did I burn a bridge by resigning right after I was promoted?

A reader writes:

The short version is, I tried really hard to resign without burning bridges but I don’t think I succeeded. How can I mitigate the situation and what should I have done differently?

The gory details:

I have worked for nine years at a small nonprofit — small enough that it thinks of itself as a family and at times is prone to the dysfunction that is implied by that phrase. I have gone through rounds of “should-I-stay-should-I-go” over the past several years, due to work-life balance issues and feeling undervalued and underappreciated, but stayed each time because I felt passionate about the projects I led and the external partners I worked with.

Fast forward to June of this year. I was again feeling underappreciated, since a coworker at my level had recently had frank conversations with me and with leadership, explicitly telling them that he saw a pattern of me doing a lot of work without getting credit for it — which was validating but also upsetting since it forced me to stop telling myself that maybe I was imagining it, wasn’t trying hard enough, wasn’t doing good work, etc.

A friend in local government sent me a job posting for a position that was almost an exact fit with my skill set and the type of work that I want to be doing. Positions at this particular government org are rare; this one opened because someone retired. So I applied. I figured if nothing else, it would be good practice.

A few weeks later, my manager, who had been with the org for 20 years and was the deputy director, announced that he was leaving. I told him at that point that I’d applied for another job. So he knew but didn’t tell anyone. He spent the month of July working on his transition out. Our leadership promoted me into a new role with a large chunk of his previous responsibilities and moving me from managing one direct report to six direct reports — more than any other person at the org. I had mixed emotions — excited about the potential of the new role, concern over the transition — and didn’t feel I had any choice but to accept the promotion. My manager, during his last conversation with me, told me that I’d need to lean in and work really hard to be heard because the executive director felt more comfortable with my male coworker due to unconscious bias. (My manager’s words, not mine. I am female-presenting.)

At the beginning of August, I had the second interview for the local government job. I thought it went poorly and moved on, trying to figure out how to be effective in my new role at my current job. But last week, the local government org made me an offer, I negotiated (!), and I had a really great offer letter officially in my inbox the next day. (Side note: HUGE THANKS to all your tips and advice; your book was incredibly helpful and every job seeker should read it!)

Wednesday morning, I took the first open slot on my executive director’s calendar and gave notice. It came as a shock to him, understandably, and to the rest of the staff (I reached out to each one personally). Almost everyone was supportive and congratulatory — except the leadership. I understand that they are stressed and concerned about the future of the org and the optics of two senior staff leaving within the span of a couple months and their reactions reflect that. I tried my best to do right by the organization — I pushed back my start date as far as I could negotiate, I am trying to arrange part-time/contract availability to help with the transition even after I am full-time at my new job, and I already have thorough documentation on project deliverables and deadlines through the end of the year.

But I feel that I have burned bridges given the leadership’s responses, which included, “If you were going to do this, you shouldn’t have taken the promotion. I hope this is a lesson in transparency for you going forward.” And the executive director’s follow-up: “I would have liked you to come to me before you accepted the position. Given the critical transition period we are already in, it could have allowed us to better prepare in all facets for your departure. [note: it would have been less than 24 hours of additional notice] We have already done some external PR around you taking on a new role and we were all excited to welcome you to that new position. We may have held off on that if we had known there was a possibility you could be moving on. That situational awareness is something to think about as you move through your career.” The email announcement he sent out today to all staff did not congratulate me or thank me for my work, in stark contrast to the email that went out announcing my manager’s departure, which had multiple (well-deserved!) paragraphs about his contributions and achievements.

I feel incredibly guilty. Am I being unreasonable? Should I have turned down the promotion in July? I asked for more time then and was pressed into making a decision on the promotion before I’d even gone through the first interview for the government job. Should I have told leadership I was interviewing and potentially jeopardized my current job? All the advice that I’ve read and discussed with friends says no. But clearly they expected that from me and are holding it against me that I didn’t tell them. Is there any way to mitigate or do damage control here? I’m heartsick that I devoted nearly a decade of work and sacrifice, sometimes in ways that were detrimental to my health, and that I’m now leaving on bad terms even though I feel I’ve done and will do everything in my power to make the transition as smooth as possible and leave solid support structures for my project staff.

There is a direct line from “they talk about themselves like a family” to “I devoted a decade of work and sacrifice, sometimes in ways that were detrimental to my health” to them now making you feel guilty for leaving in a way that’s inconvenient for them. It’s all connected.

