my employee resigned but now wants to stay

A reader writes:

We hired Jane four months ago to take over a management position, and I was to partially oversee her, along with my boss, Lucinda. There were some issues on both sides (she had issues with Lucinda and vice versa), and about a month ago Jane told me she was considering giving notice. I talked through the issues she was having with my boss, and moderated some disagreements. It seemed like Jane was having trouble taking direction and criticism from Lucinda, and had gotten her feathers ruffled when Lucinda tried to manage her. Everything seemed to be back on schedule, and drama had subsided.

Last week, Lucinda informed me that Jane had given notice, with no reasoning. Jane informed me of this by text message with a frowny face. I was shocked by the lack of professionalism by Jane, and immediately jumped into plan B mode and made an job offer to a current employee to take over the position. Currently, that employee is still considering the offer.

Then, Jane asked if she could rescind her resignation. She explained why she had wanted to quit, and it turned out to be very minor and a further example of her inability to communicate well and to let her ego drive situations. I don’t believe it was another job offer that instigated the resignation, as Jane has told me several times that she didn’t need to work and was working only because she loves to.

Obviously we need to see if the current employee wants to change departments, but if she doesn’t, should we let Jane continue working? This is our busiest time of the year, training someone new would be miserable, and staff is already stretched very thin. Also, if Jane stayed, the teams morale would be better than if she left, and that is very important to me. However, if we let her stay, I’m worried it may reinforce the dramatic behavior. At the end of the day, Jane is talented and capable, but she does not like being managed, which is inevitable, especially when one is still very new to a job. Help!

I answer this question over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and sometimes updating/expanding my answers to them). You can read it here.

{ 120 comments… read them below }

  1. juliebulie*

    I take it there was never an update on this one? It just seems to me that someone who doesn’t really need the job and doesn’t like to be managed is not going to work out in the long term.

    1. emmelemm*

      Right? I’m having trouble reconciling “I only work because I love it” with “I hate being managed and have a lot of personality conflicts”.

      1. My username is Anonymous*

        I had a former coworker remind us every time we dealt with less than ideal conditions that she “didn’t have to have this job.” I found it annoying but minor, however she had personality conflicts with someone in almost every dept. Then she left, purchased a house out of town, and still wouldn’t officially resign over a YEAR later. Because of arcane governmental rules (and tricky politics) we could not post for her position and were hurting because of it. We were about to show her hand and thought she’d be fired for no-show when she caught wind and finally submitted her letter of resignation.
        Jane sounds way too familiar so I’m hoping the warning flags were noticed before it got worse.

        1. Becka*

          Did she collect pay during the time she was “no showing”? Was she working remotely in some capacity? Coming to work once a week or something? I have never heard of someone doing that before!

          1. My username is Anonymous*

            No – I should have cleared that up in my comment. She just thought she had a job “held” for her when she wanted to come back. However when we wanted to fill her position the lack of resignation meant we were paralyzed. She danced around making the (long) commute but I think it was her BS negotiation tactic to get what she wanted (ie: being begged to ‘save’ us).

        2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

          I would have responded each and every time “Nobody is forcing you to stay.” Bragging about not needing your job every time there’s something you disagree with is obnoxious and I would have essentially told her so.

          1. CupcakeCounter*

            I don’t need a job but I rarely bring it up. In fact I only brought it up twice in 7 years at Old Job…the first was when a coworker went ranting to our bosses because I called her out for a mistake that caused me WEEKS of work to fix by having the gall to give her an updated process document and saying something along the lines of “We had to update a process because of that error you made so here are the new docs”. Bosses nearly always took her side (I’ve written about her before…nickname Little Miss Perfect) so when they called me in I happily made it my hill to die on and told them I would not “apologize for mentioning that she made an error” and if it was an issue I would happily resign effective immediately. I did not have to apologize and I kept working there for several more years.
            The second was when I was seriously job hunting and rumors of layoffs were starting. I made sure to let 2 of my favorite coworkers know that I was planning on leaving anyway so if they were called into a “meeting” to let me know ASAP and I would speed up my resignation. One was in a good position to take over my duties, and did move into my role when I finally did leave, and the other to move into her role/take on some of her duties so I knew if I left both would be able to stay.

            1. tangerineRose*

              Wow! She caused you weeks of work by making a mistake and was upset that you brought up that she made an error?!!!

            2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

              I wouldn’t say what you’ve doing is a bad thing at all. Jane is using her not needing to work as a fact to try and get what she wants when things don’t go her way, and her bluff should be called.

      2. Kes*

        Eh, they could love the work itself and not the office or politics. Or they’re bored and want something to do. Or they want to feel needed.
        Regardless, telling people ‘I don’t need this job’ especially during conflicts is obnoxious. At some point, they either need to decide to leave, or stay and suck it up.

