updates: the false affair rumor, the coworker ripping artwork down, and more

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

1. My employee started a false rumor that two coworkers were having an affair

When Emily (manager) told me what had happened I did ask her how she wanted to handle it. We discussed our options and decided it was just time for Jane to go. She had gossip issues in the past that she was disciplined for. We knew it would take a bit of time to manage her out but that was the plan.

Because this was urgent, I spoke to Jane (the trouble maker) the very next day and said similar things to what Alison recommended. I don’t interact daily with Emily’s team as I have other locations I am responsible for, but I have a reputation for generally being easy going. I think when I spoke to Jane she was surprised at how matter of fact and assertive I was, there was no friendly banter. I told her that what she had done was completely unacceptable and that her behavior would not be allowed in the office. I discussed with her how rumors of this nature can destroy reputations and careers and Emily and I no longer trusted her. I did tell her that she had a long uphill battle of gaining trust back in the office and that all the effort in the world may never result in trust being restored. She was upset at this point, not angry (which is what I expected) but she was crying (not at all what I expected). I asked her if she thought she felt she could earn back the trust that was broken and if she felt she could move forward. She said she had been looking at other jobs and said that “maybe she should quit”. I told her that would be up to her but I encouraged her to do so. She decided that would be best. I wasn’t interested in having her work her last two weeks, so I had her write a letter of resignation, let her gather her things and that was that. I did process her out as though she gave two weeks so she wouldn’t lose all her vacation time that we pay out when proper notice is given. I thought for sure she would be combative in the meeting and I thought she would argue with me, I was surprised by the outcome but glad I didn’t have to go through the couple week process of managing her out officially.

I found out Jane got a new job a couple weeks later… as a manager. Maybe someday “Ask A Manager” will get a letter from one of her new team members about their less than stellar boss. No one ever called to ask for a reference so let that be a lesson.

After a couple of months, we heard from another staff member that Jane was telling people how angry she was that when she said she would quit that we didn’t try to talk her out of it. She didn’t understand why we just let her go.

2. My coworker is changing her appearance to match mine and rips my work off the walls when she’s mad

I have kind of a bittersweet update to my Therese saga, but I wanted to share it because you and your readers were so helpful and deserve to know: I was just laid off due to budget cuts, and won’t be back at my school next year.

I’m still kind of reeling because, up until the layoff conversation, my boss has implied that I would be safe. It was definitely a shock, but I guess that solves the Therese problem for me, so there’s a silver lining.

Thank you everyone for your advice and concern. Here’s to a new adventure.

Update to the update:

Luckily I did find something else, and have a contract at a district a ways away for the next school year. All’s well that ends well!

3. Can I pretend not to know who my old boss is?

We’ve been back in the office for a month, so I’ve finally talked to some of my team about our old director. There is a big AAM style red flag and some updates:

I saw the resume she gave when she applied. It was bad. Like 2.25 pages long with 10 point font and 6-12 bullet points under every job she had had going back over 15 years and a ton of extraneous information. I said that I probably wouldn’t even interview someone who sent in that resume, and my coworkers who interviewed her were like “yeeeeah, it’s now a pretty obvious sign she was a bad pick.”

Apparently, I am just about the only person who didn’t go to HR to file a complaint about her! The only other people who didn’t were her favorites who she had secret end of day calls with, which they hated but didn’t know how to get out of. The HR complaints started within her first two months and continued until the end. Also she badmouthed us to other teams all the time for her entire tenure. At first, our colleagues were like “wow? I always liked your team, that’s surprising!” and then after a few weeks they were saying, “hey, if they’re so bad at their jobs, why don’t you help them because you’re their director?” All her peers and managers also thought she was incredibly ineffective and manipulative. She would lie to people constantly and get caught! And keep doing it! The kiss of death was probably her trying to suck up to our CEO and then trying her bad behavior on his wife’s team. That is an instant three strikes where we work.

I’ll probably learn even more when the whole team can be in one room, but it sounds like our antipathy was entirely reasonable.

By the way, I loved that the comment section was so split between “this is so terrible to do” and “this is so meaningless to do.” Sometimes when you get a split reaction I think it means you’ve found the perfect middle ground. I’ve still never seen her in person, but I’ve been cc’d on emails with her in passing. If I ever meet her… we’ll see what happens.

4. My job search after grad school has been soul-crushing

So I ended up not getting offered the job, and I’m not going to lie, I was a little bitter! Even though it definitely wasn’t my dream job, it was a job I could have honestly done in my sleep, and I was annoyed that I didn’t get an offer. Writing it out it sounds presumptuous, and I know I’m not owed anything, but it was definitely frustrating. Maybe I shouldn’t have jinxed myself so publicly by writing in with my question :)

HOWEVER, I did find out while waiting to hear back from that job (and right around when you posted my question) that I was a finalist for a very well-regarded and competitive fellowship program! I ended up accepting a position through the fellowship and started this past week.

It’s so cliché, but as many commenters said, things really did work out for the absolute best. The fellowship program is an amazing opportunity, the position I have is something that I’m really interested in, and I get to take advantage of my degree and actually challenge myself. I will be doing really cool, impactful work that will give me amazing experience, in addition to the boost that the fellowship will give my resume. I also get to be remote for the foreseeable future even though the job is based across the country, so no uprooting needed mid-pandemic. Had I been offered and accepted the other job, I likely would have left very quickly for this opportunity, which is probably a no-brainer for me but wouldn’t have looked great to my other professional contacts locally (it’s all very tight-knit and word travels fast).

All in all, I’m thrilled with where I ended up! It feels disingenuous to say “don’t give up, everything works out eventually!” to people who are in the same position I was in very recently, because I know exactly how hard and miserable it is to be financially struggling and demoralized during a recession/pandemic/global crisis. But between my job success and vaccines becoming more widely available, it does feel like there is a faint light at the end of the tunnel. Here’s hoping other people will start to see it soon too.

5. I think my coworker is job searching — should I tell our new boss? (#2 at the link)

I wrote in a while back after realizing that a coworker, Toby, was job searching, and my nervousness about my department’s ability to manage through the workload if he left. Some commenters (correctly) pointed out that my frustration was from being understaffed and needing more resources. So, this problem shouldn’t be Toby-specific, departments need to be prepared for employee turnover, and I shouldn’t be a tattletale.

I chose to keep all of the Toby information to myself; I didn’t let Toby know that I received a recruiter email with his info on it (I thought it would make things awkward between us, plus either no one else received it or the damage was already done), and I didn’t tell anyone else.

Fast forward to today; Toby is still with the company and seems more engaged than ever. He’s volunteering for extra projects and has really taken on quite a bit. However, our workload increased even more, to the point where it became unmanageable with my personal obligations (working 7am-8pm, plus weekends, several weeks per month). I started to look for something else and took an internal opportunity in another department. I am SO happy with my move. I worked with my former boss along the way so he had a chance to plan for the change as much as possible, but my former department is understaffed, scrambling to meet objectives, and working very long hours. I do not envy their predicament, and it’s what I expected to happen if Toby had left. So basically, I became Toby.

{ 203 comments… read them below }

  1. Hula-la*

    OP2. I am a teacher, and layoffs suck. But, I’m so happy that you’ll be in a new district, helping new students, and not having to deal with that [insert bad word here] colleague.

    1. AnonRonRon*

      +1 for OP2! Therese’s behavior was seriously alarming. Hopefully she will remain an unpleasant memory.

