How to deal with personal issues affecting work

by Louise

There have been a few times when health crisis/issues have forced me to request even more flexibility at work. One time I was reluctant to share the details but I found that all up the management chain were very sympathetic and actually asked me what I was doing at work instead of taking care of the issue.

Recently one new hire didn’t work out because she had not got over the death of a grown child. I felt I was way more sympathetic than others in my workplace.

How have you managed a personal crisis and work? Have you been forced eventually to quit because things became too hard to manage?

How To Deal With Personal Issues At Work (Keep Personal Issues From Harming Your Job And Career)

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69 thoughts on “How to deal with personal issues affecting work

  1. For most things I have usually been able to compartmentalize and perform well at work during times of personal turmoil. However, it’s harder if I have had to be in frequent communication with others such as doctors, lawyers, teachers, etc. That’s puts a strain on productivity, having to be called away or waiting anxiously on phone calls.

  2. I struggled to compartmentalize for ~3 years of infertility/pregnancy loss both in grad school and at work. My specialist said other people struggle even more and warned me that if I became a parent, I would probably either continue to be stressed or be too laid back (or almost too laid back) as a parent. My FIL died during that 3 year period and we were also making arrangements to support him during stem cell therapy, etc. I hope I never go through another 3 years like that again. After I’m dead, I guess I’ll know if that was life’s low point or not.

    For other issues (my mom’s cancer, routine kid illnesses), the decisions seem more clear and the scheduling is either more immediate or more straightforward.

  3. Honestly, I am not awesome at this. I tend to ping back and forth between extremes, sort of all-in on whatever I am in at the moment. So when I have a work crisis, I am the mom who shows up 3 minutes before daycare closes, because I got wrapped up in whatever it was. By the same token, when I have something going on on the personal side, it is extremely hard to put that aside and focus on my work. I think the month I got married I billed 40 hours. :-)

    The key for me has been to find a place that generally views what I offer as outweighing my negatives. They have been very supportive when I have had periodic issues, and I have generally always found people who could jump in and back me up when shit happened. Meanwhile, I try to keep myself on track as much as possible so as not to abuse the privilege, and make sure I am making up for it when I am not distracted.

    The other key is a hefty savings rate. Once I realized that we’d be ok even if the job went away, that took care of a lot of the stress.

  4. I’ve had mixed experiences. At one job, the boss was NOT supportive at all. My mom had a heart condition that could not be treated using the current “standard of care” and she was referred to an FDA trial, which she was accepted to, in another city about 3 hours away. I took a couple of days off to take her to the assessment (prior to being accepted) and two weeks off when she had the actual procedure. Let’s first note that I had more than enough vacation time, qualified for FMLA, and had my FMLA paperwork on file with HR. However, my boss continued to tell me I was not completing my work timely (which of course, I was two weeks behind as she would not reassign any of my work or change my deadlines), nor would she approve me to work any extra hours. As soon as I realized this was a no win (which due to my focus on my mom took longer), I found another job.

    In contrast, as my dad and mom declined and passed away, my boss was very supportive. I was burning through my leave almost as fast as I earned it. Going into leave without pay status is a kin to the kiss of death (and is usually considered a reason for disciplinary action), so I was very stressed when I realized that I really had no other option and had to talk to my boss about it. I was amazed how supportive both she and her boss were of the situation and to take care of what needed to be done.

    I can still see how my mom’s death has affected my productivity.

  5. CoC – responded.

    I took some time immediately when our first was stillborn and then DW and I took a week to gather ourselves about a month and a half later. This was important because at that point we had had some time to figure out what our emotional state was and what we each thought we should do as a couple from there forward. It really wasn’t the best timing work-wise to take a week, but my manager was supportive of me doing it. After that I was much more focused/productive at work.

    Since then I/we have been very fortunate that there have not been only episodic family health issues (1 broken leg, 2 appendixes) that really required any time out of the office other than a few hours. Some minor/growing pains behavioral stuff with the school in re our oldest during middle school, and then when he was (getting) in academic hot water his second and third years at college, which did soak up a bunch of in-office phone time, but thankfully I have my own office so I could just close the door.

