Author Topic: New boss -- ok to be up front with her?  (Read 2626 times)

Harper

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New boss -- ok to be up front with her?
« on: August 11, 2017, 02:02:10 PM »
So....I have a new boss.  I know her.  We were recently on the same level but reporting into separate departments.  I'm ok with her becoming my boss.  She wants to know "what I want to do, what my future holds, etc" in our first 1:1 this Tuesday.

Current job is difficult to say the least.  She knows.  I'm struggling medically...between chest pains/stress and frequent migraines (she doesn't know this).  I left work a few weeks ago because I couldn't stop crying and didn't want to lose it in front of anyone.  I just don't have the energy to "lean in" right now.  It doesn't mean forever it just means now.

Is this bad to say?  She is a workhorse...she works 60 hour weeks even though she's got 2 kids.  I don't want that.  I need work life balance and I really need to feel better.  Any thoughts are appreciated.  Thank you.

VoteCthulu

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Re: New boss -- ok to be up front with her?
« Reply #1 on: August 11, 2017, 02:26:55 PM »
I am not a lawyer, but I wouldn't voluntarily disclose anything more than necessary to my employer. Certain things are required for bereavement, FMLA, multiple day medical absences, etc., but otherwise I don't think it's any of their business.

Other people get a lot of moral support with their medical conditions from colleagues/management at work, and that may well outweigh the risk of being treated poorly (from being passed over for opportunities to just being gossiped about).

Lan Mandragoran

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Re: New boss -- ok to be up front with her?
« Reply #2 on: August 11, 2017, 02:27:56 PM »
Yeah I mean... Look up what stress does to you long term. It's not something to screw with.

If your getting chest pain, despair, constant migraines, imo you 100% need to be honest and upfront.  If they aren't cool with treating you appropriately/working with you, idk if I could keep working there personally.

Edit: Yeah I agree with the above, I'm more just saying you need to be honest with the fact that you want a reasonable work place environment, and don't want to be working a crazy stressful job.
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AnnaGrowsAMustache

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Re: New boss -- ok to be up front with her?
« Reply #3 on: August 11, 2017, 03:24:02 PM »
This sounds ungood, very, very ungood. I hope you're seeing a doctor. Would it be possible to get some stress leave with a doctor's say so? I this you need to deal with this immediately, and be putting your health way ahead of anything else right now.

zinnie

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Re: New boss -- ok to be up front with her?
« Reply #4 on: August 11, 2017, 03:34:28 PM »
A good boss will help make your work situation more manageable, or if not possible, coach you into a role better suited for you. A bad one, not so much. If I were you I'd want to find out which kind she is so that you can decide whether you should be looking for new work!

Is it the nature of the job itself that is so stressful, or just not a good match with your skills/personality? That sounds pretty bad--sorry you're going through this.

Harper

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Re: New boss -- ok to be up front with her?
« Reply #5 on: August 11, 2017, 04:13:06 PM »
Thanks for the responses, I really appreciate it.  I have a dr appt in 2 weeks.

To clarify, I can do my job but I can't do *more*.  I can't turn it up and become a superstar. I've been the superstar, working all the time person in the past (previous company) but I know I will break if I extend myself currently.   

I understand not to share any medical issues (good point; I tend to overshare) but how could I couch the whole "I want to do my job and not more; I'm ok right now to be a "meets expectation"? 

 

VoteCthulu

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Re: New boss -- ok to be up front with her?
« Reply #6 on: August 11, 2017, 05:09:09 PM »
I don't think there's any general answer to this question, it all depends on the manager (and the rest of the company management),

Some managers will be very supportive, and others will label you a low performer and never give you a second chance. Sometimes your immediate manager is the former and their boss is the latter, it can be very hard to know beforehand what's the best option.

My suggest is to talk it over with your SO or best friend (or a rock. Really, just say the problem out loud and talk yourself through it) and then go with your gut feeling.

Goldielocks

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Re: New boss -- ok to be up front with her?
« Reply #7 on: August 12, 2017, 09:11:35 AM »
I would say something like this..

" The stress of this job is extremely high right now, and it is impossible to provide the quality needed..  It's not the hours but the number of projects, and I need your help to push X to someone else so I can do the job that's needed on Y and Z, or all will fail.  If we can't assign X to someone else, then it just needs to be dropped for now until someone is hired or the other work normals out.  This can't go on."  note no health discussion, focus is on the work risks to customers.