      1. Suzy Q*

        I would still be a bit worried about Therese, tbh. She may turn into a stalker outside of that environment. Keep your eyes open!

        1. OP 2*

          Thank you all! Layoffs definitely sucked, but I’m thankful for the new job. I will still be a little wary of Therese (she did a couple of strange things after the post went live that I didn’t think to include in my update), but overall I’m just excited to start anew. Thank you all for the support!

  2. Detective Amy Santiago*

    Oh, #1, what a lovely update. The trash took itself out and you didn’t even have to pay unemployment!

    I hope that everyone realized Jane was a troublemaker and that nothing untoward was said to Emily or John.

    1. serenity*

      It was a good update although I’m wondering why OP1 bothered to ask Jane if “she thought she felt she could earn back the trust that was broken and if she felt she could move forward.”

      Would Jane’s response have changed OP’s mind about letting her go? I hope not.

      1. Mirve*

        May have been hoping to get the response about quitting (especially with the “can you move forward” part), or at least shift the discussion to how to transition out.

      2. Uranus Wars*

        I don’t think so. I am guessing the question was asked to make Jane do some self reflecting and realizing the gravity of what she did. OP did say they were going to manage her out and it sounds like asking that question did it rather quickly.

        1. OP1*

          I did ask her this question to have her reflect on the damage she had done. I did ask it with a hint of doubt in my voice that she would be able to overcome what she had done.

          1. Wisteria*

            Why manage her out in the first place? Why not a straight up firing/layoff?

            Unless you would actually have given her the chance to rebuild trust, you were not acting in good faith with that question.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              I don’t think it’s a given that there’s nothing she could have said that would cause the LW to give her another chance. I can imagine a scenario where she was genuinely remorseful, understood what she had done, and was convincing that she’d turned over a new leaf.

              That said, there can also be legitimate reasons to let someone “fire themselves” — less drama, less toxicity in some cases, etc.

            2. OP1*

              OP1 – because our HR director has to approve people being fired and she said we would need further documentation.

      3. Threeve*

        I think it helps to establish that if/when she is let go, it will be specifically because of the horrible gossip and broken trust–she can’t later claim it was about something else, that she has no idea what they had against her, or that she didn’t see it coming.

    2. Van Wilder*

      A hollow threat to quit, while in the middle of a stern warning is an interesting strategy… She must have seriously miscalculated the situation. Here’s wishing her growth and maturity.

      1. The Starsong Princess*

        It’s not uncommon, weirdly, that people will quit during these types of conversation. I once had a guy who was causing a lot of problems. Before the conversation with him, the HR rep asked me if I wanted him gone. I said yes, and she gently steered him into quitting- “maybe I should quit!” became “I’m quitting”. She had him out the door with a check in his hand (he had only been with us a few months) in 15 minutes. I was so impressed. Unfortunately, the next day he showed up wanting his job back. He did not get his job back.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          The office manager at an old job shouted “I QUIT!” in the middle of a heated conversation with her boss, and without missing a beat, the boss shouted back, “I ACCEPT YOUR RESIGNATION!” and it was over. The office manager came back the next day and tried to return to work like it was all a big misunderstanding, but the boss let the quitting stand.

        2. lailaaaaah*

          Yeah, an asshole at my old job did exactly this- no one wanted to manage him out, but when he quit in a fit of pique and came back a week later because he couldn’t find anything, his manager said the resignation still stood. He spent the rest of his time in the office whining to anyone who would listen about it (which wasn’t many people, because everyone was so glad to see him go).

      2. generic employee*

        I once quit, not precisely in the middle of, but because of a stern warning.

        I had made _Astronomy Picture of the Day_ my home page on my computer years ago, while the school where I worked changed headmasters a couple of times. The third headmaster never had any use for me, and when he gave me a written warning and lecture for “looking at Astrology pages all the time” (which I never did) I realized that he had no idea what kind of person I was and likely thought due to my demographics that I am too stupid to understand astronomy or any other science, and that he never would change his mind no matter what I did. So I went home, emailed my union rep, and started the process of ‘separation,’ aka, a managed-out sort of quitting.

        Obviously LW had exponentially better reason to give Jane a stern warning, but sometimes the stern warning one gets can tell one to cut one’s losses instead of trying to achieve impossible standards.

        1. Deejay*

          Some people just don’t get the distinction. I used to work with someone who talked about “that astrologer, Patrick Moore”. I replied “If you ever meet him, don’t call him that. He’d see it as the worst possible insult”. She just didn’t understand no matter how much I tried to explain and insisted on calling him an astrologer. I’m pretty sure that if he had been, Neil Armstrong would never have said “We couldn’t have done it without Patrick’s maps”.

      3. Anon for this*

        Late one Friday, my boss sent me a stern email chastising me for slacking off. By the time a read it, he was gone for the day, so I spent the weekend getting ready to quit: polished up my resume, organized and culled my work files and emails, etc.

        When I arrived at work on Monday, I was prepared to walk out a few minutes later a free person. Marched straight to the boss’s office and discovered he was offsite for the morning. So I went to my desk and did my job as usual. By the time my boss arrived that afternoon I was feeling better (probably because I had deleted a bunch of anxiety-causing emails) so I didn’t quit after all.

        Another year went by before I really did resign.

        In retrospect, I’m not sure whether that turn of events was for the best or for the worst.

      4. Mongrel*

        It may have been that after stewing on it for a couple of months she’s re-written her role in her own head-canon so she’s no longer at fault.

          1. JessaB*

            I honestly don’t think she truly understood it. I’m sure from the minute she left she thought they were mean people who wanted her gone.

      5. TardyTardis*

        This happened with a co-worker of my father-in-law, who could best be labeled ‘eccentric’ and who was forever threatening to retire. One day she actually filled out the paperwork–I don’t suppose she expected her very frustrated manager to drive it up to Portland to have it processed, oops…

    3. ArtsyGirl*

      The best part is Jane clearly thought that the OP would try to talk her out of resigning. She expected the OP to stroke her ego, tell her how integral she is, and how it was all going to he ok. Jane thought that floating the idea of quitting would get her instant forgiveness and is now pissed because she painted herself into a corner.

  3. MarfisaTheLibrarian*

    “After a couple of months, we heard from another staff member that Jane was telling people how angry she was that when she said she would quit that we didn’t try to talk her out of it. She didn’t understand why we just let her go.”

    This is just the icing on the cake. She tried to be passive aggressive/manipulative to turn the situation around and get you to be like “oh, jane, no, don’t go!” and you were just like “yeah, that’s a great idea I’m glad you brought it up, bye!” I love it.

    1. Red 5*

      I had somebody do this to me once but with a “it’s so hard in this city maybe I should move back to my family in this other state” and she was apparently very upset when my response was “you should do what you think is best for you” and not begging her to stay.

      You shouldn’t give a loyalty test if you’re not going to like the results.

      1. Tía Teapot*

        Way back in retail when I was young (this was my first real job), my store manager got burnt out & started spending nearly the entire day out in the mall – leaving me, the sole assistant manager, with one experienced employee & a bunch of part timers, to run things. At christmas. (I did have the support of the district manager & some other local managers.)

        Sometime in January, we were having a him-and-me-and-DM meeting, and he went off about “well if that’s what you think maybe I should just quit!” And then was quite upset when we were both, like, thrilled.
        (He was a nice guy. I liked him. But not enough to do his job for my paycheck.)

