It’s your Friday good news!
1. “I wrote to you a while back after a vague but negative performance review at a major health care organization, asking if my boss was trying to get me to quit. I learned that she was just not a good manager or a good person, and that the rest of the department enabled her.
I brought the negative review to my HR business partner, who was supposed to be a career development advisor, and she forgot to dial in for our first call. We rescheduled, but on the second call she hadn’t read the review and gave me nothing but vague platitudes.
From your column, I recognized more than a few warning signs:
* She told me I couldn’t have the day off to go to my master’s degree graduation (I said it was non-negotiable and took the day, but still had to work the day before while I had family in town).
* She called me up, yelled at me, and then hung up on me … when discussing the correct aspect ratio for an image in a social media post (I had started following guidelines from Facebook and our central marketing office without her explicit instructions).
* I found out that the person who had this job previously had also quit to get away from this manager.
* Just as I got my master’s degree, I got a clear economic signal to hit the exits: a 1% raise with inflation at 8%, and a change in health insurance policies that reduced my pay by 5%.
* I had a panic attack when she emailed to ask me to call her.
I quit without a backup plan in place. There was no exit interview. Former coworkers who then had to deal with her began to text me to say how much they missed me and hated working with her.
I’m now temping (at a much higher hourly rate!) because I was afraid of committing to a permanent job anywhere. Where I work now, the review process for completing documents is supportive and produces good quality results. My new manager and her manager have both made it clear that they appreciate my work and want me to stay around. My contact at the temp agency says he’s almost never seen anyone get such rave reviews.
Thank you for your column. I have been in the weeds for so long, I don’t think I ever realized what a healthy and respectful environment looked like.”
2. “I moved into the nonprofit space four years ago after spending almost ten years of feeling relatively unfulfilled in my private sector career.
And while I understand the dream job concept can be toxic, for me landing in the right nonprofit opportunity was eye-opening. Suddenly I felt passion for my work in a way I had never experienced, and many of my colleagues are some of the brightest, hardest working people I’ve ever experienced — and, wow, colleagues treated each other as human beings. I was working on projects that I felt had a real impact. And I quickly became a manager, which was so tough but incredibly fulfilling because I was able to be the kind of boss I wish I had earlier in my career.
But, then I started having issues with my boss, the department head. There were so many red flags: he played favorites with certain types of work our department did and favored the people doing that work, he took all of the credit for himself whenever possible, he was purposefully opaque about what he was working on, he never articulated a strategy or goals for the team, he became incredibly insecure about non-profit leadership seeing his shortcomings so he began over-delegating his department head responsibilities, adding tons of work to my plate in the process.
I met with his manager and HR separately to share my thoughts, but they said there was nothing for them to act on beyond recommending some executive coaching for him and recommending that I learn to live with it.
So I doubled down on my work and developing skills within my team and tried to minimize the impact he was having on me. Which only served to make him more insecure. He began actively pigeonholing me, minimizing my team’s contributions, and began regularly raising his voice at me in 1-1 and group settings. I was stressed to the point where I was losing weight, not sleeping well, and having intense anxiety before and during 1-1s.
Honestly this was a pretty dark time for me. But reading AAM let me know that I wasn’t alone!! I thought about leaving, but I was pissed — I loved this work, I was good at it, I wanted to stay.
And then, we had a leadership change. My boss got a new boss. Who heard me out and decided to get involved in understanding the issues. It took time, but six months later, my boss was gone and I was given the opportunity to interview for his job (and I got it!).
I’m back to loving my job. It’s difficult and wonderful and rewarding and tiring all at the same time. But I feel grateful to work for a company that values their staff, and for my new manager who was willing to get involved despite being new to their own role.”
3. “You once helped me (privately) deal with a coworker who was making ableist and sexist jokes — his whole saga was how I became a commenter.
I documented that, and my whole job search process last year, which was a really stressful time, and I actually went against the general advice not to disclose my (recently diagnosed) ADHD because I had realized that whenever I had struggled at work, it was usually due to a symptom I didn’t realize I had. But letting the job know this was actually due to the many lessons I’ve learned from the posts and the fellow commenters — the way your job makes you feel is really important, and having become a father, I knew I couldn’t be my best self for him if I spent all day feeling terrible. The diagnosis just gave me a useful litmus test, and I did have a job, so I could afford to wait until the right thing came.
I finally found the right thing, and I’ve never felt more confident and comfortable in my own skin. I’m not sure what it means that so much of how we feel often ends up tied to our workplaces, but it’s really been a remarkable change to feel professionally supported (and much better compensated) in a healthy workplace where people are (gasp) working towards a common set of goals.
So basically the site and the fellow commenters helped me see that I really needed someplace new, and that, if I could afford to wait it out — and it was hard — finding the right fit for me was something worth holding out for.”
4. “I took a job in October that ended up being a VERY bad fit. The team was incredible but the actual work was the exact opposite of what I am good at — plus the nature of this job meant I had to continually make mistakes in order to learn how to do things correctly, which was a nightmare for my sense of worth. My boss and I have a great relationship and I was able to be transparent about how miserable I was, and she gave me her full support in finding a new position.
Initially I was hesitant because I am a former job hopper who has done immense work to unlearn those habits. I was worried about how it would look that I was only at this job for five months, that it might look like I was back to my old ways, but I just knew in my bones that I was never going to be good at this job. Staying wouldn’t benefit anyone – not me, not my excellent team, not my clients.
I applied for 8 jobs, was offered 5 initial interviews, then 2 second interviews, and finally 3 job offers (plus, all of these are with state agencies, so it is likely more offers will show up down the line). I have accepted one of the positions which came with a 20% pay increase, 30% more PTO, and is at an organization that is known for having high-quality in-demand employees. I know I would not have had such a successful job search if I hadn’t started reading your blog all those years ago. Plus, I am over the moon to be returning to an industry that I am passionate about, in a role with responsibilities that I excel at.”
5. “I’m a freelancer who applied to a contract position to create a monthly work product for the company. We interviewed and it was clearly a good fit, so they offered me an increase in the base salary and a bonus to sign on for 2 full years. A few years ago I would have jumped at that, but I decided it was part of a negotiation, so I asked for more money and a higher bonus. I was very nervous and had some feelings about being unworthy or ungrateful, but pushed through it because I knew they wanted my specific skill set, experience, and network — and I knew from years of reading your advice that I shouldn’t leave money on the table. Anyway, they accepted my counteroffer, I’m starting next week, and now I’m charging ALL my clients more (and none of them are complaining, either)!”