it’s your Friday good news

It’s your Friday good news!

1.  “Add me to the growing list of readers who never thought they would be a part of the Friday Good News! I worked at a job for twenty years, moving my way up from entry-level to full-time staff member. I loved the majority of people I worked with, even meeting my now-husband, and I had the flexibility and support of the boss to earn a degree while there. The work wasn’t very challenging, but since it was for a school district, the time off could not be beat.

Over the years, the change at the director and assistant director level became too much to handle. From the AD who passed himself off as the director and was sleeping with the employees to the director who isolated the staff from each other so no one could check out what he was really doing, it became extremely dysfunctional. I would try to introduce new ideas for employee retention and get shot down. I would develop newsletters and employee recognition/incentives and get laughed at by upper management. I would step in to help any department with anything but often found that no one would do the same for my department. The last director promised the AD his role when he retired and that was the beginning of the end for us. Director was low-key racist, bigoted, and ultra-conservative to the point of pushing those ideas on staff and arguing he was right every chance he got. He had been reported to HR many times and used his retirement period to retaliate against every employee who had reported him, going so far as to try to change our contracts. We fought back and won, and when the AD actually took over, she held that against everyone as well. She started freezing me out, refusing to answer calls and emails, and intentionally leaving me out of meetings that directly related to my job duties. When someone wanted to find other employment, she took that as a personal slight and trash-talked them to anyone who would listen. Despite our 20-year working relationship, I knew I had to get out of that toxic environment that would never see me as more than the front office person. (Way too many other negatives to get into.)

A former employee recommended me to his boss. I sent in my resume on Monday, interviewed on Tuesday, and had a job offer by Wednesday. My husband was not on board initially. I would not have the same schedule as the him or the kids anymore. He was worried I would not like it or be in over my head. But I told him I had to take this opportunity. He had seen me cry many times over the years about how much I could not stand my job. Having worked there as well, he knew what it could be like. I finally told him I was taking the job and needed him to support me.

I started my new job and wow. WOW! The environment is so much better. My boss trusts me to manage myself and the office, and when he tells me information about the company, I have to resist asking him why he is telling me this — he is just keeping me in the loop! I have since received a promotion and raise, so I am now making 30% more than I was making. It would honestly have taken me forty years to reach this new salary! (School district employees don’t make much.) I have great coworkers, and even though the industry has hit some rough patches, I am still working every day, with options to work from home as needed. I miss having all those school holidays off with my kids, but this job has allowed my husband to step back from his job responsibilities. It has allowed us to take vacations and put more towards college funds and savings. But most importantly, it has given me a new sense of confidence. I have picked up so many new skills, and if I want to learn more, my boss is always on board. He supports a healthy work/family balance. He supports his staff!

I still keep in touch with many of my former coworkers who are now friends, and even though there are over 250 employees, there are only about thirty staff positions. A dozen staff members have left in a year and a half, something that is almost unheard of when it comes to staff turnover there. And the director treated every employee the same way she treated me — freezing them out and then refusing to acknowledge their contributions to the department. Some people never change.

I have found your website invaluable over the years. I recommend it to everyone I work with. Many times, I considered writing to you, but I kept telling myself that every workplace has its problems, and the ones I read about are far worse than mine. But your Friday Good News really spurred me to look elsewhere. I realized that a toxic boss won’t change just because you want her to, and if these other readers could have success, maybe I could as well.”

2.  “I had my first baby a year and a half ago. I breastfed for the first month but had some issues come up and ended up needing to switch to formula after that. It was a very traumatic process, although formula ended up being great for my son and our family.

When I returned to work, I had one coworker (who was always a bit on the nosy/boundary-overstepping side of things), who made a few comments showing that she assumed I was breastfeeding. This was still a hard subject for me at the time, and after each of her comments I would feel very sad. After a few of her comments, however, I decided to have a direct conversation with her. I told her that I wasn’t breastfeeding and that her assumptions were hurting my feelings. It was tempting to soft-pedal the message and I kept thinking, ‘What if I make her feel bad? What if things are awkward between us?’ But I channeled your advice and reminded myself that she was already making me feel bad, and that any awkwardness would be the result of her actions, not mine. I also saved an email introduction I had to make on her behalf until after this conversation, so I could follow up our conversation with a warm, work-related email.

