employee resigned but now wants to stay

A reader writes:

We hired an employee, Jane, in August to take over a management position, and I was to partially oversee her, along with my boss, Lucinda. There were some issues on both sides (she had issues with Lucinda and vice versa), and about a month ago Jane told me she was considering giving notice. I talked through the issues she was having with my boss, and moderated some disagreements. From my point of view, it seemed like Jane was having trouble taking direction and criticism from Lucinda, and had gotten her feathers ruffled when Lucinda tried to manage her. Everything seemed to be back on schedule, and drama had subsided.

Last week, Lucinda informed me that Jane had in fact given notice, with no reasoning. Jane informed me of giving notice by text message with a frowny face. I was shocked by the lack of professionalism by Jane, and immediately jumped into plan B mode and made an job offer to a current employee to take over the position. Currently, said employee is still considering the offer. It would be a lateral move for this employee, and she had expressed interest in it previously.

Then, Lucinda told me Jane asked if she could rescind her resignation. She shed light about why she gave notice, and it turned out to be very minor and a further example of Jane’s inability to communicate well and to let her ego drive situations. I don’t believe it was another job offer that instigated the resignation, as Jane had told me several times that she didn’t need to work and was working only because she loves to. She has told me several times how much she loves the work here, but that working with Lucinda was difficult.

Obviously we need to see if the current employee wants to change departments, but if she doesn’t, should we let Jane continue working? This is our absolute busiest time of the year, and training someone new would be miserable, and staff is already stretched very thin. Also, if Jane stayed, the teams morale would be better than if she left, and that is very important to me. However, if we let her stay, I’m worried it may reinforce the dramatic behavior. At the end of the day, Jane is talented and capable, but she does not like being managed, which is inevitable, especially when one is still very new to a job. Help!

Do you want Jane in the position? Were you disappointed or relieved when you heard about her resignation initially? And while you’re worried about dealing with re-hiring during your busy period, will you be excited to have her there once that busy period is over, or will you feel like she’s a problem that you’re stuck dealing with?

I can’t answer those questions for you, but I can tell you that what you’ve described is an awful lot of drama for someone only four months into a new job, and a manager who bristles at being managed herself is … not a good thing. It might make sense to use this as an opportunity to end things with her cleanly and get someone else into the position who’s easier to work with.

If that turns out to be your conclusion too, it would be entirely your prerogative to say that you’re going to let the original resignation stand and that you’ve already begun moving forward with other plans for the position. You could also say that given the back and forth and the issues that have come up in her first few months, you want to let things stand as they are now and not flip things back again.

But if you’re convinced that keeping Jane in the position would be the best thing for the organization — really convinced, not just panicking about the next couple of months — then I’d sit down and talk with her before officially keeping her on. Be clear about how you’ll need things to work going forward and ask her to really consider if that will work for her. For example: “We’re going to need you to take direction and feedback from Lucinda, which is something I know you haven’t been thrilled about previously. That’s an aspect of the job that isn’t going to change, and if we move forward, it’s going to be important that you find a way to work more harmoniously with Lucinda so that we don’t keep revisiting those issues. Why don’t you take a few days to think about whether you’re up for the job with that as an essential part of it?”

And to be clear, you’re not leaving this totally up to Jane — if she says that yes, she can agree to that but she qualifies it with a bunch of caveats or otherwise gives you the sense that she’s going to be raising the same issues a few months from now, you can say, “I really appreciate you talking this through with me. I’ve given this a lot of thought, and ultimately I think there’s a fundamental mismatch between what we need in this role and what you’re looking for, so I’d like to have your original resignation stand.”

And if you do decide to keep her in the role, it might not be a bad idea to agree to revisit how things are going in a few months, so that there’s an easy opening to bring it up if problems continue.

But again: this is lots of drama, and you’re being given a clean path out of that.

{ 166 comments… read them below }

  1. Cambridge Comma*

    Are you sure the team’s morale would be better if Jane stayed? Drama llamas are often not great to have around. You say she has a management position — how does she do supervising others if she can’t be supervised herself?

    1. Charityb*

      Me too. I’m not doubting the OP’s word, only that it can be hard to gauge stuff like this if you’re not the person who deals with this person day-to-day. It might be worth doing a real review of the whole area or team whenever time allows — not focused on Jane specifically but on everyone there. It sounds like there are serious issues here, definitely with Jane and perhaps also with Lucinda. Letting Jane move on is a good first step but there’s a chance that there’s something else wrong too and getting multiple perspectives can only help.

      Hopefully Jane is the only llama currently employed there but it’s worth making sure.

    2. AMG*

      Yes, I actually initially read this the other way–that morale would be better if she left. Could you offer to let her stay through the busy period and then go, and promise her a good reference if she plays nice with Lucinda? Could be a good opportunity to train the coworker making the lateral move.

      1. Nom d' Pixel*

        That sounds like a good solution. If Jane does want another job, it would also give her a chance to look for one.

    3. LBK*

      Agreed – I’m curious how she’s good for morale unless the problems the OP is seeing are all when she’s interacting up the chain but she’s otherwise good when she’s dealing with employees. I’d be careful whose opinions you’re considering when thinking about morale – often a bad manager will improve morale for bad employees because they can get away with more. Check in with the top performers and see how they feel about her; their expectations for good management will often be more in line with what you’d expect.

      1. rmric0*

        OP mentioned that the department was already stretched thin as it was, so I’d imagine she’s thinking about morale as related to workload – especially during a “busy season.”

      2. Anonsie*

        I thought this as well. Not all managers treat everyone exactly the same, and when someone is being really passive-aggressively invasive it can be extremely difficult to explain what they’re doing to anyone else without making yourself look crazy and petty. So this may be a Jane thing (and I think it’s absolutely most likely a Jane thing) but it’s also entirely possible that Lucinda is pulling some weirdness with Jane specifically.

        1. Person*

          “when someone is being really passive-aggressively invasive it can be extremely difficult to explain what they’re doing to anyone else without making yourself look crazy and petty”

          Anonsie you just articulated something I’ve been trying to put a finger on for years. Thank you!

          1. Nom d' Pixel*

            That is why it is important to pay attention to the tone and enthusiasm when someone answers. Do employee say that Jane is great with specific examples such as giving clear expectations and answering questions, or do they pause and say something diplomatic?

          2. Purple Dragon*

            I’ve heard it called white-anting. The white ants take teensy little bites that are too petty to bring up – but if you don’t control them then your roof will fall in on your head.

            I’d never heard of this until I worked for someone like this for 7 months. It was horrendous ! The constant little digs were petty but the pattern of behaviour was extremely hard to deal with. And trying to explain it further up the chain was a nightmare. I probably did sound a little crazy.

    4. Graciosa*

      Jane seems to be under the mistaken impression that this is an elementary school popularity contest rather than a business. Let her go regardless of whether or not the other employee takes the lateral.

      I’m not kidding about elementary school drama – today Jennifer and Susie are besties, but then Susie gives her extra pudding to Mary at lunch and Jennifer retaliates by choosing Carrie as her partner in gym, and so on —

      Jane is getting a lot of attention by *not* getting along with Lucinda (including from the OP, who is enabling this, albeit perhaps from the best of intentions). That has to stop.