        1. Anon for this*

          I’ve used the phrase “I don’t need this job” once – and that was when the company proposed a major vacation/PTO reduction right after eliminating another benefit. Enough people said they would leave immediately if it was implemented that it was hand-waved away as a misunderstanding.
          That…would be when I started reading this blog and polishing my resume.

          1. Anon for this*

            And by the way I meant that I didn’t need *THAT* job…not that I didn’t need to work. From temp agency I came, to temp agency I would have returned. (Not during coronavirus, thank goodness.)

      3. andy*

        I love my work itself, but there are managers and peers I have personality conflicts with and I hate some styles of management. There is no problem reconciling these two.

        Also, I like my current team, but strongly disliked the previous one.

    2. Important Moi*

      I think a lot of people are uncomfortable working with folks who don’t have to work. It does bring a different dynamic if the a person does not need the income. There are many days I stay quiet because I need the income, not because the other person was right. An update would have been interesting.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        I mean, if somebody is throwing it in your face that they don’t need to be there, and pushing back on being managed by people who are in a position to manage them . . . that’s legitimately uncomfortable. There shouldn’t be a different dynamic–management should hold the Don’t Have To Work People to the same standards and send them packing if they think they can be difficult because of it.

      2. MK*

        I think it would be more accurate to say people who don’t need to work can be difficult to work with, if they believe the fact they can walk anytime absolves them of being managed or gives them extra power. I do need the income from my job, but I cannot be fired and will face only minor consequenses for any insubordination. I still, well, maybe not stay quiet, but accept the decisions of other people when they are the ones who have the authority to make them. Your level of dependence on your supervisor is a factor, but once you accept a position, you have to abide by the chain of command in the organisation. You don’t have special powers.

    3. Reluctant Manager*

      I’m not a fan of people who tell you they don’t need the money from their work, because it means they need something else that may be a lot more difficult to manage. I can give people money on an agreed-upon schedule, but I don’t know when payday for “gives meaning to my life” happens or how to calculate the taxes. (That’s not to say that work shouldn’t be meaningful and I only owe my employees a salary, but it’s good to agree on the basic terms.)

      1. myswtghst*

        This is an interesting point. It’s absolutely reasonable (and helpful) to understand what motivates your employees, because it often is more than money, but I imagine things can get pretty messy if the money doesn’t factor in to their motivations at all.

      2. JSPA*

        I can toss some up, besides “meaning to my life”:

        1. Health care, without the hassle of finding insurance on the open market (somewhat mitigated by the Marketplace).

        2. family respect

        3. maintenance of skills

        4. Regular professional contact with other human beings

        5. spouse works from home & the relationship benefits from occasional distance

        Even if it’s just personal growth / social contact / feeling useful / using one’s brain regularly / gathering fodder for a whodunit mystery / an excuse to spend time away from your needy, grabby 4 year old….is that so hard to understand? Continuing Education / OSHER programs are not only a thing, but a much-loved thing. A good workplace and good project can be at least as engaging.

        1. Reluctant Manager*

          Yes, but the issue isn’t whether they need the money. It’s choosing to tell you they don’t need the money. And it’s frankly insulting to people who do need to earn a living wage! An employee who goes out of her way to say she doesn’t need to work is saying she doesn’t have that much invested. (I have a number of employees for whom I know money isn’t an issue, and not one lets me know they don’t rely need to be here.)

    4. Oeskathine*

      In my experience, people like that absolutely end up moving on sooner or later. My boss hired a person like that who ended up quitting about a month later. But during the month she was here it was almost constant drama. She had trouble learning the computer programs, so on day 3 she told the boss she may have to resign. 30 minutes later she reconsidered and said she would try harder. For about a week she seemed to be doing fine, but then on day 10 she told our boss she wanted to quit. She said she felt the job wasn’t a good fit, but said she would finish out the day. An hour later she decided she wanted to stay. She told the boss she didn’t really wanna leave, it’s just she was upset because the badge she’d received had her name spelled incorrectly (think, Leah instead of Lea). She finally quit for good after lunch one day when she had a stomachache. Apparently she took the indigestion as a sign that this job wasn’t right.

      1. Coder von Frankenstein*

        “She finally quit for good after lunch one day when she had a stomachache.”

        I don’t know why, but this made me burst out laughing. It just sums up these folks so perfectly.

      2. Keymaster of Gozer*

        If she had a brother I think I’ve worked with him. Threatening to quit over any perceived slight, handing in multiple (printed and signed!) resignations only to change his mind the day after.

        Took us ages to get rid of him (it was almost impossible to get fired from that firm) but he gave us a grand opportunity when he just decided he wasn’t going to come into the office for a month. No medical reason, just he felt that HE could decide what his job involved and he wanted it to be ‘get full time salary for doing bugger all’.

