3 updates from letter-writers

Here are three updates from people who had their letters answered here in the past.

1. My boyfriend is pressuring me to act as a big sister to his trainee

I spoke to my boyfriend about my discomfort about his insistence on me emailing his colleagues and such, and although he said he’d respect my wishes, that he couldn’t understand why it was strange to him. He said his company wasn’t conventional anyway and he’d always wanted to be unconventional too. I tried my best explaining it but he just couldn’t understand so we just left it as is. It didn’t matter when I told him I have plenty of people backing me up on how weird they thought it was–even his own mother! I said that it doesn’t matter whether he was trying to be “different” with his methods; as long as it made me uncomfortable, I won’t do it.

I think he felt disappointed that I wouldn’t do this for him because it did make him look “good” to his team, but to me it was just stupid. Anyway the subject was never approached again and things are fine as of right now. I want to thank everyone for voicing their opinions! It gave me the confidence to speak up.

2. My coworker announced all the reasons I shouldn’t get a promotion, in front of our coworkers (#3 at the link)

First of all, I got the job! They were so impressed with my application and performance that they decided not to even interview external applicants. So thanks for all those articles of your’s around CVs and cover letters.

Second piece of good news, they have swapped around some of the reporting lines, so the person I wrote to you about won’t be my direct report. They will still be in the same office though, so I can still employ a lot of advice you and the readers were kind enough to give me. I also hope to pass this advise on, and be a support to the person who will be managing her.

So thanks for everything, no doubt my experiences will lead to even more reasons to write to you now.

3. My relationship with my new boss and director has taken a bad turn (#2 at the link)

Director was transferred and replaced April 1. His parting gift to me was to recommend to his successor that I needed two weeks of immediate, intensive “retraining” due to significant performance deficiencies. When the new director contacted me to schedule this, I requested specifics regarding my poor performance. Surprise – there weren’t any. When old director was contacted for clarification, the only thing he could provide was that I attempted to take over a project that was assigned to someone else. I was able to immediately forward specific emails assigning me to that project.

I requested a brief meeting with new director, where I (politely and professionally, I hope) laid out my concerns. He was positive about going forward. The only odd part was when I confirmed that he had received the project emails. Essentially, they (admin) have been put in the position of knowing the old director lied about me, but they’re not willing to take any action. I’m hopeful that the change in supervision is enough to turn things around.

{ 25 comments… read them below }

  1. MissDisplaced*

    Wow #3 I hope your new manager is a better manager. It does sound like that, and at least your new boss was open to not taking things at face value and listening to your side of the story.

    1. AMG*

      Agreed; now that you have a reasonable Director, I hope your paranoid boss follows suit. I really like all of these updates; I love when things work out the way they are supposed to!

  2. Elder Dog*

    Your new manager is understandably wary and wondering what could have precipitated the reaction from the former director.
    Your best course is to do the best job you can. When your new director sees no problems from you, she’ll relax and you’ll be fine.
    Watch out for your direct manager, who appears to have a difficult management style, and who poisoned your relationship with her boss. You might want to check in with the new director in a month and again in another three months, in case there’s feedback from your manager you haven’t been given. You need to be proactive to make sure there are no festering problems so you aren’t blindsided again.

    1. Vicki*

      I’m still confused about this update. There’s a new director but the crazy manager is still in place?

  3. Artemesia*

    I’m still worried about the boyfriend in #1. What other weirdness lurks there? Such an odd blurring of boundaries between business and private life suggests potential for other blurred boundaries. If my boss’s girlfriend had been emailing me it would have squicked me out. It isn’t unconventional, it’s seriously boundary challenged.

    1. MK*

      I think he is caught up in the idea of being this super unconventional kind of supervisor, not like the other stuffed shirts, but unable to grasp that true innovation isn’t simply about deing “different”, but about bringing something geniunely better to the table (which having your girlfriend mentor you trainee doesn’t).

      I read it as more immature as anything, though he is likely to hurt his career, if he refuses to even consider that he might be wrong. What I find most concerning is that he look to the OP as a resource in his attempt to do this weird experiment; it’s not the job of a partner (or a family member or a friend) to assist in your handling your trainees.

      1. neverjaunty*

        That was my read too – “I want to be unconventional” is so eyeroll-inducing.

        1. Joseph*

          Nobody extols the virtues of “Think Similar” or “Be Inside the Box”, but in many cases, the reason conventional wisdom exists is because it’s often pretty darn smart.