    Like CoC, I am pretty good at compartmentalizing “this is work time” and just muscling through rough patches.

  6. Only once in my life did I do the “Bleep you” quitting and walking off the job. It was my last job. I was 5 months pregnant with my first child when my wonderful father in law literally dropped dead. My husband totally shell shocked, showed up downstairs at my office with the news told me. I went into work, let them know what had happened, gathered my things and left. Once we figured out what had happened and our plans I called my supervisor and let her know that I would be gone for a week so we could fly to my husband’s home and bury him. The President of the company (it was a small office) called me several times during that time to complain that I was gone and let me know what an inconvenience this was to her and the rest of the office. I can’t begin to tell you what a strain that put on the whole situation. So when we got back, I went in. Cleaned up my office and my files. Walked into her office and told her that that was NOT ok and that I would not work for her and that I quit. I spent the rest of my pregnancy doing consulting for my employer before them. To make matters sweeter, a few years ago, my husband got a resume on his desk – guess who? The old President. She didn’t get the job and as far as I know she’s still at that crappy little company!

  7. I’ve been very fortunate to work in supportive environments. The biggest issue I ever had was when my mom was dying and I had to fly to South Carolina on very short notice several times . It was never an issue at work.

  8. I think it is rarely about an employer’s policy and always about your relationship with your supervisor/manager and his/her style of management. A supervisor/manager who sees each employee as completely interchangeable with any other employee and does not see the transaction costs of turnover, is more likely not to be supportive. It also appears that some managers, especially in environments where terminating employees is a lengthy process, will take advantage of an employee’s personal issue to get the employee to quit.

  9. Interesting topic, Louise. I feel lucky to not have had anything major come up, but anytime I’ve had something arise, I’ve never had a boss who’s said anything other than, “Do whatever you need to do.” I don’t believe I’d keep working for someone who said anything other than that.

    The only time I had any push back was when I had a trial in Chicago that got extended, and would require me to miss my DD’s first day of kindergarten. My GC at the time was miffed I was balking at missing her first day, but he came back later, having thought about it (and having discussed it with his wife, it became clear) and he told me of course I should be there for DD’s first day, and not to worry about the trial.

    Moxie – way to go. That took guts, with a baby on the way! And even without one on the way. Good for you.

  10. I’ve been through a few times where personal and work life have collided. Up until the birth of my first, I could compartmentalize and get everything done. Previously, I’ve been at jobs that have taken ~20% of my brainpower, so getting through professional requirements while going 100 mph in personal mode was doable. Not so much with my first born and this job. I didn’t realize how it almost cost me my job until my performance review 9 months after my child was born. I got sideswiped by my boss’s comments, even though I realized I was faltering 3 months prior to the review. My boss and I never discussed my performance prior to the review, so I thought I was catching something before it was a problem. Nope.

    I moved on, and since then (going on 1.5 years now) have been paranoid that I’m going to get sideswiped again. I now schedule semi-annual check ups with my boss and give him ample opportunity to tell me what needs to be modified/fixed. And I keep everything in writing. This way if I get sideswiped and the company wants to fire me, I have a record that I’ve been asking for ways to improve and receiving no feedback.

    Since then I haven’t had any issues, but I know some may appear on the horizon. I’ll probably be very honest with my boss in order to get them on Team Rhode early. Hopefully that will spare negative reviews down the line.

  11. One of the reasons I pulled the plug and left my day job was how awful my boss was about fairly routine health issues. A few years before, with a different boss, I dealt with my mom’s serious and recurring health crises, my son’s hospitalization, and other routine problems that pop up with kids in daycare. His response was always supportive. Then he retired and I go a new boss.

    The last straw was when my husband was in an accident, I left work to meet him in the ER. Eventually, got him home and faced an email from my boss stated that I should plan better for situations like that.

    Six months later, I left. As an added bonus, two weeks before I gave notice, my only remaining colleague in that department also gave notice, because the boss was such a jerk.