        Then he sent one of his resignation emails in after our boss chewed him a new one over the phone…and this time HR wouldn’t accept his cancellation of it the day after.

        The mood in our department when he was officially gone (account deleted, removed from payroll) was PARTY TIME! Our boss got us all ice lollies :)

    5. T2*

      Simple answer here. I am sorry to see you go Jane. But we accept your resignation. Thanks.

  2. Jenny*

    I like Alison’s answer a lot here. There are a lot of red flags about Jane here, and frankly it was pretty likely she’d pull this stunt again. In this situation I think it’s better to rip the bandaid off and go through the pain of retraining rather than keep a problem employee.

    If you must, a clear conversation is warranted, although part of me suspects it would just cause a Jane-type to quit again.

    1. Artemesia*

      This is a gift — to be able to terminate a bad employee with as little hassle as possible. Clearly this person was more trouble than they were worth; I hope she let her go in this easy clean way and is happily working now with their replacement.

  3. Coder von Frankenstein*

    I don’t know how things turned out when this was originally posted, but as far as I’m concerned this sounds like a big old bag of nope. Jane is waving red flags at you with every limb. Better to endure a little stress now than endure her antics for who-knows-how-long.

    1. Uranus Wars*

      This reminded me of the meme going around about a date only showing 5 red flags and you signed up for the 6 flags season pass. It is much more clever, obviously.

  4. Cordoba*

    Unless Jane has an extremely rare and valuable skill, it’s time for her to go.

    At that point I’m already doing the emotional and practical effort necessitated by their leaving, no way I’m going to put yet more labor into unwinding it only to very likely have it happen *again* the next time things aren’t just the way they want.

    1. InfoSec SemiPro*

      If you need Jane to have an extremely rare and valuable skill, its likely that you need people around Jane to have extremely rare and valuable skills, and they shouldn’t be expected to also put up with Jane’s shenanigans.

      I have a dog in this fight, as someone who hires and manages people with extremely rare and valuable skills and still expects them to be functional professionals. Because even if someone is one of the 40 people in the world with skill X, I cannot let them ruin, interrupt, or otherwise damage my team.

      Resignations are final. If, after a resignation, someone would like to reinterview for an open position, and I have knowledge of what they are like to work with, I will use it in that hiring process. (There are some people I’d rehire in a heartbeat, and some who I’m happy to have working else where.)

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        This is a perfect way of explaining why you can’t put up with bad behavior, even if they’re a valuable skillset.

        The atmosphere is crucial for any team. You can’t have this kind of energy around, despite them having other skills that are important. There are precious few places you can just act like you want without any consequences. I don’t have time for dramatic people, even if they’re geniuses. You’re risking everyone else for the sake of one, that’s dangerous territory!

        1. MissDisplaced*

          Ugh though! I wish that would apply to high level managers. Because somehow they are always tolerated.

          1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            It does apply to every level of management. But that doesn’t mean that people follow it, they are the sort of people who blame everyone else around them for the turnover and contempt within their organization.

            The problem is that many people suck at management and should never have been put in those positions. It’s often bad management that begets more bad management. That’s why we leave when management is awful because bad management is basically like living in a falling down house, it’s not safe. Sure some people have to live and they will make it work the best they can, doesn’t mean that it’s stable or healthy or acceptable!

      2. leapingLemur*

        “Because even if someone is one of the 40 people in the world with skill X, I cannot let them ruin, interrupt, or otherwise damage my team.” It’s good to know there are managers out there with this mindset!

      3. Keymaster of Gozer*

        This brings back a memory: “I don’t care if you’re the only 1980s mainframe expert in the uk, you can’t turn up to work with no trousers on!”

        1. Coffee*

          Is that (I say with faint hope) a quote from a TV show or something? Or did someone actually turn up to work with no trousers :(

      4. AuroraLight37*

        THIS. I have worked with people who are the world’s leading expert in their field. And to a person, they all had good soft skills, because they were smart enough to know that being smart wasn’t all there was to their jobs.

  5. Shannon*

    If Jane is a manager, I have to wonder how the people under her are doing. If you keep Jane, will you lose several other employees?

  6. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    This is so much drama for only 4 months. I wouldn’t accept it. I’d rather work all the hours myself than to have someone this trigger-happy on board. I wouldn’t be surprised that others weren’t digging her attitude either! This would stress me the hell out even as a staff member.

    You can’t let someone like this trample all over professionalism, she’s showing signs of being increasingly more difficult to deal with and didn’t even warm up to the place first.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Agreed – Jane just sounds like a never-ending drama machine. While the other employees around her will probably resent suddenly having to work extra, id bet that most would be very happy to be DONE with her drama.

