I’m training my replacement — and she’s condescending, rude, and won’t listen

A reader writes:

I work for a small company and was given an even smaller department to manage about two years ago. The job can be complicated and sometimes stressful (very demanding clients) but mostly it’s been a great experience. Since I took on this role, it’s pretty much just me doing the day-to-day work and the vice president of our company overseeing my work. He has always been nothing but complimentary of my work

The job is wonderful, but I have a toddler at home and another baby on the way and I want to be home more. My boss was very kind and asked what I needed to stay, and I agreed to step down from my director title but stay very part-time. The agreement was that I would give up my office and help my replacement, since my department has grown and it’s a lot of information for a new person to learn It’s a perfect situation for me.

I gave a three-month notice to switch to part-time and am down to the last three weeks. My company is just now having a in-house candidate, Jane, job shadow me. Here’s where the problems start.

She is VERY condescending and rude. Anything I try to show her, she barely listens and “Oh, that will change” has become a catch phrase when I show her how my processes work. She regularly will correct me and tell me she has better ways to do things I’ve been doing for two years. Her suggestions on improvements actually go against a lot of company policies, and I’m worried that she is so concerned about correcting my work instead of actually listening.

The most interesting habit she has is baby-talking me. I will casually mention certain things like, “Oh I forgot to send this email, let me do that real quick” and she will respond with, “Oh, don’t you worry! You’re doing a great job and doing the best you can under your circumstances!” She says things like, “Don’t let people tell you you’re doing a bad job! You’re great!”

I have very bluntly told her that I do not like being talked to like that and she will laugh it off and say, “Bless your heart.”

She also spends an absurd amount of time on her cell phone and rants about daycare being horrible for children. She says she doesn’t ethically agree with daycare and why would anyone have a child just to have someone else raise them. Again, I am visibly pregnant and she knows my toddler is in full-time daycare. My kids will still go to part-time daycare, which she knows. I find her statements incredibly disrespectful and have told her so. She responds with, “Everyone is allowed to have an opinion and you’re doing the best you can! I’m proud of you!” Bleh.

I am not trying to be boastful but I do a great job at work. I’m a high-level staff member. I’m not implying that the way I do the job is perfect or can’t be improved upon. I understand no two people will do the job the same way. I would like to think the fact that they asked me to stay for the same hourly rate and are letting me work when I want to would speak volumes to how much they value me as an employee. But I feel as if she sees me stepping down from my title as being involuntarily demoted, even though it hasn’t been conveyed this way to her this way. It has nothing to do with my performance.

I’m involved in her hiring process and I’m afraid she is not a good fit, but I don’t want to come across as being unable to pass along the torch. I’m also frustrated that we’re down to such a short time frame and I am feeling pressured to make it work. I want advice on how to navigate stepping down from a manager position or if I’m being too sensitive about being critiqued.

Listen to the instincts telling you Jane’s not a good fit, because she’s probably not a good fit.

Does any part of this job involve working with other people? If so, you’re seeing a lot of evidence that that’s not going to go well. She sounds rude, condescending, and frankly toxic.

And if you’ve told her clearly that some of her suggestions violate company policies and she’s blithely pushed on anyway, you’re seeing a lot of evidence of problems there too.

Since Jane was an internal hire, I’m curious what you heard from her previous manager about her! When she was being hired for this role, did anyone ask her manager about her interpersonal skills, her ability to retain information and work within established policies, her work quality, and what she’s like on a team in general? There’s probably an interesting conversation to be had with her former manager.

But more importantly, you need to tell her new manager about what you’re seeing. As long as you’re clear and specific and don’t sugarcoat anything, you’re not going to come across as unwilling to pass the torch. You’re going to come across as someone who’s in a position to see serious problems close-up and who’s fulfilling your professional obligation by flagging them for the person’s manager. That’s especially true if you stress that this isn’t about wanting Jane to do the job exactly the way you did it, but rather it’s about serious warning signs around her fit for the role.

Of course, this is complicated by the fact that you’ll still be helping out with the role part-time. If you were leaving the company altogether, it would be easier to alert her boss to the issues, figure you’d fulfilled your obligation, and then wash your hands of it. You’d have an ending date, and it wouldn’t be your problem after that.

But because you’re staying, this has the potential to stay your problem. That makes it extra important to be as clear as possible to her boss about what you’re seeing. If he doesn’t resolve it (either via serious coaching of Jane or finding someone else for the job) and you’ve got to continue working with her, you should make a point of two things: (1) having a very clear division of labor between you and Jane, so that your work can be as separate from hers as possible, and (b) maintaining a strong relationship with and access to your boss. You don’t want a situation where most things from him get funneled through Jane or where she controls the narrative he hears. If Jane sticks around, you’re going to need strong communication lines with your boss, so really put effort into maintaining that relationship.

Meanwhile, you should feel free to be fairly blunt with Jane. You can and should tell her, “It’s important that you pay attention when I’m training you, because some of the changes you’re suggesting would violate company policy. You can discuss changes you want to make with (boss) later if you want, but I need to get you trained in how we do it currently.”  And when she baby-talks you or is otherwise condescending, you can say, “What an odd thing to say.” When you tell her to stop babying you and she says “bless your heart,” you can say, “What a strange reaction to what I said.”

The most important immediate step, though, is to lay out for your boss what you’re seeing and don’t pull any punches.

Read an update to this letter here.

{ 315 comments… read them below }

  1. JustAnotherHouston*

    My blood pressure went up just reading this! I don’t know how you’ve kept your cool – I’ve worked with toxic people like this and they can just make a workplace completely miserable. If you are able to talk to her new manager about this, I absolutely would! Good luck.

    1. valentine*

      I don’t know how you’ve kept your cool
      Perhaps the fact OP has is yet another thorn in Jane’s side. One day, Jane’s going to bless the wrong heart and they’re going to pop her in the mouth. Meanwhile…

      Jane is a bottomless well of insecurity. Especially if she’s been gunning for OP’s job, the smart play is to silently plot changes, so as to minimize the interaction and speed her ascension. I think the fact the manager wants to keep OP so much, that Jane can’t replace her (in either sense, as she’s a disaster), is what has Jane’s blood boiling.

      1. Aphrodite*

        I do believe you are right, that Jane wants the OP gone and this is how she is going to do it. Part of it will be the changes and part will be bullying the OP into so much misery she despite the VP’s support.

      2. Aphrodite*

        I do believe you are right, that Jane wants the OP gone and this is how she is going to do it. Part of it will be the changes and part will be bullying the OP into so much misery she quits despite the VP’s support.

        1. Kate*

          Alison was very wise to point a clear split in duties and maintain direct communication with the boss. You *know* Jane is going try to make OP look bad in any way possible. Ugh. These people just really infuriate me. Seriously… I can’t even fathom how OP hasn’t lost her cool with Jane yet. I would not blame her in the slightest.

        2. louise*

          I’m concerned Jane wants OP gone BUT ALSO that she may try to pass off her impending against-policy changes as “oh really? That’s against company policy? How funny. OP *specifically* told me to do it that way.” And because OP will be out on maternity leave, Jane gets to look innocent. I really hope I’m just overly paranoid and that Jane is in no way that conniving.

          1. Wiser now*

            I”ve seen it too…and it reminds me of a time when someone was gunning for my job and got it after about a year of this type of behavior. Raise the red flags ow.

          2. GooseTracks*

            OP would be wise to document the training she’s giving to Jane (ie, briefly summarize it in written form) and email it to Jane with the boss copied. Give her no wiggle room to claim “OP said this” when OP isn’t there to confirm or deny.

            1. Autumnheart*

              Document, and then have a hand-off meeting with both Jane and the boss present, to go over what has been covered.

            2. Krabby*

              It is sad this is needed, but I would definitely agree. It will also help illuminate the VP to the minutiae so he can’t be mislead by, “but that process takes hours!” Plus, you could even include things like, “even though this might not be the most efficient way to complete A, B and C, it’s important that we do so to comply with policy X.”

      3. myug*

        > Jane’s going to bless the wrong heart and they’re going to pop her in the mouth.

        lol! As someone who had their own Jane (eerily similar behavior), I agree. Or worse, Jane will eventually encounter a Super Jane and not cope well.

      4. SheLooksFamiliar*

        ‘One day, Jane’s going to bless the wrong heart and they’re going to pop her in the mouth. ‘

        I used to work with a Jane, and loved watching her realize that her attitude and SOP was not impressing our new Director – her new boss. Jane watched her step for a few days, but made the mistake of talking down to a peer within earshot the Director. He said, ‘Jane, in my office. Now.’

        Through the closed door we could hear him tell her that her reputation had preceded her, and he saw signs of same but had given her the benefit of the doubt. Not anymore, he was going to meet with her weekly to coach her, and she was expected to do the following things…you get the idea, he laid it out for her. He wasn’t exactly yelling, but he was speaking, um, forcefully.

        Not gonna lie, it felt good to watch a shocked Jane try and fail to be a decent manager. She was who she was. She quietly resigned after a couple of months.

    2. LadyL*

      Same! I wanted to throttle Jane through the screen, I can’t imagine how patient and mature LW must be to be handling all this so well.

    3. ladycrim*

      And definitely highlight to the manager that Jane keeps planning to violate company policy and brushes it off when that’s pointed out. If that’s not a billowing red flag, then that says volumes as well.

    4. Beth*

      OP: you need to speak with your manager today! This new person has it out for you and will see to it that you are gone as soon as she has the capacity. Further, I would make the case for not hiring her at all. She has already herself to be mean, spiteful, unwilling to learn, and prejudiced, and that is just to start, before she has even resumed the role yet.

  2. Dr Wizard, PhD*

    Yeah, Jane’s whole demeanour comes across as not just condescending but also frankly bullying.

    Does Jane seem to think that she’ll manage the Letter Writer after this transition? Because this sounds like a terrible person trying to put someone ‘in her place’ and impose a power hierarchy very early on.

    1. Adlib*

      Yes, this! Absolutely sounds like something someone I used to work with in a position of power did. It’s horrible.

    2. Nea*

      It is bullying, but I wonder if Jane’s end goal is to put herself in power over LW at the office, or to chase LW out of working entirely in the mistaken belief that it will “save” LW’s children from daycare.

      1. Hey Karma, Over here.*

        I think the day care issue, the references to pregnancy have nothing to do with Jane’s feelings on parenting. She’s using the best weapon she can think of to throw LW off of her game while undermining her training. She doesn’t give a rat’s ass if LW sends her toddler to boarding school or has a Montessori teacher come in daily. She’s going to pick at the pregnant woman’s insecurities with one side of her mouth and patronize her with the other.

      2. HarvestKaleSlaw*

        Nah. Jane strikes me much more as the bully who steals your lunch and swears they are doing it to save you from being so fat. This lady doesn’t have a savior complex. She’s just mean.

