updates: Joseph Stalin, sleeping during car rides, and more

Here are three updates from people who had their letters answered here in the past.

1. My manager named Joseph Stalin employee of the month

I followed your advice, and mentioned without going higher than her that I thought the email was insensitive, and that I’d prefer to be excluded from similar emails should they be sent in the future. She didn’t react great, stating that this was a joke about the working conditions. I left it at this point, as felt I’d said my piece.

This wasn’t the end of the situation though. There were 4 members of the team, out of 14, who all submitted their resignation letters within the same week, and the manager has been dismissed. Of the people that left, 3 were from Poland, and the other was a Ukranian lady. all highly skilled at what they do, and were snapped up by a rival as I’m still in contact with them. Speaking with one of them, she had sent the original email to HR as part of a leaver’s questionnaire. The director for our business unit has been pushing a diversity and inclusion agenda for months now, and has stated that there will be zero tolerance on issues such as this, so without knowing the ins and outs I can only assume HR have taken this course of action. A lot more has come out of the woodwork, such as some personal friends being given jobs by her, falsifying documents sent to our clients to make performance look better than the reality, renting a spare room in her house to one of her direct reports etc.

Thank you for taking the time to reply to my email previously, and for all the advice you give! Whilst I’m not at a management level yet, it’s within my ambitions and the blog gives me great pointers on what not to do!

2. I fall asleep during car rides with coworkers (#2 at the link)

You published my question about whether or not my coworkers think I’m rude for falling asleep in the car on field visits.

I’ve been back at work for about a month and a half, although in a different office with different coworkers. I told the people with whom I work the most “Just so you know, I tend to fall asleep when I get carsick, but I do my best to stay awake!” and they were both understanding.

Some of the commenters mentioned that this would be a good time to ask questions about the job, and I’ve definitely taken that to heart. I’m asking more questions and getting more perspective, and when I’ve been in the car with the same guy for 12 hours in the last two days, we talk about TV shows and movies and the town we live in. It’s definitely been a slightly uncomfortable process for me — I’ve got this weird notion that asking questions is Rude and Invasive but I’m working through it — but I’m glad I wrote in and started putting in more deliberate effort.

Also, I’ve finally been cleared to drive the work vehicles! I much prefer driving to sitting in the passenger seat, and lucky for me, my coworkers are the opposite. I think I’ve only fallen asleep in the car maybe three times this summer, which I will consider a success!

I’m going into my senior year, and even though the job market is uncertain, I’m actually looking forward to the job search, armed with the probably hundreds of hours I’ve spent reading your archives! Thanks so much for all you do!

3. Where do you start when you inherit a bad employee?

As expected, Elaine was promoted to the manager position, and she has honestly been a dream–she’s pleasant to work with, she advocates for our department, and she’s been extremely flexible during COVID.

After she took over, there were signs that she was managing Newman pretty closely. They had a few closed-door meetings, and I overheard her check in on some of his projects. Elaine was discreet, so I don’t know what she told him in private, but he complained about the amount of oversight. His work improved in some ways, but he also dropped some major balls (which affected all of us, so we found out about them). Shortly after that, he announced he was leaving to take a different job.

It feels like a good resolution. Newman got to keep his dignity, Elaine seems to have upheld high standards, and whatever she did made him realize that it wasn’t a good fit.

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