General Question

RedPowerLady's avatar

Best way to ask this question of my boss?

Asked by RedPowerLady (12454 points ) April 10th, 2009

I finally found a new job (after much searching) and yesterday was my first day. I’m working for a popular nonprofit organization so the facilities are wonderful but everything isn’t quite up-to-date. Now I’m just going to be honest, the office chair is nasty. I don’t know how old it is and it is quite flimsy. It is, however, usable. What I’d like to do is bring in another one or ask if they have any replacements. I wouldn’t mind saying i have an extra sitting around in my garage. But as I am very new to the job I’m having troubles thinking of the appropriate way to ask the question without sounding nitpicky. Also I think they might be concerned about bringing a new chair in as it is in the middle of a community room (the community room is locked while I’m out of it but it still leaves the chair a bit open for theft and damage). So would you wait to ask? And how would you ask?

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30 Answers

GAMBIT's avatar

After doing a great job which I’m sure you are, at the end of the week I would just explain to my boss that I have this wonderful comfortable chair at home and would he or she mind if I brought it in. Good luck

elijah's avatar

I would just bring in your other chair. No big deal.
If they ask why, just tell the truth. The old one is flimsy and old, and since you have an extra one, you brought it in. The worst the boss could do is say take it home.

Darwin's avatar

You could always tell the boss that the chair seems to be putting a strain on your back and that you do have one at home that works for you and that you would be willing to donate so it wouldn’t cost the NPO anything and then see what he/she says.

Or just bring in another chair without comment. He/she might not even notice.

fireside's avatar

I think the fact that you are willing to replace the chair would make this a non issue for the boss. Being a non-profit, they probably have a hard time paying for replacements of usable furniture.

Asking him if he would mind you bringing in your own chair is perfectly fine, but I would make sure that you don’t really care if the chair gets stolen.

RedPowerLady's avatar

Thanx everyone for the responses. I know this may seem like a silly thing but after trying to craft a message to my boss for about thirty minutes I thought I might get some perspective on the issue, lol.

I’ve had bosses in the past that were quite particularly about this kinda thing and have been told my new boss is fabulous but quite the micro-manager.

aprilsimnel's avatar

@elijahsuicide – I’d do it the way you describe as well. It’d be a weird boss who took changing out a chair for one that better suits personally.

wundayatta's avatar

It seems to me that women are typically less willing to ask for things they deserve at the work place. I think the evidence shows that women tend to undervalue themselves at work.

Tell your boss what’s going on, and ask for a new chair. You don’t need to replace it yourself. That’s a bad precedent to set, because it says you are asking to be taken advantage of. You’re a new employee. The boss should want to keep you happy, so you’ll stay.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@daloon You know what that rings quite true for me, well as of late anyhow.

Jeruba's avatar

I think early is the best time to ask for things, during the honeymoon period. That’s how I got to be the only person in my office with an electric pencil sharpener and a three-hole punch on my desk.

My message mght go something like this:

Hi, Sally,

I’m settling in really quickly here and feeling very much at home, thanks to your support and the wonderful welcome from my new coworkers. I just know I’m going to love it here.

Right now the only thing standing—or sitting—between me and perfect happiness is this darn chair I’ve got. It seems to be on its last legs, and it isn’t doing my back any favors. Since I expect to be spending a lot of time in it, it’s pretty hard to ignore. I was wondering if there’s another one around here somewhere that I could use instead, and give this one a richly deserved retirement.

Since I know that might not happen right away, I do have a usable spare at home that I could bring in as a loaner in the meantime. Is there some sort of facilities form I would have to fill out to declare ownership of personal property?

Thanks very much,
RedPowerLady

kevbo's avatar

Have this conversation face to face. Preferably during your regular check-in meeting if you have one.

Mr_M's avatar

Yesterday was your first day? The chair is functional? Then WAIT a few days or until the boss asks you how things are going. You may find there are far more important things that need to be changed then the chair. Then what?

Jeruba's avatar

I would not wait at all if I were in your place. For me, at least, a killer chair means nonstop pain. It doesn’t take long to know it’s the wrong chair for you. You could ask your boss if there’s a facilities person you should go to rather than going through him or her: “Who can I talk to about replacing this chair?” (Don’t own it with “my chair.”)

Mr_M's avatar

But she’s not saying it’s a killer chair. Is it?