You didn’t do anything wrong.

Yes, it’s inconvenient for them. Resignations often are.

Yes, it would have been more convenient if they had known you were going to leave back when they offered you the promotion. But telling them you had applied for another job would have been totally against your own interests, and it’s unreasonable to expect it of you. You hadn’t been offered the job at that point; I’m not sure you’d even had an interview by that point! People apply for jobs all the time without anything coming of it. You can’t put your career on hold while you wait to maybe hear back about a job that you might not even be interviewed for. If you had been in the very, very late stages of that hiring process — like if you’d been told to expect an offer — maybe at that point it would have made sense to try to put the brakes on your current organization’s plans for you. But even then, the offer might not have come through (or you might not have accepted it). Your current organization wishes they’d known because then they wouldn’t have promoted you — but why were you obligated to give up a promotion for a hypothetical job that might never have materialized?

Maybe they’d say that if they had known, they could have moved more slowly — that they wouldn’t have denied you the promotion, but they wouldn’t have announced it or made solid plans yet. And maybe that’s true. But it still wouldn’t have been in your interests to tell them, because often when employers learn someone is job searching, they end up penalizing the person, in big ways (like pushing them out before they’re ready to leave) or small (like not giving them high-profile projects in case they leave soon).

It’s understandable that they wish they’d known you were thinking of leaving, but utterly unreasonable to hold it against you that you didn’t act in a way so counter to your interests, particularly when your paycheck could be at stake.

And to lecture you about it, and in such patronizingly obnoxious ways — to say you need to learn a lesson and have more “situational awareness”! Blech. They are in no position to teach the lesson they think they’re imparting, because that lesson is wrong.

But their expectation goes right back to the “we’re like family” stuff you mentioned. “We’re like family” nearly always is used against employees, rather than in their favor. It usually means you’re going to be pressured to work unreasonable hours (check), receive insufficient recognition (check), be underpaid (check, I’d bet), sacrifice things that are important to you like your health (check), and that they’ll use your commitment to the work against you (check) and make you feel guilty when you make normal business decisions for yourself (check).

To answer your questions: No, you are not being unreasonable. No, you should not have turned down the promotion in July when you didn’t have another offer in hand. No, you should not have told them you were interviewing and potentially jeopardized your job.

As for whether there’s a way to smooth things over: Maybe. You shouldn’t need to, but it might help to say when you accepted the promotion you had no signals that you were going to be offered the other job / hadn’t even been asked to interview for it at that point, assumed you weren’t in the running for it, and were committed to moving forward with the position your current org had offered you. Really lean into the “I assumed there was no way I’d end up with the other offer” piece of it. Use language like, “Of course if I’d known, I would have shared that with you but at the time there was nothing to share. I understand the timing was bad, but I had no idea about when I accepted the promotion.” And perhaps, “I’d like to know that we’re parting on good terms, given my decade of good work here.”

Unless they’re really petty/vindictive/unreasonable, it’s likely that this will get smoothed over in time. Often when managers react unreasonably over someone’s departure, the reaction is based in panic and scrambling, and once they have a plan for moving forward (as well as time to process the situation), things relax. I can’t guarantee that’ll happen, but if you’ve got a decade of good work there behind you, it’s probably going to be fine.

But in a fairer world, they’d be the ones worrying about burning a bridge because of what they said to you.

One more thing: Please reconsider continuing to help after you leave unless you really, genuinely want to do it. You need to be able to focus on your new job, and staying on in any capacity will make it harder to move forward mentally. I know it probably seems like it could help smooth things over — and that’s something you care about — and you might be right. But if you do it, they’ll still be getting you to prioritize their needs over yours even after you’re gone.

Read an update to this letter here.

{ 479 comments… read them below }

  1. PNW bridge-burner*

    Hello, all, LW here. Thanks so much, Alison, for posting my letter and for your advice, and thank you commenters for your input. I’m a long-time AAM reader and always appreciate the thoughtful insights in the comment section.

    I’ll try to be active in the comments today to answer questions and/or provide any needed clarification, but may be in-and-out given my current state of transition. Please know that I will read all comments even if I am not able to respond to yours specifically. And again, thank you!

    1. Escapee from Corporate Management*

      Hi LW. You did nothing wrong. You acted professionally. Not like family. Your leadership, on the other hand, is acting like family, not professionally. They are taking things VERY personally–as if they are Mom & Dad and you dishonored the family name. Which is BS. What you did is give notice to get a better job. Which is normal.

