Ask a Manager (★★★★☆)

Ask a Manager

Alison Green   *   Ballantine Books   *   May 1, 2018   *   304 Pages

Find this book on Goodreads | Amazon | BN

Over a decade ago, Alison Green created an advice column called Ask a Manager, where she gives advice on how to deal with all kinds of workplace drama. This book is a collection of that advice. It has four sections:

  1. Conversations with your boss (e.g., you missed a deadline, your boss yells at you, you want a raise)
  2. Conversations with your coworkers (e.g., your coworker asks nosy questions, your coworker eats your food, your coworker monopolizes meetings)
  3. Conversations when you’re the boss (e.g., an employee is out sick but posts photos on Facebook of herself at the beach, you’ve become your friend’s boss)
  4. Conversations with your job interviewer (e.g., your interviewer knows your current boss, negotiating salary, you haven’t heard back from your interviewer)

The advice is very issue-specific and to the point—which is great if your particular problem makes the cut. But even if your situation isn’t in here, most of Green’s advice boils down to this:  find a way to speak up about your problem in a calm, matter-of-fact, and collaborative way. Assume goodwill on the part of the other person, and then be direct. This approach may not get you everything you want, but it’s a good start.

On the other hand, it’s also important to know if you are in a position to speak up in the first place…

Everyone at work has a certain amount of social and professional capital to spend. How much you have is based on how long you’ve worked at your company, how senior your position is, how well you generally get along with people, how much your work is valued, how much your boss likes you personally, and how accommodating you’ve been to others. If you’re low on accumulated capital, you might not be well positioned to speak up about a difficult or sensitive issue.

Overall, an interesting read. It’s not a book you read straight through, but it does have helpful bits and pieces of advice for specific issues. I genuinely learned a thing or two.


Thank you to Ballantine Books and Amazon Vine for the Advanced Reader Copy!

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