          1. MK*

            Nobody extols these virtues because it’s taken for granted by sane people that you don’t introduce change just for the shake of novelty. If something works, to justify the change you need to show it would be an improvement (sometimes a significant improvement, to offset the inconvienience the transition will cause). If something doesn’t work (or work well), you still need to show that the change will actually improve things and not make them worse.

        2. college employee*

          If he wants to be “unconventional,” he needs to do so on his own time and with his own labor. He should not expect his girlfriend to donate her time and energy for free.

      2. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

        Yeah, the young version of me was kind of ridiculous. I had grandiose ideas about how stuffy corporate Must Dos were the thing of dinosaurs and I’d just do things new and shiny ways that occurred to me. (This was well before the dot comm boom when those youngsters also tried to throw everything old out and be unconventional and wild.)

        BF could be fine once he’s knocked around a bit by actual management life. Many conventions and rules exist for a damn good reason.

    2. hbc*

      Agreed. I’m actually okay with him asking this and being disappointed that she doesn’t want to go along, but his inability to “get it” is Not Good. You might think the majority is wrong to behave or think a certain way, but it shouldn’t be hard to come to some understanding as to why some people believe that wrong thing. It’s a pretty stunning lack of social intelligence.

  4. Rusty Shackelford*

    He said his company wasn’t conventional anyway and he’d always wanted to be unconventional too.

    That’s a weird stance. Like, he doesn’t care what “normal” is, he just wants to not be that, purely for the sake of being different.

    Anyway. He can be as unconventional as he wants. He just doesn’t have the right to try to make you do it too.

      1. esra*

        Oh my god. Burn it with fire. Salt the earth. I hope she left that man so hard.

        1. Isben Takes Tea*

          She commented in a post later that yes, she did. And there was much rejoicing.

        2. Mookie*

          I kind of feel this is what James Franco (or people like him) would do if it could garner him attention and prove his iconoclast bona fides. So, remember folks: would James Franco do it? If so, proceed with caution, and please don’t pretend to be gay when you’re not.

    1. Not Karen*

      he doesn’t care what “normal” is, he just wants to not be that, purely for the sake of being different.

      It’s that the very definition of a hipster?

      Ditto on your last point.

      1. Snarkus Aurelius*

        And if he’s being different for the sake of being different, he still having his actions dictated by some outside entity. Irony abound!

  5. Sherm*

    #3 Wow, things have turned around from the seemingly dire situation you were in! How are things with the paranoid Boss?

  6. Former Computer Professional*

    #3… I got fired over something similar.

    I’d recently spent two years in and out of the hospital, with a serious illness. My new boss, hired near the end of those two years (from a different department at the same company), decided that this meant that I was “unreliable,” and even though in the next year I never was that ill again, he wanted to be rid of me.

    He took away the majority of my projects and put me on a single inter-departmental project, to redesign tracking teapot sales. The program design belonged to another dept. However, my boss kept insisting that I change the design, although I had no access to do so! And when I asked the head of the project about it, he’d refuse, with valid reasons. I’d update my boss, which infuriated him, saying I was “not doing anything.”

    The other dept got so sick of this that they demanded a meeting between me, the project lead, and our bosses. My boss kept saying, “FCP needs to be doing XYZ,” and the lead’s boss kept saying, “That’s not FCP’s job. It’s ours.” That didn’t stop my boss.

    My main part of the project? Re-inventory of all the product – 10,000 teapots, by hand, although the old system was up to date. Each teapot was so complex that it took me 15-20 minutes to do just one. Even if I’d done nothing else, it would have taken well over a year, which further infuriated my boss because “this is taking too long.”

    And to add to that, I’d been hired for a very specific knowledge, which was now forbidden. When my coworkers would come to me for help or training I’d get in trouble for it, until my coworkers pointed out the stupidity of this.

    Eventually I was fired for not doing my job and “being unreliable.” Within 3 months of my leaving, the whole project to rebuild the sales stuff was scrapped (the old system worked just fine), and the specific work I had been doing fell apart with nobody trained to handle it.

  7. Reb*

    #2, don’t pass advise onto the new manager! You’ll just come across as spiteful.

    1. bumblebee*

      OP2 here, I am the new manager . The person I wrote about has been moved to another reporting line and this manageris also new, and has asked for my advice/support as I have more leadership experience. I don’t see what I have to be spiteful about or why it would be perceived thus?

      1. voyager1*

        I agree with Reb, if they ask you about the person then yes share your story, but sharing it too “help”. The new manager might think that you have a personal problem with their employee and wonder why you are vested in them when they don’t report to you.

        You don’t need to give the person who was rude to you the rope to have themselves, they will
        probably do it on their own, be patient.

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