      This is grown up time. When you resign from a job, you leave. It is not a ploy for more attention, withdrawn when Jane is done pouting or sufficiently appeased.

      If Jane doesn’t need to work, she can find another hobby that doesn’t add drama to your business.

    5. Artemesia*

      Absolutely. This is manna from heaven. You are in a position to fix a bad hire with no pain to you or the organization. If this were an otherwise stellar employee who had resigned over a job that fell through or through a one time misunderstanding, then of course take them back. But you already have problems with this person. She has already caused more drama in 4 mos than most of your employees ever. Take this golden opportunity for a re-do on the position. Don’t let the Christmas rush derail this great opportunity. Hire a temp for lower level work over the holidays and let the current employees pick up the work she would be doing. And celebrate.

      1. AdAgencyChick*

        So true. If it’s even a little bit hard to fire a problem child at your organization, I’d say take the resignation and run — a busy period is temporary, a problem child ruining your team is forever, or at least it feels that way.

    6. KMS1025*

      So much unprofessional behavior here, from Jane. Resigning by text message, seriously! Then saying oops, I changed my mind? I would tell her you have taken steps to fill the vacancy and leave it at that. New employees are in the honeymoon stage. If they aren’t motivated to work things out properly at that point, what would cause them to be more agreeable down the road?

  2. Anon for This*

    Wow, people play these types of games – resigning from jobs, but having no real intentions to leave? I’m planning to resign in a couple of hours and it’s weighing heavily on me. It’s the right thing to do, but I don’t take this lightly.

    And I’m sad about this letter too. This is how toxic employees are allowed to stay and poison an environment. Why not move the new employee into Jane’s position? Why not let the resignation stand? I bet the new employee is smart and capable, and she sounds like she wants the job. I bet on-boarding her wouldn’t be that big of a deal at all, and probably much easier than dealing with Jane and her drama, threatening to quit every other month.

    1. Laurel Gray*

      This. There is some kind of privilege involved when someone can be toxic or contribute to office toxicity and resign and then rescind the resignation and be allowed to come back. If Jane is allowed to do this, what lessons will she really learn in all of this? I say set her free.

        1. Anon for This*

          Right! If they let her stay, Jane now knows that she can play this resignation card anytime something happens that she doesn’t like. Also, it doesn’t allow the OP to look into the possibility that Lucinda might be playing a larger role in the problems occurring here. Think about it – she’s only been there for four months!!!

          1. Stranger than fiction*

            I too was wondering how Lucinda feels about Jane staying and also have Op and Lucinda spoken with Jane together? It sounds from the letter they’ve only done so separately.

            1. Hiring Mgr*

              If Lucinda is in fact playing a big role in the drama, maybe it does make sense to let Jane stay for now until they can take a bigger look into the whole situation. The last thing you would want to do is let Jane go, and then have another employeee thrust into the same situation

    2. BritCred*

      I’ve seen it a few times and they usually become very ‘teflon’ and feel untouchable which causes more issues than if they’d left! There is the odd case where its not like that but this doesn’t sound like one!

      1. Artemesia*

        This. It won’t be old Jane who comes back but new pouty Jane whose tantrum worked out just fine for her and who feels like she can show her ass even more since it had no consequences.

        We have hired people who left back because they were great and we had been sorry to lose them — but we have also not hired people back who were ‘fine’ but not great or whom we were glad to see leave. Jane sounds like she is definitely in that category. Middle school — who needs it.

        1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

          It’s also one thing to hire someone back when their circumstances have changed – e.g. Phil decided to be a stay-at-home dad for a couple years but now his kid’s in kindergarten, or even Phoebe gave notice because she was going to move to Minneapolis but her wife’s job offer fell through and now they’re staying here in Springfield. Or if Greg used to work for us as a Junior Teapot Handle Designer, left for a job as Spout Architect at Caramel Coffeepots R Us, and now is applying for a role as Teapot Manager with us again.

          It’s a very different thing to hire someone back who quit because they were unhappy, then changed their mind without anything about the situation changing. The problems are all still right there.

    3. Anon Accountant*

      This. There is such a clean end to the drama of telling Jane her original resignation stands and get someone else in that position. I have a feeling Jane and Lucinda are going to clash and the drama isn’t going to stop even if Jane is told she has to work better at taking direction from Lucinda.

      You may be surprised at how much productivity will increase after the drama causing employee leaves. Not to mention the morale boost.

    4. Karowen*

      Based on the OP’s first sentence in the last paragraph, her first choice is to move the other employee into Jane’s position. She’s asking what to do if the other employee turns it down and they don’t have anyone to fill the position.

      1. Artemesia*

        The world is full of smart competent people looking for jobs in this economy. Surely they can do better than Jane if the other employee doesn’t want the role.

        1. Karowen*

          I was replying more to Anon’s position that they should just move the other employee because it wouldn’t be hard to onboard her, is a known quantity, sounds like she wants the job, etc. Obviously if it’s your busy time and your choice is between a PITA and a good employee that takes a week to gear up, absolutely go for the good employee. If it’s your busy time and your choice is between a PITA and another unknown quantity that it can take a few months to find and onboard, it’s a more difficult decision.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Yes, but you’ve got to think long-term and whether you’re just pushing the problem down the road. They’d find a way to survive this busy period if Jane hadn’t tried to rescind her resignation. They’re potentially being offered a gift — a clean break with a problem employee, so that they don’t have to deal with the often messier situation of firing her later on.

            1. JessaB*

              Exactly, if Jane had left they’d still be stuck. Whether or not the other employee wants the position they’re going to have to onboard someone – either Jane’s replacement or the replacement for the moved employee. Jane is toxic, unless you have decent proof that Lucinda caused all this, get rid of Jane.

    5. Ama*

      I actually replaced someone who played this game once too often. She “gave notice” every time the bosses asked her to do something she didn’t want to do knowing they would beg her to reconsider and promise not to make her do said thing. Finally they had enough, accepted her resignation, and hired me.

    6. hbc*

      I had someone cause drama for months before he tried to get me to cave with the news that he was taking an offer from another company. I emailed my acceptance of his resignation (for documentation) before he got back to his desk. He was too prideful to come back and say it was all a tactic to get a raise, but no way was I going to hand back the gift he’d just given me.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Oh, that’s sweet! Are you absolutely sure it was a ruse, or do you just suspect it based on their behavior?

    7. HR Jeanne*

      If she has chosen to resign over something small and then changed her mind, she WILL do this again. Let her resignation stand. That is the consequence for resigning. She is obviously not committed to the job or organization if she is willing to resign over something minor. She may leave you in a bigger lurch, later. Give someone else a chance to flourish in this position.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      That article is talking about cases where you refuse to let the person reverse their resignation as retaliation for engaging in legally protected conduct (like reporting sexual harassment). It doesn’t seem to apply here…?

    2. Sunshine*

      That article seems unrelated, given that there was a harassment claim reported after the resignation was offered. Don’t see anything to indicate that happened here.

    3. Green*

      Oh, I was sending that as an FYI to Allison because I’ve seen her advise more often than not to decline the employee’s request to rescind. Law involves a lot of reasoning by analogy, so this suggests that a potentially emerging trend (at least in the 5th Circuit) is that refusing to allow an employee to rescind his or her voluntary resignation is equivalent to a firing or other adverse action. So a cautious HR department would potentially consider evaluating a request to rescind as a firing. You can still refuse to allow them to rescind (you can, of course, still fire people), but it might raise the standard a bit for some HR departments.