    3. AnonEMoose*

      Thirding this. Jane is a bully, is trying to undermine you and put you in your place. You need to talk with your boss about this yesterday, because she is not a person who should be a supervisor.

      Frankly, on the daycare stuff, I wanted to punch her on your behalf, and I’m adamantly child-free.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        I’m just awed at the sheer gall of Jane. My children were in daycare, after-school programs, and day camps from age 18 months to maybe 9-10, and no one, in any of the multiple social circles I moved in back then, had ever had the nerve to tell me these things to my face; even though it is a fairly popular view (that I adamantly do NOT share) and I’m sure quite a few people I worked or otherwise interacted with in those days held those views.

        1. P peace*

          I’m not. I recently had ‘thirties’ friends tell me I was unhappy because I didn’t have kids and wasn’t married. And one insist she needed to then go and pick up her child at daycare in the middle of a conversation. She didn’t go. Some people just don’t like you and they don’t want to.

    4. Engineer Girl*

      This is what I thought too. Or maybe Jane thinks OP is being forced to step down due to bad work. Many times “stepping down to take care of family” is the official reason companies give when they want to move out a bad employee. Is this the narrative that Jane is telling herself? That means Jane sees OP as a sub-par employee.

      That would also explain why Jane wants to change everything OP has done.

      It doesn’t excuse Janes behavior though. It also shows that Jane is a poor judge of others work if Jane can’t see the quality in OPs work. And her management skills are disrespectful.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        That second suggestion of yours is all I can think. How would OP communicate this concern with her own manager? I can’t come up with anything that doesn’t itself sound petulant.

    5. Sloan Kittering*

      I was absolutely thinking this. “How badly does OP need this part time job?” Because to be honest I don’t see this working out. I think it’s *always* hard to stay on and see your work being undertaken by somebody else, even somebody with the best of intentions: you really just can’t be unbiased about the way you’ve spent years setting things up. If the new person is going to be your supervisor, that’s also difficult for both of you under the best of circumstances. These do not sound like the best of circumstances. I think OP should be prepared to have to leave.

      1. JR*

        I think OP is in a really tricky position because, whether or not she “needs” the job financially, it is very hard to find a part-time job that is professionally engaging and career-building, and even harder to find it anywhere except at the company where you have been working full time. So assuming she wants to take some time mostly off but then go back to work in a similar capacity, this job is really valuable to her.

        1. Ophelia*

          Also, as someone who’s taken time off from the workforce when having young kids…some of us NEED to be employed outside the house to maintain sanity, and this arrangement seems like it would be valuable not only for future employment prospects, but also for the OP’s sake writ large!

      2. Nita*

        It sounds like OP’s boss really, really wants to keep her at the company. I also doubt the boss will be thrilled with the performance of this Dolores Umbridge wannabe. OP will do herself and the company a favor by shooting down Jane’s candidacy now, so a search for a new candidate can start (if there was, in fact, some kind of search, there may be a few other resumes already on the boss’s desk). This is not being too sensitive. This is speaking up when you see a pretty big problem developing, before it turns into an even bigger problem.

    6. MsMaryMary*

      If Jane will be managing OP going forward, that is another reason to raise a red flag to management. If Jane is treating the OP this way now, all signs point to her being a terrible manager.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        I thought of this, and also that Jane will apparently be managing OP’s other reports. If this is how she treats someone who’s still in a manager position, what will she do to the reports? There will be an exodus within a year.

    7. Nepco*

      I also think that if nothing is done, Jane will try to do things her own way (and fail) and then claim the LW didn’t train her properly or didn’t tell her how to complete the task, making the LW look bad.

    8. Fortitude Jones*

      Yup, especially with the never ending, condescending, “You’re doing great!” pep talks. Ugh. I don’t even know this woman and I can’t stand her, lol.

    9. Gadget Hackwrench*

      I don’t think she’s trying to put OP in her place. I think she’s trying to get OP to QUIT. All those passive aggressive comments about daycare and how she’s “doing her best in the circumstances” are meant to make OP LEAVE because that’s the only way Jane is ever going to feel secure in her position.

    10. TardyTardis*

      Jane’s current/soon to be former manager is probably singing her praises to get rid of her (*see* ‘Greyhound Therapy’). It might be a good idea for OP’s boss to have a chat with some of current/soon to be former co-workers just to see if they are just as glad to say farewell.

  3. Matilda Jefferies*

    I’m not normally a violent person, but I really just want to reach through my computer and smack Jane upside the head. Good luck to you, OP!

      1. AKchic*

        Oh come on now, we’re rewriting the rules now that we’re in a new position. Bless everyone’s heart for thinking we’re still operating under the old rules, policies be damned. /s

    1. Campfire Raccoon Horking Potatosalad*

      This is someone who might get an injection of skunk scent into the weather stripping of her car.

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        Oooh, I like that one. I usually joke about doing the old shrimp in the curtain rods trick (I have never actually done it, nor would I do it, but it’s nice to think about), but this might be even better!

      2. KoiFeeder*

        You don’t do the weather stripping. You put it inside the seatbelt mechanism. The friction will keep the scent strong until she replaces the whole thing.

        1. Campfire Raccoon Horking Potatosalad*

          But then you’d have to be inside the car, which makes “blessing her heart” difficult. In desert environments weather-stripping is cracked and porous and allows for maximum stank dispersal with every open and close.

      1. many bells down*

        I’m quite certain the only person who can say “bless your heart” and clearly mean it sincerely is my mother in law. If anyone else says it I know there’s trouble.

        1. On a pale mouse*

          I think it’s a Southern thing? I’ve heard it said two ways: genuine sympathy or pity (“Mary is in the hospital again.” “Well bless her heart.”) or as a sort of subtle put down (“Well, she tries really hard, bless her heart” – meaning she tries but isn’t successful). Pretty sure this one is the latter. But maybe Southerners (I’m not one) know more nuances for this expression.

          1. AKchic*

            Non-southerners use it almost exclusively as an insult.
            Source – this Alaskan and every person I’ve ever met who says it.

            1. Not a Morning Person*

              Obviously Jane has heard the joke and took it as a serious expression of insult. It’s a mistake to think that everyone who says this expression is using it as an insult. Jane uses it as insult; Jane is a bully. From OP’s description everything out of Jane’s mouth is an insult.

          2. Dusky*

            As a Southerner, yes, it can be nuanced, but it’s very likely a “f*** you” in this context, even if Jane isn’t Southern. It’s very tone-dependent, but Southern women in particular master the art of the concealed “f*** you” with a “bless your heart.” (It works remarkably well when you’re in Southern town that has a lot of transplants like mine. You hear it just often enough as a genuine expression of sympathy that, without the instinct for context and tone, you’ll be questioning it every time.)

            But even in a sympathetic context, it’s condescending at least a little. It’s a “poor thing,” a pat on the head, and nothing constructive. About the only time you take it seriously is when there’s action to follow any sympathy expressed.

            1. Not a Morning Person*

              No, not condescending. It’s most often an expression of sympathy or support for someone going through a rough time.

  4. Lance*

    Going through all of what you wrote, I very much have to agree with your assessment that Jane’s probably thinking your stepping down was involuntary. Speaking down to you, fixating on ‘improving’ what seems to be every last one of your practices… and good lord, ‘bless your heart’? Seriously? So she also thinks it’s perfectly okay to talk down to you; who else, then, would she be talking down to so condescendingly?

    This person is not a good fit for the role; not anywhere remotely close. You can and should put a stop to this ASAP, especially with how much your boss trusts and values you.

    1. Lance*

      And to add, I’d like to agree with Alison on another point: I’d love to hear what her former manager has to say about her. Whether she’s always been like this (I’m sure there’s at least been signs), or if she just now thinks she can get away with it.

      1. High Score!*

        I’m guessing Former Manager and former department are singing “Ding Dong the witch is some one else’s problem”

        1. AnonNurse*

          YES! I’ve had this happen before. We hired someone based on the GLOWING reviews they received from their previous department. Once they were hired and going through training?! The truth came out and it was not pretty. She was a gossip, pot-stirrer, diva to the extreme. The other department just wanted to get rid of her and it worked but it hurt the reputation of that department BIG TIME. Definitely learned a lesson there and it was a hard one.

      2. Liane*

        “I’d love to hear what her former manager has to say about her. ”
        I’d love to hear *and see* what happens if OP and OP’s Manager ask Former Boss straight out, “Hey, Quark, about Jadzia. How come when we discussed her transfer there was no mention that she’s rude and condescending, won’t listen or take direction, and doesn’t care about the Prime Directive and other Starfleet policies? What’s up with that? Did you flat-out lie to us so Jadzia would be OUR problem from now on? Or are you just such a sucky boss you never even noticed she’s a sucky employee?”
        Yeah, I know that’s not how you speak to anyone at work, but I’m sure someone here can translate this into Professional-ese,

        1. TheTomatoInUrFruitSalad*

          Can I ask your advice on the best ways to work with Jane? Her style is so different than OPs and OP and I have a great working relationship. Jane and OP are working through the transition now, and I want to make sure I’m not favoring OP over Jane if issues arise. How did you manage Jane so effectively all these years/months?

          Said without a hint of frustration or malice.

      3. The Starsong Princess*

        Hmm… it wouldn’t surprise me if Jane’s previous boss thinks she is great. The Janes of this world are often very successful because they manage up/ suck up really well. I’d be more interested in what her former reports think of her. Jane may consider the OP beneath her, hence the condescending “You’re doing great!” and therefore doesn’t think she has to bother to listen to her.

        I would provide very candid feedback to the boss and decision makers about Jane with concrete examples. I would also recommend that she not be given the job permanently. It may come as a shock to leadership but OP’s conscience would be clear.

        1. TootsNYC*

          I agree with this.
          Especially because Jane’s attacks all seem very calculated.
          I bet she doesn’t talk to ANYone else this way.

    2. Kathleen_A*

      It’s possible Jane thinks this was involuntary, but I honestly think it’s far more likely that she knows perfectly well it isn’t but has decided to act this way to put the OP in her “place” and – just as important – to make herself feel superior. Her tactics sound to me more like they stem from an inferiority complex than from genuine arrogance.

      1. Kramerica Industries*

        Yes! This reads like an extreme version of someone who wants to “put their stamp on the role”. She doesn’t want to be told what to do. She wants it to be HER legacy and no one else’s.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          It does come across as this. Back when my dog was alive, I used to go to off-leash dog parks a lot, and I honestly think that, if a dog did as much to assert dominance over other dogs as Jane is doing to assert it over OP, that dog would be permanently banned from the dogpark.

          1. AKchic*

            Considering how pregnancy bladder works, we could take a page right out of the dog park and advise LW to pee on Jane, or otherwise “mark” her territory.

