I am seeking the opinons and advice of this fine collection of people who all want to improve themselves as managers and leaders. I imagine amongst this group there are a number of managers who have experience with my current situation.

I currently have a team member who is going through a personal crisis outside work. I am aware of this because there have been several outward displays in the office. I have a very good idea about what is happening but I don't know that it is helpful to be specific here. I don't think it changes drastically how a manager handles the situation. Let's just say that it is a relationship break-up, a divorce, an illness or death of someone close to them, perhaps even a family member and they have already been on leave, any significantly real event that could cause someone to experience real grief, and possibly even depression. There have been days where the employee has been crying for multiple hours. Other team members, feeling uncomfortable, have actually left the work area and gone home because they just couldn't bear it. The employee comes in late or not at all, often looking very ragged and unkempt in the office.

When there have been good days, it is obvious that other team members are still steering away. I have even heard rumor and gossip conversations of an almost high-school-like nature. There is definitely a stigma that is developing. I believe that general productivity is being effected not just for the employee in question, but from some perceived lack of pressure on others because they obviously won't be looked at as slacking the most during this time.

I am fighting a lot of personal biases which I have about people's personal lives in the workplace. I am fairly conservative in this regard. The approach I am taking really is figuring out what is best for the organization. I can see that the situation is having a negative impact. I want to minimize that impact. If in the process I can help this person that is great, but mainly I want to do what is best for all.

There are two apsects for which I am seeking the advice of this community.

First is what to do with the person directly. We don't a seperate HR organization built to handle this type of thing. We don't have a very robust benefits package which includes counseling or additional temporary leave programs other than those required by law. So I have concerns about privacy and imposing. It is not the type of thing I would want someone to approach me about whether or not it was effecting my work. If was not impacting the working environment I certainly wouldn't broach the subject.

Second is what, if anything, should I do with my team to combat the stigma. At a previous company, a peer was dealing with a similar thing without even as much of an emotional display. Just some impression that they were very very down for a long period of time. The isolation that followed in the organization from people's reactions never dissipated and eventually became cyclically feeding on itself. The team never became a fully functional group and there was always that exclusion factor for the individual.

Any feedback is appreciated, even if it is simply things people have tried in similar situations.

juliahhavener's picture
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My organization does have an excellent benefits package, including an employee assistance program (which gives resource information by phone for anyone in almost any type of crisis, be it financial, personal, or professional). I keep a stack of brochures and contact information there for them. My HR department is also awesome at supporting our team -- they have found everything from food bank services to al-anon meeting information for employees dealing with personal crises. That being said, one of the best things I've found is to make it clear to my directs that I have a place on my desk for them to put all that personal crap that gets in the way of their professional lives [b]so they can get on with their professional lives[/b].

In the last six weeks, I've had several instances of managing personal crisis affecting work. The specifics don't matter really -- what matters is that the behavior is affecting the work. Address the behavior. I've found it beneficial to allow them to talk, keep their personal problems THEIR PERSONAL PROBLEMS (i.e. not fodder for the rumor mill, even to diffuse their co-workers), and provide them with any resource I can even if it's just assurance that they aren't the only person to ever go through their situation. I don't have a problem hearing hard (personal) things, I don't judge, and I don't allow it to color my judgements of that employee (if there's a personal problem out there, I've probably been through it in my life-I don't see a point to judgements on life). For me, it's a piece of the relationship.

The [i]reasons[/i] don't matter as much as the [i]behavior[/i] and the [i]effects of that behavior[/i]. If you aren't comfortable hearing the problems, that's fine. Feedback model, facts delivered with love and no recriminations. "Mrs. DR, when you come in late to work, we worry about you, you're put under undue stress to meet your deadlines, your team doesn't know if they can trust you to complete your part of this project. What can you do to change this?" " Mrs. DR, when you cry at work for hours on end, we worry about you, it makes some people uncomfortable and upset, work doesn't get done, and you give your customers an unprofessional impression. What can you do to change this?" You can't tell her to get her personal life in order. You can tell her what behaviors are affecting her professional life, in what manner, and ask her to change them.