    2. MissDisplaced*

      For only being at the job 4 months, yeah that is WAY too much drama. It screams Poor Fit.
      Jane should just go.

    3. Kiwi with laser beams*

      I recently did work a lot of extra hours after a member of my team got let go at the beginning of our busy period, so my first question is how much overtime are we talking about here? If it’s like that funeral/island trip/120-hour weeks/cancelled surgery letter, then that’s a different matter (and as people pointed out, that place was already way understaffed). But in our case it was a bunch of 60-hour weeks so we just bit the bullet for those few months. And our guy was nowhere near as problematic as LW’a employee.

      Oh, and my boss paid me and the other employees a big bonus for stepping up, so if you’re getting your employees to work a lot of extra hours too, think about what you can do for them.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        That whole 120 hour week thing is so beyond, I can’t even wrap my mind around it and I’ve seen a lot of shit!

        But no, I’ve very much worked 60+ hour weeks, 12 days in a row kind of nonsense. It’s not sustainable but I’d do it again if it was a choice of dealing with drama, which often sets everyone back anyways. How much time is being wasted with Jane’s bullshit!? That time could be better spent doing the actual job, I’m sure!

        Just like my time was better spent just doing the work than trying to teach someone who kept screwing up and causing other drama during a busy period. So they wouldn’t fire him because they thought it wasn’t worth it, sucks for them that I in turn quit instead :)

    4. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Yeah, re-vising this letter, I’m confused by who OP thinking that morale would be lower if their little drama llama left. I know I would be much happier if the drama llama/slacker co-worker was out. I might even consider staying, instead of desperately job searching.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        I have to guess on it but just because Jane is dramatic on a management level, doesn’t mean that her reports haven’t enjoyed working with her. Changing managers does suck in it’s own special way of course!

        But really, it’s a matter of it will trickle into her employees over time regardless. Right now it may be a bummer and a hit to morale because of the change just 4 months in. BUT the long term picture is what’s important here, removing the person before they can do more damages in the long run with their inability to act appropriately!

  7. Heidi*

    I would wonder about how good morale would really be if Jane stayed. The OP already says that she quits over minor issues, doesn’t communicate well, lets her ego drive situations, doesn’t like being managed, and is perfectly willing to tell people to take this job and shove it. Working with someone like that erode morale over the long-term morale.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      If you’re willing to say take this job and shove it, you’d better follow through.

    2. Heidi*

      Grammar not so great today. That last sentence should be, “Working with someone like that erodes morale over the long term.”

    3. AuroraLight37*

      Agreed. Jane is four months in and has created this much drama. It’s not going to get better down the line.

  8. Val Z*

    I’m not sure who is Jane’s actual manager is– OP or Lucinda? It sounds like Jane mostly reports to Lucinda, but OP is the one offered the position to another employee. Does Lucinda know about that and agree to it? I wonder if having 2 managers is part of the reason Jane has struggled in the position. That kind of arrangement can make things difficult on the employee and I think OP needs to figure out who the actual manager before the position is filled by someone else.

    1. Zephy*

      I had a position at one point where, on paper, I had two managers – the job description for my role was listed as reporting to the External Teapot Sales Manager (Tangerina) as well as the General Teapot Manager (Fergus), and those two people were peers in the hierarchy. In practice, Tangerina supervised my day-to-day and assigned me tasks, but Fergus was the one who submitted my timesheet for payroll and was the hiring manager for my replacement when I left. I wonder if LW’s setup is similar to this? It wasn’t a great setup, for the reasons you note – I would have preferred to keep it simple and just report to one or the other. But the reason Fergus was also officially my manager was because Tangerina was a known Difficult Person, and Fergus wanted me to have sanctioned access to a manager who was not her, just in case. Maybe that’s also at play here, I don’t know.

      1. MissDisplaced*

        I’ve been in this position for about 2 years.
        I work on a specialty sub-division team, and when hired, I was managed by the managers of that team.
        Since then, there have been a few reorgs, and even though I still do 100% of my work on that team, I report to a manager in a whole other different department. Day-to-day, the manager of my original team is directing my work, but I report to someone who has no clue what’s going on, because they’re not involved. There are so many political levels to go through, I honestly feel like I have to “report” to at least 6 different bosses.

        It’s very frustrating! Not saying Jane was right to up and quit, but it sounds like a bad fit for Jane who obviously doesn’t want to deal with it.

  9. VanLH*

    This is one of those that I really wish had an update. Does anyone know if there was one?

    1. Coder von Frankenstein*

      I don’t know if there was an update, but I too would love to hear one.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Even the couple times I’ve resigned in text [long story short, they were volatile people and I wasn’t going to keep punishing myself for the sake of professionalism!], it’s been a well thought-out note.