  12. The funny thing was, six months before I left, my boss’s boss met with me because my colleague had gone to him (the boss’s boss) to discuss how awful the new boss was. BB and I met, and I told him that new boss was abusive. So, new boss met with colleague and I. Colleague and new boss got in a yelling argument. Most uncomfortable meeting ever. Boss’s boss asked me how the meeting went. I told him that I would try to work with new boss, but that I was concerned that this really wasn’t a workable solution. After getting yelled at in public again, I gave notice. Boss’s boss come to me and asks what the problem was and said he didn’t think I was serious when I told him that I would leave if things didn’t change.

  13. Rhode, I think pregnancy complications/birth defects, etc. are a situation that can be hard for managers to understand because people don’t realize how different a “bad” pregnancy situation is from a “normal” pregnancy situation. As a society, we haven’t figured out how to reconcile our goals of gender equality with the realities of pregnancy/pregnancy loss/prenatal birth defect diagnosis/NICU care.

    I think it’s easier for managers/colleagues to relate to losing a parent because that’s a more common experience.

  14. My GC at the time was miffed I was balking at missing her first day, but he came back later, having thought about it (and having discussed it with his wife, it became clear) and he told me of course I should be there for DD’s first day, and not to worry about the trial.

    That’s so interesting. I guarantee you DH would never miss a day of a trial for that. I am not joking when I say he might not miss a day of a trial for my own death. (After all, I’m already dead, right? So I’m not going anywhere. It’ll wait.) He might miss a day of a trial for DSS’s death. But he and his firm prioritize trials over every other life circumstance. As you might expect, he hates trials, and has basically said he’s not doing them much anymore.

  15. My mom was terminally ill when I switched jobs at my company. I was 25 and completely devastated when I found out my mom’s diagnosis. I was in a 1:1 meeting with my boss and started sobbing. He was fantastic. I didn’t really like him up to that point, but he was amazingly supportive. His response helped me to focus at work. But I ended up switching roles. My new boss knew my mom was sick. I got a call from the hospital first thing one morning that my mom was being put on life support and to come to the hospital right away. I passed my boss in the hall crying and went to the hospital. Later in the day, I called him to say that they put my mom on life support but they weren’t sure if she would make it through the night. His response was complete silence. I was stressed out about it and worried about my job, but I wasn’t leaving the hospital. I remember thinking the right response was, “Do whatever you need to do. We’ll figure it out.” My mom died that week. A few weeks later my boss and I were talking. I mentioned something about how I had a lot going on with helping my dad, and he commented to the effect that he forgot that it wasn’t that long ago that she passed. I was a zombie at work for the next several months because I used up all my time off and took a week of unpaid time too. I was incorrectly told I couldn’t use FMLA too. I learned a lot about management in that role and what I would be willing to tolerate in my work life.

    Next job – same company. I suffered a miscarriage at work (lasted about a week) and my boss found out about it inadvertently. I hadn’t planned on telling anyone, but I had to take a little time off for the doctor and for part of one day while in the process of miscarrying. He was completely supportive of me. While I was on his team, he had several people on his team go through major family issues – cancer and death of a spouse, very premature babies, death of parents, etc. He once said to me that he figured as a manager that at any one time someone on his team would be going through something and that he needed to plan accordingly. He was the best boss I ever worked for – super smart and good at his job and a tremendous people manager.

    From my experiences, I don’t tolerate taking shit at work. I’m good at my job. I figure out how to be an exceptional employee, and I manage my boss. But I’ve had a few bad bosses along the way, and I would work on mitigating their bad management styles while looking for new opportunities. Now in my current role, I should probably look for the next thing, but I value having a boss who is a decent human being.

