my boss doesn’t believe I’m really quitting

A reader writes:

How should I handle a clingy soon-to-be-former boss?

I work for a small nonprofit, and am part of a four-person team (there’s no overlap – I’m the only person in my position on our team). My boss and executive director knew last October that I wanted to begin looking for a new job (my current position is basically entry-level and I have been in it for almost five years, so it’s not a surprise). They both asked if I would stay on through the spring to work on our big yearly event, which I agreed to.

Finally, I found a great new position at the beginning of September. My boss and executive director both knew this summer that I was actively looking, and supported me in my search. I was able to give four weeks’ notice, for an October 2 start date. But ever since I gave notice, my boss has been “jokingly” refusing to believe I will actually leave. She keeps saying things like, “You won’t actually leave! You love us too much!” “It’s not like you’re REALLY leaving.” “We’ll be calling you every day with questions!” I’ve gently told her that yes, I am leaving, there’s no possibility of me staying, and she either guilt trips me or ignores me. Part of the problem may be that this is a very close-knit organization with a good amount of camaraderie in the office. It is a place that people leave and return to, though I don’t plan to do so.

She also keeps dropping random projects and tasks in my lap that could easily be done by other people. It’s a little frustrating because I wanted to use this time to complete some technical manuals, write a transition document, and leave instructions for the fall projects for my replacement, and when I ask for time to work on these documents, she pushes my requests aside and says there will be time for that “later.”

I feel like I’ve gone the extra mile in terms of giving notice, being flexible, and even offering to train my replacement on my nights and weekends. But every day I get the guilt trip on top of unnecessary busy work.

Is there anything I can do? I want to facilitate the best transition possible because I care about this organization, its mission, and my coworkers. I’m afraid that she literally won’t let me complete the work I need to complete before my last day and I’ll have to work on it outside of work hours once I start my new job.

What’s making you think that you’ll need to continue working on the transition once you leave? Typically when people leave a job, that’s it — they’re done with it. It’s not normal practice to continue doing whatever work didn’t get wrapped up before your last day. And generally, it’s not smart to agree to that, because you want to be able to turn your full attention to your new job. New jobs are stressful and take a lot of focus and mental energy! You’ll almost certainly do better at your new job if you’re not still feeling tethered to the old one (and if you can relax in the evenings rather than doing more work).

Now, I come from nonprofits, so I get that the sense of commitment there can be a lot deeper than at other jobs. When you care about an organization’s mission and its success, you can find yourself doing things like agreeing to do more work for them after you’ve left. And you may have seen other people there do that, so it can feel normal. But it’s 100 percent not obligatory, even in organizations where others have done it. It’s really okay to make a clean break.

If you’ve already promised your boss that you’ll do work after you leave, you’re allowed to reconsider that. You can say, “I’m realizing that I’m going to be so busy with my new job that I can’t commit to doing additional work for you after my last day.” (But make sure you say that ASAP so that she’s not planning on you.)

At the absolute most, you might agree to come in for a couple of hours once to train your replacement and then be available for one to two short phone calls afterward, which she can save up questions for. (To people outside of nonprofits, this probably sounds like too much. It’s not an uncommon thing in the nonprofit world where people care about the organization’s mission — sort of like becoming a volunteer for a cause you care about — but it should have clear boundaries and not take up more time than I’ve outlined here. Otherwise you’re still working for them.)

As for your boss’s comments about how you’re not really leaving: Unless she’s truly delusional, she knows you’re leaving. These are almost certainly jokes — uncomfortable ones, but still jokes. That said, if you really think she’s harboring hope that your last day will come around and you’ll decide not to leave after all, you can address that head-on. I’d combine it with the conversation above about what you will and won’t do after you’re gone — and what you still need to get done before you leave.