      I am trying to imagine anyone I’d just send a “LOL BYEEEEEEEEE :(” resignation to. That’s some “I quit” in cod level of shenanigans.

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        I was very tempted to just send a meme of “eff this I’m out” to my last boss, mostly because of their undying love of showing “inspirational” poster/meme things for “morale”.

        But, uh, I didn’t. Managed to score a consulting gig out of it, so there’s that benefit. I can see long-distance resignations in certain scenarios, but I can’t see them being a “bye :(” in any scenario, unless I truly, truly didn’t care and was riding off into the sunset away from a burnt bridge. And then it’d be a smiley face, not a frowny face.

      2. Tobias Funke*

        The most traumatic job I ever quit, I resigned late morning after a meeting at a local restaurant where the boss had bought the team (all of whom were also gone within the next two weeks) burritos for breakfast. I wanted SO BADLY to say “thanks for the burrito I quit” but ended up going with “I am going to need to put my two weeks in” instead.

      3. Lynn Whitehat*

        The first time I actually quit a job (as opposed to it naturally ending because I was graduating or something), I had no idea how to write a letter of resignation. I honestly thought of just writing “I QUIT” on a sticky note. That’s all they really need to know, right? Fortunately I had the sense to Google and found the professional-sounding way to write one.

    2. chocoholic*

      At least it wasn’t a middle finger emoji! That would make the decision much easier though.

    3. Michelle*

      We had a staff member with 22 years of service quit by post-it note. Her manager kept calling her desk and the first few times she thought she was just away from her desk. After about an hour and half, she went over to check to see if she was back. There was a post-if on her monitor that said “I’m leaving, I won’t be back”. That’s it. All her personal stuff was gone, too. I found out months later her daughter had called in tears saying that she just found out her husband had been having an affair and employee left to go be with her. Packed her stuff, left a note, walked out, drove to the Atlanta airport and flew to Boston.

      She had been hinting that she wanted to retire but couldn’t afford to. I don’t know what changed between the hints and the phone call.

      1. MissDisplaced*

        Odd, but it really sounds like she simply decided to put family over work. Her daughter needed her, so she up and left. Though I’d be willing to bet there was a lot of other things bottled up that translated to I don’t care so I’m leaving, now.
        You are not required to give any notice when quitting a job! This is not against the rule of the law, it’s only courtesy. This is what being an AT WILL employee means! I wish more employers would remember that and quit dinging employees who quit without notice.

        1. Lady Heather*

          I disagree that employers should quit ‘dinging’ (which I take to mean: mentioning it in a reference, making someone ineligible for rehire, or not hiring someone whose references say they did this) when they quit without giving notice. Good employers give notice and/or severance when firing and laying off, and an employee should absolutely hold it against an employer if they don’t. Similarly, good employees give notice when resigning and an employer has every right to hold it against an employee if they do not.

          I do think there is a difference between ‘significant life event happened, I have to leave immediately to deal with that, and I’m not returning after’ and ‘meh, didn’t feel like working out my notice’ – I don’t think an employee should be ‘dinged’ for the first, as then it’s not really the employees choice.

    4. Koalafied*

      I LOL’d imagining the text message too, I think because I use the frowny face to mean “this is sad for me” not “I’m sorry” or “this is sad for you.” Got me imagining other similar uses:

      I took the last cupcake :(
      I have to leave on time today :(
      I got the promotion instead of you :(

    5. I was never given a name*

      Made me think of Jack’s breakup text to Condoleeza Rice in 30 Rock:
      “me + you = “

  10. Clorinda*

    I wonder what was Lucinda’s take on the whole Jane situation. Having Jane “quit” and hen come back on her own terms seems like it puts a lot of pressure on Lucinda to keep Jane happy. Busy season or not, is keeping Jane worth disempowering Lucinda?
    Jane sounds like the kind of person who builds special status for herself to the resentment of her co-workers. And she already quit, so you don’t even have to fire her.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      I wondered this, too–leverage during what Jane knows is a tough time.

      I’d be done with these shenanigans yesterday.

  11. LPUK*

    I had a situation like this once. A direct report who was decidedly average gave him notice, explaining that he was moving to a different part of the country to take up a job opportunity with his in-laws. I had the discussion about timings to leave, status of projects etc and then when I asked was there anything else I could do over the next couple of weeks he said ‘ well you could ask me to stay’. I thought it was a weird non sequitur as he’d already told me he was leaving for family reasons, indicated as much to him and we left it there. Once I had a formal resignation letter in my hand, I offered the role to a temporary employee who was working out well who was delighted to have it and signed an employment contract with us. Good feelings all round, until 3 weeks later ( in UK so 4 weeks notice is usual)the original guy came back to me and said he’d changed his mind and would be staying on. Oh no he wouldn’t be – his notice had been accepted, final salary had been processed, job now belonged, in writing, to another person. Still don’t know what was really going on there….especially as someone later told me they’d seen him around the local area and he was training to be a private investigator. Just glad to be out of it as he was known to create drama in the office, which was mostly female, and he had some ‘interesting’ ideas ( read; reactionary) about the role of women in the office

    1. Anonymouse*

      How exactly did he respond to being told that, no, he was not staying?

