Help me have a pleasant farewell to this F#%! job in the final days.
March 5, 2013 1:50 PM   Subscribe

I recently gave my two week's notice at work. It seemed to go well, but now my boss seems to be turning it into a negative thing by freaking out and being dramatic. Please help me navigate my last few days here.

I've been at my job for well over a year now. I've received three company awards for my work. I've gotten global recognition for a job well done, including financial incentives. My boss has told me to my face point blank that I do excellent work.

However, out of the blue, she unceremoniously put on a performance plan a few months ago over seemingly dumb things (not being up to date on reading one minor work policy, and submitting two late expense reports - things that are very, very, small and minor compared to the overall workload that I manage). I was not given any warning prior to this step, which didn't make sense to me, because these are very much slap-on-the-wrist things that I know other co-workers have done repeatedly. I was shocked and as a result, I resolved the issues and the performance plan was closed out due to me satisfying it's requirements within 24 hours, depsite her giving me two weeks. I took it very seriously, and have never been even close to being on a PIP in my 12 years in my industry, so it was a bit unnerving. Due to the anxiety this caused me, I started looking for other positions behind the scenes. Meanwhile, after hearing various information from other sources, it led me to believe that there was actually malicious intent - I found out that due to our bonus structure, one person had to receive a "needs improvment" rating and because I've been here far less as compared to my two colleagues, it would make sense for her to give them the "Excellent" and "Above and beyond" ratings, respectively. "Needs Improvement" requires a PIP and now I get no bonus.

This was weeks ago. My boss continues to be her normal self - she's a good person, is pleasant, and I like her as a person, but her management style is atrocious. She will be radio silent for days and then email-bomb me and my co-workers about every item under the sun in the span of 5 mintues/40 emails. It is stressful and we've talked with her about it individually, and things change for awhile, but then they go right back. She skips meetings where we need her guidance where we have specifically requested her attendance for this reason. She has to approve everything rather than allowing us to have autonomy and make our own decisions (even down to sending her draft emails for approval prior to sending to certain recipients). She withholds information and then when our tasks/projects are seemingly complete, we are scolded for not completing them 100% due to not having all pertinent information (which she then plays dumb about). She comes and goes at odd hours, but expects us all to be in the office from 8-5pm. She erratically emails on the weekends and outside of business hours constantly, and from her iPhone. She swings back and forth daily between stressed out to mellow - we don't know what type of day it will be until we hear from her. She has no spine when it comes to upper management, which oftentimes leads to erratic requests that are not business-focused or the best solution from our group as outputs.

Anyway, a few weeks after the PIP incident, I found a new job! it's awesome - I'm so excited to start!

When I resigned, I calmly handed her my written two week notice in person and thanked her for this opportunity, but that I have decided to pursue other interests. I thanked her for the opportunity for us to have worked on our relationship together and that I was glad we were able to resolve things earlier in the month. She seemed calm and thanked me and asked twice what she could do to make me stay and that she wanted to counter because she thinks I'm a great employee and doesn't want to lose me. I thanked her but politely declined. Overall, however, this exchange felt amicable and positive.

Since then, she has been nothing but cranky and terse with me. She has stressed out the rest of the team and has left me off of all emails, meetings, etc. regarding my work that will be handed to someone else. This is fine with me, but at the same time, I can give everyone the history and nuances of what is getting handed off to make their lives easier. I've still organized all of my notes, etc. for them and have saved many of these emails from her. She sent out a very curt, one-line email to everyone saying that I'm leaving and left off key people. Whatever emails I do get from her are one-line demands. It feels so negative and toxic, and I'm worried that upon my leaving, she's going to make this out to everyone that I was fired or a bad employee. I'm concerned that she's going to poisen my reputation, and we work in a very small industry, so burning bridges is not a good idea at all.

What do I do about this?

My current tactic is to be polite and diplomatic at all times and to everyone. I sent out an email to everyone I work with thanking them for the opportunity to work with them and passing on my contact information, and that I made the ulitimate decision to pursue a different opportunity. I have NOT told anyone where I'm going. I have been getting flooded with phone calls and emails from co-workers and external clients saying that they are really sad to see me go. On my last day I'm planning on stopping by at everyone's offices to say goodbye individually. I'm realizing I made a lot of allies here, and it makes me feel guilty for leaving, but I'm glad I am. Maybe I am a bad person?