Chances are she already knows, but without being asked to make a change, it's one area where she thinks she can cut herself a little slack.

Mark's picture
Admin Role Badge

Here are my thoughts on a fairly common area of management failure.

First, let's be clear - people have lives outside of work. Or, to put it more holistically, work is only one part of most of your directs' lives. I'm always amazed at the spoon feeding that happens at work, while those who are fed go home and manage three kids, a budget, a home, an aging parent, social services, hot breakfasts, school schedules, over-managed extra-curricular activities, retirement planning, and they often squeeze in some free time.

Therefore, I find the "bias" here to be both inefficient (we will take more time to deal with these issues because we don't like them intruding) and ineffective (they affect our work output more the longer we take and the more mistakes we make.)

I don't LIKE traveling to client sites, but they won't yet come to me, so I go. We may not LIKE that people have problems at home...but we better deal with them efficiently, effectively, and, over time, with more and more skill.

And please let's not forget: we - US, the MANAGERS - create problems in their home lives repeatedly. You underestimate a project (perhaps by overestimating their ability) and they have to work late one night to make it happen. OUR meetings run long, and they pay BIG money to have a daycare worker stay late with a LONELY child. Vacations are scheduled on a first come, first served basis, and a GREAT but relatively new worker who has saved up time at Christmas has to work right up to the day itself... even though his ailing father is at our direct's home... by himself all week.

Maybe it's just karma that their lives intrude on our work, as often as our work intrudes on their lives.

What to do?

This is a tough situation, but as managers I believe we have an obligation to work through it with dignity, and I think most of us are pretty poor at it.

First off, I absolutely believe that the TYPE of issue is TERRIBLY germane to the solution. Situations that are event driven - a car accident, a job loss - are fundamentally different from those that are chronic - a sick parent, an abusive relationship.

So, I'm not keen on making strong recommendations without knowing what is going on. This forum may not be the place... and I respect that. But my recommendations become less firm when I have less data...even if privacy or sensitivity is the reason.

That said, I believe there are a series of things that I would recommend in such situations. [Again, caution is encouraged: these recommendations may NOT apply to your "similar" situation.]

This is the topic of an upcoming cast, so I have left out some of the rationales.

[b]- Immediately address the cause of the difficulty.

- Provide all available means of organizational support.

- Provide non-organizational means of assistance.

- Provide guidance regarding behaviors that are appropriate at work. In the context of this situation, I cannot say how I would handle "outward displays". Frankly, though, the tone here suggests that what you would call outward displays I would call tolerable distractions. No offense.

- Repeatedly provide communication and support.

- Provide ongoing feedback regarding inappropriate behaviors.

- Provide guidance to other directs regarding behavior, response, compassion and productivity. (You may or may not share what has happened, but we're talking about BEHAVIOR AT WORK here, not NECESSARILY external forces.)[/b]

I believe compassion here - let's call it a softer touch - MIGHT negatively impact short term productivity. And I can still recommend it, because it will improve productivity in the long run.

These situations also remind me of the incredible UNDER-APPRECIATED value of one on ones. When you KNOW your folks, instances like this are far fewer, and less volatile.

Personally, one of my directs once had a child die of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome while she was at work. [i]She was sitting ten feet from me when her babysitter called and said, "I think your baby is dead."[/i]

[b]Folks, get your heads around that.[/b] What "outward display" might be appropriate just then?

After watching a bunch of "professionals" talk amongst themselves about "how to manage workplace issues", I turned to my go-to person in disgust and said, "you're in charge for a week", and I personally walked my direct through the misery of funeral planning, grief and family counseling, and work re-alignment. I signed her name to a hundred documents while she watched because she couldn't stop her hand from shaking and a pompous official [i]would not accept her first signature because it didn't look enough like her original.[/i]

[My number two was so brilliant as a leader I was able to leave the organization shortly afterwards with complete trust that things would not only continue, but actually likely improve. Crises clarify. - H]

Finally, please remember Steven Covey's story of being on a subway train when a man boarded whose children ran wild and disrupted others. Covey stewed and then finally said, "you know, it might be best if you controlled your children."