            No. Wait. That’s not the appropriate advice.

            1. Llama Face!*

              Pee on Jane’s seat or in the sink when she’s washing her dishes? There is an AAM precedent… (admittedly not a good one). ;)

              But seriously OP you are amazing for making it this far without snapping because of her bullying. What an awful human being and a terrible employee!
              Definitely let your boss know ASAP before it is too late to train someone else. From your description, that person shouldn’t be in charge of watching paint dry and certainly not responsible for a high impact position like yours.

    3. Mama Bear*

      If LW thinks that Jane thinks this was involuntary, then LW needs to be very clear that it wasn’t. I don’t know if LW can say she’s involved in the hiring process/if it’s ongoing or a done deal, but if Jane doesn’t know that this is kind of an extended interview/probationary period, LW may want to state that as well.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        THIS. I would be very clear with Jane that this job placement isn’t set in stone yet, so she needs to slow her roll – professionally, of course.

    4. BelleMorte*

      Maybe it’s just me but around here “Bless your heart” is another way of saying “F- you, I’ll do what I want”, rather than the original southern meaning which was a lot more friendly.

      1. MistOrMister*

        I have only ever heard that phrase from my mom. When she says it, it’s always regarding someone she loved who has since died or someone who is going through something difficult that she feels sorry for them about. I’ve never once heard her say it in a snarky/snotty way. My only other experience with it is 2nd hand, through stories of people like Jane who use it nastily. I guess it just depends on the person!

        1. Princesa Zelda*

          Same here — older ladies I knew growing up would use it that way, and we would also use it in high school as a “bless your heart [you adorable naive person that we love who doesn’t understand the dirty joke].” Now I only ever hear about bless your heart as an f-you on the internet.

        2. Salymander*

          My MIL and SIL both say “bless your heart” when they really mean “you are stupid, and you need to fuck off.”

      2. Yikes*

        This was the part of the letter where I actually gasped. I’ve lived in the deep south for more than a decade, and that phrase is, at this point in time, a really aggressive insult. She really might as well be saying “f*** you”!

      3. DataGirl*

        It’s my understanding that in the south Bless Your Heart can mean a dozen different things but ‘F You’ is right up there at the top. (I’m a Northerner with a lot of Southern lady friends). Unless it’s someone I know is truly clueless about the alternative meanings, I’m going to assume they are intending it in the worst way possible. I’d NEVER say it at work. This woman sounds terrible and if it’s not too late to replace her I’d do everything in my power to do so.

      4. Alli525*

        Yeah, maybe that phrase USED to be more friendly, but now it’s possibly the worst insult you can hear from a Southern woman that doesn’t involve cursing or actual name-calling. My desire to punch Jane in the back of the head – which I am gratified to see is a shared sentiment among many commenters – developed at that exact moment in OP’s letter.

        1. Quill*

          My understanding is that “bless his heart” = my friend or relative is being a dumbass, but he’s MY dumbass, while “Bless your heart” means “I’ll use small words so that you’ll be sure to understand, you warthog faced buffoon.”

        2. SimplyTheBest*

          Eh, it can be, but like DataGirl says it can really be used in a dozen different ways. It’s become very popular on the internet to infer that it only ever means the worst possible thing imaginable, but in practice that’s really not correct.

          1. Not a Morning Person*

            Thank you! It is a many hued phrase that can be an offer of empathy and support or an mild insult to the recipient’s intelligence. I’ve never heard anyone use it in the disgusting FU style that so many commenters think is the only interpretation. I’ve come to think that people just believe an urban legend, not real experience.

        3. Aunt Piddy*

          Eh, it’s used a lot of different ways (Southern born and bred).

          “She got hit by a car?! Bless her heart!” = “Oh no, poor thing!”

          “He said that? Bless his heart.” = “Wow, he is an idiot.”

          “At least she’s pretty, bless her heart.” = “It’s a shame she’s so dumb; I’m trying to be nice about it.”

          “You bought me a lamp? Well bless your heart!” = “I love this lamp, thank you.”

          “You’re doing the best you can, bless your heart.” = “I hope you’re doing well, keep your chin up”

          “You’re doing the best you can, bless your heart.” = “I’m being sarcastic/passive aggressive. Burn in hell.”

          Jane is ABSOLUTELY in the last group.

      5. Veronica*

        It can also be condescending and disrespectful. Like “Bless your heart, you cute little person I don’t respect”. Like talking to a very small child.

  5. Sen. Longfellow Kittypants*

    Oh my stars. I want to go tell her off just based on the 30 seconds I’ve “known” her

  6. Cece*

    Because Jane is an internal hire, I kinda wonder if previous manager recommended her to be rid of her (not my team = not my problem)

    1. J.E.*

      That’s what I thought too. If she’s been a problem in her previous department then it’s a way to get rid of her without having to go through all the steps to fire someone.

    2. Ama*

      I don’t know, I’ve had too many experiences with managers who see an employee with a bunch of ideas and confidence and think “ready to move up” while paying absolutely no attention to red flags in that employee’s interpersonal skills. It’s possible that moving Jane to another team was a bonus, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the previous manager was just terrible at assessing whether she was suited for the role.

      1. Summertime*

        Your comment reminds me a book I read, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. The book talks about how extroverts are often considered more suitable for leadership roles than introverts. I agree, it’s possible for someone to see outspoken and confident as markers for moving up, but in Jane’s case she was outspoken and doesn’t listen, confident but reckless.

      2. Kimmybear*

        I’m watching one of these play out at the moment. Lots of ideas, good technical skills, and very vocal but no understanding of the business process or how to communicate. I’m just standing back and watching the car wreck in slow motion while I try not to get hit my flying automotive parts.

        1. On a pale mouse*

          Same, although our Jane is less toxic and more clueless. Decided to reorganize how we did stuff her first week, yet two months later she’s still not getting the basics right. I applied for the position too and the schadenfreude is bittersweet. (Because I want us to succeed and don’t want to see anyone failing, but there’s still part of me going “hah, see what you get for not picking me!”)

          1. Not a Morning Person*

            Had a similar experience with not being chosen for a role. The person they ended up choosing got fired after only three months for violating strict policies on use of company property and credit cards. Haha. They got what they chose.

    3. Summertime*

      It’s unfortunate but a reality that firing someone who is difficult, toxic, and/or manipulative can be really really difficult. If a manager is conflict-averse, the easiest thing to do is to shuffle the problem person around.

      1. NW Mossy*

        The sad thing is that it isn’t actually easier at all, if you take the broad view. I know from my own experience in firing an underperforming, feedback-resistant, litigious employee that things got dramatically easier on a day-to-day basis after their departure. The team got more productive, conflict was reduced, and we could all move on to better things than working around our missing stair.

        If I could give any lesson to my fellow leaders, it’s this one: avoiding a personnel problem never makes it easier. Deal with it straight on – the short term pain is real, but it’s a whole lot less than dragging yourself through chronic problems every single day.

    4. Oh no, not another Jennifer*

      Yes- So that Jane can be someone else’s problem.
      I also agree that OP should speak to the boss ASAP. When OP leaves and Jane starts having issues, I can see Jane blaming those issues on OP’s processes instead of her own incompetence.

      1. Oh no, not another Jennifer*

        Editing my original thought. I liked Cece’s original comment of thinking that Jane was shuffled was from another department. I don’t like the idea that shuffling happens and I hope that OP was able to discuss Jane’s behavior with her boss. I don’t think my original comment made that clear.

        I also liked one of the previous comments that said that sometimes more vocal people are seen as better suited for leadership roles. If this is the case, the OP should absolutely speak up before Jane manages to get a promotion by stepping on Jane’s back.

    5. san junipero*

      It’s funny, because that approach was *recommended* in the comments of the last post (for racist, surly, un-fireable Jerry).

    6. sacados*

      Could be? In which case it seems kind of short sighted. OP mentions it’s a “small” company — depending *how* small, it’s very likely that regardless of departments the person in OP/Jane’s role would continue to be EVERYONE’S problem.

  7. Cass*

    Nope. “Bless your heart” are fighting words in the south and it would take everything in me not want to take her outside and smack her head against the pavement.

    Outside of that of course I think trying be objective and amused about her “oddities” is the best way to go. From the tone of your letter it sounds like you’re already a pretty patient person so I don’t think you’ll have any trouble on that front, but definitely lay out what you’re seeing to your boss because this woman sounds like a terrible fit.

    1. Jennifer*

      Yes! My face got hot when I read “bless your heart.” This woman could teach a master class in condescending passive-aggression.

      1. JessaB*

        Yeh I was like “Oh no you dint just say ‘Bless your heart’ to me,” them’s so fighting words. And I’m from the North. Even I know this. Nobody in this country, in the day of social media has any belief that those words are kindness.

    2. Laura H.*


      My jaw kinda went to the floor, but that was just at that… I think I created a basement thru the concrete foundation at the rest…

      Good luck OP

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      SAME. That’s the Southern version of “f*** you! And for those out there who are wondering whether that’s an overreaction, please trust me when I say there are basically two versions of BYH , the sincere version and the asshole version, and I promise it is not hard to tell the difference.

      1. Not Desperate for the Job*


        This is exactly what I was coming to say as well. I’d be hard pressed to not snark back with “I’d really rather you didn’t.”

      2. Liane*

        In my corner of the South, if you’re saying it to the heart’s owner it’s usually **but not always** meant kindly–but still can come off as condescending. Now if you say, “Morgan, bless their heart…” to others when Morgan’s not there–everyone knows you DESPISE Morgan.

      3. BethDH*

        Yes! It can be sincere, but it is obvious when it is. Also only used in certain contexts or with certain power dynamics, most of which wouldn’t be relevant at work — for example, often used (sincerely) by an older generation of women toward toddlers/children when they do something unexpectedly thoughtful. Even if it happened to be sincere, it would be indicative in this situation of being patronizing or condescending.

        1. TootsNYC*

          yes–context is everything with that phrase (and tone).

          This context makes that really, really snotty.

      4. Environmental Compliance*

        *raises hand* This born and raised Wisconsin girl feels the dripping condescension in that “bless your heart”. Hoooooo boy.

    4. Lynca*

      While I might tell someone “Bless your heart” in a private setting I would ABSOLUTELY not do it in a professional one. Ever. Just wow. I don’t know if I could stop myself from seeing red and no longer being in control of my faculties.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        Ditto. (I’m in Houston.) I cannot imagine any setting at my job where somebody could say this, except possibly as an inside joke between two close coworkers, that would not be wildly inappropriate.

        1. Oh No She Di'int*

          Right. My good work-friend and I used to bless each other’s hearts over email all the time just to get a rise out of each other. But it was all in fun. Never would those words be uttered in any other context!