I worked in a specific office once and saw two people collapse because of stress.  It happens to great people and it is very bad.  You need to take a leave, not a vacation, so I may also inform Hr in confidence to learn about the policy on stress leave. 

 

dreams_and_discoveries

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Re: New boss -- ok to be up front with her?
« Reply #8 on: August 12, 2017, 10:06:50 AM »
I'd be tempted to tell her, and be honest about what you want - she sounds like she cares, or is at least going through the motions of pretending she does.

She is the person who has the power to reduce your workload and reallocate tasks, she is the one person who can easily alleviate your stress and sort out the workload.

It might be worth going in with some options; a list of tasks, ask her to prioritize them and discuss how long they take - the discuss what she'd like to happen with those you cannot get done - does anyone else have scope to pick them up? Will she be bringing in more resource? Agree that these no longer need done?

Harper

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Re: New boss -- ok to be up front with her?
« Reply #9 on: August 12, 2017, 01:40:53 PM »
Thank you all for your great advice.  The stress is bad and i'm worried.  I think I might just have a couple of scenarios in my head and see where the conversation heads.

HR is non responsive to any and all communications about anything right now.  They are not at my site.  Joke is I've been ad hoc HR and they recently hired 2 people but they're not available.  *sigh*

PDXTabs

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Re: New boss -- ok to be up front with her?
« Reply #10 on: August 12, 2017, 01:51:09 PM »
At my work, if you had a good manager, they would bend over backwards to keep you (if they wanted to keep you). If they didn't want to keep you they would let you slack until then next round of layoffs so that you could get a severance package and unemployment.

RobFIRE

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Re: New boss -- ok to be up front with her?
« Reply #11 on: August 12, 2017, 01:58:04 PM »
My experience of bosses is that they don't like to be brought open-ended problems. They either want problems with proposed solutions for approval, or to be asked to make a business decision or prioritization. Open-ended problems tend to lead to denial that the problem is a problem, or a claim that it's not significant.

So if I wanted to cover this with new boss I would try to frame it in terms of business issue, for example working on too many projects / scope of work not clear / changes to work plans / more work than you can do to good standard so boss please prioritize/reassign. If boss pushes on why you can't do more hours, I'd first state that you feel quality of work goes to near-zero if working extra hours, so actually no value in you doing that, and you want to be professional/deliver to high standard etc. If that explanation is rejected, I'd be tempted to make up/overplay a family scenario of having various demands outside of work e.g. elderly parent requiring more and more help, such that it prevents being able to work extra hours for foreseeable future. Making it external to you depersonalizes it and makes it harder for your boss to expect a change.

If boss doesn't want to hear any of it and just expects/demands all the extra hours or insists all work is top priority, then I think you only have a couple of options. Either: make it clear to boss that your working hours will not include overtime so you will work to agreed priorities but if given too much it won't get done i.e. state up front how you'll operate then stick to it. Or, if the job is causing you that level of stress, start planning your exit strategy, there is no way I would want to be at that stress level for a job on an ongoing basis.

RedmondStash

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Re: New boss -- ok to be up front with her?
« Reply #12 on: August 12, 2017, 07:48:25 PM »
I wouldn't lean on any current health issues. I would lean on the unreasonable job stress and the need for work-life balance, possibly with a hint that, sometime in the future, the current situation *might* result in health issues.

I'm assuming that the job itself is causing some of your medical stress, yes? If so, I would try to identify the top stressors and tell her what you need to reduce those stressors so you can give the company the best value you can. It's her job, representing the company as your manager, to provide a reasonable work environment without a toxic level of stress. I know she's inheriting an existing situation, but she can't fix it if she doesn't know about it.

So I'd soft-pedal the current actual health issues, and instead emphasize the fact that the job currently has toxic stress levels that you need reduced.

