Sunday, December 17, 2017

Should I call a colleague on her tardiness?



How patient should you be when the person who asked for a meeting with you is late?

L.L. works as a professional in a field that requires her to have specific degrees, continuing education, and other credentials to ensure that her license is up to date. Her employer periodically requires a review of her credentials and work product to make sure everything is up to date.

"I got an email a few weeks ago from the credentialing person asking me if I could set aside time for a meeting when we could go over her review of my files," L.L. writes. They agreed upon a time and L.L. made note of it on her calendar.

The credentialing person had access to all of L.L.'s files, so the plan was for her to review those files and come to the meeting with any questions she might have about them. At the meeting, she would either sign off on L.L.'s files being up to date, or she'd leave her with a list of tasks needed to ensure they were complete.

The meeting was to take place mid-morning in L.L.'s office, so she knew that as long as she did not schedule anything else for that time period, she would be on time for the meeting. She set aside one hour, knowing that she would have to move on to meet with clients and other colleagues once that meeting was complete.

Ten minutes after the meeting was to begin, there was no word from or sign of the credentialing person in L.L.'s office. Finally, after 20 minutes had passed, L.L. emailed her and asked if they had indeed been scheduled for when she thought they were scheduled.

A response came five minutes later. They had indeed been scheduled, but, the credentialing person wrote, she had become "very busy" and would be right over to meet with L.L., whose office was one floor up.

When the credentialing person arrived -- now, 30 minutes late -- she sat down and began to discuss L.L.'s files.

"No apology, no nothing to indicate that she had kept me waiting for so long," writes L.L. "Shouldn't she at least have apologized? Should I have said something about how unprofessional it was for her to not let me know she'd be late?" L.L. needed the person to sign off on her files and wasn't inclined to anger her by calling her on her tardiness. Now, she wonders if she should have if, for nothing else, than to try to raise her awareness so she might not do it again, or at least to let her know next time if she was going to be late.

The right thing would have been for the credentialing person to let L.L. know she was running late. She had no obligation to apologize, but it would have been courteous to do so. L.L. was not wrong to refrain from making more of an issue of her tardiness. But she would have been fine to say something. The person's obligation was to show up and do her job. L.L. held up her end of the bargain. The credentialing person should have done her best to hold up hers, or to let L.L. know beforehand if she wouldn't be able to. 

Jeffrey L. Seglin, author of The Simple Art of Business Etiquette: How to Rise to the Top by Playing Nice, is a senior lecturer in public policy and director of the communications program at Harvard's Kennedy School. He is also the administrator of www.jeffreyseglin.com, a blog focused on ethical issues. 

Do you have ethical questions that you need answered? Send them to rightthing@comcast.net. 

Follow him on Twitter: @jseglin 

(c) 2017 JEFFREY L. SEGLIN. DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Is employer responsible for expense if I might leave?



Every couple of years, Lil (not her real name, but let's call her "Lil") has to renew her professional license with her state so she can continue practicing as a psychotherapist. The agency at which Lil sees most of her clients generally reimburses Lil for the cost of the license as well as any continuing education courses she needs to take throughout those two years to keep up-to-date with her profession.

For several years now, Lil has contemplated retiring. She enjoys her work, she writes, but she believes it's time to pull back on the work hours and pursue some other interests she's long put off for lack of time. But for several years now, Lil has not followed through on her plans to retire. Now, at 70, she's decided that she'd really like to retire in six months, right before June, so she can look forward to the warm weather in her first days of retirement. At least, that's what Lil thinks she wants to do.

"I've been here before," she writes, "and each time, I've decided to keep on working and seeing clients."

But this time, it might be different.

Because Lil will still have a year-and-a-half left on the license she's now renewing if she does retire, she's wrestling with whether it's right to ask her agency to reimburse her for the cost of the license renewal.

"If I know before I renew the license that I'm likely to be leaving, wouldn't it be wrong to expect them to pay for it?" she asks.

While Lil might be overly conscientious about what she asks of her agency when it comes to supporting her in her profession, there are a few factors here that she might consider before offering to pay for the license renewal herself.

First, even if Lil does follow through with retirement plans this time around, she still will need a current license to see clients at the agency. The agency benefits by having her on staff to see clients, so if it's its practice to underwrite the cost of its practitioners' licenses, then there is no reason not to expect it to do so for any fraction of the time Lil will need one. The state does not seem to have any provision for license terms that are less than two years, so if this is what's needed, then that's what the agency should pay for.

Second, Lil simply may decide, once again, to put off retiring. She has not given notice to her agency, nor has she set her retirement plans firmly in place. If history is any guide, she's just as likely to continue working as she is to retire. Having a valid license in place makes sense.

The agency must regularly face situations where a practitioner leaves the practice for one reason or another. It has never asked one of its practitioners to reimburse it for the time left on the current license. There would be no reason to expect it to do so should Lil retire by June.

Lil should rest easy, renew her license, continue to do good work with clients, and, when the time is finally right, retire with peace of mind that she did the right thing. 

Jeffrey L. Seglin, author of The Simple Art of Business Etiquette: How to Rise to the Top by Playing Nice, is a senior lecturer in public policy and director of the communications program at Harvard's Kennedy School. He is also the administrator of www.jeffreyseglin.com, a blog focused on ethical issues. 

Do you have ethical questions that you need answered? Send them to rightthing@comcast.net. 

Follow him on Twitter: @jseglin 

(c) 2017 JEFFREY L. SEGLIN. DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC.

Should I call a colleague on her tardiness?

How patient should you be when the person who asked for a meeting with you is late? L.L. works as a professional in a field that re...