updates: the tenant requesting money, the bad friend employee, and more

Here are three updates from people who had their letters answered here in the past.

1. My former tenant’s “manager” is requesting money for her time spent on a lease dispute

At first I did not contact Sara’s employer as I did not want the situation to escalate, either for me or the other tenants (I secured the access to the building thanks to the advice of one of the commenters). I received another email, threatening to send bailiffs this time, and I asked my solicitor to deal with it. She contacted the company and they confirmed that they had not started litigation. I know that Sara is not working for this company anymore but don’t really know what happened.

I have not heard from her since the court hearing 6 months ago (small claims court), and her parents have paid what she owed me. All is well.

2. I manage a friend and it’s not going well

So many changes have occurred since I last wrote you. My friend quit the job within six months of my taking over as a manager and I now manage a team that is truly my own.

As I mentioned in my last letter, one of my concerns was the review period that was coming up. I met with my boss as you and many other commenters suggested and basically told her everything that had been going on. It was a difficult conversation because I felt like I was bad-mouthing a friend. But things had gotten so bad that we could not have a civil conversation without snarkiness or attitude (hers and mine, I am ashamed to say). However, my boss let it be known that she was not surprised at any of it and that my friend was the same way with her – difficult to manage.

The review did NOT go well at all. I asked my manager to sit in on the review with me since she managed my friend for half the review period. My friend was combative throughout the process, making up things that did not happen and questioning all my feedback in her review. Luckily I documented every interaction with her and showed her the emails, to no avail. After the review, she went in and left a scathing response to me and my boss, accusing both of us of everything from racism to sexism to preferential treatment, and sabotage. Then she quit less than two weeks later.

Looking back, I don’t think there was anything that I could have done to manage her better because we were just too close. I don’t think I adequately stated how close we were in my last letter. We were really close to the extent that our families knew each other, we took international trips together multiple times, attended kids’ birthdays, baptisms, etc. It’s a bittersweet situation because while I am happier at work, I lost a really good friend, but I guess such is life.

I greatly appreciate your advice as well as that of the commenters. It grounded me and provided a better perspective. I learned a lot from this experience and I am continually growing and I am happy to say that my boss’ confidence in me has grown since then. She constantly seeks my input on serious matters and takes my recommendation often.

3. How do I let people know I’m fine with not getting promoted?(#4 at the link)

Thanks so much again for answering my question. This is only a partial update because even though I wrote in a while ago, the job vacancy for the Head role only went live a couple of weeks ago, and the recruitment will take a couple of months to complete, so I am still in the same position structurally as before.

Because everyone in my organization tends to be aware of the latest job postings, I did have about a dozen people approach me when the advert went live and ask if I was applying. I found it quite easy to say that it wasn’t the job for me and l was looking forward to specialising more in what I do now. Often these people would express shock, which I am just trying to take as a compliment (that they think I could do the job – though I couldn’t). It will be interesting to see what happens when the Head is eventually recruited; in the meantime I think I have managed to quash any rumours that I have been passed over.

On a different note, a few months ago, I reread your response and started to think more about the undercurrent of gossip/drama that is rife in my organization and how I have been feeding it myself. I think I find it difficult to resist because I am the youngest and least experienced manager; I admit I am pretty impressionable and I have FOMO; so I do participate and contribute to this gossip culture, even when talking about myself/my work. I don’t think I am by any means the worst culprit. But I have started to be mindful of what I say and what its impact will be, if it’s not news that is 100% professional or need-to-know. I think acknowledging it was an important step for me. My goal is to be more professional, mindful, and compassionate, so that I can resist the urge to gossip. I hope this will make me a better manager in the long run.

{ 60 comments… read them below }

  1. Dust Bunny*

    LW2 I sort of have to think that if you hadn’t lost the friend over this, you would eventually have lost her over something else, even if you had never worked together. People with that much attitude are rarely able to hide it forever. I suspect that if this had not happened, you would still have gotten into a power struggle with her eventually over vacation plans or whatever, and her inner troll would have emerged.

    1. GreyjoyGardens*

      I agree with this. Despite the sadness over losing a friend, it sounds like Friend was a difficult person in general. Yes, some people save their Most Difficult Setting for work due to authority issues or whatever, but, in general, if someone was this much of a PITA at work, with a friend, it might well have come out eventually.

      1. tangerineRose*

        I agree. The former friend sounds kinda toxic to me, and I’d expect that to spill over to other areas.

    2. Prof. Kat*

      Yep. Definitely.

