updates: the privacy-violating team lead, the intern annoying his coworkers, and more

It’s the final day of “where are you now?” season at Ask a Manager, where I’ve been printing updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past.

1. Our new team lead is horrible and keeps sharing private details about us with our colleagues (first update here)

Last time I checked in was right after I started my new job! I still have a contact at old job and this is what I know.

Both Josh and Stacy have been promoted, so the comments nailed that on the head. They didn’t want to rock the boat over Kate to put their own promotions on the line. The head of the department thinks Kate is going to raise the level of service that the team provides.

Kate is still a manger to a small team of 3. I am guessing she is up to her usual behavior because she bragged on LinkedIn about a project that she came up with and completed on her own , while posting my original outline with my watermark. Interesting how they could find the budget for that after I left.

The employee that I was training during my last 2 weeks has left. From what I understand he left in October, and he doesn’t have a new job listed. On an interesting note, according to the hiring website, they have multiple positions open on Kate’s team and they haven’t been able to fill them yet.

I have been at my new job for 9 months now and really thriving! No job is perfect of course, but my management team really listens to my ideas, and I’ve been able to implement some of them! I also knocked my annual review and client surveys out of the park, so I’m gaining more responsibilities as well. Don’t worry my pay was adjusted fairly.

Thank you to you and your readers for all the great advice!

2. Some colleagues are annoyed by my intern

I was able to turn the interaction into a teachable moment. My intern shared that he often can’t read social cues due to his neurodivergence, so we talked about specific things to read – when people respond with only “yes” and “no” answers and don’t elaborate, or when they stop making eye contact. We also talked about setting a timer and just wrapping up chit chat after 5 minutes. He shared with me that he felt isolated in the intern room, so we found alternative space for him to work where he would be able to at least see other people throughout the day.

Unfortunately, the original two staffers who started the whole debacle never got over their annoyance and just did their best to avoid my intern.

3. Covid has made my job a slog — when should I give up on it?

In the three months in between when I sent the letter and when you published it, I did my best to re-engage, and created a six month training program for our staff to try to re-motivate them and refresh the skills that had gotten rusty during the pandemic. (I was definitely not alone in feeling burned out and bored.) The program was positively received, and I think it helped staff re-engage with their work, their supervisors, and each other, to a degree. But, as we came to the end of the six month program, I had to admit that my feelings about the job really hadn’t changed. The public still seems a lot crankier than they used to be (or maybe it’s just me?), and I can’t find it in myself to be the cheerleader that my staff really need (and that I used to be). I casually put out a handful of applications for positions outside my field, with hybrid or remote schedules and limited supervisory duties, and had two offers (each with a salary boost and more vacation) within six weeks. My last day was November 30.

I appreciate all if the advice that readers gave, especially about avoiding the sunk cost fallacy. Thinking about what specific aspects were dragging me down helped me focus on what would be helpful to look for in a new job. I’m relieved and optimistic about turning the page, but I also feel less guilt because I put in the time and effort to try to make things work here first.

4. Doing virtual therapy when you’re back to in-office work (#5 at the link)

Within a week or so of emailing AAM, I lucked out and found a therapist who was in-network and had telehealth availability at 6pm. I met with her 3 times over the course of a couple of months, and by the end of the third session she told me she didn’t think I needed therapy! She observed that the coping/processing strategies I already have seem to be serving me well, and my own trust in my ability to handle the upcoming year (planning my wedding, moving somewhere unknown based on the results of my fiance’s post-grad-school job search, and finding a new job as a result of that move) was boosted by her professional vote of confidence. So, I’ve put an indefinite hold on more therapy.

As I ended up not needing to work from home for therapy appointments, I never asked my manager for permission to do so. However, in February I will actually be totally alone in the office (one perpetual vacancy, one retirement, and one FMLA leave means our department of 4 will be a department of me) so I will be asking to work 1-3 days from home as the collaborative benefits of in-person work will be moot. We’ll see how that goes!