    5. Human Sloth*

      Yep. Bless you heart can have a few meanings, but it is not hard understand the tone of this one. This was a hard letter to read. I have an involuntary reflex to want to poke Jane in the eye.

    6. OrigCassandra*

      This is what I was going to say. If you’re in the southern US, OP, “bless your heart” is straight-up aggro on you. The subtext is often “… because you need every blessing possible, you useless schlemiel.”

      (I grew up in the South; it wasn’t until I went to college in the Midwest that I realized bless-your-heart wasn’t a universal. Apologies if you already know this, OP; I just didn’t want to assume you did!)

    7. Gentle One*

      I respectfully disagree with your assessment of “bless your heart”. I am a life long Southerner (USA). The phrase (including third person pronouns) is not always negative, much less words that indicate a fight is about to start. The meaning can be sympathetic, thankful, gentle, also. The meaning is entirely dependent upon context and vocal inflection.
      That being said, Jane’s use is clearly hostile, regardless of inflection, given the context.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        All of this.

        “Someone just rear-ended my new car.”
        “Oh, bless your heart!” – supportive

        “I don’t do this thing the same way you do.”
        “Oh, bless your heart!” – negative

        1. TootsNYC*

          I think it is almost always a form of condescending, but “condescending” means “come down,” and sometimes that’s a nice thing to do.

          i think it always indicates a perception of a power imbalance. So, if your friend is having a bad day and you want to commiserate, you are the strong one and they are the weak one, and you say, lovingly, “Bless your heart, you are having a bad day!”

          If a little kid does something ornery or something cute, you are the grownup (strong) and they are the weak one, and you say, “Boy, she’s ornery, bless her heart” (which actually indicates a level of goodwill despite your criticism) or “He’s so cute, bless his heart” (which means you wish good things for him).

          Jane’s usage is also condescending, but in a bad way.

      2. Kelly L.*

        Yeah, and in my experience sometimes it also means “You’re kind of dim, but you mean well, isn’t it cute,” which is also an insult but not exactly a F You. There’s a lot in the inflection.

        1. Marmaduke*

          It’s a lot like, “You did your best.” There are a lot of positive ways to use the phrase. There are a lot of neutral ways to use it. And there are some teeth-grindingly patronizing ways to say it, too.

      3. Sleepless*

        This. I’m a lifelong Southerner. “Bless your heart” is something I’ve always heard, usually sincerely, but sometimes in the nasty passive-aggressive way. A few years ago it became a social-media meme, and now everybody “knows” that it’s a nasty insult at all times. Whatever. Not that this changes anything about the OP’s situation. Jane is definitely being incredibly condescending and I want to smack her.

      4. Desperately seeking cute kitty*

        The “it always means ‘fuck you’” thing confused the HELL out of me when I visited the US. This lady said it to me in an unambiguously thankful way and for a moment I couldn’t understand why I was getting a “fuck you” in response to a kind gesture. Thanks, internet.

        1. Oh No She Di'int*

          It’s clearly an exaggeration to say that BYH always means F-you. Untrue. But it is almost always a statement of social position or power. It’s typically the kind of thing one says to children, animals, people you consider just slightly less intelligent than you or less powerful. It doesn’t mean you hate them or are angry at them; it just means you think of them as being slightly lesser and maybe even in need of protection in some way. Not knowing you, my guess is that you are perhaps youngish or maybe a bit on the smaller side, or speak with a foreign accent, or the kind gesture you did was something slightly endearing, the way you’d receive a gift from a child.

          I did not grow up in the South, but have lived here close to 20 years, and to me it is very difficult to imagine someone saying that to someone they consider their equal in terms of social standing, intelligence, and power. And if they do utter those words to such a person, it’s because some misfortune has befallen them, they’ve messed something up, or they’ve done something unexpectedly “cute”, something to temporarily shift the balance of power.

          That’s why Jane in OP’s letter is so intolerable. It’s actually not that she is saying F-You to OP, it’s that she is saying OP is somehow slightly like a child or perhaps a wounded animal.

          1. TootsNYC*

            “less powerful”: sometimes that’s because their day is shitty, and you’re being comforting. Or they’re sick and you’re not.

            But in the OP’s situation, the fact is that there is NOT a power imbalance, and Jane is trying to assert one. With her on top.

        2. Tin Cormorant*

          My 90-year-old grandmother from Kansas will say “bless your heart” to my face, but this is usually translated as “I wasn’t expecting someone of your generation to do something so nice because I hear such terrible things about millennials on the news, and I am pleasantly surprised.”

    8. Arctic*

      Right and even if it isn’t in the South EVERYONE knows what bless your heart really means. She isn’t fooling anyone nor is she really trying to.

    9. MistOrMister*

      I wonder if it makes a difference if the person is blessing YOUR heart or someone else’s. When my mom says it about my deceased great grandmother, she is clearly not throwing shade at her. Same as when she’s talking about someone having a tough time and throws in a sad ‘bless her heart’. But as I think about it, I have only ever heard her say it about someone who wasn’t present. I have never heard her say it to someone. I do think based on the way she uses it, that if she did say it to someone it would be a genuine expression of sympathy and not meant as a putdown in any way. But I can definitely see how saying that directly to someone is much more likely to be a slap in the face than a sympathetic commisseration.

      1. DataGirl*

        When my mom uses it she means it as a blessing but she is totally clueless about any sort of snark and is the type of person who thinks LOL means lots of love. It might be generational, with older ladies using it mostly in the positive. Anyone younger than say 50 though I would expect to know it has alternative means.

        1. Jennifer*

          Your mom may be the exception lol. Older ladies were the first to wield this as an insult. Whenever my grandma and my mom were talking about some screw up another family member was involved in, my grandma would always say, “bless her heart.” If they had passed already then she’d say, “God rest her soul.”

          1. DataGirl*

            She might well be an exception. I’m pretty sure my mom is incapable of thinking a bad thought about anyone. This has not proven to be a good trait and leads to her getting taken advantage of a lot.

      2. Renamis*

        I’ve got a “Bless your heart” that was to my face and 100% sweet and serious before. I think it’s just depending on context. The south in particular loves context clues for communication

    10. Close Bracket*

      Even in the South, BYH has a range of meanings. It basically means, “you’re a bit off but basically ok” with a slider on both parts. Crank up “your a bit off” and crank down “but basically ok” and you get the “go eff yourself’ version.” Crank down the “you’re a bit off” and crank up the “but basically ok” and you get the “you’re a real dear” version. Crank them anywhere in between to get anything in between.

    11. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I would also like to give a shout-out to “you’re doing the best you can”. Here in the Northeastern part of the Midwest, I’ve never witnessed a BYH in the wild, but “you’re doing the best you can” would likely earn the person saying it a punch to the face. Typically it is internally followed with “with what you’ve got”. “You really suck at what you do, but you try, you try.”

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        Yeah, that was the other line that pissed me off on OP’s behalf. Seriously? Who tells a director-level employee you’re doing your best to their face?! The nerve of this heffa.

    12. Librarian of SHIELD*

      Especially given that this particular “bless your heart” was given as a response to OP’s very reasonable “please talk to me like I am an adult.” In this context, Jane’s message is definitely “oh, it’s so cute that you think I’m going to treat you with any kind of respect.”

  8. AnotherAlison*

    Since the OP’s boss asked her what she needed to stay, it sounds like she may not need to keep this job for financial reasons. Leave! If Jane gets this job, she will make you miserable. You stepped down to be under less stress, not more. There may be no saving the work situation, but you can save yourself.

    1. sometimeswhy*

      Since this whole situation was the compromise they came to in order to keep her on at all, it seems worth mentioning not just the issues she’s seeing with Jane but also that she’s unlikely to stay because of them if that’s the case.

      1. Artemesia*

        I think she should try to abort this hire; lay out why she is inappropriate for the role, perhaps hint at ‘why did her manager want to move her to this role; have their been problems with her in that department’, and then indicate that you are unlikely to stay on part time if she is the one in this role. If they insist she is the one to take on the job, then. start looking hard for another part time role if possible. You won’t be able to work with this person.

        1. Yvette*

          Totally agree, It sounds like they are only about a week into training. Not only will Jane continue to be an issue for the LW if hired, if they ultimately let her go or transition her elsewhere the LW will have the issue of having no one in the role and most of the work will probably fall to her.

        2. VeryAnon*

          Yes; this is a period where Jane should be trying to impress. If she’s behaving like this now she will be infinitely worse in the future.

    2. Lance*

      If it wasn’t a place that OP seems to care so much about, and that seems to care so much about her, I’d agree. But since her manager does value her that much, I think there’s far more value in going there first, and taking steps to block Jane from ultimately getting that role. Then not only would OP continue what sounds to be a nice arrangement from her, but the business would benefit from not having someone in her former role who really shouldn’t be there.

      1. valentine*

        But since her manager does value her that much, I think there’s far more value in going there first, and taking steps to block Jane from ultimately getting that role.
        Yes. OP’s Holy Grail of a reworked position is worth trying to get someone else or otherwise outlasting Jane.

    3. StaceyIzMe*

      I concur! I’d do what was possible in the remaining short time, move my “part time” commitment to “departure at the earliest decent opportunity” and never look back!

  9. Jennifer*

    She sounds like one of those people who just irrationally hates kids and parents. If the OP was leaving the role to be a SAHM she’d have something to say about that too.

    Yes, please tell your boss about this as bluntly as you can and pushback against her condescending baby talk and other nonsense.

    1. valentine*

      She sounds like one of those people who just irrationally hates kids and parents.
      I think she’s just trying to get OP’s goat and I hope OP leads with the other stuff.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        I think she’s just trying to get OP’s goat and I hope OP leads with the other stuff.

        I agree. I think that if the OP were leaving to raise her children and homeschool them full time and bake bread from scratch, Jane would still have something snotty to say about it. Or if the OP were leaving to become an astronaut. Or anything in between. This is not about what the OP is doing. This is about Jane needing to demean and insult the OP, no matter how that happens.

    2. londonedit*

      I think she just sounds like one of those people who Has Opinions and thinks everyone else wants/needs to hear those opinions.

      1. Jennifer*

        Just based on the phone calls alone I’d agree with you but the baby talk and condescension just makes me think she looks down on her. “I know you’re doing the best you can.” Seriously???

      2. Marmaduke*

        I’m a little curious whether she acts the same way toward OP around her new manager. That, to me, would make a huge difference in my interpretation of her behavior. If she does act the same way around the manager, she’s just opinionated but highly out of touch and is a poor fit for the role. If her behavior is completely different when someone in a position of power is there to observe, she’s underhanded and conniving and a bad fit for the whole company.

      3. Oh So Anon*

        People like that learn best by getting themselves unemployed, ’cause you ain’t at work for people to hear your Opinions.

