updates: the client pushing religion, 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. How can I explain I’m looking for more work-life balance without sounding like I’m lazy?

Hi! I was the work-life balance question asker in the podcast. Re-listening to my question, I am reminded of how exhausted and worn out I was, and the commenters could hear it too. But I’m so happy to share a great update!

After a year of intermittently looking for a new job (only as work allowed), I was able to use my network and your cover letter advice (my boss’s direct quote: “I am blown away by your cover letter!”) to land a new job that I’m beyond excited about, with a non-profit whose mission I’m very passionate about. I was direct in my interview about needing a better work life balance, and explicit that I have school aged kids and not being able to devote enough time to them was a big part of why I wanted to leave my prior position. I felt comfortable mentioning my kids because I knew my interviewer- now my boss- also has school aged kids; he is a former client of mine and we had worked together pretty closely in the past. They were quick to assure me multiple times that they take work life balance very seriously.

I’m just finishing my second week, and while COVID has made things even busier in my area than they presumably were before I was hired, I feel absolutely comfortable closing my laptop at an hour that feels shockingly early to me every evening, and not checking it again until the next morning. And the volume of emails received overnight suggests the rest of the organization works similarly.

I know you can’t know if something is a dream job until you’re in it, but my colleagues are great, the mission is awesome, the pay is good- even at a non-profit!- and the work is completely the direction I’d hoped to go, with work life balance included. I’m beyond lucky. Your cover letter and interviewing advice was invaluable, as were your thoughts on how to frame my need for better balance. Thank you for your site. It’s helped me many times.

2. Client is pushing religion on me (#2 at the link)

I was the one who had the client who kept asking if I’d accepted Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior. I took in your advice, advice from my boss, and from the commenters, and was prepared to state clearly the next time that it was an inappropriate thing for me to talk about…but there was no next time. She didn’t bring it up again at all, and she’s now received the assistance she needed, and thus will not be coming back to our office again.

Part of what helped, I think, was that as the number of people we were trying to help grew, we had to reconfigure how we engaged with them. Though I’m the only one who could do certain functions, we delegated information sharing tasks to other colleagues (as my calling 40 people at a time was just not practical, especially with some major language barriers in many cases.) It made me realize that, even within the constraints we were working within, there were still ways to share the load after all!

3. My bombastic coworker is pushing me over the edge (first update here)

Bombastic Coworker is gone. I was reminded of my letter a few days ago and decided to look her up. Sure enough a search for Cersei comes back with “No employees by that name found.”

As for why I decided to look her up, well sure enough I have a new person on my team that acts in much the same way. I’m so glad that I wrote you the first time because I’ve gone back to the letter to reread the advice as I struggle to deal with my new bombastic coworker. I’m a regular team member and she’s one of two team leads, so once again I’m not in much of a position to change anything. While I am taking the sit back and watch it unfold route, I have privately approached our manager and the other team lead with my concerns, and they’re working with the new coworker on that.

Also to all the people who cautioned me about disclosing things like personal financial troubles to my coworkers, I have taken the advice into consideration and it’s turned out to be both right and wrong. While I’ve only ever gone into detailed specifics with my manager and my closest work friend (we’ve become close enough that I don’t even consider her just a work friend) I’ve found a very open and sharing environment for that sort of thing in my workplace. In fact, it’s quite natural to bring it up as we work in that type of financial solutions, so it would be kind of like going out of your way to not talk about political views while working on a campaign team. We all support each other and often use our personal stories as a way to refer people to our products and solutions. I think my end of year numbers would be cut in half if I didn’t talk about it at work.

Once again, Alison, I thank you for responding, and thank you to the commenters for teaching me that this won’t be the last Cersei I have to deal with, and how to deal with any new one that may arise.

updates: the client pushing religion, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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