        1. Van Wilder*

          In high school, I threatened to quit the dance team and was disappointed that nobody seemed to care. (I was not a very good dancer.)

          …I don’t play that card as an adult.

            1. Working Hypothesis*

              I learned it in college, via a romantic breakup. “Maybe if that’s how you feel we shouldn’t see each other anymore,” became, “I think you’re probably right, we shouldn’t.” It actually served me very well — the breakup *was* actually the best thing for both of us, even if it wasn’t what I actually had in mind when I said it; and it taught me the lesson about loyalty tests before I talked my way out of a job that way!

              1. lailaaaaah*

                I had an ex who would always say similar stuff- ‘maybe we should break up’, ‘I think you deserve someone better than me’ etc. Still seemed very surprised when one day I agreed and left.

      2. Dust Bunny*

        We had some clients at OldJob who were awful and were loudly and unreasonably displeased with our service, etc., so when they showed up again a year later we were really surprised.

        Our only guess was that we were the only business of the type in the area that had not specifically told them never to come back (because they were so angry we assumed that they wouldn’t).

        Boss actively fired them as clients after that.

        1. Bagpuss*

          I once had a client who was .. difficult. I was in a meeting with them and another individual (an outside expert, so working for them via us, but not an employee)

          Client was so obnoxious and threatening to fire us that the expert said to them “Since you feel so strongly, I suggest that you do fire me, fire Ms Bagpuss while you are at it, and good luck with dealing with this on your own”

          Client stormed out and the expert apologized profusely to me.. I told him I would be very happy if the client took his advice but suspected that he wouldn’t, and I was right – he came back 10 minutes later and asked us to continue, and behaved himself for the rest of that meeting, at least.

      3. Self Employed*

        I have had several friends announce on Facebook that they are moving out of the area for a great job, grad school, live someplace they’re excited about. Everyone else says “oh noooo, you can’t leave! I’ll miss you! Who else will I hang out with then?” If I say “That is a fantastic opportunity, congratulations! Too bad we won’t hang out, but we can still chat here.” everyone acts like I told them to get lost and I never want to see them again. I think it would be the height of selfishness to discourage someone from pursuing their dreams just because I like hanging out with them.

        1. Foof*

          Yeah that’s weird; there are plenty of people i’ve been sad to see go but i make a point to have the overall tone be “congrats/good luck” if they’ve already made their decision – even if i do say they’ll be missed

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      Yes! That was such a blatant and dramatic way to try to guilt LW into backing off/reassuring her, and I love that they didn’t.

    3. MiddleManager*

      I had a challenging employee tell me that other employers were currently in a “bidding war” to hire him, and if things weren’t working out here, he may have to look at other options. This was after repeated conversations about his behavior towards his coworkers and a written warning that he felt “came out of nowhere” (the fact that he saw it that way after repeated conversations is exactly why I did it).

      I think he was genuinely surprised when I said “You need to make the decision that’s best for you and your family, I can’t tell you what that is. I can only tell you what the expectations are if you decide to stay, and those aren’t going to change.”

    4. Ai*

      Reminds me of the classic “I’m never shopping here again!”
      Oh, okay.

      It just doesn’t seem to work nor should it.

      1. Karo*

        I once quit a restaurant job because the summer was up, I was going into my senior year of college and my summer internship had turned into a part-time job in my chosen field of work. The guy told me, with an entirely straight face and scathing tone of voice, “you’ll never work in this industry again.”

        Like…Ok? That’s the goal, man…and the job I have instead is what’ll help ensure that I don’t have to work in restaurants again. (And also, I’m an awful waitress; I should’ve been fired long before I quit and if I had to go back to a job outside of my current line of work it would 100% be in retail.)

        1. Tara*

          This reminds me of when I was (admittedly) slacking in my first weekend job whilst at university, and the manager gave me a talk saying to look at the employees around me, and that one guy had been there 5 years and was now an assistant manager – of a small chain pharmacy in a depressing train station. I said that this was a weekend job whilst I was at university, and that really wasn’t my goal, and quit the next week.

    5. CupcakeCounter*

      My husband had someone resign after like 2-3 months and was really butt hurt that a) Hubs didn’t beg him to stay and b) Hubs told him no need to work out his notice period but they would obviously pay him for the 2 weeks.
      It was a job that took a solid 6-12 month of training to be independent so there was literally nothing helpful this guy could go during those 2 week. Also…he wasn’t exactly stellar during the couple months he was there so Hubs wasn’t overly upset.

    6. Richard Hershberger*

      There is an amusing incident like this from early baseball history. Thomas Fitzgerald was president of the original Athletic Club of Philadelphia. He had many admirable qualities, including being an advocate of civil rights for Blacks in an era when this qualified him as “radical.” But he also was a difficult person. He rage quit the presidency, then let himself be talked into returning. Then a couple of years later, in 1866, he tried it again. This time the club let him go. What makes this amusing is that he was the owner and editor of a newspaper, i.e. a guy who bought ink by the gallon and wasn’t shy about using it. Then next couple years his baseball column was devoted to denouncing the club. It makes for fascinating, if not entirely fruitful, reading.

    7. EPLawyer*

      People who threaten to quit/leave when not getting their way are ALWAYS surprised that everyone is all “okay good, bye.” They VASTLY overestimate how much people want to keep them around.

      OP1 good for you on treating it as a 2 weeks notice though. That was nice.

      I hope John is feeling better than Jane isn’t around to stalk him and start rumors about him and coworkers.

    8. Bagpuss*

      Yes, there seems to be a sort of inverse correlation between how good / valuable someone actually is, and how good they think they are…

      I have twice had similar experiences where this came up.

      The first was with someone who was very difficult and not great at their job – they did a dramatic ‘if you don’t give me what I want I’ll leave’ – I told them we were not able to accommodate their request at that time and of course if that meant the they chose to leave, we wished them well. They looked outraged, stalked out of my office and returned a few minutes later with a written resignation, which I promptly accepted* and then confirmed in writing

      Not in the least bit to my surprise, two days later they came in to say they had changed their mind and wished to withdraw their resignation, and were shocked and disappointed to be told ‘thanks, but no thanks’.

      (*Which, strictly speaking I shouldn’t have done as they weren’t in my department, so normally I would have referred to their dept. head. However, in this case since they were someone who was very difficult but also someone it would be difficult and time consuming to fire, so I also had a ‘sorry, not sorry’ conversation with their actual manager)

      the second was someone (who was a manager) whose response to being notified of a disciplinary process wrote a long rant which among other things told us that we would be ‘very lucky’ if we managed to find anyone half as good as them to take on their role and promptly resigned in a huff. (spoiler, the person who took on their role while we were looking for a replacement was far better than them, despite having no management experience (We offered them the role permanently but they declined, as they didn’t want to do the people-management elements) and the morale of the department as a whole went up in leaps and bounds as soon as they were gone.

      1. Polly Hedron*

        Yes, there seems to be a sort of inverse correlation between how good / valuable someone actually is, and how good they think they are
        This is known as the Dunning-Kruger effect.

  4. HBJ*

    #1, “No one ever called for a reference, so let that be a lesson.” Why in the world would she put a manager who basically fired her as a reference?! She’d be shooting herself in the foot to put your name down, as you make very clear. That they didn’t call you means nothing.

    And to be clear, I have no problem with how you handled it or with you giving an honest reference if called.

