5 more updates from letter-writers

Here are five updates from letter-writers who had their questions answered here this year.

1. Manager won’t promote me because I cried six years ago (#5 at the link)

I began interviewing for a new job almost as soon as I read your response. You were so right, so much water under the bridge and really, I had painted myself into a corner trying to solve things with that email…..really I should have just recognized how nutty his response was and not tried to change his mind! Can’t fix crazy, and while he is very effective at his job, this was not the first round of crazy from his office, according to the grapevine.

It was a year before I landed the job of my dreams, did a lot of resume polishing and interview rehearsal – and another year later and, in a few days, my promotion to a C-suite positiong will be official! I am in your debt.

2. My client constantly pesters me and micromanages my every move (first update here)

Things have continued in that vein (from the first update) ever since. I actually ended up legitimately getting a promotion at my in-house job, so I’m comfortably devoting most of my time to that and working just a few hours for my contract client each week. It’s a nice way to have some pin money, and now that I don’t have to rely on it as 50% of my income, it’s less stressful if a check is late. I also made it clear to the client that I would be devoting my time with them to the spreadsheet work I was hired for, and am no longer available for 24/7 phone calls since I’m at my office most of the day. In sum, it’s less stressful and things have been trucking along peacefully for several months now.

The advice I got from you and the commenters there really, really put things in perspective and helped me address things productively.

3. My coworkers constantly share their inappropriate, bigoted, and hostile views with me (#4 at the link)

I wrote in almost 2 years ago about my job. Since then, there have been a lot of organizational changes and the most disruptive people all left. It’s much quieter and calmer and I generally feel better about work. Additionally, I decided that I needed to make a plan to get out so that I have goals and things to look forward to. I got into graduate school and I’m working on a Master’s part time. I decided to stay at my job for various pragmatic reasons but I plan to leave as soon as I finish school. Thanks for all your advice; I think I’ve grown up a LOT in the last couple years.

Wishing you all the best!

4. Am I invited to this holiday party or not? (#7 at the link)

Turns out the party was cancelled last minute and was put on for another day. The reason I waited to update everyone is because I wanted to see what happened at the party and I am glad I did. Turns out my other coworkers gave our boss and a few other people gifts without even asking if I wanted to participate. In fact, when the coworker last spoke to me about it, she said she wasn’t going to be doing it. I just hope that it doesn’t reflect badly on me as it was very obvious that I didn’t contribute.

5. How can I ask whether I’m doing well enough at my new job?

This update will be fairly mundane, but I wanted to send it in case it provides hope for others recovering from bad workplace experiences. I’m still at the same job receiving favorable feedback, so it turns out that I was definitely good enough to not get fired! I updated a bit in the comments of the original letter about receiving good feedback, and finding out that I got through the training quickly and had just been quoted an inaccurate estimate for the time to complete their new training program (I originally worried that they were extending it because I was doing so poorly).

I’m happy to report that since that update, I have seen a few new coworkers struggle, and the manager and trainers worked very hard to help them succeed – they designed new training tasks, held feedback meetings, and so on, and most of them did succeed. At the time of writing, I honestly thought that it was the rule rather than the exception for employers to not bother with negative feedback until they had already decided to fire you and to fire for fairly minor things. (I also worked for a company that used the designed-to-fail PIP as a pre-firing measure under the advice of the head of HR, under a boss that went through receptionists like Murphy Brown until she found the perfect one, and at a staffing agency where we had to fire so many people who didn’t realize they weren’t doing well because the onsite management didn’t provide uncomfortable feedback.) I can confirm that the “Crappy workplace PTSD” a commenter described is very real, and I think I am over it after awhile in my new job. If anyone is having a horrible run of luck with work environments like I did, stay strong and keep looking, a better workplace is out there!

{ 14 comments… read them below }

  1. Three Thousand*

    #1 Love the manager who says you’re not promotable both because you’re too emotional and can’t handle pressure and because you’re cold and distant. Yeah, his judgment is really solid.

  2. Xarcady*

    #1 brings back memories from my first job, right out of college. My mother died nine months after I started, and I took three days off from work. The three days company policy allowed for the death of a parent.

    After I’d been at that job a few more years, I got a new supervisor. Who gave me a wonderful performance review, but told me that I would never advance very far in the company, because my first supervisor had put a very negative note in my personnel file about how I took “too much time off for family,” based on the fact that I took all three days the company allotted for bereavement leave. The new supervisor said that he would do all he could, but there was no way to completely mitigate that note and its ramifications that I didn’t put the company first–it was one of those “work should be the most important thing in your life” type of companies.

    One incident, with years of excellent performance afterwards, should not be the defining statement of your time with a company.

    1. jamlady*

      This is so awful. I could spend the next minutes in complete rant-mode, but I’m sure it’s nothing you haven’t thought about before. So horrible :(

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I’m not sure which is worse, the company’s anti-family stance, or the fact that the first supervisor seemed to want to keep it a secret from Xarcady! And I’m not going to even get into the “there are unwritten rules about using the benefits we give you” bullshit, but if you’re going to encourage burnout and penalize people for having a personal life, at least own that and let people know up front so they can adjust! (By that I mean comply as best they can until they can GTFO, or better yet, just stay away to begin with if they can.)

    3. JM in England*

      The sad fact of life is that your mistakes & misdeeds are remembered much more than your good service and achievements :-(

    4. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      “Who gave me a wonderful performance review, but told me that I would never advance very far in the company, because my first supervisor had put a very negative note in my personnel file about how I took “too much time off for family,” based on the fact that I took all three days the company allotted for bereavement leave. ”

      Sounds like they’re using that as a weapon to hold you back. And you didn’t do anything wrong!


      By the way – it is possible to get something like that expunged – or, your manager could write a note to explicity contradict that. But if he/she won’t do so – you’re fighting a “good ol’ boy” establishment, you won’t win.

      1. voyager1*

        I can’t believe Xarcandy feels like she has to apologize for her parent passing, that is Fing ridiculous but unfortunately seems to be expected in the workplace.

        Honestly Xarcandy that manager did you a favor, makes me wonder if she tried to promote you or was considering it then got stopped by former manager’s note.

        I had a something sort of similar happen to me, those like your former manager fit type usually.

        Glad you got out of there.

  3. F.*

    “Crappy Workplace PTSD” is a very real thing. I still wake up in a cold sweat from nightmares about the boss I worked for 11 years ago. I’ve threatened to go to her eventual funeral just to make sure she is dead!

  4. Chriama*

    Oh man, #1! I’m so mad on your behalf! I’m glad you realized the issue was your boss (seriously, what’s with the b.s. about being too emotional to handle pressure and *also* too cold and distant?). I kind of think there could have been a sex discrimination thing going on here and I’m mad the only answer was to move on, even though I’m thrilled it worked out so well for the OP. Good for you, and I hope the boss gets what he deserves eventually.

    Also, the retail question in #1’s link makes me wish I had seen the original post when it came out. I totally would have some choice words in the comment for both those questions!

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