Five reader updates for you –
1. The coworker who hoarded all the work
Things have actually gotten much better since I wrote to you. It turns out my boss had already sensed an imbalance and knew it was an issue, but since there had been so much going on, wasn’t able to fully address it until recently. I confirmed that there definitely was a major imbalance in the work and that I was frustrated with it, because I wanted to do more and it didn’t seem right that some people were far busier than others.
So, with that, we had a meeting a few weeks ago where we looked at everyone’s responsibilities and shifted a few things around so that the workloads were more even – now my colleague is no longer staying here all hours while the rest of us leave at the normal time. Now, our team shares a much more even load. It seems like everyone is much happier, including the hoarding colleague!
Thanks so much for taking my question and all of the advice you and the commenters gave. It’s a hard lesson to learn, but I think most problems and misunderstandings in life could be addressed by simply speaking up and being direct. :) I need to remember this! It’s not always easy, but it often results in positive change.
2. The client who wouldn’t stop asking about our reader’s dating life
Thankfully, things have been pretty quiet with Mr. Inappropriate! He made one last jab via email, which I completely ignored and only discussed business. We’ve only had one other communication since (also email) which was 100% professional. Like I said before, he is a seasonal customer, and the season is just about over, so hopefully when we resume business next year it won’t be an issue. Thank you (and the other readers) for all the great advice!
3. The intrusive coworker who commented rudely on our reader’s body
There have not been any recent digs at my body/personality. There have just been the small, undermining comments that I just chalk up to her
personality and insecurities. I also believe that one of the managers had a chat with her a few weeks/month or so ago because the personal digs
slowed down around that time. I also decided that I can’t be the “victim” and may as well just enjoy all the other positives. This older lady (60+) enjoys her sweets, so I bring in chocolates/donuts every few weeks and share with her (as well as everyone else in our department) and that seems to make her more bearable (it’s like bribing a child to do something, but hey, she’s more pleasant!) I also started to strategically place my holiday time for a week after or before her vacations, so I can enjoy working in the office without her.
Essentially, I’ve just sucked it up and realized that it’s not that bad and if this is my biggest workplace problem. I also learned from a few of
the male colleagues in our department to just not let it bug me, since they’ve worked with her for 1-15 years… they said she’s always been a
negative nelly. Also, she keeps saying she’s going to retire in 18 months, so there’s always that to look forward to ;)
Thanks again for your advice, I still have the response saved on my computer and I have actually drilled into my head some of the responses so
I’m on-the-ready if I ever need them with her (or other people in my life).
4. The reader wondering if a lateral move would hurt her (#7 at the link)
Although I appreciated your advice, I decided to apply for internal positions unrelated to HR. I simply couldn’t take my toxic work environment and knew that the stress I was under was affecting my pregnancy. To me, my health and my son’s health were more important than whether I looked flighty or not.
To fast forward, I received an offer from an internal position I applied for. I accepted the offer and now work in a completely different line of business. Overnight I went from a toxic environment to a positive and friendly environment. My new manager is wonderful. My new team is great. I have no complaints.
While I don’t really keep up with my old line of business, I do know that they’ve laid off more people. The layoffs actually increased a few days after I started my new role. While that line of business is still going through a realignment, there’s talk of transitioning everyone to another role or laying off everyone.
Knowing this, I’m happy with the decision I made. I’m currently on maternity leave (not scheduled to return until the end of November) and when I return I plan on sticking with my current role while continuing school to gain HR experience. Down the road I may get a job in HR; however, with the arrival of my son and the trajectory my husband’s career is moving in, my priorities have shifted. I’m no longer as aggressive as I was about moving into HR. I know that whatever happens in the future will be for the best. Again, thanks for your advice.
5. The manager considering hiring someone who would make more than she did (#2 at the link)
We hired the candidate. He was almost immediately resistant to being managed by me and was much less productive or effective than more junior staff. He often thanked me for my “advice” after I gave him direction, and then did the opposite of what I asked. I was upset, but I channeled my inner AAM and addressed it matter-of-factly, asking him during a weekly check-in if the way I was communicating direction was unclear, and that on those occasions I gave explicit instructions I needed him to follow them, but if he didn’t understand or agree with them we could certainly talk them through. He responded by saying he was shocked, and thought I was difficult to work for. He then added that he wasn’t a misogynist and did respect me despite my having less experience than him (he brought those up unprompted!). In the end, he blamed all of it on his being “a clueless male who doesn’t pick up on cues.” He then likened it to the time he was in college and when girls he wanted to date liked him he didn’t realize it until it was too late.
Oy. Happily, I moved on shortly after. And he is now working for an older man, and also frustrating the heck out of him. I think the takeaway there is that it was less about seniority or money he was making and more about a better interviewing process to try to avoid hiring people like that in the first place.