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

It’s “where are you now?” month at Ask a Manager, and all December I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past. Here are five updates from past letter-writers.

Remember the letter-writer who was training her replacement, and the replacement was condescending, rude, and wouldn’t listen? The letter-writer was switching to part-time but would still be around. Here’s the update:

Where to even begin! As I write this, I am currently off until spring and patiently waiting for my baby to arrive. I did find the advice from my post incredibly helpful. So many people thought I was under-reacting when I thought I was overreacting and it gave me the confidence to sit down and have a very honest conversation with my bosses.

I let my VP know that I was extremely hesitant about my replacement once again. I laid it all out there and told him i would respect any decision he made but that I ultimately thought it would be very difficult for me to work along side this person considering how training was going. Also I was afraid of relationships that we had cultivated being ruined by this person. He always remains professional but I could tell by how he was acting that he was extremely stressed and was under a lot of pressure to make this work. In the end the job was given to Jane. It was reiterated to Jane that she was not my boss and that I was here to help her succeed and grow our department.

In the following months I had left to work with Jane before having my baby things went as you would expect. I slowly started ramping down my work and documented all the training we worked on.

On several occasions I would direct her to handle a situation in a certain way and she would go rouge the second I left for an appointment or took a day off. She sent messages to clients like, “These accounts are now being handled by me and will be sufficiently managed”. Basically just throwing a bomb on our professional relationships. Clients who I had always done great work for began to reach out to our vp wondering why this new person was saying accounts weren’t “sufficiently managed”. Jane just didn’t have an understanding of why certain things were handled certain ways and was hyper focused on letting people know she was the manager instead of me. She changed my email signature to say “part-time” and generally did a lot of bullying like behavior. Her actions were even noticed by the owner of our company who requested to meet with me to see what the hell was going on. I was able to explain everything and he thanked me and said he would talk to her. At the same time I had documented everything I had instructed her to do and it became obvious to my VP and owner I was telling her all the right things to do and she completely ignored me. In the next few weeks she also did this to our accountant who has been with the company for 20 years, resulting in a major mistake and near loss of a long time client over a very minor issue.

Long story short she still works in the position but a lot of responsibility has fallen back on to my VP because he can’t trust her to handle clients. Its my understanding that she is allowed to do admin like work but is not allowed to converse with clients. I still don’t think she understands how her actions make her look bad and thinks that dragging other employees made her look like head boss in charge.

I’m off for the foreseeable future but before I left my boss had a very serious talk with me about my future with the company and how when I’m ready to come back he will “make adjustments” to keep me. He also said that several clients had reached out and wanted to work with only him or I. I believe the stress of not being able to trust Jane will mean that she cannot stay in the position for long. For now we’re in slow season and I’m off to have this baby so maybe I will have another update when I decide to come back!

{ 123 comments… read them below }

  1. I have no fun user name*

    I’m glad for this update and I’m glad people are listening to you, but honestly, LW, I’m side-eying your job for not firing her.

    1. WellRed*

      I’m not so confident they are really listening to her. If they were, it would never have gotten this far. Now clients are complaining, the VP is doing work (instead of, you know, managing this problem) and they almost lost a client.
      Jane has also been dishonest and shows a lack of integrity. And FFS, she changed the OP’s email signature!!! How did that even happen?
      OP, I hope your next update is all about your new job. Your company kinda sucks here.

      1. BrotherFlounder*

        As others have said, Jane has got to go. That is all kinds of not good.

        Hope your maternity leave goes well!

      2. StaceyIzMe*

        I couldn’t agree more! Can you say “train wreck”? I loved the serendipitous typo of “rouge” for “rogue” because her coworkers and the clients she has interacted with are suffering from metaphorical redness, road rash and overall injury to both dignity and sanity just from dealing with her. OP should give serious consideration to leaving (as in, she should actively look and take the first promising opportunity that is aligned with her skill set and affords even a mediocre degree of ostensible managerial competence).

      3. AnnaBananna*

        Frankly, the email signature is the smallest of the issues – but my eyebrow still raised. Jane has got to be the most insecure Head Boss In Charge that I’ve ever heard. And VP is such a wheenie. *eyeroll*

      1. EPLawyer*

        Usually if the client are raising concerns, the company acts because that means $$$$. The fact they are just moving deck chairs on the Titantic goes to something much deeper than no options right at the moment. What does Jane have on the VP that he won’t fire her? (I kid, a bit here).

