Said something wrong in front of my boss
August 6, 2014 3:40 PM   Subscribe

What should I do in this situation after saying something stupid in front of my boss?

I have been working at this temp-to-perm job for a week now. And, I was being introduced to someone and the person asked me if I was an intern or a permanent employee. So, I responded with "I am not sure", and my boss was not far away and he heard what I said.

I realized soon after that this was a stupid response, because I really like the job. And the reason why I said I wasn't sure is because I didn't know if people at the company should know if I was temp-to-perm, and the fact that I was stressed out with work and my brain wasn't working properly.

Should I tell my boss and explain the whole situation, or should I have my recruiter tell my boss that I like the job?
posted by pieceofcake to Work & Money (21 answers total)
You are overthinking this plate of beans, to use a metafilter trope. Just do your job and do it well. Your boss has already forgotten about this, and it serves zero purpose to bring it up to him/her.
posted by rockindata at 3:43 PM on August 6, 2014 [39 favorites]

Wow, you are way overthinking this. It's not a big deal. You are starting as a temp, right? Don't say anything to your boss.
posted by amro at 3:43 PM on August 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

I think your response was fine, and even accurate. Don't sweat it.
posted by something something at 3:44 PM on August 6, 2014 [3 favorites]

Yeah, I think it would have been weirder if you'd said you were a permanent employee, acutally.
posted by geegollygosh at 3:45 PM on August 6, 2014 [3 favorites]

Worst thing you can do is bring it up.
posted by michaelh at 3:46 PM on August 6, 2014 [7 favorites]

not a big deal, don't bring it up. If someone asks in future you can say something like "currently I'm on a long term contract."
posted by fingersandtoes at 3:55 PM on August 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

I don't think it's a big deal, but it's never a bad idea to mention to the boss you like the job and want to be considered for the permanent position.
posted by drjimmy11 at 4:05 PM on August 6, 2014 [4 favorites]

If you want to bring it up with your boss, instead of "explaining" as if you did something wrong, you could say "Hey, boss, someone asked me this the other day and I replied that I am not sure and it made me uncomfortable to tell them that because it makes me worry about things like company public image. I mean, that just seems like a crappy thing to tell someone. So, what do you want me to say if someone asks me something like that? How should I answer it if it comes up again?"

And that will left-handedly signal that you didn't mean anything negative just in case he thought you did.
posted by Michele in California at 4:13 PM on August 6, 2014 [13 favorites]

I sympathize with you- I've been temp-to-perm, and questions like that are SO awkward! Some people were treating me like I'd be there next year, and I didn't know how to explain myself. It sucked. BUT. Everyone is right. This 100% does not matter at all. Forget it ever happened.
posted by showbiz_liz at 4:14 PM on August 6, 2014

Did your boss say anything? Because I wouldn't be especially bothered by that answer if I was your boss. If anything, it's not necessarily polite to ask someone if they're full-time - as in it's a potentially pretty loaded situation sometimes, and also not necessarily information that everyone around you needs to know - and "I don't know" is a great way to deflect.

What will be awkward is if you go an have an anxiety meltdown on your boss about it. I am on the side of say nothing, work hard, look happy.
posted by Lyn Never at 4:16 PM on August 6, 2014 [4 favorites]

I think you were stymied because you're neither an intern nor a permanent employee. It wouldn't hurt to clarify with your boss if it's okay to tell people you're temp-to-perm but Nthing that there's no need to apologize.
posted by bleep at 4:20 PM on August 6, 2014

....say nothing, work hard, look happy.

This. Let it go. If you're really worried about it, you might talk to your recruiter. But more along the lines of, "People at the company are asking me if I'm an intern or an employee, I find it to be an awkward conversation -- what's your recommended verbiage to explain my employment situation?"

Here's my thoughts on what you can probably say next time, "Oh! Well, I'm on contract through X Staffing though hoping this will turn into a permanent gig as I really like working here. What projects are you working on...? ...department are you in...?" Basically, have a response at the ready and then deflect to topics which show your interest in the company and your interest in the other employees there. If you really want to go perm, you need to always be interviewing.

Lastly, I know that temp-to-perm does happen. But, so often it doesn't. So, your destiny there may already be sealed, well before you walked in the door. Always be interviewing but don't feel like this little gaffe made any difference in whether they'll be hiring you or not. Let it go. Have a glass of wine after work and try not to fret about it.

If it ever comes up, you can say you were having a bit of a frazzled day and the question about whether you were an intern just threw you for a moment.
posted by amanda at 4:31 PM on August 6, 2014

I doubt your boss even remembers this. And honestly, if you are in a temp-to-perm position, and your boss overheard you say "temp" it might have made him think you would be leaving. And if you said "permanent" he could have thought you were being over eager or lying or whatever. You honestly said the perfect thing in the situation. Don't sweat it!
posted by katypickle at 4:34 PM on August 6, 2014 [3 favorites]

One other thing, I know if feels sort of othering but those permanent employees probably don't feel too much one way or the other about it. It's just a fact, you're either floating in or you'll be there for awhile. And it has real impact on how they run projects. Your "boss" would not find it helpful to have temps telling people they are permanent. Just try not to feel shy about it. Feeling shy about it puts you on unequal footing. Just own it, have your "elevator pitch" at the ready and move on.
posted by amanda at 4:38 PM on August 6, 2014

Ditto katypickle: you said exactly the right thing. Relax, work well, and your answer in a few months will probably be "permanent".
posted by anadem at 4:47 PM on August 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

"I am not sure" was a great answer for an employee of only one week. It demonstrates that you aren't certain whether you and the company are a good fit and that you are learning. If a supervisor is doing their job well they have nothing to do. Don't give them something to do.

"Should I tell my boss and explain the whole situation, or should I have my recruiter tell my boss that I like the job?

Definitely No to each. Leave it be. You will be fine.
posted by vapidave at 5:01 PM on August 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

I don't think it's a big deal, but it's never a bad idea to mention to the boss you like the job and want to be considered for the permanent position.

Yup. Bosses like to hire people who like the job.
posted by mono blanco at 5:12 PM on August 6, 2014

If I was your boss, and you brought this up to me as some kind of faux pas, the whole time I would be thinking "You could just tell people you're in a temp-to-perm position, it's not a big deal to hem and haw about or apologize for."
posted by 23skidoo at 5:12 PM on August 6, 2014

This is fine and you should not bring it up. But, absolutely, you should tell your boss that you like the job and want to stay (you as in you, personally, not an intermediary recruiter).
posted by J. Wilson at 6:35 PM on August 6, 2014

You're not an intern. You're not a regular employee (IME, most companies these days avoid the term "permanent" because "there's no such thing as a permanent employee"). It seems like the only answer more accurate than "I don't know" would be "Neither", which would probably also have left you feeling weird. Nthing "don't worry about it, just do a good job and express enthusiasm when possible"; if you feel you absolutely have to say something, Michele in California's suggestion is good.
posted by Lexica at 6:57 PM on August 6, 2014

Do good work, smile, let him know you like the job. Your answer to that question can work in your favor. You don't have to do anything else because if he likes your work and knows you like the job, he will now be aware that you, not knowing whether or not you are staying, could be lured away. Knowing you are uncertain of your status puts the ball squarely in his court.
posted by Anitanola at 9:28 PM on August 6, 2014

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