updates: requiring an employee to be in the office more, the psychological interviews, and more

So many updates this year! Here are three more from people who had their letters answered here in the past.

1. Requiring an employee to be in the office more (#2 at the link)

Thank you so much for publishing my letter and thank you to all of the commentors for helping me work through this scenario.

While I was processing the feedback and wrapping my own head around my ideal work scenario, I had several conversations with my peers (those of us reporting to the same manager). From those conversations, we took some other advice of yours – to band together as a group to start pushing back on our manager’s old-fashioned beliefs that all good, productive work needs to be in the office. While I don’t think he’ll ever be fully on the remote work train, he says he doesn’t mind if we manage our work days as adults and get our work done. For my role, I’ve translated this as occasionally spending mornings working from home when I have a lot of phone calls. Or taking an afternoon of writing up reports to a coffee shop.

Following those conversations, I brought up the need to have my direct report in the office on a regular/routine basis. I gave the different reasons (with one of them being my own manager’s opinion on the arrangement) and then asked her what she thought was reasonable. At first she was a little taken aback, so I’m very glad for the comments that she might see this as a demotion. I reassured her that this wasn’t a pulling her into the office to keep a closer watch on her type situation! I had realized that while I did want her in the office, it really didn’t need to be an extensive amount, but on a regular schedule. We had some back and forth, but eventually agreed that I would run two afternoons a week (+ in-person meetings as needed for meetings with stakeholders) past my manager to see if that was acceptable.

Initially, my manager seemed to say that if I wanted my direct report to have a desk in the office, then she would need to be here every day. However, ultimately I told him that we agreed for Tue and Thur afternoons at minimum and scaling up for projects or launches as needed. He bought her two new monitors and gave her a desk close to mine.

I checked in with my direct report after a month and things seem to be going smoothly.

Thanks again for your thoughtful advice.

P.S. Just received an email last night that our manager will be piloting an occasionally remote work day for the next few months! I actually have mixed feelings about it, as mentioned before, I currently like working in the office so that I leave work at work, but it will be fun to have the extra flexibility.

2. We have to be interviewed by a psychologist to get promoted

I wrote in about a requirement for a psychological interview before promotion to director.

Well, the situation has been resolved positively. On your advice, I started talking to people who had been interviewed and people who were in line for promotion in the next year. They were all opposed to this requirement. Before I had a chance to go to my director, she came to me, as she had gotten wind of my conversations. We discussed it and she told me that she had also had qualms about this. (Of course, she hadn’t done anything, but I did understand her reluctance.)

Since I had a group of about eight senior managers opposed to this, she corralled some director peers and they went to the SVP’s with the issue. I mentioned in my original post that the head of the division wasn’t a particularly good executive. The SVP’s felt the same way, but hadn’t settled on a strategy to get rid of him. With this issue (of which they had been unaware), they trotted off to corporate HR. Needless to say, HR was horrified. That, coupled with the SVP’s feedback on other perceived issues with his management, led to his resignation to “pursue other interests.“

Thanks so much for your advice, as well as the support of the folks commenting. Now I can look forward to my potential promotion without worrying about a psychological grilling.

3. Ghosted by HGTV (#4 at the link)

Thanks for your response! Before you posted, I had been talking to my family about it and ended up following up by email one more time. The day you published my letter, the production company rep called me back! She had shown my video to the team and they were 50/50 on us. They thought we weren’t energetic enough and questioned if my husband was just doing it because I wanted him to (it was actually the other way around). So she told me to record another video. I agreed.

And then… I guess from her POV, this is when I ghosted on her. We had spent hours on the first audition tape and couldn’t find the time for a second one. I was SO glad that we did not end up doing the show because I ended up being so busy at work (80 hour weeks) that I couldn’t even take a day off to pack or move, let alone the five days that the show wanted us to take off for taping. The whole time we were signing and packing and moving, I kept saying “Thank God we’re not doing that tv show.” The commenters’ stories of bad reality tv experiences were also fresh in my head. Thanks everyone :)

{ 23 comments… read them below }

  1. OverboilingTeapot*

    #2–I’m glad things worked out! I’d be more than a little disappointed in your director, though; it seems like you had to have numbers on your side before she was willing to do anything. Running a simple “is this kosher?” by HR or a superior should have been on her long ago.