The conversation went well — she was mortified and apologetic, her comments stopped immediately, I felt a lot better, and we were able to maintain our friendly relationship. I don’t know if I would have been able to achieve this simple but positive outcome without your advice for how to have a direct conversation with a coworker. (This advice has also been incredibly helpful for my life outside of work.) Thank you for all that you do!”

3.  “I graduated undergrad in 2011 into a competitive market for candidates and I wanted to save the world so I was looking strictly at nonprofits. I sought admin jobs just to get my foot in the door. Nonprofit turned out to be a dead end so I took a lateral admin role but with a higher salary at a major university in my area. I ended up using tuition remission benefits to get my master’s in a field I previously did not know about but which blended a lot of my interests. I was in my late 20s (at the time I was worried about the fact I would be graduating at 29 LOL). I had to say no to a lot of fun, social things because of money and also to focus on coursework. Sometimes the tuition remission benefit cut into my already low salary because the benefit I received exceeded the tax threshold.

Upon graduation, I took an entry level role that was a great way to get my foot in the door in the field I studied. I was a little bummed about continuously taking entry level roles (and feeling like I wasn’t as far along as peers in my career and the element of starting over) but looking back it was totally the right move and has paid off in multitudes! I have been promoted twice, making 65% more than I was four years ago. While I second-guessed some decisions and felt behind at times, the path was definitely the right one for me and I am so happy with where I landed. I have also been sought after for other opportunities in my field, including serving on a board.

I’d like to convey that even though you may feel demoralized, just keep at it and don’t compare yourself to others!! Career paths aren’t linear and it’s OK to start over (if it is the right move for you, and only you know that!). And if there is something you want to do but feel ‘old,’ the time is going to pass anyway! You may as well do it!”

4.  “I started reading your site in 2020, during my first job out of college. I was making $40,000 a year in one of the highest COL cities in the US, and was literally selling my plasma to make rent despite working 50-60 hours a week for my organization. When my boss found out I was job-searching, he was SHOCKED that I would leave over pay and sent out an org-wide email stating it was my final day with the company. I had to hear about it from a coworker because with no notice, he had locked me out of my email account/essentially fired me (?).

Using your ebook and site, I managed to quickly land a job at a Fortune 500 company, where my pay went from $55k to $75k over about a year and a half. The job was not without its issues but I learned a ton, and just managed to land a new, fully-remote position at my dream nonprofit, making well over six figures with the best benefits of my career. It was my first day yesterday and I couldn’t have done it without you!”

5.  “Our company has a Slack integration that announces various statistics on a daily basis. For various reasons, the bot posts as either Kanye West or Taylor Swift. Given Kanye’s rather outspoken antisemitism, my manager brought it up to his director and got the Kanye bot renamed to a different rock star. An incredibly minor win, but it is something I’m happy about.”

{ 27 comments… read them below }

  1. HCTZ*

    Love them all as usual but #5 gave me a chuckle. Listen, the small wins add up! Take them and run for sure.

    1. Silver Robin*

      And small wins like that are good temperature checks to see how management responds to staff issues. If they make a big fuss over something small and straightforward, well, that tells you something.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Yes, if they say “eh, it’s no big deal” and l/or don’t respond positively to “cool, so it won’t be hard to change” then that tells you a LOT.

    2. Observer*


      Also, what @Silver Robin says. I was thinking just the same thing. So, not so small.

      1. Gracely*

        I so wish someone would tell our upper admin that. They are nickel and diming our morale on a daily basis.