    1. BubbleTea*

      Unless she didn’t list the job at all, they could have rung for a reference without the LW being listed. Alison is always reminding people that this can happen.

      1. Boadicea*

        Yes, this happened to me, and they ditched me when I’d previously been first choice (I had an insider who revealed probably more than they should)! Based on a ref from my old boss who 1) I knew wouldn’t give me a good ref, and 2) is famously an asshole. But I didn’t mind – accepted elsewhere.

        My US colleague told me calling up like that was considered illegal over there? But the job wasn’t US-based.

        1. PollyQ*

          If the reference tells out-and-out factual lies about the employee, then they could file a civil suit, but other than that, no legal issues at all.

        2. Pickled Limes*

          A lot of companies have a policy that they don’t give positive or negative references, just confirmation that yes, this person was employed here from this date to that date. Some people have become so used to that idea that they assume it’s a law, but it’s not, it’s just an internal policy that companies have.

          I work in an industry that’s pretty small and it’s not uncommon for someone to have a friend or acquaintance at another organization, because there aren’t many organizations to choose from and a lot of us have worked together at some point or other. If someone I know were to call me and ask if I’ve ever worked with someone and what my impressions were, it would be totally fine for me to answer honestly.

    2. Smithy*

      If she truly was already interviewing, then it may very well have been that when she submitted her initial resume – it was all accurate. Her employment was from X-present and she didn’t want the place calling her current employer as a reference, all of which would have been entirely reasonable to assume by the interviewing company.

    3. OP1*

      When I am looking at a candidate I do call the references they provide but then I try to reach out to a previous job the candidate had and try and speak to a manager. I do this because you are 100% right, nobody would knowingly give a reference they knew would not speak favorably for them. That is why I think overall reference checking is a waste of time, unless you can speak to someone that worked with them that they didn’t list. In full disclosure, I am only about 40-50% successful in finding an old manager.

      1. College Career Counselor*

        Normally, I would agree. But, I have seen people (including students I have worked with) who have asked people to give them references. I have gotten letters/calls from those references and and based on what was said, the person should have known that it wouldn’t be favorable. I think some people think that a reference is either automatically going to be good (if the person agrees to do it), or it will verify that the person was employed and that’s it.

        I’m sure there are quite a number of people who are self-deluded about the quality of their performance as well.

        1. Krabby*

          Lol, so true. I have someone who we fired in her first two months last year for lack of attention to detail (in a data entry job), and I STILL get calls from reference checkers about her. I just tell them that we only do employment verification and give them her employment dates. But still, why she’s even putting us on her resume, I have no idea.

      2. BethDH*

        I actually find them useful to talk to even when you know they’ll be positive.
        For example, “Avery told us about Project X and it sounds fascinating. Can you tell us more about how their role fit into the project and how they approached it?” This can tell you a lot about how the manager perceived the situation that may or may not match the candidate’s own estimation of their contribution.

        1. Barbara Eyiuche*

          The problem with this is that I am sure that my former boss would have no idea what I did on Project X. I am pretty sure he would give me a good reference, but he really didn’t pay much attention to what his minions were doing.

      3. allathian*

        That only works as long as an employee didn’t leave because of a toxic manager. I don’t think it’s fair to allow a toxic manager to poison someone’s career. The candidate is also stuck, because most hiring managers are wary of employing candidates who are obviously negative about their previous job, even when the place was a hellmouth.

        Usually the recommendation is to ask people you want to use as a reference if they’d be willing to do so, which often includes sending a current resume as a reminder to the person you want to be your reference. If you cold call, I hope that you tell them you’re calling although the candidate didn’t list them, so they aren’t blindsided into thinking the former employee’s a boor who didn’t even bother asking them to be their reference. It also depends on how long ago the employee worked for the reference, in a company with a lot of turnover and big teams, a manager may not even have anything sensible to say about an employee who worked for them 5 years ago, especially if they’ve managed a large number employees since then. So honestly I don’t understand what you think you’re gaining by cold calling.

    4. LizM*

      Most hiring managers don’t limit themselves to listed references. I’m pretty upfront with candidates that I need to speak to a current or former supervisor, a recent one if possible. I wouldn’t necessarily hold it against someone if they asked me not to contact a current supervisor, or told me that they felt a former supervisor wouldn’t give an unbiased reference, but that would raise a yellow flag and I’d do a more throughout check with other references.

      (But I’m in government, and our culture/practices around references are different from the private sector, from what I can tell).

      1. allathian*

        I also work for the government, and when I applied to a job a year ago, I asked to use my then-manager as a reference and she agreed. I can’t really advance in my current job without moving into management and that’s not something I’m interested in. I’m not actively looking for a new job because I’m quite happy where I am, but the job ad looked too good to ignore so I took a chance. I got to the last stage of interviews and tests, but ultimately they picked another candidate. My manager told me that the hiring manager had called her for a reference, and I have no doubt she was both favorable and honest.

    5. MassMatt*

      Most places asking for references expect at least one of them to be a recent supervisor from the last place you worked unless you’re still working there and they’re unaware of your search.

  5. LifeBeforeCorona*

    It sounds like Jane never learned from her mistakes. Her new workplace never checked her references? They are going to learn from their mistakes. I would love to hear another update about Jane as a manager in six months.

    1. HBJ*

      It doesn’t say they didn’t check references. It just says they didn’t call LW. Maybe they called references, maybe they didn’t.

      1. DavidPL*

        I declined to be a reference for a engineer who was very popular at work, but was a dead loss as an engineer as far as I could tell. He did manage to get a job at a major aerospace company though. And people wonder why American industry is declining.

    2. Teapot supervisor*

      When it comes to learning lessons though, I think ‘inviting somebody to quit’ carries the same problems as the ‘feedback sandwich’. People hear all the softly-softly stuff and don’t realise what they’re being told is a big deal. From Jane’s perspective, this may well look like ‘I was having interpersonal problems with my coworkers and things got a bit out of hand. But, when I said I felt like I should go, they just pushed me out the door! Well, I’m a manager now so more fool them!’

      It may not have been as neat a solution but telling Jane that it’s utterly unacceptable to spread rumours like that and firing her would probably have made a bit more of an impact and got the message very clearly across that there was a problem and what it was (although, in fairness, no guarantee she would learn anything from it).

      Not to say what OP1 did was wrong but to say I find the whole ‘and Jane didn’t even learn her lesson’ narrative in the last two paragraphs a little bit odd. Like, yeah, I get that it’s frustrating but also not your problem anymore, maybe let it go, kind of odd?

  6. Anthony J Crowley*

    So basically, I became Toby.

    I LOL’d. Glad you’re happy with the move Op5 and I hope you don’t have any lingering guilt!

      1. Toby 2.0 (OP)*

        Zero guilt. I’m embracing Toby-life…and all of the extra time (and less stress) it brings with it.

  7. Kes*

    #5 I know the situation is resolved but I think the one thing you could have done, which it’s not clear whether you did do, would have been to generally raise the issues of being understaffed and the impact of that on your work with the boss.
    But I’m glad you didn’t tell on Toby just because a recruiter carelessly sent you his profile, and I’m glad you were able to find a better position with better work life balance.
    Also, love that ending “basically, I became Toby”

    1. Toby 2.0 (OP)*

      I did eventually discuss with my boss my need for better balance, and was told that it wasn’t feasible for our department and the nature of our work. Which was my cue to start considering my options. I’m happy I wasn’t promised changes that wouldn’t come, and even happier to have found something that’s a better fit.