      I agree with Alison: don’t offer to do any part-time consulting. Move on. In fact, the sooner you are in a new work environment, the sooner you may see how dysfunctional a “family” you were in.

      1. PNW bridge-burner*

        Thank you. A former coworker tells me that the difference between working at this nonprofit and working at a larger org with HR is significant. I hope to have that perspective soon.

        1. Sambal*

          OP, I moved from a tiny small business with no HR or accounting to a large org of over 10,000 earlier this year. It felt crazy at first. Wait, I will get paid on time no matter what, and without excuses? Wait, there are systems in place to make sure things are handled professionally?

          For the first time in my life I feel like I have the security and support to do my job well. I hope this transition treats you the same. Congrats!

      2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        I have to second the above, do your best to make the transition smooth as possible and then walk away with your head held high and your conscience clear. You did good work for a decade, all while being overworked and under appreciated. And then you took a promotion faster than you wanted because they pressured you into it. They really should be the ones doing reflection (but probably won’t).

        All the best on the new opportunities and job.

      3. Cait*

        “But we’re faaaaaaaamily!” is also a BS tactic used by actual families. That’s why I want to laugh when organizations tout “We’re like a family!”. Yeah. And families can be dysfunctional. Just because you’re related to someone doesn’t mean you owe them your time, money, or energy. Same goes for an employer who thinks you owe them anything beyond what you’re being paid for.

      4. Observer*

        Your leadership, on the other hand, is acting like family, not professionally.

        Actually, in a functional family, the response would have been very different – more like “I’m going to miss you! But also, congratulations on the promotion!”

        The problem with most places that talk about being like family is not that they care for each other, but that the leadership generally weaponizes it in ways that look like the most dysfunctional and even abusive families.

        1. PNW bridge-burner*

          All the other staff, including my direct report, have had the “I’m going to miss you! But also congrats!” reaction, which is so lovely, and I’m sad that leadership’s reaction is currently outweighing that for me.

    2. SeattleSue*

      I am currently in a similar situation. I know my departure will leave them in a bad situation, but ultimately, I have to do what’s best for me and my career. Management has created some of their own issues by undervaluing a good employee. That is on them, not you. Go enjoy your new job and do not overwork yourself because you feel guilty about leaving them on a lurch. They will survive. Just stay professional and then be done with it.

      1. PNW bridge-burner*

        Thank you. I am trying to be as professional as possible. I have never quit a job before, so I’m running practically everything by my more experienced friends. And telling myself that this is a great learning opportunity.

        1. PNW bridge-burner*

          And best of luck to you in your situation! I hope that your departure is smooth and that you land in the place that is best for you and your career.

        2. Alexander Graham Yell*

          It *is* a great learning opportunity, and contrary to what your current management is saying, it’s a great lesson in how even when YOU behave perfectly professionally, other people might not. You followed the “rules” perfectly and I’m so excited that you get this new opportunity.

    3. Pyjamas*

      It’s telling that your manager kept quiet about your job interview. I suspect he knew you would be penalized for job hunting, even if no offer was forthcoming. He’s the one you don’t want to burn bridges with!

      I’d prepare a script for talking about your ex-employer where you take the high road, and use that script whenever you speak publicly about them. But privately, be assured that they are the asshole

      And congratulations! You’re already finding you’ve packed some emotional baggage on account of this dysfunctional relationship but I’m confident you can toss it overboard.

      p.s. strong agreement that you should NOT keep doing tasks/support/etc for ex-employer after you leave. They’ll cope

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Honestly they will learn how to go on without you – but only if you are strong enough to let them. In a way this is like not covering up dysfunction for managers – they can’t learn what they don’t know they need to learn (and if you help after leaving, they won’t learn).

        1. anonymath*

          This is a good comment and I want to draw out a bit more: if you continue doing part-time consulting for them, etc., they will continue to lean on you for invisible work and then blame you for things. If you walk away they will be forced to recognize the work that needs to be done, which could very well bring the org to a healthier place. Don’t let them keep sweeping this stuff under the rug.

          1. MM*

            If it helps, OP, you can think of this not as doing a disservice to the organization but doing a service to your former colleagues and direct reports by not continuing to enable dysfunction.

            1. PNW bridge-burner*

              This actually is exactly how a former coworker framed it for me. The reframe does help, although I admit that I doubt my departure will change anything re: org dysfunction.