      4. Scarlet2*

        Oh yeah, I think she’s either completely arrogant or massively insecure and overcompensating, but it’s not personal. It’s a power play and she’s just trying to push LW’s buttons. If LW was a cat lady/a wrestling champion/an amateur llama groomer, she’d have “opinions” about that too…

    3. Dust Bunny*

      I think she sounds like the kind of person who just likes to be a jerk. I’d bet good money that Jane would use any information the LW gave her to get under the LW’s skin. If I were training her, she’d probably kvetch about cat lovers or whatever.

      1. Myusername*

        This comment. She seems like she has said some hurtful things. I’m not sure once she actually has to start doing job that attitude wont change. But the Op has this situation made in the shade. Which can make people jealous naturally. Op should remember what she has as well.

    4. FormerFirstTimer*

      I was actually wondering if she no only was a jerk, but maybe just doesn’t know how to act around pregnant people? I’ve seen stranger things.

  10. juliebulie*

    What would happen if LW said to Jane, “Did you know I’m involved in the hiring process?”

    (Does Jane know that LW is involved in the hiring process? I assume she doesn’t, or she wouldn’t talk that way. If I’m wrong about that, then I think Jane should probably be ejected from the company entirely because she’ll spread misery and resentment wherever she goes.)

    1. Bertha*

      That is a good point, and I think OP is forgetting her power here. She is involved in the hiring process. If she were involved in the hiring process for a position that didn’t replace her, I wonder if she’d have *any* problem saying that Jane is a terrible fit.

      1. juliebulie*

        I hope she is not worried about abusing her power, because this is the very reason she was given this power in the first place.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I got dope-slapped remembering that Jane is an in house CANDIDATE.
      Her behavior is so over the top that I dropped that out of my head completely.
      IN NO WAY SHAPE OR FORM can OP avoid saying to turn down this person. Jane may be teachable — but it won’t happen if she gets this position!

  11. emeemay*

    You know, where I come from, “bless your heart” really means “I could not care less if you were hit by a bus.”

    This whole thing is a Yikes. I hope that you don’t have to work with this person after sharing your concerns.

    1. Sparrow*

      With the other targeted remarks she’s made, it reads more like, “I HOPE you get hit by a bus; in fact, I want to be the one driving the bus.” She seems to be trying very hard to provoke OP here, and I can’t guess why unless there’s some sort of pre-existing vendetta or she’s just a genuinely horrible person who’s counting on OP’s politeness to let her get away with it. Maybe both. (Either way, kudos to OP for keeping her cool this long. There’s a good chance I would’ve snapped by now.)

  12. Jdc*

    I’m sitting in the surgery waiting room waiting for my husband listening to a loud woman and her screaming child she is ignoring, very stressed about my husband….and Jane annoys me more. That should tell LW how right she is about this woman and to speak up.

  13. NewHerePleaseBeNice*

    I’m British, but even *I* am getting angry at Jane’s use of ‘bless your heart’. Ugh ugh ugh.

    1. Campfire Raccoon Horking Potatosalad*

      The urge to punch Jane in the front-butt is strong. It’s a VERY good thing the OP is more professional than I am.

  14. J.E.*

    OP tell your manager all of this and don’t spare the details. Nip it right now and find someone else for the role or you may be training someone else in a few months because she puts off clients.

    1. Antilles*

      +1 – the details are really important here.
      My immediate reaction upon reading all those details is “Jane is in no way a fit for this role”. She hasn’t even officially started yet and she’s already being condescending and rude, passive-aggressive, blatantly ignoring protocols, and refusing to take advice from others.
      If she’s this miserable when still in training, she’s going to be even worse after actually settling into the job.

      1. JessaB*

        Too bad the OP can’t just hand the boss the link to this post. It’d come over badly though probably unless the boss is a very specific type, although listing out the items the way they’re put in the letter would be a good idea.

    2. LKW*

      Agree. Also document everything you instructed her to do. Create a transition package and send a copy to your manager so that when Jane starts to change things up, and it goes against policy, she can’t turn around and blame you. You’d have left evidence of precisely why you need to do things the way you’ve instructed.

    3. ThursdaysGeek*

      And then send us an update. Please, I want this update to be a happy one for you, for your boss, and for all your co-workers who don’t have to work with Jane after all.

  15. Slow Gin Lizz*

    OP, I don’t think you have to worry about appearing not ready to pass the torch. It sounds like you are very ready or else you wouldn’t have stepped down from this position in the first place, before anyone had even been hired to fill the position in your stead. You need to tell whoever is in charge of hiring Jane that she is downright unsuitable for the job before it’s too late. I agree with Alison and the other commenters that being as objective and unemotional as possible is the way to go here.

    Also, I do love Alison’s question: “Does any part of this job involve working with other people?” Because of course it does. Think of those people. They deserve to have someone who is not condescending, who doesn’t interrupt people, and who isn’t planning to implement changes that go against company policy (like, what is that about, anyway?). Good luck with everything, OP!

  16. WorkIsADarkComedy*

    Because you can’t be sure that your best efforts to alert your present boss to Jane’s problems will bear fruit, anything you can reasonably do to deincentivize Jane’s toxicity towards you will benefit you. Allison has good suggestions, and I would add that you implement them in a way that makes Jane’s dismissiveness and bullying unpleasant for Jane (but in a professional way).

    Be assertive in your responses and look Jane in the eye when you do. Make sure Jane knows that you will be watching her closely. And of course document everything, including what she has already said and under what circumstances. Get her dysfunction in writing if possible: email her back with what she said orally, but in a way that relates to business rather than being personal.

    Here’s to Jane being a momentary bump in the road!

    1. Nea*

      email her back with what she said orally, but in a way that relates to business rather than being personal.

      I’m having trouble picturing how this would go in practice. “Dear Jane, re business processes. The company policy is to do x, not to bless my heart. Changing x will require a signoff by Boss regardless of how hard you think I’m trying.” ??

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        It could be done with these: She regularly will correct me and tell me she has better ways to do things I’ve been doing for two years. Her suggestions on improvements actually go against a lot of company policies

        1. MCMonkeyBean*

          I wouldn’t recommend phrasing it as her saying she has better ways to do things than what I’ve been doing for two years–because sometimes the new people *do* have better ways to do things.

          I trust OP’s implication that Jane is wrong in thinking that in this particular case, but I don’t think that is the part to emphasize because it’s not quite the best complaint. I would recommend something more like “she seems really interested in process improvements which could be great down the line, but many of her suggestions seem to go against company policy and she’s having trouble grasping that. I think it’s important that she focus on learning our current ways first before trying to make too many changes.”

      2. WorkIsADarkComedy*

        Your suggested snark is actually pretty cool, Nea. :-)

        I was thinking more along the lines of “Jane, I want to make sure I understand correctly. Although the Company Policy is X, you’re instructing me to do Y. Do I have that right?”

        1. Zil*

          Is Jane instructing the LW to do anything though? It sounds like Jane is just saying that she (Jane) is going to do such-and-such when the responsibility for the task moves to her rather than the LW.

          1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            Same diff: “Hey Jane, when I was training you to do X the other day, you stated that you will be doing Y instead after you take over. However our company policy is Z and Y goes against it. Can you clarify to make sure I understood you correctly about you planning to switch to doing Y after my departure? Thanks.”

            1. On a pale mouse*

              I would be stronger. “I can see where Y could have some benefits [if you can], but unfortunately we can’t do Y because it violates company policy.” Then it’s clear you’re not being that person who rejects all changes because “that’s how we’ve always done it,” BUT you are also clearly saying “don’t do Y.” It sounds like OP has an obligation to say “don’t do Y.”

  17. Mama Bear*

    I wonder what the hiring process was – how did Jane get selected and what was missed? Did her previous manager leave out some data that would have changed the selection?

    Since you seem to have a good rapport with the VP, I’d ask to meet with him and outline your concerns. She may have been good at her previous job, she may be “due” for a promotion, etc. but if she’s a bad fit, she’s a bad fit. Sometimes expectation just isn’t reality. It isn’t about not wanting to train a replacement. It’s about seeing red flags about this person being your replacement. If they asked what you needed to stay then they value your work and input. If this person will be your boss or will be someone you will work closely with and her behavior will cause you to cut bait entirely, then be upfront about that, too.

    In the meantime, I agree with the response and the suggestions to shut down her behaviors and document everything.

      1. pope suburban*

        I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the case. We have a Jane, and while I wouldn’t necessarily describe her as warm toward anybody, she treats her superiors very, very differently than her subordinates and other people she sees as “below” her. Personally, I think this is one of the most disastrous traits someone can have, as a human being, but also in the working world. It breeds resentment very quickly, leaves perfectly qualified people feeling doubtful of their own abilities, and puts people who are not exceptionally good at managing people into positions where they can do significant harm.

  18. pope suburban*

    LW, I am currently nominally supervised by a Jane. She has been a significant factor in multiple people leaving their positions in our unit, and she has pretty terrible relationships with many of our contractors. She also does not deliver on her work (She spends a lot of time on Amazon and facebook, not on her phone, but same thing), and tends to be an impediment to process improvement because she is so sure she knows best and that how she does things is perfect. Unit morale is at an all-time low, and- not for the first time- she is involved in disciplinary proceedings with her supervisors. So from the perspective of someone who works with/for a Jane, please speak up. Jane is the kind of person who can poison a whole department and drive talent away- and put your company at risk if she’s willing to ignore policies. I would strongly recommend finding someone else to fill this role.

    1. cmcinnyc*

      Another dept where I work recently hired a Jane and whoo boy. There’s an exodus under way. And yes, she’s kiss up/kick down, so she looks golden to those above her. And forgive this yankee, but isn’t “bless your heart” just F you in Southern?

      1. AKchic*

        I dealt with a Jane for a while. It was not pretty. She was with the company for less than two years. She caused a lot of problems. I was there for nearly 4 years before she started. I was there for almost 3 years after she left. There were three people on my list of “if you hire them back, I will quit with no notice”. All three had gotten us investigated by state and federal agencies (one person overlapped the other two). Never again will I work with any of them. My Jane now does MLM and when I see her at craft fairs I make sure to avoid her because I know I won’t be polite in public.

  19. AvonLady Barksdale*

    One thing I want to say is kudos to this LW for speaking up and telling Jane she’s being disrespectful. That can be really hard to do, especially in the face of someone who uses BYH as a weapon the way it sounds like Jane does. A lot of times these situations are frustrating and we need encouragement to Use Our Words; it doubly sucks that the LW has done that and Jane is still a problem, but thumbs up for exercising your options.

  20. JSPA*

    OP, do you need the part-time income? If you could squeeze by without it, there’s no reason you should have to have a front-row seat for the unfolding disaster, unless you relish it.

