updates: the Blue Lives Matter flag, the handshake avoider, and more

It’s a special “where are you now?” season at Ask a Manager, when I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past. Here are three updates from past letter-writers.

1. Should I ask my employer to take down a Blue Lives Matter flag?

As many of your commenters realized, the company was forcing me out. I was asked to resign around the time the letter was published. Part of me wishes I had left a terrible Glassdoor review, filed a lawsuit, and burned that bridge completely, but I didn’t. I left fairly quietly and tried not to look back.

I took some time to regroup and think about what I wanted to get out of work. I had spent so many years trying to build an inclusive culture with a founder who was indifferent on his best day. For a while, my efforts worked, and I thought I was making a positive change. Still, there was a rot at the center of the management team, fueled by insecurity on many levels, that eventually infiltrated every part of the organization. It wasn’t until I left that I realized how exhausted I was with carrying out this fight all day, every day, by myself.

For my own mental health, I cut all ties, including blocking the company’s social posts and updates, and I’ve tried to avoid any industry gossip. I genuinely believe they will dig their own grave, or at least struggle to stay relevant and competitive in a quickly diversifying world.

My departure has been entirely positive. I had time to reposition my expertise and work my network before the economy took a turn. Not wanting to dive back into a leadership role without doing thorough due diligence on the next company, I started my own consulting business that has taken off. I’m not making as much as I was before, but I am also not working myself to the bone. I am excited about the work I’m doing and the wide variety of clients I’m able to help, and I’m thinking one of these engagement may ultimately become a full-time gig. It’s been a stressful, exciting, challenging, rewarding time.

I’m grateful for the wakeup call you and the commenters provided. Some part of my identity was very tied to the job title and the role I thought I was filling. It has been liberating to get back that piece of myself and use it to actually help people who are thankful for my support.

2. Our marketing director thinks he’s a celebrity spokesperson (#2 at the link)

I knew I would get nowhere talking to my line of command, so I approached it from another angle. The contests he was running were skirting close to contesting laws in my jurisdiction so I brought it up to the legal department. As you also thought, they were much more receptive than the CEO. I wasn’t privy to details but was told he had a talking-to. He has calmed down a bit with his claims on social media but he does remain fairly over the top, constantly talking about his personal branding and thought leadership and such. I chalk it up to massive personality differences and am just thankful I’m his peer and not his employee.

3. How can I avoid shaking hands?

I had the opportunity to take your advice only once, and it went fine! The two people who tried to shake my hand brushed it off and didn’t seem offended. But, the only good news about the COVID pandemic is that I will never, ever, have to worry about, or apologize for, avoiding a handshake again now! In fact, I’ve mentioned to a few people that you’ll probably have to stop talking about me behind my back now! Boo-yah! I was right all along!!

updates: the Blue Lives Matter flag, the handshake avoider, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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