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To think my manager should have acknowledged my email by now?

(38 Posts)
StressedAndStruggling Thu 09-Mar-17 15:16:29

NC for this as details might be outing.

I'm currently signed off sick with stress, depression and exhaustion. Much of the stress is work-related and the result of many cumulative issues such as having to cover the long term absences of two other staff with no additional resources (I raised concerns at the time and got sympathetic words but no tangible support); managing an ongoing difficult situation with a very abrasive/dominant personality again with no real support; unreasonable deadlines on a couple of projects with key personnel from other teams who are crucial to their success being repeatedly unavailable for meetings/workshops etc with my head on the block for non-delivery...I could go on but it has been a tough time during which I've ploughed on while also managing a long term physical illness, and have finally crashed and burned. Senior management are approachable and say the right things but nothing actually changes.

I have been off for a few weeks now, a week of self-cert and then a sick note. At the time of the first sick note my manager was on leave so I contacted their boss and updated them, and received a prompt email in return saying take care, rest, don't think about work etc. (Email communication is fine btw, we're under no obligation to inform of sickness by telephone.)

I had a further GP appointment yesterday morning and have been signed off for a few more weeks. As soon as I was back home I emailed my manager, explained the situation and also highlighted a couple of things I'd been working on that I've been worrying about (which isn't helping my recovery) that I'd assumed I'd be back to pick up myself by now but as I'm not, will need someone to take action in my absence. I also was quite open and honest about how stressful thinking/worrying about work and unfinished business is for me at the moment. I even said that I'd found it stressful to write the work details down for her (because it had meant getting my head into "work mode" even temporarily, although I didn't spell it out to that extent) but if she needed any further information I'd let her know. I went on to say that as I know she and I should meet soon as per the sickness absence procedure (which I know about from having managed someone through it myself) could we arrange to do so in a neutral place as I don't feel well enough yet to return to the premises.

I've had no response and it's stressing me out so much, worrying that I'm in trouble somehow or that "things" are going on behind the scenes that I've had a panic attack this afternoon. It's hard to explain but it feels like this is hanging over me and all I need is a quick acknowledgement and that she'll be in touch about the meeting or similar. I'm refreshing my emails over and over again hoping something appears. I sent a text to a colleague I'm reasonably friendly with a short while ago and asked in very general terms if my manager has been in the office the last couple of days, as I thought maybe she'd been in long meetings or off sick herself etc but no, she's been at her desk most of the time both days. It's been almost two full work days now and I'm disappointed and stressed that she hasn't found five minutes to send an acknowledgement to a very ill and anxious member of her team.

Sorry this is so long but I was trying to anticipate potential questions / assumptions.

Trifleorbust Thu 09-Mar-17 15:22:37

Firstly, sorry to hear you're ill.

Secondly, try not to stress yourself out. If it is an acknowledgement of your email you are looking for, well, yes, this would be polite, but it doesn't actually make any tangible difference to you and you don't know how busy she has been - it sounds as though there would be a big pair of shoes to fill in your absence, and I assume much of that is falling on her! But it may be that she needs to discuss the email with her own superiors and therefore intends to get back to you once she has done this. Two days isn't really very long in that context.

RJnomore1 Thu 09-Mar-17 15:23:21

It's poor form but you've followed all the policies and more - emailing in info about work - you really can't be in trouble please try not to think like that.

If your manager is now three people down in her team she's maybe just overwhelmed herself. Your work place doesn't sound a great place to be flowers

Sonders Thu 09-Mar-17 15:24:16

It sounds like you're unloading your stress onto your manager. Sure, it's shit that they've been a bit lazy about replying but you have to remember that your reactions aren't 'normal' at the moment.

Your email to her was your number one priority. Her reply to you is probably much lower down her list, and so she probably hasn't given the late reply a second thought.

I'd just email her again to check that she received it ok, and if she doesn't reply again try cc'ing in the next person in line and/or someone from HR

2410ang Thu 09-Mar-17 15:25:35

I would really try not to worry about it. If you only emailedher yesterday she may either not be in herself, not have gotten to your email yet or as op says need to discuss with her senior before responding to you.

