should I warn our terrible managers that most of our team is about to leave?

A reader writes:

I work in a government department of about 25 people. Due to a poorly executed reorganization and COVID19, we lost about 5 people to other jobs, retirement, or budget cuts in the past year. Obviously, it’s never optimal to lose 20% of your staff, but that could be recovered from if it wasn’t for the incredibly horrible and downright disasterous management that has, from my count, at least 9 other people actively looking for jobs to leave by the end of the summer.

I don’t think I need to go into the reasons all of these people (myself included) are looking to leave, but a general overview would be expanded duties with less staff and no pay increase, lack of respect and outright disrespect of non-professional staff, punitive policies that change weekly, and the refusal of management to acknowledge any issues or even areas where staff are excelling. (Think being written up because I asked why they were tripling my job duties without telling me which of my original duties I could step back from. I was accused of being chronically negative and put on a “positivity plan”.) They just smile and say things like “you should be happy to have a job,” “all companies have communication issues,” and “you need to get on board and be a team player or maybe this isn’t the job for you.”

We are about to lose the backbone of our department and be left with almost no institutional knowledge, anybody to train incoming people, and worse, in my opinion, nobody to help this department carry out its mission. The people we support may very well fail because of this mass exodus of staff.

I know that nothing short of a complete management overhaul will get people to stay at this point, but I’m wondering if there’s a way to tell (incredibly toxic) management that this is about to happen and that they need to prepare (or completely change their initiatives and focus on staff morale)? I don’t want this department to fail and have the people we serve lose access to our resources just because our upper management is a glorified train wreck that is little talk and even less action.

They won’t listen.

These are managers who wrote you up because you asked what to take off your plate when your workload was tripling, and who tell you that you should be happy just to have a job. These are managers who threaten you when you express concerns.

If you warn them about what’s happening, they won’t listen. They might even find a way to blame you for it.

I know the angst that comes from seeing people you serve at risk of losing access to services they need or, more broadly, from seeing work you care about fall apart. I wish you could solve that, but you cannot.

Sometimes the only thing that prompts real change is letting things implode. It’s hard to do when you care, but the reality is that you don’t have the power in this situation to do anything else.

{ 268 comments… read them below }

  1. Neosmom*

    Sometimes management is unwilling to make changes until they “feel the pain”. Do not kill yourself working unreasonable hours handling the workload of 3 FTEs! We’re rooting for you, OP.

    1. Antilles*

      Agreed. If anything, an epic disaster is sometimes the only thing that *does* cause management to wake up and realize that changes are needed.

        1. Pants*

          Yup. That’s been my experience. They just don’t get it. Then they wonder why the company is going under, getting sold, etc. Rather satisfying to watch that last part, I can’t lie.

          1. disconnect*

            They don’t wonder why. They know. You can see it in their eyes.
            They may not allow themselves to be aware on what you or I would consider a conscious level. It’s buried under layers of ossified bullshit, hidden deep down behind every single thing they’ve done in support of The Organization, all the lies they told themselves to keep from gibbering insanity, every single instance of when they treated their reports as fools and thieves. But they know.
            Do they dream of this? Do they imagine themselves standing up to the charlatanry that is the guiding hand of The Organization? Do they picture themselves leading, arguing for what’s right, striking an actual dialogue with others? Do they awaken and spend an eternal moment in that transition zone, on the precipice of a world where things make sense, and they can finally say “yo we gotta stop treating people like this”, only to feel sanity and sensibility move quietly just out of reach?
            I think they do. I think a quiet part of their selves recoils in horror at their actions, and their younger selves swarm their thoughts whenever there’s a minute to think. And I think their actions are a repeated doubling down, because This Is What Successful Guy Did So I Have To Do The Exact Same Thing Or I’m Never Going To Be Successful.
            But they know why The Organization is failing.

        2. Pickled Limes*

          This. We’ve had a similar stretch of people leaving, and our upper management has been claiming it’s because people got promoted or got a job closer to home, when the reality is that the people they’re talking about wouldn’t have even started looking for other jobs if our system was healthier. As long as they can keep coming up with alternate reasons for why people are leaving, they can keep bumbling along and not look at the structural issues that are actually causing it.

    2. High Score!*

      Agreed, do as much as you can on your shift and then go home. Don’t feel guilty. Don’t worry – they won’t fire you bc they’re short staffed and need everyone. Also push back on write ups. Just say, I can do A and B or I can do X and Z. Passively aggressively doing a great job without doing a double or triple job is the best way to handle bad management.
      Good luck with your job search.

      1. Joan Rivers*

        Do these managers have bosses? It would be fun to warn the bosses that your managers are headed for a train wreck — but then you get into “anonymous” messages and that’s awkward.
        Once people are ready to give notice, would local news reporters care?

        1. Humorless Feminist*

          Good advice from Joan. But please don’t do it till after you’ve given your notice! These bozos are likely to fire you on the spot if you say anything about the problem before you’re firmly on your way to another job (with contract signed, listen to AAM on that)

    3. AnonRonRon*

      And sometimes not even then. I worked at a place that lost 1/3 of the staff in a matter of months. Management still didn’t think they needed to change. It’s painful to see this happening when you’re in social services, but you can’t carry an entire department on your back. Sometimes all you can do is get out and save yourself.

    4. Buck Seward*

      Make sure you follow the departmental guidelines but under no circumstances should you do anything else.
      Something to consider, you and your team care about the mission. Look around for other agencies who are often working on the same goals from a distinct perspective and funding source.
      Another option is to identify NGO which is focused on this same need and people group. Non-profits are not as organized as agencies or private organizations, but they can be guided especially if you present a ready to go team which they can promote in their funding efforts.
      Good people will do remarkable things. Do not lose heart, where there is a will there is always a way to help people.
      Thank you for your team’s caring and commitment.

  2. Xavier Desmond*

    My advice would be to tell them stick their positivity plan up their arse. Not sure that is very constructive though.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      I’m sure a plan for remaining positive under such conditions will be very helpful when they find themselves without a big chunk of their staff. (I feel bad for the ones remaining, though.)

    2. OP*

      Ha! I appreciate this. It’s been so hard to bring humor and light into work lately. Maybe I’ll tell them where to shove it on my way out…whenever that is.

      1. Xavier Desmond*

        Lol. I’ve been under terrible management and I fiund having a sense of humour about it kept me sane.

        1. OP*

          That…that was a part of my Positivity Plan. My gallows humor was unappreciated. (to be fair, I agree it was likely bordering on unprofessional. But when the toxic workplace is doing laughably unimaginable things, joking is how I coped.)

          1. OrigCassandra*

            I feel you, OP. I once had my facial expressions policed.

            Yeah, I admit I looked a bit incredulous and insulted, O My Manager. What you were saying at the time was a giant pile of steaming crap that completely ignored my subject expertise.

            1. Pippa K*

              Me too! “Don’t have that expression on your face.” I’m almost glad it happened, in retrospect, because when I say I’m excessively tone policed in my department, this example tends to end any doubt about whether I’m overstating it.

              1. MissBaudelaire*

                Wow, no. Nope.

                I cannot imagine, as a grown person, being told “Don’t have that expression on your face.” That’s like a mother saying “Don’t look at me in that tone of voice!” or “Fix your face before I fix it for you.”

              2. JustaTech*

                I have a friend who, when asked to smile (“you’ll be prettier!”) does this thing where she bares her teeth in a way that is 100% not a smile, but also meets a dictionary definition of a smile. Except that you think that she is about to eat your soul.

                If someone told me to be “positive” they would probably end up with that expression a lot.

                1. Elenna*

                  At one point I was doing an acting thing where we were supposed to look creepily happy. I realized that doing a big smile but keeping your eyes as wide open as you can (instead of letting them crinkle as they naturally would) looks immensely creepy for some reason that’s hard to explicitly figure out.

                2. Aggretsuko*

                  I’ve done the bared teeth, but you get in trouble for that one too. “No smizing! You have to mean that smile!”

            2. Pants*

              And “hey, you’re on a positivity plan” really makes you feel positive about working! I have RBF and had to make sure I was always smiling, even in the worst of my life situations. Oh, and that I needed to wear more makeup.

              1. Pickled Limes*

                “We see that you’re unhappy and that bums us out. We’re not going to do anything about the source of your unhappiness, though, so just get better at pretending, please.”

            3. Call Me Dr. Dork*

              Me too. And any pushback led to lectures, so I learned how to have a slightly pleasant blank expression whenever that boss talked with me. I’m shuddering to remember that.

            4. Pickled Limes*

              This is one reason I’m not looking forward to the end of mask wearing. I’m going to have to re-learn my poker face.

          2. Sparkles McFadden*

            During my review one year, I was told that I “needed to stop laughing at things other people don’t think are funny.”

          3. StormyWeather*

            Something that I have always told friends and family when dealing withe glassbowls – when someone is really pisses you off, remember that ‘smiling’ is nothing more than the polite baring of teeth. Then look at them and smile. :)

        2. EvilQueenRegina*

          I can definitely concur with that – my coping mechanism with my previous line manager “Professor Umbridge” was joking about things like being surprised I didn’t have a scar on the back of my hand reading “I must not make typos/talk/breathe”. It helped.

          Surprisingly enough, Umbridge had a lot of people leave her at once…

      2. quill*

        I would just get… passive-aggressively perky.

        “Sure! I would love to drop Llama dentistry and Llama hoof cleaning for Alpaca poop scooping! Oh, you still need a full time LLama dentist and a LLama nail tech? Well I’m sure YOU will figure that out in a jiffy, since you KNOW that one person can’t do all three because of potential cross-contamination! Good luck!”

