HR didn’t feel like the safe space I needed at the time. And, coincidentally, several more queer people have joined the leadership team within the past year, so I’m no longer the only out gay person. Having a diverse team feels good!

And finally, as for that homophobic team member, he applied for the exact same role at another one of our locations a few months after being let go. Unsurprisingly, the answer was no.

2. Negotiating an offer when you haven’t talked salary at all

Thanks for your response, and to the commenters who were so supportive! I wasn’t able to engage the day of your post because I was too busy at my new job!

I’m happy to report this ended well. The call where I thought they would make an offer turned out to be the conversation we should have had initially, in which they shared their compensation structure for the position and asked about my expectations. As I suspected, my ask of $130s was at the top of their range. I received an offer a couple days later that came close, asked for a bit more and was able to get $130K.

Of course, I should have just asked earlier. I’m not early career, I wasn’t desperate for a job, and I know this is fine to ask! But there was no recruiter, just the hiring team, and I think I was in a mindset where I was so relieved that each interview was ending well that I kept kicking the question down the road. Fortunately, I love this job so far. Once I’ve been here a minute, I’ll recommend that we include ranges in the postings.

3. Can I regularly take PTO for a crafting social group?

My boss had no problems with me taking the time and was actually happy that I was finally going to be taking time off regularly for something I enjoy (I told him what it was for and after a five-year run I might have a different costume than Rapunzel for Halloween). For a variety of reasons (time blindness, snoozing the alarm to leave one too many times, busy workload, emergencies popping up and I was the only person on my team in the office, etc.) I ended up never going beyond the first time. I would get delayed to the point I figured the group would be leaving by the time I got there so I just did not go.

I guess technically I did take the advice about keeping it flexible… After several weeks, the reminders just made me feel bad so I removed the requests but am hoping to try again this summer as things slow down for a bit. Hoping that building it in as part of my schedule during a time I can make it happen helps it stick when the application cycle/term start ramps up again.

4. Telling a recruiter I don’t want to change jobs right now (#4 at the link)

I had written last summer regarding a script for a (I believe I referred to her as) recruiter that I had been working with. She was being helpful, but at the same time, my father was dying and I was having trouble telling her, “Not right now.”

Using your advice, I wrote to the recruiter and explained what was happening. She sent me a kind note back and encouraged me to reach back out when I was in a better position to change jobs. My intuition to stay where I was had been accurate; my father’s condition deteriorated quickly, and I had flexibility to help that I would have not had otherwise.

Unfortunately, my father passed away at the end of September. In the aftermath, I chose to be patient with myself as I focused on my personal goals. When I felt well enough, I started to send out my resume. Again, using your advice, I was able to land a better job than the one I had interviewed with and was able to negotiate a better benefit package. I had my first performance evaluation with my new bosses today and, while of course there is room to improve, overall, it was a very positive conversation. I’ve read enough AAM to know this could change, but right now, I feel strongly that this an employer I could grow in.

Thank you for taking the time to answer my question. I know it was low stakes question, but in a summer of so much turmoil, I really appreciated your kind, direct response.

Also, to everyone, if something doesn’t feel right/look right, please it get it checked. There is no cure for ALS (what my father passed from), but he wasn’t feeling well for about a year before the diagnosis. Earlier intervention could have kept him with us a little longer.

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