        A long time client almost bailed because of Jane and all is said is vague noises about improving things?

        This place is full of Bees and Jane is the Queen. GET. OUT.

    2. Mazzy*

      I know. Most jobs I’ve worked at are hesitant to fire people like this and I don’t get it! Who do they think they’re protecting!

      1. Librarian of SHIELD*

        The OP mentioned that the VP seemed like he was under a lot of pressure to make the Jane situation work out, so maybe someone high up in the organizational structure really wanted Jane for the job, and to fire or demote her now would make that higher up look or feel bad for choosing the wrong person for the job. I’ve seen enough similar scenarios to think they’re more likely to be protecting someone’s ego than protecting Jane’s employment.

      2. Working Hypothesis*

        Most likely, themselves. A surprising percentage of the people who are empathic enough to be otherwise decent managers are also conflict-avoidant, and have serious trouble bringing themselves to the point of being able to look another human being in the face and tell them their job is being taken from them.

        This is, of course, a serious problem — managers *must* be able to fire; it’s a critically necessary tool for making a team run well. Hopefully, if you hire well and manage well, you don’t have to do it very often… but if you *can’t* make yourself do it, you run very real chances of ruining your team by allowing someone to do awful things and not stopping them.

        But it’s still one which happens all the time. I’d marginally rather have an empathic manager who handles their people well in other ways but can’t fire than I would a sociopathic manager who has no trouble firing people for the same reasons they have no trouble mistreating people who aren’t doing anything wrong. But it’s a close question, and the only reason for the preference is honestly that there is some chance that a manager who can’t fire won’t run into the problem during the time when I’m on their team, whereas a manager who abuses everyone will be trouble all the time instead of just some of the time.

      3. Door Guy*

        It sounds like they doubled down on sunk-cost fallacy – they had someone hired, and there was a very hard deadline (the baby), and they were hoping it would work.

        I’ve mentioned before horrible coworkers that took months and months to fire because to an upper manager removed from the situation, the body in the truck was more important than getting rid of an absolutely worthless employee costing them money.

        We also had an untrainable trainee. Horrible attitude, refused to follow any direction by his trainer, and just an all around condescending person. His trainer gave up, and told the managers he gave up. Guy got pushed through anyways and became a royal pain in my butt for about 6 weeks before he quit rather than defend himself against a theft allegation. There wasn’t enough evidence to prosecute anything, but when he was asked to bring in a receipt or bank statement showing he had used his card instead of the company card (his claim), he turned in his gear instead.

        1. Doc in a Box*

          I’ve been in this situation, with the untrainable trainee who can’t be fired. This is in medicine, so mistakes and arrogance have a legitimate impact on patient lives. But they often stay on/get promoted to the next year because no one wants to take responsibility for having made a mistake bringing them on.

          It’s actually happened multiple times in my career so far, and I’m less than a decade from med school graduation. Shocking how often people try to pass the buck, even when it comes to patient lives.

    3. Uldi*

      Same here. I’m baffled as to why they just don’t fire her, especially after nearly losing a long-time client. I wonder if they’re just hoping they can deal with her long enough for LW to be ready to return, and then plan to let Jane go then.

    4. Ele4phant*

      Me too!

      What is it about Jane, whose in her corner here? Why did the VP feel pressure to make it work?

      The owner got pulled in and knows what’s going on, they know the damage she’s caused, you can’t get any higher than that.

      I guess I could initially when the OP had their sit down that the VP maybe felt they wanted to make it work, maybe they felt like time had run out to start fresh and they believed if they just worked with her, she’d come around.

      But NOW, after she nearly lost a client and can’t be trusted to do the job she was hired to, why are they keeping her? Who or what on earth is protecting her at this point?

    5. NYCProducerGal*

      We’re going through this with a bad hire that my boss refuses to acknowledge. We’ve all gone to her with issues, complaints, and documented incidents, but that person is still here a year later. The boss has spent hours upon hours of time almost WEEKLY talking through the very BASICS of this job with the ‘new person,’ and most of us just try to avoid this person altogether. It’s been frustrating that our supervisor is taking the word of a new person over 4 other long-time staffers. She’s either too proud to admit she made a bad hire, or reluctant to go through hiring process again. Regardless, morale is lower than low and all sorts of accommodations are made for this brash, rude, worker who’s also BAD AT WHAT THEY DO.