      3. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

        They are championing toxic positivity. It invalidates your experience and tells you that you aren’t allowed to inconvenience them with any concerns. It forces you to act happy about the fact that they are making your job miserable – so you do not just have to put up with being mistreated, you also have to be CHEERFUL about it!

        Don’t try to fix their problem and don’t try to make them see that they need to fix it. Give them more than enough rope, and when you find your great new job and give your notice, tell them in an exit interview about everything they are doing wrong, about their toxic positivity plan being just that – toxic, and finish it out with, “But hey, be positive and smile! You are lucky you have any employees left at all! Enjoy it, cause it won’t last long!” (deliver the last part in a really cheerful voice!).

    3. Keymaster of Gozer*

      My reaction to being told to be ‘happier and more positive’ at work once (boss seriously wanted me to call my disabilities/health issues ‘opportunities!’ and ‘differently able’) was to stare at her like my cat stares at me when I don’t let him eat paper.

      Not professional, not constructive but seriously couldn’t think of anything to say that didn’t involve me getting fired.

        1. Worldwalker*

          A long-ago cat of mine ate cardboard. He’d bite off the corners of cardboard boxes and eat them. I never did know why.

          1. RussianInTexas*

            My cat’s preference are those seals strips from FedEx envelops. I have to mail a lot of things for work, and she fishes them out from the recycle bin I have by my desk.

            1. Selina Luna*

              One of my cats has a preference for toilet paper still on the roll-but she licks, not chews. It’s still deeply annoying, mind.

          2. HarvestKaleSlaw*

            Haha – this makes me think of a cat just slowly eating a piece of cardboard with an unblinking stare and thinking, “She knows why.”

          3. NotAnotherManager!*

            One ours is currently chewing holes in his cardboard cat scratchers. He likes to lounge on them and dangle his paw through the holes he’s created. (This would be less problematic if he was also scratching the scratchers, but, alas, no the scratchers are for chewing, the couch is for scratching.)

            1. Catonymous*

              When mine is feeling particularly cuddly, he lovingly bites my wristwatch while purring.

        2. Spaceball One*

          Cats (I love them) are so dang weird. I have one who bites through wires. Our joke is that she believes they are “spicy noodles.” She also eats plastic bits. Last February she spent a week sick, getting ultrasounds, and finally had surgery to remove some little plastic thing and then had to wear the Inflatable Elizabethan Collar of Shame for a couple of weeks. Still, she eats inedibits all. the. time.

          1. quill*

            ooof. I had a dog who gave himself a nasty burn trying to eat a lamp cord. Fortunately he was a one-strike kind of learner, which was great for the structural integrity of the house, terrible for “I will not walk down the back steps when it is raining (because it was slippery one time three years ago and I fell on my face.)”

          2. TardyTardis*

            I had a cat who ate a mouse her first night home. Unfortunately, it was attached to the computer at the time (I had wireless mice for the rest of her all too brief life with us. She did leave us a wide assortment of small woodland creatures on our doorstep as well).

      1. Zephy*

        I think my old boss must have attended the same toxic-positivity-filled training yours did. She came in late one morning and explained that she was having “stomach opportunities” that morning.

          1. quill*

            Either she went to brunch (a true stomach opportunity!)

            Or she regretted a brunch (opportunity? More like learning experience!)

        1. Artemesia*

          I’ll bet you laughed at that and it was one of the things that ‘others don’t think are funny.’

      2. HereKittyKitty*

        “I would love to help you get an opportunity of your own!” *slowly takes out baseball bat*

      3. Blue*

        If it’s an ‘opportunity’ they don’t have to give you accommodations! Win win! You can just positively think your way up those stairs. /s

        1. quill*

          When “it would be irresponsible of me to lift that given it’s size and my entire body” becomes an “opportunity” to spend all morning unpacking the box on the floor and taking every individual package of printer paper up the stepladder to its top shelf storage and putting it back in the box…

      4. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

        wow, what an ass!!! Also, I am now thinking of how my maltese doggo looks at me when I take away paper he wants to shred up (maltese are famous for shredding up paper!), and I will definitely try to channel that expression whenever someone tries to pull this crap on me!

    4. HarvestKaleSlaw*

      For real. My positivity plan would be that I’m positive I need a plan to get a different job.

    5. tink*

      “I’m positive I can do X and Y or A and B but not both.” *giant smile with teeth*

  3. Bagpuss*

    I agree with Alison that these people are not going to listen, and are likely to blame you!
    Also, while you and many of your colleagues are planning to leave, you haven’t left yet, and saying something at this point could well mean that you end up being cross-questioned about who else is planning to go, or that your colleagues are subjected to questioning or pressure to promise to stay, or other oor treatment if they are / are suspected of, planning to leave.

    As you mention that it is a government department, is there anyone higher up who has oversight who you could contact once you have handed in your own notice? Not to mention the other planned departures but to flag up the terrible management and the negative impact it has on the community it serves?
    Or your representative at the appropriate level?

    1. OP*

      I never really thought about running this up the flagpole. The positions above my department head are so large as to be intimidating to even think about approaching. But framing it as informing them of the impact rather than complaining that the management sucks (which it does) might be helpful for them to hear (and, to be honest, for myself to remember on days where it’s particularily horrible).

      1. mkl*

        You are going to love your new job! Good luck on your hunt, and may the wind be at your back. Once you’re safely out, if you’re up for it, you might consider sending a letter to 4-5 top level agency officials and elected officials in your area who oversee the agency. CC all the recipients on the letter. Document as much of the factual information as possible (e.g. turnover rate in the last 12 months, tripling of duties, threat of placement on improvement plan, etc…) and include it as an an attachment. But really, just enjoy your new job.

      2. Cthulhu's Librarian*

        Keep in mind that often, things which seem minor to people lower on the flagpole do matter to those at the top – especially if there is a chance for things to go catastrophically wrong.

        For example, elected officials often get very sensitive to giant public failures of a program during an election year, even if they may not be inclined to otherwise.

        Good upper management SHOULD care about a program which impacts the community failing spectacularly, especially with the loss of institutional knowledge (which is often hugely important to government operations). That doesn’t mean they will, but if you don’t bring it to them, you’ll never know if they would have.

        Also, if you’re unionized government employees, you may want to talk to your union as well – they usually represent broader swathes of the government employees under someone’s oversight, and may be able to draw more direct attention to the problems you’re experiencing.

      3. OlympiasEpiriot*

        I would definitely go higher. You said this is a government department. Government is the backbone. If a govt agency or department implodes, this has huge ripple effects.

      4. Artemesia*

        In my youth I was Casssandra and it worked about as well for me as for her. I could see that the policy change we were making would cut our revenue and kill the organization and I laid it out — naturally I was one of the people cut in the merger in which the pathetic remnants of our company were attached to another company. The changes they made literally killed the organization in about 3 years.

      5. Amaranth*

        I would say its not worth it, because they’ve already demonstrated a total lack of interest when you mentioned being overburdened. Any competent manager would realize that means people will be looking elsewhere for work if conditions don’t change. I agree with Bagpuss, if the warning ends up with anyone getting laid off or harassed, those managers will point their fingers at you.

        1. There's probably a cat meme to describe it*

          BTDT and I agree, it’s not worth saying anything to either your managers or the next level up. Any vaguely competent leader knows what a mass exodus means – so if they’re ignoring that signal it means they’re either inept, don’t care, or actually want it to happen. None of those are things that can or will change with your input.

          And as much as you care about the mission, you can’t care more about the successful operation of the department than the person whose KPI is the successful operation of the department.

          1. Anyhow*

            I truly hate to say this. I 1000% agree that it’s not worth it to say anything to anyone. Maybe… if the OP is given an exit interview, then they may want to be forthcoming. However, I say, err on the side of caution. OP, I would not say a single word to anyone.

            So, approximately ten years ago I was part of a mass exodus. A new principal managed to run off approximately 65% + of the faculty and staff. People knew why everyone was leaving. The entire community knew that it was a matter of mismanagement and incompetence on an unprecedented scale. The School Board noticed, parents noticed, the students and alumni noticed, everyone in town took notice. Everyone saw what was happening. The end result was that the principal in question, the principal who had caused such chaos was PROMOTED in the middle of the following school year and given a higher paying job at Central Office. The epitome of The Peter Principle at its best.

            So very much not worth it, OP.

      6. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

        I think this is something you should only do after securing a new job, accepting an offer, giving notice … exit interview and then a few good letters to higher ups … and I definitely agree to make it about informing them of impact. You can still address management issues by saying that you think the management team could use some more trainings on appropriate management, especially in tough times.

        I would definitely put in the information about the positivity plan when you asked for assistance balancing priorities during staff shortages, but frame it as “oh, I am sure they meant well, but this type of thing comes across as dismissive of genuine concerns and struggles, makes the employees feel unvalued and unappreciated, and gives an impression of poor management skills and a preference for glossing over problems instead of addressing them head on. Some additional training on how to approach and work with direct reports in tough times could really help them out!” If they are remotely decent, they will not be pleased that during a time when they are short staffed and losing employees, they told the employees who remained that they should be grateful to have a job!

    2. Nicotene*

      I agree. “People are planning to leave” risks outing people before they’re ready, including yourself! Bad things happen when a company realizes you’re trying to go but you haven’t left yet. Be honest in your exit interview (it won’t matter, but at least you’ll know you’ve done what you could) and create good documentation of your processes; that’s all that’s required of you.