      2. Nonprofit Lifer*

        That manager, the former deputy director, is the one you should keep in contact with because he’s going to be the strongest reference you have there.

        When you’re in the position to give a professional reference you’ll want to use him because he can not only speak to your work, but he can also allude to both the facts that you deserved that promotion and also that you were right in departing. Something like “She was so good that when I resigned she was the obvious replacement for my position. However, I was very much relieved when she moved on because while she was completely capable, she was going to be horribly sabotaged by our sexist, dysfunctional leadership. It’s a credit to her that she accomplished as much as she did in that environment.”

          1. Kevin Sours*

            Also the peer that has been your advocate. He’s not going to stop being an advocate because you moved on. And while peer references aren’t as strong as managerial ones, they aren’t nothing.

            1. PNW bridge-burner*

              I think he’s hurt over my decision to leave – it really puts him in a tough spot. I have full faith that when he’s able to step back from the immediate aftermath and impact to his role that he will continue being a good friend and advocate.

              And yes, my former manager will be my future reference for all needs! Luckily, most of my role with the org was managing external collaborations, so I also have several wonderful references from those partnerships.

              1. disconnect*

                “it really puts him in a tough spot”

                No, his failure to plan is what put him in this tough spot. Sure, in his perfect world, he wouldn’t have had to make any changes, but the reason you’re leaving is not because you found something better, it’s because your organization had serious dysfunction built into the structure. He’s probably not a dumb person, but stupid is as stupid does, and he did pretty stupid.

                1. Observer*

                  No, his failure to plan is what put him in this tough spot

                  That’s not really fair – he’s not in any position to do any planning around this.

                2. Nanani*

                  out of nesting: Observer, he should have been planning for what happens when ANYONE leaves (or is hit by a bus or abducted by aliens or whatever).

                  It’s part of the job of being up top in an organization that you *checks notes* manage.

                3. Where’s the Orchestra?*

                  Replying to Nani – from my reading it sounds like before this promotion Advocate Coworker was at the same level in the organization as OP was. Yeah, you have to accept that people may leave, but it’s really hard to plan if you are below them or at the same level as them in the organization.

                4. Cheerfully Polite Grey Rock*

                  disconnect and Nanani – I believe that in this instance they are refering to the coworker who stood up for them, not the previous director who left.
                  Since they were not in a management position, it is not their responsibility to plan for people leaving.
                  It’s tough for the coworker because they went to bat for the LW and now they’re leaving, and it’s understandable that they might feel a bit hurt. It might be worth reaching out and telling them that you appreciated them standing up for you, and that you hope to stay in touch even though you’re leavingn.

                5. PNW bridge-burner*

                  I apologize, I was unclear. I meant that my departure put my peer advocate in a tough spot, as he’s now being pressured to step up and potentially change roles. He and I have been very transparent with each other about concerns, salaries, etc. in an org that has been resistant to transparency especially around salaries. I strongly considered letting him know I was interviewing early on, but decided not to just in case nothing came of it.

                6. PNW bridge-burner*

                  And yes, Where’s the Orchestra? is correct. Prior to my promotion, this coworker and I had been at the same level for 5 years. He was not leadership and did not have the ability or responsibility to plan for staff departures.

              2. MM*

                If you have the references and relationships you need anyway, I might gently suggest you sit down and think hard about one thing: why do you need to smooth things over, since you did nothing wrong? What even needs smoothing? Why is it necessary?

                I know it’s hard not to worry about it emotionally. But strategically, ethically, and even interpersonally (since it’s not like you’re going to be maintaining friendships with all of these people), it sounds like there’s actually not much you need to do. Your peer advocate, for sure that’s a relationship you should invest in healing and maintaining. But it sounds like everything else is pretty much shipshape, and the things that aren’t sound like things that don’t really matter outside the context of the sense of obligation to “your family” you’ve internalized.

              3. Deanna Troi*

                Nanani, I think they’re referring to the coworker, who would probably not be in a position to do any planning for this.

        1. ten four*

          Yes, this is the correct answer! Letter Writer: even if your leadership IS gonna hold a grudge forever you don’t actually need them. Your manager will be your reference.

          Another vote for NOT continuing to contract with them. Blame your new company if you have to – say that you’ve learned that legally you can’t. But don’t do it.

          Also: A+ job for getting out of that nonsense pile and I hope the new job is great!