      1. neverjaunty*

        Dunno that this “suggests a potentially emerging trend” – but I would think any good HR department (and manager) would always want to avoid employment-related decisions based on retaliation.

        1. Green*

          Well, the case is precedent, so it’s highly probable that it will be a trend in the 5th Circuit. (And they really only write nationally about cases with the potential to be a trend.) It’s also not really as simple as “don’t retaliate.” Someone can be retaliating while also having (or inventing) reasons to fire that aren’t related to protected activity, something that’s perfectly legitimate can have the appearance of retaliation or adverse employment reaction based on protected activity, and additionally you typically want to take actions that reduce the likelihood of litigation anyway because it’s expensive to deal with employment law claims even if they’re not valid.

  3. TotesMaGoats*

    You don’t need this drama. Let Jane go.

    I do wonder though, is there any merit to some of Jane’s frustrations with Lucinda? Will you bring another person in and have the same thing happen? As much as toxic employees often get to stay on far too long, seeing a lot of turnover in one position may point to things other than bad hiring/fit and to management that needs some work. And having two bosses sucks. Something to keep in mind.

    1. Anon for This*

      I think it would be good to take a closer look at Lucinda in this situation. Good point. But, I would still let Jane go, because threatening to resign, then quitting, and then deciding not to quit, is too much drama.

      1. sunny-dee*

        Also, even if there is a problem with the Lucinda dynamic (and that was my guess, too), Jane may already be at a point where she can’t respond unemotionally to anything Lucinda does, even if that relationship were to change. It’ll be better to start fresh rather than trying to salvage a damaged relationship. Especially since she’s only been there four months.

        I have “two” managers, and I will say, it gets hard. Manager A will tell me to do something, and then Manager B will start demanding that I justify why I did that thing. If there is any kind of communication gap between the OP and Lucinda, that can create a lot of tension for the person who has to answer to both.

        1. TL -*

          Or, my favorite, Manager A will tell you to do X, Manager B will pull your into their office to scold you for doing X, you say it came from Manager A and now you’re in even more trouble. Sigh.

    2. Cici*

      OP should have a good sense of what working under Lucinda is like, no? But agreed on the two bosses point–it can be confusing even when both bosses are good, reasonable managers.

  4. fposte*

    I’m focusing on the text message (with frowny face). Is it possible that Jane that you weren’t her co-manager but a same-level colleague with mileage and authority? Because I’m having a hard time wrapping my brain around that resignation.

    I wouldn’t take her back–she sounds like more trouble than she was worth. I’d also take a look at the hiring practices to see if steps were skipped that might have alerted you to her weaknesses. (Did references get thoroughly quizzed, for instance?)

    1. Ama*

      It does seem from the letter like Jane is confused about the reporting structure. Her relationship with Lucinda reminded me a lot of struggles I had with a coworker at a former workplace — the difference being my “Lucinda” *thought* she was my manager when she actually was not.

      If the OP decides to let Jane rescind her resignation it needs to be made very clear to Jane what the reporting structure is and that she is expected to treat both OP and Lucinda as her managers (if that is indeed the case).

      1. TempestuousTeapot*

        This. So much this.

        Absolutely any confusion (manufactured or otherwise) has to be erased and the situation made crystal clear to all parties. Perhaps if OP does decide to allow Jane to rescind her resignation a PIP might be in order? I know that sounds harsh, but it does give a concrete point-to should the drama train start to board again.

    2. cataloger*

      I wondered if the frowny text was really meant to be a resignation, or was just a grumpy outburst from the middle of a bad situation, like “OMG I’m quitting :(“

      1. fposte*

        Well, she did also resign to Lucinda–I just wondered if this was the kind of message you describe that you send to a co-worker after you tender your resignation.

        1. Anonsie*

          Yeah I thought the same thing. It’s not a resignation but a casual update– which makes me wonder what Jane thinks about the reporting structure as well.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yes, that’s a new ad that I’m trying out. It should be removed from mobile by the end of the day though (but probably not desktop, although I’m going to ask them to ban certain categories of content from it on desktop).

      1. KayBee*

        I pretty much exclusively read AKA on a computer and found it to be pretty annoying. Not criticizing…just giving feedback. I get the desire to try it out, but I don’t frequent websites with video ads that autoplay.

        1. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

          If there is a video that autoplays, AAM has asked us to snag the URL and send it to her, as those are not supposed to be there.

    2. The IT Manager*

      Yes. It was a celebrity related video which played without sound. I then closed AAM because I don’t want videos like that streaming on my work computer. I’d hate to stop looking at AAM at work, but I don’t want to draw too much attention to the fact that I look at it at work despite it being work related.

      1. Noah*

        Yup, I actually specifically allow AAM to display ads because I want to make sure Alison gets some revenue, but in general I love Adblock. If ads bug you this extension is awesome.

      2. LENEL*

        Oooh that’s interesting (what Alison has said about autoplay videos being allowed without sound – I have seen the new videos but I didn’t realise they autoplayed…) – like Noah I am pretty happy for Alison to make some money in exchange for running this awesome tool for PD.

        We don’t get control of the browser or add-ons on our work computers. So for at least someone like me, this is a kind suggestion but I would have to log an IT Helpdesk and justify why I wanted the extension and an alternate browser (CURSE YOU INTERNET EXPLORER!).

        So I suppose I’ll have to look in to stopping AAM being my go-to professional development tool if there starts being a number of autoplay videos cropping up :(

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I don’t think there will be many. And if you’ve seen videos and not realized they auto-played … well, that’s because they didn’t, which is a good sign!

          But it’s definitely a direction the ad industry is moving in; if you look at major news websites, for example, you’ll see a lot of them. I find them annoying too, but it seems to be the direction ads are moving in.

          But I’ll keep doing my best to balance the need of the site for ad revenue with not wanting things to interfere with the user experience.

  5. BRR*

    Adding to the thoughts here, I’m looking at why Jane was unable to discuss the issues until resigning. Don’t keep her because you feel desperate. That is penny wise and pound foolish. Someone who resigned once will have no problem doing it again.

      1. Intern Wrangler*

        This. I would not be surprised if letting her rescind just delays the inevitable. If someone is unhappy enough to resign once, they are likely going to resign again. I’ve allowed myself to be talked into letting someone rescind a few times, and I can assure you, they have all left within 6 months.
        It might be better to just have a clean break.

    1. Anon for This*

      Jane clearly doesn’t care if it’s a “busy time in the office” – she just up and quit.

      1. BRR*

        I don’t think any employee should have to wait for a good time to resign. They should just make sure to give proper notice. BUT that doesn’t really matter in this situation because I really don’t like the “quit then take it back” and quitting after such a short time.

        1. AnonForThis*

          You’re right – there never is a good time to quit, but at the same time, Jane didn’t quit because some personal things came up, or she found another job – she quit in a tantrum. I think that makes a difference here.

          1. hbc*

            Yes, if you work at a florist and quit February 13th, or you’re a fireworks technician and quit on July 1st, you really should have a better reason than “just because I feel like it.” It’s the classy thing to do.