      1. OP*

        I was talking with a former coworker this weekend about how people having up-to-date process manuals for their positions is one way to indicate that they have one foot out the door already. :P

        1. NerdyKris*

          It shouldn’t be. That should just be standard. My boss got worried because I asked about the contingency plan for a new system recently. I legitimately just worry about what happens if I suddenly aren’t there anymore, because I care about my coworkers and don’t want them to be scrambling to recreate information.

        2. Sparkles McFadden*

          Updating procedures should be SOP so people can take vacations without stress and so everyone can handle things if someone has an emergency.

          Lots of people think that keeping information readily available to all is some sort of threat to job security, but that’s not the case. People who hold on to information this way eventually get let go when their “proprietary information” becomes obsolete.

        3. Seeking Second Childhood*

          It’s a pandemic. I got people to seriously focus on backing up their individual hard drives by pointing out it lets us pitch in “if one of us wakes up without a sense of smell tomorrow.”

        4. Elizabeth West*

          Not necessarily; I do this when I start a new job and keep them up to date the entire time; in fact, it was actually part of my duties at Exjob. But it definitely could be a sign if it’s not the norm for either the employee or the department.

        5. quill*

          Oh god it better not be, that’s literally half my job almost everywhere I’ve ever been hired!

          “Here’s a bunch of junk notes, please turn them into a working SOP” is like, the most common task I get assigned in the first month, because nobody documents. And nobody documents WELL.

        6. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

          Yeah, it’s best to let the s*** hit the proverbial fan on this one. Exit interview is when to address it. And do not give any heads up on who is likely to leave next. If someone in management asks you if you have heard any rumblings, play dumb or say … “I’m sure you would know better than I!” (If it was my last day, I’d be so tempted to say, “Why would they? I mean, they should be happy just to have a job, right?!”)

          Also, I am sure anyone can pick up on this, but the positivity plan really makes me mad for you, OP!

      2. HigherEdAdminista*

        I think this is a wise thing to remember. Your hope is that you bring it up to someone and that someone will see it’s wrong and try to set it right. But I would argue the response that is more likely is that it will, at least in the short term, raise the likelihood that people’s lives could be made more difficult, including your own. If I told my colleague I was looking for a new position and they went to management to report that people were looking for new positions, I would feel betrayed.

        If your management and department has been allowed to grow this dysfunctional and miserable, it isn’t likely to change without some pain. It definitely is unfortunate for the people you are trying to help, but making your own lives more miserable won’t help them. Upper management could easily toss this back to your managers and they could decide the solution is to start writing people up more, trying to fire people, or making it hard to take PTO (so it would be hard to interview).

        1. Something Something Whomp Whomp*

          Exactly. Add to that that in some settings, your colleagues might assume that you’re taking this information back to management to earn yourself some brownie points rather than to find a solution that helps everyone. Now, given that your management has been equally crappy to you and it’s unlikely that you can trade the appearance of loyalty for anything beyond not getting fired, it would be a bad read of the situation. But when things are dysfunctional as your described, you can’t always expect people to not miss a whole bunch of rungs on the ladder of inference.

      3. Malarkey01*

        Plus I have been in divisions where there’s a big planned exit of people…and honestly it rarely happens that everyone leaves. Yes, people keep their ear out for openings, yes attrition will naturally continue, but for all the water cooler talk of leaving it usually putters out a little. It’s hard to warn management of something that might not actually happen but might bring more pressure on everyone.

      4. Aggretsuko*

        Hahahaha, one time I said in an anonymous survey at my job that I think a lot of people would leave here if they could, which they read aloud at a meeting.

        Nothing happened, of course. Some people continue to leave if they can leave.

    3. CJ*

      Or, as much a dice roll as this can be if you want to stay in the job, calling a local media circus in to descend might be a way to get some attention on the issue and get the department rebuilt.

    4. Smithy*

      I think it’s also worth flagging that while it seems like “everyone” is going to leave – or at least everyone who is talking about it, inevitably it becomes a bit of a +/- game in reality.

      I worked for a really bad place where so many people wanted out and big picture there was significant turnover. But in reality, it didn’t happen at the same time and some of the departures ended up ended up as opportunities for some people. Personally, I turned down two jobs before I ultimately left – one that was the right call and a second that was the wrong call. But in both cases, I was going through of a period of “yes this is bad, but maybe….” Ultimately it took me about a 1.5 years from thinking I should start looking to leave to when I did leave. Sometimes self inflicted (i.e. turning down jobs) and others external (i.e tough job market, personal priorities).

      I’ve also seen someone absolutely furious and ready to leave and then a promotion/raise comes down and they find a way to stay. Chaos and change often lead to opportunities that some people think will benefit them, and sometimes that’s correct. So again…..telling people 20% of the department is looking to leave…..it may feel like that now, but really may not happen.

      1. Nicotene*

        This is a really good point. I worked on a team where everybody was in some stage of trying to leave; some are there still there a year later. I know they’d like to go, but they haven’t quite been able to get the stars to align yet. Also a few people might be agreeing with others this sucks and they *should* leave, but might not really meaning it on a personal/practical level. Inertia is strong.

        1. Smithy*

          Inertia can be a real beast – and I think it’s also really helpful to remember that a lot of very unpleasant places to work likely offer perks that are going to rank higher for some than others.

          Where I last worked (for the US) we had a really high number of PTO days per year. We also had a fiscal year “use it or lose it”, so all of those days had to be used by the end of the year. While the organization was notorious for people working on their vacation, they also really did encourage people to use all of their days and you weren’t overly penalized if you weren’t accessible.

          Personally, I struggled to use 25 days (in addition to federal holidays and sick days) and was more or less resentful in not having a reliable PTO bank paid out when I left. But I certainly had other colleagues who really valued an organization where taking that much PTO a year was normalized. You add one well liked perk plus a level of comfort around “they’re never going to fire me” – and the inertia to leave can really add up.

          1. Aggretsuko*

            I second all of that. The giant organization I work for has great perks and practiced Covid safety extremely well, and the other giant orgs in the area don’t have as good of benefits. I don’t particularly want to leave the org, just my section of it. Except nobody else will take me, so there you go.

  4. SomebodyElse*

    Chances are the management team is also looking for new jobs, as they’ll likely be seeing the same things you are. And yes, the thing to do here is keep looking, and watch the show. Sometimes it’s all you can do.

    1. Nicotene*

      I worked at a place with terrible, terrible turnover and *scorching* glassdoor reviews. I wondered how leadership could possibly be so blind as to not realize what was going on. I heard through the grapevine that many people had been explicit both before and after they quit about what needed to change. It was mystifying to me (I left too). Well, I heard my boss quit and walked out about a month later, and several other department heads did too. Explains why nothing was being done, I guess! It was a problem all the way to the very top.

  5. ten-four*

    They will DEFINITELY find a way to blame you for it if you try to warn them. “Oh, OP persuaded everyone to leave because she’s a woke millennial who doesn’t want to work/a Karen who can’t move with the times.”

    I’m glad you’re looking. Get out of there and don’t look back. It’s a damn shame about the people you serve, but there is literally nothing you can do to help them.

    1. OP*

      I do think one of the major management issues is a refusal to adapt management to address all generations. Conveniently, it’s almost exclusively millennials that are looking to jump ship.

      1. OlympiasEpiriot*

        Well, realistically, any boomers left are so close to retirement that they can’t imagine getting another job at this point or they are in the management. GenX might be as well or just worried about age discrimination. The youngest are probably thinking they don’t have enough experience to get a new job.

        1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

          I am X, though at the tail end of it, and I would be joining the millennials into the choppy waters of anywhere but the agency OP is describing!

      2. ten-four*

        I have no doubt that you are correct, but I do want to flag that “tripling workloads and threatening people if they ask how to prioritize it” is bad management for literally anyone ever. The generational stuff sounds like icing on a really badly managed cake.

  6. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    Since this is a government agency, it might be worthwhile to think about letting the elected officials who oversee this know. Or an investigative journalist.

    1. Wants Green Things*

      Governments never change until the reporters write a scathing review of the waste of public tax dollars. And the turnover will be public knowledge, which gives OP a little bit more security of anonymity.

      1. Pickled Limes*

        I’ve been an employee of various local governments for my entire adult life, and I’m convinced they won’t prioritize the needs of their staff until voters start getting loud about wanting government staff to be treated well. And most voters have never considered the fact that we’re not, so the calls don’t get made and the letters don’t get written.

    2. Unkempt Flatware*

      Well my first thought was, “Bring it on”. Since this is a government agency, maybe it’s like mine where you have to almost (purposely) kill a person to get fired.

    3. Abogado Avocado*

      OP: I work for a local government and I agree with Alison. This is a horrible situation and you have my greatest sympathy. Can you transfer to another position within your government so you’re not at the mercy of this horrible management? It’s wonderful you care about your clients, but if you can’t transfer, I’m thinking it’s time to look for another job because it sounds like things are only going to get worse, not better, for your office and that your managers’ inclinations are to put more work on your back. (And writing you up for asking for help is just reprehensible.)

      I would also counsel you to look into whistleblower protections for your government job before you do anything rash, such as complain to those higher than your department head or talk to an investigative reporter. Your best bet may be to protect yourself and just get out while you can.

      You have my greatest sympathies for having to work under these conditions.

    4. Chinook*

      I recommend investigative journalist, but then Canadians learned the hard way that government officials are known to give a known toxic boss getting a plum government appointment (with lifetime perks) and have still to admit fault for the careers she in turn ruined, never mind the scandal it caused to her office. I do believe the only reason her toxicity became public was because someone turned to the media out of desperation or frustration because, according to reports (and knowing how small Ottawa is), it had to be known what type of person she was to work for.

