updates: coworkers constantly complain about people with kids, and more

It’s “where are you now?” month at Ask a Manager, and all December I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past. Here are four updates from past letter-writers.

1. My child-free coworkers constantly complain about people with children (first update here)

A couple months into lockdown, it was announced that a number of employees would be furloughed for the summer as part of a widespread budget saving endeavor. M was one of them, and during his furlough he accepted another position– in the same organization, but on a completely different team that doesn’t intersect with ours at all, and much more in his “real field” than his position with us. I am now going into the office once a week to do a few tasks that can’t be done remotely, and it is SO peaceful and nice without him here. I feel like I’m already much better at my job, just because I’m not constantly using 30-60% of my energy to tune out the constant whine of huffy martyrdom interspersed with fake-woke Bad Takes. And even though I didn’t value M’s opinion and knew it didn’t affect my career or my standing with the rest of the team, I hadn’t realized how much constantly being around someone who dislikes me drained my confidence and self esteem. My job is still kind of boring, but I basically love it now. I wish M the best, and I hope to never cross paths again and, in time, forget each other utterly.

2. How can I ask an interviewer what maternity leave they offer? (#4 at the link)

So, I didn’t end up getting the job. I got a call that it was down to myself and one other candidate and they struggled and almost made it two positions but decided to start with one and hire the guy with some experience in the industry. I was bummed but two weeks later everything shut down in my area and that is an industry that had to close for months so I feel like I potentially dodged a bullet. Your answer and the comments really made me feel more at ease if that were to come up again in my career though! As a female in a certain age range, you can really feel like your career has to stall as you start a family but that gave me a new perspective on it. For now, I have found the frustrations of the job I have been in are much easier to deal with when I am working at home with the dog.

3. I made a goal of finding joy in my work daily — and it aggravated me more (#2 at the link)

I did take your advice to gently and artfully suggest replacing it with a different goal. The different goal I used was one I found in an article in the Harvard Business Review. It was recommended for new managers, but honestly, I thought it was good advice for anyone. So this is the goal I replaced it with (much more business-than-gratitude oriented, and I think more valuable to my employer):

Spend ½ an hour once each week reflecting on the following (which I always do first thing Monday morning):
• How will I create value?
• How am I expected to behave?
• Whose support is critical?
• How will I get some early wins?
• What skills do I need to develop to excel in this role?
I am also keeping those reflections in an excel spreadsheet. And honestly, I believe it really has improved my performance a lot more than the Joy Journal ever did!

I haven’t yet had my performance review yet that includes this goal. I hope my boss thinks it has been as valuable as I think it has been.

4. Coworker ties up our only bathroom

Sadly in my case there’s absolutely nothing to report. It just didn’t come up again, and then I changed jobs. I’ll keep it in mind for if it ever comes up again, though :)

{ 10 comments… read them below }

  1. Quill*

    #1 What a lovely blessing for people who just. Don’t. Gel. May we soon forget each other utterly – your life improves, and if he dislikes you that much his life should likely improve too… assuming that he doesn’t latch onto something else immediately, which is not your problem.

  2. Lifeandlimb*

    It’s amazing how many past issues have been automatically resolved once workplaces figure out how to let people **~work from home~***

  3. Diamond in the rough*

    LW3, how wonderful to see some truly constructive and actionable advice! Thank you for posting this! Could you share the name of the HBR article?

  4. raincoaster*

    #3 is something I’m bookmarking as I re-embark on a job hunt after semi-retirement. Great stuff.

  5. Ruh Roh, Raggy!*

    LW #3 – I started a new job that’s a significant change in responsibilities from my last one. I have more exposure to company politics, and I’m no longer in a role where it’s at easy to point to what I’ve done to contribute value to the company and my team. I’m definitely going to use this. Thanks!

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