      3. Observer*

        It’s telling that your manager kept quiet about your job interview.

        That was my first thought as well. Based on what management has been saying, there is absolutely no doubt that they would have penalized you for even looking.

      4. Nicotena*

        Honestly when I first got the pushback I would probably have said, “I told manager about this application” – although I guess that’s throwing her under the bus, but you had ALREADY done more than you were obligated to do, OP!!

        1. PNW bridge-burner*

          I actually did tell them that he’d known about it! I wasn’t too concerned about throwing him under the bus; he’s moved on to his new awesome job (also in government) with all the celebration and congrats the org could give him. I don’t think anything I said could damage his reputation in their eyes.

      5. learnedthehardway*

        Absolutely agree. I would not worry at all about whether you burned a bridge, OP – you didn’t. Your previous manager is the person you want as a reference, not the leadership of your current employer. And your former manger clearly had your back.

        As for whether you shouldn’t have taken the promotion – I am pretty sure that part of the reason you were of interest to your new employer is that your current company had the confidence in you to promote you. It might not have been stated that way or even conscious to them in their decision making, but I would bet it played a role in making you more attractive as a candidate – after all, what better reference can you get than that your candidate progressed with their current company, right?

        The leadership at your current organization will get over it. Odds are, they would do the same thing themselves, if in your situation. They don’t like the situation, but they never were going to like it. And if it gets brought up again, you can tell them that you had applied a long time ago, and had thought the role was a non-starter when you accepted the promotion. To your very great surprise, the new employer came back and wanted to hire you, and made you an offer you simply couldn’t refuse for a role that is ideally suited to your career ambitions.

        1. PNW bridge-burner*

          I didn’t tell the new org until negotiating the offer. I’m not sure they knew, since I applied weeks prior to the promotion (I didn’t even know my boss was leaving at that point). It felt like a can of worms that I didn’t want to open, especially after I learned that my boss had applied to that government org as well a few months prior and hadn’t received an offer.

    4. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      I just wish you had replied to their, you should have told us, with “back atcha.”
      The plan they made to shoehorn you into a position without your buy in and without leadership support (unconscious bias? no, he knows that he thinks women have less valuable ideas. He doesn’t care.) because it was easier for them, and then to spin it like they did you a favor…
      You didn’t burn a bridge, you ran from a dumpster fire.

    5. OhGee*

      First: congrats!
      Second: if your manager was correct that the ED was ‘less comfortable’ with you than with a male colleague due to gender bias, it seems likely that this would reflect the treatment you received here. My last job was at a small nonprofit that was great in some ways and hopelessly toxic in others, and particularly for female-presenting people (myself included). When I resigned, my boss told me he’d been planning to promote me (something he’d been bringing up for over a year with no action, during a time when our operating budget was growing, not shrinking), and he hasn’t spoken to me since. That organization is now falling apart for reasons directly related to its toxic elements. All of which is to say I’m sorry your ED handled this so badly — even if he was disappointed by your resignation, it’s the sign of a good leader to celebrate and congratulate good employees when they choose to leave. As Alison said, you did nothing wrong here.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        I also thought that gender bias is playing a large role. Likely any man that leaves is celebrated for their contributions and women are portrayed as betraying the company when they leave.

        1. Dasein9*

          Yes. The dressings-down OP received are infantilizing as hell. They used wording one might use when correcting an intern’s unprofessional behavior.

          1. PNW bridge-burner*

            Thank you for characterizing it like this – I’ve heard this tone from leadership in the past, and infantilizing is a good way to describe it. In some ways, it may be due to this being my first post grad school job, and I did not have a clear understanding of professional norms or behaviors as a 22-year old a decade ago. I can’t think of specific instances where I would characterize my behavior as unprofessional (though there were certainly a few times where I cried in the office early on in my career before I learned to hide it better and/or escape to take a breather. I’m a frustration-crier). But I do think they still see me as very young and in need of guidance. The ED is close to retirement age.

            1. Observer*

              I think you can pretty much dismiss all of his admonishments – I don’t think there is ANYTHING you could have done to keep him from being sexist and condescending to this “girl who is young enough to be his daughter that he was SO NICE to.”

            2. Dasein9*

              I was a frustration-crier too. Solidarity!

              (Only cure I’ve found is transitioning, which makes me suspect it’s more physiological than character-related.)