Jeruba's avatar

Maybe it isn’t going to kill her back, just gross her out and scare her. She did say nasty and flimsy. It is not an unreasonable request. Your desk and chair are your two major pieces of equipment.

For me I almost don’t care what the desk is like as long as I have enough light and can sit comfortably. Also, office ergonomics can be a matter of health-care concern, and there could even be a legal liability if the chair isn’t substantial and there’s an accident.

Mr_M's avatar

The key is how dysfunctional the chair is. If it hurts her back, then she has a legal right to get an ergonomically correct chair. If it’s so worn that she can tear her clothes, likewise. If it DIRTIES her clothes, she should complain. If it is just old and ugly, with yesterday being the first day, I would wait. It won’t be long before her boss asks her for feedback. i worked in a non-profit place where EVERYTHING was old and ugly.

RedPowerLady's avatar

Thank you all so much for the responses. I really appreciate it. This is helping me quite a bit.

I am also going to talk with hubby too and see what he thinks about when I should bring the issue up.

@Jeruba I really appreciate and like the note you wrote. I just might use that.

Jeruba's avatar

Tit for tat, @RedPowerLady. I am practicing my version of your “sandwich” message to my hair stylist.

mangeons's avatar

Just bring in your chair, and if anyone asks about it, just tell the truth, that you weren’t comfortable using the old one because it was old, flimsy, and nasty. If no one notices, then it’s not really a big deal. I don’t think your boss would fire you or even get mad over something so small, he might even see your point and try to invest in some new chairs for the office.

YARNLADY's avatar

One job I had, I took a cushion to work with me, and took it home each day. The cushion was a padded seat and back that slides over the regular chair. After a week or so of that, they bought me a new padded chair.

StephK's avatar

So, this might be a little behind, but my advice: Wait a couple days, remind yourself it’s a non-profit (Which is great! But they usually don’t have the budget to worry about these things), and then bring in your own chair. Your boss probably won’t get angry about it because either A_(s)he hasn’t noticed or B_(s)he has noticed but hasn’t had the funds to replace it.

PS – Just out of curiousity, where do you work?

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

If the chair is downright nasty then they see that too. You’re going to be in any chair for a good long time. It may as well be one you’re comfortable sitting in.

Mr_M's avatar

How this goes over with your boss depends on how your BOSS views the chair. If he doesn’t see anything wrong with it, he’ll wonder why all the fuss. If the chair is one of the BETTER ones in the place, again, he’ll wonder why the fuss. What is the condition of HIS chair?

I have to wonder if office staff stuck you with the worst chair when the person before you left but before you started? Maybe there was a better chair at your desk but the person with the bad chair swapped before you were hired?

mattbrowne's avatar

Chairs at work are very important, so to me it’s perfectly okay to view it as a big deal. As a newcomer you might try be extra diplomatic, but the goal is to get the chair replaced. Depending on the nature of the boss it might be a good idea to talk to one of your peers first. Maybe there had been cases were old chairs were replaced. It’s always a good idea to point out the opportunities like ‘I can be even more efficient if…” or “I don’t mind spending the occasional extra hour if work really piles up and I can keep my concentration if…’

Over the past years several people in my team have asked me for a new chair or even special chair (for medical reasons) and I’ve always supported such requests. Really good chairs can be expensive. It might be more difficult to handle this in a nonprofit organization. But your health is a priority. Just count the number of hours at the office. A chair is almost like a mattress. Would we wanna use a cheap mattress? We spent almost a third of our life in a bed.

RedPowerLady's avatar

Thanx everyone. I sent in the request and will let you know how it goes. I suppose the worst that can happen is she will say no. Yikes. LOL.

anoop66's avatar

Well i know that it’s a non profit org but you deserve some minimal facilities. You should ask for it, it’s your right. Just say it to her politely, something like I am loving it here, but could you please get the chair fixed. I’ll be able to work better

Jeruba's avatar

So, @RedPowerLady, what happened?

RedPowerLady's avatar

@Jeruba Thanx for the reminder.

I asked my boss using a similar format that you wrote. And she said go buy one and we will reimburse you. She didn’t even really care. So I did just that! And it is so much nicer than the one I had previously!!!

Jeruba's avatar

Hurray! Happy ending. And isn’t it funny that if I’d asked your question, you probably would have had great advice for me?

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