    1. LBK*

      I think putting an existing employee into a probationary period is a pretty clear sign you don’t want them – it would essentially be putting her on a PIP, and if you’ve already been given an out to get rid of her without having to go through the hassle, I say do it.

  6. Biff*

    Honestly, it sounds like Lucinda might also be a difficult person depending on circumsatnaces and they might simply be the wrong combination of personalities. I’d let it stand — I don’t think this is going to get a whole lot better.

    1. BRR*

      Spot on (as usual).

      I think having to ask about Jane instead “a new employee resigned and we don’t know what we would do without her” or “a new employee resigned, how do we get her to stay?” speaks volumes.

    2. Noah*

      Yes to this. I’ve never had an employee who rescinded their resignation work out long term. They are either going to leave on their own within the next year or all the same problems will stay and they will be fired.

  7. Roscoe*

    I always question when people say that someone can’t take direction. The problem could be that Jane is fine being managed, but not by Lucinda. Maybe Lucinda is to blame as much as Jane. I say this as someone who in one year went from having stellar reviews to the next year being put on a PIP and almost getting fired. The issue was that I got new management. They used the excuse of “I don’t like being management” when really it was just that I worked better under a different management style. The manager that hired me was blunt and direct, but gave a lot of autonomy. The manager that came in did a lot of hint dropping and was a micro manager.

    Maybe Jane isn’t really a problem (Except for her rash decision to resign), its just that her and Lucinda aren’t a good fit to work together. If you decide she is really worth keeping, is there a way to limit the interaction between those 2? Maybe in that instance it can be salvaged. Maybe it can’t.

    1. sunny-dee*

      Roscoe, are we the same person? I worked for years with a functional manager who was direct, blunt, and totally trusted me to do my job. He was vocal if he wanted something different and vocal with praise. I’ve now had two managers over the past three years who are passive, ambiguously-critical, and micromanaging. I am sure they would say I have a problem with being managed, but it is really just a big difference in temperament.

      1. Allison*

        Agreed, saying someone “doesn’t want to be managed” when they have problems with someone’s management style is a great way to dismiss what very could be a valid concern. It’s why I was afraid to talk to anyone about one of my managers breathing down my neck all the time while denying that there was a problem with my work, I worried that people would say “well yeah, he’s your manager, his job is to manage you!”

        But since then I’ve had managers who trusted me to be an adult, and their idea of management was helping me prioritize my tasks and work through difficult problems.

        1. Anonsie*

          I’ve had similar experiences where, any time I brought up a difficulty I was having with a similar hint-dropping kind of manager (who wouldn’t answer direct questions and would be angry later I couldn’t “figure it out” anyway) who became rather passive aggressively antagonistic after a while. Everyone else had explanations for why she was just trying to help me and I just needed to try harder to communicate with her. It’s very hard to professionally tell someone that no, there are no good intentions to be had, my manager just likes to have tantrums at people for not reading her mind. I cannot communicate better with someone who refuses to meet with me or answer direct questions, this is an actual problem that proactiveness on my part is not going to solve.

          Similarly, this was someone who didn’t have complaints from anyone else, which is part of what lead to the hand-waiving I think. But it was because the other folks were too uncomfortable with the possibility of consequences to air any of this out with the big bosses, and with good reason.

          1. Allison*

            I will never stop saying this: people who drop hints and use passive-aggressive language to communicate, and expect people to either read their mind or “hear what they’re not saying” drive me absolutely bonkers. If you can’t communicate clearly, you don’t get to erupt in anger when you don’t get what you want.

            My mom is like this, actually. She raised me to use my words when I wanted something, but if she wants something from me, or disapproves of something, she’ll do that thing where she’ll say everything is fine when it clearly isn’t, and then either explodes 10 minutes later, or yell at me about it in 6 months later when she’s mad about something else.

      2. Mallory Janis Ian*

        I had the same thing happen when I switched jobs to work for my university boss at his private firm. I worked successfully for him for six years. He was very blunt and direct, vocal with both criticism and praise, and I never had to wonder for a minute where I stood with him, because he’d just tell me. His wife, on the other hand, was very dramatic and emotional, ambiguously critical, would micro-manage me to do one thing one minute and then berate me for not knowing to do the exact opposite the next; she was like working for a cranky toddler. I could tell within a couple weeks of working there that, if I were going to make it in that firm, I’d better learn to communicate with her. After about six months, I could tell that she would never let me learn to communicate with her; she was always going to be volatile and emotionally immature. There were many, many times when, if I were the quitting-in-a-huff type, I would have (like the times when she berated me in front of everyone, or called me into a private meeting with her so that she could berate me even more vehemently). Quitting in a huff is a big red flag, as far as I’m concerned, and I’d think very hard about whether you want someone around who is so drama-prone.

    2. F.*

      I think we all have management styles that work better for us than others. Unfortunately, in the real world, we are stuck with the manager we are dealt, warts and all, and it is up to the employee to suck it up and be managed or go elsewhere. Jane has made her choice.

      1. Roscoe*

        I agree in general with the sentiment that you are stuck with the managers you are dealt. However, I don’t know that its always as simple as suck it up or leave. As I said, it seems Jane has 2 managers, one of which she works well with. If everything about her performance is great, except for her interaction with Lucinda, it may be worth looking into seeing if there is a way to make the situation work. I’m not saying in this situation that Jane is worth that, but there may be ways to salvage it.

        1. Observer*

          There is nothing to indicate the Jane is a stellar performer. And, the text message to the OP says otherwise. Also, telling people at work how you really don’t need to but are working because you “love” it – and doing so multiple times, doesn’t speak well to her performance and judgement. Lastly, it’s not Lucinda who is saying that she doesn’t want to be managed, but the OP with whom Jane supposedly had a good working relationship with.

          1. Roscoe*

            Yes, but it seems that the management issues are only with Lucinda. OP didn’t really make it clear how her relationship was with Jane. I didn’t take telling people that you don’t need to work as a bad thing as many people do. The thing is most people work because they have to. If you don’t need to, to me that shows that you care about your job than someone who is doing it because they need a paycheck.

            1. Observer*

              Given that most people need their paycheck, multiple comments about how you don’t need to work get under people’s skin – even when they are not made in a patronizing or superior fashion. So, doing that is bad judgement.

              If the only issue that Jane presented was with her supervisor, then you would have a point. But the rest of it shows a pattern that is highly unlikely to exist with a stellar worker.

  8. Dan*

    “Obviously we need to see if the current employee wants to change department”

    Small point in the larger scheme of things, but no, it’s not obvious you need to see if the current employee wants to change departments. If you felt it was in the best interests of the team & org for her to remain put, you could tell her to do that.

    Overall, it seems as if the inmates run the asylum. OP & manager need to manage.

    1. Katie the Fed*

      Agree in theory, but a reluctant manager is a terrible thing. You want someone who wants the job.

      1. Charityb*

        Agreed. And since the OP is concerned about morale, yanking the rug out from under the other employee’s feet just to placate Jane might not be the best approach from that perspective either. No, they shouldn’t let that other employee dictate their entire response, but there’s nothing wrong with keeping her looped in on the areas that directly impact her career progression.