Try to switch off and look after yourself x

2410ang Thu 09-Mar-17 15:26:56

^pp not op 🙄

StressedAndStruggling Thu 09-Mar-17 15:27:06

RJ the other two people are back now, and were before I went off sick - unfortunately the effect covering for them had on me had already started to take its toll by then.

SansComic Thu 09-Mar-17 15:28:58

The fact you won't even meet her on the premises and want a 'neutral place' would mean that I wouldn't do anything without running it past HR.

You seem like someone who knows exactly what they're entitled to and would use any deviation from procedure to complain and make life difficult for the 'transgressor'. If I were your manager I'd be making sure that everything I did was by the book and that takes time.

Trifleorbust Thu 09-Mar-17 15:34:04


You're right. She won't want to do anything informally. She may not even know whether a 'neutral place' is allowed or whether a discussion would need to be on the premises.

Allthebestnamesareused Thu 09-Mar-17 15:39:53

I agree with what Trifleorbust is saying.

It won't be as simple as just acknowledging - she is having to go higher up the chain so to speak.

Your posting is here is quite lengthy and sounds as though you are very stressed. If your email is in a similar style they may be having to spend some time on working out what it is you appear to be saying, especially if you are asking about meeting off site and so on.

I know it is hard but try to relax. The ball is in their court now.

StressedAndStruggling Thu 09-Mar-17 15:44:39

Your email to her was your number one priority. Her reply to you is probably much lower down her list, and so she probably hasn't given the late reply a second thought.

You're right, I need to try and keep some perspective and think in these terms. Easier said than done when anxiety demons are presenting all the "what ifs". I know I wouldn't, and never have, not acknowledged a member of my team letting me know they're off/still off within minutes of having sight/knowledge of their notification. In these days of sickness monitoring and workplace cultures of only being off sick if you're dead, the very act of notifying your employer that you're off sick can be stressful and it takes nothing to say "thanks for letting me know, hope you feel better soon, take care". But I appreciate that's my style not necessarily everyone's.

SansComic I'm not a complainer - perhaps if I had been I wouldn't have ended up in this state. As a manager myself I just know that the sickness policy says after X weeks there should be a meeting and I am trying to set myself up for it being a productive and non-stressful one. I didn't use the phrase "neutral place" in my email and I appreciate that sounds more formal / policyese. I didn't use the exact words because it was a place and would have been identifying, but think along the lines of "can we meet in town rather than at the office".

ThreeFish Thu 09-Mar-17 15:45:50

You have done everything you need to do.
You aren't managing her. If she fails to arrange your meeting as required by your policies, that's her problem not yours. If she fails to reallocate your work when you are off ill, that's her problem not yours.

I mean this very nicely - you need to relax and think about you and getting better.

SapphireStrange Thu 09-Mar-17 15:48:59

SansComic, you're being nasty.

OP, I'd bet your manager is consulting with HR.

You've done everything you need to. No criticisms could attach to you.

Look after yourself. thanks

YBR Thu 09-Mar-17 15:52:39

I remember asking for a similar meeting to be in a neutral place when I was off long term sick with work-induced stress many years ago. My bosses were very hesitant as they really did not understand I Could Not go to the workplace.

They did agree to come to a neutral place but it took longer to arrange.

ThePopcornPolice Thu 09-Mar-17 15:53:22

Since when has following company procedure been a bad thing sans? At my place of work, we can be disciplined if we do not follow the correct sickness reporting procedures.

Quartz2208 Thu 09-Mar-17 15:54:39

I agree I think that she is clearly drafting a response to you that needs to go via her boss etc. Particularly the meeting on neutral terrority.

Also presumably given her workload its not her number one priority. Take a deep breath and relax

TENSHI Thu 09-Mar-17 15:54:58

Your job is making you physically and mentally very ill.

Is it worth it?

melj1213 Thu 09-Mar-17 15:57:11

OP you have given your manager a lot to do, no wonder she's not replied immediately.

She is probably dealing with things in order of urgency - and covering your work (especially the stuff that you've said will need doing and can't wait indefinitely) wil be top priority followed by sorting out her staff in the office and consulting with HR/Occupational Health regarding your sick leave/how to manage it and how to respond appropriately to your emailed requests, eg I know my company will only hold meetings on site if it is regarding work matters or in an approved alternative for exceptional circumstances.