      1. Door Guy*

        When I was hired for my current manager role, in my very first meeting after accepting the offer (when I came in to sign paperwork) I was warned about the possibility of having to let go an employee who wasn’t working out. They were going to give me a chance to work with him and see if I could improve his work, but after almost 2 years they weren’t hopeful. Apparently, he had to be assisted/directed constantly or he would make mistakes or neglect his duties. Everyone complained about him but no one DID anything. Part of the problem was this is the “new” office and they only had a manager on site 2 days a week since that he was pulling double duty and also managing their regular office. Combined with the only other office person always being out meeting with customers (and apparently running a side business in 2nd hand furniture) and this poor worker was left alone most of the time.

        In the end, I never got a chance to do anything, he was fired my 2nd week (while I was in training at home office) for losing us a long time client due to negligence.

      2. Minnesota Nice*

        I was in the same situation, except the bad hire was my boss. It was awful. Grand-Boss was incapable of admitting a mistake or hearing any negativity about the organization, so there was no chance of my boss being fired or even coached on their performance. I quit six months after the new boss started, and then the person they hired to replace me quit after six months. Boss is still there.

    6. Scarlet2*

      Seriously. After all she’s done, how come that woman is still working there??? What does it take for people to get fired at that company?

  2. Lena Clare*

    It’s a real shame that pressure to find a member of staff led to her being recruited at all – now the company has to go through firing her when it could have been avoided on the first place; that and not alienating clients! Guess that’s a lesson learned for them.

  3. SuperAnon*

    What’s wrong with your management that they can’t cut her loose? She is actively destroying your relationships.

    I just don’t get people.

    1. enlyghten*

      Clearly they don’t have the managerial wherewithal to fire some for gross incompetence, but they’ve reduced her responsibilities and should really change her job description and salary to match. Not the right outcome overall, but at least then she isn’t getting paid for a job she’s not performing.

    2. Ashley*

      We have been having conversations lately about this type of thing. Sometimes the alternatives are truly worse and until you have the full management picture you don’t always know it. It is helpful at least when I know the alternatives are truly worse when dealing with the crazy.

      1. Anon for this comment*

        Yes, it’s possible that they are in the process of getting rid of her but there are reasons which aren’t immediately obvious, why that can’t be done quickly.

        We once had a situation where we had an employee who was badly underperforming, and had issues with their attitude – they had a meeting about their performance (step one, where step 2 would be a formal PIP and step 3 dismissal, if there was no / insufficient improvement)

        They immediately responded by putting in aformal grievance,claiming all sorts of things from bullying to discrimination. it was all completely fabricated, but it meant that we had to go through a process of investigation and also assessment of any appropriate accommodations for the disability that this person hadd apparently suddenly developed overnight etc, during which we could not progress the PIP (because we had to wait to see whether any of the normal expectations needed to be adjusted to accommodate the ‘disability’ , and because the last thing we would want would be to penalise someone who did have a disability or other health issue which was affecting their work)
        And of course, we could not tell any of the other employees what was happening, because both disciplinary and health issues are confidential, so I am sure that it looked to them as though we were chosing to keep a poor performing employee who was causing all sorts of issues.
        Our ‘Jane’ ultimately resigned at the point it became clear that we were calling their bluff.
        We later heard that they did the sdame thing in their next job, except that that employer went ahead and sacked anyway. They took the employer to an employment tibunal alleging all the same things they had threatened us with. They lost, but as an employer you can’t claim backlegal costs in that scenario, so the employer will have woumd up out of pocket and with all the cost and expense of having to defend a claim.

        On another ocassion we had an amployee who had a serious and incurable medical issue. They wanted to continue to work and they didn’t want collegues to know about their illness. Unfortuabntely again, this will have looked from the outside as though we either didn’t know, or didn’t care, about their increasingly poor performance and erratic attendance. We would have preferred to let staff know that they were ill, but we respected their wishes to keep that information privatefor as long as possible. (Idon’t think I would want to keep showing up at work if I were terminally ill, but I am not going to sack someone in that situation if I can possibly avoid it!)

