update: my boss is pressuring me to consult after I leave for a new job

Remember the letter-writer whose boss was pressuring her to consult after she left for a new job (#4 at the link)? Here’s the update.

Thank you so much to you and your readers for your advice/reassurance. I’ve been in my new role for about a month now and am doing well. It’s been a steep learning curve in a number of ways but I’ve been working really hard to get caught up.

I’m so glad that I didn’t end up doing the consulting — I’d have been burned out for sure. There were two instances that solidified my decision to say no. The first was a meeting where she turned to me and said, “If you can consult, we can add this to your to-do list.” (My immediate thought–whoa, no. The task she was talking about was not at all related to the project she had previously wanted me to work on). In that same meeting, she also made a joke about how “cruel” I was to leave in front of two colleagues from other departments (a joke — dramatic and not exactly making me want to help her out more).

When I told her that I would give her my full focus for my time there and would prefer to do the same with my new employer, she jumped to “Did they tell you no? Would it help if I called and talked to someone?” I told her no, that it was my decision and that I felt it would be too much of a time demand to balance both. She was ultimately okay with it and even offered to give me a great reference for future roles.

Interestingly, that steep learning curve in my new position that I mentioned has a lot to do with her. She was so overbearing (about my personal life — I mentioned in the comments that she really thought I needed to break up with my boyfriend, who she’d only met once or twice and about whom she knew very little) and would always refuse suggestions from entry level staff so much so that that mentality has actually stuck with me. I think of myself as someone who is creative and speaks up, but after working under my previous boss, my default has become not speaking up and getting extra approval for everything. I’m working on pushing past this, especially because my boss has made it clear that she wants to hear my ideas and trusts me to handle certain projects independently. It’s awesome that my opinion is valued and I’m trusted and I’m trying to get used to that.

I have gotten a few emails with questions from my replacement and one former colleague. I’ve tried to be helpful, but they often are not simple questions about where a file can be found and are more about how I would recommend they handle X issue or project so I’ve had to put boundaries up–primarily by responding with “X folder will give you the information you need” and leaving it at that.

Thanks again for your advice!

{ 23 comments… read them below }

  1. You see that?! - They throwing cars! How can I not?!

    Oh how “cruel” of you to move on to another opportunity to advance your career and give them a full notice period.

    ::Eye roll::

    1. ::Eye roll::

      Your former boss sounds like a micro-manager with boundary issues. I am familiar with this type of person.

      Good for you for moving on. Also, you are well on your to retraining yourself from working for a micro-manager. You will learn that you don’t need permission for every little thing.

    2. Vicki

      “Did they tell you no? Would it help if I called and talked to someone?”

      Wow. Sure, “Mom”, you do that. I’ll listen in on the extension…

  2. AdAgencyChick

    “Did they tell you no? Would it help if I called and talked to someone?”

    BWAHAHAHAAHAHA she’s delusional!

    1. ::Eye roll::

      Does anyone have an opinion on letting delusional people presenting themselves as delusional?
      I have made the choice of not preventing them from speaking but I wonder if that’s the best choice.

    2. Lizabeth

      The problem with letting delusional people present themselves as such, THEY DON’T KNOW THEY ARE DELUSIONAL…which defeats the whole purpose.

    3. Shannon

      Worse, she thinks so little of the OP that she doesn’t think the OP has any self agency.

  3. Ted Mosby

    I came here to comment on that too. Truly, truly crazy. Like she’s OPs mom calling to get permission??? Because obviously OP really wants to keep working her old job while she starts her new one? Bizzaro land.

  4. Lauren

    “my default has become not speaking up and getting extra approval for everything”

    You have Workplace PTSD. It happens when your boss sucks so bad that they make you question everything you do. You can get past it though.

    1. The Other Dawn

      Yup. I went through this myself after working for a micromanager. Took me more than 6 months to work it out at my current job, even though I was the boss and had free reign for years at the job I had before the micromanager.

      1. Ama

        Me too. My immediate boss wasn’t a micromanager, but the big bosses were unpredictable and inconsistent even on handling the same issue from week to week, so I got in the habit of getting at least one other person to cosign every decision I made so I’d have backup if the big boss suddenly decided to throw a tantrum. I’m three years out from that job and while the effects are much less, I still get anxiety from time to time when I have to make a big judgement call, or when a project approaches deadline (my ex big bosses were fond of letting a project get 90 % finished and then changing the parameters).

      2. sunny-dee

        Yeah, I’m working through it myself. OldManager and OldDirector were incredibly incompetent, so they really never knew what I was doing or what should be done. But they were incredibly negative and would constantly contradict themselves and each other. Like, OldDirector would say, “I want you (team) to come up with a solution and own it.” Then we’d present what we were going to do, and he’d starting sighing and huffing, and say, “That’s not what I wanted at all. You’re focusing on X.” So we would ask what he wanted instead, and he’d start huffing again and say, “I don’t know; you’re supposed to know what you’re doing. I expected you to own this.” Rinse and repeat. Honestly, the absolute best way to become a “rock star” to him was to do nothing. (And I mean that literally. Blogging on our internal system about Department Ideas and doing no actual project work would get you a massive bonus.) Other personal favorite — OldDirector was posting a job for writers on one of my teams. I told him I felt we needed it to be a senior level role, and the posting was entry level. He sent me an email berating me for not just commenting on the internal job description if I had opinions on it. So I did — and got an email from OldManager berating me for commenting on the job description since I’m not a people manager and shouldn’t feel like I could comment on personnel issues.

        My new manager just tells me to run with whatever I want. He’d rather have more output than less, and if he doesn’t like something, we can fix it later or just do it differently. It’s actually been hard to run because I’ve been second guessing myself so much, but it still feels so much better.

    2. JA

      I went through this too — you’re not alone! When I was in grad school my assistantship supervisor was SUCH a micromanager. I couldn’t send an email without him reading it through first.

      The second day on my first job out of grad school, I asked my boss to read an email before I sent it out to a fairly important stakeholder. She looked at me like I was crazy and said, “I can’t manage 10 people if I’m going to read every email they send to everyone. And I hired you because I think you are competent and know how to draft an email, and a whole lot more.”

      It still took me a while, but once I explained how my previous boss had worked, she was a lot more patient and would just remind me that she trusted me. What a weird feeling! :)

      Congrats — and you’ll do better over time, and know what to avoid in future bosses thanks to your previous experience!

      1. RVA Cat

        Reminds me of Morgan Freeman as “Red” in _The Shawshank Redemption_, asking his boss’s permission to use the bathroom after he was out of prison.

    3. Kit

      I had this SO BAD after my previous job. The director there truly had it out for me, but she was persistent enough that I had to consider that maybe there were massive (but vague, and only seasonally addressed) deficiencies in my work. But then I quit, acquired a new job quickly and painlessly, and have been doing great in my new position (I got a promotion! eeeeee!). So I’m starting to think it was just her.

  5. So Very Anonymous

    “Did they tell you no? Would it help if I called and talked to someone?”

    That would have had me speechless. Where to begin? Good for you for telling her it was your decision.

  6. boop

    “…how I would recommend they handle X issue or project…”

    Huh? So where is this overbearing manager when the employees have questions?? I can’t imagine contacting past coworkers out of the blue to request more training.

  7. James M

    I have a 1099 rate. It’s breathtakingly high for people who I really don’t want side work from. Even so, I do have a former workplace who happily pays my rate from time to time. It’s great when exiting and the company tries to counter.

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