3 reader updates

Here are three updates from people who have had their letters answered here recently.

1. My manager said I’m emasculating an employee

I did end up talking with my CEO about the continued “emasculating” feedback I was receiving from my Director, per your advice in the comments on my post. His response was that he wasn’t surprised I would hear something like that, since my director is clearly threatened by me and I’m really “just too good at my job.” His advice was to just put up with it since I have a lot I can teach my director, who has limited experience in the type of work I do, and that someday I’ll “be the boss” and people won’t be threatened by me. Clearly there are a range of issues at play and this represents a bigger organizational culture of overall mismanagement and ego-driven (male) leadership at many levels.

But on a positive note, I spent the last few months being courted by another organization and gave notice at my current job yesterday. I am excited about the new opportunity, which will double my pay and be much more high profile. I look forward to working on a team that won’t be “threatened” by a successful, assertive female employee – and has a large number of women in leadership. Thanks again for all your help and the supportive comments!

2. Should I ask for a lower salary? (#2 at the link)

I’m not sure if you enjoy receiving follow up messages or not, but I wanted to send a quick hello anyway. The advice of both you and the readers often comes back into my mind!

It’s been just over four months now since I’ve accepted and begun the job. I’ve taken action on many of the points the commenters had noted. Since I’ve begun my work, I’ve invested more on charities, 401k, and things for my friends/family than I ever have before. With luck I’ll be buying a house in the near future. There are so many personal positives that have come from this. I do not feel guilty about earning the salary I have been offered!

Regardless I am still working to heal the other emotional scars of the layoff, and that’s so strange to me. In many ways, it was the “best thing to ever happen to me,” yet sometimes it does haunt me and impacts what I do. I will wonder about what some of my prior colleagues are doing, and if I’m being honest, I’m still very bitter. I luckily haven’t lost my work ethic – I find myself working late hours frequently – but I get the sinking pit in my stomach when I remember all the times I did that for my past employer. I can’t figure out if I’m proving my worth to my new company or myself. These will hopefully resolve itself with time, and the internal dialogue does happen less frequently.

3. Why has my title change stalled(#5 at the link)

I have a somewhat surprising update to a fairly boring letter. I asked my division manager about the status of my title change and if he needed anything further from me. He asked for an updated job description, and I wrote one and met with him to discuss it. In the meeting he informed me that some of my duties would be reassigned. He did not mention the title, but those additional duties were what I felt qualified me for the higher level title (I started at this company in an administrative position and have taken on project management duties in addition). Basically, he put me back down to administrative level and was very emphatic that that is the most important part of my job and I need to focus on it. I felt I was being informed that I have topped out at this company and will not be promoted further, while the most interesting parts of my job were taken away.

It was surprising for two reasons: one, because he had already sort of agreed to the title change (“These suggested titles look fine”), and two, I haven’t had any complaints about my work on the project management side of things. My colleagues are all effusive about the difference my work in that area has made for them.

Our company is growing quickly, and while my coworkers (who have a different manager) are supported in their work and professional development, I can barely convince my bosses to give me performance reviews. This most recent conversation solidified my desire to leave. I’ve never appreciated AAM more! I’m taking your cover letter advice to heart.

{ 57 comments… read them below }

  1. Jeanne*

    For the lower salary person, it can be very damaging to you when you work for a bad boss/company. It’s great to hear your work ethic is intact. But it could be a good thing to go to counseling for a while until you can really feel you are past the awful feelings. Good luck!

  2. AMG*

    Good updates all the way around. I always hate when things don’t work out to be fair and morally correct, but sometimes all you can do is move on. At least the OPs recognize when it’s time and have Alison’s support to help clarify and validate!

  3. BRR*

    While I totally a fan of your unconventional numbering system there are two number twos.

    For #2, I’m in a semi similar position where I was fired but it turned out way better. For me it’s been difficult to shake off bad things that have happened in the past. But now being over two years since be fired and 1.5 years in better job I have been able to put parts of the past in the past. For me it’s a “time heals all wounds” thing.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Fixed, thank you. One day I will describe in boring detail how I put these posts together and it will maybe lend some (excruciatingly boring) insight into how these things occur, but for now I will revert to conventional numbers.

      1. BRR*

        I’m actually really interested in how you run the blog and do things like put posts together. But I recognize that you can’t write posts that only interest me.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I feel totally self-absorbed posting about it on my own, but I’m always glad to answer questions people have. So definitely feel free to ask about anything you’re curious about and I will answer!

          1. BRR*

            What about a reditt ama style thread? An AAM AMA. I know we did one before (and it was awesome) but this time for you specifically?

      2. Jessa*

        Yes absolutely, one of those “tell me about your job” posts you do, but about you and blogging and stuff.