    3. Xin*

      I think often it’s the sunk cost fallacy. They’ve already invested so much time, money and effort training this person, and to start over again with someone new will be very difficult, so it’s better to just stay on the current path. Also, by not restarting the job search they don’t have to admit (to themselves and to others) that made a big screw up by hiring Jane.

    4. BasicWitch*

      I’ve often asked myself this. I’ve been a manager, and I’m very conflict-averse… and I’ve still fired people when the time came. I was an anxious mess for weeks over each one, but I still did it. In one case I even had to fight my boss all the way to “let me fire him or replace me” territory, but I still did it because the guy was losing us clients and dragging the whole team down.

      Yet in my last job we had a woman who from day one was a bully, regularly screamed at coworkers, and threw full-blown tantrums like a toddler when things didn’t go her way. For a year and a half she loudly mistreated her team, who did nearly the entirety of her truly because she didn’t actually possess the skills she claimed when she interviewed. I still don’t understand why managers are so reluctant to pull the plug on a bad hire, but I suspect it’s because they’re more afraid of taking the blame for that hire than they are willing to do what’s right for the team.

        1. irene adler*

          We had a male Jane.
          Initially, where I work, the CEO made a big deal out of “there’s a place for everyone at my company.”

          Mind you, we’re talking just two dozen employees. And the CEO did not have to work with this guy. So we could not fire our Jane. No matter how bad he screwed up or how many people he annoyed or offended. No other departments would take him.

          Then one day, the CEO was terminated. Shortly thereafter, so was our Jane.

  4. Respectfully, Pumat Sol*

    Wow, OP that’s disappointing. I am glad that your VP is finally starting to listen, but I am sorry things had to get so bad before they would. I hope your next update is a more positive one! Best of luck!

  5. cmcinnyc*

    Ugh. I guess it’s nice to know you are valued both inside and outside the company, but… I’ve worked at places that just can’t cut anyone loose and it makes the people doing good work leave, every time. Here’s hoping the figure out how to drop her like the hot rock she is.

  6. DoctorateStrange*

    Honestly, it’s better to be understaffed than to have a problem employee like this. I wish higher-ups would realize this more often.

    1. I have no fun user name*

      Yeah. This person isn’t helping anything by being there, but they sure are hurting things. Better to be understaffed than have someone sabotaging you.

    2. Observer*

      Yes. When multiple clients say “Keep this person away from me” that’s not just a red flag. That’s s sign that this person is NOT in the appropriate job.

    3. Dagny*

      Could not agree more.

      Cut her loose, call one of the staffing agencies that staffs for professional, not admin, positions, and get someone else in there who isn’t an awful person and has some competence.

    4. Antilles*

      Even more to the point, she’s completely replaceable by anybody.
      There’s a sports term called “Value over Replacement Player” – basically, how much better is this player than a completely generic free agent that we could sign for the minimum salary. In this case, Jane is hard to deal with, she’s almost certainly sulking/irritated, she’s been so horrible with clients that you can’t even have her do minor tasks for them, she’s ticked off internal staff, senior management openly distrusts her, and her role has been incredibly reduced.
      Even if you decided that you needed any warm body, you could absolutely fire Jane and hire an actual admin assistant or a temp or a new graduate with no experience whatsoever and probably get fairly similar performance to what Jane is currently giving you (and likely cheaper, to boot).

      1. Clorinda*

        Also, with any of those warm-body replacements, you have the potential upside that maybe they could learn and grow into the role, which Jane clearly can’t.

        1. Working Hypothesis*

          And they wouldn’t be pissing other internal employees off, which Jane can still do (and appears to do regularly) whether or not she has access to clients.

    5. Librarianne*

      God, yes. I would much rather have extra work that I could do correctly the first time, instead of having to correct another person’s work continuously–or, in this case, appease long-time clients even though I had nothing to do with why they’re upset.

      My boss has talked to me about hiring me an assistant for my very niche, detail-oriented job, and I’m very clear that I’d need to hire someone with a very specific kind of personality or I wouldn’t bother. (Skills I can teach–personalities and work styles I largely can’t.)