{ 14 comments… read them below }

  1. MisreadingCuesSucks*

    As someone neurodivergent myself, #2 kind of saddens and frustrates me with how the colleagues are handling the situation. Granted, avoidance is maybe better than under-the-breath asides, but it’s still not really professional to actively avoid someone you work with just because you find them annoying, especially since it sounds like this guy just needed someone to give him some tips on how to read a room rather than anything drastic.

    1. Rainbow*

      Some neurotypicals expecting others to change without being willing to change themselves – what’s new there?

      I used to work with an older guy like this. I don’t know whether he was ND, but some more senior colleagues complained about him to his manager. His manager was polite with them (they were more senior than her too), but said nothing to the guy because it’d just upset him and it won’t stop him talking because that’s who he was. Manager was privately annoyed at their rudeness for going behind that guy’s back. Maybe if those people had listened instead they’d have realized he’s full of fascinating info.

      1. Despachito*

        I perhaps do not fully understand – the senior colleagues found the older guy annoying and told his manager. The manager did not tell the guy anything because he assumed he would be upset and nothing will change, but at the same time thought the senior colleagues were rude because they did not directly confront the guy (possibly for the same fear he would be upset)? And it is still somehow the fault of the senior colleagues because they were not able/willing to just ignore the upsetting behaviour and listen to that guy’s fascinating information?

        If this is correct, it sounds like terrible management, and very unjust towards the senior colleagues.

    2. Firecat*

      It doesn’t surprise me at all.
      Most people don’t speak up until they are at breaking point and then they seem to feel like you were being socially awkward AT them specifically.

    3. Michelle Smith*

      So many people don’t understand neurodivergence. It hurt my heart a little to read that update too. I don’t think there was much more LW could have done, but I wish her colleagues had been kinder people to the intern.

  2. GreyjoyGardens*

    It sounds like the original two staffers in LW 2’s situation had reached “b*tch eating crackers” level with the unfortunate intern, and even a turnaround in his behavior (it sounds like all he needed was some professional guidance as to boundaries) didn’t shake their negative opinion. Sometimes some people get SO annoyed that the very sight or sound of the b*tch eating crackers will set them off, which is why the whole term caught on (people are so annoyed with the person that even their doing something innocent like eating crackers is rage-inducing! It makes me wonder if child abuse will occasionally start from this?).

    An intern, by definition, is still learning, so I’m glad LW2 had a talk with him, he stated his neurodivergence sometimes made things hard, but now he knows. He’ll take that to his new job or internship. Meanwhile, the two annoyed colleagues won’t be asked to be references, so in a year, all this will be behind them.

  3. esra*

    The public still seems a lot crankier than they used to be (or maybe it’s just me?)

    It’s definitely not just you, OP #3. Everyone is so burnt out and extra crispy, those days of solidarity early on didn’t last for very long.

    1. Beth*

      Came here to say the same thing. It’s not you, OP #3. Some areas and some industries have it worse than others, but the general a-hole background radiation has definitely shot up.

  4. Bill and Heather's Excellent Adventure*

    It sounds like things worked out as well as they could for your intern, LW2. Better that those two employees don’t interact with him rather than mocking and aggravating him. And you helped him with workplace norms, which is something he’ll take into his future work.

  5. Middle Name Danger*

    I would be incredibly hesitant to take a therapist’s word you “don’t need therapy” after three sessions, LW4. You might not need it weekly or even every other week, but it’s good to have a place that’s yours to vent or bounce ideas, especially if you’re going through something stressful. Also good to meet regularly in case you do have an emergency, so the therapist has a baseline for you and there’s established rapport.

    Personally I’d just be looking for a different therapist.

    1. LilBird*

      I definetly agree with this. I’m curious if the therapist is apart of an EAP, as at least in my experience, there is a 3 session limit, and they rarely go beyond that.
      I’ve had multiple therapists in my life and most have mentioned that you don’t get an accurate insight into a patient until you’ve had a number of sessions. Also therapy isn’t always needed when you are coping well, I’ve found when I think I’m coping well is the best time for therapy as you can focus more on progression rather than just a ‘fix for this specific situation’

  6. Fellmama*

    “The public still seems a lot crankier than they used to be (or maybe it’s just me?)”
    LW3, it is *not* just you. I work in a service industry, and people are ruder and more impatient than ever before.

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