5 more reader updates

Here are five more “where are they now” updates from readers who had their questions answered here this year.

1. The reader asking how to tell a new coworker that she was over-sharing

Everything has worked out really well. The gal is still with our company. My boss had a informal meeting with her about the culture of our company which seemed to address the issues. (i.e what is acceptable to discuss in the more public areas of the office building, what is just plain too much information, etc). The employee took it well and toned the oversharing down.

She and I have a very good work relationship. Every once in a while, I still have to say something like “I don’t need to know that” or “That’s a little too much.”

2. The reader who wondered if her manager was taking advantage of their friendship

Your feedback as well as the comments were extremely helpful, if just to give me some perspective. I was glad that there seemed to be some different consensus in the comments.

Overall, to be honest, the problem was resolved but it sort of fixed itself rather than having anything to do with what I did. Basically, I was still having issues with my supervisor, who I was also friendly with, but as I had mentioned earlier, we were understaffed and therefore they ended up hiring a new manager to supervise me, so I no longer worked directly with my old supervisor, and we get along fantastically again!

I do admit that while my new manager does have similar, albeit smaller requests (e.g. specific formatting) than my old supervisor had, I am less resistant to it. I think it was the way my old supervisor handled it — it was literally just probably the way he tended to ask it, and that he never really explained it except to say “it was how he wanted it,” which was difficult for me, because I needed to understand why I was for example, formatting a presentation a certain way. Often times, I would end up working on a document for a long time and it ended up being unused or glanced over, which I suppose was also a reason why I was slightly irritated by having to format it exactly so since it made no difference if I did it my way or his. I’d understand if it was going to clients or being presented but it was literally for his eyes only, which is why I guess I had to accept that maybe those were his expectations, something I probably would have had a problem with if I continued working with him.

As for the second issue of feeling like I was taking on more responsibility than what I originally thought someone at my level would, I ended up speaking up about it and being honest, and was told there were plans for me definitely getting promoted — I wish they would tell me exactly when — but they say, in the future!

3. The reader whose new boss was difficult to work with

Unfortunately, it’s really not improved much. I’ve asked her over the course of the last year how I can help her more, and every time I ask, she tells me it’s something she needs to do herself. What I have come to realize is that she seems to like the attention of always being “so busy” and wanting to look like a hero. It’s my own belief that because of this, she doesn’t want to accept unsolicited help because it would take away from her singlehandedly saving the day. So I just make myself available and try to keep busy with other things.

Although I must admit, it did not help that, when the person on whom she was calling for help that fell in my job description area came back from maternity leave, the boss pounced on her and started giving her “projects” immediately. I may not have a finance degree, but I do have a better-than-passing knowledge of Excel and better insight into how the operations side of things works. It stung, but I keep reminding myself I cannot control how other people do things, and all I can control is how I react (or not react, as the case may be.)

I thought at one point about just asking, but I realized I wouldn’t get a straight answer anyway, and although this job is not the greatest, it is still a job. I’m hopeful that 2013 will be the year I finally find something better. I just “celebrated” three years here, and I was not looking forward to that particular milestone.

4. The reader wondering how to push back with vendors and other external contacts

Unfortunately, I haven’t had any tough negotiation situations since I asked the question. However, the responses (both from Alison and the commenters) really did give me a lot more confidence for future negotiations. I realized that I already had actually been doing a lot right already, and knowing that makes me feel a whole lot less ridiculous when trying to “push-back.” (But I still bookmarked the post for future reference!) I also feel a lot more confident going to my boss and saying, “They won’t budge on the ABC expense, but I’ve been able to reduce X, Y, and Z, and that’s a good deal.”

5. The reader whose former boss was still monitoring her old work email account

The update is that he is still monitoring that old email. An it’ll be nearly 2 years come February. I hear it periodically from old friends trying to reconnect. The thing is, he only responds to those whom he views as potential “business contacts” like the slimeball he is. For those in my field who know me, I fill them in on the unethical business practices that I was victim of and I tell them how he monitors the email, still. And they all think it’s weird. Nobody thinks it’s normal.

I’d love to know if there is a way to go about letting him know that everyone knows his weasely ways. My other dream is to start signing up my old emails for a tooooon of spam.

So he’s still at it. It still bugs me.