      1. Door Guy*

        I remember back when I first made the jump from regular worker to management, and I had 2 peers who just were not doing their jobs. 1 was burned out on top of some medical issues, so while we didn’t like it, we at least understood somewhat, the other, though, was just a poor manager. As they both got worse and worse, eventually the medical issues put the one in the hospital for a few weeks, and he put his notice in very shortly after he came back. The other put his notice in about a week later but was let go early after he was caught lying directly to 2 corporate level managers, so they both actually finished on the same day.

        That had us at 50% staffing for a few weeks, but honestly, it felt good in a way, knowing it was about to get better (and it did, both replacements were good at their jobs and I really liked them both and still keep in contact).

  7. Andream*

    Congrats on baby and I hope everything goes well. Please update us when you are back at work! I hope that Jane is no longer working in that role. She sounds very arrogant and I personally would have a hard time being polite to her if I was in your shoes.

  8. AuroraLight37*

    Is Jane holding your boss’s aged mother in a house of iniquity or something? Because they’d be better off canning her now, before she runs off a client, or does irreparable damage to the company.

    1. ACDC*

      My dad always says “They must have pictures of [boss] doing something dirty with farm animals because that’s the only way this makes sense”

  9. CubeFarmer*

    That’s a disappointing update. Jane clearly isn’t suited for the role, is damaging the company, and endangering long-term relationships with clients BUT she gets to keep her job. Does she have Polariods of one of the owners or something? Why is she so special?

    1. Hapless Bureaucrat*

      She gets to keep her job and only has to do half of it, while her leadership takes on extra work. I’m boggling.

      1. Kes*

        I wonder if the VP was already overloaded before taking on some of her work and is afraid to get rid of her and have to do all her work. Best case scenario here is they’re waiting for OP to come back so she can take on some of it and then they can get rid of her and rehire someone better. They should really be working on replacing her already though since she’s already caused significant damage and they have already concluded she can’t do the job – I wouldn’t even want her doing the admin work at this point if possible, I could see her screwing that up too.

        1. Mr. Shark*

          That’s what I’m thinking. Once OP is back, Jane is gone. But with OP out, they don’t want to make that move and cause more issues and overload the VP.

        2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          That is the thought I had – the VP is already so overworked that he just doesn’t have the bandwidth to take all to job, so what little “Jane” can do is just enough to let VP keep his head above water until OP can come back at least enough to help them hire a new replacement.

  10. Can't Sit Still*

    I’ve worked with this woman before. She destroyed relationships everywhere with everyone and insisted she was working so hard, while dumping her work on everyone else. She refused to accept any feedback at all. We were non-exempt, and she managed to use up the annual overtime budget for our entire department (40 people!) in 6 months, so we went into busy season with 0 hours of overtime available. And through it all, our employer refused to fire her, monitor her hours or put her on a PIP. (Why would you allow someone to work 10 – 12 hour days, 5 days a week, plus occasional weekends, without questioning or requiring approval, when the rest of us were working 40 hour weeks?!)

    1. CommanderBanana*

      I’ve had coworkers like this and I always assumed they were either having an affair with someone at the company or knew about an affair (or similar dirt) someone else was having.

    2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*


      That’s insane. Everywhere I’ve worked, overtime has been subject to approval and if you start racking it up unapproved, that’s a very, very short trip to getting fired.

      1. Can't Sit Still*

        Right? Another co-worker got talked to for working 30 minutes of (approved) overtime in the same time period and told she absolutely could not work any more OT without prior authorization from multiple people. And yet, our other co-worker just kept on working OT with no consequences.

    3. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      We also had one of these where I worked. He was terminated at the 60 day mark. He singlehandedly ruined a program that had taken four years to build in that time, and we lost at least half our staff and most of our customers.

      1. Working Hypothesis*

        How the hell?!? That’s not only impressively awful, that’s… I’m straining to figure out what on earth he could have done to accomplish such total devastation!

        1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

          He took over during high season, he was rude to customers and wouldn’t answer their emails/phone calls, he was rude and threatening to staff, and there were a bunch of other Barns offering Llama Riding Lessons in the area so it was easy for people to leave and go somewhere else.

          1. Working Hypothesis*

            Wow. Okay, yeah, I can see that now, but… I’m so sorry for everyone else at that place.