  16. WCE – learned that lesson the hard way. My whole office went through DS1’s prenatal, birth, and first year with me (it’s a small office). The second time was different. I planned out my pregnancy to the letter in some places. But at the end, I can’t predict the schedule. In January, I worked with my boss to get a plan, and planned my work hours out until the Friday after DS2 was born (I was willing to stay pregnant to 38 weeks). Apparently DS2 did not get the memo…born 37 weeks 3 days. Consequently, I worked with my boss from the hospital to get my intern working on things, prioritize things for my return, and worked on my leave to keep things crawling along. Given everything I did to prep the world for DS2, if I hear anything negative at my next review, I will blow top. I even came back running, and used my lunch time and own time to catch up on emails and other little sh!t.

    My boss is very nice and supportive. My entire company has been supportive. But the little stuff on my review bugs me. Couldn’t they have given me some slack??? All I can do is work my butt off and pray this time is different.

  17. Do people think that male or female bosses are more understanding and supportive? I do a decent bit of lobbying with my DH on behalf of employees who have things going on. Reminding him that not everyone has the set up that we do. He’s not an unsympathetic guy but he can get focused on the end goals and forget how sweet his deal is.

  18. @Moxiemom – not sure if gender matters much. I’ve only had a few women bosses. The one who had kids really kept her private life private. She is super high up now at a large company. I think she tried to hide the personal part of her job. The other female boss was awful – she didn’t have kids and worked all the time and expected everyone else to work that much to. She’s not that high up in the company and has had 300% turnover since I’ve been on her team. I’m so glad I don’t work for her.

    The boss I had when my mom died had 3 kids and a stay at home wife. The best boss ever had a stay at home wife, 3 biological kids and 6 adopted kids (2 sets of 3 siblings). I think people aren’t aware of what they don’t know or haven’t experienced. But I think most of it is personality – is the person nice or are they a jerk?

  19. My experience is like tcmama… gender didn’t matter. It’s personality and life experience of the boss that has mattered in my cases. I usually don’t share a ton of personal stuff, so when I do, my bosses know it’s big.

  20. @tcmama – I ask because when I worked I found the women to be less supportive and/or sympathetic than the men. With one notable exception the men that I worked for did more for me and my career than the women ever did. But that is just my experience.

  21. sorry… didn’t finish.

    The boss usually makes a judgement from there. I can’t decide if sharing little by little is better, or just letting them in on the big stuff. Since I’m a big stuff sharer, my experiences confirm or deny that. Since I’m not a little stuff sharer I can’t figure it out.

  22. Agree with tcmama about nice vs. jerk being more important than male vs. female. We have a couple upper managers now who are so driven/focused on their goals that they’ve wound up divorced in an area where divorce is uncommon. Not sure how much of the competitive challenge for upper managers is necessary for the job and how much of it is too many Type A people in a small space. College hire attrition has been well above goal for a decade now and they are starting to care.

  23. RMS – we were the in-house counsel, in that case. Outside counsel were trying the case – we were at counsel table but not really even 3d and 4th chair. So one of us going missing wasn’t a big deal, really — not nearly as big a deal as 1st or 2d chair going missing.

    Moxie – IME, it’s better to have a male boss. They can’t figure out how women possibly manage everything, and they’re certain they couldn’t do it themselves. So they look at us with this bewildered awe and say, “Sure, whatever you need.” I never told or even implied to my boss that while he had a wife at home to handle everything outside the office, I was the wife at home who handled everything outside the office — and I was also at the office. But I could tell, from various conversations, that he had that thought many times, and that he would never want to trade places with me. Versus female bosses who’ve figured it out for themselves, often by sacrificing a lot of family/kid stuff, so they’re not bewildered, not at all in awe and in fact are resentful of younger women demanding a better work/family balance than they had. Again, IME only. I once interviewed for a new in-house job w/ a female GC and it became immediately clear she functioned on caffeine and many nannies and would have 0 tolerance or sympathy for me as a working mother, so I didn’t take the job, and instead stayed w/ my male GC and was very happy I did. YMMV of course.

  24. Moxie – I’ve experienced what you have. One female boss was unsupportive of every woman around her. Totally a “I had it hard so you’ll have it hard” mentality. Someone higher up must have talked with her (I know I relayed my concerns about her to another boss and he was pretty high up on the totem pole). She changed during my tenure with her and became more supportive. But I think she also just matured with time.