Anyway, I want to leave this job on a high note but am concerned that my boss is going to completely jeopardize that with her panicked, current behavior and she seems to be taking this personally. Is there anything else I can do at present? How else to navigate?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (17 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Unless your coworkers are completely oblivious, everyone else is noticing the erratic behavior you're noticing. From your description of your work style, and the flood of "we'll miss you!" emails you've been getting, I don't think you have anything to worry about w/r/t your reputation. You literally have an inbox full of people who know damn well you are neither a bad worker, nor were fired (fired people don't typically get two weeks notice.) If it is a small industry, she is the one who needs to be worried about her reputation, not you.
posted by griphus at 1:57 PM on March 5, 2013 [14 favorites]

I think you've done everything you can. Continue to be calm, pleasant, helpful, and grateful to everyone at the company, and continue working hard to make your transition smooth for your coworkers, including Boss. Leave everyone else on a high note, and then get the F out of there.

After you leave, your boss may blame you for things. If you hear such things, try not to panic. If anyone asks you, you can just say something like "I really like [Old Boss], and I'm sorry to hear that she's upset about me leaving. However, I'm really focusing on my new, exciting job at [New Company], and I want to tell you all about it." Then change the subject to your new job or your hobbies or the weather or whatever. Do not engage, do not try to refute her lies, just rise above it. You'll come off as professional and calm, and she'll come off as a loon.

You are not a bad person. You have done nothing wrong. Your boss is behaving like a crazy person, and that's on her. Other people will either see that (very likely) or they won't, but there's not much you can do about it other than gut it out for the next few days and then move on.
posted by decathecting at 2:02 PM on March 5, 2013 [4 favorites]

You're handling this perfectly. Continue your good attitude. If you see that any of your colleagues are going to be screwed in terms of how she's handling the hand-off of your work, it would be nice to offer to meet with them (during or after work hours) to smooth the way whenever possible. Otherwise, just keep going, and continue to cultivate allies among your co-workers and clients. Taking the high road is the only tactic that makes sense.
posted by BlahLaLa at 2:04 PM on March 5, 2013 [11 favorites]

Also, this might be common sense for you but at no point talk shit about your boss (or any other unstable coworker, for that matter) to anyone.
posted by griphus at 2:07 PM on March 5, 2013 [5 favorites]

Just keep doing what you've been doing--it sounds like you'll be able to achieve the pleasant farewell you want with your coworkers and clients. Your boss has made her own choices and will have to deal with the consequences. I agree with everyone saying take the high road; trust me, your colleagues and clients know who is acting unprofessionally here, and it's not you.

And congratulations on your new job! Don't feel guilty for leaving this one. You're doing the right thing for yourself.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 2:16 PM on March 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Congratulations! You sound like a very conscientious person - most people would not care, or be snickering to themselves about your boss' obvious regret for having done what she did (pushing out a good employee is a black mark against her and she knows it.) Just be nice, be professional, and don't worry. Once you're gone she won't be thinking about you anymore; and she won't be in a position to harm you anyway.)
posted by fingersandtoes at 2:20 PM on March 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

"People don't quit jobs, they quit managers," is a saying that floats around here and there. Your manager sounds like a dolt who is freaking out that they weren't able to keep their team together. Just smile and know that it's not your problem.
posted by rhizome at 2:37 PM on March 5, 2013 [28 favorites]

I'm sure you figured this out, but all those well-wishers will make excellent references, by the way, so hopefully you are collecting those emails and contacts already.

Once you are out, be prepared to mention your ex-boss' name and get eye-rolls and "Oh dude, I'm sorry you had to put up with that." You will not be the only one she's been a problem for. Depending on how long she's been around, there could be a whole cadre of ex-employees with Tales to Tell, especially in a small industry.
posted by emjaybee at 2:38 PM on March 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

You are handling this very well, and you are the very opposite of "a bad person" for taking care of your needs and boundaries in a healthy, adult manner while remaining respectful, gracious, and professional to everyone around you. The fact that your manager is not presently capable of behaving equally respectful, gracious, and professional is 100% about her and not you.
posted by scody at 2:49 PM on March 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

Nthing - you have pissed off exactly 1 person in this scenario, and your co-workers will understand. The more she acts out, the deeper the hole she will dig herself.

Just to try to help your co-workers out, you might stop by everyone's desk or one-on-one e-mail them and ask if they have any questions, or give them a personal cell # and tell them you can help (within reasonable limits) after you're gone. (You do not, of course, give this # to your crazy-soon-to-be-ex-boss, and if she has it the offer doesn't extend to her regardless. You owe her squat.)

She may be able to insinuate that you were let go or decided to quit due to poor performance, but that's like the other side in a traffic accident jumping out of the car and yelling it's your fault - it's awkward and makes you feel bad, but carries no legal weight and not much "social" weight. As has been said, the odds are very low that you're the only person she's ever done this to - those co-workers, clients, etc., if they've ever interacted with her, will recognize the truth.

