update: my boss is requiring us to let him be our life coach

The letter from the person whose boss was insisting on being the “life coach” for all his employees was one of my favorite this year. Because, absurdity! Here’s the update.

About two weeks after I initially emailed you and my story was posted, I made the decision to resign from my position in the company. Upon sharing my decision with our operations manager, he informed me that he had already decided to resign as well. We both decided to wait through the weekend until Monday morning to give them our notice. Friday at the close of business, both he and I were called into a meeting by the CEO of this company (AKA: life coach) where we were let go due to “company restructuring.” Surprise surprise! No severance pay was given, accrued vacation and sick time were not paid, the last month of earned commissions were not paid, and back wages were paid over the course of an entire month. Needless to say, we left feeling used, abused and taken advantage of.

Over the course of the next month, things went from bad to worse for the employees as they no longer had an advocate on their side. As a result, eight of the nine other FT employees left the company of their own volition, despite my strong desire to tell them all to run! The CEO of the company was forced to return to the field and run what used to be a four team operation all by himself.

Where the company stands today none of us actually know. The reports from friends of friends of the CEO are that it is better than ever since he has “been able to regain control of his company.” Disgruntled clients have contacted me and our operations manager on our cell phones begging us for help as they are no longer being serviced with the same quality and efficiency as before. Will the business survive? Will the customers maintain loyalty in light of the now subpar customer service? Will they be able to land a new customers from this point forward? Will they be able to ever keep full-time employees? But most importantly, is it only time before an employee gathers enough evidence and nerve to take them to court and sue them? In my opinion, absolutely!

As for myself, I personally contacted legal counsel but was told I did not have enough hard-core evidence worth pursuing. The legal fees alone would cost more than the restitution. So I took a couple of months off to travel and recover. Once I left that place, I felt battered, to say the least! I have been actively looking for employment for the past month in the human resources/project management field with little to no success. It seems that HR jobs in my area are few and far between. Per the suggestion of one of my recruiters, this week I decided relocation was an option and opened up my availability to a national level. As for the other employees, 6 of the 8 have found other employment. The other two are in the same boat I am in – simply waiting for market availability.

But I have to say, despite all of the heartache that came with this position, we have made and continue to maintain great friendships with our previous peers. And we all have walked away having learned a big lesson. If at any time a manager tells you that they want to be your life coach run for the bloody hills! And in all seriousness, if something doesn’t feel quite right or kosher about what your employer is asking you to do, then that is a sign that you should start asking questions and document document document!

Websites like yours really are such a blessing for people like me who are needing professional, confidential and unbiased help for their situation. I personally thank you for all of your help. Your professional advice as well as the responses of the readers to my unique problem were validating and helped me tremendously get through each of the last few days of my time there in that dysfunctional company. 

{ 27 comments… read them below }

  1. Yup*

    Holy cow. What a prize turd the CEO is.

    OP, you sound like you’re in a good mental place now. I wish you all the best in finding your next gig. You (and your colleagues) deserve it. After surviving this nonsense, I hope your next job brings you flowers every day and carries you to work on a litter.

  2. AMG*

    Wow–he sounds like the one who really needed the coaching. Right idea, wrong audience. It also sounds like he is in the process of getting what he deserves, with more coming since he didn’t pay you for what you worked. Karma, Karma, Karma!

  3. thenoiseinspace*

    OP, I’m not sure if you’re in the US, but if you are, the university I work for is hiring for at least one HR positon. It’s at Georgia State University, if you’re interested and willing to work in Atlanta. I’ll link to the job posting I know of (you can check for more) in a response to this post, since urls get flagged for moderation – that way, at least you’ll see this post. I don’t know if this is something you’d be interested in or not, but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to mention it.

      1. Realistic*

        If you’re in the DC area, and are looking for project management, the company my husband works for is hiring fast and furious. You can email me for details/link/etc.

  4. Jamie*

    Totally not worth it for a bad joke, but it would have been funny if you called him an hour after he let you go telling him you needed to meet with your “life coach” to help you navigate the transition.

    It sounds like you have a really great attitude and I hope something excellent opens up for you soon.

    1. GonnaBAWriterNGetOut*

      ‘Totally not worth it for a bad joke, but it would have been funny if you called him an hour after he let you go telling him you needed to meet with your “life coach” to help you navigate the transition.’
      Heelarious!! And +100

  5. some1*

    Our employers required to pay out sick time in some places? I have never gotten it paid out (but always vacation).

