Should I resign before the (probably negative) performance review?
March 4, 2015 10:39 PM   Subscribe

I'm afraid I'll be getting the second negative performance review in a row from a job I loathe. Should I just try to jump ship now?

I've been in my position for a year and a half. There has been something like >50% turnover in my toxic office. The previously absentee manager has since become a veritable nanomanager. Typically performance reviews are given on a predictable basis (scheduled in advance, with opportunities for feedback, etc.), but after months of zero feedback I was surprised with a poor review with no warning. I belong to a union, and have the option of filing a grievance, but I. just. want. out. I don't want to deal with a workplace that has found ways in the past to retaliate at the very mention of the word "union." My health is suffering, both from the stress of the job and because they interfere with my health care. It's a junior role and a bad fit even in the best of circumstances, but the terrible workplace dynamics are making it nightmarish.

Recently, the manager, having recently discovered the invention of the calendar, has been making ominous references to "upcoming quarterly performance reviews" (so, presumably, one that will be sprung on me later this month) and "my future."

So, is giving notice asap a terrible strategy, even though I've wanted to leave for some time? And can they ding me somehow even after I've left?
posted by ziggly to Work & Money (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Do you have a union rep who might be able to give you understanding of what benefits might occur choosing either way? If you can provide any benefit to other workers by providing information in an exit interview that has some merit.
posted by nickggully at 10:49 PM on March 4, 2015 [2 favorites]

Do you have another job lined up already? In that case, I might just get out. But if you don't, I'd be very careful to see whether resigning might make you ineligible for unemployment benefits that you might otherwise be eligible for even if you were terminated.

Better to polish up one's resume while cashing a paycheck than when under the stress of being unemployed.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:07 PM on March 4, 2015 [26 favorites]

I didn't adopt this strategy until much later in life, but if you are already thinking of leaving/burning bridges, whether it be with a job or a person, then you have nothing to lose by at least making a request and putting it on the table.

I can't tell from your question what would make your work place better, but lets say its mainly the nanomanagement. Is there a way to 1) not be nanomanaged and 2) help your supervisor know what you are doing and fulfill that need for their every minute need to know "what is ziggly doing." Think about ways to achieve this.

So when you get your review, hopefully there is an opportunity to also say how you feel or respond. Mention that you are really not happy with X. It bothers you a lot. You would like to propose whatever solution you came up with (ie, weekly meeting, status update in email at the end of the day) so that you are not micromanaged. Sometimes a person will agree to what you request.

When I have done this, I start the internal timeline. in addition to remembering what was agreed upon. Some people can't help themselves, and will be back to nanomanaging. Or they will agree to do something within a time period and not do it. So if this happens, then you leave.

But trying to negotiate what you want might help to 1) improve the situation (vs quitting and going through the stress of no job) and 2) help you negotiate again in the future and new job, new situation, etc.

Saying this as the worlds least confrontational person

posted by Wolfster at 11:15 PM on March 4, 2015 [4 favorites]

What are you trying to avoid or gain by doing this? If you want out, then get out. But I don't see what avoiding a bad performance review would accomplish for you -- you already got a bad one and they already think you suck, apparently. So it's not as if you are shielding yourself from people thinking you're bad at your job.

Another relevant question: Do you need this job and/or the money? If you are at the point where you are willing to quit anyway, I would just stop caring about how you perform or whether you get fired. That should make it a lot less stressful and then at least you'd still get paid. Stop worrying about the job you have and work on looking for new jobs. At my most brazen, I have updated my resume at work at my current job whilst looking to get out.

If you belong to a union, it may be worth talking to the union about what you should do since you are unhappy, performing poorly and know the job is a bad fit.
posted by peachpie at 11:38 PM on March 4, 2015 [10 favorites]

Find a way to leave, but don't do it in a moment of pique. Otherwise, you'll feel immediate relief, but that won't last long if it turns out you have to live off what's in your bank account right now for longer than you'd think (which can happen to anyone). CYA with your union. If you're tight for cash, either find another job first, or let them fire you. (Or whatever your union rep suggests.)
posted by cotton dress sock at 12:39 AM on March 5, 2015 [4 favorites]

If you can provide any benefit to other workers by providing information in an exit interview that has some merit.

In theory, sure, but I don't know of any workplace that treats exit interviews as anything other than a formality.
posted by duffell at 3:48 AM on March 5, 2015

Can you take any time off at all? Sick leave, holidays? If so, update your resume and start looking for a job, while trying and be at work as little as possible if you can from now on.
posted by heartofglass at 5:03 AM on March 5, 2015

If you can provide any benefit to other workers by providing information in an exit interview that has some merit.

The conventional wisdom regarding exit interviews is that it's unwise to provide negative feedback. Your soon to be former company most likely doesn't want to hear it anyway. There's no benefit to you and possibly lots of downside. For reference, see this recent question.

Nthing that you'll want to talk to your union rep about what they suggest. Also nthing using leave to look for a new job while you are still employed at your current one. Prospective employers prefer candidates who are currently employed, so you might as well leverage that while you can.
posted by jazzbaby at 5:57 AM on March 5, 2015

One more perk of finding a new job while you're sticking it out at your old job: it gives you a reason to ask potential employers not to contact your current manager about your performance. Asking a potential employer to not contact someone who was your boss two jobs ago seems like you're hiding something, but asking a potential employer not to contact your current manager just sounds like you don't want to tip anyone off that you may be leaving, and is perfectly normal, in my experience.
posted by craven_morhead at 7:29 AM on March 5, 2015 [3 favorites]

It is almost always better to either have another job lined up, or have a good prospect of getting unemployment, before you quit. Only in extreme circumstances - your health is suffering, or quitting and maybe not getting unemployment as a condition of getting a decent future reference - would I advocate handing in a resignation without another job lined up or a good chance of getting unemployment compensation. Don't leave yourself high and dry without some money coming in.

Your past questions seem to indicate that you are in California. That is good news, as California is a very employee-friendly state as far as unemployment is concerned. Here is some further information. The burden of proof is on the employer to prove you've been fired "for cause" - meaning, causing substantial damage to the company's business interests. "Ziggly needed nanomanagement" or "Ziggly wasn't a team player" or "Ziggly was too slow to learn" may be "cause" for firing by your employer, but they don't count as cause in unemployment. "For cause" there means "habitually tardy" or "told the boss to fuck off" or "peed in the office coffee pot." (IANAL and this is not legal advice - if you want/need that, you need a California-based employment lawyer.)

See if you can salvage the situation whether through your union or talking to your boss and establishing some way your performance can be measured, and concrete steps you can take to improve.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 7:42 AM on March 5, 2015

I was in your situation: working in an incredibly toxic environment, negative reviews, health problems. My union worked out a deal where I was allowed to resign with several months salary and paid health care for those months and several months after that. I would recommend talking to your union to see if something like that may be possible. I was also able to file for unemployment.

Your job is not worth the negative impacts it's having on your health. I left my toxic job two years ago and I'm still trying to get back on my feet. Talk to your union and see if they can work something out.
posted by oozy rat in a sanitary zoo at 8:55 AM on March 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

One option you might consider is offering to transition out of your role over the next three or four months in exchange for a good reference. Firing people is hard work and a lot of companies would prefer not to do it unless it's the only option they have; you might find that you get the best of all worlds by having time to look for a new job, a resignation as opposed to a firing, a solid reference, and no more ominous looks.
posted by KathrynT at 10:32 AM on March 5, 2015

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