      Sounds exactly like a power play to me. I do think that if someone chooses to leave a job for legitimate reasons, and then circumstances change, the outgoing employer should do the honourable thing and try to accomodate that. After all, someone may have accepted a new job and it fell through. I did know of someone who had that latter situation happen, because when my acquaintance (an accountant/HR manager who’d been brought into the business after the hiring was made but before the employee started), started his job he discovered that they’d hired someone with no means to pay the guy… Fortunately, the young lad was already unemployeed so aside from false hope, he hadn’t lost a great deal in material terms.

      Not that it stopped him reading them the riot act (fairly, in my opinion)

      However, I would not like to have been in your position and had offered the job out to someone else, and had an employee I LIKED want to rescind their resignation

      1. sssssssssssssssssssssssss*

        I know of a person who announced she was leaving, well in advance, because she was following her husband to another continent.

        Her replacement was found.

        The trans-continental move happened…and then they returned less than two or three months later. (Reasons abounded but it was very bizarre due to the time and cost associated with a huge move like that!). She called back her old employer and asked, hey, do y’all have a job for me? Her replacement was in a HUGE panic as she had barely started and was still learning!

        She was lucky. Her old job was not given to her but she was given a different job that had just opened up.

        (I personally felt it was unfair to stress out her replacement like that. She left, she had three goodbye parties, start fresh! But I’m not the best person to ask for how right or wrong it was because I was interviewed to be her replacement and not offered the job.)

        1. Kes*

          Eh, I don’t actually think that’s so bad – she left, it didn’t work out, she asked if they had a job they could take her back to. I think your company was right not to take the job from the replacement, but I don’t think she’s in the wrong either – if she’s been a good employee and they have an open role, it can be to both sides’ benefit to hire her again.
          Asking to come back when things don’t work out is different from giving notice just for leverage and then trying to pull your notice during the notice period as a power play.

        2. EvilQueenRegina*

          That sounds like a letter that was posted here once. There was an employee who had left but her new job fell through, she hadn’t been replaced yet so was hired back. She left again, new job didn’t work out, her replacement had turned out to be terrible and was fired, she was quickly hired back to be the replacement. She moved away, new replacement was found who was actually better at the job, then people were hearing that the move wasn’t working out for her and she wanted to return. Boss had made a parting remark that “there’s always a job here for you”, and someone at the company had written in worried that he might fire Excellent Replacement in favour of Good But Not Great predecessor and wondering if there was anything she could do to persuade Boss to keep excellent replacement. Don’t think we got an outcome.

      2. Kes*

        Wow, it sounds like your friend was sorely needed there, both on the accounting and on the HR sides

    2. juliebulie*

      “well you could ask me to stay”
      Wow. That’s a new one.

      I wonder how the private investigator training went. I hope he was hoping to become his own boss. Then he would see what a terrible employee he was.

    3. Peter*

      Sounds like a narcissist that wanted you to beg them to stay.

      I’m sure you’re better without this person.

    4. MissDisplaced*

      Hm. Well it really could be he was planning to move somewhere else and just didn’t. Happens.
      But assuming you’re just ‘staying on’ after giving notice to leave is quite the presumption.

      1. LPUK*

        Bingo!!! This was why. The guy was really average but also had ruffled feathers in the wider team by making it clear that he was ‘too important’ ( read: male) for things like reciprocating making tea and coffee, packing up files to move offices ( and when I, as his manager) was packing up files with the rest of the team, that really didn’t down well)

        Also I think he was being paid more than the others because; Male! Not 100% sure on that one but I do know that when my head boss sat down with me to review pay levels – he was planning to give this guy a higher pay increase ‘because he had a family to look after’ (!!!!). fought that one hard, pointing out that more than one of the female team members also had ‘families to look after’, if that was to be his criteria and that if this guy wanted to look after his family better, then the onus was on him to work harder and better to DESERVE a pay increase – I may have been a little immoderate on that point.

  12. sssssssssssssssssssssssss*

    An employee who relies on drama to get things done, express frustration or to get attention (all of the above) is exhausting. And it sucks up time that would be better spent on work. Does the drama increase if there are stressful periods or short deadlines? Do you have time for that?

    An employee who doesn’t like to be managed maybe shouldn’t be an employee (but could be a freelancer or a business owner or an entrepreneur). Because unless you are the CEO, someone is always being managed.