  4. Artemesia*

    I love feedback like #1 here where the boss allows a ridiculous situation to continue and the OP responds by moving on to something better leaving the old place to stew in their own sexist nonsense.

    #3 at least has a very clear message. I hope you find a project management position elsewhere since this employer has no interest in your career development. It looks like you did everything right and it just didn’t work here. Bon Voyage.

  5. Anonsie*

    Props to the CEO in #1 for what I’m going to assume is honesty, but also boo for acknowledging there’s someone in a position of authority in his company that’s behaving this way and just letting it go on. Bigger props to the letter writer for moving on.

  6. Lanya*

    I love reading these updates. I often wish I could be a fly on the wall at these companies after the OPs triumphantly move on, to see whether the management realizes the error of their ways and makes a change. Most of the time, I suspect not. But it would be cool if they did.

    1. the gold digger*

      I have almost the same fantasies about the job where I was laid off as the ones I do about boyfriends who broke up with me – that they do see the error of their ways and come crawling back to me, only to have see smile gently and refuse to take them back.

        1. LBK*

          That happened to me once and it was immensely satisfying. 2 years after I finally moved on I got the most clichéd version of the speech ever – I realized what I was missing, I was being an idiot, I’m finally ready, blah blah blah. I actually laughed out loud at him.

          1. the gold digger*

            Yeah, if someone is going to do this, he really has to grovel. I thought of starting a consulting service for men who have come to their senses. You don’t act like you are doing the person you broke up with a favor – you *grovel.* I mean, serious groveling.

            “I was such a fool to break up with you. I don’t know what I was thinking. How could I have been so stupid? I was such an idiot. I know I don’t deserve you. I know I don’t deserve a second chance. But I am begging you, now, here, on my knees, for you to give me another chance.”

            And so on.

            1. Editor*

              I am picturing that scene from Moonstruck where the woman played by Cher tells the guy who’s proposing to get down on his knees…

          2. OldAdmin*

            Oh my. Brings back memories. These things can have unexpected back stories.

            My then boyfriend of four years C. called me one day on the mobile, broke up with me, and announced there would be little contact thereafter.
            I was devastated and couldn’t understand why.
            I mentally regrouped, moved on, and started a new relationship with my later spouse. C. however remained in contact with mutual friend A.
            Six months later, a family member died, and it was on me to clear the house. I called on all my friends including A. for help, which they gave. And C. also pitched in. I was grateful for that, everybody got dinner and expenses, we all were cordial to each other.
            And later heard C. had confessed to A. he regretted his decision. But I had moved on and did not want to go back.

            The sad part is, I later found out out C. had cancer, and had had a nervous breakdown. He had kept all this a secret, but it had triggered the breakup.
            Shortly before his death, we spoke kindly and openly on the phone. It was a good thing to do.

      1. Ama*

        I’ve never had an employer actually ask me to come back, but more than once I have left a job with an overwhelming workload and heard through the grapevine that they’d had to hire multiple people to cover everything I was doing.

        I did kind of want my last job to be one of those pesky ones that bugged me for help after my last day so I could *finally* tell them no, but it turned out ex-employee was the only work-life boundary they actually respected.

        1. Serin*

          I have left a job with an overwhelming workload and heard through the grapevine that they’d had to hire multiple people to cover everything I was doing.


          The other fun one is when, during your employment, nothing you do is ever good enough for them, but after you leave, you hear that they’re telling everybody, “We’ve never been able to find anybody whose standards were as high as Serin’s.” (I was sixteen when this happened, and I have no idea why I’m still bitter, but, oh, I am.

        2. LaraW*

          I left a job almost 6 months ago for my current role. It was a part time, ~24 hour/week job. They replaced me with a 30 hour/week person, and within the last month I saw it advertised as a full time position. Hmm. Interesting.

    2. techandwine*

      That happened to me once! I ran the inventory team for a large electronics retail store, and after I left I learned (through my close friend who still worked there) that their next inventory was the lowest score they’re received since before I had taken over. They went from best in the region to dead last. I actually had two of the managers call me and offer me my job back (including the one who had made it clear he felt I was utterly incompetent and contributed nothing to the store). It turned them down as I was already so much happier in my new (non-retail and non-hourly) role at my new company, but it made me feel validated.

      1. Ruffingit*

        I would have been SOOOOOO tempted to tell off that jerk who thought you were utterly incompetent and contributed nothing. “Oh excuse me? What was that? You want to offer me the job back? But, I’m incompetent and I contributed nothing remember?”

    3. Soupspoon McGee*

      I still have fantasies that job job that drove me away last year will snap out of it, grovel, and I will shake my head as if I barely notice them.

