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Work Advice on Avoiding Early Meetings and Bad Bosses

In terms of your interpersonal issues with Black women: You’re going to have to do the work of figuring out why you’ve had contentious relationships with the people you’ve worked with and what you can do to avoid that in the future. It will require rigorous self-reflection and being mindful of how you perceive and treat the Black women you work with. It is difficult to say what, specifically, you should do differently because I’m not entirely clear on what you’ve done in the past. The short answer is to do the opposite of what you did previously and to hold yourself accountable.

My department works remotely, and we each choose our set hours, so long as they are within an hour or so of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. My colleague has chosen 8 to 5. However, when I try to schedule an 8 a.m. meeting, he says it’s too early, and a little later is OK if I don’t mind him eating breakfast. He says mornings are hard because of his morning workouts. He suggests meeting at 9 a.m. Am I old-fashioned, thinking colleagues should be ready to work during their work day, unless their calendar is marked busy or out of the office?

— Anonymous

No one should ever schedule an 8 a.m. meeting. That is, indeed, far too early. People need time to ease into the workday. Now, your colleague probably shouldn’t have shared that he needs his mornings for his workouts but if we have learned anything from the pandemic and the ways workplace culture is evolving, it’s that we are more than our jobs.

Most of us can handle our work responsibilities well and be human, making time during the workday for family, for fitness or for personal interests. Stop micromanaging your colleague. His schedule is not your concern. Surely you can be a bit more flexible with setting meetings. It sounds like he is willing to do the same. It’s all going to be OK.

I am an English teacher in a public school. Post-pandemic, many teachers here are asking if this is a viable profession anymore. We had three catastrophic hurricanes during the pandemic to make home life and school life even more difficult. Before the pandemic, our state was consistently ranked among the worst for children’s educational outcomes as well as for teachers’ salaries and working conditions. I work at a public school that was once considered a decent place to work, but pandemic upheavals brought us a new principal.

He’s just so bad. Autocratic, micromanaging, always right, insecure and inexperienced bad. Two teachers retiring in the middle of the year and one straight-up quitting in September bad.

I’m guessing my work friend won’t let me do something as passive-aggressive and self-destructive as anonymously give him a book on leadership for the holidays. He’d probably guess it was from me, and I doubt he even reads books. He’s an anti-vaxxer who exposed staff to Covid-19 and lied about it, so I’m pretty sure learning from experts is not his jam.

But for every worker who has this secret fantasy (it can’t just be me!), can you share some favorite books about leadership? If just one boss finds a new idea under their tree — if it could lead to creating positive work spaces, treating workers with respect and sharing authority and decision-making — it would be worth a try, right?

— Anonymous

I’m sorry to hear about your horrible boss. We’ve all had one and it’s the worst, particularly when you have few employment options. I’m a big believer in the power of reading, but there are some people who are so maladjusted that not even great literature can help them. That said, while I am not at all familiar with conventional business books about leadership, I do have some unconventional suggestions that will serve anyone well.

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