And the man said, "I know, but we just came from the hospital, and their mom just died. Frankly, I don't know what to do or say."

A compassionate manager can be a calm and gentle voice of reason during times of great madness. Do not become so enamored of results today that you erode the very trust from which tomorrow's results will spring.

regas14's picture
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Personally, one of my directs once had a child die of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome while she was at work. [i]She was sitting ten feet from me when her babysitter called and said, "I think your baby is dead."[/i]

[b]Folks, get your heads around that.[/b] What "outward display" might be appropriate just then?

After watching a bunch of "professionals" talk amongst themselves about "how to manage workplace issues", I turned to my go-to person in disgust and said, "you're in charge for a week", and I personally walked my direct through the misery of funeral planning, grief and family counseling, and work re-alignment. I signed her name to a hundred documents while she watched because she couldn't stop her hand from shaking and a pompous official [i]would not accept her first signature because it didn't look enough like her original.[/i]

[My number two was so brilliant as a leader I was able to leave the organization shortly afterwards with complete trust that things would not only continue, but actually likely improve. Crises clarify. - H]


Thanks for sharing that story. Not only does it motivate me to be a more compassionate colleague and manager, but a more compassionate person.

I e-mailed a copy of this message to my wife just to let her know what kind of person I'm listening to and accepting recommendations from.

Thank you,


jael's picture

[quote="mahorstman"]A compassionate manager can be a calm and gentle voice of reason during times of great madness. Do not become so enamored of results today that you erode the very trust from which tomorrow's results will spring.[/quote]

During my father's final illness which lasted for several months, I had the good fortune to work for a manager who understood this. His actions and understanding of my situation caused me to work harder to produce more for him both during that period and afterwards than for almost anyone else I've ever worked for.

slymcmosa's picture

Thank you Mark.

I cannot possibly express how much I appreciate the seriousness and openness with how you have replied to my post. And I also understand what you mean about needing to know more about the specifics because I see now the difference in what advice you may give.

I held back on some details because I didn't want to be making a diagnosis I am not qualified to make, nor to pass judgement on a set of circumstances as to what is deemed worthy of someone's emotional reaction regardless of whether that is at work or not. Everyone is different and what might be upsetting to one person is not upsetting to another, so I didn't want the discussion to be exclusively about what is appropriate to be upset about. So if you will be patient with my dime store analysis I can expand.

Quite simply, while I am not qualified to make this statement, I believe she is in a state of depression. I think that it will be ongoing for quite a while. I think she is going to need help from a professional to get beyond it, and she is probably going to have to have someone who knows her well, help her come to that conclusion. She is alone and has recently gone through some significant break-up or separation in a marriage. That separation has been possibly particularly complicated (although I don't know of any which are simple).

I do not think she is completely conscious of her actions, disruptive or otherwise, much as any illness related to trauma or chemical dependency. So from a manager perspective I have felt it inappropriate to try and treat the behavior, with something like "this behavior can't happen in the office", because I have little doubt were she in another state of mind, she would be able to correct the behavior herself. I don't know if a 'wake up call' is really the best thing or not.

I think your words of ineffective and inefficient are exactly how I feel in this situation. I am fairly concerned about doing more harm than good if I attempt to inject myself into the situation. I think my own personal limitations and what the organization's mindset is just has made me feel very helpless and powerless to be honest.

I think from a compassionate perspective I have little problem with accepting what is happening from this person. By my biases I really was meaning, I just have never cultivated any skill in talking about personal matters with co-workers because I have always felt it inappropriate. Not so much that I was condemning her reaction. I don't necessarily think it is appropriate or inappropriate for her to react this way. I just simply have no positive experience crossing that work/personal boundary. If it were just me, I would probably just let it go on, and assume that in time she will work it out. But others are reacting to it.

My boss is very aware of the situation and because complaints go directly to him, maybe even more aware of the details than I am. He has made it clear to me that he considers it a problem.