Also? If I were you, I'd be looking for another job. Unless your stress is coming from outside work, you would be best served by getting the hell out of that environment. Any place that is causing chest pains and migraines is not worth it.

pbkmaine

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Re: New boss -- ok to be up front with her?
« Reply #13 on: August 12, 2017, 08:03:32 PM »
 I was once a new boss, put in charge of a group of people I did not know. One of them came to me my first week and told me that he was able to give me 40 hours per week and not one second more. "I will arrive at 9am, eat lunch at my desk, and leave at 5pm," He said. "While I am here, you will have 100% of my attention. I am not available after hours. I will not take calls or answer emails. If this works for you, fine. If not, let me know and I will find another job." I told him that we would give it a go on his terms and see if it worked for both of us. It worked great. He was one of the best employees I have ever had.

Without getting into the reasons behind it, just tell your boss flat out what you are able to give.

Imma

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Re: New boss -- ok to be up front with her?
« Reply #14 on: August 13, 2017, 05:54:46 AM »
I would say something like this..

" The stress of this job is extremely high right now, and it is impossible to provide the quality needed..  It's not the hours but the number of projects, and I need your help to push X to someone else so I can do the job that's needed on Y and Z, or all will fail.  If we can't assign X to someone else, then it just needs to be dropped for now until someone is hired or the other work normals out.  This can't go on."  note no health discussion, focus is on the work risks to customers.

I worked in a specific office once and saw two people collapse because of stress.  It happens to great people and it is very bad.  You need to take a leave, not a vacation, so I may also inform Hr in confidence to learn about the policy on stress leave.

I think this is a really good advice. I have health issues that my employer is aware of (because in my country, he gets some tax breaks because I have these issues) but he has no idea how severe my problems are and I don't want to tell them because I don't want to be seen as 'the token disabled person'.

I have been upfront and told them: this is the amount of quantity and quality work I can do. I can do x amount of intensive high quality work or x amount of less intensive high quantity work. If I do more than that, my work will suffer. It's a more 'valid' argument for some bosses because they are dependent on the quality of my output and they can put an amount of $ on that. How I feel physically is less relevant to them; it might cost them a lot of money at some point, but it might not, so it's not a relevant argument in many companies.

Rosy

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Re: New boss -- ok to be up front with her?
« Reply #15 on: August 13, 2017, 01:55:02 PM »
You admire her for the workhorse she is, which probably got her the job in the first place.

Tell her that and let her know that you will be there for her doing your job, but that you are not going to go above and beyond, because you really need a work-life balance, that you've neglected far too long.

Do not mention potential health issues, see your doctor and find out what is going on, then continue to do what is best for you. You do not owe the company loyalty or a "guess" about what is wrong with you that keeps you from being your best.
Figure out what is wrong and if it is stress and overwork, take a long vacation.

Better that you protect yourself now - when things look uncertain. Remember that your financial future and your health is linked to your earning potential which will be greatly reduced if you run yourself into the ground or admit to a health risk, that may make you at least in your bosses mind an undesirable employee.
She is new, she needs your support, so be honest and clear with her once you know more and have decided on a course of action. Get your ducks in a row first.

Good luck to you, I hope you sail through this with your health and your job intact.

Harper

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Re: New boss -- ok to be up front with her?
« Reply #16 on: August 15, 2017, 04:10:42 AM »
Thanks all!  I have my meeting with her this morning.  Apparently I've decided to wing it although I'm going to stay away from discussions of anything medical. 

Maenad

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Re: New boss -- ok to be up front with her?
« Reply #17 on: August 15, 2017, 05:16:56 AM »
Assuming you're in the US, I recommend working with your doctor on filling out the FMLA paperwork, so if you need to take some mental health breaks, you have a chance of being protected. It's not a guarantee, but it's better than nothing.

meatface

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Re: New boss -- ok to be up front with her?
« Reply #18 on: August 15, 2017, 06:51:26 AM »
I was once a new boss, put in charge of a group of people I did not know. One of them came to me my first week and told me that he was able to give me 40 hours per week and not one second more. "I will arrive at 9am, eat lunch at my desk, and leave at 5pm," He said. "While I am here, you will have 100% of my attention. I am not available after hours. I will not take calls or answer emails. If this works for you, fine. If not, let me know and I will find another job." I told him that we would give it a go on his terms and see if it worked for both of us. It worked great. He was one of the best employees I have ever had.

Without getting into the reasons behind it, just tell your boss flat out what you are able to give.

