it’s your Friday good news

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

1. I have good news to share! After 15+ years as an individual contributor and informal leader, I took my first job as a formal manager about two and a half years ago at a new employer. It’s been challenging, though the fact that I am leading a very experienced and professional group of folks makes my job enormously easier. I’ve taken your advice (and many of the comments from readers on various posts) to heart in how I manage others, in how I interact with peers and other colleagues, and in how I relate to my own management. This has let me develop uniformly friendly and productive working relationships. The overall environment of my current employer is such a vast improvement on any previous place I’ve worked (e.g. near-zero interpersonal drama, excellent support from management, a broad feeling that everyone feels urgency and drive without undue stress) that I can hardly believe my good fortune. I had a few stumbles, of course, but I was able to get my feet back under me in relatively good order. My first performance review last year was very positive, with an “achieves” rating that felt very satisfying, both because (as I have counseled many of my own reports), “achieves” in our organization is much more an “A-” than a “C” and because my mental health issues (anxiety, depression, etc.) mean that I am constantly fighting imposter syndrome.

I had figured I was heading for an “achieves” rating again this year, thanks to the wreck that COVID made of my groups budget, and I was happy with that. Instead, I was given an “exceeds expectation” rating, with my manager citing all of the work I had done to help my group and the organization during the COVID crisis. He also told me that he was working to get me some additional training that would be valuable for future promotion to higher levels of management! I think I’ve finally found a great fit, and while I still struggle to truly believe that I’m succeeding, it’s easier when I’m gotten such positive feedback and support.

The advice on your site has been enormously helpful to me, both as a manager and as a person. Thank you for all of your work!

2. Pre-Covid I was working at an extremely toxic workplace putting in over 50 hours a week for $40K a year with no benefits. I was right in the middle of a job change and had put in my notice the day before Covid hit, so my new offer was pulled and my old job dismissed me the same day. As awful as this was it gave me the push I needed to re-evaluate my career and decide that I needed and deserved better.

I went back to school and two months ago got an entry level position in my new field, with room to move up once I finish my degree. It is already a big step up with a 40 hour work week and good benefits, and they are currently paying me to stay home since my husband has Covid (he is doing well) even though I am still in my probationary period. This is night and day from how my last field is handling the pandemic, so I already know I made the right choice! As awful as it was to lose my job I’m glad it gave me the time I needed to make a change, otherwise I likely would have stayed in my old field being miserable for years.

3. I am the parent of a preschooler, and like a lot of people, trying to balance work and caretaking this year has been overwhelming. I reduced my FTE for a good part of the spring and summer, but the stress and inability to concentrate made me feel like I was a terrible parent and a terrible employee. And like a lot of people, I worried that the disruptions from the pandemic would hurt my company so much that our jobs would be in danger (my industry is education-related).

BUT! The good news is that my boss really was able to look at my accomplishments this year based on the amount of time I put in, not what I ‘should’ have been doing at 100% FTE. (He is a good boss but I just imagined with a cloud of doom that that would be a difficult exercise for most people). I rescued some difficult client relationships and my project management skills were really valued, resulting in the best overall rating I have gotten in 10 years at this company! I’ll receive a ‘very good’ increase (something like 2.75% out of a possible 3.5%) and a small bonus!

The financial reward is great in such a tough year, but really it was the recognition that almost made me cry. I thought I was trapped by all these terrible circumstances that are out of our control, and that there was no way to keep from hurting my career, but it turns out I needed to give myself more credit for my efforts. I hope others out there, working parents and otherwise, are also able to be proud of themselves for doing the best they can under this year’s extraordinary circumstances.

Thank you, Alison and AAM community!

{ 6 comments… read them below }

  1. Happy Camper*

    It’s good to hear from people like #3. I also have a preschooler and a young elementary aged child and spouse and I are both WFH full time. The guilt is never-ending, the kids have no problem expressing their displeasure however my company has been super accommodating and I still feel like I’m letting them down by essentially producing the work of a part time employee. I look forward to the day when the pressure finally releases and I can go back to being “mom” or “employee” and not perpetually “momployee”.

  2. RJ*

    Congratulations to OP 1, 2 and 3! Stories like these give me hope that someday soon, I’ll be able to find a new position. It’s inspiring to hear from people who are managing new starts in these uncertain times.

  3. Penelope*

    It’s so wonderful to hear these good news. It makes my heart swell with joy for the three of you!

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