updates: I referred a friend to a freelancer I work with and it went badly, and more

Welcome to “where are you now?” season at Ask a Manager! Between now and the end of the year, I’ll be running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past. Here are three updates from past letter-writers.

1. I referred a friend to a freelancer I work with and it went badly

Thanks so much for publishing my question and I appreciate the folks who weighed in in the comments. I have a short update for you. I was really anxious about losing a good contractor, but after reading your answer and the comments, I decided not to mention anything to Jane unless she said something first. It never came up. We now have her contracted to do some work for us in Q1 and she never brought anything up about Lee when I spoke with her.

As for Lee, when they next contacted me (which was to get my opinion on some funding options to keep their business afloat that were, frankly, very shady), I asked what happened with Jane, and they were really dodgy and said they got their money back but refused to elaborate on anything. A couple commenters pointed out that their card probably looked like it had been double charged when really one was a pending charge that would fall off, and I’m inclined to think that’s what happened (though we will never know for sure). At any rate, I learned something about Lee and will not be referring them to any of my professional contacts again. For what it’s worth, I think more than anything they are very desperate to keep their business afloat and they’re making poor choices because of it. I politely told them that I wouldn’t recommend they move forward with any of the plans they came to me with, and also that my work schedule has gotten very full so I won’t be able to consult on their business with them anymore. I haven’t heard from them since.

2. I’m about to go on vacation — and just used up all my PTO on the flu (#2 at the link)

I already have an update for you and your lovely readers – who were super, incredibly helpful and kind.

It turns out my worries were completely unfounded. My boss is a reasonable and lovely person and after a discussion about something else, said “Hey your vacation is going to be unpaid” and I said “You read my mind, will you please approve it as unpaid time off” and they said that they will and told me to take care of myself (because I keep getting sick and having to use up PTO – between myself and partner working with children and having a child who is school-age). I appreciated the advice from readers about just talking to my boss about it instead of trying to ignore the possible issue, because that did remind me that my boss is easy to talk to and we actually have a great working relationship. I am someone who actually really loves my job (sick, isn’t it?) and works very hard, so the time away will be such a treat (paid or not).

3. I accidentally implied to my new manager I might only be staying a year (#4 at the link)

I did take your advice to clarify with my manager, and it went very well (I didn’t even get the impression she’d thought anything of it, but it made me feel better to clarify). I’m almost six months into my new job now and I really like it, and my manager is excellent. Thank you again for your advice during that anxious first week. I read your blog every day and have recommended it to undergrad students I’ve mentored as a wonderful resource on the “hidden curriculum” of professional life!

{ 13 comments… read them below }

  1. Sarah*

    Loving the many posts! I’m in Australia so it’s nice to have some more updates posted throughout my workday as well.

  2. azvlr*

    I feel like a lot of these updates are like when you watch a movie and the plot centers around the fact that the characters didn’t have a simple conversation that would clear everything up. I’m happy to see that people are feeling empowered to ask questions. It’s so relatable that you build up a problem in your mind to be worse that it really is. I love it when there are good updates!

    1. Vio*

      Definitely. Nine times out of ten a problem can be solved by a simple conversation. But our minds have a tendency to build it up and focus on the less likely potential pitfalls that may not even happen.
      Often when I see these situations in fiction I think “Oh come on, they’d just have to TALK and it would all be solved!” but then have to remind myself how many times I’ve had that same thought in real life but as hindsight rather than foresight.

      1. Selena81*

        Yeah, it looks so simple and clear-cut from a distance, but it’s so easy to get yourself stuck in that mental maelstrom of “what if this is somehow the one thing that my manager hates”

  3. Jolene*

    #2 seems like boss was anxious about having to tell OP that it would be unpaid, which is kind of sweet. I’m glad everything worked out for everyone.

    1. Selena81*

      ikr? It sounds like manager was worried that LW would ‘forget’ that they already burned though their PTO and would try to double-dip.

      Pretty wholesome: 2 people worried about the other being unreasonable and eventually solving it with a quick chat.

  4. Berlina*

    I’m glad everything worked out but have to say each time I read about US rules regarding sicktime/vacation/PTO/maternity leave I think this is a nightmare. >_<

    1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

      I mean, this is largely true, but it is a major cultural issue that is only recently getting more traction to correct. And, it seems, those with small children and/or chronic health conditions are the worst off given that they have to reserve their PTO for health and/or emergencies and/or childcare. It’s a wonder why Millennials and Gen Z are delaying/opting out of starting a family! /s

    2. Velociraptor Attack*

      We know. We know because we live it but we also know because every time there’s a post that includes anything about leave we get people in the comments acting like this is brand new information and if we all just knew that PTO in the US is different than in other places, it would change everything. (And then people like me saying yes, we’re aware).

    3. Selena81*

      On the one hand I don’t want to say anything. It sounds like a broken record. And my labor-position isn’t a personal victory that I could brag about, I was just born here.

      On the other hand I do want to say something. Because it is easy to think of your own life as ‘the standard’ and not strive for meaningful improvements. Because Europe knows a lot more about American culture than vice-versa. And because corporations are trying to push back on worker’s rights everywhere in the world, so I want to keep getting the message out that stuff like ‘unlimited sick days’ does not harm their ability to make a profit.

  5. Lucia Pacciola*

    Taken together, these three updates demonstrate that while using your words to communicate with people is usually the best approach, sometimes you just need to keep your mouth shut.

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