    4. Door Guy*

      I almost thought that this was written by my sister (except for the baby part)

      One of her last jobs, she was training someone to do part of her role for an extended absence, and she thought things were going at least OK. Then she got back and had an inbox full of confused and angry emails from her clients because the person decided they wanted to show “initiative” and tried to do her entire job – including trying to work with all her clients who had already been prepped for her absence.

      When my sister asked her why she had done it, the woman claimed she wanted to show she could do the job because “everyone knew” my sister was leaving permanently soon (she wasn’t) and then asked if she wanted to take it outside and fight in the parking lot. Other girl was let go immediately, at least.

  11. CubeFarmer*

    That’s a disappointing update. Jane clearly isn’t suited for the role, is damaging the company, and endangering long-term relationships with clients BUT she gets to keep her job. Does she have Polaroids of one of the owners or something? Why is she so special?

  12. The Original K.*

    Echoing others who wonder why Jane is still employed. The company can’t trust her to do a major part of her job, so why does she still have that job?

  13. Shocked Pikachu*

    I am just going to echo everybody else. WTF is she not been fired ? Why they are so insisting on keeping her. She is unprofessional, bully, Lamaist made company lose a long time clients while other clients don’t want to deal with her. Most of her responsibilities are on VP because she cannot be trusted to do her job… Like … Why.

  14. Spek*

    Looks like you did a great job communicating your concerns and poor management up the chain led to a bad situation. Your conscience should be clear. It sounds like the situation won’t improve in your absence, and you have enough standing in the company to force a “her or me” showdown when you return, if that’s what you want.

  15. CatCat*

    This is definitely only the middle of the story. I look forward to the finale in the future.

    I hope for all that Jane can get it together, but I seriously doubt that will be the case.

  16. Auntie Social*

    Why don’t they just can Jane and hire a nice temp? Especially since no one wants to talk to/work with her? Is it because boss would have to admit that he didn’t listen to you, and didn’t supervise Jane until she was a forest fire? The minute she cost the company money or lost a client, she should have been sacked.

    1. Quill*

      Yeah, a temp that doesn’t throw cyanide into their professional relationships could take over the admin work in, like, a week.

      Heck I’ve done enough contractor / temp stuff to say that the temp could also probably help the VP take things off his plate.

      1. Auntie Social*

        Exactly. Temps are very good at doing things “the company way”. The first thing I always did was to look for a sample letter so mine matched. Same for corporate minutes.

        1. The Original K.*

          Yep. “Where can I find a sample so I can hear the voice?” (marketing and communications work)

  17. IT But I Can't Fix Your Printer*

    “I still don’t think she understands how her actions make her look bad” – Of course she doesn’t understand, because she’s not facing consequences! She just gets to stay at her job being paid to do way less while other people have to pick up the slack! Management is hurting her, too, because she’s never going to change unless it’s made clear that her behavior is unacceptable.

    OP, I hope you have an awesome time with your new baby and this whole mess is gone by the time you get back.

    1. Ama*

      Yeah, despite what management is saying to the OP, I doubt that they have had any of the promised talks with Jane or if they have they’ve soft-peddled it so much that Jane has no idea how seriously she is messing up here.

    2. EPLawyer*

      She doesn’t care how her actions make her look. She has the title Manager. She wants everyone to know she is the new boss in town. If others can’t accept her, that is their problem.

      She not only gets to keep her job, she gets paid a manager’s salary to do only admin work. This won’t change her. It will only make her mad that no one sees how great she is at being boss, becuase the stupid short sighted little people won’t let her boss HER WAY, which is the bestest only way there is.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      If I recall the original letter correctly, Jane was an internal hire. So they may have that emotional baggage/regret thing going on. “I hired her 12 years ago, and if I fire her then everybody will know that I made a mistake way back then and never fixed it until now. Better to just sweep this under the rug than admit failure.”

      1. Ann Onny Muss*

        I’ve seen this play out at a previous job. Frankly, Problem Employee didn’t know their ass from their elbow but because Big Boss hired them, Big Boss wouldn’t let them go, for fear it would reflect badly on them. Problem Employee was eventually let go through a lay off, and I suspect people higher up the food chain than Big Boss made that happen.

        1. Librarianne*

          And yet, it looks SO MUCH WORSE when you keep a problematic employee instead of just firing them.