I am looking over the steps you have offered trying to figure out what I can do next. Some of them frighten me a bit, but I will try to at least progress in one or two of them. I will have to figure out who I want to be as a manager.

Again I want to thank you for responding so candidly, and with actions to take. In addition I have much meat to chew on about the balance I am comfortable with in regards to keeping separation between personal life and work life.

I have quickly redeemed great value from the extra five minutes I took to become a member of this community. I would recommend it to anyone.


pneuhardt's picture


Read Mark's advice over and over. It's outstanding in it's clarity and in it's wisdom. I can wihtout hesitation say that my life would be different right now if I had someone like Mark available as my manager during such a crisis in my life.

All situations are different, and normally I wouldn't post deeply personal information here. But I hope by sharing a little such history, you will be able to understand the role you can play in this person's life.

For me, it wasn't the time of my divorce that was so traumatic as it was the three years leading up to it. During the third year things hit rock bottom and marriage counselling wasn't helping. As that counselling went on and it became more and more clear to me that the marriage was over, my reactions to that realization became more and more difficult for those around me.

My behaviors were not outward displays but inward withdrawal. The most outgoing person in the office became the quiet, sullen one at his desk. The "go to" guy who knew every functional and technical nuance of one of the most complex sections of a HUGE enterprise application system found he couldn't even answer simple questions about it on a consistent basis. One of the most efficient and effective coders became the slowest to deliver and his code was bug-ridden. The quality of my project management work reached the point where I simply wasn't trustworthy any more.

None of what was happening in my life outside of work was a surprise to me. I had seen it coming, tried to take corrective actions as best I could, and believed myself to be prepared for what would happen if those efforts failed. I was wrong. It turned my entire emotional being upside down. Having been through it, I don't know that you can be prepared for that experience. To have it come as a surprise, as it does to some, must make the pain and the emotional disorientation that much worse. And it was that sense of disorientation that made it virtually impossible for me to function well, either at home or at work.

I can look back and say that not only was that year the only period during a 23-year professional career that I am not proud of the work I did, but that I am actually ashamed of the results I produced and the problems I created for those around me. It was not a surprise to me when my contract was not renewed and I was told that it would be best if I not seek references from anyone on that project. I understood how poorly I was doing even as I was defensive about my performance when it was discussed with me. I knew my performance was well below par but I was not emotionally able to do anything about it. I didn't blame them at the time, and I do not now. I am the one that failed to deliver work even close to what I was capable of, I am the one that cost my employer a great deal in wasted time and money, and I am the one that caused the resulting damage to what had been an outstanding professional reputation.

My management was "do it or else" and I didn't do it, so I got "or else." But a little guidance, a caring voice and some support could have prevented all that. Moreover, I believe that year would have been easier at home as well. Nothing in my life seemed right. All was chaos. Of course, this was me projecting my emotional state on to the world around me. But if I could have found even one way that life was somewhat "normal" it would have been a TREMENDOUS emotional relief for me. Looking back on it, work was the perfect place to have found that normalcy as it was the least directly impacted by the issues between myself and my wife. In my case, I did not get that comfort.

The idea that one has a "personal" life and a "professional" life and never the twain shall meet is a fallacy. We are given one life and many roles and all those roles intersect inside our own heads. They are impossible to separate. For your direct to bring those emotions in to the work place is reasonable and understandable. We all do it.

Helping your direct regain some of that control in her life will help her more than you can know. As her manager, the only part of her life that you can directly affect is her work. Following Mark's advice and focusing on her work behavior in a compassionate and understanding way will not only help bring her performance back in to line with expectations, it will help provide an "anchor of sanity" in her life. Your company will get what it needs for the operation and she will get one part of what she needs for herself.

Now, here is the hard part. You must act quickly and decisively. Avoiding the issue only makes things worse for you, for her, for the team and for your employer. I understand that these issues are difficult to deal with, and I fully understand that you are going to be very, very uncomfortable while doing has been suggested. But the situation will only grow worse with time. If it can be saved, it must be saved quickly.

