I poured all my time into helping an employee … and I’m so discouraged by how it ended — Ask a Manager

It’s “where are you now?” month at Ask a Manager, and all December I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past.

There will be more posts than usual this week, so keep checking back throughout the day.

Remember the letter-writer who had poured all their time into helping an employee and was discouraged by how it ended? Here’s the update.

Reading the submission now nine months later, I can see that I was too personally invested/emotional about the whole situation, which many readers (rightfully) picked up on. Even still, so many readers were kind and thoughtful, and encouraged me not to get jaded as I continue in managing people in my career.

I took your advice about spending significant energy on hiring the right person for the role, and spent an exhausting six months hiring someone for the job. We had many candidates that probably would have been “fine,” but I didn’t want to repeat the cycle of over-managing someone who was just not the right fit for the role which, ultimately, was the crux of Wanda’s issues; she had many strengths but this job was not the right one for her. Even though the search was long and somewhat tedious, I also got to spend a lot of time covering for the role, and learning the parts that could use fixing, seeing which areas might need more managing, and streamlining some processes that were set up long before I arrived for the new person when they started.

Happily, we did hire a person who has been a great fit for the job, and who has exceeded every goal or standard set thus far. In fact, it appears she’s even become bored in the role, and now I get to approach a new management challenge of helping someone upskill in the workplace. This in and of itself has made me more confident; the tension in the role was more a Wanda issue than a me issue. However, my insecurities about the whole situation still creep in, and I sometimes find myself second guessing management decisions I make — am I overdoing it if I check in on this project? Are they feeling unsupported if I don’t? I hope with time and the right people I’ll continue to gain confidence and strike the right balance of it all. I’ve taken a lot of opportunities to learn from and observe the great managers in my own workplace, and to reflect on the good managers I had — especially the ones I had when I was in the entry-level admin role I now manage.

Just want to say thank you again to all the kind commenters who boosted my spirits and said “been there, done that.” Thank you also for posting my question so that I could get some very valuable feedback from people not as close to the situation as me!

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