it’s your Friday good news

It’s your Friday good news!

1.  “I worked for a small company (less than 20 people) for 10 years. Right from the start, it was obvious that the workload would be crushing; my responsibilities and roles were overwhelming, my phone never stopped ringing 24/7, and all this for meager pay. I was young and naïve. I let myself get led on by my boss and stayed for colleagues who were the most amazing people. In 2019, a sudden shift in company culture took away the few things that were positive about my job. I started having panic attacks, but in hindsight, I am grateful for this fact. My body was trying to warn me; without this, I would have never decided to take action. I decided to quit overnight, without having anything else lined up. I gave them a three-month notice, which was horrible and dragging, as the level of dysfunction had risen exponentially.

Unfortunately, my last day of work coincided with the beginning of a very strict lockdown due to COVID in my city. Of course, I feel so sorry for the people that lost their lives and suffered the sequences of the pandemic; however, it was an opportunity for me to regroup, relax, and spend time with my family. I started seeing a therapist and eventually started job hunting again. I applied to a few selected positions and I had interviews for most of them. My shift in mentality was impressive. I felt that I was interviewing them and had great interviews and offers. In the first offer, I was able not only to negotiate salary but working fewer hours although the position was designed to be full-time. Unfortunately, negotiations coincided with a second lockdown and I declined the offer as I decided not to juggle so many things, having to take care of my kid who attended first grade remotely.

A few months passed and a friend of mine recommended me to the company she worked for. I loved the field and soon I had an offer for a part-time position for the same amount of money I got working 70-hour weeks in my previous personal hell. I work permanently from home, there is huge flexibility, and management is great. As for my previous employer, all members of staff gradually started to quit within 1 year of me leaving. Adding the old contractors that started declining to work with the company soon after I left, they lost more than 50 dedicated, very knowledgeable people.

Most companies keep contacting me if there is any new role that fits my skills. So far, I am happy with my current job but I keep job hunting to find something that ticks more boxes. I feel empowered and happy with where my life is going. I owe a huge thank you to Alison and the commenters; you guided me through every step of the process, helped me gain back my confidence, and provided a reality check regarding toxic and healthy working environments. Reading the stories and comments helped me realize that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and other people set an encouraging example at the times I needed it the most. I hope everything goes well for all of you!”

2.  “For the last 5 years I’ve been working in a government organization local to me. I’ve felt extremely proud of what I’ve accomplished but there’s been a problem. I’ve been told that I have ‘helium hand’ syndrome … when someone reaches out in search of help I raise my hand and volunteer. The other side of it is that I have a reputation for doing my work well, keeping folks in the loop, and executing well in a variety of situations. So people seek me out a not small amount of time.

Unfortunately, while there is always more work and responsibilities in these kinds of jobs, and temporary assignments tend to become permanent, there isn’t always a rush (or an ability) to adjust compensation in order to match those duties. So reluctantly and slowly, I started to reach out to my network to let them know that I was available and looking.

In the next few weeks, I’ll be starting a new job at a significant pay increase and with a title / job that matches the work I do and opens a path to doing even more senior work as we move forward. I will miss the place that I’m leaving tremendously, and I’m proud of the work I’ve left behind.

A big part of it was reading this site and seeing the continued reminders to know your value, to pursue your value, and that in the end you have to make the choices that are right for you. So thanks to everyone! Looking forward to these next challenges. ”

3.  “I’ve been reading your site for years now, and I’m delighted that I finally am able to write in for Friday good news! I work in academic librarianship, and I spent almost a decade in an environment that was varying degrees of toxic depending on who was in my reporting line at the time. After many years and two promotions in rank, I knew there wasn’t going to be room to advance in the hierarchy or get paid appropriately (I was making an entry level salary still), so I geared up to begin job hunting. This was early 2020, so I’m sure everyone can guess what happened next.

Fast forward to 2021. My institution was a mixed bag in terms of handling the pandemic, but things that had been previously tolerable no longer were and it was high time to get a new position. I was determined not to act out of desperation, so I was very selective in what I applied for. I revamped my CV, tailored my cover letters, and looked exclusively for management positions as I’d determined that’s where I wanted to go in my career. Every single application in my field was met with a first round interview, and I had multiple invitations for the second round as well! I interviewed them as much as they interviewed me (and used the magic question) and ended up negotiating an amazing offer. I got a 60% raise, relocation benefit, tenure-track faculty status (I was previously staff), hybrid work, access to PTO as of day one, and I’d be building and managing a brand new department!

I’ve been at the new position for a few months, and so far all is well! I’ve definitely gotten a crash course in what is involved in being a manager, and despite navigating some challenging situations I’m loving it so far. My reports are amazing, and I’ve been supported as I gradually work to shape our department and build a positive work culture that supports setting boundaries and other healthy workplace practices (don’t work outside of work! use your pto! it’s okay to say no to things! don’t do more with less!). I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop because of past experiences, and am pleasantly surprised that it hasn’t yet.

Thanks for running such a wonderful site! I’ve learned so much and it’s been helping me be a better manager from day one.”

4.  “Last year, my husband started a new job where he was immediately asked to support a different team in a new-to-the-company department that was relevant to his background. That has worked out splendidly for him: he didn’t just end up supporting this team — he effectively stood the whole department up and got a lot of visibility in upper management for a smooth transition both when their system went live and bringing on a big client. It’s currently only a department of two, but they promoted him to team lead with a 20% pay raise! (He’s still paid a bit low, but at least this was a good jump, percentage wise) They are also likely to hire someone else on his team and his current manager wants to promote him to an official manager in the not-too-distant future.