For example, you could sit down with her and say something like this: “As you know, my last day is [date]. It’s important to me to leave behind thorough documentation for my work, so that there’s a smooth transition for whoever comes in after me. Because my last day is approaching quickly, I plan to focus exclusively on transition work to leave things in good shape, which means I’m not going to be able to do X, Y, and Z. I think it’s important that I focus on the things that only I’m able to do, in the remaining days that I have.” If she pushes back on this and tells you that there will be time for it later, say this: “We’re now down to the wire. If I’m going to be able to leave documentation behind, it has to happen now. I don’t feel right about leaving that unfinished, so I’m going to make it my priority until it’s done.”

Then say this: “I know you’ve been joking about me not really leaving, but I want to make sure you know that I’m leaving on the timeline we discussed. To be honest, when you make those jokes, I worry that you might have different expectations than I do about how much I’ll be able to help after I’m gone. I’m going to need to focus on my new job, so my availability for questions will be really limited. I can come in once for a few hours to train the new person and I can do one or two calls for crucial questions, but I’m not going to be available for more than that. I want to make sure that you’re planning accordingly — and that’s part of why it’s so important to me that I finish up this transition documentation.”

This should work. But even if she doesn’t want to accept this, you’re in control here! She can’t make you work after your last day; you’re not an indentured servant, and it’s very, very normal to set boundaries like this when you leave a job. I suspect you’re worried that if you refuse, it could impact your standing with her and possibly the type of reference she gives you in the future — but as long as you’re cheerful about your “no, sorry, I’ll be too busy for that!” it’s very unlikely that will be happen. Throw in a regretful-sounding “I wish I could help, but I’m swamped” if you think it will help it go down better … but hold firm on this.

Really, when it comes to leaving a job on good terms, all you need to do is to give a reasonable amount of notice (you did), leave your projects in good shape (you are), leave documentation for the next person (you’re trying), and sometimes be available for a very few questions after you leave (you plan to). That’s it. You are not obligated to be available as much as they want, or for how long they want. It’s really okay to just cheerfully say, “Nope, sorry, I can’t do that.”

Originally published at New York Magazine.

Read an update to this letter here.

{ 83 comments… read them below }

  1. fposte*

    Wow, the second one of these this week. Come on, bosses; relationships end. If you need to get drunk with your friends and have them tell you that you were too good for your employee anyway, that’s fine, but let them go.

    1. Pineapple Incident*

      Loving this response and the commitment to the job/jobsearch-dating corollary we have going on this site. It’s so true!

  2. ss*

    Write up a time schedule of the items you need to complete before you leave and give a copy to your boss. When next project is dumped on you, pull out the schedule and say “Which item are we taking off the schedule?” If the boss refuses to take something off, simply say you refuse to do the new project and leave anything you are given back on the boss’s desk. If they like you so much, they aren’t going to fire you in your remaining time.

    1. k.k*

      I like this approach. The boss may be underestimating how much time these tasks will take, so having it down in writing will help. I find that people who are always pushing tasks to that ambiguous “later” tend to not think out when “later” actually is.

      1. Jadelyn*

        Until “later” abruptly becomes “oh god I need that right now, you need to drop everything and do this for me right this literal second”.

        No, I don’t speak from (frustrating, annoying, bitter) experience. Why do you ask?

        1. overly produced bears*

          I see you work at my org. :P

          Even better when it’s a task that will take at least 3 days and they tell you at 2pm they want it tomorrow morning.

    2. PlainJane*

      I usually take a similar approach when leaving jobs. I draw up a list of everything I’m currently working on or planned to do for the transition and take it to my boss so we can discuss priorities. Then I do the things that we agree are the most important. In this case, maybe the boss doesn’t care about the documentation the OP is planning to prepare. Fine, then do what the boss wants done. Just be clear that you are leaving as planned, you are working 40 hours a week till then (not 70), and whatever isn’t done, won’t get done by you.

      1. Artemesia*

        And please please please don’t be available to do that transition work later. I would not do it for one session as suggested, but if you do that, make clear that is all they get (and make sure it is paid) I would be firm about saying that you will take one call to respond to questions in each of the following two weeks and then stop responding. You say ‘my new job is just eating up all my time and I don’t have time to work on the old job.’ Then the next time let a couple of days pass and say the same thing. Then stop responding.

