Here are our two final reader updates from this batch.
1. The reader whose manager was overly confrontational with other departments (#1 at the link)
I talked with my manager about the meeting, and told him I didn’t see evidence of a lot of the problems he had with the department. For example, he felt one of the staff members was always defensive about her work, but she didn’t come across as defensive that day. I think I got him to cede a little ground, but he still maintained his aggressive attitude towards the other department.
In the end it didn’t matter, since a month later, the new VP of our department fired my boss and restructured. She wasn’t in the meeting where he was a jerk, but I think she fired him mostly for personality reasons. We’re still hiring his replacement and I’ve taken on a lot of stretch projects in his absence. When I joined projects with the other department, they were totally thrilled to have me on board.
My new VP is doing strategic planning with my department, and during a SWOT, I mentioned the tension between the two departments and that it’s impacted my work in that I’ve felt like I’ve needed to apologized for our department. With the new VP, that aggressive attitude towards the other department has largely dissolved. My old VP encouraged that attitude towards the other department, and I think my old manager and other department managers played into that to get on her good side. My new VP is much more collaborative and easier to work for than my old VP, and it’s like our whole department is recovering from workplace PTSD.
I’ve really tried to take your “awesome hard-ass” mantra to heart and be a total rock star in my work. I’m relatively new in my career, and so far it’s been a productive example to follow. My new VP thinks I’m doing great work and just gave me a 26% raise, which is absolutely unheard of in my nonprofit. I thought it was funny that last year when my old boss gave me a 10% raise, he talked up how 10% is a huge raise in our nonprofit.
Thanks for all your advice, specifically for this question as well as generally!
2. The reader wondering about whether to disclose depression to a manager (#3 at the link)
First, I want to thank you and your readers for the kind and thoughtful comments! Some of the stories and information shared were very helpful, and I still refer to them months later. The comment from “The Editor” (May 21, 9:55 AM) meant a lot to me, especially being in a male-dominated field, so I hope he is reading this and knows how much I appreciated it!
As an update, I’m approaching a year since my initial breakdown and have come a long way. Therapy and antidepressants are helping, but it was also a huge step to follow your advice and tell my manager what was happening. She was very understanding, helped me get my workload back under control, and even told me about a close family member who had a similar problem. Saying it was a huge relief is an understatement! Since then I’ve gotten some additional responsibilities with visibility to senior leadership, a great review with a salary increase, and my confidence is more or less restored. My work life is going very well, even if my personal life still needs some work.
As a side note, at the holidays I wanted to do something to show my manager how grateful I was for everything she’s done, but she follows your philosophy of gifts only flowing downward (Woohoo!) So I gave her a card with a note thanking her for everything, with specific examples… and it seemed like she really appreciated it! So here is another vote for not giving extravagant gifts to managers.