            3. Not So NewReader*

              Hang on to the fact that they chose wording designed to beat you down. They wanted to provoke feelings of guilt and shame in you. Think about this. How different is your thinking if you know that they chose wording to inflict guilt and shame on you, for something that is an ordinary business occurrence?
              1) They haven’t got many tools in their tool box. Who in their right minds thinks that employees will stay AND do good work because they were guilted and shamed into it?
              2) You ASKED for more time and they said “hurry up”. They got their speedy reply that they so wanted. They never stopped to realize answers can be speedy or be correct but not both.
              3) If they are stuck in the perception that you are young and in need of guidance, then it is time for you to move on anyway. They had all this time to “grow you” and clearly they think they failed at that.

              I know I have a tendency to say, “I put all this time in at this company but for WHAT?” Nothing is ever wasted. All that learning and all those experiences you had, you take WITH you. You get to keep those and apply them in new ways at the new place. Time will be kind here, OP.

              1. PNW bridge-burner*

                Thank you for this comment (and to everyone validating that this is not a normal reaction to a resignation!). I do honestly believe the ED is mostly reacting out of panic and worry for the organization. I keep telling myself that he doesn’t have malicious intent; he just doesn’t know how to handle this. But it is true that his emails and the phone conversations we’ve had feel designed to shame me for my choices and actions. Which isn’t really okay.

                I really like the idea that I’m taking the past 10 years with me. Keep the good parts and hopefully with time let go of the bad.

        2. LilyP*

          Yeah, I’m not positive about the timing from the letter but it seems like LW and her former manager gave similar notice periods (it sounds like he gave ~four weeks, I assume LW gave at least two and likely more because of the mention of negotiating a later start date), so I think the extreme difference in reaction there is telling!

          1. PNW bridge-burner*

            My former manager gave two but was pressured to extend to four. I gave two because I couldn’t negotiate the start date farther back (though I tried really, really hard – unfortunately one responsibility of the new role involves a time-sensitive task that can only be done in late-September through October). Plus I wanted a week off in between jobs to recover.

      2. PNW bridge-burner*

        Thank you. Yes, that was one of my biggest concerns about stepping up into the associate director role: I worried that I would not be able to do right by my projects team not due to lack of skill but due to lack of being heard/allowed to do the job. I’d dealt with this issue previously by always making sure that my male coworker and I were on the same page and saying the same things. But it felt pretty exhausting to consider moving forward.

        1. Kevin Sours*

          That’s bullshit and you shouldn’t have to do it. Having to do it is a huge sign that you need to get the hell out. Congrats on doing so.

      3. Ellie*

        Yes, I thought that too. I bet gender bias has a lot to do with how forgiving they were about leaving for another opportunity, and its likely why that they didn’t notice your contributions while you were there as well. Other people clearly did though, since one of them approached you about it.

        OP, don’t give them another thought. You can gently correct them if you feel like you’re being disparaged (“I told you as soon as I was able to”), but I suspect you would have had to work twice as hard for half the recognition if you’d stayed.

    6. seisy*

      Something I want to say is that what you experienced is depressingly common, in my experience. At least in the non-profit sphere. As someone who left an org that absolutely held grudges over people leaving- including doing everything they could to blacklist a hardworking former employee and make sure she wouldn’t get new work in the field- as painful as it is, please do not get too hung up on making sure you have unburnt bridges left.

      You did nothing wrong. You have a new job in hand, and therefore, you don’t even need their references. If at a later date you decide to leave the government job and need references from this role, reach out to the manager who left right before you did.

      Please do not lose even a second of sleep over this. Non-profits can be incredibly predatory this way, they use your love, passion, and dedication against you to try and paper over their terrible management. (And what you described is absolutely textbook bad management on their part.). It’s like that thing about the tyrants who can never fail, only be failed? Too many non-profits have management that absolutely see things that way. The org never fails, it never badly manages people or bungles things, it’s the individuals who just *didn’t believe in the mission enough* or weren’t dedicated enough, or were thoughtless or selfish, or whatever.

      They failed you (you gave them a decade of your life!! I am amazed you stuck it out, they should be grateful). You did not fail them.

      1. PNW bridge-burner*

        Thank you, that feels both really good and bad to hear. It’s tough because my immediate coworkers are all such amazing people and I have loved working with them.

        I’ve lost lots of sleep by this point, but will do my best to not lose more.