        Your success on the new job depends on giving it your all and all jobs are stressful and difficult for the first few months as you learn your ax. Don’t reduce your competence on the new job by doing the old one.

  3. AdAgencyChick*

    OP, take back that offer to work nights and weekends to train your replacement! No reasonable boss should expect this of you.

    I think you can use Alison’s script to say you’d prefer to work on transition documentation to leave things in a good place — once. If your boss continues to pile things on your plate and this causes the documentation to suffer, that’s her problem.

    When and if, after you’ve started your new job, your boss pesters you with questions, AAM has already posted lots of excellent advice for how to deflect and even ignore these requests in a professional way. (Some persistent people will not stop asking for help no matter how many times you tell them no — but if you wait long enough before you send your “can’t help you with that, check the documentation” response, they will find the answer on their own because they can’t wait for your response.)

    1. Lil Fidget*

      Strongly agree, don’t make it easy for them to get answers from you! You’re just training them to go to you first. There’s almost always another way for them to get the answers they’re looking for, but it’s human nature to start with whatever’s easiest. Don’t be that resource.

    2. BlueWolf*

      Yeah the part about offering work nights and weekends (plural!) worries me. You are trying to provide documentation for your replacement in your remaining time, and that is all you are obligated to do. I did go in once after leaving my old job to wrap up a few remaining questions that my old employer had, but they paid me generously for my time and it was only a couple of hours. After that we have maintained our friendly relationship, but any work questions have been very few and far between.

  4. ss*

    Oh… and to add on… to make them really understand that your time is limited, stop with the nights and weekends availability. The limited available time needs to be obvious or else they will continue to think you will just cave and keep working for them in your “free time” after you leave.

  5. Tin Cormorant*

    If they don’t give you enough time to work on the documentation that is going to help their transition to a new employee, or any other projects of yours that need to get done, that is going to be *their* problem once you’re gone. It will no longer be *your* problem, because you will no longer be their employee and have no obligation to make sure they succeed. If they want to mismanage your time, let them live with the consequences of that.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Yes. Be clear that each new busywork task will come at the expense of transition documents. If your boss insists that busywork is important and transition isn’t, she can do that, but you are not responsible for the mess left behind.

      Definitely don’t give your nights, weekends, and the hours in which you’re supposed to be focusing on learning your new job to trying to rectify someone else’s short-sighted management.

    2. Lucille B.*

      Exactly – their decision not to give you enough time to prepare transition documents is not your problem once you leave. If you give them an inch of your free time, they will take a mile.

    3. Nolan*

      Yes, yes, yes. Don’t let them abuse your commitment to The Mission to get extra work out of you. If your manager doesn’t let you finish everything by the end of the week, so be it. At some point, she has to be responsible for her department, which you are not going to be a part of next week. If she chooses to shirk that responsibility, well, that’s up to her, but don’t feel guilty about it.

    4. FCJ*

      Yup. And it’s likely that the coworkers will understand exactly whose fault it is, too. LW, of course you want to leave things in good shape for your replacement (or, more likely, for the coworkers who will be picking up the slack, because I’d bet money the boss hasn’t even posted the job yet), but if your boss doesn’t let you do that, reasonable coworkers are going to see that situation for what it is.

  6. Amber Rose*

    I find these letters so bizarre. Not that I don’t believe them, but I’m just gobsmacked that there’s so many bosses who think they can refuse to let people resign.

    I get it, hiring can be a pain, but lots of things can be a pain. I was just talking with a coworker who loves his job but was lamenting this one horrible project being like sitting on a cactus (and oh, it really is). That’s just how it goes. You groan and sigh and then get over it.

    1. Therese*

      I totally agree. My mom recently left a position and her boss was MAD and told ppl he was caught “off guard” and how she could do that without warning and it’s like really rare that you tell a boss that you are looking/unhappy. Yes sometimes you do but not often. Also my mom offered to work part-time in the transition and he didn’t want that…so it’s his problem.