      On a similar note, I doubt that the friend’s job performance — or, more accurately, lack thereof — was affected by having LW2 as her boss. Sure, it affected some things about how LW2 reacted (being snarky, not wanted to ask her boss for help, etc.), but I doubt the outcome would have changed. She would have likely made similarly bizarre requests, and she would have eventually have quit or have been fired. So it’s a learning experience and a bummer to lose a friend, but big parts of this were inevitable regardless of the circumstances.

      1. Observer*

        True. Keep in mind that manager told the OP that Friend is difficult to manage. So this is not just a friend as manager problem.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          My only nitpick for the overall manager is that they didn’t warn OP that “friend” had been making crazy requests before the change in leadership structure. It seemed like from the original and updated letter there was more of a drive-by warning, with no details.
          It also seemed (at least to me, and I may be wrong) that there was some buck passing by Manager in not wanting to manage the group – but that could have been “didn’t want to manage “friend” and everybody else was reasonable.

          1. Hey Karma, Over Here*

            That jumped out at me as well. OP’s manager asked if OP would have problems managing a friend. That wasn’t the issue. I understand that the manager didn’t want to talk out of turn regarding employee until OP took the job, but once in, manager new damn well there was little to nothing OP could do with friend/employee. So the months where OP spent emotional energy blaming herself for failing is pretty much a big ol’ pile of crap.

          2. Kella*

            Yeah this REALLY bothered me. Even if the two of them weren’t friends, OP’s manager did her a big desservice by not communicating the specific managament needs of a problem employee, which implies to me that OP’s manager *wasn’t* managing OP’s friend in that none of the problems were getting addressed, so no information about “This is what we’ve tried so far, if it gets to this point, we planned on these consequences,” was given to the OP.

            But then to not clarify that she wouldn’t just be managing a friend, she’d be managing a friend with serious performance problems, is so not cool of OP’s manager. I also got the feeling OP’s manager was just pushing the problem away so someone else would deal with it.

          3. GreyjoyGardens*

            I agree, it sounds like Former Manager just kicked the can down the road, maybe with the idea that OP could somehow “just deal” because she was the problem employee’s friend. Not cool, Former Manager.

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      This is what I was thinking as well.

      This friendship was doomed given the attitude involved and inability to take accountability.

    4. Xantar*

      I agree. OP seems to take it as a given that the poor attitude and butting heads were because they were friends, but I don’t think that’s true at all. Your friend could just be the kind of person who responds to everything with inappropriate snark, makes up things that didn’t happen, and takes feedback poorly no matter who it’s coming from.

    5. Stephen!*

      I’m not actually sure of that. I lost a lot of respect for a family member after we worked together, but I saw facets of her at work that I had never seen before. I think some people compartmentalize themselves.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        I agree that the friendship might not otherwise have been doomed. It sounded like Friend really wanted to take advantage of having an assumed “in” with management in getting all sorts of perks and not being hold accountable. That kind of relationship wasn’t really possible when they were peers and friends. I’d say it’s more likely that Friend would have acted like this with any friend in a position to help them out or give them special treatment (since she was like this to some extent with previous manager), and it wasn’t unique to this specific friendship. If OP had won the lottery vs become manager, the same thing would probably have happened.

        1. Hey Karma, Over Here*

          I’ll take it one step further and say that ex friend employee would have problems with any manager. And OP’s manager validated that by saying the same thing. “She is hard to manage.” No, she’s a jerk to authority figures.

        2. Ra94*

          I think in the kind of super-close friendship she and OP had, though, those negative qualities would have shown themselves. I have acquaintances who I imagine could be horrible to work with, but we have a fun time grabbing drinks or visiting concerts. But those qualities would come out if they were so close they were basically part of my family. (And indeed, I’m aware of those qualities even though we’re not close- they just don’t ruin a casual friendship the same way.

        3. Avasarala*

          I agree with this–Friend sounds like someone who is really nice in some situations but expects special treatment and has problems with authority. You can go a long time without having issues with friends like that. I don’t know if it’s sadder to have the friendship blow up like this at work or outside of it.

  2. Antilles*

    #1 is an interesting ending, good to see it worked out for you.
    I know that Sara is not working for this company anymore but don’t really know what happened.
    The easy guess here is that after being contacted by your solicitor, the company’s legal department hit the roof and had Sara fired immediately for pretending that she was a representative of the company and trying to drag the company into a personal litigation matter.

    1. OysterFellow*

      Right? Like… I hope Sara’s reign of bad decisions ends soon for her own sake. Because she doubled down with that email.

    2. Malarkey01*

      Or that Sara makes lots and lots of bad decisions and any number of them caught up to her at work.

      Seriously though how did she think that second email would end when clearly no one showed up to get you?