  2. Meghan*

    Congrats #1! I’m not a person who likes to hop from job to job and I thought I could handle a toxic boss, but when people who had been at the property for 2-10+ years started leaving because of this boss, it definitely set off my “something isn’t right here.” And then when I did something very standard for our industry but not in line with the changes they randomly decided to make one day and toxic boss told me that this had already been noted on my annual review, I was out of there even though I’d been there around 6 months- the week before I found my current position I had called my psychiatrist in a panic for an emergency telehealth visit to increase my anxiety meds, it was….not a good situation. At that point I was ready to go back to retail if necessary, but I found a position at a much nicer property and at first it would be a $5K/year pay cut, which I was willing to take, but they matched my salary! PTO/Vacation sucks, though that is common for our industry but the bonuses are outstanding. I’ve been here at a little over 30 days and already received a monthly bonus!

    I fully agree with you, a toxic boss is not going to change just because you want them to. Fingers crossed this is the last job for me!!

  3. Sara without an H*

    All of these are good news. I am, however, appalled by the manager in Letter #4, who was shocked by the news that a grossly-underpaid employee would quit over pay (and then forced the employee out for job searching).

    What is wrong with people?!

    1. Observer*

      and then forced the employee out for job searching).

      That’s understating the case. They FIRED that person. And didn’t even have the decency to TELL the (former) employee. Seems a tad delusional on top of just garbage.

      1. LW #4*

        I still follow the org and believe in their mission, but delusional is the right word for the CEO! The org’s mission is to uplift women and girls in a rural part of East Africa, yet every bit of marketing is focused on the CEO’s story/personal life/how wonderful he is for leading the organization. I have sooo many horror stories from my time there (a previous COO, who had never spent time anywhere on the continent, was convinced we would solve internet connectivity issues in the village by launching our own satellite and had us cold-message Mark Zuckerberg on LinkedIn for his support). I’m back in the nonprofit world now, in a much larger/more functional organization, and feel much more equipped to recognize/handle this kind of behavior – but it was a shock at 21!

    2. CommanderBanana*

      Welcome to the wonderful world of non-profits. The CEO at my last nonprofit made almost a million dollars a year.

      If you work for or are interested in working for a nonprofit, get a copy of their IRS Form 990 first.

      1. Relentlessly Socratic*

        Same, my old NP CEO is pushing up against a million dollars. But we couldn’t hire 2 $60K analysts to help keep the team from burning out.

        1. CommanderBanana*

          Well yeah where do you think the $$ for those grotesquely inflated salaries comes from?

        2. DJ*

          I know it’s crazy. No one is worth over a million a year. But the work support staff take off others (at a fraction of the salary) is invaluable i.e. far higher value for money. And they also cost a fraction of everyone else in the training budget.

  4. Lozi*

    #2 is so encouraging to me … good news doesn’t have to be a job change, sometimes it can just be having a hard conversation go well! Congratulations on the new baby and on this work win, too!

    1. OP #5*

      I don’t really want to give any more detail than I already did as it might clue in folks who work at my company, but it’s a rock star who is both know for their volunteer work and their congenial personality.

  5. English Rose*

    I always love these stories, and this week in particular #2, because I often put off having these hard conversations.
    And on #1 and #4 (and so much of what we read on AAM), I echo what Sara without an H says above: What is wrong with people?

    1. Onomatopoetic*

      I want to thank OP #2 for having that hard conversation. I have been the colleague who needed to be spoken to (not nosy, but definitely overstepping) and it sucked and I think we both cried a little, but we remained good friends in a way we never could have been, if my colleague hadn’t spoken up and instead had been seething quietly.

  6. RJ*

    Wow, OP#1, that was quite the story and I wish you only the best in your new company as you deserve nothing but sunshine and rainbows given what you put up with at your old place.
    Thank you, OP#5, because that was just the smile I needed today!

  7. Moira Rose's Closet*

    OP1, your story gives me a lot of hope. I am in a similar situation. OP5, yay!!

  8. Bookworm*

    Thanks to all the LWs for sharing! And #5: I wouldn’t consider that a “small” win at all. There might be someone(s) at the org who was/is too intimidated to speak up. Glad that the higher ups listened.

  9. Numbat*

    At first I thought number 4 was selling their plasma TV and it took a second to realise it was their actual literal plasma in their blood. Hot tip to any bosses reading this: if your employees have to sell their body parts to make rent, you aren’t paying them enough.

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