      1. Jadelyn*

        The only time you tell your boss you’re looking for another job or are unhappy, is in a situation where you trust your boss to be reasonable about it and not like, fire you on the spot. By definition, someone who gets pissed off that an employee resigned is not someone you can trust to be reasonable about knowing that you’re considering leaving.

        1. Pineapple Incident*

          Exactly- when your boss acts like a child once you tell them you’re leaving AND rebuffs your offer to work through the transition on a part-time basis, your decision to leave is affirmed 100%.

    2. Lindsay*

      I agree, and just have so many questions about the end-game envisioned by these types of bosses. Do they imagine that their employees will just stay… forever? I mean, that happens sometimes (though not as often as it used to) but if that’s their staffing plan, what are they doing to make sure they are the very most desirable employer/manager/workplace out there? Rationally, bosses who have trouble letting go of employees ought to be like, the BEST bosses in every other respect, since that’s the only way to build loyalty and make it hard for folks to want to leave. But somehow, it doesn’t seem to work like that. =)

      1. JulieBulie*

        Yeah no, it really doesn’t work that way! It’s no coincidence that the two most unpleasant reactions I ever got to a resignation came from two of the worst bosses I’d ever had.

        And I gave those resignations politely and respectfully; no gleeful giggling or anything like that. At least not till I got to the parking lot.

        This probably doesn’t apply to OP, whose boss actually sounds pretty nice and not like a raging warthog at all. But the boss’s weirdly possessive behavior is exactly the kind of thing that makes the employee all the happier to be getting out of there.

      2. Sarah*

        And I mean…they know if nothing else, at some point people DIE. Like, they cannot literally be your employee forever…

    3. SusanIvanova*

      It gets worse when the job market is bad. During one Silicon Valley boom, my company merged with an LA company. LA’s software industry was definitely not booming, and that was only the least of the cultural and engineering mismatches. As the mismanagement got worse, people started leaving in droves. Headhunters were circling like sharks, waiting for the least whiff of a resume.

      We had a company all-hands meeting and someone asked one of the execs – who was originally from the LA company – what they were going to do about it. She looked out at us as if we were naughty children and said “only you can protect your job.” I’m sure at least a dozen new resumes got printed that day.

  7. Pup Seal*

    When I quit my job back in July, I gave my two weeks notice. When the owner/Big Boss found out, he didn’t agree with me quitting and acted that because he didn’t agree with it my two weeks wasn’t valid. The day before my last day, I reminded the owner that tomorrow was my last day, and his response was, “And what about it?” and proceeded as if I wasn’t leaving.

    When I finally left and moved to a different city, I would get emails from my former Big Boss. At first I would answer them, but then finally I got really annoyed and would tell him to ask the supervisor. Then I stopped replying all together.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      “Sure, Pup Seal says she’s in a new city, but I know she’s hiding behind a file cabinet somewhere in here. I’ve just got to ping her enough times to narrow down her location…..”

  8. Observer*

    I really want to encourage you to stop taking on the extra projects. Also, to rescind the weekends and nights availability. In some jobs, I’d say that it’s nice thing to do, but there are some clear red flags that this boss is going to abuse it. Stop it before it starts.

    Alison’s script is excellent.

  9. bopper*

    “I was planning to write up a transition manual…would you like me to do this project instead? I won’t be available for calls after I leave…but your call.”

  10. EddieSherbert*

    I’m going to second Alison’s comments about non-profits; it can be extra hard to get out sometimes! But I also would really recommend totally cutting ties – at least for awhile so they can create a new norm without you.

    I worked Communications & Events for a non-profit in a past life, and made the silly decision to stay on the Events Committee as a volunteer after I left. I ended up realizing what a bad call that was when they asked me to record an event (I know how to use the video camera, okay!)… and realized after the event they meant “record, research the topic, write a script, narrate it, and edit the video” (like I did when I worked there).