Lastly, ask yourself one question: "Would I want someone to be caring and supportive if it were me in that position?" You don't have to be perfect. You only have to try and to try well. The rest will come, and possibly in short order. When your life has fallen apart and even one thing returns to a state the feels like normal, the rest becomes that much easier. A small improvement at work in the next week will likely be a huge improvement in a month. And you can get that process started today.

You can reach me at my private email by clicking on the button at the bottom of this post. You are welcome to do so if you would like to talk to me personally about your situation.

aspiringceo's picture


Thank you for sharing.

This is fast becoming a powerful post, that all managers should read and reflect upon.

:idea: Maybe it should / could become "stickied" :idea:


slymcmosa's picture


Thank you. Inspired by your very moving post and Mark's advice i have developed a plan.

Paul, your story resonated strongly around something she did say and helped me to find an entry way into reinforcing positive behaviours. So I am going to offer to do what I can to support her in that. Working slowly towards strengthening the positives for now.

I am not going into detail of my plan here because I do worry a bit about six degrees of seperation.

The other thing I did was approach my boss about my plan basically to indicate that I thought it was necessary to do now, and it may greatly impact the time I have to do other things. He was surprisingly supportive of the idea. I have to thank this forum for that. I certainly would not have had that meeting before Paul's post. That is a simple fact.

I will try to let the forum know what happens but probably won't go in to much more detail. While I am extremely grateful for the support, and glad if it can help others in the situation, and it possibly wouldn't have been possible without the detail, I worry that I have already risked too much of this employee's personal information and wish I had not gone into so much detail in my last post for that reason.

Thank you all,

cincibuckeyenut's picture

I don't understand quite frankly how this is difficult or taking so many words to relay the message.

One of the biggest messages from manager tools is that it is all about the people and the relationships. Let me repeat. IT IS ALL ABOUT THE PEOPLE AND THE RELATIONSHIPS. Given that, in my mind, it becomes pretty clear how to hand an employee in personal crisis, no matter what the crisis is. Figure out what help they need and be there for them.

It could be a listening ear. It could be a little extra time off. It could be holding their hand at a funeral. It could be absolutely nothing, if they prefer to deal with things on their own. It'll be different in every case, but the principle is still the same.

slymcmosa's picture

I thought I would share this link which I found in my searching over the last few days:

It is more geared towards helping employees after a crisis takes place within the office, but a lot of the advice touches on the same area, and I think backs up suggestions from Mark and Paul. I particularly found the 'How to Listen to Someone who is hurting' helpful for me as it described exactly some of my hesitations. Namely, you don't have to be trained in counseling to still be able to be a good listener for someone who is hurting.

Obvious after I read it, but wasn't so obvious to me beforehand.

slymcmosa's picture

Hello again,

I have taken a number of steps based on advice given here and at least feel positive about being proactive. Time will tell if it helps, but I think it is much more likely now, than it was with my inaction.

Before the folks here helped wake me up to addressing the issue straight with the DR, I actually came to this forum more out of what to do to minimize reaction from others.

I did address my team directly. Time will tell here as well.

I am now dealing with another aspect of this situation, that has elevated, and I was hoping I could again obtain some wisdom from this group.

I am dealing with increased hostility from one of my 'peers' about the situation. This peer manages his own team, and is even with me on the reporting structure, he reports to my boss, but it is complicated by him being one of the partners/majority owners of the company, as is my boss. While I don't report to him on a day to day, I do in fact work for him, and he sits in with my boss at my year end reviews and many meetings, etc.

He has come to me and flat out stated I have not done what he wanted in this situation which was to 'deal with it' by telling my direct to stop crying at work or we will ask her to leave the company.

He is stating that his team members are threatening to leave the company because they find wroking with her in this state intolerable. He is saying that if the problem doesn't turn around that I am responsible and I will be held directly responsible if one of his team members quits.

I feel his description is a bit of an exaggeration and he is struggling to deal with something which makes him uncomfortable the way it has me, but he is expressive about his anger, and is making threats.

