update: is the work environment I’ve created on my team too exclusive?

Remember the letter-writer in July whose employee had quit and said in her exit interview that the team environment was too cliquish? Her first update is here, and now here’s a later one.

I wanted to provide an update. I spent August and the first half of September attending some pretty intensive therapy which was beneficial. In therapy, I learned how to deal with people who challenged me past my comfort zone. It also made me step back and realize that I don’t ever want to manage again and that my personality is not one suited for management. I also had the ability to step back and review my behavior: I was self destructive in the work place and those behaviors rubbed off on my team as my team members were younger and more impressionable. I plan to continue individual therapy.

I did get a new job. I started a new position in marketing (which is what my degreee is in). It’s a few steps above entry level in a small firm where I’ll be under more supervision. I’m excited to move on from my mistakes.

Thank you to you and your readers for your advice. While the comments were harsh, I took the time to read them a few times over throughout the course of therapy. It’s tough to hear how much people think you suck but it helped me get back on track.

I wish you and your readers the best for the remainder of 2017 and beyond.

{ 243 comments… read them below }

  1. fposte*

    Thank you for catching us, OP; I know it’s been a tough time for you, but you’re doing really well–good for you.

    1. Specialk9*

      Agreed, I’m glad you were able to swallow down the defensiveness we all feel when criticized, and worked to find the truth there. It must have been really hard, and kudos for figuring out your role and how to avoid creating that same environment.

      Have you found a way to apologize to the person you drove out?

      1. Annonymouse*

        I was one of the people who wrote a critical comment asking you to re-evaluate your viewpoint.

        I’m proud of you.

        Challenging your perception of yourself – especially to something less favourable is hard. We are all the hero in our own story and perfectly justified in what we do in our heads.

        It takes courage and a great deal of soul searching to face our actions and look at them through an impartial lense. But if you can you end up with some amazing insights and information about yourself.

        Some people only do this when it is too late and others never do it at all.

        I’m glad to hear you learned a lot from your past actions and are moving forward to a better future where you know how to avoid some of the mistakes in your past.

        Don’t let your past mistakes define you except in knowing how to avoid them and be better in the future.

    1. JD*

      Right? This was just about a woman who didn’t go to beer lunches and now LW is in therapy. Not saying that is wrong if that is what she needs just seems a lot of the story was missing. I just went and reread it and it almost feels like this update is for a different letter.

      1. SoCalHR*

        JD: I agree there is definitely a HUGE shift from the first letter to the first update and beyond. OP went from saying “not a culture fit” to “wanting to freeze her out.” There was plenty of negative reaction from the first half-truth letter and of course it only got worse from there. I’m glad to see the OP finally learned that her actions were wrong. Its a tough lesson, but she sounded kind of young, so its good to learn those sooner rather than later.

          1. with a twist*

            Agreed. The comments from the LW in the first letter, plus what she wrote in the first update make it clear that there was a lot more happening that she initially indicated. It would seem really incongruent without those two pieces of the puzzle.

            1. fposte*

              And in the comments from the OP throughout. It’s had a definite arc, but if you missed intervening steps it would have been really startling to see where we’d gotten.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          I agree. I’m also really impressed by the growth and change in mindset that OP has made between the first update (and its comments) and this one. This sounds like it was an awful way to come to terms with this stuff, but I’m really glad that OP has been able to reflect, reorient, grow, and move on.

        2. Dawson*

          Having followed this saga from the start, I didn’t have a problem understanding the continuity. Thanks to the OP for letting us know how this story ended and to Allison for posting it.

        3. SoCalHR*

          Its more like the original letter was a 6/10 on the “this is a strange situation and something fishy is going on” but then the first update was a 10/10. That’s what I mean by the shift between the first letter to the first update. The 2nd update makes sense in line with the first update. My observation was supposed to communicate that here we definitely some questionable things in the original letter but the tone changed with the update which escalated the situation.

      2. Noobtastic*

        This is one of those stories where you really need to read all the comments, as well as the updates, because LW gave more info in the comments, and wow. It was some serious stuff.

    2. D.W.*

      I certainly didn’t, but I’m really she wrote it and provided a *positive* update.

      Great for you, OP! Best of luck in your new position.

  2. NW Mossy*

    LW, I sort of want to share your whole story with a couple of other leaders at my company who are entirely convinced that firing is the worst thing you can do to someone and should be avoided at all costs so as not to upset the potential ex-employee. Your story is a good example of how even an emotionally charged, difficult firing can actually lead to meaningful self-reflection and changes that are ultimately very positive for the person who was fired.

    1. Chatty Cathy*

      By all means, share this perspective if you find it valuable. But also please keep in mind firings *can* be the worst thing that’s ever happened to someone.

      Just speaking from my own experience, losing a job has set me back a decade financially and I was never able to get another job in my field again. It was literally the worst thing that’s ever happened to me. There was some self-reflection that came later but getting fired was too high a cost. I don’t wish it on anyone and I’m happy for the OP in that it wasn’t an unrecoverable setback like it was for me.

      1. Murphy*

        Agreed. It took me several years to recover from getting fired. It was devastating emotionally and financially, as well as setting back my family planning goals for a number of years.

        1. Dust Bunny*

          I’m thinking of the woman who was set up for a fraud investigation by the other woman who couldn’t think of another way to get out of a domestic violence situation. I hope her employers knocked themselves out doing right by her.

      2. paul*

        I’d argue in the OP’s case even if it was something they couldn’t really recover from it was the only course of action that would be appropriate.

        1. Chatty Cathy*

          I’m not arguing that OP’s firing wasn’t justified. I’m disagreeing with NW Mossy’s point that firing isn’t always devastating. I’m saying it CAN be life-ruining and doesn’t always lead to positive changes.

          1. Duck Season*

            ” I’m disagreeing with NW Mossy’s point that firing isn’t always devastating. I’m saying it CAN be life-ruining and doesn’t always lead to positive changes.”

            By saying it “can” be life-ruining and “doesn’t always” lead to positive changes, you are actually agreeing with her point but just looking at the other side of it. She said firing isn’t always devastating, which means that yeah, sometimes it is.

          2. Been there*

            Yeah, that’s why I’m not so overjoyed with the LW, she caused great destruction to her team. I’m trying to not be a negative nelly here, but at the same time I can’t be ‘rah rah’ about the update.

            Maybe it’s just me, but the the tone of the update seemed to still be self-centered. No real mention of the devastation to her team or remorse for the part she played in their demise.

            1. Kyrielle*

              I think for me it’s not “woohoo this situation ended great!” but “Wow, this situation ended about as well as it could for the LW, and way better than many of us worried.” Plus, LW has realized management isn’t the right role and gotten intensive therapy for a month and a half – that’s a lot of future coworkers who are going to have a much better experience, along with her also of course.

              I feel bad for her old team. I feel worse for the victim. But I can’t imagine a path forward where the LW could fix or undo any of that. I hope they’re moving forward (and that the team is learning also, much as the LW did, and improving themselves). But I don’t think the LW is in a position to affect that, and if the LW even knows how any of them are doing, sharing their info here doesn’t seem like the right thing.

              So if and how they recovered from this is always going to be a bit of a question mark for me (but I hope they do, and do well), and of course they had to go through it at all, which I wish they hadn’t. But as far as resolutions to what remains after the last update that *can* be resolved, this is a pretty good one.

            2. Someone Else Needs The Wood*

              How would you like for OP to show remorse? Hire everyone who had gotten fired at her new job? Send a fruit basket? Maybe she cannot contact her old team as part of a separation agreement? It seems like unless OP hires her old team at a six figure salary, solves world hunger and nails herself to a cross, you wouldnt be happy.

              1. Been there*

                Maybe a comment in the update that mentioned she’s sorry for what she did and acknowledgement that her actions had severe consequences for others.

                Sorry, all I came away from the update with is how all of this affected the LW.

                I don’t know how to quote directly here…but from OP
                LW: I learned how to deal with people who challenged me past my comfort zone. It also made me step back and realize that I don’t ever want to manage again and that my personality is not one suited for management. I also had the ability to step back and review my behavior: I was self destructive in the work place…

                To be honest this still sounds like the LW was the wronged or the victim in the situation… like it was the experienced person who was doing something to the LW instead of the other way around.

                I’m not getting the “I realized that I did wrong” vibe from the update.

                1. Wannabe Disney Princess*

                  You cut off part of the last quote there: “I also had the ability to step back and review my behavior: I was self destructive in the work place and those behaviors rubbed off on my team as my team members were younger and more impressionable. I plan to continue individual therapy.”

                  To me, that sounds like someone who DOES recognize their behavior was wrong.

                2. Detective Amy Santiago*

                  But that’s still a hell of a lot more than the LW was accepting in the original letter and the first update. The first update, she said she and her former team were trying to figure out if they could take legal action against the coworker who complained!

                  She has demonstrated significant personal growth since then. Maybe she’s not all the way where you think she should be, but she’s come a long way.

                3. Hey Karma, Over here.*

                  I think you and I might have the same take. She is not saying “I realize that I was a bad manager,” to other people. She writes, “I never want to manage again,” which is doesn’t not admit she did it badly, but rather that she was given some unpleasant task that will avoid in the future.
                  She writes she was being “self destructive,” which is again about herself. This does not address how she was destroying the morale and careers of others. Because in addition to the woman who left her group, her team was fired. They lost their jobs because she couldn’t lead them.
                  And now she is saying that therapy helps her deal with all the ways she was hurting herself.

                4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                  But why wouldn’t the update be about how it affected LW? I’m really puzzled by that response, because updates are almost always about how they impacted/affected the LW. I guess I might be seeing more remorse/recognition/ownership in this update than others.

                5. Mary*

                  LW shouldn’t hold herself single-handelt responsible for her team’s firing. There were also more experienced, senior people above her who promoted her into a position she wasn’t ready for or suited to, let her fail, and then fired the entire team rather than trying to salvage the situation.

                  You can’t say the LW is responsible for what happened to the people she managed without also considering the responsibility of the person or people managing her.

                6. Stop That Goat*

                  I agree. Frankly, she hasn’t once taken responsibility for purposefully treating one of her reports poorly enough to lead to her own termination or the effect that her management had on the rest of her reports. There’s definitely a difference in attitude which I guess should be commended but meh.