        She doesn’t get to control if Jane stays or goes but she should still feel valued and that her development matters. It’s tempting for managers to give the most attention to the most dysfunctional members of their team, but don’t forget about everyone else either.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        The OP did say that the other employee had expressed interest in the position and is considering the offer. I would assume that she’s still interested, unless as people have been saying, there is a problem with Lucinda. (I’m thinking not, but I could be wrong.)

    2. LQ*

      See I read this as the OP seeing this as a nice safe out and also being respectful to the other department employee. OP being able to say, “Sorry, already have someone else who has accepted the job.” would be easier for someone who is conflict adverse than saying, nope I’m not going to let you back even though it will make my job harder.

      And being respectful of a job offer you’ve made to someone else who I assume is good enough that you want to offer this job to them seems like better management. Yes you could pull the rug out from someone after you offered them a transfer but if I was that person that would make me seriously consider if this was a place I’d want to stay, so I don’t think that is an issue*.

      *there are plenty of other things that are, I just don’t see being respectful to a job offer you’ve made as a problem.

      1. Artemesia*

        A manager who can’t say “WE are going to let your resignation stand.’ without having to have the excuse of another hire is not much of a manager. Sure we would all prefer an easy out like that — but you shouldn’t be a manager if you can’t say “We are going to let the resignation stand as we think it will be better for the department going forward.”

        1. LQ*

          I agree. But I still don’t think that saying you aren’t going to yank the rug out from under someone you’ve made a job offer to makes you a bad manager. I think that’s actually one of the strongest parts of the letter.

          1. Random citizen*

            This, too. OP already offered the job to someone else, and it’s completely fair to say that employee has first choice of the job.

            1. Artemesia*

              Not the point. The point is the idea that accepting the resignation somehow is contingent on her accepting. Great if she does. And then of course you could say ‘the job has already been filled.’ BUT if she doesn’t or hasn’t decided yet, go ahead and accept the resignation. You don’t need an excuse.

              1. Random citizen*

                I totally agree with you on this point. If Jane is OP’s second choice for the position, though, then OP’s decision about Jane is dependent on CurrentEmployee’s decision to take the job or not (like a runner-up candidate). I have no idea if that’s the actual situation, however.

      2. Dan*

        A person who is conflict averse will have a difficult time being a manager. Sometimes being a manager means stepping up and making tough decisions, not creating “safe outs” which is just a euphamism for creating plausible deniability. Step up and manage! I’m not saying that the other employee shouldn’t have first dibs on the vacated position, just that 1) It’s not obvious and 2) It’s not a forgone conclusion that they “need” to wait and allow that person to make a decision.

        Own your choices — I have more respect for my managers who have spine and own the decisions, than those who act like things are outside of their control when they really aren’t. Those people are really difficult to deal with, because let’s be honest, they really aren’t managing.

        The OP’s question was really phrased in such a way as to read as if they had no control over the situation. When asked “what can we do”, AAM’s response was something along the lines of “What do you really *want* to do?” (And “do it” was sort of implied.)

        One of the things that was left out was a discussion on why morale would be improved if Jane stayed. Is it because of coverage issues? Then replacing Jane is a solution. If Jane is just a social butterfly, I find it hard to believe that the team morale as a whole would suffer if she left. Generally speaking, it’s accepted that letting poor performers go actually improves morale, even if the person is likeable.

    3. Random citizen*

      I read this part as the current employee being OPs first choice for the position (and wanting to wait for her response instead of offering her the job and then saying, “Nope, sorry, job closed!”), but that if CurrentEmployee doesn’t want the job, Jane may be her next best choice.

  9. Retail Lifer*

    I can’t say it never works out, but employees who give notice and then take it back usually wind up leaving. In my experience it’s been sooner than later. If she’s unhappy enough to give notice, I wouldn’t accept a take-back unless she’s both a stellar employee AND all of the circumstances that led up to her notice have been resolved.

    1. Kyrielle*

      This. I once saw a stellar performer give notice, then after two weeks on the new job want to come back (apparently the new place was quite dysfunctional). Management agreed, as long as he agreed to stay for at least a year, which he did. He kept his word and performed really well – and within a couple months of the end of that one-year period, he was gone. He still wanted out, after all, just not as much as he wanted out of the new company he’d moved to. (I still think it was a good choice in this case – he gave his all for that year and it was very valuable to the company – but how long would he have felt obliged to stay without an explicit discussion of it?)

    2. Shannon*

      There are very few situations in which I could see accepting a rescinded notice. It would pretty much have to be a dream employee who left because they got a dream job elsewhere and the job fell through or they thought their spouse was getting a transfer and it fell through.

      It’s only been 4 months and Jane has quit/ threatened to quit at least twice. Let her go. She may be a stellar employee and Lucinda might be the Devil wearing Prada, we don’t know. It’s also irrelevant, because there is a clear personality conflict here.

      1. Random citizen*

        _She may be a stellar employee and Lucinda might be the Devil wearing Prada, we don’t know. It’s also irrelevant, because there is a clear personality conflict here._

        This is a good point. Lucinda may well be the primary issue, but OP can’t do anything about that, since Lucinda is OPs boss, if I recall correctly. Regardless, Jane did not work well with Lucinda and that is the only part of the situation OP can address.

        1. Kyrielle*

          And, Jane is definitely an issue. If you have a messed-up situation and don’t work well with your boss (actually, your boss’s boss who also manages you), you have every right to be unhappy. But…you don’t spout those emotions at work and you do your best. You certainly don’t rage-quit (whine-quit?).

      2. JessaB*

        True, if someone was moving because of spouse or parents or something and that fell through (spouse’s offer didn’t pan out, parents got other caregivers,) I think I’d be okay with taking someone back if they left on good terms (IE I was not jumping for joy that they were going away.) But someone quitting in a huff? No. Someone quitting because they’re obviously passive aggressively trying to get a rise in pay? Nope. If they were a good employee AND there was a legit reason for them to change their mind, then, yeh, okay.

  10. JMegan*

    You said she resigned over something minor. Do you have any assurance that she won’t do it again? That next time she has a miscommunication or an issue with Lucinda, that she will stay and work through it, rather than just quitting again?

    My money is on no. I’d bet that if you took her back, she’d be trying to resign again next week, and you’d be in the same position you are now.

    If she were a long-term, super-valuable employee who was just having a bad day, I’d maybe think about letting her stay. But it doesn’t sound like she is either of those things – I agree with Alison’s assessment that she has brought a lot of drama for a very short term of employment. Also, I’d like to gently challenge your assertion that morale would be higher with her there, because I bet your other employees can see the drama she’s causing too. Sure, it would be nice to have an extra pair of hands during your busy season, but it sounds like you’re covering that already with the internal transfer. And even if the internal transfer doesn’t work out, I think most people would rather be short-staffed but without the drama queen, than fully staffed with her.

    1. TootsNYC*

      I think most people would rather be short-staffed but without the drama queen, than fully staffed with her.

      I agree. I think that people can have good morale even when they’re understaffed and working really hard.
      The key is that they need to feel really respected and valued. AND: they need to feel respect for the people whose respect and valuation they are earning.

      (If a crummy manager says, “good job, I couldn’t do it without you guys,” will the compliment mean as much? If the manager says, “good job, you guys are really going above and beyond” but doesn’t make any effort to keep looking for someone to pick up the slack eventually, they’ll feel used. But also, if the manager keeps someone like Jane around, will they have any respect for the manager, and for the compliment, etc.?)

