To Tell or Not To Tell
May 20, 2008 7:28 AM   Subscribe

How to exit this job gracefully?

Although I haven't found a new position yet, I'm planning to leave my current awful job within a month or so, come hell or high water. I've been there for nine years doing the audio version of data entry, which is mind-numbing, and a sprinkling of other tasks, including sophisticated production of commercials for which I'm being paid data entry wages.

Recently the company has had a system upgrade (of the computerized "thing" that runs the radio stations in our cluster), and some audio files I'm responsible for have disappeared or been overwritten. Hal, my immediate "manager" (not actually my boss, but I kind of think of him that way) is the guy who mentored me and supports my work, but only unofficially. He has whispered to me that he believes I'm not at fault, but he won't back me up to anyone who matters. He's intimidated by the head of another department, I'll call her Gayle, who insists that the recent issues are my fault, and not part of the upgrade glitches. This is ridiculous. I have made mistakes in the near-decade I've been there, but I don't make clumps of errors, ten at a time and more. That just ain't me.

When she's in a good mood, Gayle jokes that she's blaming it all on the engineering department. When she's not, though, she shoots me emails in which she accuses me of not calling her when there's a problem so she can head things off. I'm losing the company money, she says (the radio commercials we air are paid for by our clients and can't be missed, etc). The issue, though, is that files are RANDOMLY being overwritten. I have no warning and no clue that it's going to happen. That's why it's a problem. And I'm not causing the problem, but I can't get anyone to support me. I suspect that the reason Gayle is going after me, rather than the engineering guys, is that I'm a nice, quiet little girl who has taken her crap up until now without complaint. The engineering guys might fight back if she tried that stuff with them.

I'm leaving anyway, so these things shouldn't even bother me. Yet they do. I would like to draw in my manager, Jack, because he's been fair in the past. I'd like to get his perpsective, and for reasons of personal dignity I would like him to know that I'm not screwing up. Especially since I'm leaving, I would like him to feel that I've been reliable and valuable straight to the end. I don't want to leave under a cloud. And it just rankles with me to be scolded in emails by this woman who isn't my boss, that I'm losing the company money. I've never been treated like that before, and I can't stop thinking about it.

In a nutshell: I feel I'm being scapegoated, and I object. I would like to tell my manager Jack about it, and would like to document it in email. I also want to attach the email I received from Gayle accusing me of costing the company money, because it's proof that she's been wrist-slapping me in addition to accusing me unfairly. I want Jack to know I feel this stuff is inappropriate, and I object. I'm not really gaining anything in any real sense, since I'm not asking him to mediate. I'm just very upset at the treatment I'm getting.

My husband thinks it may be overkill to put this in email to the head honcho. He questions whether I should speak up at all. He asked me to think about it over night, and I still want to do it. So my question to you all is, should I let my manager in on what's up, or not? Does it even matter, now that I'm leaving?

Eagerly awaiting your advice.
posted by frosty_hut to Work & Money (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
How many times do we have to tell you turn the drama down? Lordy, woman.

This is how you quit your job:

Dear whoever,

I am submitting my two weeks notice. My last day of employment will be (some date).

Thank you,

posted by pieoverdone at 7:53 AM on May 20, 2008 [11 favorites]

I would absolutely speak up. When you say that you are leaving anyway, do you mean that you already have another job lined up? If so, just give your notice, and see if they ask why or have some kind of exit interview. Consider how you want to describe this issue, but definitely bring it up. Don't use an e-mail. Tell the right people verbally when they ask or during your exit interview. If you don't get the opportunity take Jack aside and tell him that this is part of the reason that you are leaving (if it is). If it's not, just point out that this kind of behaviour, while not the reason you decided to leave, is part of a toxic environment and makes the workplace less hospitable, or something like that. You might also point out that you will not work at a place where you are blamed or yelled at for something that is not your fault.
posted by iknowizbirfmark at 7:53 AM on May 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

My first instinct would be to argue that you shouldn't walk away from a 10-year job so meekly -- that it looks like you accepting the blame, you should line up something else first, etc -- but it sounds like a less than deal environment anyway, and you seem to have made that choice already.

In that case, you need to do what good for you, personally. If you've already made the decision to go, then that means, I think balancing two things: you don't want to so alienate the old company that it encourages them to give to give hateful references, but you also want the emotional closure that honestly explaining things will give you. Getting that emotional closure may not materially change anything, and I might not pursue it if it were me, but it can leave you feeling less unsettled about it all as you move on. It's not unreasonable to want to say more than "I am leaving on day X" for a job that has consumed a decade of your life. You don't want to be 5 years down the road, still wishing you'd said something.