      1. Personal Best In Consecutive Days Lived*

        Lynn Beyak?

        At a provincial level, the BC government used to be a bad employer, but they’ve really turned things around. They’re now considered one of the country’s best employers.

  7. Falling Diphthong*

    If one of your coworkers wrote in a month from now, saying “Our department was horribly mismanaged for years, accelerating in the last year, but they just sent out a memo saying ‘We hear your valid concerns and change is coming’–should I drop my job search, since change is coming?” then we would tell them to flee.

    I think it wildly unlikely that they would respond to your heads up in this manner, but if they did, it would be foolish to take them at their word that all the terrible stuff is going to stop being terrible in a secret time frame.

    1. OP*

      This is actually really stellar perspective. This comment section is making me want to amp up my job search more.

      1. Pants*

        Please do. I know a lot of companies that are hiring like mad. If the news is to be believed (and in this case, I do), there is a mass exodus in the workforce right now; people leaving their jobs to pursue other interests, early retirement, new field, etc. My company has over at least 100+ positions open right now. (Large, international company.) There are jobs out there. Good luck!

        And let your current place dig their own grave. Turn around is fair play.

        1. Smithy*

          Absolutely do this now. There are so many positions open, and from what I’ve been hearing – the candidate pools are just not that competitive.

          It took my old employer over 6 months to replace me with a candidate I would have only interviewed for a more junior role and that was after doing multiple rounds of recruitment/interviews. Obviously this isn’t for all jobs everywhere, but this is a good market – and you’re just better positioned to look for new things.

          ALSO – I worked for a very toxic place, where I was looking for a new job and was given a really interesting and competitive offer. Then was told that changes were coming, I’d be more valued, etc. The new offer meant a move that made me nervous and I ultimately declined. 1-2 months later, I was sobbing to my parents about how I’d made the dumbest decision. Things were even worse because my particularly industry was going through a period of financial uncertainty so hiring was either frozen or going very slowly.

          Putting aside my particularly industry issues, my big take away was that by the time I was looking to leave – I didn’t have a huge personal bandwidth to manage a lot more in terms of disappointment/challenges/etc. And it was obvious to many, because I was also getting a lot of “bad attitude” comments at work.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        A thought for you for the long term. If you really care about the agency mission, you could in theory focus your job search to getting enough experience to be hired back as the boss in X years.
        I would say work hard to exit without burning your bridges.

      3. quill*

        Please do, I managed to get out of contracting just a week after applying for a position I was actually qualified for. A friend got laid off in… march ish? and had a new job within two weeks.

    2. Loredena Frisealach*

      This! I need this reminder myself as my company has been off the rails in many ways the past 2 years. We just brought in a new HR VP who really seems to be listening and trying to fix things, so part of me keeps thinking I should stick it out and give her a chance to fix everything. But in reality I should leave as planned, and so should the OP!

      1. irene adler*

        See, only you have your best interests at heart. Only you can take the steps needed to protest your interests.

        Even if “new blood” is brought in, and they clean house, what if the result is still unpalatable? Suppose the changes are reasonable, but they still make the work situation miserable?

        1. Again With Feeling*

          This. And sometimes a new person is brought in to “shake things up” or “improve workplace culture,” and then is quickly pushed out when toxic management realizes it’s going to be a lot of work (and/or money) and they don’t actually want to change. I would never put a job search on hold for the possibility of future improvements from a place that’s burned you already. This isn’t marriage counseling, you don’t owe them a chance to improve, just get out when you can!

  8. AnonEMoose*

    When you care about what you do and the people you serve, it’s so, so hard to watch things crash and burn. But sometimes, it’s the only thing that gets attention on the issues happening. And if the choice is either I half kill myself trying to get everything done, or I let things crash and burn…that’s not really a choice at all. No job is worth my health – physical, mental, or both.

  9. Lilo*

    “Positivity plan”? Yuck. Please tell me this isn’t a common thing. I can’t think of anything that better conveys “the beatings will continue until morale improves”.

    1. MissBaudelaire*

      I was thinking that as well.

      A ‘positivity plan’ would positively make me find a new job. It smacks of “Take it and like it.”

    2. Personal Best In Consecutive Days Lived*

      Absolutely. A positivity plan sounds like all talk with no action.

  10. Falling Diphthong*

    I think this comes up with dating, too–get dumped by enough nice people, and some jerks start to think “the problem is me” and they mature into better people. That doesn’t mean anyone currently dating a jerk should stick around because this person might become a different person with enough time.

    Your office is not going to become a different office if you just tough it out and wait for management to realize that they’re terrible. The best hope for change is to be a raindrop in the flood of experienced people leaving.

  11. Lucious*

    Toxic workplaces are office equivalents of the RMS Titanic. No amount of professional courtesy saved that ship from sinking, and so it goes for poorly managed teams/ companies.

    Proceed to the lifeboat deck and find a better ship for your career.

  12. The Prettiest Curse*

    The instant I got to “positivity plan”, I thought, “nope, let them deal with the consequences of their own crappy management.” Don’t feel bad, don’t look back and good luck!

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      Also, I should add – if the people that you serve don’t get the services they need as a result of the imminent exodus, that’s on the management. It’s definitely NOT on you or on anyone else who needs to escape a toxic work environment.

  13. ampersand*

    This letter could have been written about my office, though my work environment is slightly less awful as far as I can tell. Staff have been put on PIPs but no positivity plans that I know of (that’s horrifying). I’ve also wondered if I should tell my manager about the mass exodus that’s about to happen. This is a good reminder that it likely wouldn’t work, and if management were interested in improving they would have already.

    1. OP*

      I’m so sorry to hear that you are also in the midst of a staff exodus. Good luck to you (and if you happen to be a person from my office, can we blaze of glory out on the same day in some distant future when we both find new jobs?)

  14. Hapless Bureaucrat*

    If you want to try, the time to try is at your exit interview. With someone above your bosses on the food chain. HR director or senior leadership.

    But it’s not going to work.

    Hell, the tire fire I left is still going, several years later. (I did do exit interviews, and people with more clout then me had been screaming from the rooftops about the problem long before I left.)

    Do what you can do to preserve your sanity. If you can document your processes so there’s a chance that some of the services can be done correctly when you go. And good luck.

  15. Exhausted Trope*

    “Sometimes the only thing that prompts real change is letting things implode.”
    It’s a darn shame but it’s the truth. My workplace is this way. We are hemorrhaging talent and those of us who are left are burning out.

    1. quill*

      Favorite local(?) phrase about that is “not my circus, not my monkeys.” (Ideally said while sipping coffee and watching people beat the malfunctioning copier with a desk stapler.)

  16. Eulerian*

    Please, please, please, for the sake of some random person on the internet, can you arrange to give all your resignations on the same day?

    The idea of that seems so satisfying to me.

    1. OP*

      We did have 2 people arrange to quit on the same day a month ago. It was beautiful. I think our “every man for themselves” mentality might make us all quitting at the same time tricky–I want out tomorrow, and I’m not about to wait for 3 extra weeks so I can do it with my friends.

      1. knitcrazybooknut*

        One thing to think about: Once you give notice, you’re free, really. You may have to go to work and try to get things done, but you can do it with a blissed out smile on your face, thinking of the new job and how lovely it will be away from this place. My husband just gave notice at his job (mom and pop bought by evil corporate overlords), and he is so happy to go into work.

        And that can happen as soon as you have an offer, too. Obviously, sometimes it’s worth it to just go. Been there!

    2. Cranky lady*

      I worked in an office where 2/3 of the staff up and walked out on the same day. (Yes, it was planned and no they couldn’t give notice for reasons caused by management.) It was glorious to watch even though I stayed another 4 months.

  17. SheLooksFamiliar*

    OP, I feel for you. You clearly care about the people who rely on the support your department provides, but this isn’t a problem you can solve with a well-placed word. They haven’t listened to you before, and they won’t now. For now, focus on what you need to do to find another role. If the department collapses under the weight of its terrible management and ridiculous decisions, that’s not on you or your team and it never was.

    Also: I love the idea of tipping off an investigative journalist or news reporter. There’s something about exposing lousy people and their lousy activity to the light of day that just makes me smile.

    1. OP*

      The truly malicious part of me relishes the thought of going public with all of this, but due to the actual nature of our department and the political climate of our location, it would likely only end up punishing my currend department and the others we work with through major budget cuts as punishment. I just can’t bring myself to do that; I really care too much. This is a small field with few opportunities in my geographic region—I don’t want to whistle blow and destroy chances at another employer or have the institutions we work with punished for crappy management practices.

      This might be a fault of mine, but I just can’t do it yet.

      1. Bee Eye Ill*

        You do have to be careful with how much you air to the public. Best thing you can do is walk away quietly.

      2. SheLooksFamiliar*

        Thank you for commenting, OP! I’m not feeling kind toward your management team and let myself dwell on some karmic smackdown, but I understand what you mean. Outing the bad management team would blowback on others in an awful way.

        It’s not a fault of yours at all, it’s maturity and care.

      3. Sparkles McFadden*

        Like they say on the airplane, take care of yourself first. Work on getting out of that place. There’s nothing there you can fix.

        It’s not a failing that you don’t want to be a whistleblower, it shows good judgment on your part. Everyone assumes that being a whistleblower will result in change. In most cases, it won’t do anything but cause problems for you and the very people you are trying to help

        People who advocate for this method are assuming the whistleblower will be believed. That’s a big assumption, especially since management has already officially branded you (and probably many other people) as a problem. Their “positivity plan” is insane, and we all know you are not the problem, but there’s no telling what an outsider would think. Management labels people as troublemakers because, as someone said upthread, they don’t like having their magical thinking challenged, and they also do it as a preemptive strike to make sure that anyone who speaks up won’t be believed.