      Keeping a drama queen around, and catering to her, is not going to make them feel valued, because it shows that you don’t any any true sense of what “good work” and “team player” mean. So when you say, “Good work, you rock,” they’ll think, Yeah what do you know?

      So I say: Let the resignation stand.
      See if the other employee wants the job she’s been offered, and if she’s hesitant, consider asking her to take it just for the busy season.
      If she says no for sure, then announce to everyone that you’re hiring, and be aggressive about recruiting and hiring; make it a priority, even if it means YOUR day is really, really busy. Tell everyone, “I’m going to go all out on getting someone in for this job, so occasionally I may be a little less available. If you can think of someone to suggest, here’s the job description and the qualifications.
      “In the meanwhile, I need to ask you to do your own job as efficiently and effectively as you can. And let’s brainstorm to see what we need to do that will cover any gaps until we’re able to get that person in place. Now is the time to bring up ideas for streamlining, and to tweak our process. Now is also the time to show off how good you are, and to write down your accomplishments to discuss later, hint hint.”

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Keeping a drama queen around, and catering to her, is not going to make them feel valued, because it shows that you don’t any any true sense of what “good work” and “team player” mean. So when you say, “Good work, you rock,” they’ll think, Yeah what do you know?

        Yes yes yes. I’m thinking particularly of Evil Coworker at Helljob. I don’t care if she has the highest numbers of any sales rep on earth; working with someone like that is torture, and the company risks losing its best people if it keeps the DQs around.

  11. Snarkus Aurelius*

    Do not rescind her resignation.  You never really came out and said what you wanted, as AAM noted, but it sounds like you’d be happy to have her gone.  In addition to what AAM said, there are other factors you should .

    When someone gives notice, its the employer’s responsibility to come up with a short and long-term plan to fill the gaps the person’s departure will leave.  When someone rescinds, it not only screws up that process, but affects every other person involved, especially those who have higher aspirations.

    At my old job, we had not one but two people pull this nonsense in a year.  The first guy, Paul, didn’t want to leave his supervisory role and move back to his hometown with his wife.  So he gave notice but didn’t actually leave until two years later.  Two.  Years.  He worked out a telecommute agreement with the Boss, but neither one of them ever communicated this fact with anyone else because Paul didn’t want it known that he wasn’t in the office.  That meant everyone gunning for his position was put in a state of limbo where no one would give them answers.  Not only that but the work he needed to do in person fell by the wayside because Paul didn’t want anyone taking over.

    After seeing this, Andy did the same thing.  He said he was resigning but didn’t actually leave until a year later.  Similar circumstances with his spouse but this time he didn’t leave and got divorced instead.  Again Andy didn’t want anyone to know he wasn’t actually resigning so it once again threw that department into turmoil.  We ended up losing people who thought those positions were opening up because they didn’t want to deal with the unknown factors.

    So…it’s not just about Jane and her whims.  This is about you, Lucinda, and all the other workers who will get affected by this jerking around.  

    If nothing else, please answer this question: what do you plan to do in the future if Jane gets huffy and hands in her resignation again?  

    1. AnonForThis*

      “After seeing this, Andy did the same thing…” Just what others here fear might happen in the future to the OP – that Jane will quit whenever she gets mad, and others will see how it worked out for Jane and start playing this game as well. People use the threat of resigning for all types of things – to get out of work they don’t want to do, to get promotions and raises, and other perks.

    2. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

      He worked out a telecommute agreement with the Boss, but neither one of them ever communicated this fact with anyone else because Paul didn’t want it known that he wasn’t in the office.

      So, wait…would people just go looking for him and he wasn’t there?? How did this work?

      1. Snarkus Aurelius*

        All staff were instructed to say that Paul was “working from home” or he was in another office.  We were never supposed to say that he literally didn’t live in our city anymore.  I was never sure why, but Paul convinced the higher ups that his work would be hindered if outsiders knew that.

        Paul did a fantastic job of covering up where his actual location was.  He was always available by email, and he’d always call back.  The whole thing stunk because he wouldn’t actually leave and free up that position for those who wanted to be promoted!

        No idea why he didn’t work out the telecommute thing beforehand. Probably because of the weird caveats attached to it.

  12. Anon Accountant*

    Has Lucinda had difficulty working with other employees in Jane’s position? Has there been much turnover in her position? Or is it just the 2 don’t work well together?

    Sometimes personalities clash and cannot work well together. Were there concerns about Jane’s job/culture fit during hiring?

  13. AnotherHRPro*

    I believe that you should never miss an opportunity to get rid of a bad employee. And Lucy sounds like a bad employee. The fact that as a manager, she elected to resign over something small is a reflection on her decision making skills. Not to mention that sending a text with a frowny face about it is very unprofessional. As a newish employee (4 months) you should still be in the honeymoon period. The fact that she is already this much work says that at the very least, this is not a good cultural match. I would let her resignation stand regardless of the internal candidates decision. Lucy may up and resign again in a few weeks for all you know. Better to deal with it sooner and start transitioning on to a new manager.

  14. KarenD*

    If the current employee wants to take Jane’s job, would it work to slide Jane into current employee’s job, especially if it gets Jane away from Lucinda?

    I know it sounds like catering to the crazy, but it would help the OP narrow down whether the problem is Jane, Lucinda or the combination thereof. The dynamic between them seems really weird. She can’t get along with Lucinda, but Lucinda gets her resignation, and OP just gets a text with a frowny face? That’s … unusual (absent any mention of Jane tendering her resignation by screaming “*Deleted* you, I QUIT!”)

    No matter what OP decides, it should be made abundantly clear to Jane that she’s on her last inch of sidewalk.

    1. knitchic79*

      That’s an interesting idea…if she truly is an amazing employee would a trade to a new department work?

  15. Erin*

    “And if you do decide to keep her in the role, it might not be a bad idea to agree to revisit how things are going in a few months, so that there’s an easy opening to bring it up if problems continue.”

    My mind jumped on this when I read the post. Why not do exactly that – keep her in the role because it’s easiest and potentially best for the organization right now, for the reasons you described, and then revisit after the busy season? Make it clear to her that you *will* be revisiting the conversation in X amount of time to make sure everyone is still on track.

    And then I’d apologize profusely to the other employee who was being considered for this role. :) If the role does end up opening up again in a few months, I’d invite her to apply again, but I’d have it be an open, anyone in or outside of the organization can apply and we’re considering all options, kind of thing. That way it’s not like, we want you! Do you want it? Maybe? Well now we’re rescinding. But wait, it’s open again! Come on back! If the position opens up again, let them come to you if they decide they’re interested.

    1. Erin*

      …all that being said, I have to admit that A) The way she resigned was horrifically unprofessional, I mean a really big red flag, and B) The way she brags about the fact that she doesn’t really need to be there/can afford not to work is…concerning.

      If you do decide to keep her on, those two things would absolutely have to be addressed. Just because she doesn’t *need* to be there doesn’t mean she doesn’t have to act professionally. I’d akin it to a volunteer position – just because you’re not getting paid doesn’t mean you don’t have responsibilities.