                7. Working Hypothesis*

                  Interesting. I definitely did get the “I realized that I did wrong” vibe, but it’s in a very practical way, which may make it easy for people with a less pragmatic outlook than mine to miss. Where I read “I started therapy to address the destructive behaviors I saw in myself,” and “I have realized that I don’t have a temperament suited to management, and I went and found a job which has greater supervision over me and doesn’t require me to manage other people,” what I see is someone taking responsibility for her actions in the most direct and powerful way possible: she is taking action — in many ways, hard, uncomfortable action!! — to ensure that she never does anything of that kind to anybody again.

                  This is, to me, the direct opposite number from the guy who whined about how he was fired because he wouldn’t follow the rules about dealing with the ex he ghosted on a decade ago and who was going to be his boss. That was full of “It’s terrible that I was fired, and it’s terrible that you guys said nasty comments about me, and now my life is ruined and it’s not my fault,” but it was also full of solid, factual information about what he DID which showed that he was handling the present in very similar ways to how he had handled the past.

                  This LW, by contrast, is not saying a word about anything being bad for her — even though she got just as fired as Ghoster Guy did, and heard just as many harsh comments as he did, she isn’t whining about either. She has taken the approach that being fired and hearing harsh comments was tough, but no more than she earned by her own behavior; and that both were beneficial in the long run by making her aware of the changes she needed to make in order to ensure that she does not behave that way ever again. And the description of the actions she’s taken — therapy, as well as finding a job which isn’t in management and has closer supervision over her than her previous one, so she will get corrected if she starts to do wrong — are evidence that she’s willing to do different things in the future from what she did in the past. Even if it takes work to do therapy or find a more appropriate job, she’s doing those things because that’s what she realized she had to do in order to make sure that her bad behavior changes, and changes permanently.

                  Kudos, LW. You may have handled the initial situation very badly, but it sounds like you’ve handled the aftermath rather well, even when it’s been difficult. If you’re really working as hard as it looks like to make sure that your future actions are different from your past actions, that’s as clear an acceptance of responsibility as I’ve seen from anyone.

                8. Optimistic Prime*

                  I don’t think that’s a standard we should hold updates to. Writing into an advice column in the first place is inherently self-centered, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the LW realizing that she’s not a good manager for personal reasons rather than outward facing ones.

                9. Elizabeth H.*

                  I am so sick of expecting letter writers and updaters to parade around in a hair shirt, acknowledging their wrongs and excoriating themselves, for the benefit of commenters’ moral judgement. The updates are so we can know what happened after the letter. That’s it. I sometimes am amazed that any letter writers are willing to read the comments at this point.

                10. Noobtastic*

                  Nesting ran out.

                  I agree with Working Hypothesis.

                  I particularly like how the LW said that she discovered she did not have the personality for management. If that’s not facing up to facts and dealing well with them, to ensure she never does this again, I don’t know what is.

                  And to be honest, I think LW was a victim in all this. She was a victim of HERSELF. Now, she is climbing out of the hole she dug herself, and proving to be a survivor. Believe me, there are plenty of people who dig themselves in so deep, and instead of turning their life around, they just dig deeper with an even bigger shovel made of “I’m perfect and everyone else is wrong, and mean, and hateful to me for telling me ‘No!””

                  Yes, LW knows she did wrong, now. No, she’s not perfect, yet. I don’t know anyone who is. But she is BETTER than she was, and that deserves some approval.

                  As for her old team and ex-co-worker. I don’t know how she could make amends. Sometimes, the best thing you can do after you’ve hurt someone in particular ways, is to just step back and never bother them again. Even an apology can come off as painful to them. And who knows? In another five years, LW may be in a position (again) to do a good turn to the people she hurt before. She’s not in a position to do anything for them, now, and would never be so, if she didn’t make the effort to improve herself. But by improving herself, she is opening up that possibility, at least.

              2. B-Back*

                She’s made improvements, but she still has a ways to go. All the commenters who are saying she lacks showing any remorse for anyone but herself are correct. She sounds like she’s been concentrating on getting a new job, though, and that’s kind of a necessary before dealing with deeper social issues (Maslow’s, etc.). Hopefully for her and the people around her, she’ll continue to go to therapy and make progresss in those areas as well.

                1. Klaxons*

                  Hard agree. Particularly the description of the comments on their previous letters as “hearing about why everyone thinks I suck” stuck out to me. I looked at those comments. All of them were gentle and compassionate. Everyone there pulled their punches.

                  There’s just a major cognitive disconnect with the OP between their actions and their inherent value. The actions they listed in the initial update were all objectively nasty and childish, and they didn’t seem to really “get” why. I’m getting a really bitter vibe from this second update.

                  Like, I get it, OP. You felt like you were doing ok in the moment and that it wasn’t a huge deal. It all caught up on you and knocked your life down, which sucks. You’re working on getting past it, which is awesome. However, you MUST think about it from this ex-employee’s perspective. You MUST do this. It is CRUCIAL. It isn’t a feel-good nicety. These aren’t empty words. Understanding exactly how your behavior affects others is a prerequisite for changing that behavior.

                  Imagine you’re at a job. You are on a team where everyone has a preestablished rapport and the boss is a part of it. Everyone has little inside jokes and they seem annoyed if you try to interact with them. They all go out drinking together. You start to have assignments taken away from you. You can tell people make fun of you behind your back. You can’t figure out why. You start to withdraw, hoping that if you take up less space, your presence won’t be so offensive to the rest of your coworkers. It’s awful and hurtful. It’s like being in middle school again. You wrack your brain trying to figure out what awful thing you did that would warrant this treatment. You work your butt off, and people corner you to tell you you’re making everyone else look bad. You are a social pariah at your literal job, where everyone is an adult in a professional setting. It is suffocating and isolating. Even if you did get Snapchat, no one would friend you on it. The more positive results you get from the work you put in, the more your boss seems to dislike you. You are a grown person with a marriage, a child, and a mortgage, and you’re being bullied like a teenager. The seven hundredth time you come home from work and your husband finds you crying, he tells you to quit.

                  Here is what a good work environment looks like: You’re at a job. You’re on a team where everyone has a preestablished rapport and the boss is part of it; however, this does not cross streams with job performance or life outside of work. Your coworkers tell you if you need help settling in, they’re right in the next cubicle. They tell you they’re all going to the Panera for lunch and ask if you want to come. Everyone does their work. Your coworker Janet’s pens all keep disappearing and she asks to borrow one of yours. Your boss makes sure everyone is performing their best, and if they’re not, they stage one-on-one meetings. When you come in to work, somebody smiles at you and says good morning. You do your job really well and the boss approaches you at the water cooler to tell you they were really pleased with your numbers last month. The internet gets really choppy every Thursday at ten and you and all your coworkers wander into the break room to complain about it together. You land a really important client and people tell you you did a good job. On your birthday, Meredith brings in cupcakes and puts them in the break room. At your annual performance review, if you’re working hard and getting results, you get genuine praise. If there are things you can improve on, whether it’s your work ethic or your behavior around your coworkers, you get some clear feedback on how you can do that. Everybody does their job and gets paid for doing their job, and no one blatantly treats you poorly in the hopes that you will leave, like they do to the weird kid who smells bad in ninth grade.

                  Like, I’m glad OP’s going to therapy and working on the issues that led to this situation, but I also think the issue wasn’t that OP brought the team down by influencing the younger team members; it’s that OP bullied an employee, and other team members did the same, which resulted in an employee being bullied. IMO this is a question of human empathy.

            3. zapateria la bailarina*

              She’s not with the old team anymore so I imagine she wouldn’t have much of anything to say about them/their situation

            4. Letter Writer (OP)*

              I’m sorry you feel that way however my choice to focus on me for the time being is one that I have made and doesn’t require your approval. As far as my prior team goes, we don’t speak and that’s by choice. I’ve provided an update and while I hear your message, it’s one that I cannot comment on right now.

              1. Jen*

                Good for you! I was really impressed with you and your letter and am wishing you the best! I hope you can celebrate along with all of the work

              2. KBo*

                LW, your updates show a great deal of self-awareness (management is not for everyone) and growth, I feel like you’re genuinely working on being the best YOU can be. I wish you all the best moving forward.

              3. Noobtastic*

                Of course you’re going to focus on yourself, since you’re not in a position, right now, to focus on anyone else.

                Thanks so much for your updates, and good luck in the future. If you ever do reach a point where you are in a position to help anyone from your former team (including the one whose exit interview started it all), I do hope you will do them a good turn then.

                In the meantime, maybe you could recommend them a good therapist? Sounds like they could use it, as well.

          3. LawBee*

            It isn’t always devastating. It can be life-ruining and not lead to positive changes.

            You agree! \o/

      3. AKJ*

        Agreed. I have been lucky in that I have been able to find work in my field again, but it is an emotionally and financially devastating experience. I still deal with the aftermath in the form of heightened anxiety over just about everything that happens at work. I’ve had panic attacks when my (very kind) supervisor as asked to meet with me over completely innocent things, for example. For me, the financial fallout was the easiest part to come back from – I’ve been working steadily since a month after it happened. I don’t know if I’ll ever completely recover from the emotional fallout.

        1. Dolorous Bread*

          I’ve just landed a job after my second layoff in two years (suffering industry..) Luckily I’ve moved into a relatable, more stable sector, but yes both instances were devastating and I’m going to be recovering for a long time. Especially after the first layoff — I was emotionally ruined from it as well as financially terrified. I landed another job a couple months later, and bristled at every supervisor request for a 1-on-1, got anxiety from seeing HR in my supervisor’s office, or private closed-door finance meetings, you name it. Then when I got the HR layoff call again a year later, I was basically like, motherf*ck, are you kidding me?
          This time around I was unemployed for about 5 months and the anxiety of my UI running out was starting to weigh heavy. I’m so damn happy I have a job, and the people are amazing!

          1. MJLurver*

            Oh my God it’s like you’re in my brain. The panic after noticing a closed-door meeting that you weren’t part of, or HR asking you to come into their office for a second, or basically anything that seems remotely unusual where you’re not included, it can all be so overwhelming! I’m sorry you feel this way at work too, but I’m so happy to know I’m not alone.