    1. Specialk9*

      I’m so glad at this update. The psych profile for promotion was so disturbing. That it existed, that it was the manager’s own therapist, that it was so horribly executed, that it violated all professional norms. I’m so glad he got retired involuntarily.

  2. Observer*

    #2 Great update. It’s good to know that HR apparently knows their stuff. And it’s also nice to see the the SVP’s got what a big problem that whole scheme was.

    Potential legal issues aside, that’s just stupid, ridiculous and invasive. The guy frankly sounds like voyeur.

    I wonder if someone could report the therapist to whatever governing body he belongs to. This sounds highly unethical to me.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      #2 is such a great update. And I’m glad that guy got fired. What he did was insane, and I’m glad corporate understood it was insane. I’m a little mad at your boss for pushing back instead of going to bat for you the first time, but hopefully this is a good lesson for her, too.

    2. Legal Beagle*

      Yes, the employees who were interviewed should report the psychologist to the licensing board or whoever. It’s scary to think of him being unleashed on people seeking actual therapy!

  3. Reedle Dee*

    #3, I’m glad things didn’t work out if you didn’t want them to, but I think if you’re going to write in and complain about not being responded to (as per your original letter) you should probably write people back that you’re no longer interested. I completely get the temptation given your initial treatment, and it sounds like an unsavoury industry, but better to maintain your own personal courtesies (as Michelle Obama says… go high).

    1. AshK434*

      Yea, I totally agreed. I was sort of surprised by the OP’s flippant attitude about ghosting the producer when she was previously upset when she thought she was the one being ghosted

      1. Not Yet Looking*

        The relevant question isn’t “Can you make yourself feel bad?” the question is “Can you make yourself act professionally despite not feeling bad about it?”

    2. CrumbleCrumbs*

      Yep I wish there was a liking system on this forum that I could use to agree.
      It would have been best to reply and say that youre not interested anymore.

  4. AdAgencyChick*

    #2 is so satisfying, especially after the previous update in which OP’s manager (the DIRECTOR of HR!) was so lacking.

    1. Anon non non*

      I was coming here to say this. It was nice to see that sanity prevailed in the HR department of at least one update today. :)

      1. Anon non non*

        Correction: it should read that “It was nice to see that good reason prevailed in the HR department of at least one update today.
        Didn’t mean to use a mental health reference.

        1. Tassie Tiger*

          -Jedi Hugs- Your care and sensitivity about using non-ablist language is really appreciated!!

  5. Purplesaurus*

    I’m glad #1 seemed to work out well for everyone, and that the manager is coming around slowly to remote/wfh arrangements.

  6. Foreign Octopus*

    These updates are really satisfying as they seem mainly to be people banding together to stop something stupid from happening. Nicely done and thanks for the updates!

  7. the gold digger*

    our manager’s old-fashioned beliefs that all good, productive work needs to be in the office.

    We tried suggesting work at home to my boss in my previous job. He was not interested. My co-worker, who is from Brazil and not a native English speaker, sighed and said of boss, “He is from the school that is old.”

    That remains, over three years later, one of my favorite sayings.

  8. beanie beans*

    Hooray for refreshing news! I was starting to get depressed about humanity after the Halloween update post.

    1. Annie Bennett*

      She mostly wanted to know what was going on. I think she thought the policy was a bad idea, but didn’t want to be the one to rock the boat. Once someone else had done the leg work, she felt more comfortable about taking it forward. Frankly, I didn’t care as long as the policy was stopped. Of course, now I know that she is not someone I can really depend on to be proactive. But I also know that if she is presented with back-up, she will probably do something. Knowledge is a good thing.

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