100% agree with this.

aneel

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Re: New boss -- ok to be up front with her?
« Reply #19 on: August 15, 2017, 07:17:29 AM »
Hope it goes well.  I think you're selling yourself short if you think "doing no more" is not a lofty goal.  Because that's only half the story, it sounds like you want to: "keep doing what I'm doing, but find opportunities to improve processes and efficiency"  It sounds like a bunch of corporate cliche words, but those kinds of goals tend to have broader impact at any work place than the endless game of thrones and territory expansion that leads to stressed out and burned out employees.

Just my 2 cents and good luck today!

Harper

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Re: New boss -- ok to be up front with her?
« Reply #20 on: August 15, 2017, 06:16:41 PM »
To follow up from today, it really really well.  We met for an hour and she had an agenda.  She started: "So logistically, I do the pick up of my kids so I'm on the bus early and work on my commute and leave the office at 3 and work on my ride home.  She shuts down to do dinner and bedtime and then picks up at 8:30.  She will send emails/whatever and I shouldn't feel the need to respond at night."

She works at a different office than me so I never knew her schedule.  I also do pick up and am an early bird so it gave me an entryway to discuss that.  I told her that if something was urgent to let me know but otherwise I wouldn't scramble to do something after hours.  No discussion of medical issues, etc.

I shared with her my wish to really lay out a career path for the junior members of our team and she agreed. 

It was a good meeting all in all.  Thanks all!

VoteCthulu

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Re: New boss -- ok to be up front with her?
« Reply #21 on: August 15, 2017, 09:41:14 PM »
Glad to hear everything went well, hopefully you can keep it low stress and feel better!

dreams_and_discoveries

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Re: New boss -- ok to be up front with her?
« Reply #22 on: August 16, 2017, 02:34:02 PM »
Sounds like it went well, maybe a new proactive manager will start to reduce your workload and help you feel better all around.

dogboyslim

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Re: New boss -- ok to be up front with her?
« Reply #23 on: August 16, 2017, 03:10:01 PM »
I have had many people report to me over my career.  In that time, I've had people share stuff they just shouldn't share with their boss.  One shared about an abortion, one a bad breakup, one was stressed out over just having a few things in his role change.  I had a guy completely lose it over college funding costs, and I had an employee share that he took a part time job because he isn't making enough money.  When these conversations start I put down my pen, back away from the keyboard and just listen.  I hurt for them, but it is not my role to provide advice about their personal lives.  What I can do is provide support within the confines of the office benefits.  I provide the outside counseling line that our company provided free to employees, and one I shared what was covered for FMLA leave.  I've always kept these topics to myself and not used it against them...but I could have.  I echo the advice above not to share too much. 

"How was your weekend" usually means I want you to tell me what you did that was fun or interesting, but I don't really want to hear that your birth control failed when you stepped out on your husband so you had to get an abortion and she was in physical pain and overwhelmingly stressed..  Yes, that was shared with me, and our only connection was that I was her boss.

The best example of how to handle things was an employee that had some complications when her youngest was born (by then he was 15) who needed a hysterectomy.  She came into my office and said she was facing a challenging personal situation related to her health.  She wanted to know what I needed to know, as it would likely mean she was out of the office for a bit.  I immediately told her I didn't need to know any details other than that it was medical in nature, and then we laid out the FMLA terms, including the part time return to work plan.  I was happy.  My wife found out about the nature of the issue later and shared with me, but I never knew and both of us (the employee and me) were happy to continue our work relationship without ever discussing the nature of her medical leave.

What does all this rambling mean?  Your boss most likely doesn't want to hear all your issues.  She may try to be sympathetic to your issue and help you out or she may just put you on her problem employee list.  It isn't worth it to risk finding out which you have.  It sounds like you may have a good one based on the comment of it going well.  In the situation described above I'd call HR (or go to their SharePoint site) and see if there are any counseling benefits offered by the company.  I'd call them first and talk through my issues.  When discussing things with the new boss, I'd stay away from the reasons behind any of your work conditions, but let her know what you need, request any FMLA that may be appropriate, then I'd just speak about my availability and any reasonable accommodations I might need to do my job.

I'm glad it went well, but any others out there, be careful what you say to your boss.  Even those who try not to let it influence them, it will.  My opinion of the woman who stepped out on her husband will never be the same, and I have to fight myself to keep from letting it negatively influence my perspective of her work performance (which is above average).  Don't put your boss in that position.