        A lot of my comments on this site recommend documenting everything that happens in situations like this. I still recommend doing that. The documentation is much more useful if it’s presented after someone asks for it. For example: Never be the person to go to HR, but bring out your documentation when HR asks to see you because your boss put you on a “positivity plan” and wants to ax you without severance.

        1. Something Something Whomp Whomp*

          Exactly. Almost all potential solutions that involve the OP happily staying or even taking over their manager’s position down the line require that the OP has major political capital to spare, if not with their direct manager then at least with their manager’s managers. It’s not fair that OP’s been labelled but it is a strong signal that they won’t be treated as a credible whistleblower.

        2. Artemesia*

          If management was capable of hearing what the OP has to say they would not be who they are and done what they have done. My organization made a huge ‘rebrand’ that was like going big on new and better buggy whips just as the Model-T was rolling off the line — or investing in boxing clubs, just as TV was becoming popular in the early 50s, or opening up a small toy store just as the new Walmart was under construction. So my attempts to point out the error of their ways just made sure that later when they were saving each other’s jobs i.e. those who made the disastrous decision were making sure THEIR jobs were covered, that my job would be one of the things lost in the merger.

          If they could manage better they would.

  18. RC Rascal*

    Warning these people is a good way to end up back on a positivity plan.

    They will absolutely blame you if you speak up. You might even be accused of organizing the mass exodus.

    Let them eat their own cooking. In the meantime, put the energy you want to use towards fixing your environment towards moving yourself out of his situation.

    1. OP*

      It’s like you know that they think staff talking to each other is always gossip and never productive work-related conversations. I think you’re right that I might be accused of organizing everyone leaving (or at least amping up the negativity to encourage them to leave).

      1. RC Rascal*

        Unfortunately, I am speaking from experience about the being blamed part (slightly different context).

        Remember this: what your management team wants most of all right now is to not be held responsible for what is going on. They are not OK with consequences, and they want to avoid blame. And they have probably told a lot of tall tales to other higher ups to justify their positions and cover up the problem. Anything that threatens their magical thinking will be punished harshly.

        1. Lana Kane*

          Completely agree, especially this: “what your management team wants most of all right now is to not be held responsible for what is going on.”

          They will do anything in their power to avoid it – and since they have quite a bit of power, you know how that will end up for you.

        2. Sara without an H*

          Bingo! If they can blame it all on one “disgruntled employee,” they will do so. OP, whatever you do, don’t give them that.

      2. Something Something Whomp Whomp*

        If you’ve already been put on a “positivity plan” there’s a real risk that your management will create a narrative that puts you at the centre of any backlash against them. If they don’t want staff involved in an open dialogue about their work life then it’s going to be really difficult for you to gain any political capital by demonstrating that you’ve been involved in that dialogue.

  19. Keymaster of Gozer*

    We had pretty much most of the IT team quit within a few months of each other at one firm because it was just getting ridiculous. Forced morale surveys with penalties if you didn’t answer ‘positively’, people being put on performance improvement plans for such things as ‘being unprofessional’ (re: daring to have a single non work related conversation at the desk. No, we weren’t a call centre), and an IT Director who harassed every woman who he found attractive were just some of the reasons.

    The first one who left made a big thing in the leaving about exactly why they were going, and management made the appropriate noises and facial expressions of ‘oh dear, we had no idea’….and nothing happened. The person who left hinted they weren’t the only one getting seriously pissed off but was shrugged off by management as ‘sour grapes’.

    I know after the mass exodus the management basically took the view of ‘well, they were obviously just all lazy troublemakers so we’re not gonna worry – better they go than they keep trying to claim their lies about this place’.

    So, I’m rather on the side of ‘don’t warn them about others, feel free to share your own reasons for leaving but be aware it’s likely nothing will happen’ and just go.

  20. Detective Amy Santiago*

    OP, I feel for you! I’ve been in a similar situation regarding the workload tripling and the response when we asked for help from management being “you can work as much OT as you want”.

    The best thing you can do is look out for yourself in this situation. Don’t worry about the organization or anyone else.

  21. Dust Bunny*

    HA HA HA no.

    They don’t deserve the consideration. They’ve already demonstrated that they won’t act reasonably. Just let them sink.

  22. Khatul Madame*

    OP are you trying to tell them about the writing on the wall? They are in the same room!
    That said, the suggestion to contact Inspector General for your agency is solid, especially if you can demonstrate the negative impact on end customers/public and on the agency mission.
    You could also mention the trend in your exit interview.

    1. HarvestKaleSlaw*

      I think they probably meant punitive. I guess putative could also make sense there, but it seems more like that whole “spell correct strikes again” issue.

    2. Persephone Mongoose*

      Me too! However, based on context, I think they meant to use “punitive” instead.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I read it as putative/so-called policies–if it changes weekly it’s only pretending to be policy.

    3. OP*

      You’re right. Spell check got the better of me. I even remember going back to add the ‘n’

  23. Tara*

    I definitely would not let them know until, at the very earliest, you’re handing in your notice (assuming you’re in US and have one of those fun super short ones, with my European notice, the week or two before my last day). It doesn’t sound like they’d be receptive to this kind of feedback and I think it could cause your managers to start pointing fingers at your coworkers.

  24. Girasol*

    I hope the coming employee turnover puts paid forever to “You should be happy you have a job” as a stock answer to employees who raise valid issues.

    1. EvilQueenRegina*

      “yes, I was happy to have a job, but I am even happier now I have a different one”.

    2. Cat Tree*

      I hate when employers act like a job is a favor or charity. Maybe that works out for them during a slow economy, but right now the labor shortage is big news. They should be happy they have employees.

    3. Elenna*

      This! “You should be happy you have a job” is bullshit. Employers are not giving out jobs as some sort of favour or charity. It’s a business transaction of exchanging labour for money. If the employee is unhappy with the business transaction, they’re perfectly allowed to end it.

  25. Delta Delta*

    Eh, nope. This is a crew of people who won’t listen, and even if they do, won’t hear what you’re actually saying. They will always find reasons that people left, and curiously, none of those reasons have to do with them. Since you already know this, save your sanity and join the exodus.

    1. Keymaster of Gozer*

      Agreed. I know of a firm that lost a lot of staff due, in part, to the incredible amounts of harassment that the women were forced to deal with and basically took the attitude of ‘well, it’s just all that me too stuff’

  26. JRR*

    Or maybe management will takes steps to interfere with your coworkers’ job searches.

    At my last job, cell phone use was prohibited and time off had to be approved 2 weeks in advance. When I was job searching, I had to hide to check my voicemail and call back potential employers. For interviews I had to lie about having various sorts of emergencies.

    If my coworkers suspected I was job-searching, I remain eternally grateful to them for keeping their mouth shut. Had management got wind that I sneaking around, I would have been in trouble.

  27. anon e mouse*

    I am in a similar enough situation that I had to look for signs that we don’t work at the same agency, ha. I don’t think we do, though. Here I really don’t think anything is going to change without a different executive director, who is also willing to get rid of certain other toxic/incompetent director- and manager-level people. A bunch of people who have fully vested in the pension plan have quit over the past 6+ months, as have others who were pretty essential, and I am certain that some of them were honest with HR on the way out, but if anything, the bad management from the top almost seems to be getting worse. You have to look out for yourself. You can’t save the agency singlehandedly.

    1. OP*

      I’m finding solace in the number of comments that indicate we’re not alone in our messy workplaces.

  28. Bee Eye Ill*

    Did we work together? Just kidding…I spent 13 years working for a government where we had very similar experiences but on a smaller scale. I was once written up for complaining after being called in to work on something over a holiday weekend, while on vacation, because nobody else would answer the phone. When I arrived onsite, the person who called it in left before I finished the 5-minute fix, so it was a big waste of everyone’s time. Apparently, I had a bad attitude about this.

    Let the place burn. Don’t worry about it. Sometimes that’s what it takes for somebody somewhere to realize that management is in the problem. Maybe it won’t, but the best thing you can do is get out of there.

  29. IdahoSmith82*

    My husband and his manager are both the longest tenured employees at his current workplace. The area has been a lower pay area up until recently, and the company he works for refuses to come up even a little bit to retain employees. They are both looking actively for new employment, gave their district manager a reasonable number for a raise in order to keep them (still under what they’d make elsewhere) and his answer was “you got a raise in March.” (That raise was $0.1675 not even a flipping quarter).

    Ya. you read that right. they consider that a “good raise” for a company that had a $3.3 Billion sales increase in Q1 of 2021.

    He could literally make almost $2/hour more working at McDonalds in our area right now.
    That store already has about 1/2 of the staff it needs, and is about to go down to having 2 employees- both of whom are out 1/2 the year due to age related health issues. They’d rather shut the highly profitable store down that give out raises. Corporations are often ran by a chain of unrealistic idiots.

  30. Sparkles McFadden*

    It is frustrating to realize you cannot fix a situation, but if the managers in your company were able and willing to understand what you want to say, you wouldn’t need to say any of it.

