creepy coworkers, difficult managers, and more: 4 more reader updates

I said earlier that we’d seen the last of the updates from readers whose questions were answered here last year, but more have come in, so here’s a new batch.

1. The reader whose boss and coworker were living together

In regards to the coworker living with the boss at my company, the situation has resolved itself, in a way. The boss resigned from the company last June (something he had said he would do for years). That alone has dramatically improved our workplace: the guy was a toxic influence, he lacked leadership and professionalism, we all like our jobs more now, etc. But as far as the living arrangement goes, the coworker is still living with the former boss (and has been sleeping on a couch for over 18 months!). Supposedly the coworker is “looking for houses” but hasn’t made any moves yet. We still agree that this arrangement is odd, but don’t care nearly as much as we used to. I’m sure they still talk about our work, but as long as we don’t have to see the old boss, they can stay up all night and talk about it over coffee or whatever. So, problem solved from our end.

2. The reader hiring someone to work for a difficult boss

So I think where we left off was that I had found an admin to hire who I would then train to take my position. I finally was able to find one who claimed she had a “thick skin” and would not be scared off by my boss and his difficult attitude and antics. However, over the first 3 weeks that she began working with us, I noticed that she was actually a little bit manipulative and on a couple of occasions, I actually caught her making negative comments to my boss about me (she would blame any situation that arose on me, when they were things I had nothing to do with). I couldn’t believe it, but I was nervous to say anything so soon because I wanted so badly for her to work out and be able to eventually take my position when I left in September.

Well, unfortunately, I should have said something sooner, because after only 4 weeks with her in the office, she made up enough lies to get me fired! I found out that she actually made up some story about me calling her and saying something awful about my boss (which I would NEVER have said, let alone to someone in my company!) and he fired me the following Monday morning. My hunch is that she knew that in 5 months I would be leaving, which would give her an automatic promotion and raise, so she wanted to hurry things up a little bit. I was devastated, but I know karma goes around ;) I was able to win my unemployment case because nobody had any proof that the accusations she made were true (because they weren’t). I am thankful to have learned a lot of real-life skills from that job, especially to trust my gut and not let someone walk all over me, bosses or coworkers!

3. The reader who was asked to give feedback on her manager’s performance

Based on your advice and everyone’s comments, I decided not to give feedback about my boss. Given what I know about my boss, I felt justified in protecting myself from potential retribution for giving negative feedback.

My boss’s boss tracked me down on the morning of my boss’s performance review and said if I had any feedback that I should email it ASAP. I did not send anything. I’m 100% sure I made the right decision. I heard from a coworker that my boss’s boss did not keep feedback confidential during performance reviews and ha–in at least one case–named people providing specific comments.

I’m still job hunting and will be paying a LOT more attention to the management style of any future organization I join. I can’t thank you and your readers enough for helping me learn what good management looks like. Thank you.

4. The reader whose coworker was creeping her out, but she didn’t know why

I really found your advice helpful. I also found it interesting to see the range of responses in the comments section, and want to thank the whole AAM community for their thoughts.

As I said in my original note, this was a new situation for me — I’d never had that sort of reaction to a person ever before, and it definitely threw me for a loop. I’d say that not much has really changed since then, except that in talking to colleagues, I learned that several other women in the office (at least 4-5 others) have had the exact same reaction to this man that I did, which I thought was really interesting.

Since writing you, I’ve changed desks, which actually helped a lot, because I don’t run into him as much anymore, and he was moved off of the one project we were working on together (because it turns out he’s not actually very good at his job, but that’s a different story.) My MO is still to keep my distance as much as possible, which has worked for the most part. He still makes me uncomfortable, but I’ve figured out how to handle that internally and work with him professionally as needed.

I know some commenters were concerned that I’d say something to the bosses and destroy this man’s reputation without any concrete reason — that was never my intention, and I haven’t done anything like that. I was just looking for — and have developed — ways to manage my own safety concerns while continuing to be professional and productive.

Thanks again for your thoughts — I found them very helpful, if only to have some external validation that I wasn’t completely crazy! As a long-time reader, I’m grateful for your blog and the AAM community — it’s so helpful to read your thoughtful commentary on issues that most of us will face at some point in our careers!

{ 7 comments… read them below }

  1. Arts Nerd*

    I love the update series, and these are great! It’s unfortunate that things turned negative for #2, but s/he seems to have a healthy attitude about it all.

    Also, what absurd situations to find yourself in, everyone! (I know #3’s experience is somewhat common, but it’s still ridiculous to me.) Thanks for sharing, all.

  2. PPK*

    OP #4 — I’m glad you are able to work things out and avoid the creepy. At my job, I have had the distinct creepy feeling about 2 people. One person has not done anything to justify my creepy feeling so all I do is not seek him out and nothing has happened (I now don’t work near him so I don’t really have to worry about it one way or another). The other….ended up in an almost stalker situation. So I understand both cases. And I applaud your ability to make a distinction between your feelings of creepy and some actionable thing on the man’s part.

  3. Anonymous*

    I was just looking for — and have developed — ways to manage my own safety concerns while continuing to be professional and productive.

    Good. If that many people are getting a weird vibe from this guy, that makes me nervous for you. I’m glad you were able to resolve the situation, and still look out for yourself.

  4. Anonymous_J*

    #2-Sounds like they deserve each other! While I’m sorry that the OP is out of work now, I’m sure that he/she will go on to much better things.

    The situation sucks, but you deserve better!

  5. Biff*

    Something I’ve noticed in my own office is that married men have a tendency to accidentally act creepier, because they view themselves as non-threatening. The thinking goes like this — women are afraid of single men! I’m not single! Therefore, I am not threatening! It’s actually a lot like how some large dogs don’t realize that MORE EXUBERANT HAPPINESS does nothing to calm the fears of someone who finds their size intimidating.

    Now, that said, trust your gut. But this is one thing I’ve noticed in my field.

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