  8. Sunshine's Eschatology*

    I am so baffled by this awful resume. People spend hours crafting the perfect catchy-but-professional, accomplished-but-not-arrogant resume, agonizing over fonts and white space… and someone with random icons gets hired as a a director?? This isn’t even a knock on the hiring–presumably there was a reason they thought she was desirable in spite of that–just the sound of my brain melting down (and that’s several years out from job searching, knock on wood!).

    1. Chilipepper Attitude*

      Yes, it is so frustrating!
      They hired someone incredibly awful here as a department head/director. It is almost impossible to fire anyone. She was so bad she was gone in 2 months. I think they knew in about 2 days but it took that long to do what they had to do.

    2. Lana Kane*

      I know several people whom I suspect wrote their resume in crayon. It can definitely be demoralizing.

    3. Working Hypothesis*

      Not to mention Jane, who apparently got hired as a manager right out of getting kicked out of a receptionist job for spreading false rumors about her colleagues. Is there a desperate shortage of manager material these days, or just some incredibly bad hiring managers in the field?

    4. ceiswyn*

      When I was hiring once, I occasionally got pushback from my boss for discarding so many ‘good candidates’ for having poorly structured and written CVs.

      I was hiring for a technical writing position. Literally the entire job was being able to structure information and write well. I had to slowly and painfully explain to my boss that if they couldn’t do that, they weren’t a good candidate.

      1. Mockingjay*

        “But anyone can be a tech writer!” Not.

        On behalf of TWs everywhere, thank you for standing firm with your boss.

    5. Daisy*

      I think this is an overreaction. OP seems pretty nitpicky (2 and a quarter pages? Oh Lord preserve us!). Even if it is bad, it’s not a skill you use more than once every few years and doesn’t really have an impact on the job, unless the job is to write nicely presented 2-page documents. If you have strong skills in what the job actually is, ‘spending hours crafting the perfect resume’ is probably a bit of a waste of time.

      1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        I can guarantee that I toss anything that’s more than two pages. It shows me that the person thinks too much of themselves, everything is so important, nothing can be culled.

        At one point as a student I did typing piecework and often had to type up CVs for job seekers. One young woman wanted everything in bold: not just headings but the info beneath the headings, even a one-liner “Foreign languages: English and Spanish” (this was in France), when she’d only learned those languages at school and couldn’t claim fluency in any way. She was young, it’s not like she even had anything particularly interesting on her CV, so no, there’s really not much of any importance here, sorry.

        1. Daisy*

          Foreign languages is a really normal thing to put on a CV. THAT’S your example of weird levels of detail, seriously?

      2. Lenora Rose*

        She didn’t just talk about the bit of extra length. Se also made specific notes of other things done wrong, (eg, the outlook thing), intentionally small font…

        And your view of the skills involved in presenting a resume are a bit skewed. Distilling information and presenting it briefly and clearly is a skill that is transferable to virtually any office position you’d care to think of, or indeed any profession that works with words at all. The exceptions are positions where finding a professional who can do it for you is also a useful skill. I hate setting up my resume but it’s definitely worth taking the time to do it right — or getting professional advice on it. Either way, it demonstrates care.

        I might not care about icons or weird bullet points for a welder or a llama herder. This was not that.

        1. Daisy*

          I can think of plenty of ‘office jobs’ where that distilling information into a written document isn’t particularly important – where people skills or technical skills are much more important. The idea that using 10 point should have been an indicator of her poor management skills is moronic.

    6. Beth*

      My thought was “She must’ve known where ALL the bodies were buried to get hired in the first place!”

  9. MK*

    #3, maybe if you got a split reaction between yeas and no, it means you found a middle ground (I don’t buy that logic but maybe). You got a split reaction between no because X and no because Z, so?

    I will say this though: you are allowing this woman way too much space in your head. She never had much to do with your life and isn’t your problem anymore. Why not put her behind you?

    1. FYI*

      I feel the same way. The LW seems a little too delighted with the director’s failure. Talking to co-workers about her interview, talking to other teams’ about her behavior, basically criticizing her to multiple groups and individuals. This is not a good look.

      1. MK*

        Well, if there is a particular person who is a train wreck, it will get talked about in the office, so it doesn’t follow that the OP is actively seeking these conversations. But I think it would benefit her to actively disengage.

    2. Polly Hedron*

      I sympathize with #3:
      • Many AAM responses to #3’s original post said that #3 was overreacting to the bad director.
      • #3 is now trying to show us proof that the director really was terrible, because everyone else hated the director even more than #3 did.
      • I would be doing the same.

      1. Brent*

        People weren’t saying she was overreacting or that her ex-boss wasn’t terrible.

        People were telling OP to let it go. There’s a big difference.

        1. Polly Hedron*

          Some commenters had made excuses for that boss. #3 is now supplying fresh evidence that it wasn’t just #3’s reaction; the boss really was terrible. I love updates so I was interested in this one.

    3. ToodlesTeaTops*

      Yeah, I think there is a split reaction, not because it’s a great middle-ground, but because many allow others to have headspace in their heads. And I say that with having some really bad bosses. It’s not a healthy approach, but if that’s what the LW wants to do, go for it.

  10. Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii*

    LW1: I expect Jane to end up in a similar quagmire in the future as she has obviously not learned anything. But its no longer your problem.

    LW2: Protecting people who act out of line is surprisingly common, too many people prefer to let the person get away with it for their own “convenience”.

    LW3: Always useful when people self destruct on their own without costing you capital.

    LW4: Waiting is the hardest part but not knowing what will happen is even harder. So glad it has all worked out in your favour.

    LW5: Crazy turn of events. But in the end you do have to look out for yourself. And its always a professional courtesy to give similar regards to colleagues.

    @Alison, is the read update here feature going to be added to articles that are being updated in the future?

    1. Mirve*

      Somewhere else she said that it was a manual process and she was not sure how/when more of those links would be added in future.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yes — still plan to add them but it won’t be immediate. (Hopefully within a few weeks of updates being published though. Each one has to be done manually.)

        1. Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii*

          Glad to hear it.
          I wonder if there is some kind of way to automate it or do it once a quarter or something.

        2. Julia*

          I am always amazed at how much work you do for this site. I don’t know of a single blogger who has managed to keep a well-run and moderated site up for well over a decade, working solo, updating like 25 times a week or more, while ALSO working a different full-time job. The consistency is incredible. Thanks.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I no longer do it on top of a full-time job! I still do management consulting, but I’ve cut way back on it so as to have my weekends back! (I never want to stop it entirely though, since it keeps me steeped in current workplaces.)

            1. Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii*

              Have you considered hiring an employee to do the admin stuff for AAM?

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Yes! I don’t think it would save me a ton of time in the long run — the admin stuff actually isn’t hugely time-consuming so it would likely take me nearly as long to train and manage the person as to just do it myself and I’m not convinced it would be worth it overall. (My husband says I’m wrong about this though, so I do continue to think about it.)

                1. Beth*

                  Speaking as an administration professional, I think your husband is right. Have you thought about, not how much time the admin stuff takes you now, but how much improvement a really good admin could bring to the site in addition to reducing that part of your workload?

                  (No, I’m not pitching myself for the role, purely disinterested here!)

                2. ellex42*

                  As someone who has been doing admin stuff for years without actually being admin (except for one job where I wore a lot of hats, including admin), and has dealt with both good and bad admin people, the key is finding someone who can do the job without much management from you once they’ve learned the process.

