Q.: I recently made the mistake of including an inappropriate person on a group email. Someone tattled about this to my boss, who sternly warned me to never do it again. I’m not sure who the tattletale was, but I suspect three people. Two of the suspects are my co-workers, and the third is a manager on my boss’s level.
I need to find out who did this to me. Both co-workers have denied any involvement, though I’m not sure I believe them. The manager can be very prickly, so I have not yet spoken to her. Would it be appropriate to approach her in a professional manner and nicely ask whether she told my boss about this error?
A: Wanting to know who turned you in is perfectly understandable. But like many normal human reactions, this impulse is not particularly helpful. Therefore, the answer to your question is no, you should not interrogate the prickly manager about her discussions with your boss.
Despite your strong desire to ferret out the truth, you actually do not need to know who reported your mistake. Continuing to obsess about the tattler’s identity will just waste emotional energy and create unnecessary drama.
If you had been falsely accused, that would be a different matter. But since you did make an error, the appropriate response is to assure your manager that it will never happen again and then move on.
You should also consider the very real possibility that your basic assumption may be incorrect. Your boss could easily have learned of this event through normal conversation, with no tattling involved at all.
Q: Although I believe I deserve a raise, I’m not sure whether I should ask for one. I work for a large nonprofit organization and have been here a little over six months. When I was hired, my salary was slightly lower than I had requested. I have a terrific attitude and the ability to greatly exceed what is expected of me. Is it too soon to ask for an increase?
A: Well, that depends. Before making this request, you need to consider several factors, starting with your employer’s pay practices. While some organizations would never grant an increase during the first year, others have more liberal policies. Your human resources manager can provide guidance in this area.
If six-month increases are permitted, the next consideration is the financial health of your organization. Many nonprofits have gone through tough times recently. If layoffs have occurred or budgets are extremely tight, your request could appear self-centered.
You should also solicit some performance feedback to be sure that management agrees with your favorable self-assessment. And you need to consider whether your particular boss will view such an early request as admirably assertive or premature and pushy.
Finally, any request for a raise should always be supported by a valid business case. Are you underpaid compared to others? Have you made some truly outstanding contributions? Simply saying that you deserve more money is not sufficient. You will have to present some facts.
Marie G. McIntyre is a workplace coach and the author of “Secrets to Winning at Office Politics.” Send in questions and get free coaching tips at http://www.yourofficecoach.com,or follow her on Twitter officecoach.