      So as Alison alluded to, if your gut instinct is to get rid of her now, then I’d do so. But, for the reasons I highlighted above, I would probably lean towards keeping her on for now, in a probationary sort of way, to be revisited later. In addition, you’re obviously torn about it if you’re writing in, so I’m assuming that reluctance means you at least in part want to keep her on, so I’d probably do so – for now.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      Ehhhhh, from the point of view of the other employee, that’s kind of what they would be doing. They already made her an offer. To pull it back now in favor of retaining someone who already quit would make me side-eye it really hard, if I were her.

      Not to mention it could totally backfire and she might decide she doesn’t want the job offer or even the job she has now.

        1. neverjaunty*

          Exactly. The message would be “drama llamas and tantrums are rewarded in this workplace”. Who needs that, lateral move or no?

          1. JessaB*

            I’d be gone too. If you could go back to before the offer was made, maybe keeping Jane would have been a good idea, but you’ve offered it to the other employee, that’s going to absolutely kill morale if you now take back that offer.

  16. NicoleK*

    I’ve witnessed two separate employees resign, and then rescind their resignations. Both ended up leaving their respective companies 2-3 months after their original resignation.

    1. Katie the Fed*

      Sort of like taking a break in a relationship. You’re on your way to splitsville, but not ready to commit to it.

      1. Windchime*

        And to piss off employees who apply for the open position. Which is no longer open. Wait, now it’s open again. Catering to a pain in the butt like Jane is a good way to lose good employees who don’t understand why Jane gets all the love and there are never any opportunities for others to advance. I actually lived this (only my “Jane” didn’t actually resign). Everyone was afraid we would lose him (because NOBODY else in the world can do the work he does?!?), so he was catered to and babied and got his way for years. Meanwhile, it became crystal clear that there would never be any advancement opportunities or plum projects for anyone else, because they all went to our “Jane”.

        So I finally left. And now I work someplace where I’ve been promoted a couple of times and get some plum projects once in awhile.

    2. Chinook*

      Speaking as someone who resigned in the heat of the moment (due to a privacy breach that was the last straw) and had a boss who refused to accept it to the point of being able to negotiate with IT to give reception a separate login I’d for those covering during by breaks (something which was unique in the company) an then went to work there for another 2 years, I have one question – has the issue that triggered the resignation been resolved in a permanent way? If not, then what is to stop her from doing this again?

      1. JessaB*

        But your issue was a specific one, someone probably I guess from what you said about logins, screwing around in your private stuff, and messing up your business files whilst logged into your primary computer. That’s kind of concrete, either it’s fixed or it’s not. Jane’s issues are softer, it’s a lot harder to guarantee that personal issues like Jane’s will be fixed for good.

  17. Anonymity*

    Change the details a bit and this wouldn’t be unlike what my department just went through. Our version of Jane’s resignation was due to an offer at another company, and our company responded with a counter offer – so very tired of the revolving managerial door.

    1. AnonForThis*

      So it sounds like the person that resigned accepted the counter-offer? See…maybe it’s not fair and I’m not right, but I would start to wonder if they did that to get more money out of the company or a promotion or something. Which is why I wouldn’t give counter-offers in the first place. There’s some reason they’re leaving. They should probably just leave.

      1. Roscoe*

        Maybe it really is just money though. I don’t know that going for the best offer is a bad thing. Maybe the employee wanted a raise, and was told they couldn’t have one even though they deserved one. They explored the job market and got a better offer. Company realized that keeping her was worth the extra money as opposed to doing a search for someone new that may not be better long term. I’ve definitely left jobs where the only reason was because I was going to get more money somewhere else.

        1. Windchime*

          My thought, though is this: Why was I not worth the money to them until I threatened to leave? Why did they hold out on paying me more/what I was worth until I had one foot out the door? Either I’m worth it or I’m not.

          1. Roscoe*

            Well, there are times when it is really out of your control. I understand what you are saying, but I don’t think its as black and white as that from either side. Sometimes you really don’t have the budget to give someone a raise, but if you know they will leave, you can move things around to make it work. Also, maybe the employee just stumbled into the other opening, was really going to leave, then the company made the counter offer.

          2. JessaB*

            I have usually found that if they do give you better pay/benefits to make you stay, you’re going to stay at that level for a long time. Sooner or later you’ll end up leaving because they’re not giving you the future money because they kind of resent the fact that they had to beg you to stay in the first place. I never do see how this really works very well in most cases. And as you said, why isn’t the position worth x no matter what.

        2. Apollo Warbucks*

          I think employee retention should start before the employees got one foot out the door.

          I gave my boss 12 months to get me a pay rise and he didn’t, when I got an offer another firm all of a sudden he found the money I was insulted it took me leaving to he listen too.

    2. Anonymity*

      To be clear, this person had only been with our company for a few months, so it was not a case of being denied a raise or promotion – there had been no time to earn either! In the months before that hiring, the dept had gone through two other managers – that’s what I meant about the revolving door. I think it was desperation to keep someone in the position that resulted in the counter offer.

  18. TootsNYC*

    If the current employee is still on the fence, you could ask her to take the job just during the busy period, with a slightly higher pay for that time frame.

    It can be a trial run for her, and maybe even for you, if you say, “We’ll do this just until January, and then we’ll revert, and we’ll open the position up for hiring, and you can apply then if you want it, since you’ll have a taste of what it’s like.” You can say that it’s not a guarantee she’ll get it, but it’ll make her a great candidate. Of course, if she applies and you don’t promote her, you’ll need to manage that hope/expectation/disappointment.

    Then hire someone lower down (ripple the “temporary promotion” down the chain as far as seems sensible for you).

    Who knows–all those battlefield promotions might stick, and EVERYbody might be happy.

    Well, except Jane, but honestly…..

    I’m curious–in general, how is Lucinda to work with? Do most people manage to work with her well enough? In other words–is it Jane, or Lucinda?

    I get the impression you think it’s Jane–you didn’t mention anything about Lucinda’s having a tricky relationship with anybody else.

    One other thing–it *can* be hard to have two managers, so having Jane be overseen by you AND by your boss might be something to try to streamline in the future.

    My boss’s boss is my boss, of course, but she doesn’t dip in very regularly.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      If the current employee is still on the fence, you could ask her to take the job just during the busy period, with a slightly higher pay for that time frame.

      It can be a trial run for her, and maybe even for you, if you say, “We’ll do this just until January, and then we’ll revert, and we’ll open the position up for hiring, and you can apply then if you want it, since you’ll have a taste of what it’s like.” You can say that it’s not a guarantee she’ll get it, but it’ll make her a great candidate. Of course, if she applies and you don’t promote her, you’ll need to manage that hope/expectation/disappointment.

      Then hire someone lower down (ripple the “temporary promotion” down the chain as far as seems sensible for you).

      Such a great idea! Yeah, are there any low-level tasks (e.g., photocopying, collating, data entry) that a temp with little training could handle and take off someone else’s hands who can do more organization-specific work?

  19. Anonymous Educator*

    This is our absolute busiest time of the year, and training someone new would be miserable, and staff is already stretched very thin.

    I know this is easy for me to say, because I don’t work in your organization, but from an outsider’s perspective, I’d say just let her resignation stand and tough it out. Better to be stretched thin for 2-3 months and be happier long term than to have drama extend over a year or years… or have even more drama when you eventually decide you want to fire her.