      After I left, someone on a time-critical project begged me to consult, and so did the person who ended up with my department. I said not, but the earnest, young manager said, “You’re the only one in the country who knows this program! Our students need you!” and so on. I met with them a few times, provided lots of free advice and a very detailed timeline, and reluctantly agreeing to five hours a week. There was some flakiness on their end, yet I received urgent messages that they wanted to start immediately–all while I had a sinking feeling this would be as bad or worse than working there. So I quoted them $200 an hour. Silence. A month later, someone offhandedly let me know they went in a different direction.

      I’ve heard through the grapevine they went with a deal much worse than I offered (less time, less help, no idea about the money). And very likely they will lose not one but three programs because of this. One admittedly petty and bitter part of me wishes they will lose these programs and realize they really screwed up, but I know it doesn’t work like that.

  7. Annalee*

    Letter #1 seems to fit with an overall pattern we’ve seen in updates (and also something Alison has pointed out many times): employers who treat people badly end up losing them. If managers refuse to address jerk behavior from employees, non-jerks who are good enough to have other options will take them.

    Letter #3: Ugh. That’s really rough. I’m sorry. It sounds like leaving is the right decision for you. Be sure to include your project management achievements on your resume!

    1. Artemesia*

      Such a good point. Because your very best employees eventually have options and the losers don’t — so keep a place constantly miserable and don’t deal with problem employees or unreasonable workload issues and slowly but surely you are left with a staff entirely of losers.

  8. AnotherAlison*

    #3 Are you lacking a qualification that others had? I wonder if someone caught wind that you were getting the same title as them and thought you didn’t deserve it. We had a guy in our group get a “PM” role and title, and one of my coworkers didn’t think he deserved it because he had a different/lesser educational background. In our case, PMs are almost all licensed engineers. This person has a business degree.

    Either way, that’s a frustrating situation, and I am of the opinion that if you are doing the work, you should get the title and pay. I can’t believe they took work away from you just to take it away. We’ve had situations were other restructuring or new software caused people to lose work duties, but not simply to keep from promoting them!

    1. OhNo*

      Seriously, it seems so weird to just take the work away when the OP was clearly capable of it, and others around them said they were doing the work well. I wonder if the boss is planning to hire a new employee to take on those responsibilities? Because otherwise they’re just getting dumped on people who clearly don’t have time/energy for them (since they were put on the OP in the first place).

      1. OP 3*

        Basically, most of the work I’ve been handling doesn’t get done if I don’t do it, so even though it’s “assigned” it’s not anyone’s priority. And since this supposed change I’ve been asked to do that work repeatedly anyway. No one had those skills or a similar role before I showed up. I’m definitely not impinging on someone else’s job – I’m doing important work no one has time for.

        There are lots of potential explanations, but none were made to me, so I can only speculate about why this is happening.

        1. AnotherAlison*

          Grrrr. . .that’s even more frustrating that you *still* have to do the work. Best of luck to you finding a better fit that will actually pay you for your talents, OP3.

        2. RVA Cat*

          Sounds like they want the work done without having to pay for it. I think it’s something that a lot of conscious people in admin roles tend to take on, but it’s letting them take advantage of you. Yet another reason to move on. It sounds like the people who are pleased with your work on this could be great references, too.

          1. Ama*

            Yeah when I read this I actually wondered if the boss had been to HR and they said if the OP was doing that much project management then they have to be paid at X rate and the boss doesn’t want to approve that much of a raise.

            1. OP 3*

              That’s possible – there are lots of project managers in other parts of our company, just not our branch, so maybe they don’t want to bring my pay in line with those people. I never asked for a raise, though. It’s a pretty poor long-term solution in my view, since they continue to grow the company and need this work done. They’re going to be paying someone’s salary anyway. I really doubt that a project manager certificate would provide more value than my large amount of institutional knowledge, but then I don’t know their exact expansion plans.

              Since I wrote the above update I have been transferred to a different manager, so I may get her read on my situation before I make sudden moves. There are a lot of things still at this job to like, especially the salary and my awesome colleagues.

              1. Ama*

                Oh, I definitely think it sounds like you deserve some kind of promotion/raise. I’ve been the person who expanded beyond their role without getting any official recognition for it and it really wears on you after a while, even if the rest of the job is good.

                Fingers crossed your new manager is more receptive to your professional growth.

        3. Artemesia*

          Oh I do so hope you can find something to move to that honors your efforts and leaves these dodos in the lurch. Bosses who are not interested in the career development of their employees are the worst. It would be one thing if there were just no spots for you to move and they needed you to do the admin work, but here they actually want you to do the more demanding work, they just don’t want to acknowledge it in something as ego satisfying as a title or presumably as helpful as a raise. Hope you can give two weeks notice sooner rather than later with something better.