Emailing you back may be lower down her priority list or she may have been told not ot send anything until it has been run past HR either way it's not even been 48hrs since you sent your email, so I'd just wait.

SansComic Thu 09-Mar-17 15:57:54

SansComic, you're being nasty.

No I'm not and I take it from the OP's measured response that she didn't think so either.

I am a 'manger' and would be ensuring that everything was by the book in a scenario like this. HR isn't my speciality so I would be getting advice from relevant people before responding. As a professional, 'thanks for the email' is a waste of time. I wouldn't send that. I'd wait until I had something of substance to send.

VintagePerfumista Thu 09-Mar-17 16:06:22

Agree with others.

Whatever the truth, and in the nicest possible way...your manager will definitely have taken this higher up the food chain and it may not even be them that answer you.

The neutral place request will definitely have set their alarm bells ringing- they will be thinking you are actively refusing to set foot on the premises and are thinking litigation/tribunals etc. Not fair necessarily, but it's what they will be thinking.

(not a dig, as YBR says, it's an unusual request and unfortunately may well set eyes rolling)

StressedAndStruggling Thu 09-Mar-17 16:11:31

Thank you for your considered replies and for any kind words/flowers. I think I've given the impression - understandably - that I'm expecting her to come back with full details of a meeting immediately. At the risk of outing myself the exact wording was "I know we're supposed to have a meeting soon, when we come to arrange it could we meet [in town] rather than at the office as it's still stressful for me to think about coming into work and at the moment I'd rather not have to face well-meaning colleagues or inadvertently overhear chatter about X or Y going wrong on my projects on my way through the office to the meeting room". So I expected a brief acknowledgement now and then maybe a follow up suggesting a venue for the meeting. I should add she's an experienced manager who has been there longer than me and I'm not her first direct report to be on long term sick. Our policy says something like "after X weeks an informal meeting should take place at a mutually convenient venue".

But I do genuinely accept this is my issue and I need to try to get some perspective.

TENSHI at this moment I'm asking myself the same question! I'm sole wage earner though so I can't just resign. To be fair the physical illness isn't caused by work, but managing it while working takes an effort, as it would wherever I worked, so it's another drain on my resilience.

LapinR0se Thu 09-Mar-17 16:18:48

I have also been signed off work for long periods of time with stress.
The first and second times I rested at home and thought I was fine. After a few weeks I went back to feeling awful.
The third time, I had therapy and medication and made other life changes. When I went back I was properly equipped to deal with stress. I have worked solidly since (4 years) with just the odd day off here & there for the usual things like tonsillitis.

So my advice is to address the cause of the stress before going back. If you need a bit more time to do that, then ask for it and agree it with your manager.

Much much better in the long run

TheViceOfReason Thu 09-Mar-17 16:19:34

Your manager probably doesn't know how to reply.

You've essentially told them that you've been making yourself feel more stressed worrying about work - which they haven't chased you for or asked about - so have written an email which has stressed you out even more. And asking about work that stresses you yet saying they can get in touch if they need to know something - even though it'll stress you more.

From your managers point of view there is nothing she can say that'll help the situation, and she is probably (quite rightly) concerned about saying the wrong thing and causing herself problems.

The neutral place thing would again ring alarm bells as it's quite "litigious" wording.

Arkengarthdale Thu 09-Mar-17 16:20:25

Just wanted to say you have my sympathy and best wishes for a good recovery.

I absolutely do not agree that an email saying 'thanks for being in touch' is a waste of time for a manager with a member of staff being off with work related stress. I understand your frustration but of course you have time to think about it and your manager will have less time! Still poor though, and not supportive of you.

Include read receipts on future emails which will at least save you the worry of whether your email has been received.

LadyPW Thu 09-Mar-17 16:26:08

She's probably got loads on her plate and is prioritising. You're not in work demanding her immediate attention so you'll automatically be a lower priority. Plus she probably figures that you're not wanting to focus on work right now given your stress and therefore she doesn't need to rush back to you because that might stress you out more (if that makes sense?). Plus as others have said, it needs organising and possibly HR-ticking. Don't take it personally or go stressing about it (well, you will but try not to) - it's your head being in a shit place and making it a big deal when it's really not (or not in your manager's eyes)

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