            1. Noobtastic*

              I used to have that anxiety, even without having been fired. But because of where I worked, close to the boss, as an admin who was never part of the disciplinary meetings, firings, lay-offs, but was always able to see people going in and out of closed-door meetings, it reached a point where I thought every one was going to be about me.

              Even though my work was just fine, I still felt that anxiety. Then, when the lay-offs actually came (and good work wasn’t even an issue in choosing who stayed and who went), the anxiety increased.

              I hate lay-offs.

      4. sonia*

        i would love to hear how you bounced back from that.

        though i know nothing about your situation, i still admire you for surviving that. it could literally happen to any of us.

        1. Chatty Cathy*

          I’m really lucky in that my family supported me through a very long stretch of unemployment. If I didn’t have them, there’s no doubt in my mind that I would have been homeless. Eventually, I got a temp job that led to another temp job, that led to another that hired me on a permanent basis in a completely different industry. I’m making a fraction of what I earned in that last job but I have benefits and stability and I’m grateful for it. I just celebrated my five year anniversary with the company so I got a nice little gift :)

          Still though, I would give anything to have done things differently and kept that job. I miss the work and I’m drowning in debt. But that’s life I guess!

      5. Sandman*

        Agreed. I was fired 12 years ago and still haven’t gotten over it and have been wondering lately if I should look into therapy to deal with the fall-out still. The more I read here the more I realize how toxic the workplace was, but it shook my confidence so dramatically – it’s really undercut my career.

        1. Chatty Cathy*

          in my opinion, it’s never a bad idea to try therapy! If you find a therapist that you really click with – I think you’ll find it very helpful.

      6. NW Mossy*

        You’re absolutely right that they can be, and that’s why any manager trying to do it right only fires for poor performance after all other options to help a person succeed at the company have been exhausted – feedback, coaching, training, changing roles, etc., etc.

        My point is more that I see leaders who refuse to consider firing even after it’s become overwhelmingly clear that the role is not a good fit and they’ve done everything they can reasonably do to fix the situation. In their minds, a firing is a universal bad of which no good can come. But in some cases (such as this one), it can be a painful experience that becomes a catalyst for new experiences that do help improve the former employee’s well-being over time.

        1. Chatty Cathy*

          I’ll be honest in that I have a lot of baggage on this topic and when I lost my job, people told me everything would be ok and it could even be a “blessing in disguise”*. I know they were coming from a kind place, but sometimes things just suck and there’s no positive. I guess I saw a hint of that in your original post (fair or not) and I felt like I had to say something. I get what you’re saying now!

          *flames. flames on the side of my face….

          1. GG Two shoes*

            I totally see what you are saying. It’s a lot like when people say, “She’s in a better place” or “everything happens for a reason” when someone dies. When my mom passed suddenly, all I wanted to hear was, “I’m so sorry. She was such a great person. I’m going to really miss her ____ (usually her laugh).” When something bad happens, I know people try to rationalize it, but that can have unintended consequences. Now, when something happens to my friends like this I usually say, “that really bites. Is there any way I can help?”

          2. Lora*

            “people told me everything would be ok and it could even be a “blessing in disguise””

            I have heard this said about literally EVERY BAD THING that has ever happened to anyone. Dead loved ones, divorce, cancer, AIDS, war, famine (“it makes you appreciate what you have!” a teacher said to a Zairois exchange student), Ebola. I have even heard people say some version of this to Holocaust survivors. Not even kidding.

            Part of it is the Just World Fallacy, but also there’s a good amount of “terrible things won’t ever happen to MEEEEE tralalala #blessed” and “I don’t want to be bothered doing actual social support of someone else in my community, don’t harsh my mellow” and “I am a boor with no manners who never learned how to say ‘I am so sorry can I do anything to help?’ ” and various other flavors of selfish and general thoughtlessness.

            Hey, I get it that it is sometimes hard to know what to say upon hearing of someone else’s misfortunes and people are socially awkward. “I’m so sorry” is, however, a phrase everyone should have learned pre-kindergarten.

            1. Candi*

              Drives me bananas. Bad things can happen to anyone.

              Part of it may have to do with something I was reading about in All Facts Considered : The Essential Library of Inessential Knowledge. (Good book for overviews of various subjects, if a bit bland.) Under the section on the Evil Eye and associated beliefs, there was the idea is there is only X amount of good fortune to go around at any one time. Extrapolating, someone having bad fortune means there’s unused good fortune around. Extrapolating futher, that must mean that the bad fortune must be leading to good fortune in some way, when it’s not teaching a lesson about appreciating good fortune when you have it.

              For the record, I find the entire concept of limited good fortune BS. There’s no practical logic to limited good fortune whatsoever; however, the belief in it provides a great way for manipulation of believers and justification by them towards those who hit a crapshoot in the universe’s game of chance.

              Me? I imagine the worst case scenarios -AND every single step it would take to get there. It’s amazing how relieving this can be, since in most cases there would have to be a ridiculous amount of going off the rails to reach that bad point. I then mentally and practically prepare for the worst likely events, while hoping for the best.

              It generally falls out somewhere in the middle, when stuff does even happen.

              (From what I’ve read of anxiety and other disorders, I must include a disclaimer that spelling out the steps with your therapist might be a good idea. I’d feel guilty if I didn’t say that.)

              1. Noobtastic*

                I sometimes do the “it could be worse” game, too. “Yeah, it’s a crapfest right now, but it could be worse! For example,…” and then I’d come up with all the ways it could be worse, but isn’t.

                Note, I have learned to do this ONLY FOR MYSELF. Never inflict this game on others.

                Although, I still get a chuckle out of how I “it could be worse”-ed may way from the Gulf War (the first one) to everyone having sunburned privates, because of all the oil in the world igniting and melting the glass into highly-reflective sand that shone reflected lights right up our pants legs and led to uncomfortable ouchies. Somehow, after that long “it could be worse” marathon session, the news about the Gulf War just didn’t bother me any more.

                But as I get older, I do this less and less. Maybe because what I used to think was hyperbole has too frequently actually come to pass, because while persons can be utterly brilliant and kind, people, in general, are stupid assholes who do stupid asshole shit.

                Please pardon my language there, but it had to be said.

      7. Culture Fit Fired*

        I was fired from my first job out of grad school for a culture fit reason and it took me forever to recover professionally. I’m still not emotionally fully recovered. It can really screw a person up.

        1. MashaKasha*

          I was only threatened with firing once (and the person who did that was himself let go a few years later) and it messed me up for years. I was terrified of performance reviews and any offers of supervisor feedback for years after, because his had come out of the blue: January, good annual review – July, no changes in my performance whatsoever, mid-year review – “you’re on probation, clean up your act or you will lose your job”. Scarred me for years. I can only imagine how an actual firing can mess with a person. I’m sorry.

          1. Candi*

            Firing is a punch in the gut. And Masha, your manager was a jerk. I bet there was some agenda going on, even if it was petty.

            My mental wiring with that punch in the gut was, “Okay, X happened. What do I do now?” The breakdown came some time later, after I had set things in motion on the job hunt. And since I had things to take care of, I had to pull myself out and deal with duties.

            I suppose it helped that of the four times I was ‘let go’, only one felt like a truly malicious firing -and I’d been planning to give my two-week notice anyway.

            (Of the others: One was a last few in first out post holiday layoff (and I got rehired four months later), another was a they just stopped scheduling me. My dad (I KNOW, I was 19 and didn’t know!) found out they were trying to get me to quit and made them list me officially fired. (I KNOW.) The third was fired for no call, no show -which still cheeses me off. Those were the days before widespread cells, let alone smartphones, and I wrote down my schedule in a little book; off days had ‘off’ on them on the handwritten schedule. I had Monday off -but they called and said I’d been scheduled to work that day. When I went in to get my last check that Thursday, there was WHITEOUT on that day under my name, with a time -not my regular hours- penned in on top. Grrrr. My money’s on the new assistant manager; he’d already hired three of his buddies.)

          2. Noobtastic*

            Reminds me of my last boss who literally changed my goal posts AT my review.

            “Oh, you’ve been working on X all year long, because that’s what you were told to do? Too bad. I wanted you to work on Y, and you failed at that, so bad review score for you.”

            Mind you, over the course of the entire year, he NEVER ONCE MENTIONED Y. No feedback, ever, except in the annual review crapshoot of what-will-he-throw-at-me-this-time? horror. I really hated those reviews.

            1. Starb*

              I actually just had MY performance review last week, and it went down by about 40% from last year. I was told that my boss had been “receiving feedback from all the shift leads” about my attitude, approachability, and and work ethic. I have in fact been receiving consistent feedback from all the shift leads since I started here, and the feedback I had been receiving was “great job” and “thank god you’re here” and “if you hadn’t X we couldn’t have Y.” When I mentioned this to my boss in the meeting, I was told [newest shift lead] still had a lot to learn about how to give feedback, implying that when I received positive feedback, it was a mistake and only happened because she didn’t know any better.

              It’s a pretty great feeling. I don’t feel panicked or trapped at all. /sarcasm

    2. Clare*

      Yes, that is a critical lesson for leaders to understand. Not just from the LW point of view, but also the employee she forced out. When I read the word “un-managed” it startled me because I had that happen to me recently but had no idea there is an actual word for it. The psychological manipulative in those types of situations is often much worse than just being fired. It really messes with your head, especially when no one will admit what’s really going on. I had former coworkers need to take medical leave for mental health reasons after being “unmanaged.” People who haven’t been through it don’t understand how awful it is.

    3. she was a fast machine*

      Just another chime in here to repeat the others saying that emotionally charged/difficult firings most likely will result in bad things. I was fired from my first “real” job in school after being poorly managed and he walked in on a class to confront me about missing work because of an illness; I was too young and scared to go to HR but it was horrible for me and I cried on end for days and days, and it sent me into a tailspin and a pretty serious depressive episode. I ended up having to work retail for a while and it was only through a long-lost volunteer connection that I managed to get back on track financially and professionally. So while you’re right that it isn’t always the end of the world, your coworkers are probably right that you do have to work really hard and manage your employee really well before you fire them to try to avoid these kinds of consequences.