    I ended up pleading busy-ness (like Alison suggested), giving them the SD card, and leaving the committee.

    I came back as a volunteer about a year ago and it has been much better! Partly because I’m better at saying “no” and am now basically on of those volunteers that helps in a small way (directing parking, being a bartender, etc.!) at the major events I used to set up :)

      1. sstabeler*

        not really-if you think about it, there are considerable parallels, particularly in the days when you typically worked in the same company for most/all of your career.

  11. Lilo*

    I will echo Alison and the commenters above. The nights and weekends thing is a potential trap: don’t do it. You want to be at your best for your new job and exhausting yourself during the transition is no good. It is best to make a clean break.

  12. animaniactoo*

    Without having gone to look at Alison’s response yet:

    “No, there won’t be time for that later, because I won’t be here to do it later. I need you to understand that once I leave, I’ll be focused on my new job and getting up to speed there and won’t have the time or energy to keep doing things for this one – particularly this kind of complex stuff which requires me to make sure I’ve listed everything and made it clear for others who won’t be able to ask me about anything that isn’t clear. I would really prefer not to leave you in the lurch by leaving it undone, but I can’t complete it if I don’t have enough time to work on it before I leave. So I can do it now, or I can focus on this job/task you asked me to do and it will probably not get done. Which is your priority?”

    If they say “the current task” – take them at their word and DON’T let it be your problem when they come or keep calling later. “I’m sorry, I tried to deal with that before I left, but the best I can tell you is that the manuals are in X filing cabinet.”

    Now off to read Alison’s response.

      1. Mike S*

        Actually, they could. After you quit, you could offer to consult for them at an outrageous rate, like $200/hour. That often works, and when it doesn’t, you get a decent check for your trouble.

    1. paul*


      OP, stick to your guns, and let them know once you’re out, you’re out.

      They can’t force you to work for them.

    2. Hey Karma, Over here.*

      That vague need for a reference. Like, I have to bend over backward so they don’t sabotage me sometime in the unknown future. “Oh, I can’t give them a reason to say I’m a bad employee!” The problem with this thinking, though: If she is someone who would do that, then you could move heaven and earth, redesign the corporate website and save the CEO’s puppy from a burning tree, but petty little sh!ts, gonna be petty little sh!ts.

      1. JulieBulie*

        Yeah – it’s not worth it to go the extra dozen miles on the off chance that an ungrateful jerk will be slightly nice to you someday.

        Not to mention, OP already has a new job lined up… and hopefully that will mean more references in the future. But, OP’s boss doesn’t sound like a raging warthog. I think they need to have a talk, as Alison suggests, and that will be the end of it and probably not likely to give bad references in the future.

        But the crazy bosses who treat their employees like furniture, I totally agree. If you try to leave on good terms but they hold a grudge, YOU are not the one who burned that bridge. They are. They enjoy burning bridges. Not your fault and no amount of placating will prevent that, so save your energy for something less annoying.

        As for bosses burning bridges… I know there’s concern about getting a bad reference from an ex-boss, but in addition to what Karma said, we sometimes see letters on this site from people who are in a position to torpedo a bad ex-boss’s candidacy for a job. Granted this doesn’t happen all that often, but it’s always a possibility.

  13. Augusta Sugarbean*

    Try and channel Phoebe Buffet: “I wish I could but I don’t want to.”

    I suppose they will believe that you quit when you aren’t there on October 3. Good luck with your new job, OP!

    1. JulieBulie*

      Did she say something like that very often? I remember her saying once, “oh, I totally would, but I don’t want to.” I say it all the time! (Perhaps I should say it less often.)

  14. Josie*

    That sounds like my former boss. She knew I was looking, knew when I had an interview, she was the first person I told I’d accepted the new job, had transition meetings with her…. Still, she did not want to understand, and kept making comments. Even said maybe my new place of employment would burn down, and then I’d have to stay. She did give me a cookie and a nice card on my last day though.