He was quoting back to me things I said to my team so he obviously is in direct communication with one of my directs, or via his directs. I can't imagine the situation getting better in the time frame he is expecting, and explained that to him. I told him I gave her almost the opposite advice, saying not to focus on controlling the tears. Work on the things you can controll easily first, like filling out the weekly status form, and showing up on time, working up to other behaviours. I asked him and his team to reset their tolerances and try to start over, as I was trying to take new approaches with my direct.

I even tried to offer the perspective that Mark offered of a situation that was on the more extreme tragedy side such as someone losing a child. They might be displaying exactly the same thing, what would you expect us as a company to do then? He ignored that statement and said that if it happens again, he will directly intercede, since he says I am obviously not up to the task. Well I can tell you, she will have another bad day some day.

I believe what I am doing is the right thing, but am a bit surprised to be in the situation I am in now. I didn't really anticipate this being a battle to stand up to ownership on. I have to believe there is a good way to approach this so it doesn't come to an unfortunate end. From my past discussions with my boss, I am not going to be sided with, if I go to him.

So again I offer myself up to this forum for the soothing rational voices that I heard after my original post. Weather the storm, but stay the course? Something proactive to help the situation? I thank you for any suggestions that can be offered.

I am going to relisten to the 'conflict when a peer is involved' cast this weekend, but I don't quite remember this being the jist. But perhaps with a new perspective...


juliahhavener's picture
Licensee Badge

I think the podcast is good. Better is making sure YOUR boss knows about the current situation, what you are doing to resolve it, and the situation with your peer. Normally, I would leave your peer out of it, but in this instance, he's half your peer and half your boss' peer.

And...keep doing what you're doing.

pneuhardt's picture


At this point I have only one thing to add, and I hope you understand. I believe you will.

Act with honor, no matter what. No matter what happens after, you can know you did the right thing.

Mark's picture
Admin Role Badge

It sounds like it has come down to one of the fundamental choices managers make: "do I believe in this person's value to the firm (not intrinsic value, but economic value) to justify standing up to pressure from above?"

It is entirely reasonable for your bosses to expect this person to change, if they believe her behavior is having a deleterious effect on the firm. The fact that they don't share your approach means that you are in the position of having to convince them, or agreeing to their wishes, or resigning because your values no longer match the firm.

So, choose.

If you want to persuade them, consider your audience and decide what will move them. Think of your peer as equivalent to your boss since he is also an owner and tactical role is less important than organizational power.

If you choose to agree, decide how to do that in a way that protects your ethics and the firm, as well as your direct. If in fact this situation is temporary, I find this approach shallow. But they have the power to compel the person in your role to do it. I suspect that it is possible that they will NOT compel you to do so, but will do it FOR you. I have seen situations like that where, because of the success of the manager, they DON'T pull the trigger on the manager, yet the employee is released. Your career will be damaged, but you may end up feeling you did the right thing, and many careers - the VAST MAJORITY OF CAREERS - survive such damage. It may also give you time to put your search for a new role in gear.

If you resign once the stakes are made more clear, recognize that the chances of this behavior saving this direct's job are slim.

I would attempt a persuasive argument, including time frames for change - [b]isn't this the late stage coaching model, anyone? c'mon[/b] - which is likely to be exculpatory in the near term, and your plan and associated risk, communicated to the direct, might be the necessary fulcrum.

[b]And please do tell me that your direct understands how high the stakes are.[/b]


asteriskrntt1's picture

Wow.. they sure don't prepare you for stuff like this at MBA school. Anyone know how things worked out?


slymcmosa's picture

The results have worked out fairly well for the person in question so far. After slowly building up from simple positive behaviours, she has been able to get back to feeling good about the work she is doing. More importantly she has been receiving positive feedback from others in the organization to that effect. Not the person who was threatening me, but pretty much all the others. Time will tell if it will last. But I would classify it a turn-around. I know that she would too.

Unfortunately my situation did not turn out as well. The conflict with the owner that I had over this situation, transferred over to many other things. I endured a continued series of attacks against me, and him trying to place me on the wrong side of many issues affecting the firm. It was very unpleasant, and the more my (now former) direct seemed to improve, the more intense the attacks would come.