    Resigning by text with a frowny face and then asking for the job back only further confirms the overall sense of immaturity (and entitlement!) from this person that the drama already suggests.

    This isn’t dating. This is work and if you tell me you’re leaving, I’ve got to start the work to replace you. I don’t have the leisure of playing a waiting game while you cool off after your poorly thought out huffing and puffing and “I’m quitting!”

    I hope it all worked out but this person would not be kept on in a lot of places I worked at. There’s no time for that in a busy workplace.

  13. RedinSC*

    I have a colleague who rage quits about twice a year. She’s not in my management line, otherwise, that rage quit would have stayed quitted. They keep convincing her to not quit. She’s so much drama. Yes, she’s good at her job, mostly, but she’s a terrible manager to her 3 staff and just way too much.

    Honestly, don’t let rage quitters hold you hostage. It’s really unhealthy for an organization and the people around that.

  14. Employment Lawyer*

    should we let Jane continue working?
    No. You should fire Jane.

    There’s a saying for advice which goes “slow to hire; quick to fire” and it applies here. You have learned some VERY important–and negative–things about Jane, which include a) she doesn’t like working there much and b) she’s probably not going to leave professionally when (not if!) she does.

    You would never, ever, hire this person if you knew that. Why would you plan for her continued employment? Let her go now, while you can, before she does any damage. Move on. You’re lucky this happened after only 4 months.

    1. Pomona Sprout*

      Agreed, with one teeny, tiny insertion:

      “Let her go now, while you can, before she does any more damage.”

      Because anyone who creates this much drama has almost certainly done SOME damage already, even if it’s just fraying some people’s nerves (as it sounds like Jane has done to both you and Lucinda). Sh needs to GO.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      But you don’t have to fire Jane – that’s the beauty here. Jane has already fired herself, all OP has to do is let the resignation that was given stand as given.

  15. Kay*

    Yeah, this is totally unprofessional behavior from a manager. I’d fire her.

    You got lucky and have been given a chance to let her go smoothly. Take it ! Train the new manager to not have this experience repeat again.

  16. Admin Amber*

    You have the opportunity to clean house of a less than stellar employee. Carpe Diem!

  17. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

    I hope they told Jane no. Too much drama in such a short period of time and it would have only gotten worse. And whether Jane needed to work or not is irrelevant. She was acting like a whiny child who wasn’t getting her way. If she needed to work and didn’t have another job lined up, that would be nobody’s problem but Jane’s.

  18. Andy*

    Personally, I think that not needing to work is not an issue. Happy to work with such people.

    The drama and often changing opinions in major decisions is. Having manager like that sux and makes work harder. So, have empathy for employees under her and make sure managers are emotionally and mentally stable.

  19. HR Exec Popping In*

    A colleague once told me, “Never pass on an opportunity to fire a bad employee.”
    In this case, don’t miss the opportunity to have them resign.
    In 4 months, Jane has threatened to resign, complained about being managed and has actually resigned to only turn around and ask to “take it back”. That is a bad employee. Let her go so that she can find a role that will better fit with her expectations and so that you can find a replacement that isn’t a pain in the a$$.

  20. FrivYeti*

    My only quibble with letting her go is that if they hired her four months before the letter was written, and the letter was written relatively recently, Jane probably got hired right at the start of COVID-19 turning the world upside-down, and they’ve literally never seen her in a normal situation. Combining pandemic stress with new-job stress is a great way to see someone at their absolute worst.

    Which isn’t to say that I disagree with Alison’s advice, but I am inclined to cut a bit of slack for bad employee decision-making.

    1. Uranus Wars*

      The Inc. articles are usually a couple years old, but I would love an update on this one!

  21. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

    This is actually sort of how I got started in my career field. I was hired as a temp to assist with a project for about six months. At the end of my first week, the guy I was assisting went to our manager and was all “I want to take this training next week.” She said “Well, no, I need you here to finish getting Red up to speed on the project next week, but they offer that training every other week, you can do the next one?” and he did not like that. So he went to her boss, who declined to overrule her. So he announced that he was quitting. Then he returned on Monday and announced that he was rescinding his resignation as allowed by the union contract. He had apparently done this before, like three times.

    Imagine his surprise when grand-boss responded with “I’ve reviewed the union contract and had a meeting with the steward this morning. The contract says we have to let you rescind your resignation … once. Since you have now resigned four times, we are declining to let you rescind it again. If you want to stay on as a temp for a month, we can work that out, but otherwise, your resignation on Friday stands.” So I ended up taking over the project, getting hired on permanently, and I worked there for eight years.