                3. Joan Rivers*

                  My first real job was working for a Q&A columnist. He had me read the questions and send them out, telling me where to send them for answers if I didn’t know. So I set up systems that speeded it all up, since the Q’s fell into categories usually.

                  He saw them when answers came back.
                  This is different, but sometimes two sets of eyes help.
                  People are endlessly surprising. The most interesting thing here is when there’s a bit of “denial” or “excuses” for behavior that the answer clearly says was wrong.

                4. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Truly, there’s not that much! It would like … adding links to updates when a letter gets an update and keeping the archives page up to date and random little things that come up ad hoc like helping someone download the ebook if they’re having technical problems. Going through my email is time-consuming but I don’t want someone filtering out letters before I see them; that’s something only I can do, because it involves judgment about content (and what I’m interested in answering at any given time). In theory someone else could help moderate comments but there are a bunch of issues with that (so much of it is a judgment call and I know Captain Awkward didn’t have a good experience when she tried that). So it would be like a 30-minute a week job, except on occasions where there might be special projects. It’s not much of a job.

                5. Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii*

                  Once you train them then its off your plate. The learning curve surely won’t last forever.
                  You could try a 6 month trial.

  11. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

    OP #5, I’m glad you didn’t say anything about Toby. I am a Toby right now – due to personal, work, and pandemic-related stresses, I conducted a serious job hunt a few months ago to the point of becoming a final candidate for, and missing out on, two separate jobs. Ironically within the hour of getting the rejection I got a call from my boss sharing some exciting news about my role, and since then I’ve been more engaged than ever. It was seriously like a switch was flipped and suddenly my burnout was gone. I can’t imagine if someone had told my boss I was trying to leave; I was trying to leave, but now – only two months later – I’m so so glad I stayed. Good luck to you in your new role!

    1. Toby 2.0 (OP)*

      I’m so glad you are enjoying your work. I feel like, in the thick of it, I knew that saying something wasn’t the right thing to do. But, I also knew how exponentially worse my work life would get if he left… and I didn’t think a job/role change was feasible for me at the time. I was just grasping at straws, really hoping for a creative solution I hadn’t considered. But, I’m happy to have found a change that works for me!

      1. Joan Rivers*

        Sounds like it was good to leave.
        But we can start expecting calamity if someone leaves, when sometimes the co. just hires two people to split up all the duties. We never know for sure what could change if higher-ups realize it needs to change; we just have to do what’s best for us.

  12. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

    OK, but the part about the job history going “back over 15 years” and “6-12 bullet points for each” gives me anxiety. I’ve stayed in each of my last three jobs a relatively long time, 21 years total for the three. How far back is it appropriate to go nowadays? I don’t want to limit myself to listing just my current job, that would be kind of silly. How do you condense multiple years working on multiple different teams in different roles within the same company into fewer than six points? I’ve read Alison’s posts on how to write a resume and I don’t remember anything on there about 15 years being too long and six bullet points being too many. Did I miss a newer update?

      1. starsaphire*

        Perhaps, or perhaps it’s just a BEC situation.

        I know I wouldn’t be able to resist the feeling of vindication if I had a horrible boss who ghosted the job after a few months, and then I found out that their qualifications or their interviewing documents were not up to par.

        Just my two cents, though. I suspect in some places, a 2.5 page resume would be perfectly reasonable, but even then, just throwing a bunch of Microsoft icons into a text box and calling it a “skills section” is probably more than a little unprofessional.

        I honestly think that it’s OK for the LW to be gleeful over this, as long as she’s not doing it at work or anywhere her co-workers (or, worse, the bad boss) can find out about it.

        1. ginger ale for all*

          The OP already self owned to feeling petty and I think we have all been there at one point in our lives. As long as she keeps it private or disguised (like writing into AAM), I kind of don’t see a problem with venting. I did it when my ex started dating a woman who only wore thick black eye liner on her bottom lids and no eye liner on the top lid – petty as all get out and very small potatoes too, but I vented anyway to someone who would never tell anyone that I said that.

        2. Hiring Mgr*

          Personally if I see a long resume, just ignore all the older stuff. It doesn’t penalize the candidate at all though (for me at least)

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Depends on the resume. 10-15 years is fine. Six bullet points are fine. But it depends on the entirety of the thing.

      I’m guessing this was something like 10 jobs over 15 years, with 6-12 bullet points for all of them, spilling on to a third page — that’s too much.

    2. Kimmy Schmidt*

      I think it’s more all the factors combined, including OP’s previous assessment of Bad Boss. The icons and illegibility sound way worse to me than the bullet points.

    3. voluptuousfire*

      The resume can go back 15 years or more but doesn’t require 6-12 bullet points for every role they had. Something like 3-4 is more than enough for jobs that you did in 2006 that don’t have anything to do with what you’re doing now.

      1. Haven’t picked a user name yet*

        I am down to one bullet for my year as a tax accountant at a CPA firm 15 years ago. I have a full two page resume, but anyone who has worked at a firm, knows what I was doing that year, and since it isn’t directly relevant to my current work that is all that is needed.

    4. Akcipitrokulo*

      As much as you need to demonstrate the qualities and achievements you want the potential hiring manager to know, that will be relevant to their decision, and not drown out your highlight qualities.

      It would be pretty hard for an achievement 20 years ago to make a hiring manager sit up at it. (job requirement: “able to use x software”, “achievement: “wrote x software” might do it ;) )

      It’s not a sworn statement of everything you have done. It is a sales document selling you.

      Put in what you would care about if you were the one doing the hiring.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Great points. Your comment made me realize that it is time for me to really shorten the description of my past job from the early 00s. The tech we used is all obsolete and can be skipped or glossed over. The skills I gained there that are still helping me in my work today were 24/7 production support and cross-team work to bring a project from its requirements stage all the way to deployment. So that should (in some form) stay and the rest needs to go. Thank you!

        1. BugHuntress*

          The community of this site is (generally) so awesome. I love seeing someone get inspired from someone else’s comment. :)

          1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            I came to update my business English, since I’ve been abroad longer than I ever was in the UK, and stayed for moments like this! (OK, and for venting sometimes)

    5. Nanani*

      If they’re relevant, they’re relevant. You can cut jobs where the experience is either redundant or not relevant to what you’re applying for now. It’s not about a magic number of years or bullet points, it’s about thinking through what makes the strongest case.
      So, don’t stress out.

  13. fogharty*

    OP#2, I’m surprised that the principal seemed concerned that a student was used by a teacher to destroy property. That should have been worth a talk, at least.

    1. KoiFeeder*

      There’s a lot of crummy principals out there. I went to a school where the principal would’ve encouraged teachers to use students she wanted to be rid of as proxies for that sort of thing, and another where the principal didn’t want to be bothered with dealing with the students at all and would get very upset with teachers bringing kids in for any reason. And that’s just my experiences as a student, with the teachers (presumably) taking the worst of it.

      And, you know, this is still lower on the totem pole of bad principals than the “refusing to provide a teacher medical care after a severe head injury” principal.

      1. Veteran teacher*

        Oh man, now THAT principal was unacceptable. But this principal is still so disappointingly bad. As a teacher, I’d say overall LW is better off, but I still really feel for Therese’s students. They have no choice. Too many principals look at tenure as an excuse to not even attempt to document, but that’s unacceptable! Therese will never be forced out if no one ever documents.