I recently went on vacation. While I was gone there were several changes made. While it was never communicated to me directly, I no longer have any directs. It required me going to my boss to ask if this was now the case, which he confirmed. There was no explanation given as to why.

So now I sit here with my same role and title, but no team. Not even the person over whom the controversy began.

I asked my boss if he and the others wanted me to resign, and he said no, but it is unclear what if anything I should be doing here. It has all been a little shocking. I obviously handled the situation poorly given the results. It is sad to say, had I just tried to terminate this person I would be in a better situation, possibly in even grander standing with my employers. I don't know that I would feel right about it though.

I am exploring my options, but unfortuntely replaying all the events trying to figure out where it went wrong, and what I should have done differently. I would like to at least have learned from all this.

If there are any new developments I will update the forum. I imagine it will be as I take on a role in a new company.


pneuhardt's picture


I am very sorry to hear of the negative impact this has had on your career at this company. It is not fair and it is not right.

Sadly, this sort of reaction is not as uncommon as one would hope. The sad truth of the world is that there are many petty, vindictive people out there in the world who will find a way to exact revenge for slights against them, both real and perceived. It is amazing how many people in this world find disagreement with their views to be a slight against them.

I said this once before in this thread, and I would say it again. The big thing you should take with you is that you did the right thing. I know that can be of little comfort in your current situation, but I hope that in the long run you will take that with you.

If we had more people in this world doing the right things instead of what they are pressured to do then the world would be a far better place.

juliahhavener's picture
Licensee Badge

I'll lend my voice to Paul's on this. We don't know exactly what is in store for you. We do know that you've made some good choices for your team and direct. We do know that you can look at yourself in the mirror in the morning and sleep with yourself at night. Keep your head high.

It IS good to look back to see if there was a way to do both things. It isn't good to fret over decisions made and done. If there was a mistake there, learn from it. Go forward - even if it means going forward into a new position/company.

Mark's picture
Admin Role Badge


Sorry to hear of this turn of events. It is always hard to be the victim of unprofessional management, particularly when it's the result of your own highly professional behavior.

If you need more detailed advice about what to do and how, please PM me. We can talk on the phone as well, if it will help.


asteriskrntt1's picture

All I can say is wow. For a bunch of people who have for the most part never met, the MT group is amazing for its intelligence, compassion, support and professionalism.

Imagine if we could put all our collective superpowers together to run some sort of enterprise.


Mark's picture
Admin Role Badge

Haven't we already?


slymcmosa's picture

Thank you everyone for your support. It means a great deal to me.

I don't want to come across as too discouraged. There are 2 aspects I am keeping in mind.

First of all, that through the actions I took, and with the help of this forum and some other resources, I did what I feel was the best to [u]manage[/u] the situation. While I could not [u]control[/u] it, that is how things often are.

Secondly, sometimes to my own detriment, I regard my career as transcending any job. So in a sense I don't look at this as negatively impacting my career. (I actually was offered this job by someone who used to work for me at a previous business). One has no idea what benefits making sound management decisions will bring you in the long term even if in the short term they take what appears to be a dive.

It might even be good fortune to have detonated this volatile situation early enough that I can make decisions about other opportunities. I mean if ownership struggles to make good people decisions, it might not be a good place to be in the long term anyway. I might have just saved myself some time.

Thanks again all, and especially to those of you who have shared and reached out personally to make yourself available. This is a fine community and everyone should be proud to be a part of it.

I consider this thread to be a success story.


slymcmosa's picture

Greetings one and all,

Again I would like to thank everyone who responded to these posts many months ago. It really did help me keep my eye on the important things in the midst of a bit of chaos at my work place.

I wanted to give a little update, because it is possibly interesting in a sort of soap-opera-like way.

I have actually been offered a promotion at this company. And quite a significant one at that.