    1. JulieBulie*

      Burn down?
      Do people know what they sound like when they say things like this?
      I mean, what if you had replied to her, “likewise, maybe this place will burn down instead”?

      Or, “I like your new car… maybe the brakes will fail.”


      Was she generally nice otherwise?

      1. Marillenbaum*

        That’s when it’s time for “Well, THAT sounds like something out of a Lifetime Original Movie!” while looking vaguely horrified.

      2. SusanIvanova*

        “likewise, maybe this place will burn down instead”

        Especially if people start stealing other people’s red Swingline staplers…

      3. Josie*

        I just stared at her, not sure what to say before awkwardly haha-ing. She was pretty terrible at realising the effects of what she said and did, and how those decisions could hurt people jobwise at the company. She could be nice if she liked you, but also pretty inappropriate in the kind of information she shared about the other people she managed. She was actually pretty good about hiring the right people, just terrible at managing. I’m so glad I don’t work there anymore, it was borderline toxic.

  15. Bess*

    Ughhhhhhh. My last position had a very non-profit vibe, and my boss was emailing me several months after I left, sometimes at like 11:30 pm. It was always something 1) I’d left documentation for; 2) she already had access to; OR 3) so minute no one would remember after 6 months –“which document did you pull this random quote from 1.5 years ago, can’t find it?”

    She didn’t hire for my position after I left but also didn’t spend any time learning my (complicated) work, and since I didn’t leave the actual company, just transferred, I think she assumed I’d be available for “emergencies”. She would actually manipulate me into doing work for her–over email, she’d get me to log into a system (one I still had access to for different reasons) to confirm the system itself wasn’t broken, and then she’d be all “while you’re there, can you please give these 8 users access, kthx!”

    It seems to have stopped now (partly because her job has changed, I think), but the only thing that worked was to continually redirect her to the documents/processes/etc. that she should now use. Of course I answered one or two questions at first but you gotta cut it off.

    1. Bye Academia*

      My old boss does that too, but it’s academia so it’s “normal”. We’re still writing some papers about data I collected while I was there.

      I get that we still need to be in communication and I’m happy to finish out the projects (it benefits me too), but he’ll send me things like “how long did you heat the sample [of that reaction you ran two years ago]”

      Lab notebooks stay with the lab so I don’t know why he doesn’t just go look. It’s not like I remember and I can’t check since I’m not there.

  16. Cinnamonroll*

    Working past your last day does sound odd when I read about it. But…. I worked weekends to train my replacement when I left my job.

    And when I took my current position (a lateral move) – I did my new job and covered both my old job for three months. Although my old manager knew I was applying, knew I had interviewed and knew I was taking the lateral move, they (for whatever reason) did not want me to tell anyone I was going (my old team found out 2 days before I left, so no, no party), did not post the job until after I left, and did not set up any training for my replacement (I traveled back to my old office to train).

  17. Nelson1*

    I’ve never worked for a non-profit, but judging from many of the letters here, the office culture at some of them sounds…interesting.

    When I was young, I worked at a local newspaper for awhile, in the sales dept. One of the young, hotshot salesman left to take a better job in another state (new newspaper was owned by the same company). The head sales guy who was apparently his mentor (or at least considered himself that way), was really, really upset and went through the whole “you’re not really leaving/I know when the last day comes you’ll stay” routine. It was very bizarre and prolonged and, to the younger guy, I think rather baffling. There was an emotional scene the last day when everyone gathered to shake the departing guy’s hand.

    I found it all rather off-putting, but I guess some people really do pour their emotions into their work life and coworkers, rather than into their own families and romantic life.

    1. Marillenbaum*

      Or, they do both. My first job was at a small office that was part of a larger university, and we did have a lot of social overlap. I’d have my coworkers at my level over for spaghetti dinners during our busy season, we had an office trivia team at the local bar, people would babysit for each other. And when any of us left, we’d have a nice whole-office goodbye party, and sometimes, yes, people might get a little misty, but that was because I worked with people who cry easily, not because they are somehow attempting to make up for their stunted personal lives.