  25. “I once interviewed for a new in-house job w/ a female GC and it became immediately clear she functioned on caffeine and many nannies and would have 0 tolerance or sympathy for me as a working mother”

    Good observation and I might have tended to be that boss with less tolerance.

    As a boss I found myself making decisions based on the employee’s contribution. Not for the big stuff like death and childbirth, but other situations that may not have always seemed fair to the employee. While I had some sympathy for employee who frequently had bad luck with sick kids or other personal issues, if they were a mediocre or marginal employee I would not be inclined to cut them as much slack as I would for the star performer who had personal issues that interfered with work. I remember one administrative employee who was an amazing contributor, excellent work and super attitude. She frequently had issues with her disabled brother. But it was worth it to bend the rules to help her juggle everything. OTOH, another employee who did a marginal job and was a chronic complainer might not get such flexible treatment. Is that fair?

  26. Two of the people I described in my post weee women managers who didn’t come across as sympathetic at all. Both had kids – the senior manager was old school, had one kid and a forbidding presence. The other, my direct manager had adopted kids but had a series of au pairs to manage the kids (who were very active boys). It was strange to find them very sympathetic. In fact, I remember my manager telling me – if you don’t advocate for your kid, no one else will. It really helped me find my voice and ask questions of the teachers and anyone else that I needed to.

  27. But it was worth it to bend the rules to help her juggle everything. OTOH, another employee who did a marginal job and was a chronic complainer might not get such flexible treatment. Is that fair?

    Yes. In the end, is the employee worth the cost? The star performer is harder to replace than the marginal worker, so a manager needs to be more flexible with the harder to replace employee.

  28. I will admit that there are times when I would get sick of some people’s constant absences at work. When someone that worked for me became pregnant with twins (3 and 4), she asked if she could work from
    home on bed rest. I said yes, but HR said no. Too much stress. I was totally supportive during pregnancy, and six month maternity leave. When she returned to work after a year out of the office, she was always on the internet. We spoke about it, and she said she didn’t have time to shop except in the quiet of the office. I appreciated her honesty, but come on! At some point, you have to start working again if you’re being paid.

  29. CoC – Your comment about cutting slack to a contributor vs a marginal complainer is spot on in my experience with “non-jerk” bosses. That said, the marginal complainer might see that boss as a jerk who gives preferential treatment to others.

    I have had male and female bosses, both vary on a scale of jerkiness. I have had one extreme jerk male and one female. The male jerk was young and didn’t think women (any age) or men over 30 could possibly have an idea worth listening to or be any other than a marginal performer and it showed every single time he interacted with employees. The female jerk was near end of career and was clearly insecure and was competent, but not exceptional in any way. She wanted people who knew less than she did, but criticized them for needing too much “help”. If she got someone who knew as much or more than she did, then she was threatened that they would take her job.

    I had one supervisor who cut a male single dad tons of slack for kid stuff, but wrote up single moms for the same stuff. Yep, supervisor called on “discrimination” and was shocked as he just felt sorry for the single dad.

  30. “Is that fair?”

    Not necessarily; but it’s how people are. And that’s why there are policies and also why managers are often (not always) given latitude in managing their team’s workload.

    I’m at the stage of life where for the most part coming in on weekends or staying late even on short notice will now wreak havoc with the homelife. So I’m likely to say to my boss on a Friday as I’m leaving the office “let me know if something comes up and you need it before Monday.” Really a sleeve-out-of-my-vest gesture because (1) rarely will that occur and (2) even if it did, he’s the type who would send a note as a “heads-up; this’ll be needed earlier in the day Monday” vs. “I need you to have this ready for first thing Monday.”

  31. I think managers definitely have to care who is getting the job done. As business has become more global, there are more early/late meetings across time zones and more acceptance that calling in from home vs. the office for meetings is A-OK. The last of what I consider the “butt in seat” managers retired last spring. I’m glad to see that attitude retiring.

