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. My boss wants me to be positive and upbeat all the time … we work in disaster relief
I really appreciated your response and those of the site readers, and especially those who have also worked in emergency response and mental health fields and understood what I was going through.
After I wrote in, Sam backed off asking about my mental health. It appears that the conversation he had with Gillian had the desired effect, so I didn’t need to address it with him further. For those readers who thought it might be related to me being female, it appears that wasn’t the case. Sam did make one more comment about mental health in a team conference call just after I wrote in, but this time about a male colleague. After the usual round of greetings, Sam said something like “And Jim sounds particularly down today,” to which Jim replied, “I’ve got Covid!” Since then there have been no more mentions of mental health.
With regard to my own health, I continued to struggle with fatigue for several weeks and then sought medical advice. It turns out that I had a couple of physical health issues that were contributing to my feelings of exhaustion and my shorter fuse. Those have been taken care of now and I’m feeling much better, but I think it is a good further illustration of why managers shouldn’t diagnose their employees as having mental health issues, as they aren’t qualified and don’t know what else may be going on in peoples’ lives.
An additional possible contributor to my feeling burnt out was that in spite of being seconded to emergency response, I still handled three times the number of files last year as my nearest colleagues (who were not working on emergency response). Sam is aware of this as he is the one who ran the stats. Several weeks ago, he and Gillian asked me to take the lead on an interesting side project. I agreed, but asked that they assist with shifting some of my regular workload so that I could have time to focus on it. They promised that they would do this, but so far it hasn’t happened. Although I’ve enjoyed my job to date, the regular workload and expectations around emergency response have become untenable for me. I’ve been looking for another position, and just this week I interviewed for a job with another organization. I have a former colleague who left to join this organization who told me that it is a good place to work with really good managers, and I’m hopeful that I’ll receive a job offer in the next couple of weeks.
Thank you for your response. It was very helpful and a big relief to have the validation that what I was experiencing from my manager was not right.
2. My remote boss wants to know every time I go to the bathroom
I ended up just kind of forming my own boundaries without a conversation. I think my foot was halfway out the door anyways. It seemed that my boss wanted the utmost communication from me without having to reciprocate that in the slightest. It felt so uneven, especially given his bathroom comments!
I am also dealing with a dying family member. Not having the trust and flexibility in my job was brutal. I sought out new positions and turned some down based on how similar they sounded to what I was doing. I finally found one that a) pays double b) offers flexibility whenever I need it and c) I don’t need to tell anyone when I’m peeing.
I know my previous boss was probably just freaked out about control and stuff. But being on the receiving end was demeaning. Don’t treat your employees like they’re criminals!
3. Should I tell my coworker she’ll never get the promotion she deserves?
I told her. I sent her a message on Facebook so it wasn’t on any work related accounts or devices. It actually worked out well as she kind of already knew and was already looking for something else. She not only landed a better position with better pay, but her leaving actually forced a somewhat painful restructuring that pushed a few under performers out the door. Including the one that was promoted over her. I don’t mind the restructuring and I found it ultimately improved everything once the first few months were completed.
4. Manager came to work with Covid and infected high-risk people
I don’t have a fantastic update, unfortunately. Partner was resistant to bringing up any issues with HR because they’d recently been bought over by new management and he didn’t want to rock the boat, so no real consequences. The good news is that there were fake consequences! The manager who exposed everyone without disclosing did get fired not long after, just for completely different reasons. No structural changes, so while employees are required to report covid exposure it’s possible the same issue could happen again without consequences. So far her replacement hasn’t done anything as blatant as knowingly exposing high risk employees to covid or failing to disclose exposing employees to Covid so I’m taking the win.
Bonus update in case anyone was concerned about health consequences for the at-risk people who got exposed: coworker and partner are both okay, I have some mild consequences but luckily immediate danger is all ruled out.
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