{ 31 comments… read them below }

  1. Anonymous

    Oh, #3, I feel your pain. I, too, have had the boss who enjoys telling everyone who will listen about how he or she is “SO swamped” and “completely buried,” yet refuses to allow anyone to take anything away. You can’t change these people – you just have to let them sink their own battleships and do the projects you CAN do.

    1. Jamie

      Devil’s advocate here – but delegating is a skill and it’s tougher for some people to acquire.

      Sometimes it seems easier to do it yourself than to take the time to train someone to help. That’s not good – but it happens.

      1. The Other Dawn

        ^This. It took me a very, very long time for me to learn how to delegate and to feel comfortable enough to give up a little control. I’m a high achiever and having to admit that I can’t handle it all was very tough.

        1. Jamie

          Hands down my biggest managerial challenge. For me it’s admitting that I even need the help, trusting that it will be done properly, and the time it takes to train.

          Control issues are a tough one for me.

        1. Kelly O

          Totally agree – when I think back about great bosses and not-so-great bosses, two of the biggest things that make that difference are truly delegating and giving good feedback.

          And I’ll cop to being that OP – this person has been a boss for a while. (She’ll tell you at length about it.) So I guess I figured we’d be in a better spot. But that’s okay.

          I figure my bigger picture lesson in this is learning to let go, accepting what I cannot control, and not letting myself get upset about these things, because realistically I’m doing all I can do. Unblocking my chakras and all that. (Any of the Avatar:TLA fans out there will get The Guru reference.)

  2. Steve G

    #4 reminds me of a situation I have with one of our higher-maintenance channel partners – the one we handle the most requests for, that has the highest # of low revenue accounts than any other partner (though the overall book is great). No matter how much attention they get, they seem unhappy and find new stuff to complain about. The undertone is always that they are going to leave us. Believe me, without going into details, no other company such as mine would do a 1/4 of the work we do for them, especially given the # of expections and preferential treatment I give them. I just wish they would be happy when they get what they ask for, instead of keeping the ongoing….whatever….of being unhappy with us for no reason, for things we have no control over…..

  3. Tricia

    Off topic, but when I went to share this post (above) with a friend via Facebook message, the thumbnail was the picture from the 90s boy band website post :)

    1. Kelly O

      It’s tearing up my heart…

      (I just love that. Y’all have no idea. I wanted SO badly go to go see NKOTBSB when they came around. SO bad.)

      1. Kelly O

        And I realize it was NSync. I just kind of had a thing for boy bands. Naturally I was way too cool to admit it back then. Now I am okay with it.

  4. BW

    #2 – The way a manager or even co-worker phrases things makes a big difference in my irritation level or lack there-of. I don’t mind making what I view as stylistic or “matter of opinion” changes when someone has reviewed my work, but just saying “do it this way” without offering some brief explanation as to why is likely to rub me the wrong way, in particular if I am the owner of the project and/or it’s not something I think make a difference in the document, but just a personal preference.

    The other thing is I like to know the reasoning because it’s helpful to learn the why to be able to apply it to future projects and not have to revisit the same change requests over and over again.

    #5. I went and read the original post that the company actually no longer existed back then. It’s not like the guy was actively monitoring for business purposes at that point. Two years later? Really? I wouldn’t fault the LW for signing the address up for all kinds of porn spam.

  5. Mike C.

    OP#5 You could, well, send him an email to that account and tell him that everyone knows what he’s up to. Or sign him up for porn spam, your choice. ;)

  6. Victoria HR

    #2 – it sounds to me like the issue is actually with the OP. When something is delegated, you don’t need to know every specific detail or reason why you’re doing it. It should be good enough that you were asked to do it, so you do it.

    When I worked for an insurance company in my 20’s, I was like that too – I had to question everything so that I felt comfortable with it. I learned that that made me look like I was resistant to change and no one wanted to approach me or ask me to do anything because I was confrontational.

    IMO if you have a deep-seated need to know WHY WHY WHY every time you’re asked to do something, that’s something that you need to work on on your own, outside of work.

    #5 – he probably just has that email account forwarded to his own. That’s what happened when my boss in my former job left, they forwarded her email to me since I was holding down the fort alone until they hired a replacement. It was quite the hoot when her friends kept forgetting that her email had changed, and I got to read all of her correspondence with them when I got copied in :D At least she never complained about the b— that she used to work with…

    1. Jamie

      #2 I think it really depends on what you’re asking. When I delegate I do explain why it’s important, and how X affects the system or makes so and so’s job easier, etc. I think you get more buy in from people when they know the value of what they’re doing.