  32. “butt in seat” managers

    This is totally my former boss, now my boss’ boss due to promotion. The new boss only cares that anyone is around during core hours and is trying very hard to manage his boss’ expectations that we’ll get the work done, timely, high-quality as always but not necessarily from the office.

  33. My boss and I never discussed my performance prior to the review

    This drives me nuts. IMO, nothing in a review should be surprise, especially negative things. If there are performance issues, the boss needs to address them immediately, not wait months until review time.

  34. DD/Rhode – I had 2 reviews where I was also fired, and EVERYTHING in the review was a surprise. At my firm now our reviews are still mostly a surprise, but apparently the new employment lawyer we have at the firm is making them institute protocols for what happens before they fire someone, so anyone they are trying to fire will stay around for a lot longer than they would have before.

  35. I have been lucky one to have great bosses who have given me the leeway to handle personal issues and two that I haven’t encountered devastating issues.

    From the manager’s perspective, I’ve been able to assist my team members for the most part. The issue I always found difficult was if the issue was long-term because bottom line, the work still needed to be done. So either it was me picking up the slack or the employee’s colleagues. Then you start wondering if employee X was taking advantage of the situation and/or the other employees are in your office complaining that they were doing too much work. It was always a tough line to walk for suggesting FMLA, reducing to part-time, engaging EAP, leaving the position or putting them on a performance plan. You want to be sympathetic but in reality your own job is tied to producing results.

  36. Used to Lurk – But, why even offer options if your reality is if you can’t be 100% at least 95% of the time, this job isn’t a good fit. That is what irks me to no end – an employer who offers these “benefits”, but then penalizes you when you use them. I understand there are always people who will game the system – like a co-worker who never had more than one day of sick leave built up because she didn’t want them to be wasted, but then was in a bind when she was in a car accident and was out of work for two weeks.

  37. In my current group there was an edict given a while ago about people needing to be in the office. I see today an announcement that the top level manager who declared that is moving on.

  38. I also have not found gender to matter in managers – I’ve had good and bad for both. For all issues, but also for handling personal things. I used to be more cagey about why I needed to leave early, but my last two bosses have been very accommodating about kid-related things like school functions & illness, so I tell the truth. Of course, I always work around deadlines and deliverables, so I hope I’ve earned flexibility.

    “You want to be sympathetic but in reality your own job is tied to producing results.”

    I agree, and I am only so willing to put myself or the other team members out to pick up the workload. In the case of the slacking maternity-leave returnee, that would definitely require a tough conversation, IMHO. In the case of the employees that I have had who have had serious and understandable issues, I am much more willing to be flexible as a manager.

  39. a co-worker who never had more than one day of sick leave built up because she didn’t want them to be wasted, but then was in a bind when she was in a car accident and was out of work for two weeks.

    Did she then send out an emotional plea for other workers to donate their sick leave to her in her time of need?

  40. “I’m at the stage of life where for the most part coming in on weekends or staying late even on short notice will now wreak havoc with the homelife. So I’m likely to say to my boss on a Friday as I’m leaving the office “let me know if something comes up and you need it before Monday.” Really a sleeve-out-of-my-vest gesture because (1) rarely will that occur and (2) even if it did, he’s the type who would send a note as a “heads-up; this’ll be needed earlier in the day Monday” vs. “I need you to have this ready for first thing Monday.””

    I’m at the stage where saying that will wreak havoc, but I say it anway. Why? Because if I don’t, I could be considered “not a team player” when things get tight. In my job, that could be the kiss of death on a review.

    “This drives me nuts. IMO, nothing in a review should be surprise, especially negative things. If there are performance issues, the boss needs to address them immediately, not wait months until review time.”

    Yup – which is why I said and wrote in my review that my boss should approach me the second he notices an issue. I can handle criticism, and I need to know what I can do to be the best employee for him (and also get promoted). If he needs me to be better at something, I think he should tell me. Since that first negative review, I’ve had one review with no dings. I’ve asked for mini-reviews and haven’t heard anything that needs improving, so I can only hope that I have another review in Sept with no dings.