  3. Rachel G*

    Glad to hear LW is on the right track. It’s hard to take criticism even when it’s justified, and I like to think it’s never too late to improve, whether it’s a little problem or a big one. Best of luck to LW in building a fulfilling next phase of your career.

    1. NotAnotherManager!*

      Me, too! I’m glad that therapy has been helpful and that it’s helped you figure out what you do and don’t want to do professionally. Best of luck with your new position!

      1. Chaotic Good*

        There is another update that I hadn’t read because I didn’t notice it! Also therapy which is rarely an easy ride. I stand corrected

  4. Been there*

    hmm…. I guess I’m glad the LW learned from her experience. But I feel like I can’t exactly cheer since she was responsible for her team + the original target losing their jobs. Sometimes there’s just no way to make up for your actions. Personally I’d much rather a positive update from the former team members.

    1. Anna*

      Personally, I’m glad to hear that someone who went so completely off the rails was able to figure out where they went wrong, own up to it, and learn from it. I’m pretty sure the former team members are doing all right and since they didn’t have as much to learn from the experience as the OP, it’s not as vital to hear how they picked back up and moved on as it is from the OP.

      1. Stranger than fiction*

        Me too. She went from not thinking she did anything wrong to getting therapy and having the light bulb go on. Most people don’t do that and stay the same and repeat bad behavior all their life.

        1. Lucy Montrose*

          I just wish her self-discovery didn’t require that she conclude her “personality isn’t suited for management”. Unless that’s her preference, I don’t like that she’s apparently giving up on being a manager again for the rest of her working life.
          If I were in her position, a successful recovery to me would entail getting my leadership skills back and emerging a wiser leader. Not pronouncing myself fundamentally unsuited to leadership, and vowing to never go for a management position again.

          1. biobottt*

            But why do you consider managing to be the only worthy goal? Why is better understanding herself, her strengths, and the jobs that she would be good at somehow substandard to you?

            1. Lucy Montrose*

              I don’t think managing is the only worthy goal, especially not for OP if she doesn’t feel like it’s for her. This is imagining myself in her position here, and what I would do. And I personally feel that I’ve been burned by a focus on strengths.

              If “understanding myself and my strengths” meant that I could only have jobs that utilized those strengths, and I was blocked from acquiring new strengths, I would have a very hard time with that.
              Corporations have a tendency to do just that… thinking that people are baked into the cake simplifies their cultures and keeps costs under control.

              I was dissatisfied with the strengths I had as a youngster, and I knew that other strengths were more valuable. At the same time, I wanted to develop those more valuable strengths in my own way, so I didn’t end up as yet another perpetrator of a calcified system… yet another convert to, for example, the cause of “must demonstrate confidence at all times by using certitude.”
              Clearly, my only option was to add new strengths. Not retreat into the ones I’d always had. Not foreclose on possibilities for the kind of person I can become.

              I just don’t think adapting to a system that tells me to stick to my strengths, is going to be good for either my personal or my career development. It feels less like learning something about myself, and more like learning that the company is not interested in my growth.

              In most companies, managing is the main or only path to becoming a leader, and developing leadership skills. You develop yourself with the tools you have.
              But we need more and better tools. Management shouldn’t be the only way. There should be as many different pathways as possible to gaining skills of leadership.

              1. Working Hypothesis*

                Okay, but why does everyone have to end up leading? I see this LW as a pretty clear example of someone who, at least right now, shouldn’t be, and she appears to have figured that out and chosen to step back into a follower role. She’s said that she “realized that her personality is not suited to management,” and she’s accepted a position which involved “more supervision” over her… that looks like a follower position to me.

                Which is okay! Followers are needed, or leaders have nobody to lead. Humans are hierarchical primates whose instinct is to struggle toward the top of the pyramid… but why should we, necessarily? If everyone’s busy striving for the top, nobody is doing the jobs that are still vital and necessary, at the lower rungs. Or, if they’re doing them, they aren’t doing them very well, because their focus is on getting out of them and into higher jobs as soon as they can.

                In the military, there are specialist ranks set aside where you can get higher pay grades just by getting better and better at the job you have, rather than by moving into jobs which involve leading other people. If leading isn’t your strong suit — or what you WANT to do, whether or not you’re good at it — why shouldn’t it be possible to stay in a position and get better and better at it, without this being seen as something wrong? Most businesses look askance at people who haven’t been promoted after a certain period of time, even though it’s also been documented that an awful lot of people get promoted to their own level of incompetence, rather than stopping at a level where they are still good at what they do. You’d think that a sensible business would actively seek out people who were good followers, in addition to seeking out people who were good leaders, and make up the latter’s teams out of the former, so that they’d have people who were happy remaining in non-leadership positions for long enough to get, and stay, good at the job they were already doing, rather than constantly leaving it for leadership roles and turning the tasks over to people who were less experienced and skilled.

                I worry about my kids growing up in a society where everyone has to try and be leaders or else be looked down on. At least one of them is a natural leader; the other just doesn’t like to lead, though I think he’ll be very good at what he does someday. I hope there will be a place for him to do his work quietly and expertly, under somebody else’s management, without being required to struggle for a role he doesn’t want in the first place, in order to avoid being treated with contempt.

                1. Candi*

                  There are a couple of interesting pieces out there about how only one in twenty people are ‘natural leaders’. Literally 5% of the population. And of course, the number of people each can successfully lead varies.

                  But many, many cultures, societies and economic systems place an emphasis on becoming a leader. This sets up a clash between the number of people who can lead, and those who want to lead but really, really shouldn’t.

                  Besides, you can’t have even a broken pyramid without the stones making up the foundation and walls.

          2. Cassandra*

            I’m inclined to cut the OP some slack on this. “A burnt child shuns the fire,” sure, but even folks who have been burned grow… and some grow to a place where they’re willing to countenance working with fire, more productively this time.

            I’ve done a few things I swore I never would again. In each case, I tried again because I had more and better perspective on what went wrong then and how I could keep it from going wrong this time.

            OP, you don’t have to manage again if you don’t ever want to. You may, however, grow and change to a point where you’re ready to try again and do better. That also is fine!

            1. Lucy Montrose*

              I agree with you… but also, that any final decision on the matter be left up to the OP alone.

          3. Letter Writer (OP)*

            Managing isn’t my goal nor is it a good fit for me. I’d like to focus on the more creative aspects of the business world so I’m enjoying my position at a marketing firm.

            1. Noobtastic*

              Good for you! I’ve seen a lot of people getting all excited about being promoted to manager level, and then a year (or less) later, complaining that they don’t get to do any of the “fun” stuff, anymore. The parts of the job they really enjoyed and excelled at were what drew management’s attention, and made them promote these people, but then they promoted them right out of doing the stuff they promoted them for.

              They wound up with unhappy managers, and noobs trying to learn how to do the job the new managers had just left.

              On the other hand, I’ve also seen companies give raises to the people who are good at their jobs, and just hire new managers from outside (who may not even know the products, but can learn them), and let the happy people stay happy doing their fun work, for more money than before. That’s rare.

          4. Troutwaxer*

            I think it’s important to remember that therapy can involve a lot of very personal stuff which is probably not appropriate for this venue. Also, if there is a lawsuit involved, or personal issues which relate to other people, there may be very good reasons for the LW to refrain from discussing certain issues… Just sayin’.

          5. Noobtastic*

            I disagree, mainly because I have good leaderships skills, and have lead people in varying degrees here and there, and I still don’t ever want to become a manager.

            I prefer to be a behind-the-scenes leader. Like, the manager does the main leading, and I cheer the team on, saying, “Yes! Let’s trust our fearless leader, and do as he says!” It’s a kind of leadership, without all the “it’s all on me, make-or-break decisions, GANT charts” kind of thing.

            Teams? Teams I can do.

    2. Kyrielle*

      The original team members and/or victim, though, didn’t write in. We have no way to get their updates. I do really hope they ultimately had as positive an outcome as the LW did.

      But for the LW, by the time they wrote in the full issue was already in play and I think it was too late to mitigate it (although the full consequences hit between the initial letter and the update), both for the LW in that office and for the team members including the victim.

      What I’m glad of is that, given the LW’s initial approach – and the justifiable but harsh contents, which a lot of people might have turned their back on and walked away* – is that the LW took it to heart and started working on it. Yes, this was bad for multiple people and there are better ways the whole thing could have gone, but given the point it was already at, I think this is the best outcome possible for the LW – whose update is the only one we have.

      (I can’t imagine the LW is in contact with the victim, nor probably even the former team members; even if the LW is, sharing their stories here would seem a little like invading their privacy for our amusement. But I DO hope the team members influenced by the LW also learn from this, and that everyone lands somewhere good for them.)

      1. Kyrielle*

        Oops, forgot my footnote.

        * Which is not to say they shouldn’t have been said, or been harsh. That was the nature of the situation and the response to the understanding the LW showed initially. Just that people who are that far off the rails often aren’t willing to listen to the ‘hey, this is the reality’ wake-up call.

      2. Been there*

        I know the likelihood of knowing what happened to the team is non-existent in the scope of this forum. But this wasn’t the average ‘misguided boss’ kind of situation. It’s good that the LW did get some help, but it doesn’t erase the reality of what she did in the first place.

        1. ThursdaysGeek*

          Yup, actions have consequences. But what is done is done and can’t be changed. Moving on and making the best of it, what the OP is doing, is a good thing. What else could be done?

      3. Bwmn*

        If AAM has shown us anything, there are so many Darth Vader managers out there. And for many of us who have worked for those people, it can be a real adjustment to transition out of it. Because even if we know their behavior is wrong, to be successful working for these people we have adopted coping mechanisms – be it a fear to speak up/give opinions or concerns or more gregarious behaviors like excessive socializing or alcohol consumption decisions at work events.

        The one consolation is that the management did identify this behavior as concerning and fired the manager. So without the burden of finding a new job the team can at least get some direction on bad behavior.

        1. Candi*


          In the first update/comments, LW said the whole department was canned. They are looking for new jobs, and with a crappy or confirm-employment reference.

