it’s your Friday good news

It’s your Friday good news, with more accounts of success even in this weird time.

1. I’m a government subcontractor, and my company decided not to rebid on our contract when it came up for renewal in 18 months. Although we gave plenty of notice so that the prime contract holding company could find another partner for their rebid attempts, the prime didn’t take it well. They started pressuring us all to quit our company and come work for them, using some pretty unfortunate tactics that mostly succeeded in driving away the people they were trying to hire. My group mostly managed to escape the negative attention, and I thought we were in the clear. Unfortunately, it was not to be. Once they calmed down a bit, and it became clear none of us were going to budge, they hired a new director and put him in over my organization. Unfortunately, it’s his first managerial experience, and he made what I consider to be some fairly rookie mistakes. He succeeded in driving off everyone else on the team except me.

I was prepared to stick it out until he crossed one of those lines managers are not supposed to cross: namely, treating me (his subordinate) like his therapist and repository for emotional baggage. In the midst of a director-induced panic attack – he opened some old wounds that I thought had healed – I had a shining moment of clarity in the form of a question: Would this be the sort of situation that would get a letter published on Ask A Manager? (Answer: Yes.)

I gave notice less than an hour later. It was clear that staying in that toxic situation while I tried to find a new job was going to seriously mess me up – which would in turn mess up my ability to interview well. My last day is tomorrow, and I couldn’t be happier. And, thanks to a bunch of stuff that I’ve been reading on Ask A Manager over the years, I’m currently acing my interviews on how to interact with people in a professional and considerate manner. I don’t ever want to be a manager; I’m much happier being an individual contributor. But knowing what good management looks like is important for everyone, and I’m really grateful that AAM is around to help folks figure that out.

2. This week I got a raise. I was totally caught off guard, especially since we are remote right now and therefore I have had very little face-to-face interaction with my coworkers, so some things just slip through the cracks more. My responsibilities had definitely expanded in the past few months and I have been absolutely swamped with work lately, but I didn’t really think about it potentially affecting my salary at all, especially since I hadn’t asked or discussed compensation with my boss. (I have been in my position for less than a year.) Recently I was struggling on some projects and it made me doubt myself and I had a lot of “Do I even belong here?! I knew I wasn’t qualified when I applied to this!” thoughts, and I became super paranoid that I was disappointing everyone. It was really validating to be rewarded for performance after all that! I am early-ish in my career and have never gotten a raise before and have always had to change jobs if I wanted a higher salary. I realize I am so lucky!

3. I have an individual contributor job that is easier to do at home than in the office, but I work in an industry where remote work is rare. I’ve stayed too long at my current job because I was full-time remote, and similar positions often required a three hour or more round-trip commute (long but normal for my metro area). The commute was never worth it for me.

Now, however, many offices are rethinking whether they need everyone in the office every day, and everyone is fully remote now. My preference to come in once a week or as needed for big meetings (once this is possible again) is seen as more normal and not the dealbreaker it once was. So in the new year I’m starting an exciting new job with a higher salary at a place I wouldn’t even have considered before because of the commute.

Thank you Alison for all of your advice over the years, and to the commenters for being so thoughtful. Even though I don’t comment, I do read everything and have learned a lot.

4. In June, the entire division of the nonprofit that I worked for was eliminated. Not only was it worrisome to be facing unemployment in the pandemic recession, but worse still, the community-based programs that I and my colleagues had built were summarily shut down (and right when they were needed the most!).

I was lucky enough to stay employed (albeit with reduced hours and pay) while spending the last several months finishing our program year and working to find a new home for the program I manage. And, happily, we did it! In the new year, the program (and I) will be moving to another local organization. I’m thrilled; the new organization is a great fit for the program, and I have loved working with their team as we prepare for the transition.

Another aspect of this good news story is the opportunity this period provided to reflect on how I want to do work differently going forward. These months of working reduced hours for less pay have shown me that that’s a worthwhile tradeoff for me — so as a part of the move to the new organization, I negotiated a part-time schedule that will allow me to slow down, even after our world speeds back up as the pandemic comes to an end.

{ 20 comments… read them below }

  1. It's All Elementary*

    LW #1, I would love to hear how your new manager viewed everyone leaving him, right up and including you. Wishing you lots of success!

    1. LW #1*

      I’m not actually sure, because he basically stopped talking to me. I do know that the meeting where I announced that I was leaving (Zoom, because COVID) somebody started swearing and then cutoff mid-swear as they realized they were not on mute. The teams we were working with knew that they were in trouble. I suspect he did too – but he was new enough at management that he didn’t have any idea how to save himself.

  2. I edit everything*

    Friday good news always makes me think about firing up a job hunt again.

    But LW 4 reminds me of a question I’ve had and would love AAM to address, either as an Ask the Readers or as a column. How does one find a part-time job in your chosen field, where jobs are pretty much exclusively full-time or freelance? I’d love a steady PT job as an employed editor (or some other non-entry-level job, tbh), so I’d still have time for my freelance clients and some scheduling flexibility for personal-life issues. That kind of job (in most fields) simply don’t show up in listings. So what options does a job hunter have?