  41. HM – Sort of…she applied to get leave from the sick leave pool, which had less than one day of leave in it. Our pool, at that time, did not let you direct hours to a specific employee and you could only apply for an amount not to exceed the balance at the time you applied. Apparently, years before I worked there some “scandal” occurred and only a few departing employees ever donated after that. She did try convince a few folks to donate so that she could reapply, but no one did.

  42. Ah, Austin, why am I not surprised. (Well, the fact that the pool of sick leave had less than a day in it is a surprise, and pretty funny in the circumstances!) I once had a co-worker like that. They really do ruin a good thing for everyone, don’t they. Sort of like how you would never actually believe that someone approaching you on the street for money was legit stranded and needed bus fare to get home, even though that is a thing that can actually happen, because you get at least 10 scammers for every genuine person in need.

  43. At my firm now our reviews are still mostly a surprise, but apparently the new employment lawyer we have at the firm is making them institute protocols for what happens before they fire someone

    DH spends a certain amount of time banging his head against his desk regarding his colleagues’ behavior. He says that sometimes the employment lawyers are the worst — as if the fact that they know the rules means they can ignore them. (DH does employment law).

  44. “‘But it was worth it to bend the rules to help her juggle everything. OTOH, another employee who did a marginal job and was a chronic complainer might not get such flexible treatment. Is that fair?’

    Yes. In the end, is the employee worth the cost? The star performer is harder to replace than the marginal worker, so a manager needs to be more flexible with the harder to replace employee.”

    I don’t even think of it in terms of “value” or “cost” so much as “team.” I do not like rules and procedures; I prefer to get the job done when it needs to be done, and not screw around with busywork when it doesn’t. I am also very loyal and see all this as a two-way street. So if I am working with an associate who goes above and beyond when things are tough — who sucks it up for the good of the team — then I will totally have her back when she needs it. OTOH, if I am working with someone who is more focused on the “what are my specific job requirements” approach, then I’m also more likely to approach them as, “ok, so what are *my* specific job obligations as boss?”

    Tl;dr: If you are willing to be flexible to meet my needs, I will bend over backwards to meet yours. If you are going to do what is required and no more, so will I.

  45. Lark, what can you tell me about the Okefenokee fire? My parents are heading north on I 75 or 301. Will they encounter any road closures? How bad is the smoke?

  46. Louise, they’ll pass by you too. It looks like there is lots of traffic northbound on the interstate. Is that just rush hour or is there something going on?

  47. On topic, I’m lousy at keep work & personal life separate, have had some supportive bosses/colleagues a d some who weren’t. It drives me craziest when they’re mixed. But I think y’all knew all of that already.

  48. My previously trusty tablet just stopped accepting new book downloads on its Kindle app because it runs on Windows 8, apparently now incompatible with Kindle. (I should have updated to Windows 10 when it was free.) Since I’ve been on the lookout for the Kindle Paperwhite to go on sale I went ahead and bought one for myself as my Mother’s Day gift. ;) Also this time of year the non-glare Paperwhite screen is important for reading outside.

  49. I have had one extreme jerk male and one female.

    I’ve had two experiences with that and the part that was so surprising was that they couldn’t stop being jerks even when informed that if they didn’t change they were fired. In one case, they even hired an executive coach to try and help and nothing changed. In other the case the staff would complain and the manager would be spoken to, cry, and be good for six weeks. Then it would start to happen again, complaints, being spoken to, crying, good for 6 weeks, rinse, repeat.

  50. I had a manager who had been or perceived to have been a star performer. When she was on maternity leave my coworker discovered a bunch of mistakes in her work. The star performer was promoted on her return. She totally destroyed the career of my coworker who had dared to bring up the mistakes. The star became my manager. She had a toddler and a baby was forced to juggle and she became increasingly reliant on me. She was great to me but behaved so poorly with the rest of the extended team that after much whispering in corners they collectively went to HR. After months of this, she decided to leave to stay home with her kids much to everyone’s relief, she however destroyed one career and probably caused the rest of the team to seek therapy.