  31. Quitting to get away from awful HR*

    Don’t say people are considering leaving. Maybe make a few pointed suggestions on things that can be improved, but if they won’t be taken well, don’t jeopardize your, or other peoples’ current jobs that you need to support you until you get out for people who probably don’t care. Maybe try to coordinate with the other job seekers to all leave at once to minimize the time that a handful of you are left picking up the pieces. Don’t communicate any of this on office chat channels, use your personal phones and in person conversations so that there is no paper trail if anyone wants to investigate later and punish the people who knew and kept quiet. If there are people who were slow on the uptake and are only just now beginning their job hunt, do everything you can to make the time between you leaving and them leaving as smooth as possible. If one or more of the people who are fleeing are in management, get them to be a reference for you so you can have that rarest of things, a reference from a current boss who is eager to help you get out.

    Most importantly, don’t let your compassion for the people you support prevent you from doing what’s best for you. At the end of the day, things will only get better if the problem is exposed, and the only safe way to expose the problem is to do it on your way out the door.

  32. chewingle*

    I’m sorry — a POSITIVITY PLAN?? Ew ew ew ew.

    Why don’t they just surgically reorganize your face to have a perpetual smile while they’re at it.

        1. Pants*

          That video is burned into my brain. There was a snapchat filter years ago that mimicked it. I terrorized all my friends.

  33. twocents*

    Years ago, when I did an exit interview and was asked about changes they should make to the dept, I told the manager that everyone who could leave was looking to leave. I don’t know that management listened, but at the same time, leaving your job is a lot of work. Last I checked, at least half the staff that had been actively looking to leave, were still there.

    Change is difficult. Not just from the management side, but from the employee side too. It’s very scary for a lot of people to actually leave something they’re familiar with.

    1. OP*

      This is a really good point that there is a chance that not all 9 of us will leave. or at least not leave this year. Theoretically, some people will push off retirement or won’t find a new job as fast as they’d like to. Plus, this might be a ‘devil you know’ situation. Thank you for bringing it up!

    2. Aggretsuko*

      Yeah, I said below that I said that everyone who can leave would in an anonymous survey to management. Obviously I’m still there and a good chunk of the others like me who can’t get other jobs are still there as well.

  34. Lorax*

    I agree that giving management a heads up wouldn’t do any good. It might actually make things WORSE if management decides to go on a witch hunt to try to ferret out who’s job searching or push people out early who they suspect might be searching. I mean, I think you could bring up general issues and suggestions to improve morale, for all the good it will do, but I’d steer WELL clear of insinuating that people are looking to leave.

    If this is a government agency, any chance you could share your experience with someone higher up, like agency leadership, elected officials, a watchdog group, or the media once you get out? External pressure to implement sweeping reforms might be the best chance of saving this before implosion. But it won’t happen from within.

  35. Lora*

    OP, even when things implode spectacularly, management STILL may not understand what they did wrong. When I’ve seen companies get this bad, they often hire consultants to tell them what they’re doing wrong. I have never EVER seen McKinsey or BCG or Accenture or Deloitte say the words, “this happened because Manager Ken is an a-hole, Associate Director Mark is clueless and VP Harry is a lying sack of crap. Fire them all and get practically anyone off the street and you’ll be better off.” The reason they don’t say this is, Harry / Mark / Ken are signing their checks. Instead they say mealy-mouthed stuff about leadership benefitting from soft skills training, collect their $5,000,000 and go home, nobody does any soft skills training, turnover continues to be a problem and everything just sucks.

    You can’t fix stupid.

    1. irene adler*

      Yep! One “con”sultant my employer hired based his findings on how much time employees spent in the lunchroom. Those who never went into the lunchroom, were deemed hard workers and remained employed. Some of those who frequented the lunch room were laid off.

      He received a lot of money to make that ignorant determination.

      1. OP*

        I’m loving “con”sultant and will be adding it to my bag of oneliners I’m adoping from this comment section.

      2. Artemesia*

        Our boss hired a very prestigious consulting firm to do a management analysis and they recommended getting rid of several managers and staff who literally dealt with the primary mission of the organization because they were apparently rolls that most organizations don’t have (imagine it was a hospital and they suggested getting rid of the labs and the nurses because the auto plant doesn’t have those). It was the dumbest thing I have seen in consulting and I have seen a fair number of dumbass consulting recommendations over the years.

    2. Sparkles McFadden*

      Every time McKinsey showed up I would grit my teeth and think of all of the money being wasted on consultants who were never going to tell management it was a management problem. Funny how the solution was always to fire low level people and then spend more money on the consultants.

      1. Artemesia*

        And any time there is a problem in an organization it is ALWAYS a management problem.

  36. Brett*

    _If_ this is local or even state government, an option here is to go directly and publicly to the elected officials who oversee this department. The most effective way to do this is if you can recruit some of the 5 people who left. Just show up to a public meeting and use the public comment period to raise the issue of the mismanagement of the office. The more risky way to do this is for current employees to make comments. (In theory, their jobs cannot be threatened over that, but in practice they could still be illegally fired and their lives could be made much harder.) This will shine a spotlight on what is going on, and the risk involved, in a way that might get upper management replaced if they don’t change their ways.

    1. Bee Eye Ill*

      I was in a situation where this was considered, BUT it was in an “at-will employment” state where such things are super dangerous. Our employee handbook was 40 pages long and mentioned the term “at-will” 37 times. No kidding. They held it over our heads at every turn.

      1. calonkat*

        Ah, employee handbooks. I worked one place where everything was “employees WILL”, but “the company MAY” just to make it clear that we should have no expectations about ever having anything good happen.

    2. LQ*

      Part of this is what is the actual problem. You’re not really a whistle blower if the management is just…not great and doesn’t care about morale. But if they are doing things that are illegal or not what the program is there for then you can be a whistle blower. (And sorry, but the public and elected officials care WAY more about administration of programs than they do about staff morale. There’s a thousand articles about misuse of public funds, but like 5 about poor staff morale in government offices.) If they are doing whistleblower things then this is a very different conversation.

      1. Bee Eye Ill*

        LQ is absolutely right. It’s not illegal to be a bad manager or a total a-hole. And from my experience, government officials care more about image than anything else. Go running your mouth off publicly and they will clamp down on you no matter how much truth you’re saying.

        1. OP*

          Ugh. I hate that this is accurate and it hits so close to the heart.
          On the other hand, this blog would fail (or at least have a lot more break room stories) if being a bad manager was illegal.

      2. Brett*

        It’s not a whistleblower situation. In the public sector, you have first amendment rights protecting your ability to speak out about your job. The more you are speaking about working conditions and the more you are speaking in a political situation (e.g. public meeting to elected officials), the more protected you are.
        More importantly, Laudermill rights protect your continued employment. All of this adds up to it being illegal to fire someone specifically for speaking at a public meeting on working conditions.
        That’s the “illegal firing” I am referring to.

        1. Bee Eye Ill*

          That all sounds great on paper, but where at-will employment applies, all you have to do is be 1 minute late one day and you’re gone. If they want you gone, they’ll find a way.

          1. Brett*

            Nearly all public sector merit employees have statutory exceptions, often grounded in the 5th and 14th amendments, to at-will employment (patronage employees do not). They are protected by Laudermill rights as well as several other protections that do not exist in the private sector. It’s amazing how many times I saw employees get fired (sometimes for fairly egregious actions), only to be back 6 months later with full back pay and penalties.

  37. irene adler*

    Looks like management has already thrown down the gauntlet with their “maybe this isn’t the job for you” comment. Let them reap what they’ve sown.

    Why not, once you are clear of this place, assist others in their exit? Not suggesting poaching employees. Offer to be a reference or to pass along job openings you come across. Maybe even make introductions to facilitate networking.

    I understand there’s concern for the customers. They will find other resources. This management does not deserve to keep their customers.

    1. Sara without an H*

      Yes, it smells like that, doesn’t it? “You don’t like it here? There are plenty of unemployed Ph.D.s out there who would LOVE to have your job!”

    2. Something Something Whomp Whomp*

      Or a higher-profile non-profit that pays somewhat above average for the industry. Surviving layoffs in the private sector, I never saw anyone trot out the “you better be grateful” argument, but funding cuts in higher ed and non-profit seem to provide managers with that ammo.

    3. OP*

      I’m getting the sense that almost all non-corporate jobs have this very distinct issue. Likely due to the funding side of things partnered with higher-ups that get their positions and NEVER LEAVE.

      1. ampersand*

        I’m still trying to determine if we work together, because after all your comments it seems plausible. I also have no desire to out anyone, myself included!

      2. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

        My big corporate job was the most similar to this of any job I have had. Academia is a different kind of weird and depends on the odd collection of personalities. The government agency I currently work for is great, and my managers are major advocates for our team, and the agency as a whole is really committed to our mission. There are issues of course, but it’s a really good work environment. I guess my point is, this can happen in any type of organization. Your odds are better if it is a bigger business and not family based, but it still happens in all kinds of workplaces. (I will say that it helps that my agency is self-funded though!).

    4. Number Muncher*

      I could have sworn it came from my department. My boss actually said “everyone should just be grateful they have a job right now” the last time I was asked to ask about work-from-home opportunities post-COVID. People are quitting left and right, and those of us left just joke about how ungrateful we are.

  38. Mimmy*

    I think the only way your management will get a clue is to just continue your job search and jump ship when you find something better. If they have any shred of decency, they’ll want to know why so many people are leaving in a short period of time. Although based on how you describe them, I’m not too confident that they’ll figure it out…I think sometimes managers and other higher ups get so set in their ways that there’s really no chance for change.

    Good luck, I hope you find a healthier work environment soon!

  39. François Caron*

    Resign all at once if you can, and make sure the elected official responsible for the department gets the notices at the exact same time as management (phone, fax and email all at once). Management will be toast after such a mass action from their staff. They won’t be able to defend themselves for their actions or be able to retaliate in any shape or form.