  20. LizNYC*

    Based on the brief description of Jane, I wouldn’t be surprised if the staff she manages cheered when they heard about her resignation. If she’s petty and dramatic with HER boss, imagine what she does to those she lords power over!

  21. TootsNYC*

    Another possible option:

    I agree you need to wait to honor the offer to the other employee. But if she doesn’t want to take the lateral move, you could hire Jane with a hard end-by date.

    “I want to honor your resignation, because I feel it’s respectful of you, and you’ve clearly been unhappy; no one should invest their career in working at a place where they’re unhappy. But this -is- a busy time for us, and the job change is sudden for you, plus we wouldn’t be able to give you a good reference at all. How about this? We’ll hire you on a contract basis to get us through the busy time, and that will give us both time to chart a new course. We’ll sign a contract that means you need to stay–no ‘quitting in 3 weeks because things are unpleasant.’ And we’ll arrangement management in XYZ way just for that time period. And when the two/three months are up, you’ll be free to go your way with a good reference behind you.”

    1. HR Pro*

      Oooh, I like this suggestion from TootsNYC! It seems to solve both problems (the drama-filled employee and the need to have someone to cover during the busy time).

    2. TootsNYC*

      And we’ll arrangement management in XYZ way

      Meant to say, this is intended to remove or mitigate the strife between her and Lucinda; maybe Jane reports only to the OP, and Lucinda makes a bigger effort to steer things through the OP, even if it is less efficient. I’m guessing it’s not sustainable in the long run to be quite so silo’d.

    3. neverjaunty*

      These are fabulous ideas.

      And what’s Jane going to say – no? She loves working, doesn’t she?

    4. Grey*

      Jane will do great work and behave as a model employee as she secretly hopes you’ll keep her past that date. She’ll leave feeling used and confused as to why you’re “firing” a good employee you’re willing to recommend to others. You might be unhappy with Jane right now, but don’t do that to her. If you let her go now, she’ll have no one to blame but herself.

  22. voyager1*

    Is a text message like that considered giving notice, granted if it as “at will” state it might be mute….

    Me, If I wanted Jane out I would accept the notice.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Sure, the law doesn’t limit what forms notice can come in. But also, as you note, it’s moot in the U.S. because the law doesn’t get involved in stuff like this anyway.

    2. Delyssia*

      Well, it’s moot because Jane gave notice to Lucinda. Then she told the OP by text message that she had given notice. She didn’t give notice by text message.

      1. Jane's Cousin*

        Yeah. She wasn’t giving notice via text. She was telling a colleague (and maybe dotted line supervisor) via text, but that wasn’t her official resignation notification.

        In my job, I’m a manager. I report to a senior manager, and we report to a director who is over both of us. The senior manager obviously has some supervisory duties over me, but if I were to resign, I’d officially do so to the director, and notify the senior manager more informally so she was in the loop. I’d probably do it in person, because I’m not big on texting coworkers. (I’m also in the camp that the resigning employee gets to notify the team after they have officially resigned, rather than waiting for the grand poo-bah to announce it.) So I don’t take issue with how Jane told the OP, as long as she was official with Lucinda.

        Part of me wonders if some of this is on Lucinda, and wants to know if other people have had problems working for her. BUT. Jane resigned after four months. She doesn’t want to be managed, at all. She’s telling people that she doesn’t even need to work for money. Maybe she’s great at what she does, and/or the team really like her, because she’s great to them. However, if she’s got problems working for Lucinda, and Lucinda is neither going anywhere nor changing her ways (whether or not she needs to), then Jane is going to be the kind of person who quits in a huff over the little things, creating chaos. Then she’ll try to retract it, and create more chaos.

        I’ve been in Jane’s shoes, in that I had a Lucinda over me that just rubbed me the wrong way, and tried to (micro)manage me in a way that drove me nuts. Even if I had people like OP that were somewhat over me, and that I worked well with, there was still friction with the big boss that wasn’t going to go away. I like to think that I was great at what I did, and that the team beneath me really liked me. But if my work style and my ultimate boss’s work style just don’t mesh, or completely clash, then that’s a problem. I solved it with my feet, but not without a certain amount of wishing that the big boss would change their ways so I could be happy. But that wasn’t ever going to happen.

  23. CADMonkey007*

    I would sum this one up in two statements:
    1) OP should not feel obligated to allow Jane to stay
    2) OP should base her decision on what’s best long term for her team

  24. ...&Vinegar*

    Does LUCINDA want to accept the resignation? She’s the boss. If not, why not?
    After going over Alison’s questions, what would you recommend to Lucinda?

    Can you draw up two plans, one if you let her stay (and Lucinda would be letting her, does she want to do her that favor?) and one if you let her resignation stand?
    1) Ok Lucinda, here’s a draft plan to manage her through the busy season including a review period, with clear expectations of her behavior and performance for that period; it may include a proviso to have an extended resignation date so that if it doesn’t work out she – and you – can honestly say she resigned rather than being fired.
    2) Ok Lucinda, here’s a draft plan to manage the busy period without her, including the offer already made for a lateral move to Internal Candidate with a training period, and how we might thank the team for pulling us through the busy season short staffed? Having a plan might mitigate any concern Lucinda has for your team during the busy season, which might be tempting her to keep Jane “for the sake of the team.”

    To me, it does sound like Jane has given you a gift. Not only has she resigned, rather than going on a PIP, but she’s already made it clear that *she doesn’t need the job.* It’s not often that you’ll be in the happy position of accepting someone’s decision knowing that the job isn’t essential to the employee’s financial life.

  25. Miss M*

    Maybe it’s also best to train the person who would potentially “replace” this woman sooner than later.

  26. Lucinda*


    Jane stayed in the company.

    After 6 months she came back with a new concern so – resignation. This time was because she couldnt handle a clients situation. However Lucinda and I had a coaching session and made her understand that panic and tension cannot be driving her. She accepted to stay back with some changes in her profile.

    After 6 months she came back with the same type of concerns about Lucinda and again she sent a resignation letter via email. That also came to picture because Jane started to see how the company is growing and how new managers were added. Jane then wanted a new change of profile; back to the one she asked to get rid of 6 months back. She saw the scope of growth that the earlier profile she was having had. And now she asked for this profile back as she doent want to lose that. Management considering Stellar work performance and knowledge of Jane decides to bring her profile back as she requested.

    After 4 months. She is again back to the need of resigning. however she doesn’t resign but questioned the trust the company has on her as well as questions the designation she is carrying has not changed in the period of time . That puts the management in a very heated conversation with her. The next two days Jane is not going to work. and texts Lucinda that she is not sick physically however she doesn’t have the zinc to go to office. However if it is very important she said she will go as she is a “professional”.

    The situation goes back to the normality…

    However after one week of the last incident, Jane texts again Lucinda that she wants to give up and resign again. However, Next morning, Lucinda finds an email from Jane saying she doesn’t want to resign, she wants a role change not under Lucinda.


    1. Tea*

      Lucinda and Jane have had issues for a long time. Maybe it would be best if she were under someone else. I would give that a try and then go from there.

      There seems to be some personal issues that are deeply rooted. Don’t become part of the drama by letting it affect you personally. Giving Jane a role change under someone else gives her what she wants and gives you all space from her. Sounds like a win-win. If drama follows her in her proposed role change, then maybe other actions need to be taken.

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