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. Here are five updates from past letter-writers.
After my letter was published, I began incorporating your suggestions as well as the readers’ on how to disestablish myself as “Jane the Office Printer Lady.” The script I most frequently used when my colleagues would ask me for help is, “I’m in the middle of something, but there are helpful directions on the screen that tell you how to fix the issue.” That script ended up being more effective than I anticipated, and to my surprise, I didn’t get much push back. Not only did I get less and less printer questions over time, but I think by gently telling my coworkers that there were directions on the printer screen to help them, they ended up becoming more efficient using the printer and thus had less questions to ask.
In addition, about a month or so after my question was published, we had a gentleman from the printer company come to our office and update the printer. I’m not sure what the update entailed, but it seems like the printer does not show as many error messages as it once did.
Thank you, Alison, and all the readers for all of your helpful suggestions. As a young female only a few years out of college, I had soon established myself as a “yes woman” at work. I once felt like I had to commit to any and all requests from my colleagues and supervisors, even when they were requests that didn’t make sense for me to handle. I’m finally realizing that it’s okay to say no sometimes, without coming across as having poor work ethics. I can both stand my ground, and still be a great employee. 🙂
You answered my question WAY back in 2013 about a promotion that I received early in my career, and which should have included some managerial tasks. You and others gave great advice on how to handle the situation. Unfortunately, the company totally screwed me over! Shortly after I emailed you, my manager told me to keep the promotion a secret from everyone so that they could assess my performance in the new role over the next six or so months. If it worked out, then I would get a raise and the promotion would be revealed to the staff. I was disappointed because they still expected me to assume all of the extra responsibility and workload, but I thought that maybe this was normal as the promotion was a stretch and I was still new to the industry.
I proceeded to work my butt off to cover projects for my manager, to learn all I could about management, and to try and get my team to do what I needed them to do … without them having any knowledge that I had any authority to ask them to do anything. The “secret promotion” was a tough and confusing time for everyone involved. Five months into this weird probation period, my manager threw me under the bus to take the fall for something that she herself had failed to do. Of course, this resulted in upper management pulling the promotion from me … two days before my wedding day.
I was upset because I actually hadn’t done anything wrong, but I took the fall with the understanding that what I had sacrificed would ultimately be given back to me at some point along the way. However, a few months later, my manager went on a burnout leave for an entire year and left the industry completely. I had to pick up a lot of the slack for the department and saved a number of projects from crashing and burning, but this had the sad result in the company simply folding those tasks into my everyday job (no raise, no promotion, but a huge uptick in work, stress, and overtime). My confidence was shattered and I stayed there for 4 more years because I didn’t think I was good enough to succeed anywhere else. I only quit when the company restructured and I was AGAIN offered a promotion which they AGAIN yanked within a few months. Once bitten, twice shy!
I have worked in two other companies since then, and although neither situation has been perfect, my confidence in my own abilities has been restored. I’m just happy that enough time has passed for me to be able to reflect on the “secret promotion” with laughter!
Thank you very much again for answering my questions back in the day, and for all of the invaluable wisdom shared on AAM over the years. I have remained a dedicated reader and have used your advice many times to successfully navigate the confusing maze of the modern day workplace.
3. Can I wait to give notice at my job? (#3 at the link)
Thank you for printing my letter and I appreciate everyone’s comments. My update is that I did resign with two weeks notice (my employer has pushed everyone out the first week of their notice period) and amazingly this did not go over well. I had not reviewed my contract before resigning and it says that I need to give them 60 days notice! Because my job is unique, they are now trying to hold me to that! I will be having a larger conversation with them about this after the holidays but for the sake of my own mental health (and my offer from another company) I don’t want to delay my other job! I probably have to consult a lawyer as my boss is known to be vindictive. Not sure if any commenters have experience with this.
4. How can I make myself look less qualified? (#2 at the link)
I did eventually get a part-time retail job, not the admin job with regular hours I was hoping for. I told the managers from the beginning that I was looking to fill gaps, but that approach ended up not being very practical. My freelance editing schedule filled up just then, and combined with some pre-scheduled travel, I went a couple months without any hours scheduled to work. I talked it over with the manager, and we agreed that it wasn’t workable for either of us. I took that full schedule as a sign that my freelancing prospects were looking up and have stopped job hunting. I could still use some more editing clients, and if anyone has any suggestions on that front (I’m a terrible marketer and self-promoter), I’d love to hear them. But for now, I’m enjoying not being too busy, and the bank account is…well, it’s surviving.
Sometimes I miss being part of a work group, having conversations with people, instead of sitting in my basement office editing in solitude, but then I run off in the middle of the day to see a movie, and I don’t mind so much.
So, I didn’t really use your advice, but it’s OK.
The advice was really helpful and it was good to know I wasn’t being ridiculous.
It turned out, I wound up not needing to do anything, though. Make-up Girl has vanished from my life. Not sure if she got fired or if someone had a talk with her, but at least she’s not a problem anymore.
Thank you all for the help! I’ll keep your tips in mind for the future, while hoping I never need to use it. 😉 Thanks again!
Update to the update:
I have seen this girl a couple times, so I know she still works there. Maybe they spoke to her, because I haven’t seen makeup in the bathroom. Regardless, our office moved downtown into a new building and now we have our own private bathroom!