          (I am kind of hoping that the employee who informed management of the Snapchat and other bullying wasn’t really canned, but transferred, and the others just told they were canned.)

    3. LawBee*

      The other employees got themselves fired. OP should have stopped it, but they shouldn’t have been acting that way to begin with. Childish gossip, on the job drinking against policy, trying to drive out a coworker because her ability to excel made them look bad? Those were their personal decisions, not the OP’s. At any point, any one of them could have realized how awful they were being and changed their behavior. That they didn’t is as much on them as on the OP.

      1. Been there*

        mmm… not sure I agree with this. The LW made it crystal clear from the sounds of it that it was open season on the Victim. Even she says that her behavior influenced her team members.

        1. serenity*

          She was also the team’s manager. It’s important to note that, I think. It’s great that she’s learning and growing now, but I agree with you that it feels a little bit like we’re throwing the rest of her employees (who directly followed her lead in ostracizing the other employee) under the bus by saying “they got themselves fired”.

        2. LawBee*

          Who were adults. There is zero excuse for participation in any “open season” on a coworker.

          I get that you identify with the fired coworkers, but they made their own choices in how to act. Sometimes yes, bad management can result in unjust termination of other people, but I just don’t see how that’s the case here. OP didn’t direct them to gossip on Snapchat and be overall jerks; she didn’t stop it. And with all that time spent not doing their jobs, which was stated in the original letter, I expect their work product was subpar.

          Hopefully they have learned and grown up. I’m proud of the OP.

          1. MCMonkeyBean*

            Yeah, drinking during the workday because your manager says it’s okay sounds reasonable to me. But bullying a coworker on snapchat because your manager also dislikes her is bad judgement all around.

          2. lurker*

            LW stated (in a comment on the original letter) that when one employee reported the jerky Snapchat behavior, her response was to *retaliate*against*that*employee* (by trying to get her removed from the department). That goes considerably beyond just “not stopping it.” The junior employees may well have been afraid they would be transferred or fired if they didn’t comply with this manager’s desire to “manage out” the disliked employee.

            1. Lucy Montrose*

              When I first read this manager’s story, I thought, “Oooh, we get to hear from a villain in the flesh; what a rare treat!” All the horrible, “acceptable” ways of excluding someone in the workplace, all the rationalizations and self-justification, all the not-fitting-in-is-THE-cardinal-sin attitude… it was all there. It chilled me to read how proud this manager felt about her bullying; it chilled me to see the ease with which her employees joined in on it.

              I’m glad she’s in therapy and is seeing the error of her ways.

              But it would still be the ultimate victory for her to come back as a better, fairer, wiser leader in the future.
              Because her “reformed” take on her situation– that she doesn’t have the right kind of personality for leadership– is, whether she knows it or not, is still part of her own inflexible and reductive attitude, but turned on herself. Instead of smashing other people’s possibilities in life, she’s smashing her own.
              So she’s not there yet. Not until she can see that *everybody* is capable of growth, and that you just plain treat people better when you believe in their possibilities– yes, even when they’re senior citizens– will she, IMO, be ready for leadership.

              1. Kathlynn*

                And some people just aren’t cut out to be managers, in part due to their personality. (I am one of those people)

                1. Mockingjay*

                  I am too. I’ve tried managing; I found that I don’t have the patience and the soft skills needed to work effectively with diverse personalities. And I plain don’t like it.

                2. Noobtastic*

                  Mockingjay – I have skills. I just don’t like it.

                  “Whyyyyy, are you all looking at me for guidance? Can’t you make your OWN decisions? Oh. Right. I’m in charge. Grumblemumble.”

                  Seriously, for some people it may be the ultimate rush, but I just don’t really like being in charge and responsible for anyone but myself. I love helping people. I get a big kick out of helping people. But that’s different.

                  I actually enjoy working support roles so much more than leadership roles. I’ve done leadership. Bleh.

                3. Pyon*

                  I’m not cut out for management. I’m proficient at my job, I just don’t feel comfortable being in a position of authority over my peers.

                  I would NEVER bully an employee. I would NEVER do that. That behavior isn’t a result of “not being cut out for being the boss,” it’s a result of “being a bully.” OP would have been doing that whether or not she was in charge.

              2. Working Hypothesis*

                You can see that everyone is capable of *growth* and still recognize that you’re not the type of person whose growth will be done to best effect by insisting that it go in the direction of management. MOST people aren’t the right personality type to be good managers!! If she’s realized she isn’t either, that is itself a type of growth — it’s the new self-knowledge necessary to spot what is and isn’t a good direction to strive for, and point herself on a path to growth in the direction that’s better for her. What’s wrong with this?

                1. Lucy Montrose*

                  What’s wrong with that?
                  Because I don’t want to be put in a position where in order to demonstrate to a supervisor that I’m self-aware and that I can take feedback; I must abandon, forever, a pathway I want for myself and believe I’ll be better off experiencing.
                  When we start talking about things in terms of personality types and “not being cut out for” things, it’s implied that it’s permanent. Advice to “let go” or “move on” has a silent “forever” in there.
                  It’s different for OP because she decided on her own that she didn’t want the management experience. But I do; both because I want to demonstrate that I’m capable of leadership– just another strength to add to my repertoire– and because it’s my hope that by being a good leader, I can demonstrate to others that they don’t have to have an increasingly narrow personality type and presentation, to lead.

                2. Working Hypothesis*

                  Fair enough, Lucy. I was just talking about the LW, and there, I think it very much makes a difference that she’s decided *for herself* that management is not a direction she enjoys or feels is suited to her abilities, so she doesn’t choose to pursue it any longer. If she had wanted to work toward becoming capable of being a good manager, and she were actually doing the work to learn how, I’d have seen nothing wrong with it; I just also don’t see anything wrong with deciding that’s not her direction. And, just as you’re jumping to the defense of people who get pushed out based on one mistake, I’m jumping to the defense of people who are pressured into seeing one and only one career path as “success,” even if it’s not the one they enjoy.

                3. AnonEMoose*

                  Intended as a response to Lucy Montrose, but out of nesting:

                  Respectfully, though, this isn’t about you. The LW isn’t required to make the same choices you would or did. There’s also the point that, ok, this is how the LW feels right now. And that’s perfectly reasonable, given the circumstances.

                  Maybe she’ll still be saying “never again,” in 5 years. Maybe she won’t. I’m also a person who doesn’t want to manage people in a paid job context. Although I do so in a volunteer context. One of my best friends doesn’t understand that decision, and would occasionally bring it up (love her dearly, but sometimes she just doesn’t want to let stuff go). And what I finally ended up telling her was “You don’t have to understand it – what you do have to understand that it’s my decision to make. Even if you think I’m wrong, it’s still how I feel about it, and aren’t you the one who is always telling me I don’t have to justify my feelings?” She dropped it at that point and hasn’t brought it up since.

                  LW doesn’t have to justify how she feels about managing again, either. And she doesn’t have to succeed in the way you think she should (that is, by coming back as a “stronger and wiser leader”). If she instead wants to be a stronger and wiser individual contributor, there’s nothing wrong with that.

                  It sounds like she wants to grow in different directions, at least for right now – that’s a choice she gets to make. I think we all have to make choices in life about what we want to pursue – most people don’t really have the time, opportunity, or resources to pursue everything we might like to. So we decide what’s a priority (consciously or not), and we go about our lives. And sometimes we change our minds about what’s a priority, or our minds get changed for us due to various circumstances.

              3. Letter Writer (OP)*

                I don’t want to manage. Point blank. Period. Why you are pushing your narrative on me is puzzling.

                1. Lucy Montrose*

                  I’m sorry I came off like I was pushing my narrative on you.

                  I was thinking about my own difficulties with taking behavioral feedback. That kind of feedback makes me feel like I have to give up on MY concept of who I am, and agree with my critics, full stop. If they say, for example, I’m not leader material, I’d better shut up and agree with that… or I have no self-awareness. I have a terrible time with that.

                  I was afraid you had come to your self-awareness that same way… feeling like you must give up on this possibility for yourself, forever, in order to be thought coachable. Something you didn’t really want to do, but felt you had no choice.

                  I can see I was wrong… you’re choosing a non-managing path as a gift to yourself, a time to rebuild. Good for you for knowing what’s right for yourself now.

            2. Sarah*

              Lurker, the Snapchat bullying is the part I thought of also. I hope the OP understands why punishing someone who was standing up to bullies was harmful. I wish them the best with therapy and their new role.

      2. MashaKasha*

        Very true. No one forced them to do any of those things. They will each need to work on themselves, just like OP has. That said, I do wonder what happened to the one team member that was the one who went to HR.

          1. Lucy Montrose*

            This is why I hate our media, our psychologists and our business experts all acting like being a social creature and fitting in with the team are always unalloyed good things.

            They just don’t stop to think about work cultures of “disagreeing with the boss is a fireable offense”. Or a group of people happily, sociably scapegoating and ganging up on a co-worker.

              1. Lucy Montrose*

                Good. Because the biggest problem with social dynamics-driven strife, is that it’s hard to stay motivated to change what’s wrong… since allowing your team to become an insular mob feels so good. It’s much harder to break a bad habit that makes us feel happy and confident.
                And what emotional states have we been told for as long as we can remember, that we MUST attain, at all costs? You guessed it.

                1. Noobtastic*

                  Uuuuuh, maybe it’s because it’s two in the morning, but I didn’t guess it.

                  Oh, wait. Happy and confident.

                  OK, time for bed!

            1. Geillis D*

              Lucy, your comment is spot-on.
              A few weeks ago I left a toxic workplace where a group of people who have fit together beautifully excluded me. I was the lowest on the totem pole: 15 years older than the happy group of twentysomethings, an immigrant, new to the office following a career change. It did a number on my self esteem I had to work extremely hard to recover from, and I’m a pretty resilient person who has got through some life challenges and has a strong support network of family and friends. The boss, of course, was totally oblivious. Thank you for putting my feelings into words.
              I’m in a healthy office now and the difference in dynamics is staggering. My heart goes to the bullied co-worker whose major infarction was not joining in with the rest of the gang. I hope she will get a sincere apology one day, but I’m not holding my breath.

