It’s “where are you now?” month at Ask a Manager, and all December I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past. Here are four updates from past letter-writers.
There will be more posts than usual this week, so keep checking back throughout the day.
1. An acquaintance blabbed when I sent him a confidential email … and now I might become his boss
It ended not with a bang but with a whimper:
– No one ever brought up John’s strange email behavior; it is as if it never happened.
– I decided to disconnect from him in social media.
– I haven’t contacted him to try to find out what he was thinking (“closure comes from within not without”).
– Other members of the board have complained about John to me for unrelated matters; he is wearing out his welcome.
– Leadership at his workplace offered me a different executive role than the one they originally considered me for; for many reasons I didn’t take it.
He seems to irritate everyone, which at least tells me that it’s him, not me, and there’s nothing to take personally.
thank you and the community comments for counseling me to just chill. Saying and doing nothing was exactly the right move.
2. My employee keeps working long hours even after we’ve told her to stop
I ended up having to take this in a two-fold approach. First, I had a very frank (and honestly uncomfortable) conversation about insubordination. I didn’t know that anyone had ever had the conversation with her from that perspective, so it seemed like I needed to do it. It definitely seemed like a shock to her that it could be considered insubordination to “work late.” I had to clarify that the insubordination wasn’t the work hours but that she appeared to be ignoring directives from not just me, but upper leadership in terms of hours. I pointed out safety issues that many of your readers (and you yourself) mentioned because I knew she hadn’t seen it from any perspective other than her own “i’m getting work done” one.
Next, as you said (and many echoed in the comments) the why of this working late in a job that does not require late hours was important to me. We had multiple meetings that focusing on her prioritizing and time management skills. In our weekly check-ins, we now always have time to go over the various projects she’s working on and I help her establish a urgency list if she feels behind.
There is still a struggle in terms of her working hours but she is leaving at 6 nearly everyday now. Hoping that we won’t have to revisit the insubordination conversation EVER again because it was miserable and I hated it.
3. No one has acknowledged my resignation (#4 at the link)
You kindly answered my question about resigning when nobody was responding. You reminded me that telephones exist — I confess to hating them so I had literally forgotten that was an option. However, the only phone number I had was my direct boss and they were sick with covid – once again highlighting just how disorganised the company was. I chose not to phone them given that they were posting online about how bad they were feeling. I sent a second resignation email to everyone I could think of, plus the generic [email protected] email & finally got a reply 4 days later.
In terms of my job, I finished up all but one of my contracts easily & and have moved to my full-time job. I was anxious about having to get up early in the morning & the big adjustment to the 8-4 I’d be doing after 3 years of light part time work but while I’m tired at the end of the week, I am thoroughly enjoying it! There was talk of a permanent contract within 2 weeks of my start date and last week one of my colleagues was lightly encouraging me to apply for the job which would be a promotion that is being advertised. I’m not going to because I’m trying to take baby steps, but it’s nice to know my peers think I’m doing well!
4. My awful former boss is terminally ill — should I reach out? (#4 at the link)
I wrote in a few years ago asking whether I should reconnect with my difficult former boss who had been diagnosed with terminal cancer.
As you may have guessed, Sansa has passed away. I heard entirely through the grapevine, so I know nothing about the details. But she’s gone. You and everyone in the comment section told me not to reach out, and I followed that advice. We did not reconnect before she died. Thanks to everyone’s incredibly thoughtful and honest advice, I do not regret this. I appreciate everyone for reframing the situation for me, especially from Sansa’s perspective, and making it clear that I was doing both of us a favor by keeping my distance.
I will say, her death has made me feel a little reflective. I am just now reaching the age she was when she first hired me. I won’t excuse the way she treated me and those around her, but I do feel a little more compassion for her now that I understand her stage of life better. Plus, I think she was fighting some pretty nasty demons in terms of her mental health. (I’m also willing to admit that managing me was probably no picnic!) Granted, I’m far enough removed from the time I spent working for her that nostalgia may have clouded my memories, but I feel like I “get” her a little more now.
My relationship with her aside, Sansa’s death is a truly incalculable loss for the nonprofit we worked for and that community. I doubt I’ll ever meet another person who worked as hard as she did. She leaves behind one hell of a legacy. May she rest in peace.
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