  18. K.*

    OP, there is literally nothing they can do to force you to keep working once your last day comes and goes. Nothing. There’s no “letting” you leave, or accepting that you’re leaving. You’ve told them you’re leaving. You hold the power in this situation. Use it. Work your notice period and leave. If your boss tells you to do busywork, tell her that it’ll come at the expense of a transition plan. What she does with that information is on her. Don’t run yourself ragged in your notice period and ESPECIALLY not during the first few weeks at your new job.

    If you get a deluge of questions after you leave, you can ignore them if you like because you no longer work there, and what goes on there has nothing to do with you. I would ignore them because it sounds like if you give them an inch they’ll take a mile.

  19. Scandinavian Vacationer*

    OP start clearing out your workspace TODAY. Take down photos, anything personal, remove any personal files, etc. This will help send the message that you are GONE after Friday.

    1. Friday*

      YES. Visual reminders that You Are Really Going will help out a ton here. Give important files and things to your boss too.

      Also if you end up doing work for her on the side after you leave, do it at a consulting rate, NOT for free or even at your old rate.

    2. Chaotic Good*

      Another upvote for this. Clear out your things as soon as possible; bring everything you need for that day in one bag, and take it all home when you leave. It will go a long way towards making it real to everyone.

    3. SarahKay*

      Oh, yes, that’s excellent advice. Get your desk looking clearer each day, so it’s obvious that you are mentally gearing up to leave. And perhaps every time you manage to complete a bit of documentation on how to do any given task, put it into a ’round-up’ email to send out at the end of each day listing what’s documented and where to find the applicable documents.

    4. LS*

      This is a great idea. In fact, put all your stuff in a box and then leave the box in plain view, just to emphasise that YOU ARE LEAVING.

      1. JessaB*

        Also access and copy any personal info you have on the computer that you’re allowed to. IE if you have old reviews or things and are permitted to mail outside the company, email that stuff to your outside address. Expect that the second your boss decides you’re actually, realio trulio leaving, access will be gone very quickly.

  20. Tuxedo Cat*

    I agree with advice Alison gave. Unless there’s some really amazing reason for you to continue doing part-time work for this org, don’t. When I leave my academic position, I’ll continue doing some work because I want to get publications out. That benefits me in the long run. I think that’s a unique situation, though. I do plan on limiting other help, though- I could see some people not understanding that I left and they need to figure out things with whatever resources I’ve left.

  21. Chaotic Good*

    I just want to say that the other letter, where the guy ghosted on his ex and then interviewed for a position under her – that guy’s response was so egregiously hideous that it overflowed INTO ANOTHER THREAD. That’s how bad that guy was.

    Sorry, OP. Also, good luck!

  22. JoJo*

    Don’t do any work after you leave and don’t answer any questions. You’ve bent over backwards to accommodate your current boss and you don’t owe them anything else. I’d work on the manual and smooth transfer and leave the busywork for someone else to do.

  23. LS*

    Oy. Your boss thinks that you don’t need to prepare any documentation or do a proper handover because you’ll be available as a free consultant after hours.

    I’d suggest a conversation something like this (but less goofy sounding, it’s late and I’m tired):
    “Boss, I am working on the handover manual. It will take me another 4 days. After that I will have 2 days left to work on the Lampshade Re-sequining Project. Because of personal commitments I’ll only be working my normal 8 hour day.”
    “No Jerome, you can work on the handover manual another time. The lampshades must be re-sequined now.”
    “Boss, I am leaving in 6 days, so there is no other time. I am only able to commit 2 hours to training New Person, and thereafter New Person will need to reference the manual. I need to commit fully to my new job and other commitments and I will not be available to answer questions.”

    If your boss continues to insist that the manual is not important, send her an email saying something like: “Just confirming, as per our meeting this morning, that you want me to prioritise the Lampshade Re-sequining Project over the manual. As we discussed, there is a significant risk that the manual will not be completed, and I can commit to only two hours of training. Thereafter I will not be available do support or answer questions. In my view New Person will take 6 months to be effective in this role without the manual.” Very few people are foolhardy enough to confirm a stupid decision in writing.

