Q: “Our manager is involved with a lot of community groups and charitable organizations. She is also a physical fitness nut who runs in marathons for various causes. The problem is that whenever she participates in something, she sends the staff an email asking for contributions.
“We see no reason why employees should be expected to support their boss’s outside activities, but we don’t want to offend her and jeopardize our job security. However, this has become very irritating. Is there a polite way to tell our manager to stop these requests?” Intimidated
A: Managers should never ask employees for money, because the power imbalance hampers their ability to refuse. Even if these are worthy causes, your boss’s ongoing solicitations are completely inappropriate.
The best way to address this issue depends on the size of your organization. In a large company, the human resources department will be your natural ally. Any professional HR manager will immediately understand the problem and have a talk with your boss.
But if this is a small business, a direct conversation may be necessary. A group discussion will carry less risk, so find a time when everyone is together, then describe your concerns in a non-critical manner.
For example: “We greatly respect all the work you do for charity. However, even if we support the cause, we can’t necessarily make a donation. We hope you won’t be offended if we are not able to contribute.”
If these solutions aren’t feasible, another alternative is to individually respond to her emails with a polite refusal: “Unfortunately, I am not able to contribute at this time. However, I certainly admire the charitable work you are doing.” If enough people decline, your manager will eventually get the message.
Giving feedback can be difficult. Here are some tips to make it easier: How to Give Feedback without Criticism.