        4. Observer*

          Then please log all of those things you are doing and who asked you to do them. Start polishing your resume, and job hunting.

          If you really, really like the job, then in 2-3 months, go back to your manager and discuss this with him. Show him that even though these duties have officially been assigned elsewhere, you have been doing them anyway.

  9. nof*

    OP #3 – something similar happened to me in my last role. I was doing work in another area and wanted a title to reflect that, and then (it felt out of nowhere to me) I got feedback that my main role should continue to be my priority and I shouldn’t expect a title change or any recognition of my new work. On the one hand, it makes perfect sense – they hired you for the original role so it makes sense for them to want to focus on that. On the other hand, I think it’s very shortsighted; a good manager should help you grow when possible if they hope to retain you!

    Anyway, I was able to use the aspects of my new role in my resume and interviews without any trouble about the title and ended up moving on. Hope you’re able to do the same!

  10. OP 3*

    Thanks, Annalee and Artemesia! The title would have been a nice resume boost, but I guess my achievements will have to speak for themselves.

    1. Another Job Seeker*

      Actually, I am in a similar position so I definitely understand this. Approximately 3 years ago, my (then) supervisor hired a new person and gave a significant number of my duties to that person. She then put me on Project X that no one was interested in and that had no visibility. I now have another supervisor and a vice president who is very interested in Project X. It has high visibility, funding for training, and I am learning a lot. I am still planning to leave because of other political issues. Just saying that my former supervisor putting me on Project X was a blessing in disguise – although it did not feel like it at the time. I hope that things work out for you with your new supervisor. One option may be for you to join a professional organization and let your skills shine through volunteer work you do for the organization. Once you have had some successful project with the organization under your belt, you could take another look at your job. If they come around and recognize the value you bring to the position (through your job title and your salary), the company may become a place where you can grow in your career. If not, you have built up a network that my be beneficial if you decide to look elsewhere. Hope it all works out for you!

  11. yup*

    @ #1 – Congratulations on your promotion to a healthier and more emotionally intelligent org! Go get em!
    @#2 – Wow that you are putting in the late hours and not taking the “bigger paycheck, less actual work” route that I see so often as people climb.
    @#3 – I agree that is a great sign that it’s time to leave. You already proved yourself without extra pay and they have mentally passed you over for the job. Their loss!

  12. TT*

    Way to go #1! I remember that post, and I thought your manager was being a total pig. Glad you got out of there.

    #3 – I’ve had something similar happen to me as well. Hire to do X, somehow Y and Z make their way onto my plate. Y and Z are always super important at the time (feel free to set aside X so you can get Y and Z done), but once money and or title comes up it’s, “Whoa there, you’re Miss X. Don’t you think too hard about being recognized for Y and Z.”

    Your best bet is to start laying the foundation to get out of there. If you’re doing PM work and you like it you should look into getting your or CAPM, PMP or some other certification. Takes less time than a degree and can be very useful in proving your chops to the companies you’ll apply to in the future.

  13. SophiaB*

    I feel for you, OP #3. My boss has been trying to do that to me for the last few weeks, telling me to focus on the basics and he’d handle all my interesting tasks. It was pretty much the opposite of what I was asking him for.

    Fortunately, my Director has just put out an advert for a Project Manager role that would suit me down to the ground, so I’ve applied for that instead and think it will be a much better fit!

    Good luck with your job hunting! It sounds like it was the right time to move on, and you’ll be able to demonstrate the skills that went above and beyond your current role.

  14. Tris Prior*

    It’s funny that #3 came up today because I’m going through something similar. No title change involved, though; just growth opportunities – which I’m already doing and have been praised for – taken away from me because “you’re the only one here now who can do Necessary but Somewhat Menial Task and we can’t hire anyone else so you need to do Task full-time.” Trying to decide myself whether I want to wait it out or leave, as, like you, there are many things about the company that I really like. Good luck with your search!

  15. Cheesehead*

    #3…..yeah, I was also going to say that they felt comfortable shifting your work as long as it was under the table and undocumented. But then as soon as you asked for something official (the title change), they probably realized that they would have to pay you more because they had unofficially promoted you, by virtue of your new duties. Even though you didn’t ask for a raise, to put through a title change generally means some sort of a new pay range/grade too. The pay range for the new position, although unbeknownst to you, was likely higher, and they didn’t want to go through the formal process to do that, nor go to bat for you. I applaud your decision to leave. If they saw fit to give you extra duties but wouldn’t actually go to the trouble of getting you formal recognition for the additional responsibilities, then I agree you’re not going to go anywhere fast in that organization.

    1. Elizabeth H*

      This! This is happening right now to me. The manager was all enthusiastic about changing titles, but once I documented it, the manager was non-committal.

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