    I’d consider going so far as to say to your and her manager(s), “I recognize that every manager brings their own procedural preferences and updates to a job. However, Jane has repeatedly stated her intentions to use procedures that violate core policies. She has repeatedly “blessed my heart” for pointing this out. She also refuses to learn our current procedure, which may leave her without the knowledge needed to migrate to any new process. If my future part-time job can’t be strictly separated from Jane’s so that I don’t encounter the fallout from her neutron bomb approach to the role, I foresee a likely need to either resign or take a brief, unpaid break until such time as you need me to train a different replacement.”

    Basically, I’d focus on the institutional problem, not the interpersonal problem. Her tone with you is galling, but bringing it up as the core issue is likely to lead down a “style issues” rabbit hole. (Unless, that is, they’re encountering the same thing themselves. But in that case, they don’t need to hear it from you.)

      1. JSPA*

        Actually, it sounds like the boss wanted to keep OP more than OP wanted to keep the job.

        Regardless, the idea is for OP to signal the depth of the problem, not to resign. As there’s always an outside chance that work will call her bluff, she can only do this if I’m reading correctly, and LWOP (or resigning fully) does not create a hardship.

        Look, OP expects that Jane will create a train wreck (in short order) and will need replacing (in short order).

        OP is potentially willing to pick up the pieces after (and train someone better), but OP does not want to be there with broom and dustpan, under pressure to work full-time damage control while being paid part time (and being negged by Jane) during the disaster.

        This is a succinct way of summarizing her professional opinion of the situation, her reaction to Jane and to Jane’s prospects in the job, and her distress at the thought of watching it unfold in real-time.

    1. JessaB*

      I wonder if the OP wants to stay to keep themselves from being totally bored at home and to keep their hand in the business in case they want to work when the kids are older, I mean it’s an ideal way to not be the stay at home who in four years has no current experience in their field. But not at the expense of sanity and having to hold back becoming totally unprofessional in reaction to this garbage.

    2. Samwise*

      The salary may not be the (only) consideration. Staying on part-time keeps OP connected to this employer, and keeps her working outside the home, which can be important for OP’s career path overall. It may mean that OP continues to have insurance and to pay into/get employer contributions towards retirement. OP may also enjoy doing the work, knows she needs to have adult interaction after having a child, may have a strong identity as a working professional. All of these reasons, and perhaps others, are important; for myself, salary was maybe 5% of my consideration in deciding to continue to work outside the home after I had my child.

    3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      She works for a company that appreciates her and treats her well; to the point of making accommodations that will allow OP to continue developing her career while also giving ample time to her young children. She has a great rapport with the leadership of the company. It would really, really suck if OP were to be forced out of this job by a terrible person who should not be managing anyone.

  21. Lynca*

    On the plus side OP, the fact she is not going to listen to you and violate company policy means she’s going to spectacularly flame out. All you need to do is warn them that’s what’s going to happen.

  22. animaniactoo*

    One thing that you might want to do is open the conversation with a question of how much leeway is Jane intended to have or pursue for changing company policies. As a method of checking yourself (and showing yourself to be doing so in raising the concern) whether Jane seems uninterested because she is part of a plan to introduce some wholesale changes, or whether Jane does not have a good grasp on what she is supposed to be doing in the role.

    If it DOES turn out that Jane is supposed to be making and pushing for major policy changes, I would still pursue the fact that until those go into place, these are the processes and she needs to learn them so that she can carry them out now. Also because learning them is part of figuring out why things are being done as they are now in order to make effective changes going forward.

    I would flag the dismissiveness, AND the downtalking/opinionated stances as something that is going to be extremely bad for morale – you’ve only described it to us and we’re ready to take her out back behind the woodshed and deliver some personal justice on her.

    1. JessaB*

      If Jane is supposed to make changes she’s doing a terrible job of conveying that and she SHOULD be conveying that because that’s part of the job of making changes. In order to make good changes and make them stick you need to have buy in from stakeholders, the hardest way to make changes is to have people going not “we always did that” but “Company policy *requires* that we do that.”

      1. animaniactoo*

        Exactly. Even if it is her job to make these kinds of changes, her dismissiveness about the current methods/policies means that she will not be a good standardbearer to carry out this transition.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      But since the OP and the boss are so tight, don’t you think the boss would have said “We’re going to bring in someone and shake stuff up a bit!” to her at very least?

      I may be used to absolutely transparent bosses though, especially at the level the OP was at and her relationship with the VP! None of my bosses minus Voldemort was shady in the least but I’m used to be a number 2, often acting as the number 1…so I’m probably skewed here. But in my mind, unless there’s something in the works outside the VP’s area but I can’t imagine that happening unless someone is cynically deciding to uproot the VP after OP transitions to part-time.

      So I cannot imagine this being an inside job, it sounds like Jane is just out to frigging lunch on what her scope will be.

      1. animaniactoo*

        Agreed – but raising it as something she’s at least considered will also help OP to appear more objective about the situation/what she’s seeing.

        (I don’t like playing office politics, but when you force me to do it, I’m pretty good at it…)

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Ah I see what you did there then ;)

          You’re right about that approach, in that case. I’m just a stubborn old mule who will be like “Bro, this frigging person over here thinks she’s gonna be changing things, can you talk about this nonsense?” and assume that she’s out to lunch. But you’re right, the better way unless you’re known to be me, is to approach it more cautiously!

  23. StaceyIzMe*

    I think that, if there was any mistake on your part, it was in failing to lay down some very solid boundaries the first time some of these behaviors reared their heads. This has been an almost perfect situation for you, professionally speaking. But you’re not going to be able to turn this disaster around in the short time that you have left, in my view. It’s impossible for precisely the reasons you cited. Do a low key “heads up” to the manager, set better boundaries with this person during the last part of shadowing, and resolve to make this an “abandon ship” maneuver. You just don’t have enough skin in the game to be able to force a better outcome, for all of the reasons you cited. And you don’t know if she’s targeting you and is otherwise a sane acting person (possible, but unlikely) or if she’s a bad hire that got access to this position through a hand-off and an inflated reference from her prior manager who might have been glad to pass her on. Working with her would be like trying to hang out with Cruella De Vil. She sounds just as toxic, condescending and of dubious competence. That’s an utter trifecta of terror when dealing with a coworker. So- in a word- RUN!

    1. animaniactoo*

      I dunno. It sounds to me like she tried to lay down some very solid boundaries with a woman who will shortly, in essence, be her boss. And that woman ignored them completely.

    2. Librarian1*

      Yeah, I think she has been trying to lay down boundaries, they just haven’t been respected. And the OP has only been training this person very recently, not for the entire 4 months of their notice.

      1. StaceyIzMe*

        I have to admit that I kind of wondered about that myself in that she did raise the issue on some remarks when it came up. I think what might have been helpful is more deeply expressed disapproval for the “bless your heart” and “doing the best you can” kind of stuff, as in “Let’s focus on process. This is what is needed for you to do the job NOW.” “You keep saying things that are condescending and that has to stop, NOW. I don’t want to divert attention from what you need to learn. So- for now- no more blessing my heart or telling me about how I’m doing the best I can. You need to be doing the best YOU can…” (Or whatever is suitable to the context and the corporate culture.) I also think that the failure to confront this head on and loop management in as soon as the matter moved from a single occurrence to a pattern is a mistake that isn’t fixable (because even though the letter writer is on the hiring team, she’s moving quickly to part-time and she’s also not raised the matter earlier.) All of this is armchair speculation and could, in fact, be inaccurate. Just my take on it.

  24. Peaches*

    Ugh, I hate that you’re going through this.

    Your situation reminds me SO much of a replacement I trained several months ago after voluntarily moving positions. (not sure if you follow the Friday open threads, but I documented my saga with her over several weeks!) From day 1, she would interrupt my training to say “oh, I don’t plan on doing it that way”, or, “that’s an outdated system, I have an IT background, I’ll fix that.” (this wasn’t an IT position, nor was she even an internal employee!)

    For what it’s worth, she ended up getting fired for “not being a good fit”. I’m sure your instincts about her are right! I don’t have a whole lot of advice, but you have my sympathies.

    1. Fortitude Jones*

      I remember that coworker! Then she tried to train her replacement without anyone’s explicit instruction to do so, lol. I miss your coworker – she sucked, but was highly entertaining.

  25. MCL*

    Since your boss has already made significant accommodations for you in order to keep you and must have some respect for your skills and opinions, I think you have some leverage here. You say that Jane is an internal candidate who is shadowing you, but how firm is the plan for her to transition into this role? If it’s not a done deal, I think you have excellent standing to follow Alison’s advice and go back to your boss to say that Jane isn’t a good fit. Doubly important that you do this because you will continue to be working there and will be Jane’s colleague! Jane isn’t magically going to be less of an asshole (and she is being that) once you’re working remotely, though distance may lessen the annoyance. Since you’re on the hiring committee, bring your strong reservations to the rest of the committee (or your boss, whatever’s appropriate) and lay them out matter-of-factly. I’m betting you can make a case for seeking a different candidate to fill the role.

  26. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    Your boss values you and your input. You need to talk to him about all this nonsense. Especially with her refusing to comply with your policies and procedures. Then I would explain that her attitude towards you is so vile you won’t be able to work with her even in a limited capacity given her gross lack of respect for you as a person.

    You owe it to the company and manager you have grown to care so much about to try to save them from this awful situation they’re finding themselves in with a bad hire.

    My last replacement didn’t listen and was a complete mess. I thankfully missed a meeting where she introduced herself fully and had the team all looking at each other like “who da fuq is this ridiculous person?”. They cut her loose within 2 weeks of my formal departure, I heard. Much to everyone’s relief. (The fact she couldn’t do the job was the real clincher but if she was NICE they would have given her longer to try to get up to speed but the attitude plus incompetence, gurl bye).

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Also the fact she’s already flaking off on her phone all the time is huge to tell the boss.

      I was hired for my 10yr long position years ago as a second choice (first choice had more schooling was the only reason they went there) because she kept ignoring the phone and was constantly online playing bingo. Which was so laughable to do when you’re in training! My boss didn’t care if you were online after your work was done but ANSWER THE DANG PHONE and you know, do the rest of your job first. This shows she’s already checked out and not going to get her work done. That’s a red cape in front of a bull sized red flag.

  27. NCKat*

    That “Bless your heart” response makes my blood boil. You need to shut that down, pronto. If she says that to you, imagine her saying it to the staff. Morale would go down like lead.

  28. Heidi*

    One thing that really stood out to me is that despite how blatantly obnoxious Jane has been, OP is still thinking that maybe she’s being “too sensitive about being critiqued.” No! You are not! Jane is rude.