        1. lailaaaaah*

          Idk, I feel like some lifelong education staff (esp managers) kinda… forget there are individual kids getting impacted? A friend of mine works in a school where there’s one assistant who will literally just let kids gang up on another kid and beat them up right in front of her if she’s on break duty. The kids are traumatised, the parents are furious- but no one in management is actually willing to manage this person out, because she’s been there for ages and she’s nearing retirement, so they feel bad for her even though she’s putting the kids in danger.

    2. OP 2*

      Hi! Thank you for this. That principal was very clear about wanting to be hands-off when it came to interpersonal problems. Therese outranks me, so I think that’s why so little was done. But, I’m excited for this new job!

  14. Phony Genius*

    On #2, my inner screenwriter is picturing Therese doing her best to follow the LW to her new district and getting a job in that school just to continue her compulsive emulation.

  15. Niobium*

    I’m really glad Jane got a new job and I’m disappointed, although not surprised, by comments about trashing taking itself out. Jane is a person and making mistakes in one job doesn’t mean she’s trash. I think a little compassion goes a long way. I know some will now try to justify their comments, but I just feel being kind is a better way to go.

    1. Kate 2*

      She wasn’t very kind to the people she was making up ugly rumors about. Imagine if one of them was the victim of partner abuse, if that got around one or both could have been killed. It has happened before and will again. As it is she might have ruined their professional reputations.

    2. Are you Jane?*

      How is deliberately making up a false rumour a ‘mistake’? It wasn’t an error, she intended to do it.

    3. Keymaster of Gozer*

      A mistake is pushing the wrong button on a computer.

      Making up hurtful lies about other people and then spreading those lies is malice.

    4. Jennifer Strange*

      In addition to what others have pointed out, I think you’re reading too much into the term. It’s just a saying (like “good riddance to bad rubbish”). They’re basically just saying the person who was the problem removed themself from the situation on their own.

      1. ecnaseener*

        Exactly. In that workplace, she was “trash” as in having no value to the team and needing to be removed from the team before things got worse (smellier, if you will). That doesn’t mean she’s a trash person with no value to the world as a whole.

        I hope she learned her lesson and will be kinder in the future. I’m…uh, not glad she got a job managing people, because I don’t trust that she’ll be any kinder to them.

    5. Dust Bunny*

      What “mistake”? She deliberately made up lies about coworkers about something that, even if it had been true, wouldn’t have been any of her business. More than once.

    6. Paris Geller*

      Sometimes people are just Not Good, for whatever reason. Maybe they like being mean and petty and lying about people. I dunno. But telling people who have been hurt by others to “be kind” is just a way of minimizing their hurt. I’ve had a Jane as a boss before and she was awful and did some pretty strong psychological damage to some of my coworkers. That’s not hyperbole. None of us are out there slashing the tires on her car or anything, but you know, when she was fired from her next job after a few months there was definitely some vindication.

    7. ceiswyn*

      Do you… do you often find yourself accidentally inventing unpleasant rumours about people and telling them to people?


      That’s because it isn’t a mistake. It’s deliberate harassment. And being kind to a harasser is being very UNkind to all their victims.

    8. NotRealAnonForThis*

      Having been on the receiving end of something similar (a former coworker spent far too much time that since I am female and I did not share a last name with anyone important in the company, I got to my position by f***ing my way there, and he was going to out me for who I’d f***ed. Both behind my back and to my face. That I’d been screwing someone at work to get ahead was news to me…I’d been busy taking classes and getting actual experience…), nope. Spreading nonsense like that is inexcusable and does make one trash; it is NOT a mistake. The action done by the Janes/Daves of the world does a number on the victim’s mental state, professional and personal reputation, and their personal and professional relationships as well.

      1. Joan Rivers*

        There are actual LAWS against making up lies about people.
        It may be hard to prove but some rumor mongers are so oblivious they actually tell others, in writing even, what they’ve done. Or laugh about it to others.

      2. Parakeet*

        Yeah, I’ve been on the receiving end of a “Jane” before, and it’s bad. People can become better people than they were, of course, but they actually have to do that first…and until they do, Jane is the sort of person that I have no time for.

        1. NotRealAnonForThis*

          Right. Becoming a better person would be not only no longer participating in that type of nonsense, but actually owning the damage caused by previous actions and trying to rectify them.

          To this day, this “Jane” cracks the occasional joke about how I’ve been successful at industry events. I do not think that anyone believes him….but does that matter? Not really. Its gross behavior.

          And this is why I have no qualms about declaring them an utter garbage human.

    9. Are you Jane or?*

      Of all the things, I did not expect to see, this is the thing I did not expect to see the most. Malicious lying is a mistake now? We should have compassion for the poor liar? Whaaat?

    10. Cat Lady In Training*

      That was not a mistake. Making up rumors like that is mean and immature. Its also something a mean and immature person would do. Any good company with good, self-respecting management, would not tolerate this sort of behavior. I hope she learns from this, but I don’t high hopes for the sort of person who would be this mean and clueless. As for kindness? You spread this kind of ugly false rumor? Yeah, forget about getting any respect from me. I don’t like mean people like this. Grow up and quite spreading false rumors, it makes you look like an idiot!

    1. Jack Straw*

      OP answers this in a comment. The ask wasn’t anything more than a standard technique used to initiate some self-reflection and get verbal agreement (or not) about the person committing to change. It would not have changed the outcome.

      1. Can Can Cannot*

        I actually think this was bad managing. Don’t dangle a chance to stay in front of a person you know you are going to fire. If the OP was going to fire Jane, they needed to step up and do it rather than skirt around the issue and imply another outcome.

        1. Wisteria*

          Yep, I’m with you. Managers have firing authority. You don’t need to manage people out, and that is actually the least managerial option.

          1. PollyQ*

            At many companies, managers don’t have unbridled firing authority. Short of something like theft or violence, there are procedures that need to be followed which may take quite a while. If OP works at a place like that, having a discussion that lays out the problem for Jane and allows her to quit rather than be fired is good choice, which led to a good outcome.

            1. allathian*

              Yes, and reading the update that’s the idea I got. I think that the LW was compassionate in signing off on the resignation as if Jane had given 2 weeks’ notice so she got paid for unused PTO.

            2. OP1*

              This. It is a big company and there are only a few instances were we can fire on the spot (putting patients at risk, HIPAA violations etc). Other than that, even though I live in an “at will state”, to avoid losing lawsuits we have to document disciplinary actions.

          2. LQ*

            Managing people out is usually about being kind. But also about dealing with the constraints you have. It’s also a bad idea to the employees who stay to be the kind of managers who walks up to someone points and says “You’re fired!” That’s not the most managerial. It’s the most dictatorial. But it’s not the kindest. It’s not the one that gives space to people who can change. It’s not the one that lets others on the team see that they don’t need to be terrified the whole time. It’s not the one that best protects the company.

        2. Lana Kane*

          The question isn’t necessarily meant to say that if she says she can, then she gets to stay. People could interpret it that way, but it’s not what OP said. It’s a question to get more information.

          It can be a way to gauge how Jane views the situation, for the manager to consider in their decision. It could easily have gone “Yes, I think I can regain trust,”, “I understand – I will keep that under consideration as the management team decides how to proceed.” Or OP could have asked for specifics on how they planned to do that – if the answer was poor, that’s a segue into letting Jane know that it won’t work out.