        1. Kevin Sours*

          You can best help them at this point by forwarding job opportunities that might come to your attention and providing referrals where appropriate. That place is toxic and they should be getting out.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        This explanation is well done, seisy. I am sorry you experienced this.

        OP, in terms of future references your best allies are the ones who have already left the company. Stay loosely in touch with the ones who have broken free.

        1. allathian*

          Yup, and this goes both ways! OP, let your former coworkers know you’re willing to be their peer reference when they decide to look elsewhere.

    7. Paul*

      If anyone burned a bridge it was the leadership in their response to you. Had you told them that you were looking at another possibility, they could have easily labelled you as a “short timer” and not considered you for any future promotions. This perception could last for quite some time.

      You were right not to tell your current employer you were exploring other possibilities. If the gov job didn’t pan out, you would be working as hard as always. Why would you (or anyone) jeopardize that on a “possibility”.

      And as you found out, companies in general (I am sure there are some exceptions to this) typically do not owe their employees any more than a paycheck and the benefits that come with employment. No matter how much they want to say they care, when the going gets tough, and when the money runs out, look out. The employees will be the first to go. The leadership may also go, but they generally have much better settlements that the regular employees. Don’t feel sorry for them. They are “Leadership” – they are paid to deal with this. If they can’t deal with you or anyone else leaving, they should consider hanging up their leadership hats.

      “You should of told us”. I can just about guarantee you that if leader who told you this found another job, they would not breath a word of it until they had a signed contract. And skip the part time contract. If they agree to that, they will just expect that they come first. Clean break. Enjoy your new job.

    8. SpecialSpecialist*

      Oohh…I’d be so tempted to not only burn the bridge but make it blow up in the most spectacular way after how they reacted. All of my respect for them would have been lost at that point.

    9. Becca Rosselin-Metadi*

      Yeah, everything Alison said. They’re are using the “we’re a faaamily” against you and using it to guilt trip you. Where were they when you were working hard and putting lots of hours and not getting commensurate pay? “oh, we’re a faaaamly! You don’t do the job because you need money! You do it because you love us!”. The family thing only goes in one direction and they’re trying to guilt trip you now that you’ve broken free from the manipulation. Don’t fall for it-and to reiterate: you did nothing wrong. You interviewed and got a new job that will pay you what you’re worth.Welcome to the real business world which is not like a family and where people make salaries and keep hours and get paid properly for them (usually! Not always, but it’s an imperfect world).
      Don’t let them manipulate and guilt you into working for them when you aren’t getting paid for it-that sounds like their modus operandi and you don’t have to do it anymore.

    10. emmelemm*

      First of all, you did nothing wrong, and their behavior is wrong.

      Second, I wouldn’t worry *too* much about burning the bridge, since it sounds like your former manager already moved on, likes you, and can serve as your reference for that job should you ever need it.

    11. My2Cents*

      My 2c: Seems like they strung you along for years, they had to have someone ELSE tell them about all the work you do before they realized it? Your old mgr explicitly told you they’d be unconsciously biased against you, probably from his own experiences over the past 20 years. As Alison says, THEY burned the bridge by not valuing you for what you’re worth. Now they’re finding out that ignoring your contributions for years has consequences and they’re upset, too bad. I’m sure you had to bite your tongue so you wouldn’t say “Gee, I never though you appreciated my contributions so I started looking for another job and found one. If they need help after you’re gone you can offer them your assistance on a contract basis for something like 10x-20x your NEW salary. Good luck with new job–sure you’ll be terrific!!!

      1. PNW bridge-burner*

        Thank you! The ED has not generally been involved in the day-to-day work; project details and implementation aren’t his strengths. So I think that much of my work has been invisible at that higher level – people don’t generally notice the work that goes into making projects run smoothly; they only notice when something goes wrong.

    12. KuklaRed*

      First, as so many have said, congratulations on your new position! I hope it is wonderful and rewarding.

      Second, could your soon to be previous employer be any more patronizing?? Seriously – they are going to give you lessons in professionalism? I don’t think so. I am very glad that you are getting away from that place. I think as you get away from that environment and get used to a larger, more actually professional organization, you will see how bad that place was for you. When we are in the middle of things like this, it is often hard to see how bad things really are. Wishing you all the best!

      1. PNW bridge-burner*

        Thank you! I hope a year from now I will be looking back on this time with clear eyes and a better perspective.