      1. Observer*

        Someone was stupid enough to think that the OP would be frightened enough by the threat of bailiffs to just pay up.

        1. tangerineRose*

          Sounds like Sara might be someone who watches sitcoms and thinks she can really get away with that stuff.

        2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          That was my thought too – young enough to think fear would equal the payout she wanted and not a thought for how it could go bad for her instead.

          Overall Sarah just seemed young and not thinking things through very fully (hence the issue with the landlord over the condition the rental was left in to begin with).

        3. LunaLena*

          Yeah, unfortunately there are people who are gullible or panicky enough to do it without thinking it through. That’s how a lot of scammers operate, after all. I got a series of calls for a while saying that I owed a fine and there was a warrant out for my arrest, but if I paid RIGHT NOW it could all be resolved. They called me for weeks, and only stopped after I finally answered and yelled at them that I knew they were dirty scammers, laughed, and hung up while the scammer was screaming at me that he had the cops on the line to come and arrest me and I needed to give him money NOW. A few years later, I still hear of people getting similar calls and emails. The scammers must be profiting off of it if they’re still doing it, so clearly someone out there is falling for it.

          My mom is actually one who can be spooked into action, especially if it involves the police. I remember once, I had just come home from work when she got a random call (this was back when landlines were still the norm). After hanging up she ran to my room and told me to get packed, we had to leave NOW. She was so freaked out that I grabbed my tote bag and shoved my cat into her carrier without asking why, and as we were leaving the house she told me that the sheriff’s office had called and told her they were calling and evacuating everyone in the area because a meteor was about to hit, so we had to go to the nearest school since schools were emergency shelters. We were on the front door step locking the door at this point, and I just stopped and said “WHAT? Mom, the nearest school is right there at the end of the block. If our area is in danger, so is the school. Are you sure that was the sheriff’s office?” It was only then that she realized the call was fishy and people around us were peacefully going about their business, so we went back in and I called the police to verify it. A very bewildered dispatcher told me “What? Of course not.”

          Fortunately that whole thing turned out to be just a harmless prank, but it made me realize how a scammer could easily persuade someone who is easily confused and/or doesn’t have strong knowledge of the law to send them money, especially if they rush the person and don’t give them a moment to stop and think.

          1. Observer*

            Yeah, people get scammed all the time.

            But having tangled with the OP, Sarah should have known they actually have a clue. Also, smart scammers know to skip the people who ignore them.

            The fact that the OP didn’t respond should have told them (Sara and her “helper”) that the OP won’t be spooked so easily.

      2. AKchic*

        My 1st ex-husband impersonated his former attorney’s junior lawyer (who also worked on his custody case from 10 years earlier) to harass a former employer to try to get more money out of the former employer. Created a fake email account to do it.
        Somehow, the employer managed to track me down (Alaska is small, but I also think it’s because I had an active long-term restraining order out and I was working for a supplier to the business) and ask me about the email.
        I called the attorney (like I said, Alaska is small and I knew he was currently up for a judge’s seat). He said it wasn’t him, he wasn’t representing my ex in any capacity and didn’t have any email addresses with that provider. So, knowing my ex and his lack of creativity, I logged in to the account, changed the password and security questions, and made sure he couldn’t get back in.

        Some people will put a lot of energy into doing the wrong things rather than doing the right ones.

        1. Grudzeinchica who loves Snake Jazz*

          Some people will put a lot of energy into doing the wrong things rather than doing the right one – absolutely love this and stealing it

  3. Dust Bunny*

    LW2 I rather feel like if you and your friend hadn’t butted heads over this, you would have at some point, anyway. Maybe it would have been over vacation plans instead of work ethic and attitude, but I think people who are this difficult only hide it as long as you’re submissive enough that they don’t feel threatened.

    1. Observer*

      I think that this is very likely, considering some her requests and accusations.

      The things you describe show something about character, and it’s hard to completely compartmentalize that.

      1. GreyjoyGardens*

        It is VERY hard, and while I think there are people who reserve their worst for work (because authority issues) or their spouse/children (because they are dependent and can’t or won’t fight back), by and large, difficult people are difficult across the board.

        And people who manage to cloak their difficulty under “nice as pie” for years, because they are afraid of repercussions or value the friendship or workplace or what have you, can and do let it slip once they have no reason to be nice anymore. Then Dr. Jekyll becomes Mr. Hyde so fast it makes your head spin.

  4. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

    #2 – it doesn’t make it hurt any less, but she wasn’t a true friend. True friends don’t treat each other the way she treated you regardless of the situation. If it hadn’t happened at work, her true colors would have come out at some point down the road.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      To paraphrase a song lyric, “in the end you aren’t really loosing when you loose fake friends.”