    When presenting this to your boss, though, I would try to have very specific examples of problematic behavior. Don’t just say, “Jane is rude.” Say, “I said this, and Jane said (rude thing).” Quote verbatim. Give examples of changes that she has proposed that are against company policy (“She says she wants to change X, but I’m concerned that this violates policy Y”). It’s possible that the boss will not be worried about Y; that’s his business. I also think you’re well within your rights to say that you don’t think that you can effectively work with her (the shadowing period is a try-out after all; the assumption is that she might not work out). If you don’t want to go that far, you could present it as a, “If she’s hired for the job, I would be concerned about how she treats other women with children (and other aspects of the job).” You’re doing the boss a favor by giving him both factual information and your opinion from working up close with her so that he can make an informed decision about whether to hire her.

    1. juliebulie*

      Also, OP is not being “critiqued.” What Jane has been doing does not qualify as “criticism.” It’s just taunting.

      Even if she had been giving thoughtful and respectful critiques, that was not the purpose of shadowing OP. Jane is supposed to be paying attention. She is not showing a shred of respect for the very position she’s expecting to get.

      (Okay so one weird possibility: maybe Jane wants to get canned for some reason.)

  29. 2 Cents*

    Had to train someone like this when I was 8 months pregnant. She came in late, not just the first day, but the entire first WEEK (our starting time was 9 am and yeah, others meandered in after, but, you know, they’d been working there longer than 24 hours *eye roll*). Let’s just say things went down from there. My manager was severely conflict averse (and yes, a bad manager in many ways), and it took more than 18 months for her to be fired. In that time, I had my baby, took mat leave, came back, furiously job hunted and left around her one-year anniversary for a better job. She was completely toxic, but upper management tolerated her because she was a warm body.

  30. Batgirl*

    As well as her reporting her worrying level of performance and skills, it’s definitely worth flagging the comments about working parents as a potential legal (and moral) issue. I doubt your company wants a representative negging the performance of anyone who is pregnant and who dares to use day care.

  31. AlphaKitten*

    Not only Jane shouldn’t get this position, she should be fired from the company for her horrible behavior. That’s totally unacceptable. OP must be very patient, after one day of this I would have gone to our manager and told him that this isn’t going to work out. Being that unprofessional, lazy, impolite, refusing to be trained? I’m at a loss for words. People like Jane should never get an ounce of power. OP, it is your duty to make sure that she doesn’t get it. She will make life miserable for you, for your coworkers and for your customers. She is a monster in the making. Personally, I would skip the “talk to her manager to improve her behavior” step and go directly to “her attitude and the fact that she doesn’t listen to the training make her a bad candidate for the role, we should keep looking for someone who can actually succeed in this position and work productively with coworkers”.
    Another thing. Recently, I was talking with my manager about how the hiring process for a position in our service was going. After she described some of her difficulties finding someone with the right qualifications, she told me the one thing that mattered the most, above all, was that the person she selected would get along well with [coworker’s name], because the role would require them to work closely together on a regular basis. OP, I think your manager should make it a priority that the person that fills what is presently Jane’s role gets along great with you, since you will keep on working closely together. Jane’s behavior will only get worse after you go part time, if she is horrible now, she will be pure nightmare later. Don’t do this to yourself, you have a voice in this hiring process, use it. Someone who can’t work pleasantly with you shouldn’t get this job.

  32. Jaybeetee*

    I’m sure Jane’s former manager gave her a *glowing* reference.

    Since you’re already the parent of a toddler, you fortunately know how to show great patience, and how to not take things personally!

    Much like the other recent letter about bullying, it might help you to reframe Jane as a bratty 12-year-old. Since that’s close to how she’s acting. The more you can reframe her behaviour in your own mind as ridiculous and childish, the more confidence you’ll carry in your day-to-day, the easier it will be to deal with her.

    Loop in your boss, with whom you seem to have a good rapport. With Jane – hell, I wouldn’t give her much more than a quirked eyebrow. If she’s suggesting things that go against policy, tell her that, but otherwise don’t dignify anything she says with an argument or defense. Best case scenario, she’ll find you too boring and leave you alone. If not, at least you’re not dealing with her.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Since you’re already the parent of a toddler, you fortunately know how to show great patience, and how to not take things personally!

      I know this is in jest but at the same time, I just had a conversation this morning about how my tolerance for children is astronomically high. Whereas my tolerance for adults being even slightly obnoxious on purpose is way down in the gutter. Toddlers can do whatever they want and I’ll just inward sigh and try to teach them because they’re teachable humans, whereas adults at that stage who are grown up and still acting a mess, unteachable, throw them in the trasssssssssssh.

      1. 'Tis Me*

        My toddler doesn’t understand why I don’t want her to stick her fingers up her nose. She does know it makes her big sister laugh and copy her, and she adores her sister, so she will keep on doing it.

        If I was expected to train an adult who tried to get my attention the same way I would be utterly nauseated and horrified!!

        Also, if an adult regularly pulled my hair, stood on me, clawed at my face and throat, thwacked me with hard plastic toys, etc etc, I would be looking into pressing charges/getting a restraining order. As the person in question doing this is under 2 years old and literally doesn’t understand that these actions cause me pain I instead try to teach her gentle hands and pleasant ways to interact with people (and also recognise when she’s being boisterous because she needs to work off some energy, and when she’s overtired and miserable and needs a nap)…

    2. myug*

      Tolerance for children is easy. They are children; they don’t know better.

      Tolerance for adults is a real art. LW deserves more credit.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        Right. We understand that little kids’ minds are still developing, but with adults? Hells nah – they need to be developed, lol.

  33. Artemesia*

    Agree and think you have to be very frank with your own boss about the disaster they are about to embark on. This is not one to be subtle about if you want to keep your part time job.

  34. Alex*

    Congratulations to Alison for coming up with something other than “Clearly she needs to be gifted a flaming bag of dog poop” which is the only advice I could have given….ugh. She sounds AWFUL.

  35. WantonSeedStitch*

    “Bless your heart?”

    OH. NO. SHE. DIDN’T.

    I may be a born-and-bred Yankee, but even I know what that really means. I think you owe it to your employer to let them know that Jane’s unwillingness to take instruction and inability to treat colleagues with respect and professionalism makes her a really bad person for this role. I think the sooner you do that, the easier it will be to find someone else to replace you..

  36. What's with Today, today?*

    I’ve adopted “What an odd thing to say,” thanks to AAM and it is incredibly effective. I have found it usually stops people in their tracks.

    1. OyHiOh*


      And also Captain Awkward’s “wow” + pregnant pause and radical change of subject

      Two stock reactions that have radically improved work and social life!

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I recently had someone just kind of cock their head at me and it gave me the message too. But I’m pretty easy to get a message across to, I think words of course are better and drive it home more. So I’m glad that’s catching on. Not all of us who stick our foot in our mouth do it because we like the taste!

  37. Llellayena*

    Is this a step down as in you will be reporting to her or a step sideways where you are still at the same level but not fulfilling the whole role? If it’s a step down, getting the role clear to her BEFORE she’s your boss is critical because it’ll just get worse when she has control over your role. If it’s sideways, you have more authority to push back as still being a decision-maker for the role both before and after she starts. And if that’s the case, does she understand that?

  38. Dagny*

    I would bet that Jane’s former manager doesn’t see much of a problem with her; there are people who are outstanding at “kiss up, kick down.” Jane thinks that OP is one of the people who is “down.”

    I would escalate this, with as much detail and supporting documentation as possible. Everything from violating company policy to the nasty comments about working mothers are problematic. (From a legal perspective, the comments about working mothers are not necessarily discriminatory in of themselves, but could bolster a discrimination claim. “What makes you think Jane fired you because you were pregnant?” “Well, she said to our former manager that it’s bad for kids to be in daycare.”)

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Or even that OP is just on her own level, so she doens’t have to watch herself.

      She’d never speak to the VP or manager like that but she’s fine with treating her colleagues like mud on her shoes.

      She could also do this due to the fact she views the OP as competition and therefore she’s trying to “put her in her place”. Which I’d love this woman to try to do to me. Because I’ll rip a face off and walk right out into the bosses office with it in my hands to show him what just happened.

  39. CBH*

    I also want to point out OP if you do stay make sure your current boss and you have a concrete agreement as to what you are expected to do part time. With Jane as your boss, I almost feel like your responsibilities will not change but you will be expected to cram it into a shorter time frame. Once Jane realizes that things “your way” weren’t that bad and are efficient I can see Jane pushing more and more of her work onto you. I could see your part time position becoming full time less one hour. If that’s the case then I would just leave completely. Any chance you could transfer departments, work remotely or just be hired as a consultant? Definitely bring up your concerns to your boss since you are still technically in your original position.

    1. Nicole*

      I’ve never seen a thread so overwhelmingly express (and support) the desire to harm someone as I have seen here with Jane. And I agree with it 100%.

  40. Colorado*

    Talk to your boss immediately, today. This person sounds like a nightmare and I’d bet dollars to donuts her current department wants her out. I would have lost my shit already. I’m sure your boss has a lot of trust and respect for your opinion. Say something now before it’s too late. Congrats and good luck! And F the daycare comments. Please… she sounds like a very jealous, insecure person.

  41. MuseumChick*

    Jane is an ass. Frankly, I would start document all of this and bring it all to your boss’s attention.

  42. Arctic*

    I find it more easy to tolerate someone who is outright aggressive than someone like Jane.

    Definitely give feedback. But I’m concerned that since she is already shadowing and clearly believes the job is her’s it is a done deal internally and they haven’t told you. She look at strategies to how you can work with Jane or think about leaving.

    Seeing someone else do “your” job will be difficult enough (I know that isn’t a motivator now but I have seen this internally in my organization with people who are actually good and get along but it’s still hard.) Someone like Jane who will do things against policy out of pure arrogance is another matter.

  43. myug*

    Very confused. Does Jane have children or are her children very grown? She reads either very young or very out of touch (i.e. older values, had opportunity to be housewife/caregiver when it was feasible then entered workforce). Either way, she shouldn’t be talking at all.

    I had a lateral Jane at work but since she is your replacement, and since you do have the ability, you need to speak to your boss ASAP. This woman sounds determined to be a pain and I am doubtful you will be able to reach her. Janes like this typically kiss up, kick down (although why she thinks she is your boss is beyond me) and respond to authority.

  44. Jean*

    To everyone in the comments arguing about what “bless your heart” really means – it means “I pity you.” So obviously can be kind or unkind depending entirely on context. Jane is clearly using it in the most toxic, passive-aggressive way possible.

  45. Reg commenter, anony for this*

    I work with a Jane, she got hired as my team lead, I mentioned it once in a weekly post, down to the ‘bless your heart’ (though fortunately not the weird day care thing). When someone at her level in a different group went to her manager and complained, she got talked to and it got better for about six months. Now she’s starting in on an exec I don’t know (instead of being this way about people I do know), trying to turn it into ‘sides’ and get me on ‘her’ side. I am staying the heck away from it and her, as far as I can.