I don't see any reason you can't have both. Just keep what you say to Jack (and face-to-face might be better than a note) professional: it's about you regretting that time and change have strained your relationship with the company beyond the breaking point, and about wanting him to have a clear picture of the situation for your replacement, and not about what a bitch Gayle is.
posted by tyllwin at 8:05 AM on May 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

Take an extended holiday. If you're lucky then files will go missing while you're away, the blame will be shifted to where it ought to lie, and the situation will be sorted out. If files don't go missing then the break will give you a chance to get the stress out of your shoulder-muscles, gain some perspective, and think through future options. Worst-case scenario: you use up vacation time for a job that you're going to leave anyway.
posted by Hogshead at 8:11 AM on May 20, 2008 [2 favorites]

What's the big deal? It's a shitty job. You're leaving. What are you going to achieve by venting beforehand? Making Gayle look bad? I doubt it. Making you look bitter/mental. Probably.

I don't get this American obsession with 'closure.' Let it go, and follow pieoverdone's advice.
posted by Jakey at 8:12 AM on May 20, 2008

To be fair to her, I was the one who said closure. Frosty_hut didn't use that catchword. I may well have ascribed to her motives she doesn't have. But is it a question of obsession to think that five minutes of telling them why you're going might make her feel marginally better?
posted by tyllwin at 8:27 AM on May 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: When you're leaving is not the time to be causing a ruckus. The ONLY thing that matters at this point is leaving on as good terms as possible. Think about it.... Don't involve your manager, because the last thing you want is for his memory of you to include any working issues.

However, this is an issue where you shouldn't have to accept the blame. Write Gail an email and say you can't promise these issues won't stop, because you believe the files are being overwritten randomly and you have no control over that. Say you are willing to go over your work with anyone she'd like to ensure it isn't something you are doing, but that you don't believe this happening because of anything you can control. If she continues to berate you, she will only succeed in convincing people she's insane. Remember though, be polite and honest. This isn't personal, you are just clarifying.
posted by xammerboy at 8:44 AM on May 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You should make "Gayle" commit on paper what she thinks is your fault and why.
It sounds to me like she is definitely looking to push blame somewhere other than on her. That to me means she is an asshole and is most definitely throwing you under the proverbial bus probably at meetings you aren't invited to.
Get her to commit to your supposed faults/wrong doings on paper, then rebut them, to her and her boss.
Get the engineer dept involved, in a constructive way. If files are being overwritten or deleted or whatever, there should be some log files somewhere that may glean some information.
I bet if you approached them and explained things they would probably gladly help you out. Especially if it meant fucking Gayle over.
She is blaming, or trying to blame, you to avoid taking blame on herself. Don't put up with it. Make sure she gets her fair share. If she isn't willing to take some heat, but instead tries to pawn it off on people who work for her, she shouldn't have her job.
posted by a3matrix at 9:37 AM on May 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I can't imagine why your manager Jack wasn't involved from the get-go. If some other employee was making such accusations about me, you can be damn sure that my supervisor would be involved. Same goes for anyone badmouthing my assistant. To have a direct report means that you are responsible for those people.

But announcing all of this for the very first time right before you leave is just going to make you look bitter and mental, as Jakey so eloquently puts it.
posted by desuetude at 10:46 AM on May 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

There is no way you are going to win this. They're not going to admit they're at fault. And I think venting at best will have no effect, at worst will lead to more drama, and will only temporarily make you feel better until you have to deal with any subsequent shitstorm.

It's a job, not a family, not a circle of best friends. Drop it and move on. I understand after nine years it can be difficult to feel that way, but seriously. Looking back at previous questions, it seems like a lot of drama has swirled around in this job, so why start more?
posted by Anonymous at 11:24 AM on May 20, 2008

Re: people thinking you "meekly leaving" is like admitting your mistakes:

What do you care? You're not asking for recommendations from Gayle. Even if you did get her, or anybody else, to admit to their mistakes you still wouldn't get a good recommendation. And most companies don't try to start shit when HR departments call them about resumes--they're too afraid to sue so they'll usually just confirm you worked there.
posted by Anonymous at 11:26 AM on May 20, 2008

I came across this just a little earlier

If nothing else it has a few gems such as-

"The man is the poster child for the horse's butt who gets paid to be a moron."


" boss is the IT manager, he only has the job because he's the president's friend. A couple of days ago, he couldn't get into the admin of a computer because he didn't have the password. So he opted for trying to take an industrial magnet to the computer. What a douche"

But yeah there was all kinds of useful info too!
posted by mu~ha~ha~ha~har at 1:56 PM on May 20, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks to all of you for responding. It felt like I was taking in a huge lungful of fresh air as I read your advice. It means a lot that you've taken the time to react to this, and I always appreciate it (even when more than one point of view is expressed).

Everyone had something valuable for me. Thanks again ^_^
posted by frosty_hut at 3:49 PM on May 20, 2008

Coming in a bit late, but something else to consider. When you leave the job and the problems are still occurring they'll realise that it wasn't your fault.
posted by Laura_J at 7:51 AM on May 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks, Laura!

Oh, and pieoverdone, no need to call me "woman." It's creepy.
posted by frosty_hut at 1:02 PM on May 21, 2008

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