As a brief background to what has happened since my last post:
1. Went on vacation, came back to no longer have any directs after many events (which you'll have to read back through this topic if you are interested)
2. Continued working on efforts in my department by myself (current title..V.P. Product Development)
3. Discussed with the President reducing my hours to part-time to afford me I did outside work for four months while doing part time in this company
5. Returned to full time work here to begin effort on new product line and release schedule
6. Relationship between founders and investors strained
7. Investors request that I personally be involved in future board meetings
8. Founder/Owner whom I had the big row with, has to reduce his involvement with the company to address some obligations in acedemia
9. Investors pressure founders to bring in manager from outside at top level
10. A reorganization of responibilities is called for in the company (a mini-re-org of sorts)
10. Current President approaches me about moving in to the President role as he moves to CEO exclusively

I must quickly decide whether I want to take this position or probably leave the company. But that is a topic for another forum...

So 99.9% of what has brought me to this place I had no control over.

Anyway, it is something to keep in mind as anyone faces adversity in a work place that it is not always permanent, no matter how comprehensive it may first seem. If you can manage to not implode, there can be other opportunities in time.


jhack's picture

Sylvester, thanks for updating us on the situation.

Congratulations on successfully navigating rough seas. Good luck with your decision.


bflynn's picture

So 99.9% of what has brought me to this place I had no control over.

I disagree. I think a great deal of what brought you to this place had to do with your superior performance a few months earlier. What you did earlier was recognized and is why you're being offered the chance to run things the right way.

It sounds to me like you might still be harboring some resentment of your treatment earlier. Let it go. Take this position and focus everything on results.

Relations with investors will usually be strained - accept that as normal. Investors are constantly worried about getting their investment back, plus a good return. Managers are usually focused on building a strong company - the two are not always the same.


Mark's picture
Admin Role Badge

Sorry this has taken me so long. I regret my absence.

Those things about which you had no control over are almost always irrelevant.

The one thing you DID have control over - your actions - I would bet you anbody's paycheck made ALL the difference based on the existing situation.

Well done. Hope you took the job

Good to be back.


slymcmosa's picture


First of all I want to thank the many individuals who gave advice, shared their experiences and offered me support along this thread, especially Mark.

I did not end up taking this promotion. There was another thread [url=]here[/url] that goes into that a little more if anyone is interested.

Yesterday I received an offer from another company to become their CTO and VP of Engineering. It is a smaller company, in a much later stage of the "startup" cyle. Trying to make the leap to being EBITA +. I am going to accept the position on Monday having asked for enough lead time to make a smooth transition following the MT guidelines for resigning.

I look forward to being able to apply MT practices from the very beginning at a new place. I think the insight I have gained from my recent experiences and the group of people on this forum, has really changed me as a manager for the better.

The employee that this all started for is still at the current company, and still has some ups and downs, but in general is doing well.

Once again I would like to express my thanks to Juliah, Paul, *RNTT, John, Brian, G.R., jael, Edmund, cincibuckeyenut, and of course Mark and Mike for having created this great resource, and built this online community.

May any holidays you may be celebrating be safe and enjoyable, and may you find time to let the people you love in your life, know how much they mean to you.


huntbk's picture

Between the original issue and Sylvester's situation, I've just learned more by reading this thread than I would reading an entire management book.

I'm so glad that things worked out for you, Sylvester!

jhack's picture

Congratulations! And may your holidays be safe and happy, too.


juliahhavener's picture
Licensee Badge

Congratulations on all fronts!

I can't wait to hear how your transition goes and how your new position allows you to grow even further.

Thank you so much for sharing with all of us.

Mark's picture
Admin Role Badge


Well done sir.


pneuhardt's picture


As Mark sometimes says, I regret my absence. Certainly I wish I had chimed in with this earlier, but my own personal life has been as chaotic as at any time in my life, and my professional life not much better.

I was very gratified to hear of your success, both at the company where the original incident occurred and at the company you are moving to.

In the long run, doing the right thing is the only way to go. Thank you for sharing your experience in both doing the right thing and in sharing with us the results.

I wish you continued success. Please feel free to re-kindle the private communications we had at any time. I enjoyed our email conversations on this subject.