Continuing our annual December “where are they now” series, here are five more updates from people who had their questions answered here this year.
1. How can I completely disconnect from a difficult former boss?
I wanted to give you an update on the situation with my former boss, “Marsha,” who had an injury that affected her work and her relationship with me, and her attempts to reconnect after being let go. After you published my letter, I didn’t have any contact from Marsha and thus, no reason to practice the excellent suggestions from you and your commenters. And unfortunately, now, I won’t need to. Barely a month after you published my letter, my now-boss quietly told me and his other direct report, who had also worked with Marsha, that she had already been let go from her new job at the institution related to ours.
I feel terribly for Marsha, and I genuinely hope that she gets the help I think she needs to help her with the issues that have led to her burning so many bridges. Some of your commenters picked up on things I didn’t go into in great depth, like some narcissistic traits and other potential mental health concerns, which I think are fairly accurate assessments (though obviously, this is some armchair psychiatry here and I’m not remotely qualified to pin any diagnosis on her).
I’m sorry I wasn’t interacting in the comments as much as I would have liked to be – some other stuff blew up for me at about the same time – but I want to thank everyone for their thoughts, especially on how chronic and/or unmanaged pain can affect a person. This was clearly part of the equation here, but I do think that it exacerbated some of Marsha’s existing issues. I am relieved that I no longer have to worry how I handle any interactions with Marsha from now on, but more than that, I really hope that Marsha is able to find a way to be happy and generally okay.
2. Are you obligated to support your friends’ businesses?
I wrote in asking people’s opinions on my friend posting about her MLM business on Facebook. I was somewhat comforted by the fact that the commenters here also found it off-putting. I have since caught up with the friend in person and I’m happy to say she didn’t push the topic. She does continue to post about her products fairly often though. Unfortunately I have another friend who does the same, and in fact is now creating nightly live Facebook videos to showcase her MLM business (hers is food related, like spices and dip mixes. She posts a live feed every night of herself cooking dinner!)
So while these posts can be quite annoying, I tend to just scroll past them or when necessary unfollow! I only hope that someone who posts similar updates stumbles across the original comments section and realised how people really feel about constant MLM status updates!
That entire situation turned out to be a big mess. I was going to approach my boss about it, but just before I was going to do it, the coworker I carpool with offhandedly mentioned my lack of a car in front of them, not realizing the full situation. The next few days were uncomfortable because my boss and his wife (who runs the company with him) were particularly standoffish. I had access to his emails as part of my job and I was responsible for reading them all and organizing them for him; one day I stumbled upon some emails that basically indicated they were seeking to replace me. Later that evening, I tried to sign into my work email and found that my password had even been changed on me. It became clear that they were trying to pull a fast one on me.
The next morning, they told me that “It wasn’t a good fit.” They said that as the executive assistant, I was expected to run errands and my lack of a car was a deal-breaker; I told them that it was not in the job description they had provided, and therefore it wasn’t reasonable to expect that, nor was it adequate grounds to dismiss me. They even said if I had to pick up my boss’ dry cleaning at 2am, I would have to do it.
I tried to negotiate a parting salary with them because I was aware of labor laws in my state and wanted to also just make things difficult for them. (Not nice, but if they were firing me, it didn’t really matter to me.) They tried to skirt around labor laws and tell me my final check would be mailed to me, but that is illegal in my state unless they obtained written consent from me (of course, they didn’t). I confronted them with this and they just didn’t believe me. My boss didn’t do any of this discussion; he let his wife do all the talking. She said she was trained in HR and knew the laws (clearly not; I had researched them that evening just to be 100% sure).
Needless to say, that job was a disaster. I later found out that they fired my replacement, too. They just don’t seem to understand what they’re doing and how to realistically lay out expectations. Thankfully the end of that job led me to another one with a supportive boss, collaborative co-workers, better pay and benefits, and a great company culture. Joke’s on them too because with the extra money I earned from the new job, I bought a car and now don’t have to worry about that scenario again. It all seemed to work out in the end.
TLDR: I was going to take your advice but got thwarted; eventually I was let go but it turned out to be one of the best things to happen to me professionally.
4. Am I being frozen out by the company I used to intern at? (#2 at the link)
It turned out that I was overthinking the situation, but I now have the impression that the company’s HR department is slightly dysfunctional. After I didn’t get the job, they asked me to come back for an interview for another position–this time to replace one of my former coworkers who was leaving. I was thrilled, and the interview went really well, but weeks went by and the position was taken off the website and seemingly no one was hired.
After the fact, I learned that they had decided to promote the employee who was leaving rather than hire someone new. The salaries in this industry can be a bit stagnant so it is likely my former coworker was frustrated after working for years without an increase/promotion. I understand wanting to keep an experienced employee, but I wish they had offered to promote her before interviewing candidates. The entire situation left me feeling strung along, and I haven’t been applying to any open positions since. I am up for a position at a competitor so here’s to hoping that works out. Thanks for the advice!
5. We all have to reapply for our jobs, and I’m worried about stealing a job from a coworker (#4 at the link)
I ended up applying for both jobs. The interviews for each of them went extremely well, and because our interviews are conducted using a scoring system (I know, it’s terrible), I was offered both of the positions I applied for!
I accepted the offer for the job I had been acting in for the past few months, and my old job ended up going to a different internal candidate. It all worked out for my coworker though, who accepted a position at an organization we work very closely with. I couldn’t be happier in my new position, but unfortunately it is still a contract and I will have to interview for my own job again in 6 months. I’ll have another full year of experience by then though, and I’m hoping that next year my job is made permanent.
Thanks again for encouraging me to apply for both positions! It certainly saved me a lot of stress during the hiring process.
5 more updates from letter-writers on how things turned out was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.