  40. cat biscuits*

    For years I worked at a university that was badly run. My unit in particular took a bad turn. I really liked my colleagues and the students and my day-to-day work, and I kept trying to fix things. A bunch of us even did an intervention with the director. Nothing changed. I eventually left the position and from what I heard, things kept getting worse. Finally a new administrator came in, years after I left, and cleaned house. I hope things improve but it was a good lesson in the limitations of agitating from below for change.

    1. Pickled Limes*

      I did something similar at an old job. I saw the potential and I saw the need and I had what I thought was a good relationship with somebody in leadership, so I asked for a meeting. At the time, I didn’t intend for it to be an exit interview. But that conversation is what really and truly convinced me I needed to quit my job.

      If management doesn’t want to see the flaws and make changes, then nothing any employee says to them will convince them it’s serious.

  41. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

    I worked in a TOXIC environment for five years (medical field). The head of the organization would regularly scream at staff in meetings, was two faced, lied, and asked for staff to unethical (and illegal) stuff all the time to save a buck. Staff was miserable, they were crying during the day, and people’s health was being affected. I went to upper management several times with concerns. You know what it led to? My being laid off due to not being “positive” or a “team player”. Don’t help these ass hats. They know there is a problem but they honestly do not have the insight to know that they are the problem. Good news for me, I got a new job 8 days after being laid off and have been the happiest I’ve been professionally in a long time. Once you are out of the environment where they are gas lighting you it will all be placed into a better perspective. Get away from your abuser.

    1. Sara without an H*

      It’s always good to keep in mind that a toxic manager is probably being kept on because he/she is getting the results upper management wants. Taking it “upstairs” accomplishes nothing — they’re well aware of what’s going on, but don’t see it as a problem.

      1. Something Something Whomp Whomp*

        Or possibly worse, they’re being kept on because upper management feels that any attempt to fix the problem would create new risks. They might rather have things limp along under a toxic manager than fire them to bring in someone new who’s likely to create instability when they run screaming from a dumpster fire they see as too difficult to fix. Or they’re afraid of getting sued by the toxic manager. Or something. In any case, recognizing that what you see as a problem is something that they either don’t recognize or perceive as not easily solvable is important.

  42. LQ*

    You need to focus on leaving and don’t tell them. Nothing here sounds salvageable in this.
    Let’s say that your management really cared about the program you were administering but not staff morale (which is totally a thing that happens), they wouldn’t have put you on a positivity plan and you would be complaining that every time you try to complain they bring up the population you serve. That’s not happening, it’s unlikely that they really care about the program or the people.

    Let’s say that your management actually cared about morale but didn’t care about the program, you’d be frustrated by ineffective programs and too many meetings to talk about feelings.

    Let’s say your management was crushed under the pressure from forces you can’t see but really is trying, you’d see it anyway and hear them expressing solidarity with you on things like having 3 jobs dumped on you and they’d be doing 5 for your 3.

    It’s none of those, then you need to find something else. It’s heartbreaking, it really is. But there are other good programs out there where you can make a difference. Good luck finding something new.

    Do not tell them. They won’t do anything good with it. Managers in 1, 2, and 3 maybe deserve to be told, (I’d argue 1 and 3 do more than 2) but your managers don’t.

  43. Aquawoman*

    Positivity Plan? How about “I’m positive I need a new job and to get the bleep out of here”?

    1. Troutwaxer*

      That sounds very positive. I went into my bank the other day and everyone was wearing IDs on lanyard which were embroidered with the words “I AM VERY HAPPY.” I told them I was sorry their management sucks.

      1. Mental Lentil*

        OMG, if that happened to me, I would find another bank and I would indicate that as the reason. It’s bad enough that in a bank Big Brother is literally watching you all day long.

  44. Knope Knope Knope*

    I think your best bet is to make your job search your top priority. I was in a similar position at my last job. There was a mass exodus of staff, from middle management downward. It was unthinkable that the company would survive. Here’s the thing: the company survived. They laid off half the remaining staff, the terrible managers changed the business model to support their horrible plans and no one learned any lessons. I and many of my former coworkers are happy and thriving at new jobs. We help each other network. I shudder to think what the employees of last company are going through now though.

  45. Empress Ki*

    I think the only thing you need to do is looking for another job, like your coworkers. This organisation is toxic.

  46. TootsNYC*

    I once betrayed a boss by not helping her let things implode. She’d been told her people were to not work late anymore; but we couldn’t meet deadlines unless we did. So we balked when she told us to go home on time, and worked late anyway.

    I realized later that she was trying to blow the place up so that the systemic problems would be evidence, and it wouldn’t be blamed on her or us.

    Explosions are sometimes necessary

  47. boop the first*

    Staying for the clients would be like staying together for the kids in a terrible marriage. Everyone’s workload has tripled, morale is being beaten out of you at every corner, and you’re all anticipating a flaming collapse (though we all think we’re the sole foundation of a workplace but it’s almost never actually true). I’d be surprised if your clients have been receiving meaningful service at any point through this?

  48. learnedthehardway*

    NO, I would not flag the prospect of people leaving to senior management. A) they’re not going to listen. B) they’ll blame you. C) They’re going to give you the third degree about who else is at risk, and D) the rest of your colleagues will be quite upset that you ratted them out. Also E) if they know you’re planning to leave, they may very well let you go before you’re ready to jump ship.

    It’s important when you’re really unhappy in a role, that you don’t jump from the frying pan into the fire. Whether you are already out the door or still in your current role – this is going to be a factor. Having a paycheck will make it somewhat easier to wait for the right opportunity (from a financial perspective). You want to take your time, figure out what your next move is going to be, interview well and do your due diligence to find out about the culture, financial stability, future growth prospects, etc. etc. of potential employers.

    If the situation is absolutely unbearable, and your mental health and physical health are suffering, then your decision might be to leave before you have a new role. However, you’re likely to need at least someone in your current organization to be a reference for you, so it makes sense to not burn all your bridges, at least not before you have to.

  49. Purple Cat*

    I hope OP is able to write back in in a few months with an update of how great things are at their new job!

    1. OP*

      SAME. Although considering the job market for my skills in my area, that update might be more along the year timeline instead of months. Here’s hoping that your optimism is more accurate than my pessimism.

      1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

        I would tell you to stay positive, but I think you have too many people (your managers) telling you to do that! Instead, know that the internet is clearly on your side and is supporting you! Well, the part of the internet that reads this blog, but we definitely outnumber your awful management team!

  50. Sue*

    They may be trying to choke the department to get rid of it, like a lot of Trump’s appointees did. Instead of making something work efficiently, they trash it so they can say it doesn’t work & defund it.

  51. STG*

    I think deep down you do know that they aren’t going to listen. I know it’s a bit cliche but when someone shows you who they are, believe them. The way that they handled previous complaints/issues is pretty indicative of how they’ll handle it moving forward unless there’s some management restructuring.

  52. CAS*

    OP, one of the wisest things anyone has ever said to me was this: “The system has to feel pain before it will change.” Let them feel the pain. Either they will wise up, or the door will keep revolving. A couple of related points about management’s lack of self-awareness:

    Years ago, I worked at an office where the management lectured me because I taped Dilbert comics on my office door. I thought they were funny. So did my coworkers. Apparently, management thought they resembled the comics and didn’t find them humorous. I still find that hilariously ironic.

    I also had a boss who couldn’t deal with me because I didn’t respond the way she wanted when she verbally abused me. “You don’t react! You just stand there! Your face even doesn’t change. I don’t know what to do with that!” Yeah, I’m not giving you the opportunity to enjoy the abuse, sadist boss lady.

  53. Heading out the door*

    You’re describing my office. All of us are actively looking, planning to retire early, etc. I suggest not saying anything. It may take longer for people to find another job or they may decide not to leave. There’s a big difference between talking about leaving and actually doing it. If you tell them that a good majority of the staff is leaving but the majority stay, they’re going to know some of the ones staying are probably looking for other opportunities. From your description of management I bet witch-hunts, punitive actions, and other awful behavior will follow for everyone left. Be kind to your colleagues and don’t say anything.

  54. Sara without an H*

    OP, it’s tempting to believe that, if you can just find the right words, people will suddenly GET IT and change their behavior. In real life, this rarely works. Your managers have shown you who they really are. Believe them.

    I agree with other commenters who warned you against saying anything that implies your coworkers are looking to leave. It won’t help and it will leave them vulnerable to reprisals. Instead, ramp up your own job search. Alison has lots of good advice in the archives — check it out.

    Good luck!

  55. Home Away from Work*

    I worked for a relatively reasonable company, but left my job of 10 years because they wouldn’t do what was required by law for my department because of Reasons. Basically, not a priority in the budget, and they thought they could continue to skim by with the same resources they had when they were much smaller. My replacement left within months for the same reason. With HER replacement, things started to change… funny, I heard it was many of the same things I had recommended and was ignored.

    I left lots of written processes to help my successor.

  56. La Triviata*

    Years ago, I worked for a highly toxic workplace and much of it, if not all, came from the top person. He was afraid of a staff uprising and fostered competition between departments, as in “if we fund this other department’s program, your pet program won’t be funded.” It meant that there was little communication between departments and even sabotage each other. I eventually left, but I heard that he kept it up until he retired … then lined up a replacement who would keep him on the payroll as a consultant. The chosen successor was publicly revealed to be either incompetent or corrupt (possibly both) right before he would have been given the job. Eventually, someone who was both competent and pleasant to work for took over and things improved.

  57. All the words*

    Something in the OP’s letter compelled me to respond. This comment is to everyone who addresses subordinates of any type, or ever hopes to.