His good news was quickly followed by my own: my manager moved to a different role in the company and I was asked to fill her role as manager! So I moved from my own team lead position to an official manager of 4 — and soon to be 6 or 7! While I actually got a bigger pay bump last year than this year (odd and a little deflating — but I did ask for more and they bumped it up a little and I’ll still be eligible for a merit increase during our regular appraisal cycle), it’s a mental “win” to be part of official management. I’m not sure I’ll want to be a manager of people forever but I think it will be a good next step in my career and will definitely expand my skill-set. I’ve already asked about any sort of management training that’s available and while our company doesn’t offer much, my boss said we can look at other opportunities outside the company too (I’ve already got your book, but I figure some other resources couldn’t hurt!).”

{ 23 comments… read them below }

  1. OrigCassandra*

    OP3, as a former academic librarian I’m always happy to hear about good people going into library management. May you flourish there!

    OP1, the body sure does keep the score (as a book title has it). I’m glad you’re doing so much better.

  2. Sara without an H*

    Hi, OP#3– Yet another former academic librarian. Congratulations, and I hope you find you love management. (I did!)

    Just a heads-up about being tenure track faculty: If your library requires publication for tenure, start on that ASAP. Get as clear as you can about the local requirements for tenure. If you can find a couple of coworkers to start a writing group, that can be helpful.

  3. Sara without an H*

    OP#2 — With your permission, I’m going to swipe “helium hand syndrome” for future use. You’ve perfectly described a common affliction in public service or any of the helping professions. I’m glad to hear you did’nt let it take over your life.

    Best of luck in your new endeavor.

  4. Researchalator Lady*

    Was anyone else confused by the wording “ he effectively stood the whole department up”? Isn’t standing someone (or a group) up to not show up for a promised appointment?

    1. mlem*

      It has another meaning, along the lines of “to launch” or “to get off the ground”. I don’t know if it’s more common outside the US, or if it’s military, etc.

    2. Valancy Snaith*

      To stand up a department, etc., is a phrase that means to create it or to cause it to exist. It’s pretty common in military parlance, for one example, to say “the unit was stood up in [whenever year]” to mean the year it was created.

  5. Artemesia*

    Love all of these, but #4: time to be looking for a place that will reward you with money as well as title promotion. No rush, but nothing so old as exploiting a competent person on staff without giving them the kind of money they would offer someone recruited from outside for this role. Get your experience, but also start revising the CV and thinking about what options there might be for moving on elsewhere.

  6. Don't Forget to Mute The Zoom*

    There will never be a way to say “the pandemic was really great for me personally” without it being incredibly cringey. Maybe it was, but saying it out loud just hits hard.

    1. BubbleTea*

      That isn’t precisely what they said. Lock down was an opportunity to recover from a horrible work situation and recognise what was important. That’s true for a lot of people, including those who lost family.

      Unlike the people in power who took the pandemic as an opportunity to racketeer and make profit out of people’s misery by setting up fake supply contracts for dodgy PPE or exploiting people’s labour and putting them at risk, LW didn’t hurt anyone by taking some time to think during lock down. Interpreting their statement to mean “I’m glad the pandemic happened” is uncharitable.

      1. Don't Forget to Mute The Zoom*

        “Of course, I feel so sorry for the people that lost their lives and suffered the sequences of the pandemic; however, it was an opportunity for me to regroup, relax, and spend time with my family. ”

        I don’t see how to read that any other way then “Sorry some people died, but I actually enjoyed it”

        If you want to call that an uncharitable reading, go right ahead. But I still find it truly amazing how some people will go to the edge of the earth to defend that kind of dismissive cruelty. What good comes of saying it?

        1. AsPerElaine*

          There are people whose valid lived experience is “Obviously the pandemic sucked overall, but for me it was a break when I badly needed one.” They aren’t having that experience AT you, they’re just telling their story. I don’t see any need to censor people who might have experienced some benefits from what was overall a really rough time.

    2. On An On*

      I mean I don’t think this is totally fair. What are they supposed to say, lie about it? For better or for worse, it is part of the story

      1. Don't Forget to Mute The Zoom*

        Why say it at all? What is there to gain from it? I had this exact conversation with relatives who spoke of Covid like it was a good thing and went on and on about how great they were doing. There are things in life that need not be said. Exclaiming that a catastrophic event was good for you is one of those things.

        1. JC*

          They didn’t say Covid was a good thing. They said in the hardship of lockdown they found opportunities. That was true for many people. It doesn’t mean Covid wasn’t a tragedy.

          1. #OP1*

            Hey there, this is letter writer #1. English is not my native language so I was sure that points would not come across as I originally intended. I understand why people may feel upset over this point in my letter. What I was trying to say is that it took something horrible, globally devastating for me to take some time for myself, as I had been working non-stop for 20 years. I was forced to take a break and that proved to be healing. Otherwise, I would just keep on repeating the same unhealthy cycles in the same way I did in the past. This did not come easily. I had and still have great guilt over this fact, but this is my story, this is my personal truth.

            1. coffee*

              There’s an English saying, “It’s an ill wind that blows no good” (ill in this case meaning bad, rather than sick). Or in simpler words, even something bad usually brings some good along with it. It applies here – the pandemic has been very bad, but at least some good things have come from it.

              I don’t think you should feel guilty about something that was out of your control.

    3. JC*

      People are allowed to find brighter spots in hardships. That has been the case with every tragedy. It doesn’t negate the tragedy.

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