A reader writes:

Recently, my boss started attending personal therapy (she shared this information with me unprovoked) and shortly after starting her sessions she discovered Brene Brown. Her interest in Brene has moved from simply showing a video during a group meeting to having us all read through one of her books.

My concern comes from the fact that in addition to reading the book as a team, we now have a weird “group therapy” sort of session weekly where we’re expected to have done some homework (reading and completion of “exercises” in the workbook).

In addition to these meetings, every day each team member fills out and completes this short survey:
-Name
-Feeling
-Intensity of feeling
-High point
-Low point
-Daily goal

It ends up looking something like this (names changed, as it’s one of my coworker’s recent posts):

JANE DOE
Feeling: Exhausted
Intensity of feeling: 10
Low point: INFANT’S NAME is crying at the bottom of the stairs while I’m in the office. He barely slept last night, his croup is awful and I feel like a crap mom.
High point: Meh
Goal: Make a dent in the Brene Brown book. I did make my Square Squad!

In addition to just feeling like this is generally weird, I have a personal problem with this as someone who has a mental health disorder. Reading this book has triggered sessions of me profusely crying out of nowhere, and having flashbacks of abuse. (I have a C-PTSD diagnosis due to an abuse history.) There is not a single person on our team who has any sort of psychology/social work type of degree either.

Am I being weird about this just because of my own personal experiences? Or is this type of task expectation at work normal, accepted, okay?

No, this is not normal! It’s not okay either.

That said, in the past two years I’ve received a small handful of letters about offices doing things like this (to the point that I wrote a Slate column about them at one point), so something is going on in our culture that’s making some managers think this is okay. But I want to be clear that just because your office isn’t absolutely alone in doing this, it’s still not common, normal, or acceptable, and most people would object to it.

This type of thing is clearly intended to be supportive in some way — “we care about you as a whole person, not just as a worker!” — but in reality it’s horribly boundary-violating. Lots of people don’t want to share their personal emotions in a workplace setting.  Sometimes that’s because what’s going on with them emotionally is way too big or serious to bring into their office.  Sometimes it’s because sharing in the way requested could open them up to discrimination (particularly when they have a non-mainstream identity). Sometimes it’s because it’s actively bad for their mental health (like your PTSD). And sometimes — much of the time — it’s just because they rightly feel it’s no one’s business.

And this just isn’t what most of us are at work for. Most of us want to do our jobs, get results toward our goals, have some pleasant interactions with our colleagues as we do that, and then go home. Lots of us want to save deep personal introspection for friends, partners, or therapists (if we want to do it all, which we might not and that’s okay too).

You noted that no one on your team has any kind of training in psychology. Even if they did, this still wouldn’t be okay because of all the reasons above. But certainly that makes it even more egregious. Your manager is mucking around in an area that can be big and serious and consequential, without any qualifications for doing it. (But again, even with loads of credentials, it would still be inappropriate to do at work, particularly as a non-optional group activity.)

If you want to push back against it, I’d tell your boss you’re finding these activities harmful to your mental health rather than helpful. If you’re comfortable sharing this, you could say it’s at odds with mental health work that you’re doing on your own/with a therapist. (If she pushes you about why, you can say, “That’s more personal than I’m comfortable going into at work.”) Ask that the meetings be made optional, and that people be able to opt out without any kind of penalty. Even better, if you sense anyone else on your team isn’t fully enthused, talk with them ahead of time and then have this conversation with your boss as a united front.

And managers: You are not a doctor or a therapist or a life coach. You are there to get work done. If you want to support people’s mental health, you can offer excellent health insurance, be flexible with people who need time off for various forms of mental health support (whether it’s therapy or just a day off to avoid burn-out), and be thoughtful about the levels of stress you ask people to take on. That’s it. Leave people’s emotions and personal lives to them to manage.

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my manager makes us do mental-health surveys every day was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Original Source: askamanager.org

A reader writes:

I am asking for advice about how to handle my impending divorce at work. I work at a large nonprofit in a specialist capacity that is a recognized priority for the company, but organizationally belongs to one of five departments. I’ve worked here for 10 years. I was headhunted by the executive director, and have worked myself up to the specialist position I have now.

My husband of 28 years has been employed at the nonprofit for 20 years, and during the last five he has been the head of the department I am in — my boss.

The organization has many married couples on all levels. (The former executive director was married to the head of the largest and most important department.) My husband has previously given me worse conditions than others to avoid being accused of favoring me, to the point that the director had to step in.

It has not been easy, but I have done my utmost to behave professionally and keep my private life as separate from my work as humanly possible.

Now my husband/head of department has asked for a divorce suddenly and unexpectedly, as he is having an affair with a colleague. The divorce is a great shock, made worse by the fact that our daughter is critically ill and faces a long, hard recovery.

My soon-to-be ex-husband has the power to cut my funding, lay me off, give negative feedback to the director about me, badmouth me, and make my life even harder than it is.

I normally have a good rapport with the director, but should I tell him about the divorce and illness or not? I wish to remain professional and private, but without telling him about the divorce I have no way of protecting myself from the persecution that I fear from my ex-husband. On the other hand, the director might lay me off himself to avoid problems with my ex-husband. My priority is to keep my job, since finding a new one is next to impossible and I need the insurance for my daughter.

Oh no. I’m so sorry you’re going through this.

And whoa, this organization is a mess. Married people should never be allowed to manage each other, and it’s apparently common there. As you’ve seen, it’s a recipe for all kinds of problems — favoritism, the perception of favoritism, lack of objectivity, and plenty more. It generally means that the employee’s performance isn’t assessed appropriately and they’re not given adequate feedback, and it can even open up your company to charges of harassment down the road (“I wanted to end things with him, but he implied it would affect my standing at work”). Most employers rightly don’t permit this.

But that doesn’t help you now, of course. He does manage you, and your organization has apparently been fine with that (even after having to intervene over his treatment of you!).

You do need to tell the executive director about the divorce. It’s very unlikely not to affect things at work, and he’ll need to be aware of that context. You also need to tell him because you need to ask to report to a different manager. I don’t know how feasible that will be logistically, but it’s utterly untenable to work for someone who’s in the process of divorcing you (and having an affair with a colleague, no less).

I get that you’re concerned about being pushed out, but even if you don’t disclose the situation, your husband probably will! It’s unlikely that he plans to pretend you’re still together, especially once the divorce is final, and especially if he wants to go public with the new relationship at some point.

Please consider consulting a lawyer for help here, aside from the legal help with the divorce itself. Firing you at the end of your relationship with your boss would put the company on shaky legal ground, and ideally you or your lawyer should stand ready to explain to the company the legal considerations in play. (Also, please talk to your divorce lawyer about getting an agreement to keep your daughter on your husband’s insurance, which should help you feel less tied to this job.)

Last, I strongly urge you to reconsider your commitment to staying in this job, especially if they won’t move you (but even if they will). You might not be able to leave immediately, but please actively work toward it. This is not a workable situation for any of you.

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my husband is my boss — and we’re getting divorced was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

Original Source: askamanager.org

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