        2. EPLawyer*

          So you look like a double idiot for keeping? Look anyone can make a bad hire. You got how long in an interview to suss out that Jane will got Captain Ahab on everyone? The mistake is not hiring them. The mistake is keeping them after realizing this person is not a good employee.

          1. Ann Onny Muss*

            “The mistake is not hiring them. The mistake is keeping them after realizing this person is not a good employee.”

            Nicely stated. In this particular situation, there were issues with Big Boss as well. I’m convinced they have dirt on higher-ups, because they’ve made moves that have cost the company. But they’re still there…

      2. Sparrow*

        I’m wondering why they felt like she was the best internal candidate to begin with, since it seems very unlikely that this is the first time she’s showed this kind of attitude or behavior. I know OP said it’s a small company, but surely there was someone else who would’ve been better suited? Or, you know, an external candidate, since it doesn’t sound like this was a last-minute move. I feel like there’s a lot of back story we might be missing…

        1. Marthooh*

          “Look, I know everyone says the sunk cost fallacy is a fallacy, but if we just give it one more chance, I’m sure it’ll work in our favor this time!”

  18. Detective Amy Santiago*

    Disappointing to hear that they haven’t cut Jane loose, however, it sounds like you can basically make this position whatever you want it to be when you’re ready to return.

    Good luck with the new little one and please update us next year!

  19. Anonymost*

    Is there any reason why the Director position can’t be filled by a part-timer? Because that’s what I would do (as soon as I fired Jane) if I was the VP.

  20. Why isn’t it Friday?*

    Why on earth are they trying so hard to keep her? Is Jane related to someone in the company. She sounds awful in every single way. You handled it perfectly, OP. I’m glad you carefully documented all of her shenanigans.

  21. awesome*

    She… changed… your…. email signature!?!?!?! Maybe I’m overreacting but my reaction to that is !!!!!!!!!!!!

  22. TeapotNinja*

    Nothing like having paying customers validate your great work, and indirectly back you up about the new employee’s competency.

  23. Al*

    OP, you did such a good job in being clear in your communication and documentation. Even though this situation is awful, at least you know that you stepped up and did your part well! I hope you have a healthy & happy maternity leave!

  24. Jaybeetee*

    Pardon me while my brain explodes with the injustice of Jane keeping this job, while previous LW is catching so much hell at hers.

  25. animaniactoo*

    OP, you state that you otherwise like working for this company…. but I would side-eye a level of dysfunction that means that the VP can’t (or is very hesitant to) 1) speak up to say “Listen, I know that we desperately need this to work but it’s not going to, it’s looking like it’s going to be a complete disaster and we need to put our eggs in a different basket” and 2) fire Jane after it has been proven to be a complete disaster and hire an admin or 2 to help him with the extra deluge of work.

    Maybe it’s a one-off or they’re good at day-to-day stability but not crisis mode. Maybe this is a situation where they don’t have enough backup built in and this has woken them up to how dangerous that is and they plan to take action on it when you (hopefully for them) return. But it would be a good idea to take a sharp look at whether this is more endemic and something that you can address and push for change while you have the owner’s attention, approval, and desire to retain you.

    1. your favorite person*

      Something like this happened at my company. We pay decently and generally have well-qualified employees. At one point, we ended up hiring someone who looked well-suited for our company on paper but just couldn’t follow-though on anything. She was hired as the head of my department but was later demoted to just a director. After 7 years here (and 4 in her director role) she finally, ‘resigned’. They gave her so many chances but I think they realized they were in real danger of losing some of the department if they kept her on. We rarely have someone we need to fire based on actual performance rather than, say, attendance, or attitude that without really great metrics I think it became hard to quantify WHY she needed to be let go. They still aren’t great about metrics but they got better after she left.

  26. YouGottaThrowtheWholeJobAway*

    So Jane is blackmailing someone, or someone knows they will take the blame for hiring/firing her, right? Because otherwise what incentive is there to keep her vs. just have a gap, if the VP is taking on the work anyways?! My money is on blackmail!

  27. Heidi*

    This may be a minor point considering the post as a whole, but I’d be so angry if someone changed my email signature. That seems like a personal attack. Then again, in our system, only the person logged in can change the signature, so Jane would have to hack into my email to change my signature. I’m sorry that your warnings didn’t prevent the disaster, OP, but sometimes people need to learn things the hard way.