    1. Judy*

      I don’t think they are required here or anywhere, because I’ve never been paid out when I’ve left, but where my dad worked, they could accrue indefinite sick leave, and it was paid out on retirement (not sure if it was paid for other ends of employment). That allowed them to give sick time that was not use or lose, but also gave the employees a reason to not just burn the days up. They could also donate to people who were going through serious illnesses. This was a policy benefit, not a legal benefit.

    2. fposte*

      I don’t think unused sick time is required to be paid out anywhere in the U.S., but some states require payout of vacation. It might also have been stated as a policy in an employee manual or elsewhere, which might have resulted in the possibility of a legal contract.

    3. harnanton*

      i was thinking that too, but then it depends on local labour laws and corporate culture. in my country, vacation leave accured has to be used up in a contract year, and if after that it’s lost.

  6. PJ*

    “Disgruntled clients have contacted me and our operations manager on our cell phones begging us for help as they are no longer being serviced with the same quality and efficiency as before.”

    Do I smell a potential consulting opportunity while you search for your next gig?

    Best of luck to you, LW. Sometimes it’s just hard to screen out the nutjobs.

    1. Andrea*

      Exactly what I was thinking! Best of luck, OP, I really hope things work out.

      …But I thought this was a case where the boss was going to be shown (or already had been) the original post? Did that happen? I’m dying for details on that.

  7. MissDisplaced*

    I hate hearing that people like you who stand up and try to do the right thing… don’t find jobs (or it takes a really, really long time–and who can afford that nowadays).

    Yes, I suppose this person can run “his” company any way he wants, but look at the destruction he caused and lives ruined. And for what?

    I wish you the best.

  8. Therapist*

    It’s amazing to me how many people think they would make great therapists and life coaches. There’s a reason that practicing therapy requires a master’s degree and a license. Unfortunately, life coaching doesn’t require anything in most places, otherwise you might have been able to turn this guy in for unauthorized practice of it. But in any case, not everyone can be a good therapist or life coach, it’s a skill and in some cases, an art. I wish people would stop thinking it’s cool to be Dear Abby and that everyone is qualified to do it.

    1. harnanton*

      It’s not a well-regulated industry, but there are some groups like the International Coaching Federation (ICF). Even still, jobs such as medicine and law are still largely self-regulated. Yeah, there are civil and criminal charges for malpractice, but it’s often internal medical bodies who discipline doctors.

      1. Ruffingit*

        Self-regulation can be a negative, but I will say that as a lawyer and a person who knows other licensed professionals including therapists, you do not want to have to go before the licensing board. And that happens when people complain about what you’re doing. At the very least, you will be required to answer, in writing, the grievance filed. It’s bad for your rep and it’s a hassle. And if you have to go before the board…ugh. For both therapy and law, the smartest move is to get a lawyer who deals with those issues and that’s costly. The licensing board has more influence and does a lot more than people often realize. Of course, this depends on the state in the US, but I can say for the state I’m in, they are serious about regulating the profession and dealing with problems. I sure as heck wouldn’t want to get involved with them in any way.

  9. MR*

    Maybe I missed something, but how did things to from ‘a great place to work for a great guy – minus this life coach thing’ to the guy firing the OP and another person two weeks later, and it being a miserable place to be?

    I suspect there were more things the OP didn’t talk about in the original letter, or only realized how bad things were in hindsight…

    That being said, the CEO sounds crazy and it’s good the OP is out of there. As someone said before, it sounds like there are a few great opportunities for consulting…I’d strongly recommend taking a look at those options. It’s what I’m doing!

  10. harnanton*

    Hmm.. seems your old CEO is wholly clueless haha..

    As for clients calling you, well you’re not an employee there again, so you have no power to do anything. If anything, the “life coaching” suggestion by your manager more or less signified the guy’s intentions and demeanour. It’s good you’re out of there.

    Also, well if it were me who had left, I couldn’t care less what happens to his business.

  11. Working Girl*

    Can you open your own company as competition to the “life coach”? If you have his clients calling you, take advantage and start your own company with some of your old coworkers. Turning loyal employees to the point of being unloyal can be a very bad thing for bosses – show him how a company should be run and then offer to be his “life coach” when he goes under and give him your best “life coach” advice and tell him to go get a job loser. I’m not normally mean but prying into employees personal lives is down right wrong.

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