You know, even if they haven't interacted with her, they know you, and if you've treated them well, their tendency will be to disbelieve the negative BS emanating from her direction should she "reach out" to anyone else in your industry.

Say nothing, complain about nothing, and take the awesome to your new job. Everything will work out fine. Congrats on escaping a toxic situation.
posted by randomkeystrike at 3:31 PM on March 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

Jobs and relationships have a lot in common. Think of this as similar to a relationship breakup - you broke up with her and now she's lashing out and being passive-aggressive because she can't have you, and trying to reframe the situation as HER breaking up with you. Just as in a relationship breakup, nobody is fooled - they may sympathize with her outwardly in order to be supportive but at the end of the day everybody knows who broke up with whom and why. Just continue to be nice in how you handle the breakup and it's possible that after several months of No Contact, you and her may one day manage to be friends.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 5:12 PM on March 5, 2013 [5 favorites]

These details will all be a distant memory if not forgotten in the not too far off future, so don't sweat them.
posted by Dansaman at 5:28 PM on March 5, 2013

Personally? I'd leave now. I'd go into her office and say "your actions the past few days, and we both know what those are, have made me rethink my two weeks notice. I will be leaving now". Short and sweet, just as if you were firing her

A two week notice is a courtesy, and one that can be shortened by either party.
posted by zombieApoc at 6:07 PM on March 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

Is there an HR exit interview? If so, consider very carefully what, if anything, you plan to say about boss and job and company.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:32 PM on March 5, 2013

Nthing that you've done everything right, and that in this situation, it is your boss who comes off looking immature. If she does try to burn bridges for you, no worries, she's actually setting fire to her own.

I realize it probably doesn't feel that way to you right now, fwiw. And indeed, in the immediate, there may be people who "take sides" (there are always a few) and possibly even some who may pile on anything bad she may say. Ignore them. Focus on your genuine colleagues and contacts. They are the people who matter.

I also realize that may seem blithely idealistic – I am actually saying it from hard-won experience. I don't want to give too many details since I'm not anonymous, and I too work in an area where everyone knows each other. But I can say, with 10 years in my field behind me now, that ignoring malicious gossip that is not based on fact (smart people know to ask for concrete examples directly related to quality of work, and to ignore superficial, subjective opinions), and focusing on genuine, conscientious people, who, honestly, always end up being pros, has made a WORLD of difference. I can see it especially in more aggressive, dishonest types who may be promoted, temporarily, but in what I've seen in the many companies I've done consulting for, they always end up in positions where their title may still be impressive, but their responsibilities have immediate checks and balances, and no longer involve managing people directly. Periods where they reign unchecked and seemingly unnoticed can indeed be unbearable, but the vast majority of the time, those periods have an end. Not all companies or fields are like that, some bad seeds may be promoted too far and end up fostering inhumane atmospheres much harder to clear, but even in that case: outside of company confines, professionals worth their salt know what they're looking for in people.

You want to continue being part of that circle of professionals worth their salt. Ignore this woman; engagement with her would gradually move you out of it. You've done fine.
posted by fraula at 2:38 AM on March 6, 2013

Congratulations on the new gig and nthing everyone else who says just to take the high road and ignore the bollocks.

If you haven't yet mentioned to anyone at the current job where it is that you're going, keep it that way for a while. Maybe just keep it that way, period, until you're established in the new gig (I would give it several months to a year). If you have, don't sweat it; your reputation has already preceded you in your ability to get a new job.

Also: you don't owe anyone at your current gig your cell phone number. Just document your own processes to the best of your ability in your remaining time. Then move on. That's what getting a new job is all about, especially under the circumstances where they had you on a PIP for no good reason.
posted by Currer Belfry at 5:10 AM on March 6, 2013

You are in the catbird seat right now. There's nothing you need from your manager and she really needs you for the transition. She's blowing it big time.

Take the high road and go out with class. Start transitioning projects NOW, and if needed, document your processes for anyone who will come behind you.

After you've done that, your job is to take home your personal shit and clean out your desk. Handle the small things in dribs and drabs and basically roll in for lunch and chit-chat.

Clean out your computer, email, etc. Send yourself anything you might want later, that doesn't compromise any privacy issues, etc.

When you have the exit review, be upbeat and polite, don't bother slagging your old boss. These things are a formality and HR won't share the info with other managers. Tell them the reason you're leaving is because you got offered an awesome opportunity. That's it.

Your last day will consist of turning in your computer, badge, secure id and other company assets. Then you're done!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:54 AM on March 6, 2013 [2 favorites]

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