      3. Kyrielle*

        I’m not sure I fully agree. It’s *at least* partially on them, because they did those things. But Alison has talked here before about how a toxic environment can really skew your sense of norms and your behavior (which is why she recommends getting out of them quickly if possible). The LW had created a pretty toxic, cliqueish environment, the workers were younger/less experienced*, and LW was the boss, meaning that the atmosphere was coming from someone with authority over the rest.

        Bad choices and actions? Yes, and they have to live with that. But toxic environments do a number on most people. In this case, it just happened that the overall company wasn’t, but the team was.

        * Not that being younger/less experienced precludes being self-aware enough to recognize a toxic environment and either get out or divorce yourself from it as much as possible, nor does being older/more experienced guarantee that you will do so. But a lot of people get better at that sort of thing as they get more experience – sadly, usually because they either deal with it or watch someone dealing with it.

        1. Lil Fidget*

          Hopefully being young will also protect them. We had a very young (24?) colleague here who … well, flamed out very dramatically, let’s leave it at that. I thought at the time, *oh lord if that was me my entire career would be ruined – I’d be completely blacklisted from the industry.* But my colleague was able to take some time off, then go back to grad school for something related but different, and is now doing just fine. Employers are much kinder to a 25 year old who seems to be just starting in the job market than they would be to a 35 year old with similar resume.

        2. LawBee*

          And LW was terminated. toxic environments can skew norms but that doesn’t excuse egregiously bad behavior. We know the LW is trying to learn and grow. Maybe taking that step to remorse is further down the line. We don’t know her mental health/personal growth journey. I read a big positive change from the defensiveness of the first update and this one. That’s good!

          As for the others, it’s not throwing someone under the bus to hold them accountable for their own behavior. You don’t have to have a masters degree to know when you’re behaving badly and immaturely.

          So, no. I don’t feel bad for them. I don’t wish bad things for them, and will likely have forgotten about them by the end of the day, but they reaped the consequences of their actions. Everyone in this situation except the target was at fault. Everyone was terminated. ::shrug:: hopefully the others learned from this.

    4. TootsNYC*

      I think the rest of her team can shoulder a lot of that responsibility themselves.

      And I’m happy with a positive update from ANYbody!

      Every victory for the light, no matter how small, is a victory nonetheless.

    5. NotAnotherManager!*

      I think that if we treat everyone as though they can never recover from past mistakes, that’s taking away incentive to try and also sending the message that they should just give up because nothing they do will every be worthy of cheer. OP shows more self-reflection and growth than most people coming from that situation do, and I think that should be applauded. I think very little of the way OP behaved nor her attitude in the original letter, but I am very heartened by the way she has behaved in the aftermath. Many people would have become defensive and held their ground as being in the right. She didn’t, and that’s a tough thing to do.

      1. Lil Fidget*

        And she voluntarily wrote back in, even knowing that this was probably a skeptical audience. I think that shows some gumption (hehe).

      2. bunniferous*


        I do not think making someone wear sackcloth and ashes for the rest of their natural life for poor behavior in the past is useful or helpful. In this case there WERE consequences-firing-and I agree with others the rest of the team bore some responsibility-I doubt they were fired without personal cause on their own parts-and in any case I feel like people who take responsibility and do what they can to change should be encouraged.

        1. Turtle Candle*

          Yes. I don’t think there’s any real benefit in insisting that the LW–who has acknowledged wrong here, after all, and gotten help–perform humility to our satisfaction. Especially as we were not the ones even harmed.

          1. Chriama*

            Yeah, this is stated much more eloquently and succinctly than I said it below. We all know the OP’s behaviour was bad, and we were very clear about calling her out on it in the previous posts. This update clearly shows she understands how/why she was bad and has changed. Why the need to be like “but do you *really* understand how bad it was?”

            It seems like some people would be happier to hear OP say she knows what she did wrong and is still unemployed. Like, it’s not enough for her to have learned from her mistake, they need to see that she’s still suffering for it or they’ll comment about how she’s not contrite enough or some such garbage.

            1. Been there*

              I’m not interested in the LW performing self flagellation, and indeed said that I was glad she was getting help.

              At the same time I don’t think this update is really something to cheer. I think back to the person who was jealous of her employee’s looks and the update that followed. That update, to me, showed real growth and acceptance of personal responsibility. I didn’t get the same sense from this update.

              Maybe the LW does take responsibility and it just didn’t come across in the update.

              1. Jaybeetee*

                I do think the LW is being a bit more detached/”clinical” in this follow-up than that other writer (who was jealous of her colleague) had been, but I don’t think that has to be a bad thing. She does acknowledge that she was wrong, and she lays out what she’s doing to avoid doing wrong in the future. She doesn’t spend a lot of time on the emotional angle of all this, but not everyone is comfortable doing that, especially in a more public forum. I’ll leave it to her therapist to determine if she has enough insight into what she did.

      3. Anlyn*

        She’s also only partway through her therapy. It’s not an instant “oh, I understand everything now and I did horrible things and others were affected by attitude but I must make retribution” revelataion. That’s the goal, but she might not be there quite yet. And she’s only telling us some of the things she’s learned; she very well could have gotten to the point where she acknowledges her past behavior, but given that’s none of our business, declined to say in her update.

        1. Noobtastic*

          Does anyone know what number “Make Amends” is on the 12-step program? I doubt it’s in the first three or four steps.

      4. Lissa*

        Yes, it often can feel like.nothing will ever be enough? Also, she doesn’t owe *us* a full accounting of her emotional state/what she has learned etc., so we really don’t know how much there is. And regardless, even if she still has a lot of self-reflection/growth/improvement/whatever to do, it sounds like she’s moving in that direction. I don’t really see why criticism that it’s not instantly there (if that’s your read) is going to be helpful here?

        I see this a lot and I understand to some extent where it’s coming from. Any time there’s a public apology some people feel it’s not enough, and nitpick wording etc. It’s sometimes valid, but I don’t think I have ever seen a public apology where this doesn’t happen. There’s a lot of analysis of wording and “but they aren’t sorry enough!” that ends up happening, and because it *always* happens, no matter what, it doesn’t feel super useful.

      5. Lucy Montrose*

        +1 to everybody in this thread.

        The entire system is set up to deny people second chances… from credit checks to background checks to the Internet itself. It’s kind of a hallmark of an algorithm to binarily say, “once a screwup, always a screwup.”
        This is one way we exercise our human powers and take control back from the AI: by taking each case as they come, and giving chances.

        1. MashaKasha*

          I really like the message in your comment! And yes, that is what I found the most uplifting about OP’s update; the way she is actively working and making progress to come back from a bad place.

          1. Candi*

            To me, however awful the initial mistake is (and some of the written-in about stuff over the years has been pretty bad), the person’s reaction to making the mistake is vitally important.

            In this case, the LW went from initially doubling down, to it slowly dawning ‘this is bad’, to “Crap. I need to repair my life and change my outlook”. That is amazing, and a huge improvement.

            Conversely, we have ghosting guy and his update; a LW from a while back who was on the phone all the time with her kids and was very defensive about it in her letter (her boss had told her to knock it off); and the guy who was deliberately late to interviews to test the interviewer’s “character”. They wanted justification to continue on their way, not ways to remedy their mistakes or honest criticism of just how bad what they did looked to others. That attitude is not so good, and going to keep hurting them.

    6. hbc*

      This isn’t a zero sum game. There is at least one person who was behaving badly who has learned not to do that anymore. That’s got to be a good thing.

    7. Someone Else Needs The Wood*

      Please re-read the first letter. The initial woman didn’t lose her job-she found another job and left OP’s team. It sounds like she’s doing ok.

    8. Chriama*

      Seriously. Heaven forbid people make mistakes and learn from them. You can be happy for how OP has grown and acknowledged her mistakes without condoning that past behaviour or being “ok” with what the results of her actions were. No need to keep flogging a dead horse. Being happy for the OP doesn’t preclude these other opinions.

      1. serenity*

        This seems like a harsh read of another commenter’s reasonable opinion (which may differ from yours).

  5. (No Longer) Disappointed Fellow Millenial*

    Good. I hope you continue on this much more positive path and that you can avoid similar mistakes in the future. It’s hard to admit that you were at fault in a situation like this, and it says a lot of positive things about you that you were able to be self-reflective and use this as a growth opportunity.

  6. PersephoneUnderground*

    Wow, this is such a great update- it’s really inspiring to see someone come around to a new, better view of themselves and their behavior. Your commitment to therapy and improving yourself is commendable. (Speaking from personal experience with a hellish time in my life) You’ll probably look back on this time in a few years as something that shaped you into a much stronger and better person, so be proud of yourself for all the progress you’re making!

  7. Wannabe Disney Princess*

    I have to commend you for not only owning your behavior, but for also recognizing that you don’t want to be a manager. There’s so much pressure in our society to want it that couldn’t have been easy to come to terms with. Congrats, LW! You’ve set yourself up for a far better future.

    1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Yes, absolutely this!

      A lot of people think that management is the ultimate goal of any employee — but it’s absolutely fine to have no interest in being in charge of other people, and there are absolutely careers where you can go very far as an individual contributor.

      1. Lucy Montrose*

        I am interested in leading other people.

        I am not interested in: going without adequate sleep, having no life outside of work, or having to prop up workplace norms that don’t benefit either people’s lives or business… only some executive’s ego.

        I am “not cut out” for leadership because of that. But that makes me more determined to be a leader: to help usher in a new norm where you don’t have to be any of that to lead.

        1. moodygirl86*

          Lucy, I hope you reach that goal one day! I wouldn’t enjoy being a manager at all as things stand, because of the disadvantages you just listed. But it’s something I might consider if those things weren’t conditional on leading.

          OP, I’ve followed your story with great interest, and am also impressed with your progress. As a previous victim of a bad manager, I know for a fact she’d never hold her hands up when she got stuff wrong, in a million years, and I admire your honesty and courage in being able to do so even after facing a lot of criticism. That does take guts. All the best with your new job and counselling! Well done you.

  8. Reinhardt*

    Wow! Yay happy update I wasn’t expecting!