    Best wishes on your maternity leave!

    1. Quinton McHale*

      Generally, if you “Reply” or “Reply All” to an email, all the email signatures copied in the reply are now in plaintext, easily edited by anyone. One option is to use an image of your sig that cannot be edited, but then the respondent could just delete it or in the extreme type in a new one.
      Only if the reply thread was converted to an image would it remain intact, and this does not happen in any email client I know of.
      Hence, the good practice of copying all your Sent emails to a different folder, so that you have timestamped originals as evidence of any tampering. Or get an encrypted email service.

      1. Observer*

        None of this is relevant. The issue here is not what she did in HER emails. It sounds like she changed the automatic signature on the OP’s mails.

        Also, no matter what someone does with the emails they receive, it will NOT change the actual sent email.

      2. MCMonkeyBean*

        Oooooooohhh I was confused as to how she could have changed someone’s email signature but that makes sense as to what OP might have meant, editing the signature in an existing e-mail chain. That’s such a weird thing to do!

  28. Autumnheart*

    The only satisfying thing about this update is that now Jane is directly impacting the people with the most power to deal with the problem. If the VP wants to work himself to death, if the owner wants to lose all their customers and run the business into the ground because they think that’s better than firing Jane…so be it. This isn’t OP’s problem to solve. You can’t force top management to make good decisions.

    1. cmcinnyc*

      The silver lining has been found. And it’s, uh, bronze. But yes! The senior staff are free to tank the place. OP can probably get great references and a nice shiny new job if it comes to that.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        I don’t know that I’d even be so generous as to say bronze – more like lead lining, because it’s dull and pulls others down.

    2. CM*

      And also, at least everyone seems to acknowledge that OP was right all along… they just won’t do anything about it. More bronze lining.

  29. BAResident*

    My goodness. Jane sounds exactly like a former coworker I worked with earlier this year – condescending, rude, and territorial. I was barely able to handle it and after a particular difficult conversation with my coworker, I ended up having a mental breakdown that I quit my job on the spot. It was ugly. (And in case you are wondering, I am now happily employed at my current employer with MUCH better coworkers and a slightly higher salary.)

    I sincerely hope they see Jane as how she is. She needs to be let go after all those incidents. Keep documenting and let your supervisor and the owner of the company know that this is not okay. With your track record, I am sure you will have a happy ending!

  30. Rosie*

    OP, that sounds like a terrible, toxic situation. At least you’re able to get out of that and lower stress for you and your baby.

    I have a feeling if you were a man, they would have taken you more seriously. How some people get away with being terrible for so long is disappointing. Try to put it out of your mind as much as you can while you’re on leave.

  31. MOAS*

    We had 2 awful employees.

    #1 wanted to be promoted, refused to do exactly what we had told her she needed to do in order to be promoted, would constantly call out during blackout periods, screamed at 3 of her bosses on the floor, insinuated that I did inappropriate things to get my position. #2 would scream at clients and give them wrong advice and would get uhhh *intense* with us and treated me like a secretary.

    My boss and I agreed to let them go. If it was our choice, they’d have been out ASAP. They weren’t because grandboss kept putting it off…why?

    “Take this as a learning experience!” (My boss has been manager for 5 years at this point with a very good track record.)

    It was tax season and she believed that a warm seat was better than empty seat.

    She didn’t want to get sued.

    Sometimes, direct managers want to get rid of the person but are being held back by their upper mgmt.

  32. Oaktree*

    How in the hell is she still working there? Let alone all the bullying and passive (and not-so-passive) aggressive toward you, she almost lost your firm a lucrative longtime client! She’s a major liability, and the fact that your company isn’t recognizing that gives me real pause.

  33. LizardOfOdds*

    I get why everyone is infuriated with this update, and I’m surprised at the level of shenanigans here – certainly Jane should have been let go a lot earlier. But looking at this from the employer’s perspective, my bet is that the VP felt like OP had invested a lot of time in training Jane, and if he let her go, OP would have to start all over – which wouldn’t leave much time for the new person to ramp up at all given OP was part-time and about to go on leave. From the VP’s perspective, is it better to let someone who’s at least partially trained go and start all over with almost no transition time, or is it better to keep the partially trained bozo in place and reduce their scope to minimize their negative impact?

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