    1. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

      In my case the person I worked for was an old boss of mine, and when I became unemployed in February she reached out to me and asked if I could help build her online store. She paid me a fair market rate, so part time was all she could afford, but I worked 10-15 hours a week for 8 months.

      I think maybe a lot of these positions are from personal and professional contacts, tbh.

    2. John*

      I went to work for an established company with a good reputation for employees sticking around and treating them well. The company had started as a employee owned business but sold itself to a multinational about a decade ago. The older policies and traditions, including a lot of the support for work/life balance stuff, and saw itself as family friendly (it’s not a family friendly industry, but they’re closer than most) are starting to fade, but a lot of that culture is still there.

      One of the things that we have is anything down to a 32hr salaried position with full benefits, and people can change it up basically at will. People switch all over the place between full time and 32, and sometimes lower, and back. I dropped to 32 this year, and the only limitation that was put on it was the advice that it probably wasn’t a great idea to switch more than twice a year. It’s not uncommon even in non-covid times, but there’s been a definite increase this year.

      I have no idea how you find them though. This is something that was discussed in the interviews as an option, but it’s not in the job advertisements.

      So I don’t really know how you find it – they’re not always advertised – but they do exist.

    3. Chilipepper*

      There is research showing that, especially for people over 40, part-time or more like 20 to 30 hours a week is best for personal well-being and work productivity. I wish workplaces would pay attention to this! I think if we could separate health care from full time work, we would see a lot more flexibility in hours.

    4. Beehoppy*

      Earlier in the year a friend introduced me to a company for remote work called Belay. It’s contract work-but you can tell them how many hours you want and then apply for jobs with clients that specify that amount of hours for long-term work. A lot of it is admin, but there is some editorial, etc work.

    5. GermanGirl*

      Hm, my company advertised themselves as family friendly and even got an award for being the most family friendly company in our region about a decade ago … so maybe look for companies with awards like that?

      We’re in a business where our customers will use the machines we sell for a decade or three before replacing them, so it’s good to retain employees and their know-how for decades and offering part-time, childcare on the premise and similar stuff is good for that. Attracting people who are ready to settle down, buy a house, have kids and work part time is good because they’re less mobile on the job market. So maybe look for companies with such products?

      All that said, we don’t have the “healthcare is tied to full-time employment” problem here in Germany, so it’s a lot easier to offer and accept part time.

      AND I think the most important thing is to just ask for it. We don’t advertise our positions as part time, but when we have a great candidate who wants the position with 30h/week, we’ll take them over a mediocre candidate who is willing to work full time any day.

      Personally, I started full time and then went to part time after having a baby (you have a right to do that in Germany if your employer can’t find a convincing reason that it’s impossible in your job) and I’m scheduled to return to full-time when my baby turns two, but I might just extend my part time for another year or even indefinitely …

  3. Bookworm*

    I have been feeling a little sad as my vacation comes to an end so I appreciate seeing the Friday good news! Thanks to all the LWs as always.

  4. Casey*

    LW1: Since reading AAM, I’ve implemented a new rule: if I wrote in about a situation and I think Alison’s first word would be “What?!”, I do my best to change the situation. It’s surprisingly freeing to imagine an outside perspective!

  5. Works in IT*

    I really, really want to know how the company they were leaving had the opportunity to install a new manager above them. If their subcontracting group was already on the way out, how did it get so bad everyone fled?

    1. Eeeeka*

      The way I read it, as a subcontractor, they got a new manager for their group from the contractor. That new manager drove off everyone who was part of the subcontractor group before their contract was up.

  6. Personal Best In Consecutive Days Lived*

    LW1 I’m so glad you got out of there and are doing well in your job search.
    I’m curious about a detail in your letter (though it doesn’t change your path forward at all), do you mean the primary contracting company hired a director for your company? I’m not sure how the new manager came in to his job.

    1. LW #1*

      Our section of the project had previously been handled by us (the subcontracting company) exclusively because it was very complex, and the Prime didn’t have the technical experience necessary to execute it successfully. As such, we hadn’t ever had anyone managing us, so to speak, in the Prime’s organization. We’d reported to them on what they were doing, and collaborated with their engineers to try to help them succeed, but they didn’t interfere with how we performed our jobs.

      I’m still not entirely sure what the new director thought his mandate was, because the internal political machinations of management in the Prime were pretty opaque to me, but less than two weeks after he came in, he decided he was going to drastically modify how the subcontractors on our chunk of the project did our jobs. Unfortunately, because he was part of the Prime on the contract, he was in a position to be able to do that; contractually, we couldn’t tell him, “No,” we could only say, “This is not a good idea.” Ultimately, we said it wasn’t a good idea by resigning en masse.

  7. Personal Best In Consecutive Days Lived*

    Thanks for the clarification. I am so glad you and your colleagues are out of there. Not a great sign when the new manager alienates employees and their manager doesn’t do anything about it!

    1. Personal Best In Consecutive Days Lived*

      Oops. That was in response to LW1’s reply to my post above.

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