    Please talk to your manager about this. If you can’t stop her from being hired, start looking at leaving, because she’ll only change on the surface.

  46. LCH*

    any value to also having the current processes in writing and proof that Jane has seen them? so if she is hired, and does start trying to change things in a way that violates policy, she can’t say OP never showed her this or that?

  47. Budgie Buddy*

    I think Jane sounds dreadful and absolutely wrong for this job. I also wonder if this situation where someone half-transitions out of a job while another person takes the reins is tenable even with well meaning competent employees. Could OP’s replacement really have the freedom to take charge of the position of OP is still around and involved? I replaced someone who did eventually leave and I still get negatively compared to that person. Doing their job while they can still look over my shoulder and say “Oh I forgot to tell you but we never do it that way” sounds really undermining.

  48. Kristine*

    Where you at OP? I’m ready to fight Jane just based on what you’ve written. I’m imagining a Beyonce “Hold Up” style retribution.

  49. LeighTX*

    LCH just above mentioned having your processes in writing–I think this is VITAL. If/when Jane is called out for doing things incorrectly, she will try to say that you didn’t show her the right way to do it. OR, she’ll say the incorrect way is the way you showed her. Either way, you need to CYA and write up your processes and email them to Jane AND cc your boss.

    Also, Jane is a huge jerk and you should call her on every nasty thing she says to you. And oblique comments about how daycare is bad for kids is indeed a nasty thing she is saying to you, so SHUT HER DOWN. Ugh Jane is the worst.

  50. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

    You’ve confronted Jane directly and nothing has changed. The next step will be to go to your manager. If manager supports you great, but if manager won’t address the issues with Jane (including letting her go) then I would seriously consider if you can take the financial hit of leaving permanently.

  51. Elbe*

    Jane sounds like the worst. Really, who acts like this? Particularly to someone who is trying to help them?

    I would really like an update on this one. And I would like that update to be that the LW’s opinion is so well regarded at the company that her concerns were taken seriously and Jane was denied the job. I would LOVE to have a photo of the look on Jane’s face when she realizes that the LW (who she mistakenly considered to be beneath her, and whom she insulted to her face) actually had influence over her career the whole time.

  52. Malty*

    I have never needed this site to have a gif option more. Words cannot convey how much I want to slap Jane’s words out of the air

  53. Tisiphone*

    Oh wow! Will Jane be talking to customers with that mouth?

    Jane needs to not be dealing with direct reports and certainly not the public.

  54. Kisses*

    I’m sure a lot of people know but in the south ‘bless your heart’ is considered an insult. As in ‘bless your heart you’re too stupid to know’.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Not in the south but some of my loved ones are, I explained this to my “northern” friends so long ago. I didn’t realize my partner didn’t know though and it finally clicked that I wasn’t being nice L-O-L

      Along with “Awww, such a Sweet Child of Jesus”

      1. Blue Horizon*

        The first time I came across this I was fortunate enough to hear it used appropriately in context, by a manager after she was on the receiving end of an angry, misinformed rant. It was all I could do not to burst out laughing on the spot. The meaning was immediately clear and I never had to wonder after that.

  55. CM*

    I would say the following to the VP:
    – You have serious concerns about Jane’s ability to do this job and would strongly recommend against hiring her.
    – There is still some time to train a different person.
    – Jane has refused to listen to your knowledge transfer and has said she would change processes instead of following existing ones. However, her proposals violate company policy and, from your experience, are unlikely to work.
    – She has also made repeated comments about how women who have children should not work which you find personally offensive.

    1. 'Tis Me*

      – When you asked her if she could refrain from making offensive comments about women who need to use child care to you, she flat-out refused.
      – She doesn’t appear to be engaged in the training you are trying to provide, instead spending approximately X hours/day on her phone.
      – You are concerned that these interactions and her refusal to listen to feedback from you indicate that she will struggle to successfully interact with both customers and her reporting chain.
      – You will document your SOPs and send a copy to both Jane and VP as you are concerned that Jane has completely failed to grasp both the procedures and the underlying principles behind them; if they wish to give Jane longer to prove herself, this may well be helpful. If they decide while you’re on maternity leave/after you go part time that they will need to find somebody else to take on the director role, the documentation should help with onboarding Jane’s replacement.

      And potentially if there’s somebody on your team or who you’ve worked with elsewhere in the company who you’ve been impressed with and know works well with others (and who is on a similar level to Jane’s previous position hierarchically), put their name forward as a possible alternative – demonstrate that this is about what Jane fails to bring to the table, not your refusal to let go.

  56. Shay*

    If Jane is hired for this role, it has the potential to reflect very poorly on the LW when (and not if ) she doesn’t work out. LW is at risk of being accused of not transitioning out well and preparing Jane to step in. It could all blow up in her face because Jane didn’t work out. Best to raise specific concerns NOW than hope for the best later.

  57. TootsNYC*

    I bet she’s trying to drive you out–these all seem very specifically aimed, with you are the target.

    I bet she doesn’t want to feel that you’re still around (to be fair, it’s a little awkward, especially if you’re going to be working in her department).

  58. QueenoftheCats*

    Idk, it sounds like Jane thinks she is a shoe-in for the job. Furthermore, she might see the hiring process as a formality as opposed to something she should take seriously. So, instead of pretending to be a nice person, she went straight to being a meanie poopy pants. I wonder if there’s a way to remind her that no, she doesn’t get the job automatically just because she’s an internal hire and that she should still be on her best behavior. Obviously, you still need to document and talk to the VP and whomever else is involved with hiring. But being reminded of her precarious position might temper her comments and demeanor.

    Good luck!

  59. Princess Unikitty*

    Just adding that I could not have been as cool as OP because I had a bad case of pregnancy rage. I am sure Jane is trying to out nice her also with the chirpy bs.

  60. Livetoread*

    I had almost this exact scenario happen to me. I told a job I wasn’t going to come back after my baby was born and I had given them plenty of notice so they hired someone and I was supposed to train her. She did the same things-wouldn’t listen to things I told her, how certain things were done, was unkind to me, etc. I did tell my boss who pretty much told me I just couldn’t let go. So I dropped it. I have been in HR for years and I always say that everyone is replaceable and if you quit a job hoping that they will beg you to come back, you will always be disappointed.

    Well, my replacement started calling me after I had my baby and wasn’t working or being paid. I did try to be helpful but I was home with a new baby and one time she called at a very inopportune time (this was long before caller ID). I told her that I was happy to talk to her but that I couldn’t that day and tried to explain why. She immediately went to my boss and said that I had refused to help (which, of course, I had no obligation to do). That was in August. In October, my former boss called me and said that she had fired my replacement and would there be any possibility of me coming back and I could name my terms.

    I negotiated a situation that I thought would work and came back. I found all kinds of issues. My replacement had lied about submitting government reports on time, simply didn’t do some work, etc. I still think you are dreaming if a job you quit will beg you to come back, but this was one time I was wrong. My boss did admit she was wrong but I honestly think it could have gone a different way.

    This is a challenging situation and I agree with other commentors that she is working towards undermining you and taking over. Document, document, document is all I can say.

  61. Theelephantintheroom*

    My pregnant ass is seething over Jane’s implication that your work would be better if not for your “circumstances.”

    But I agree full heartedly with Allison’s suggestions.

  62. Out of the box thinker*

    Honestly? This person sounds like trouble who would stab you in the back in a flat second.
    Id write up a clear list of concerns, including all items of things that are polices you have in place that Jane wants to change despite it violating policies. Mention the verbal bullying and condescending behavior.

    Start writing the list of procedures and info that you are trying to relay to Jane via email and attachements. Write them as recaps of your discussions -etc.
    Save your inbox. This creates a paper trail that you DID your job and communicated correct info. I heavily aggree on if you cant convince folks that she is a terrible fit, that you can separate out your responsiblities. If this cannot be done fully – email , email and document. – Keep masters of documents you write. (one of the advantages of attachements). The purpose is to prevent attempts to ‘create false evidence’ . CC your shared manager if thats the case. – basically ensure transparency to prevent Jane from being able to control.

    Do you have an HR that you can bring up the harassing verbal comments?
    My HR isnt someone Id go to for many of these kind of things, but team lead, director? -yes.

  63. NEWBIEMD19*

    Oh man. As a born and raised South Carolinian, I can tell you that “Bless Your Heart” is Southernspeak for “You’re pitiful and said something you shouldn’t have but you’re too dumb to know better so I’ll let it slide.”
    Do you want someone like that working at your company?
    She doesn’t seem like a good fit so, even if it’s easier in the long term to keep her on board, I think she needs to be replaced.

  64. Username optional*

    I’m English and I know how snarky “bless your heart” is. Someone tried it on with me thinking I didn’t understand so I called her on it.

    Next time Jane uses the phrase ask exactly why she is using that phrase. And if she tries to brush it off tell you’re surprised that someone as knowledgeable as her isn’t aware of what an insult that phrase is deemed to be.

  65. Brett Johnson*

    Depending on where she and you are from “bless your heart” is not just an odd thing to say, it is potentially insulting. Variations on tone inflection and volume make this phrase mean anything from a kind wish to a vicious insult. There are articles and comic sketches all over the place about this and it falls, at minimum, under the “probably not a professional way to say things to people” category.

    Her comments about child rearing to a visibly pregnant woman are also serious concerns. If she is moving into a supervisory position and these kinds of become a regular habit, she will rapidly create a toxic work environment and possibly put the company at legal risk.

  66. Chilly Delta Life*

    Every once in a while I read a letter that makes me want to pled for an update..

    OP I think we would all love to know how this turns out. Good luck also with your pregnancy (someone who just returned from an 8 week maternity leave)

  67. Nicole*

    My reply is so late, and I’m not sure if this has been suggested, but would a job-share be possible? (Not with HER! but with someone else that you could share the director job with?)

    My husband has a set up where he has joined forces with another employee. They both work 3 days a week and overlap on Wednesdays when they have shared meetings and do a handoff. When someone is in, they’re taking care of everything in their shared email and calendar, then they hand things off and get to be really off for the days they’re out. In their company, job shares can get new jobs and promotions as a job share. Maybe this would allow you to keep the director title and be able to contribute on that level while also cutting back on time.

    But I agree – this Jane sounds so problematic and offensive – what are your reproductive and family choices any business of hers anyway?!

  68. LaMont*

    I don’t have kids but what I’ve learned from my offices – from the formal to the casual, the more female-oriented to the bro-ey – is that women cannot win. Working moms were slandered in every office I’ve been in, held to impossible standards, speculated about, etc. I’d be VERY wary of raising issues with another woman while visibly pregnant. Horrifically unfair, but there’s pretty much no good way to handle maternity leave/mommy-tracking without coming off like the problem.

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