  51. RMS,

    It will be interesting to see if they go with the screen. The current form factor is great because it looks at you when you talk to it so you know it heard you. With the Google Home, unless you’re looking directly at you, you can’t tell if it heard you.

  52. I’ve seen some managers that were jerks change after they had kids, or had deal with elder care issues. I worked for one guy that absolutely did not believe in flex time, or work from home arrangements. He and his wife has twins when he was in his mid 40s, and he had to take A LOT of personal time for medical issues related to his wife and the twins. I don’t think he ever mentioned a negative word when someone decided to WFH or ask for a flexible work arrangement after he had his own kids. He just never knew how hard it could be with babies at home. The same thing happened to guy that worked for me. He wasn’t allowed to help his wife make funeral arrangements for his FIL. I approved his time off as per the banks’s leave policy – this was actually permitted. He was told me manager that the team was too busy, and it wasn’t his father. This guy was upset, and he sort of managed a few hours here/there. When he finally got through this mess, he spoke to my manager and told him that what he did was cruel. It took a lot of guts, but I know this manager became a little more human after this incident.

  53. @Lauren – a lot of people grow up, in the sense that unless you are a doctor or a first responder, they realize that their work though important is not life and death. I have definitely seen people chill out. Even those going through a tough time work wise (bad boss, not a good job fit) realize that it is not the end of the world and that they have some power to improve their situation.

  54. unless you are a doctor or a first responder, they realize that their work though important is not life and death.

    An ophthalmologist doesn’t save lives, but my dad felt vision was also extremely important. He stayed home once for a day or two after he was bruised up in a car accident. Other than that, I’ve only known him to cancel office hours once, for my wedding, which I announced two days in advance. That made me feel super important.

  55. I would also like to say, totally off topic but related to our favorite topic – college – that Sally Yates is a UGA double grad. Go state schools!

  56. Yes SM vision is very important. The seniors in my family were anxious before a cataract operation. We did assure them that now with modern techniques it wasn’t as scary as in the past but only after they experienced surgery on one eye and quick recovery did the surgery on the second eye appear routine.

  57. In public accounting I had a partner tell me a sr mgr that I couldn’t take off a couple of days during busy season for an outpatient procedure that was hard to schedule that included a biopsy on an area for which delay is not a good idea. He said, and he knew about my child who died many years before, what’s the chance that it’s cancer? But he was not the jerkiest boss. That came later.

  58. It’s not just that vision is important, it’s that patients have scheduled appointments with you and arranged their schedules so they can be there. And they often have to schedule appointments weeks out to get one that works for them. So cancelling on them on short notice for a non-emergency is incredibly rude.

  59. Dener, I find your comment “incredibly rude”whatever. Even if you find it rude for someone to cancel for their child’s wedding, his patients seemed to deal with the fact that he did it twice in 35 years of practice.

  60. Louise, That brings u happy memories for me. A lot of the techniques and equipment now use for cataract surgery developed during my dad’s career. I recall him coming home from many conferences delighted about what he had learned, and I followed each step of development.

  61. My last boss was a jerk and literally never even made his own dental appointments – he worked 6 1/2 days per week and obsessed over the tiniest of details and his wife handled everything home and child-related. He told me he has never had a working mother who reported to him and he is 50 and worked at a consulting firm owned by the Big 4. I would never work for him – I would hire him so long as he did not directly manage people. Every single woman at my former office is leaving. The policies were really crappy and the benefits were awful – my boss used to awe at the 16th century end tables at the CEO’s house that cost oodles of money and I think I would have been appalled that our CEO thinks its ok to only give 2 weeks of vacation that doesn’t even roll over and expect retail branch tellers to pay over $1000 per month for a basic healthcare program. Reminds me, I need to go short their stock.

  62. Just realized I missed a letter in your name at 10:42. Not intentional. Sorry.

  63. SM, I read DD’s comment as complimentary to your Dad for his consideration for his patients.

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