    OP, kudos to you for taking that step. As someone who’s been through therapy, I know how difficult it is to seek help.

    Realizing what you did had to sting to say the least, but I bet you’ll come out stronger for it. Wishing you the best!

      1. Chaotic Good*

        My first reply was lost, so : I didn’t see the updates! I stand corrected. Yes, OP has seen a lot more happen than just getting a new job. I wish I could delete the first comment since it doesn’t apply :\

        1. JulieBulie*

          Well, you weren’t wrong. Most of the horrible job problems really do seem to get solved by getting a new job! This situation was a lot uglier than most.

    1. Eli*

      Just wanted to say thank you for posting that piece, I recently quit my job and I’m also leaving NYC, so it was super timely and interesting!

    2. Candi*

      You’re not totally wrong -that’s how LW’s report solved her problem with the LW and the rest of the team! Along with what must have been a doozy of an exit interview.

  9. Lil Fidget*

    OP you sound great and already so self aware. Good luck to you! We all make mistakes and the most important thing is how you learn from them.

  10. Fiennes*

    Good work, OP. Stay on target. Here’s hoping you’re able to build a new & better foundation for your career.

  11. WhiteBear*

    OP, could you offer some advice? In getting your new position were you ever asked if you’ve been fired from a job and if so, how did you go about it? Or how did you describe the experience and accomplishments at your last position and your reason for leaving? I’m assuming you didn’t leave the job off your resume all together since you said you were there for about 5 years.

    It’s great to see that you able to get back in the saddle after being thrown off the horse. Congratulations!

    1. K.*

      Yes, I’d be curious to know how she handled that interview question, if it came up. If it were me, I’d emphasize the therapy and realizations that I’d had.

      1. LawBee*

        I flamed out at my first professional job pretty spectacularly (think the boss screaming “you’re fired!” over the phone after realizing I had thoroughly and completely screwed up an incredibly important project – which was only the latest huge mistake I’d made). I got a great job a few months afterwards, so it worked out better for me.

        When they asked me what happened, I told them the truth. I had taken a job that I was not equipped to do, and didn’t have the skillset to excel. After I was fired, I talked it out with other people and realized where I had gone wrong. Then I explained how I was going to handle situations like that in the future. They knew it was an involuntary termination, but that was it. I guess I could have said that the position was eliminated (they would have never known different) but the truth is always better – and easier to remember, ha.

    2. AKJ*

      OP’s case is different than mine, but I can tell you how I answered that question after being let go from a job I’d had for four years. The answer I came up with (after stressing out about it for weeks) was that my position had changed over time, and my skills were no longer a match to the changed position. It was entirely true – I wasn’t going to lie – but it was a nice way of phrasing it. It must have worked well enough, my first interview afterwards turned out to be one of the best jobs I have ever had.

    3. Letter Writer (OP)*

      I was asked about why I left a management role. I said that my team was eliminated as my lack of leadership led us all away from the business unit’a needs and goals. Through my time as a manager, I learned that I didn’t want to manage and being an individual contributor was more my style.

      1. Ellie*

        I know I’m a day late but I’d like to commend you for this response – it is a totally accurate and very honest way of describing the situation. I hope everything works out for you.

  12. TCO*

    OP, congratulations on having the courage to pursue therapy and on finding a new job that’s a better fit. I hope that years from now you’ll look back at this as a rock-bottom that brought you to a happier and healthier place.

  13. ThisIsNotWhoYouThinkItIs*

    Thank you for the update! I know it can be tough to reach out and put yourself on display like this.

    I do want to say that this part is invaluable: “It also made me step back and realize that I don’t ever want to manage again and that my personality is not one suited for management.” This is something that not everyone realizes until it’s too late.

    I’m speaking as someone that’s also tried a little management and then decided in that context, even with AAM as backup, it wasn’t worth it for me. :)

    Best of luck to you!

    1. MissDissplaced*

      Yes, a great worker does not always make a great manager, though some can be BETTER at it with proper training and coaching, which is so often not provided. If OP had had a little more development & mentoring she may have been able to correct things sooner without having a team member leave. But ah well!

      1. LawBee*

        Yes. LW’s bosses should have stepped in much much earlier. I suspect many of the original team would still have been fired, but as you say, guidance and coaching can help a lot.

        1. Candi*

          Specifically mentioned in the first update was that the bullied worker who left had a dotted line report to a director.

          Director would give LW a project they specifically wanted bullied worker to do. LW would pass it off to her more favored reports.

          If I read it right, at some point the directors found out about that and called LW on it. Well, before bullied worker (understandably) left.

          The second time that happened, a hammer should’ve been coming down. That’s one place where management should have been on the ball. Especially since they hired the bulled worker to DO that specific work!

  14. Admin Amber*

    Just think of the whole process you have gone through as constructive feedback and give yourself kudos for being able to recognize what wasn’t working, you asked for help, and you were able to create a positive environment for yourself.

  15. Snowe*

    Good luck, OP! I think it’s great you went through therapy, and know yourself a little better now. I learned from watching one of my first bosses that it is totally possible to be competent, well-meaning, and very intelligent and STILL fail at a job because it is not the right fit. I hope you are happier in the new job.

  16. MissDissplaced*

    Talk about a lesson learned the hard way. But at least you DID learn from this unfortunate mess and you did so fairly early on in your career. It’s too bad a lot of managers don’t get that memo. Like, ever.
    And you may find you DO have the ability to manage others within yourself… just not at the present. And that’s ok.
    Best of luck!

  17. Detective Amy Santiago*

    This is a very positive and heartwarming update. It’s not easy to confront your weaknesses. You should be proud of yourself.

  18. Emily S.*

    Congratulations to the LW. It can be so difficult to move through therapy, and make real progress, but it sounds like it’s really worked in this case. Best of luck in your new position. I’m so glad to see that real positive change has occurred for you.

  19. MashaKasha*

    This is a fantastic update, OP. Thanks for sharing!

    I think it is sad that, in a lot of places I have worked, management is the default career path. The better someone is at what they do, the higher the odds of them being promoted to management, whether their personality is suited to that or not. (Mine, for example, isn’t. I am good at leading my own family, but that’s about it. And I’m just starting to develop semi-decent people skills at my fairly advanced age.) I think having a wide choice of horizontal career paths would be great, and would lead to more people being fulfilled and productive in their careers. Best wishes to OP on developing such a path!

    1. Muriel Heslop*

      This is a great point. I’m a teacher and this is a problem our field has, especially since administrators make so much more money. I’ve angered a lot of people who want me to “move up” because I do well in the classroom but my classroom strengths don’t transfer to administration.

      1. Drew*

        I hear we need more qualified, passionate teachers all the time. I’ve never ONCE heard someone say we have a school administrator shortage.

      2. Lucy Montrose*

        Especially since it appears that so many administrators are hired *for* their inflexibility and ruleboundness! Not many teachers want to be “promoted” to that. Nobody says, “when I grow up, I want to police dress codes and curry favor with wealthy customers!”

      3. former teacher*

        This totally happened in my last teaching-related job. My manager was a former speech therapist, and I’m sure she was a very good speech therapist, but she was a terrible manager.

      1. Perse's Mom*

        In some cases, I imagine, promoted from ultra-competence directly INTO incompetence!

        I am very good at my hands-on subject matter expert kind of job. I would be miserable as any kind of lead or manager or supervisor. I would also be TERRIBLE at it. I am certainly not the only person in the working-world with that set of self-knowledge.

        1. MashaKasha*

          Exactly. And no, you are not; there are at least two of us.

          Ironically, I love being a leader/head of my own family. I had no idea how much I’d enjoy that part of being a single parent when I first embarked on that route. But that’s my immediate family, we are super close and trust each other, and have the same goals. I have no idea how to lead a work team, and would probably be stressed out of my mind if I had to do so.

  20. Massmatt*

    Glad you found a job that was a better fit, OP, management definitely is not for everyone.

    I recall many of the posts being harsh, re-reading some of them it’s striking there was also an awful lot of chatter about stereotypes about millennials, definition of the term, who is/isn’t in a particular generation etc. Glad you still found it useful!

    1. Lucy Montrose*

      I don’t like that “being cut out for management” frequently means, “being happy working 50-60 hour weeks with a miniscule increase in pay” and “getting comfortable with becoming THAT person, the one who stops clear communication; the one who constantly says we can’t do anything about issues because it’s policy, out of my hands, because I said so, etc.”

      1. Perse's Mom*

        What does any of that have to do with Massmatt’s comment? Someone unhappy in a management role could be doing absolutely none of the things you list and simply, perhaps, just not like being in a management role. It’s GOOD for someone to realize that!

  21. Massmatt*

    OK just read the FIRST update and comments (the original letter was tame in comparison)–what a turnaround!

  22. SometimesALurker*

    I love hearing about people who learned from their mistakes and their harmful mindsets and turned things around, even when that learning was probably painful and hard work. It’s inspirational and motivational, because we all need to grow and change sometimes. Thanks for the update.

    1. Muriel Heslop*

      Me too! I am really glad to read this update. Any time we can learn from life, that is a great outcome.

    2. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I hope all the people who were throwing hissy fits about the reaction to the ‘ghosting’ dude’s update will read the comments on this post. Self-awareness is a good thing.

      1. Anion*

        So is not accusing others of having “hissy fits” because they object to people being vicious to strangers and accusing them of being constant serial abusers.

  23. anonononon*

    So glad you are getting help and figuring your life out. You made mistakes, but you are learning how to not make them again and that is the most important thing you could be doing. I wish you the best in the future!

  24. LawBee*

    I love this update. Management definitely isn’t for everyone, and it’s a real disservice to automatically get put in that role without thought of whether you could excel. There’s a real sea change between your first two letters and this one, and that is so great.

    Keep on moving forward! The AAM commentariat is rooting for you!

  25. MuseumChick*

    What a great update! OP, I’m so happy you are taking care of yourself. The hardest thing in the world can be looking at our own actions and honestly analyzing them.

    For what it’s worth, I do not have a personality that is good for management and have zero interest in managing. It’s a really good things you have recognized this in yourself. Good luck at your new job.