  22. Girl with the yellow umbrella*

    Alison, I wasn’t sure if you were aware that there appears to be an issue with the way the article has printed onto It could just be what I’m reading it off (my mobile) or a problem on incs end, but the first paragraph was cut off (so the question started with the writer receiving the text (therefore missing out all the context, making it confusing) and the last paragraph (of your answer) was duplicated? Obviously not a big issue, but I thought you’d want to know

    1. Girl with the yellow umbrella*

      My grammar is horrendous here… I’ve had a stressful week or so at work and I was so tired I didn’t even notice – sorry people!

  23. batcat*

    oh my gawds. I worked at a large Canadian company, with someone just like that! I will call her AH.
    It was YEARS ago, she was friends with the office managers assistant, MW, who had a LOT of power, still does in fact.
    AH would come in a few hours late at times, and then only go to her desk to put her purse down, and head out for a two hour lunch with the office managers assistant MW.
    AH was hired in a ‘lowly’ admin spot, but promised a position in Human Development. I don’t think she did well there, and was put back in the ‘lowly’ admin spot she hated. She happened to ALSO be my back up on reception, except she hated it.
    So, instead of saying she hated being my lunch break and bathroom break coverage, she went to a Senior and told him I bullied her.
    Now, please note, this is AFTER she asked me to be a surrogate for her sister who really wanted a baby. I did not say yes or no. I was honestly too shocked to answer… and later she said it was because her sister did not want to ‘get fat’ but since I already was fat. soooo. She would also try and order me to sew for her mother, but that never worked out either.
    I really cannot make this stuff up.
    She ended up going on leave, never EVER telling us she wasn’t coming back. Because she was friends with MW, I was forced to leave a mailbox open for her in reception area, even though she never should have had one to start with.
    She always said she only worked for fun money, she didn’t need the job. It seems to be true, as I never heard of her being employed again.
    Who knows? It was an all around disaster of a company to work for.

  24. Rita*

    I know for sure the source of some of the pseudonyms used on this site (Cersei/Sansa/etc.), but what’s the source of Lucinda and Jane? Is it Two Bad Mice or something else? I mostly ask because it happens to be my daughter’s actual name, and it tickles me every time I run across it here.

  25. Treebeardette*

    I know we should stick to LW’s views but I question the team having lower morale if she left vs if she stayed. I’ve been stretched thin and had bad bosses and stretched thin with no bosses. Morale is always higher without a dramatic boss. I know it may seem like there aren’t issues but a dramatic person probably has a negative affect on the team, even if they don’t say anything.

  26. Rocky*

    Our team had a Jane – and she was literally named Jane! She was hired as a junior but clearly felt the work was beneath her, seemed not to take in any training on team processes, and hated taking any kind of feedback. We tried different styles of managing, such as giving her more training, giving her more freedom, giving her more structure and checklists, having her report to a different person in case I was the problem – it was a terrific chance for me to practice different approaches, at least! In the end she resigned and revealed that she never needed the job because she was independently wealthy. It explained why she had no inclination to learn or improve, because she was doing the job to amuse herself between international trips. all I can say is that I hope for her sake the money never runs out.

  27. Starchy*

    I always accept the resignation, even if it was a great employee. If the person felt that they needed to find another job then there must have been something they were unhappy about. If it takes their resignation for them to talk to me (as their manager) about the issues they are having then I have failed at my job. There should be open ongoing dialogue with your employees. If an employee resigns on a spur of the moment with no plan, then I don’t want to deal with that kind of drama because I can guarantee they will react like this again when they have other issues.

    1. AuroraLight37*

      That’s a good point. If someone wants to resign, then they have a reason for leaving. And if they flounce (which is what it sounds like Jane did) then the odds are that they will continue to behave that way on another issue.

  28. Bob*

    You got off easy. So don’t undo it.
    It may seem like you need her now but later on you will regret it as the headaches multiply and multiply and the current backlog is long forgotten.
    Short term half hearted help is not going to make up for what could be years of headache.
    Do what you have to do for now, the company can pay some overtime or bring in outside help if possible. Then move on and be content in the knowledge that you can build a better team that will reduce your Jane induced stress in perpetuity.

  29. Pomona Sprout*

    Agreed, with one teeny tiny insertion:

    “Let her go now, while you can, before she does any moredamage.”

    Because nobody creates as much drama as Jane has without doing some damage, even if it’s just fraying some nerves (which she certainly seems to done to both you and Lucinda, if not others). She needs to GO.

    1. Pomona Sprout*

      Crud. That was my first try at using html here, and I was so fixated on getting the codes right that I left out a space! LOL

  30. Nancy Hammond*

    In my experience, it is difficult to have someone working for you who feels that they are doing you a favor by working for you. That doesn’t mean that you always have to have people who need the money. Plenty of people who don’t need money want the connection and sense of purpose they get from their job. But you don’t know that those people don’t need the money because THEY DON’T TELL YOU.

Comments are closed.