    In my opinion someone in a position of authority in the workplace should never ever say “you’re lucky/be grateful you have a job” or words to that effect. It’s mean spirited. It’s a veiled threat. It’s insulting. It’s condescending.

    The last time it was said to me was when my department was laid off. The company let everyone apply for positions in other departments & kept as many of us as possible. The person who offered me my new position (not my new mgr) tossed in that comment at the end of our meeting. I cheerfully responded “I like to think the company is lucky and should be grateful that they will continue to have the benefit of my experience and expertise to profit from.” She looked like she had swallowed her tongue as she sputtered “well, yes, of course”. My hope is that she dropped that phrase from her lexicon. No, I’m not terribly diplomatic but dammit, let people have their dignity.

    Sorry for the side tangent. Back to your regularly scheduled commentariat.

  58. spek*

    It’s government. If it’s Federal, or union, it’s notoriously hard to be let go. If that’s the case, you can get away with being a very squeaky wheel once you decide you are not on the career track there and are looking for another job. Just smile as you are difficult and ask for complete instructions. Be aware of the disciplinary process and avoid any behavior that’s instant grounds for termination. Be in close contact with your union rep as problems arise, and refuse to sign any disciplinary documents or even attend any discipline conferences without union representation. You CAN force change if you are persistent and not part of the Keep Your Head Down cabal.

  59. zolk*

    I know this sucks, OP! I have been in this situation. The only thing to do is form a secret Get A Job Club with your coworkers and dedicate X time/day to job searching, proofing each other’s cover letters, etc. My entire department quit on a racist, homophobic, BAD manager and we didn’t tell her anything. You don’t owe them anything. Just get out!

    Also you’re gonna have work-PTSD for at least a year, heads up.

  60. Allen*

    If you happen to be in the US federal government, this is exactly what the FEVS (annual employee survey) is for. If your department gets an awful score, that WILL get high-level attention. It may take a couple of years to get fixed, but repeated bad scores get increasing scrutiny. I’d encourage you to stay around long enough to give them a flaming bad score, then make your exit.

    My department learned this the hard way.

    If you’re in a state or local or non-US government, I have no idea; but I’d poke around to see if there’s an equivalent to the FEVS that gets paid attention to.

  61. Me*

    Welcome to the toxic side of government work. Bad managers/management are tenacious and near impossible to move as are bad employees.

    And especially this – “expanded duties with less staff and no pay increase” – that is rampant. More work but no staff and no money.

    There are reasons government is great to work for (benefits and security) but it’s toxic in it’s own way. Are all government jobs like this? Of course not. But just as other industries have their own weirdness, so to does gov.

    It’s good that you are moving on. Often the only thing that eventually gets someone with the power to do something is high turnover. But you? You are absolved of any responsibility for trying to fix any of this.

    1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      I am lucky. I work for a government agency that is excellent to work for! But we are also self-funded, so that makes us less vulnerable to being cut due to political changes and funding from the legislature! It also helps that both sides of the political aisle see us as valuable – maybe not to the same extent, but no one would recommend we just be dismantled! Our role is important, but not all that controversial in terms of politics!

  62. El l*

    The best thing you can do for someone (sometimes) is: Leave – and then tell them why.

    Yes, the organization will start failing. That’s the price an organization pays by not minding their managers, and it’s not (going to be) your problem anymore. If your manager’s manager doesn’t care, why should you?

    Actually, on that note – I like the idea of making a contact above your managers* and sending them an “exit interview” document once you’ve accepted another job offer. Though success is far from guaranteed.

    *FWIW, I wouldn’t worry about burning bridges with these people, I don’t think you want them as references anyway)

  63. Library Lady*

    This was me with my last job. Our new admin team had made an awesome work environment incredibly toxic, and although I deeply loved the work I did and my department coworkers, I knew nothing was going to change under our new directors (who sound a LOT like the ones in the letter). When I found a new job, I felt like I was tossing a lit match over my shoulder and walking away. I still struggle with residual anger and safety-related anxiety from the last year at that job, but at this point, your managers have dug their own hole and if they’re anything like my previous directors, they don’t have a lick of self-awareness and will never believe they are responsible for such a mass exodus. Let them experience the consequences. There’s only so much you can do as a single employee in that type of environment, and it can be extremely freeing to decide that it’s not your problem anymore. As my awesome previous manager would frequently say, “Not my monkey, not my problem.”

  64. MissDisplaced*

    Good gravy! Put on “positivity plan” for asking a simple question about priorities?
    That’s right along the lines of Flair, and you know where they can stick their Flair.

    You don’t owe this crap management anything. ANYTHING.
    Stay close with the good people, network, and try to help each other find other jobs by being good references for each other. This department is toast. My thought is they want it closed anyway, and are being crappy so people leave and they don’t have to layoff or pay a severance.

  65. ArtK*

    “Positivity Plan” translates into “The Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves.”

  66. Victoria, Please*

    OP, you have everyone’s full and free permission here to leave that job. YOU are not letting down or failing the people your department serves. The MANAGERS are doing that.

    Certainly you’ll feel bad about it, because you’re a caring person. *Feeling* bad is not necessarily a reliable indicator that we *did* something bad (not necessarily). Don’t let the feelings eat you, if you’ve thoughtfully considered what you want to do and have made what is clearly a reasonable decision.

  67. Sleepless*

    I have never accomplished anything, ever, by warning a manager that there was unrest. Management’s gonna do what they’re gonna do, and I just ended up sounding like a shit stirrer.

  68. AnonForThis*

    Been there, quit that – they won’t listen, they don’t care. They’ll even tell you you’re worthless and making a huge mistake when you put in your notice, and then spend the next year calling you and begging you to come back because they’re falling apart without you. They’re useless, and your time is more valuable than to waste it on them. Happily run away, OP!

  69. ginger ale for all*

    I haven’t read all the comments but it is never a good idea to tell people that other co-workers are job searching. Let them have their privacy. If they want people to know, then let them make that announcement. If you are a regular read of this blog, I am sure that you have seen examples of what might happen if you tell people something that is none of your business.

  70. Heffalump*

    I once worked for a sole proprietor who liked to say, “It’s my company, and if people don’t like the way I talk to them, they can go to work somewhere else.” I took him up on it.

  71. Tabby Baltimore*

    I think I’ve read all the comments, and didn’t see this addressed, so I’d like to bring up the subject of your timecard. You’ve now been told you will accomplish triple the amount of work> I would be wondering about all the time it’s going to take to accomplish that, so it might be worthwhile to considering doing the following:
    (1) Check the agency’s employee handbook (if there is one) to see what it says about the circumstances under which you can and cannot claim compensatory time and/or paid overtime on your timecard.
    (2) Then go to your government agency’s payroll/timekeeper (sometimes they’re in HR, sometimes not) and confirm that what’s done in practice matches up with what’s in your employee handbook (and bring your hdbk w/ you to the HR meeting).
    (3) Doing these two things will put you in a more informed position for when your boss asks you to work overtime. If asked, you can let your supervisor know “I think I can do that work in 2 hours, so I plan to code those hours as paid overtime, unless you let me know differently.” If your boss would prefer you use comp time instead, you’ve given him/her an opening to let you know that. Just make sure you conduct this exchange via email, not verbally.

    Some up above said, words to the effect, that if they want you gone, they’ll find a way, and that poster was right. So please be very, very careful to present yourself as cooperative and compliant until you can leave. I am so sorry you are going through this, and I hope you can get a new job elsewhere soon.

  72. Bookworm*

    Alison’s answer is spot on. If employee departures isn’t enough of a hint, nothing else will get through to them. As much as it sucks to watch them fail (especially your colleagues or friends are still there, etc.) there’s nothing you can do for them.

    Been there. It’s not worth the effort, except maybe as a Glassdoor review.

  73. Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii*

    You can’t fix those who are determined to destroy themselves and blame others for their own failings.
    All you will accomplish is making yourself the highly irrational scapegoat.

    As for the clients who will lose services, thats a big pickle but you are not in a position to save them. Unless you are a high up government official (obviously you are not) or have the ability to start a replacement organization and get funding from wherever its coming from now (not easy, if its government revenues then they won’t risk giving you anything, if its somehow private donors they won’t rush to open their purses to a stranger, if its an endowment you have no access to it and so forth).

    So as Alison says you have to let actions meet consequences and stop trying to protect these losers from themselves. They will turn on you and attempt to destroy your life for the favour if you try.

  74. John Smith*

    OP, you don’t sit opposite me do you (I’m the guy who habitually headbutts the photocopier next to the canteen and has a constant supply of marshmallows on my desk)?

    Seriously, I can empathise and you have my sympathy because my place is just as bad. They’re not going to listen to you. Don’t give them your energy or waste your efforts on them. That way lies madness.

    Best of luck escaping.

  75. NumbBureaucrat*

    I don’t have any words of wisdom. I work in state government and I could have written this almost exactly. We are living parallel lives. I was pulled into an individual meeting with two Bureau Chiefs because when asked my opinion in a meeting my Division Chair thought it wasn’t given in a positive enough tone. We’ve lost 2 people in two weeks, were understaffed before that, and our workload has been so heavy since Covid that nobody has taken vacation and when we try we are asked to log in for meetings or work a day or two while on vacation. I feel your pain.

  76. Mannheim Steamroller*

    “Sometimes the only thing that prompts real change is letting things implode. It’s hard to do when you care, but the reality is that you don’t have the power in this situation to do anything else.”

    Bingo!! Such companies deserve to fail. Let them.

Comments are closed.