      I agree with several other people that in the end something else would have brought the friendship to an end. In this case it just ended up being the job promotion.

    1. Marthooh*

      SARAH: “SENd aLOt of $$ To thE COmpNY foR SArah bEIng OFf woRK!” SiNED mY manAgER
      One week later…
      SARAH: Welp, I haven’t been fired yet, so I guess my bluff must be working!

  5. Observer*

    #1 – I’m curious if the manager that officially sent you the demand email is still showing up as working for that organization. Unless Sara hacked this person’s email or spoofed the address, they are at least as much to blame as Sara.

    1. curious*

      I was wondering that too, if the “manager” is still employed there as well.

      OP sounds a bit more professional than to try and send an email to the manager to find if it would bounce back, but I’m still curious none the less. The gossipy part of me would have loved more details on why Sara is no longer working there, the parent’s reaction, the manager’s part, the legal team – but at the end of the day OP seems to have handled this properly and professionally and as a result was paid in full by Sara’s parents. Congrats OP!

      1. Observer*

        Totally agree with this. I was just wondering if the OP knew, as they know that Sara is no longer there.

      2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Thought I have to say it’s also telling (youth, immaturity, just being spoiled) that Sarah’s parents and not Sarah ended up paying the bill in update 1.

        A person can only learn from a mistake if they feel the consequences of that mistake. After all, how many times here have we advised an OP to let their manager experience the outcomes of bad decisions so that change can happen?

  6. I coulda been a lawyer*

    Ah, self realization. It’s a wonderful thing OP and can take many years to achieve, but congratulations on the start of a difficult but important journey!

  7. Richard Hershberger*

    LW1: The thing about litigation is that there are very specific methods for notifying the defendant that the litigation has been initiated. An email demanding money is not one of these methods. It might be a preliminary to eventual litigation, but that is another matter. Jumping straight to threatening that law enforcement will come to your door? Even in real litigation that only happens in very narrow circumstances, and a lot has to happen first. This is the first world equivalent of an email from a Nigerian government official asking your help with a financial transaction.

    1. Observer*


      That’s a very good comparison. I can just imagine OP’s internal eye rolls, and the annoyed reaction of the other company’s legal team.

    2. Uranus Wars*

      I remember getting a call once saying I was being sued for delinquency on a credit account (with a bank I never did business with).

      They said they had orders to serve me papers if I didn’t give them my bank account information and settle for like $7,000 or something absurd. So I told them to serve me & I’d take my chances.

      That was 6 years ago. I am still waiting for those papers.

        1. Gazebo Slayer*

          I once noticeably hurt a scammer’s feelings, by taking apart his scam and telling him how incompetent he was at scamming. He sent me a bunch of sad chat text ending with “please just go away and leave me be Okay” then never bothered me again.

          1. Pomona Sprout*

            This excellent, and you should feel excellent about it!

            Scammers are the scum of the earth and deserve every iota of shame that can be heaped upon them. Bless you for this.

  8. mcfizzle*

    I just love updates! It’s so interesting how some updates are predictable (and should be!) and others go off on such unexpected directions. To life!

    1. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      OP2, I’m sorry you lost a friend, but it sounds you did your best to manage a difficult employee. I’ve seen friendships anihilated when one became the other’s manager before and it’s a really uncomfortable position to be as a coworker/teammate.

  9. SusanIvanova*

    #1 Popehat is full of letters purporting to be from lawyers but actually from relatives of lawyers who have lifted a bit of stationery, or just people who have seen legal terms on Google and think they can bluff their way through. Search for “govern yourself accordingly” :)

    1. Sara*

      Oh my GODS I can believe that googling “govern yourself accordingly popehat” resulted in me reliving the Rob Ford years! I lived in Toronto during his tenure as mayor and every time I think I’m starting to forget, it comes back somehow. What a time. What. A. Time.

  10. OhNoYouDidn't*

    #2 – “Looking back, I don’t think there was anything that I could have done to manage her better because we were just too close.” To me, this sentence should have read, “Looking back, I don’t think there was anything that I could have done to manage her better because she’s too immature and an all around difficult person.” This was confirmed when your boss said she also had difficulty managing your “friend.” I know you feel you were close, but I think that in managing her, you got to see her true colors. I’ve worked for close friends before, and it went great. They were reasonable, and we were all mature enough to have professional boundaries at work. I’d never have even entertained the thought of asking for special favors because we’re friends. She sounds very selfish and self-centered. SHE made effective management of her impossible, not you. Glad things have gotten better for you now

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