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.

Remember the letter-writer who overheard her girlfriend on a work call and was worried she was a mean boss? Here’s the update.

I did end up sitting down with Beverly and very awkwardly explaining what I heard and how I’d perceived it. I did contextualize it within the dysfunction of my own career. She was mortified that she sounded that way on the phone. She asked Deanna about the tone and was reassured that wasn’t the way it was taken. Deanna didn’t feel beaten down and ended up continuing to improve.

This situation ended going in an unexpected direction. Their company (The Borg) ended up winning a multi-million dollar contract based largely on Tasha’s expertise and charisma. It was pretty clear their client didn’t hire “the Borg”. They hired Tasha. Everyone else, including my Beverly, was merely extra weight.

You can see where this is heading.

The client was demanding and somewhat insane (their PM would regularly get plastered on white wine and drunk dial Beverly, weeping all the while), the project got off track, and the Borg began playing fast and loose with their consultants’ contracts, i.e., lawyers are now involved. When Tasha learned her retention bonus would not be honored, Tasha quit mid-project and went to form her own group, leaving Beverly holding the bag in a very hostile environment. The client’s PM looked like a moron for spending $15M on a single person’s skills and she took that out on Beverly, who went from having an awesome guidance on site to being the lone scapegoat for all the project’s ills. The Borg eventually lost the client and Beverly quit the Borg soon after, squeaking out with her reputation intact. She also started up a consulting firm and reached out to Tasha to share the amazing news.

Now, when Tasha first started working with Beverly about five years ago, Beverly remarked that Tasha had a really nasty streak and Beverly was glad to be on her good side. Well, that streak came out. Instead of being thrilled by Beverly’s new opportunity, Tasha took it as a personal affront. She was furious Beverly had the nerve to strike out on her own without asking Tasha’s permission and for leaving that nightmare of a client! Tasha wrote a biting screed about how Beverly betrayed her and cut Beverly out of her life completely. Beverly lost a dear friend and treasured mentor. Not only that: Tasha is apparently going out of her way to compete with and screw over Beverly’s new firm.

I wonder if how Beverly acted with Deanna was an unconscious reflection of her boss’ attitude and the overall insanity of this client. She is much happier now even though being her own boss is stressful.

(Meanwhile, I’m a fresh surgical intern working 70-90 hours a week – our max is 80, so we all lie on our timesheets – and I’m pretty damn miserable overall, which is straining Deanna and I. Luckily my attendings and senior residents have treated me as well as they can given the circumstances. Sure, two of my seniors are awful human beings who I hope get trapped in a holodeck malfunction, but no one calls me at 2AM blitzed out on Chardonnay and crying. Other than my patients and the nursing staff. *love to my nurses*)

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