4 updates from letter-writers


Here are four updates from people who had their letters answered here this year.

1. My coworker is threatening to lie to get our manager in trouble

Just wanted to thank you for posting my letter and your answer. It really helped, as well as did the wonderful and helpful comments. I did meet with one of our HR people, and I’m glad I did. I feel good about having done it, and even if it never goes anywhere, I feel a sense of relief for having gotten it off my chest.

The HR person was so nice about it, and told me that they do a very thorough job of investigating if anyone makes any allegation, so I shouldn’t fear that one of my managers would get fired because “Anne” told a lie. I found out something interesting — when I mentioned that I’d heard “Anne” went to HR about manager #1 (the male manager) a few months ago (which my friend had told me “Anne” told her), the HR person looked surprised. She told me “I’ll tell you this, and no more, but “Anne” came to us over a year ago and hasn’t made any other complaints since.” That makes me feel more and more like “Anne” is just a big talker and wouldn’t actually do anything. Before I left her office, she made sure to ask me if I had any questions or any further concerns besides this one, and even gave me some advice (consider breaking away from our lunch group OR bring up the idea of making our lunch break a work-talk free zone, ie “we are all stressed out by our work, let’s talk about more pleasant things during lunch so we can all decompress for a half hour”).

Anyway, I hope it helps you to know that you and your other readers helped me pull together the courage I needed to talk to HR about this, and has relieved a lot of anxiety for me.

2. How do I tell a laid-off coworker that her old job is open but she shouldn’t apply?

My initial worry that Padmé would ask me about the job was for naught. But although she never contacted me, I was so relieved to have the suggested phrasing from you and your readers for how I should respond.

Padmé did apply for her old job, but it went to Rey who is excelling at it and makes a wonderful fit. When the HR rep mentioned to the hiring supervisor that Padmé might apply for Rey’s old job, the hiring supervisor said he would be willing to interview her. I was in the room with them, but I refrained from saying anything like “don’t interview her just to be kind if you have no intention of hiring her.” In a different situation, I might have said something; in this case, I just zipped it. We ended up hiring a new person, Jyn, for that vacancy, and she is fantastic.

Padmé probably made things worse for herself after not getting her old job back; the head of our section told me that she received a weird, scathing letter from Padmé, accusing her of not giving her a fair chance. As much as I was curious to know the contents of that letter (and would have loved to share the juicy bits with the readers), I again zipped my mouth and didn’t ask for further details.

No more meddling from me in these situations! My heart was in the right place but now my nose is, too. Thank-you all.

3. Starting work after being a stay-at-home parent

An update to my post about returning to the workforce after being a stay-at-home parent for five years. It has been good and bad. The job I originally wrote you about was a five-month contract, and in the end I didn’t get pulled on full-time which was disappointing, but in the long run it wasn’t a good fit for me anyway. After that contract ended I looked for work for about two to three months and settled into the full-time job I have now. I was originally hired at $1 less an hour than I had made at my job before I became a parent, which was fairly demoralizing, but I needed a job and the benefits and other perks made it worth it. I’ve been there over a year now and have been promoted and am now making $1/hour more than I made previous to staying at home.

The transition has been hard and not hard. I definitely don’t have any “mom brain” and while I am older than a lot of my team (I’m about 10 years older than the majority of my colleagues), I have a lot of experience not just in the work we do but in life in general and I was pretty easily fast tracked for my promotion. I feel 100% confident in my abilities in my job and I love having a non-kid space in my life. I feel good paying our rent and having a better control of our finances. On this minus side, I miss a lot of stuff at home — I missed my son’s first day of preschool, I can’t go to meetings for the kids or take them to appointments, I rarely see my parent friends that I was close to. All together though, I like working more than not working and I’m happy that I made the transition. Thanks!

4. Job-searching advice for a teenager on the autism spectrum

So, I did the interview for the retail store on Saturday. I arrived at the store in plenty of time, and I walked over to Guest Services and told them who I was and that I was there for my interview. This guy, we’ll call him “Tom,” told me, “Okay, go sit on the bench over there and your interviewer will be with you shortly to take you back to the office.” I did as Tom told me.

Sure enough, my interviewer, who we’ll call “Curtis,” showed up promptly. Curtis took me to a back room, and there were pens and markers and highlighters that were all the store’s main color (which happens to be my favorite color, for another reason). I looked at them, but I resisted the strong urge to use them to doodle all over my arms. Self-control, right? Well, Curtis asked me some questions about my strengths, some “tell me about a time when…” stuff, etc. I answered them politely, with enthusiasm, and exactly how I’d rehearsed them. He absolutely adored me!

Then, a second interviewer came along. We’ll call her “Jessie.” She asked me what my weaknesses are, and some more “tell me about a time when…” stuff, and stuff like that. And I answered her well. She absolutely adored me!

Then, something really cool happened. Like, for me, this would be like having rainbows flow out of my arms when I run. It was that cool. Jessie told me that she was going to go get the HR director (let’s call her “Patsi”), and that Patsi was going to MAKE AN OFFER!!!


So I said, “Okay! Alright! That works!”

So then Patsi comes in and asks me, “We’d be paying you $10.00 an hour, does that work?” And

I said, “YES!”


4 updates from letter-writers was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.


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December 2, 2016 at 04:04AM