updates: the follower-upper, the different title, and more

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

1. Should I tell my employer I may have brought COVID-19 to work in January? (first update here)

I missed the chance to respond in the comments when you published my original update, as I’d just started my new job that week. I know there was a lot of debate in the comments about whether I should’ve notified my local public health agency (and again, thank you to the public health experts that weighed in!) – I wanted to let you know that my new job works closely with our state public health authority, and I asked them in confidence about what to do in this situation. The answer was the same as the public health experts who commented: it had been too long to do anything meaningful with the information. In fact, they were so inundated at the time, they were thankful to NOT have been notified about my maybe case from January. I hope this is helpful to others.

2. My coworker follows up on projects way too much

Thank you so much for your help and the commenters’ advice a few years ago. I wrote in about a coworker who excessively followed up on work that my team handed off to hers, in a fast paced promotional advertising job.

It was exactly what you described — we were too uncomfortable to specifically tell her that it was way too much communication, so the problem hadn’t been directly addressed.

Based on your advice, I had a very direct but kind conversation with her. I think she had not understood that her check-ins were actually a hindrance to us getting the work done. And she had thought that it was a big deal when occasionally something was going to be late, but the reality is that it was often an industry-wide delay (i.e. an OEM launching a new product and all partner advertisers received photo assets a few days later than we wanted).

I also helped her create scenarios to use if an advertisement was going to be late. We created a process for her to follow – who to contact, and what script to tell the sales team.

Finally, my team worked to create more flexible assets that could wait until the last second for things like prices to be inserted, so that we could avoid delays even when there were last minute changes.

This was her first non-administrative job at the company and she just wanted to make sure she was doing a good job to impress her manager. Once we aligned on all this, it seemed to help alleviate her anxiety. The number of emails and phone calls reduced significantly, and we kept our standing meeting to briefly confirm dates when needed.

I’ve now moved onto a new company where somehow the pace of work is even faster! So this was a helpful learning experience.

Thanks for your advice and the wise commenters. I continue to read near-daily and have learned so much from all of you.

3. Should I ask for a different title after nine years? (#5 at the link)

I was the person who hadn’t changed titles in nine years and thought it made my resume look unimpressive, but was worried about asking for a promotion because I didn’t want to disturb my current sweet deal.

I sat down with my manager to discuss the possibility of a title bump to reflect some of the expanded duties I’d taken on here and there; I started the conversation by noting this wasn’t about a raise, since I didn’t think there was extra room in the budget. It turned out that my manager not only wanted to solidify those duties, but to ask me to take on a few more to help her in management. They were not, as I feared, overwhelming or replacing the duties I enjoy, and she also offered a title bump and a modest salary bump. The experience went better than I could have hoped. I worried that I’d come across as a boat-rocker when I already had it pretty great, but I think the manager was pumped that I was engaged and committed. I really love working for this company so I’m glad the higher-ups see me as a long-term asset, and if I ever have to move on, I feel better about my resume. Thanks for the encouragement!

{ 22 comments… read them below }

  1. Engineer Woman*

    Awesome update for #5 – thank you! It’s sometimes these smallish things that’s so helpful to have this forum (and Alison) to give us the encouragement.

  2. Lynn*

    I feel like there was something in #1 that needs to be clarified — a “maybe case” of COVID from January does not need to be reported and maybe not be helpful, but if anyone experiences a “maybe case” of COVID right now (or within the last few weeks), they should absolutely report, even if they are not sure, and not be concerned with annoying their health authorities. Although most areas now have sufficient testing and if you are tested your results would be reported automatically, that is not the case everywhere.

      1. Cap Hiller*

        We don’t know enough about what immunity to the virus means and even what the results of these tests really mean, so they should not be used at this time to understand an individual’s immunity to COVID-19. Right now they should be used for public health/community-level information.

    1. Just, why*

      +1. I am floored that such misinformation is posted here. I work in public health and saying something like this was so irresponsible I had to read it twice because I couldn’t believe it.

      1. Myrin*

        I don’t see anything in #1 regarding any even theoretical current “maybes” but only ones referring to January – am I missing something?

      2. Frank Doyle*

        Thirded . . . I think it’s very clear that the issue with #1 was that the possible COVID infection was months prior, and therefore there’s not much to be done about it.

      3. A*

        I didn’t see anything irresponsible, or any misinformation. I found it quite clear from the first read through that it was in reference to a maybe back in January. Which is… literally what it says.

      4. fhqwhgads*

        The context of the original letter was “is there any point in calling public health about a ‘maybe’ case two months after the fact”. It sounds like you’re perhaps missing that context?

      5. JSPA*

        I don’t know if you misread this post, or missed the previous, but the possibility was speculative; the symptoms were ambiguous; the time frame was “months ago,” by the time OP thought of the possibility; and two other people had diagnosed, recorded positives that had already caused the office to go into containment mode, by that point (at which point, OP was already home and sequestered).

        The “do not bother the health department with information that will not change anything about tracking and quarantine going forward, because the transmission window for your case closed months ago, and we already know about a possible cluster in your workplace” is perfectly reasonable, especially if it’s one cluster among many.

      6. Cap Hiller*

        I work in health policy and have extensively worked on COVID-19 response – make sure you go back and read the original letter to understand. She got sick before people really knew what COVID-19 was, and didn’t make the connections until too late for her then-workplace to act on that information.

    2. Astrid*

      re #1
      Right, it’s unclear from a follow up post that the advice to not bother reporting is only specific to the scenario of suspecting you were sick in the distant past when the information is no longer actionable.
      We can figure that out by following the link, but we’ve all had reading comprehension and skimming failures before and it’s too easy to misunderstand what #1 is actually recommending out of context like this.

      A note in the post to make it super easy to get the context would help!

      1. fhqwhgads*

        I don’t think it’s at all unclear? Everything about the original advice, which is what the update refers to, was particular to the scenario of “suspected COVID-19 in the distant past when the information is no longer actionable.” That was the whole story.

  3. Observer*

    When I went to the link for #3 I saw the first one on that post. Did we ever get an update on that one? (Praying for a bad employee to be removed.)

  4. Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers*

    OP2, thanks for the update. It sounds like you not only handled the situation really well, but also used the opportunity to create something of value – the flexible assets and the new process / scripts sound great. This is the type of thing you could include when talking about your achievements in that role.

    1. Astrid*

      Good point, and an excellent interview response to something like “tell us about how you’ve handled conflict”.

  5. suprisedcanuk*

    I’m happy LW3 got a new title and raise. I’m concerned that they might underestimate their value. If your getting more responsibility or duties a raise seems normal. I think they seem afraid to ask for what they deserve. Having a good job title is nice, but doesn’t cost the employer anything.

  6. Pomegranate*

    #2 – What a great update! Not only were you able to address the frustrating behaviour from your co-worker, you were also able to help her feel more confident in her role, create contingency plans for late advertisements and reinforce your design process to make it more robust (being able to insert price info at a late stage easily).

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