    If instead she takes the tack that you can and should make yourself available once you’ve left, state clearly and politely that you won’t be able to (beyond a specific, reasonable number of hours if you feel committed to doing that), and put that in writing as well.

    Keep your tone cheerful and polite throughout, and if you feel yourself caving under the pressure, excuse yourself to go to the bathroom and regroup. Don’t allow yourself to be bullied.

    Good luck, and please send an update!

  24. OP here*

    Hi all (OP speaking),

    Thanks Alison and the commenters for your excellent advice. You hit the nail on the head in terms of letting go of a nonprofit job because of the passion for the mission. That’s definitely what was going on here, I think – especially because I have been in this job for a while. Getting an outside perspective on how to actively, demonstratively wrap up and leave (practically and mentally) is really, really helpful.

    A lot of this actually got much better once we hired my replacement. I just started training them which has been a HUGE relief, because I can take my time, and I won’t have to come in nights/weekends once I start my new job (which I realize now was excessive for me to offer).

    My boss also cut down on the jokes/comments a lot, which was super helpful. I think she was frazzled having to hire someone, so when that was resolved, she backed off quite a bit. I’m still going to have to set boundaries with her/my replacement about questions once I’m gone, but I think offering one or two wrap up calls (and that’s all) is a great idea.

    Thank you!!!

  25. seisy*

    I really do not miss working in non-profits, for just this sort of thing.

    The last non-profit job I left was…a different kind of crazy, but it still was incredibly awkward and made it pretty clear I was doing the right thing. My resignation to my boss basically took the form of a break-up conversation, and afterwards I became persona non grata. I’d expected this – anyone who left was basically considered a traitor. We even had a company “retreat” I was dramatically un-invited from as we were loading up to carpool up there…which since the retreat took the form of joining our volunteers in a clean up day at the summer camp (so no cost to the org), was so spectacularly petty and pointless that I actually couldn’t be annoyed by it. It was too funny.

    1. Observer*

      Sounds like a classic case of “cut off your nose to spite your face.” This sounds like the kind of job where the more pairs of hands, the better.

  26. J*

    To begin with, you have a big heart, and don’t let this experience slow down your dedication. However, recognize this as an opportunity to rethink how you can be responsible with that dedication. Your boss has responsibility to make sure the organization is thriving, and yours is/was to make her effective. Consider that she is squandering your remaining time rather than making the best use of your knowledge. As other posters wrote, make your last day your clear cut-off date, and use this as an opportunity to be polite but firm. It’s not your responsibility if the boss has hearing or denial problems. Manage your own reaction, not hers.

    Since your start date for your new job is so close (10/2), you have minimum opportunity for this, but see if you can move up your end-date by a day. You are *not* obligated in any state to give a 2 week notice – that’s customary and bosses/companies try to push that as a mandatory. Having a few days/week between jobs is almost necessary to clear your head and recharge.

    Finally, on letters of recommendation, don’t plan on one from the boss. Also, in this modern time, get a LinkedIn recommendation instead from associates or maybe clients if you worked with people the non-profit supported. Having several of those goes a long way. Sounds like the boss will at best give a tepid recommendation, and best not to have those out there.

    Good luck in your new job, and use it as an opportunity to take more charge of the working relationship.

  27. overly produced bears*

    Don’t do the extra projects. Those are distractions, or them trying to pretend that you’re leaving. The best thing to give as a going-away present is not these projects, it’s the transition documents. I totally understand being very invested in the org, so give it what it needs while you still work there, and then *don’t work for them after that*, give all your focus to your new job. Starting a new job is hard, there’s a lot of learning curves, etc.

    They want to put a hook and line into you to keep you tied to them. Don’t let them split your focus after you leave. You gave them more than enough notice. Finish up your projects, write transition documents, and then go to your new job with all our best wishes.

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