  26. Dysana*

    It’s lovely to see this turn-around in OP – well done. This can’t have been easy but it will be so great in the long run.

  27. Hiring Mgr*

    As an unlicensed armcharir psychologist/busybody who gives unsolicited advice and commentary, I’m quite impressed with your journey

  28. what's my name again?*

    Thank you, OP. It must have taken a lot of courage to post your whole story on this site, where you have taken a pretty harsh beating about your actions and situation. I salute you for your courage and your success in getting your life back in order.

    I daresay we all make mistakes and it does take some time to recover from them. Some never recover at all. It’s always great to hear when someone takes even a baby step forward. Good for you!

    Wishing you peace and success.

  29. Creag an Tuire*

    It’s tough to hear how much people think you suck but it helped me get back on track.

    Remember, you don’t suck, you just sucked at being a manager. Which is fine! Everybody sucks at a lot of things, due to lacking the skills, knowledge, temperament or all three. The important thing is that you’ve stopped trying to shove your (metaphorically) round self into a square hole and are instead using the your no-doubt excellent non-managerial skills to take a better path for yourself.

  30. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

    Hey OP, I’m really glad for this update. You took a lot of criticism from us with your original letter and with your update, but I think it shows a lot of character that you’re willing to come back and let us know that you’re taking responsibility for messing up that situation and you’re working hard on self-improvement. I honestly wish you nothing but the best going forward! Everyone has a growth journey and it sounds like you’re taking some massive strides forward in yours.

  31. Madame X*

    What a wonderful update!
    Learning from one’s mistakes can be difficult, even painful sometimes. So I am really impressed to see that your behaviors and overall mindset was harmful and that you took the steps to remedy that. I wish you well in your new career path!

  32. Newlywed*

    OP, just wanted to say I’m glad that you were able to find it within yourself to do the hard work of honest self appraisal and learn from mistakes…that’s a trait that will continue to serve you well for the rest of your life.

  33. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

    Wow! What an uplifting update. It brought tears to my eyes – in a good way. Thank you for writing in and letting us know. It sounds like you’ve been working hard. Keep it up, you’re doing great. This will be lifelong work, but it will be worth it. Many other people would double down and refuse to acknowledge they did anything wrong. But you did the complete opposite! You were honest with yourself and made the decision to change. This internet stranger is proud of you.

  34. Chriama*

    Well that’s a redemption story if I ever heard one. OP, what changed for you? I remember in the first couple posts you were sticking to your guns about how your behaviour wasn’t so bad and deflecting towards other people (e.g. the person who went to HR instead of talking to you first, or how it was better to give opportunities to “your team” rather than the new person with experience your boss wanted). I’m really impressed because we often don’t see people come back from such a self-protective perspective (see, the guy who ditched his long term gf and fled the country). What made you decide to go to therapy?

  35. eplawyer*

    LW – I just want to chime in that this is a great update. You were able to absorb what was some very harsh criticism, take a good look at yourself and get some help. Not everyone is cut out for management — and that is okay. You found that out the hard way. But at least you aren’t beating your head against that wall anymore. You learned a hard lesson and grew from it. Good for you.

    I wish you all the best in your new career — and in life.

  36. Chaotic Good*

    OP, I’m sure you’ll have stopped reading comments by now, but I just want to offer caution among all the kudos. A lot of people make assumptions about therapy (and rehab, for that matter): therapy doesn’t mean you’re suddenly “done” and can move on.

    To be honest, your responses to AAM’s questions – pre-therapy yes – seemed so out of alignment with professional norms (like, jaw-dropping) that I question whether therapy — though yes it sounds to have helped! — will really take hold unless you stick to it. Relentlessly. Painfully. For a few years, not for a few weeks.

    With so little therapy under your belt, you’re likely to find yourself repeating old habits. You’re likely to find yourself convincing yourself that therapy has worked just so you don’t have to really, honestly, deeply deal with your problems.

    So keep at it. It will hurt, because it’s supposed to. Even when it hurts, you can’t give up on it. The hurt is you adjusting to adulting. Adulting sucks, all the time, and that’s just how it is *shrug_emoji* . (but what would I know, I have pressing work and I’m hanging out here…)

    Good luck

    1. Tassie Tiger*

      Chaotic Good, would you be open to talking more about this in next open thread? I’m feeling a bit “stuck in a rut” in my therapy journey and I’d truly love to hear your insights.

    2. Troutwaxer*

      Definitely agreed. Getting out of a messes-up place might be a lifelong journey, it will certainly take a few years.

  37. Tassie Tiger*

    Holy smokes!! With turnarounds like this…it honestly inspires me to keep working hard in my own therapy! Humans have such an amazing capacity to grow and change, rock on OP!

  38. Letter Writer (OP)*

    I can’t provide an uodate in what happened to my team since we no longer communicate by choice. Do I feel bad? Yes. But I also cannot dwell on things that I don’t have the power to change because they happened in the past.

    The initial woman who left my team is doing well in her new role. I hesitate to reach out because I don’t want to bring up bad feelings and disrupt her life. If given the opportunity to do so in the future, I will certainly do so.

    For now, I’m going to continue individual therapy, start pet therapy, go to yoga and focus on my new job. I thank you all for your support.

    1. Merula*

      Thanks for your update and replies. I have to say that I think your approach to talking with your former team is spot-on. Reaching out for apologies and absolution would probably not help them. If you’re standing right in front of the initial woman at some point in the future and have a private moment where you feel like saying something, great. If that never happens, that’s fine too. I’ve never received any contact from people who have wronged me professionally, and I’m 100% ok with that.

    2. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

      Thanks for the update. It’s good to hear the woman who left is doing well. I think you’re right not to reach out to her at this stage. It’s too soon for both her and you. But it’s good that you’re willing to apologise, and that you are considering her feelings over yours.

      You’re right that it’s not good to dwell, but you can make sure to learn from your past actions. It sounds like you’re on the right path, though, so definitely keep it up! As Chaotic Good said above, it’s painful and hard work, but it’s worth it.

      If you’re comfortable sharing, I’d love to hear how you handled the ‘why did you leave your last job’ question. It’s something many people dread dealing with, and hearing how someone else successfully navigated the question can be so helpful. No problem if you’re not comfortable doing so.

      Good luck with everything and thanks again for the update.

    3. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

      And of course, right after posting, I see you did answer that question in another thread! Sorry about that. Thank you for sharing that information, I really appreciate it.

    4. Astor*

      Hey Letter Writer, it’s so great to hear how hard you’re working and also see how much it’s working by reading your responses. I really wish you all the best in the future.

    5. Candi*

      Hey, LW? If it ever appears you have a high chance of running into her, you might want to search Alison’s archives to find good, professional ways to say: “I’m sorry. You don’t have to forgive me. I was wrong.”

  39. Sylvan*

    So glad you are turning this around, OP! It’s hard to admit you’ve made mistakes and to learn from them.

  40. Bea*

    Oh my goodness, this is such an amazing update. I am so happy that you have turned a huge corner, OP.

    I was one of those who was outraged and harsh in the original post and follow up. This hit home in a huge way and my knee jerk reaction was rage.

    I wish you the best in your new path and it sounds like you’re going to be a million times happier having chosen to reroute yourself and career.

  41. Seeker*

    It always struck me that the OP’s biggest issues were with her higher ups rather than the employee who left. The OP didn’t like that this person was hired but was overruled by her manager. The OP didn’t agree with the projects given to this new person and the way the higher ups wanted to develop her role. The OP disagreed with HR’s assessment of the beer runs and the way she managed her team. The employee who left got a lot of focus in the initial letter and bore the brunt of things while working for OP, but I think that person was merely a mirror to OP’s situation in that company. I think if that employee hadn’t been hired that things might have unraveled for OP eventually anyhow.

    Not everyone is cut out to be a manager and it can be a hard thing to learn because it often seems like we’re supposed to want that as part of climbing a ladder to success, but it’s also good to reflect on what style of management works best for us and helps us to grow. It seems that OP is in that head space now and I can only wish the person well.

    1. Candi*

      According to the first update, the management wanted to go in a specific direction and the bullied worker was hired because she had experience with that direction. The projects she was supposed to get, and the LW reassigned, were projects within her area of expertise, which is why she was given them to do. I’m not entirely sure why the worker was assigned to LW’s department specfically, although LW’s mention in this update that her experience is in marketing may have something (or not) to do with it. (shrug) Basically, LW tanked a whole business plan for the company when she and her team chased this worker out. But, again in the first update, apparently the directors had some idea something was going on, but didn’t come down hard enough fast enough.

      You’re right about the unravelling; it probably would have begun with the poor work product that the stated activities would have contributed to.

  42. Candi*

    Yay for you!

    One of the hardest things is to admit you’ve been wrong. Humans (generally) don’t like to be correct; they like to be right. You’ve shown great strength and growth.

    Keep on keeping on. You can do it.

  43. Noobtastic*

    This is heart-warming. I’m so glad, OP, that you took the time and effort to read the comments, consider them, get therapy, and change the course of your life.

    Some people just aren’t meant for management. I learned, just from watching managers, that I don’t want that job, despite the benefits. I am now glad that I didn’t have to learn it the hard way.

    Kudos to you for learning and growing! It’s sad that it had to be such a tough lesson. But now you’re in a better position to help others. When you see them making similar mistakes, you can tell them your story, and steer them clear of the rocks you crashed on.

  44. she was a fast machine*

    It’s definitely refreshing to get this kind of update instead of what we got with our ghosting LW! OP, I’m really glad you’ve taken steps to get yourself in a better place and to ensure you don’t ever treat anyone else with the same level of cruelty/pettiness. It takes a big person to see their mistakes and try to overcome them, especially after being publicly shamed(twice!). So lots of kudos to you.

  45. RB*

    Best of luck to you in your new position. This update was good to read and reminded me that there is always hope for improvement as a result of true self-examination.

  46. Shia*

    Uhnm… This is completely self-centered and doesn’t show she feels any kind of remorse about what she did to her ex-employee?

  47. SHEL*

    As a complete stranger, I’m very proud of this person for not only doing her own soul searching, but getting professional help as well. And who knows, someday she may end up being an amazing manager because of year early career lessons!

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