updates: the fundraising husband, the egg freezing, and more

It’s a special “where are you now?” season at Ask a Manager! Here are three updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past.

1. My husband keeps contacting my coworkers about funding his nonprofit

First things first, it took 4 months (thanks Kaiser) but I FOUND A THERAPIST! He is great and it’s helping a lot.

It’s kind of crazy that it’s been a year since all this started. I have two flavors of update, I guess. The first is the original issue with his project and my job has mostly resolved itself through the sheer immovability of government. After getting similar answers and (and non answers) from similar agencies my husband started to understand that what he was proposing was universally unworkable for a large number of potential partners. He also stopped blaming me for stonewalling him. With COVID the whole thing is on hold now anyway. I don’t think the future of nonprofit funding is going to be very bright. Thank God, I still have my job and am working full time from home, which has been AMAZING. He has thrown himself into his main job, managing a large estate, and we are actually doing really well in quarantine.

The second flavor of update is more relationship focused. This year allowed us to really dig deep into the communication challenges we have and the different ways we approach ideas. My husband is a top level idea guy, but he really can’t follow through on anything but the most compelling of ideas. I think a lot of the things he said were just ideas he was unconsciously batting around, but I took them at face value. We’re both trying to be more aware of that communication style, and that helps us have more productive conversations.

We also experienced a different major trust issue that forced us to confront the effects of the past year. We both violated the other’s trust in different ways. When you have to work through stuff like that, it tends to result in a greater sense of compassion for the other person, and that happened with us. He apologized thoroughly for violating my boundaries, as well as the other stuff. We are great partners in every other sense, which makes it easier to work through these things. All in all, I realize that life is gobs better with than without him, which is a pretty important core principle for a relationship.

I think that some of these rules apply in working relationships too – trust the other person until they give you a reason not to. Apologize for things that are your fault. Appreciate others’ working and communication styles until they give you trouble. Have compassion for the people who give you trouble. Be aware of your own shortcomings.

Anyway – always happy to keep in touch if you and your readers are interested. Thank you – working through this on your forum has been a part of the healing process and your perspective, and just feeling HEARD by someone, was really a big deal.

2. Freezing my eggs and work (#5 at the link)

I met with my boss and started by using the script you shared. Before I could finish, he waved his hand to indicate everything was fine and I didn’t need to share more detail. Thanks for your help – it was really helpful to have the words handy and to have the reassurance as well. I’m pleased to report the procedure went well, and that I was also promoted!

3. The employee I just promoted to manager wants to step down

I’m the manager of the new manager who was considering stepping down over impostor syndrome.

Thank you for your advice and thank you to all the commenters. Your response and the responses in the comments drove home two really important points to me: 1., that moving from individual contributor to manager requires a big shift in your definition of success and I hadn’t really prepared her for that and 2., that I was trying to convince her she was wrong rather than just listening to her concerns so I could address how she actually felt about things. (She was wrong, but I wasn’t going to talk her out of her feelings, so I needed to hear her out.)

The anonymous reviews were being done at the same time she came to me saying she wanted to step down, so I hadn’t yet given those to her when I initially wrote you. She and I had several conversations to talk through those and to talk about what specifically was making her feel she wasn’t doing well. We set up regular meetings to just talk about how she was coping with management and how she was feeling about her role, separate from our meetings about regular work topics. I shared a book that I thought would really help her, signed her up for an online “impostor syndrome cleanse” and I shared a few of my major fail stories from my first year as a manager so she could see that learning from failure is a big part of growing into your manager role.

After a few weeks of intense discussion, she agreed that she’d stick it out for at least six months before making a decision. That was November. It’s now almost May and she’s still in her role and still doing great. She still has issues with feeling like she should be doing more, so we continue to have regular talks about measuring success and having reasonable expectations of herself, but she says she feels better about her future and isn’t planning to step down any time soon.

Thank you and the commenters, again, for your advice and perspective. You helped a great manager stay in her role and you helped me learn what I need to be doing to better prepare others I promote in the future for what their new role will look like and how it changes things for them.

updates: the fundraising husband, the egg freezing, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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