employee got pulled over during a Zoom meeting, and more — Ask a Manager

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

1. My trainee got pulled over during a Zoom meeting

Thank you for your advice on this. Your answer was about what I was thinking, and I think what I did worked out well. The new employee immediately apologized during our next check-in and admitted she had been driving. I didn’t call her out on her other excuse because while I doubt it was true, I can’t confirm that. I don’t blame her for being shaken up after a police encounter. (I heard the officer be quite aggressive with her over something she denied happened. It went on for minutes before she cut off.)

Turns out, she had a sudden schedule change, wasn’t sure if it was okay to reschedule, and tried to make it work while driving. Some people assumed it was a training, but it was just a check-in, which is probably why she thought it would be manageable. I told her under no circumstances should she put her safety at risk for a meeting, and she promised to keep that in mind.

I didn’t realize this letter would cause such heated discussion on driving during Zoom meetings! It’s something I’m very much against for safety reasons, I know that any distracted driving is dangerous, even if I was sympathetic to her mistake. We don’t have anything in our training materials about not driving during meetings, but I am adding them for our new employees starting in January. We have had everyone from entry level staff to high level managers at our company talking while visibly driving in the past. Admin has only started cracking down in the last year. Now, I have a chance to influence that, so this was a wakeup call that I need to address it right away.

2. Am I wrong in not attending the funeral for my boss’s father-in-law? (#5 at the link)

I saw your call for follow-ups. This one is uneventful, which is good. The day of the funeral, my coworker who pressured me and another coworker were getting ready to leave the office to head over. Other coworker asked if I was coming, I said no, she responded, ok, we’ll be back in a bit. Which is how my original conversation with the coworker who pressured me should have played out. She stood silently by for this exchange, so maybe she learned something? Probably not. But, I’ve not heard anything about it since. So, success? I struggle to stand up for myself sometimes, so I just needed some extra validation that I was in the right. Thank you!

3. Should I tell my boss I hate my job?

I did manage to connect with one coworker at the Bad Place, and I had some more candid conversations with my manager (and his manager), but in the end I had to leave. I work for a competitor now and I’m very happy.

The real hot gossip though is that after leaving, through a bizarre series of coincidences, I just happened to become friends with someone who left the same team shortly before I’d joined. I was hesitant to be frank with someone I’d just met about my experience, especially since they had a long tenure. But they busted that door wide open with some, uh, choice words about what’s going on with that team. Suffice it to say I feel much more confident that it wasn’t just me.

4. Friday good news (#1 at the link)

After almost a year at my “new” job, things are going pretty amazingly. We’ve returned in-person with a degree of safety that I couldn’t ask more from, they’ve been amazingly flexible during a time when my family had all sorts of erratic scheduling needs, and the change in workload and pace from my previous position is almost unbelievable. Three levels of management have checked in to make sure I’m using my PTO, even during the busiest times for the office. The speed and efficacy with which action is taken when a need for change is identified blows me away, and the framework for most of the change is with an eye toward greater equity for the organization across all our spheres of influence. (By the way, this is an organization big on referring to everyone in the community as a family. While I understand the caution, it’s not always a red flag; sometimes it’s just true.)

Just when the first seeds of thinking I might want to have a plan for future advancement started to creep into my brain, my supervisor told me that she was seriously reconsidering her work-life balance and might be requesting a move to reduce her hours. Things moved fast, and ultimately:
–She moved to a part-time mostly-WFH support position, which allows her to work around time with her very young kids. So she’s happy.
–The part-time member of the department moved into a full-time version of the same role, which means he has a stable schedule and moves to salary, as opposed to working literally five different positions and taking hours where he could. So he’s happy.
–I was promoted to manage the department, along with a slightly-over-5% raise and control of my schedule. Beyond that, my new supervisor has said she thinks the whole department is undercompensated and wants to pursue remedies in the budget for the next fiscal year. I am very happy. We’re currently wrapping up this year, and then I will not only have my first Christmas Eve off in ten years, but I’ll be off between Christmas and New Year’s without taking any PTO as an organization-wide year-end practice.

Outside of work, I’ve become a volunteer for the organization I interviewed with directly before my current one. They’ve even asked for my input on future event programming, and I look forward to building more relationships there.

At my old position, I’ve watched from afar while the person I knew would be asked to take over has really made things his own. I knew he could take things in a unique direction, since we have totally different strengths, and I’m so happy to see him thriving. I don’t have any second thoughts about leaving, but one of my resolutions for the new year is to rebuild my relationship with the owners there. When I left, I was in a serious state of overload and could only commit to things I absolutely had to do (all inboxes were an utter mess), so from their point of view, I just disappeared. I truly do love them as people and want to have them in my life going forward, so now I shake myself out of the “it’s been too long to not be awkward, so let’s make it longer and more awkward” to rebuild some bridges.

Thanks again for all the advice, which I’ll be using even more of as a brand new manager!

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