        3. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          I don’t remember OP’s exact words but she said something about the question being asked in a tone that kind of implied she thought the answer could only be “no”.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Then you would hear her out about why she thinks that and decide, based on the conversation, if you agree it’s doable and if you’re willing to give that a shot.

      1. Can Can Cannot*

        But the decision was made before talking with Jane: “We discussed our options and decided it was just time for Jane to go.” That’s pretty clear.

        1. Delyssia*

          It’s also pretty clear that this meeting was intended to be the start of a process, not immediately result in Jane being fired. “We knew it would take a bit of time to manage her out but that was the plan.” I don’t think it’s unreasonable in that circumstance to encourage Jane to do some introspection.

        2. Boof*

          You can have a plan A in mind and still be willing to consider plan B if there’s good reason to. Jane was given a chance to say if she wanted to try to salvage the situation and how; I think that’s appropriate. OP1 probably had a guess that she wouldn’t based on history, though sounds like Jane was at least less combative than initially anticipated.

        3. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          There probably wasn’t anything Jane could say! Apart from maybe crying and berating herself and saying she wished she could unsay those rumours and promising never to do anything like it again and to apologise in person to both the people she spread rumours about, and grovel a bit more to OP.
          I mean, my son once did something pretty bad at school, but he showed enough remorse to get off pretty lightly. The remorse was completely genuine, he was even losing sleep over how bad he felt and how much he wished he could go back to being the boy who hadn’t done it.

  16. Empress Matilda*

    Hot DAMN, OP1! You should be very proud of the way you handled this – for sure Emily and John have noticed as well, and I bet the whole team is glad the drama llama is gone. Well done!

  17. Basically, I became Toby*

    I feel like my new favorite tag line is: so basically I became Toby.”

  18. Wisteria*

    By the way, I loved that the comment section was so split between “this is so terrible to do” and “this is so meaningless to do.” Sometimes when you get a split reaction I think it means you’ve found the perfect middle ground

    The middle ground between “terrible” and “meaningless” is not “perfect.” My suggestion is that you look on the bright side – she’s not your director anymore – and give her only the amount of space in your head that her current marginal role in your life requires.

    1. EventPlannerGal*

      Yes, what I mostly recall from that letter was all the people advising OP to let it go because dwelling on it to this extent was a bit strange. They don’t seem to have taken that advice, but it’s never too late.

  19. Cooper*

    Either you quit a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become Toby.

    (good for you for getting out of a miserable situation!)

    1. EPLawyer*

      #2 — she got laid off but thankfully found a new job in a different district. So no longer dealing with artwork ripping woman.

      1. OP 2*

        Yep, basically this. No disciplinary action for her, and I was laid off when budget cuts came around. I am very thankful about the new job though!

  20. MaryAnne Spier*

    OP2 – As someone who has been laid off from a teaching job I loved in the past, I feel so much empathy for you. However, I’m so happy you already have a new position, and I’m glad you’re rid of Therese. I’m still so curious… did it continue? And I really want to know more about your fabulous hairstyle!

    1. OP 2*

      Thank you! I definitely rely spent a couple of nights crying in my car after the layoff, but I’m very thankful for the new position. There were a couple of odd things after my initial post— at one point, I walked into my classroom to find Therese alone in there, with the lights off, FaceTiming someone. Definitely weirded me out, I just stayed there and she eventually walked out, still on her call. I called my mom afterwards because I just didn’t know what to think. So, weird things like that, but now we aren’t working together so I don’t have to worry about it.

      As for my hair, it’s basically a 1940s curled hairstyle. Don’t want to give too much away in case anyone I know reads this page, but it’s something I’ve done for years and enjoyed :)

  21. Radio Girl*

    While I agree a few of these updates are confusing, they are fascinating and mostly positive. I learn from them. Thank you.

  22. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Removed a couple of weirdly harsh threads. Y’all, if you want updates from people, you need to treat them kindly when they send them in, not pile on and on about something you think they should have done differently.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Thank you Alison. The moderation work you do keeps this site more polite than most of the internet. Possibly more polite than most families and workplaces.

  23. 911 where's your emergency*

    To the last op
    7am-8pm doesn’t sound bad at all. Maybe because I regularly work 12-16 hour days but this timeframe isn’t horrible. Was this meaning you did this everyday for a week if it included weekends? If there wasn’t time off I’d understand more but otherwise? I guess there’s other jobs that require less hours but that just seemed a bit off to me.

    1. Viette*

      That’s a lot more hours than most jobs! In America regularly working 12-16 hour days is simply not the norm. It’s very reasonable to say, “I’m going to go out and find a job that doesn’t require those hours” because most jobs don’t.

      It’s the normal amount of hours for your job but it sure is a heck of a lot more hours than the average American job asks a person to work. If you look through the archives and the comments you’ll pick that up from many of the posts.

    2. allathian*

      7 am-8 pm sounds like a nightmare to me. I have pulled a few days like that at busy times, but that’s a handful of days in 14 years at my current job. I work FT, and my official workweek is 36 hours 15 minutes. It’s shorter than the standard 40 in the private sector here. A few 50-hour workweeks in a row leave me on the brink of burnout.

    3. English, not American*

      Those hours consistently would probably be illegal in the UK (with a load of caveats that aren’t worth getting into). It boggles my mind that anyone could think that reasonable for a normal job.

    4. tg*

      How many days a week do you work those hours? If I worked those hours five days a week I would not have the energy to shop for food, cook or wash clothes.

      1. Toby 2.0 (OP)*

        That was the hard part about it…some weeks, those would be the hours most days. Then, things might slow a bit and I’d “scale back” to 45 hours…but not for long enough to recharge. I enjoyed the type of work, just not the associated hours and stress. Also, my energy to cook, clean, & shop was nearly non-existent…so I’m really happy that I was able to make a change.

    5. Toby 2.0 (OP)*

      The job is/was a salaried position that was flexible, but “generally” supposed to be Monday- Friday, 8am(ish) to 5pm(ish). It became Monday through Friday, with meetings scheduled starting at 7am on some days, meetings going until 8pm some days (and I would often take a break for dinner & log back in after my kids went to bed to finish things up). Weekend expectations were that if we were busy, or had a tight deadline, that would be in addition to the Mon-Fri work. I realize that is the schedule that some people work- it just doesn’t work for me and my situation, and it’s not how the position was originally managed.

    6. quill*

      Most of the people I know of who make that one work have 1) three or four day work weeks 2) spouses or other support that do all the work of living for them so they can be clean and fed during that schedule.

    7. LB6*

      12-16 hour days is not the norm for most industries or jobs. I did it for several years when I started out because I was in an industry that likes to burn people out like this. And yeah, you can be used to doing it, but that doesn’t mean it’s healthy or that it’s the same as a good working environment or that people shouldn’t look for a schedule that makes their lives better.

      Most people do not last long working in these conditions and move on to other jobs (high turn over). Many who regularly work these kinds of hours suffer from mental or physical illnesses related to the hours/work environment (at least in my experience, these types of jobs also tend to be high stress in addition to long hours).

      Another way to look at this – when I quit my salaried (and they typically are because employers aren’t doing this when they have to pay overtime rates) job in this kind of environment and found a job with a more 9-5 schedule, my salary bump was only 5% or so, but Per Hour it was like a 60% raise.

  24. Bowserkitty*

    OP#3 – Who knows, maybe by the time you finally get to meet your old boss, you really WON’T remember her!!

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