      Also, it’s a building process of teaching people how transactions affect the system globally then those who want to take more initiative are more helpful in the future. As opposed to the people who resist learning and just want to be told where to click and what to type.

      1. Victoria HR

        That’s very true. It just depends on how the manager views the employee asking so many questions. It sounds to me like, in this particular dynamic, the manager resents the employee needing to know everything. Someone who didn’t question the manager’s every request would probably fit better in that role.

  7. RB

    Am I the only one that wonders why the reader who’s boss is monitoring her old email has even the slightest issue with it? When I have staff leave, their email is forwarded to my account. It’s simply to keep things from falling through the cracks. Most companies do this. Admittedly, 2 years is a long time but let me turn it around and ask after 2 years why is it still bothering you and why would you consider flooding the email with spam? Way too much energy being wasted here. Move forward.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Yeah, that was basically my reply to the original letter — except that the guy was being a jerk, sending snippy stuff to her friends when they emailed her there, etc.

    2. Not So NewReader

      RB, no you are not the only one wondering. I don’t get it.
      It was the company’s email box, right?
      So since he is the former owner – then… okay… he is still monitoring it- a little weird after two years but it was HIS company.
      My question is why is OP monitoring an email box that is not hers personally and never was hers personally?
      Okay, maybe there are people out there that want to connect to OP. I am sure they will find other ways. If I urgently need to contact someone, I usually find that person.

      I am picturing what would happen if I went to a former employer’s USPS box and looked for mail addressed to me. hahahaha I think they have laws about that….

      It could be that I am missing a part of this story. If it were me, I would just stop checking that old email and redirect friends to my new email.

      1. Jamie

        The monitoring wouldn’t have registered as an issue for me, it was his replying to her friends with snarky comments that was OTT.

        Sure it’s his email addy to monitor – but the act of replying was odd.

        1. Twentymilehike

          I’ve done this with former employees, also, but I would set up an auto responder to say the person was no longer with the company and then eventually delete it. My understanding was that this guy was responding to the emails as if he was the OP or allowing people to think he was the OP, and that’s misleading for business contacts and just creepy for anyone else … Especially if he’s actively using the email for anything other than responding to misdirected messages.

          1. Anonymous

            Yeah, that was how I read it too. It’s one thing for “John Smith” to reply to correspondence addressed to “Jane Doe”, but it’s totally inappropriate for “John Smith” to impersonate “Jane Doe”.

  8. Anonymous

    #5–I don’t understand. The boss is monitoring an email account that belongs to the company. He is responding when he sees a potential business contact.

    I don’t see the issue. If you have personal emails going to the business email, that’s not his fault. That’s why it’s bad practice to mix business and personal emails.

    1. Anonymous

      Good point, and I see your point of view. But in some countries it’s actually illegal to monitor an employee’s work email after they’ve left their job. You have to create an auto-responder saying that they’re no longer working there and give them a new email address that they can use to re-send their original email. So apparently in some places it’s considered so inappropriate to monitor old employee email addresses that there’s a law about it.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        I guess this shows how thoroughly American I am, but that would annoy the crap out of me. If it’s my business, I’ll deal with email how I want. (For instance, if I have customers with bad follow-through or who aren’t good with technology, I’m not going to rely on them to get the auto-responder and resend the message. I’m going to ensure someone responds to them the first time.)

        1. Jamie

          I agree – I bridle at the thought restricting an employer’s access to an email address on their network.

          Allowing an employee to use their email for personal stuff within reason is nice, but there should never be an expectation of privacy imo.

      2. Lily

        in some countries, the employee has to create the auto response himself before he leaves, because it violates privacy law for the IT department or manager to have anything to do with the email.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          Wow. That’s ridiculous. If I was burdened by that law, I’d seriously consider making all employees share email accounts that weren’t linked to their names or some other dumb solution. Or might just not start a business at all, if I was going to be micromanaged like that. Ick.

    2. Min

      If you have personal emails going to the business email, that’s not his fault. That’s why it’s bad practice to mix business and personal emails.

      This.

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