update: after I hired someone, a mutual friend told me I’d made a huge mistake

It’s “where are you now?” month at Ask a Manager, and all December I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past.

There will be more posts than usual this week, so keep checking back throughout the day.

Remember the letter-writer hired someone and then a mutual friend said she’d made a huge mistake? Here’s the update.

It’s been a little under a year since I hired Julian and I’m happy to say he’s still on my team. But these past six months haven’t been 100% perfect.

Shortly after hiring him, it became evident that Julian didn’t like to be around a lot of people at one time. After a few months of struggling to get him to follow the schedules I’d been making for him, which put him working during our peak times, I started letting him make his own schedule. This helped him be more productive and, from an outsider’s perspective, much happier.

The one downside to letting him make his own schedule was that it made it much harder for him to get to know the rest of the team (his role is unique and allows him to work more distantly than some others). I started worrying that he was always going to be a bit of an outcast, but then his longtime partner applied to work for me (same team, different role). To make a long story short, she very honestly shared that she had been out of work for several years due to a debilitating anxiety disorder and was hoping to slowly reenter the workforce in a supportive environment like ours. We hired her, the team took to her instantly, and she’s turned out to be one of our best workers.

I talked in my initial letter about Julian being escorted off of the premises of his last job for “acting erratically” and “having screaming matches with himself.” Unfortunately, he has had one of those moments with me. A couple of months ago he suddenly started trembling, sweating and kicking things (nothing breakable). It caught me off guard, but we gave him a few days to collect himself and then we regrouped and determined that he was simply exhausted by some things that were going on in his personal life. We made a few reasonable modifications that would help him manage some of these things and he’s been fine ever since. We also asked him how he would like to be interacted with if/when he feels overwhelmed again, so hopefully that will help us to support him.

I also spoke in my initial letter about Julian having reportedly made some of his former female coworkers feel unsafe. Personally, I haven’t seen any of that in the workplace (for what it’s worth, I’m a cis female). Overall, the team thinks of Julian as an odd duck, but no one is afraid of him. If anything, watching him be very kind to his sometimes anxious partner has endeared him to the rest of the team.

All in all, I’m happy with both Julian and his partner. It feels as though we were able to get two good employees for the price of one simply because we were kind and understanding from the get-go. I hope they continue to work out!

{ 2 comments… read them below }

  1. Letter Writer Clearing Some Things Up*

    LW here…

    Wow, I was genuinely shocked by all of the hate this update got yesterday. I’m not looking to go back and forth with anyone because I feel I’ve done right by ALL of my employee in this situation, but I am going to clear up a few points.

    1. Julian has never had a loud or aggressive outburst at this workplace—ever. When he was kicking things (think bags of trash or boxes of recyclables), it appeared he was doing so because he was panicked or frustrated because he was panicking. I was also the only person who witnessed this display of emotion, as it happened in a restricted area.

    2. I genuinely believe that the team is comfortable (or at least neutral) when it comes to being around Julian. My team has openly brought forth concerns about other team members—which we’ve dealt with—but these concerns have never centered around Julian.

    3. Julian is not getting special treatment. Because Julian’s role is so unique, it’s easy for us to make accommodations for him. If Julian worked in a different department or held a different role, many of these accommodations wouldn’t be possible.

  2. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Due the bizarre amount of misinformation in this comment section, including rampant misstatements of what’s in the letter itself, I’m removing all comments except for one clarification from the letter-writer and closing the post.

Comments are closed.