    13. Lisa*

      Congrats on the new role! You were professional in your approach and did nothing wrong. It is unfair for a company to continuously promote a family environment when they do not truly value you and your time. I always run from “family environment” because if I don’t associate with my own can’t, I most certainly will not with my work family. I remember my very first corporate role and my VP telling me that I was not there to make friends, I was there to do my job.

      Don’t stay and help…I did that at my last job of 13 years and even gave a 9 mo notice after working remote for a year from another state. It bit me on the butt and now I still hear how I did something

      Don’t stress

      1. PNW bridge-burner*

        Thanks! A 9 month!! notice – that’s so long. I can’t imagine working 9 months under conditions like these.

  2. Janet Rosen*

    A 100% +1 on AAM re the direct line from “we’re family” to the guilt-tripping and if it’s possible to be 500% re the not staying connected to “help them” – even if well paid – because you owe it to yourself and your new workplace to simply move forward with full attention and no old ties.

    1. Escapee from Corporate Management*

      I keep hearing “I do, and do, and do for you kids. And this is the thanks I get.”

      1. londonedit*

        Yep, it’s the classic ‘But I did all of this for you, and now you’re throwing it back in my face’, when no one actually asked for the ‘all of this’ in the first place.

        1. LKW*

          It’s more like “I did the barest minimum and spent more time telling you about what I did for you than actually fighting for what you deserve and now you do this to me?”

    2. PNW bridge-burner*

      The more I consider it, the more I agree. No matter how structured my boundaries are around keeping the two workplaces and tasks separate, the stress from one will unavoidably bleed into the other. I don’t think I want to begin my new role that way.

  3. Michelle Smith*

    Alison is 100% correct. I see no fault here and I’m sure you are sorry that the timing was bad for the organization, but you have to act in your own best interests regardless.

    1. Philly Girl*

      1000% agree with Alison. You did nothing wrong. It infuriates me that woman have to deal with this issue more than men. I think of women who are newly pregnant or planning on becoming pregnant when they are job searching and feeling like they need to disclose this information to potential employers. No they do not and no they should not! When it comes down to it, you are an employee of their organization. You are not family. And there isn’t an employee out there that isn’t replaceable. Find comfort in that. Their problem not yours. And shame on them for not being able to congratulate you on this new opportunity. They sound like the worst kind of work family.

      1. PNW bridge-burner*

        My direct report and coworkers at my level have been wonderful and congratulatory and supportive! This issue is only coming from leadership. But unfortunately, their comments are weighing more heavily on me than the supportive ones right now.

  4. PNW bridge-burner*

    Also, I emailed Alison a follow-up that I think was likely off-topic enough to not include in the full post. But I would very much appreciate commenter feedback on ways to respond professionally to the email I received yesterday morning from the executive director, copied below. Of note, I accepted the promotion on July 12 without a job description or salary in place because I understood the org was in a period of upheaval dealing with my manager’s resignation and they told me that the new salary, once settled on, would be back-dated to the official start date of August 1. They showed me a document with the new salary on August 5, but it was never signed.

    “(Finance) is preparing payroll now for August and we need to decide what rate to pay you. You and I have not signed your salary strategy. We were in the midst of negotiating what it would be if you accepted the position of Associate Director of XX at ORG going forward. We also had a verbal agreement that you would accept that position for the foreseeable future. You instead accepted another job. Do you think it is fair for us to pay you at a higher rate given that you are leaving the organization in a difficult position? Understand that this not only affects your August salary, but also your vacation payout.

    I have no interest in leaving our relationship with you in a sour place, but it seems that your breach of trust with the organization was significant in this instance, and rewarding you with a significant boost in pay that also affects your payout of earned vacation is awkward to say the least. Please provide me with your perspective on this issue. I am happy to discuss this with you if you wish.”

    1. Escapee from Corporate Management*

      So Dad is cutting off your allowance?

      Seriously, while they should owe you for what they committed, you may want to avoid the drams and move on ASAP. As in, instead of negotiating, move up your departure and join your new job earlier if they allow it. And as I said above, do not offer to do any more work for “the family” after leaving. It will save you from so much mental anguish.

      1. PNW bridge-burner*

        Thanks. Yes, I’ve already decided that the difference in pay is not worth the bad feelings a push-back on my part would create. Ideally my response would agree to their payout suggestion while making it clear that this is not appropriate or professional – if any others on my team were to leave in future, I’d never want to set a precedent that the org could treat them this way!

        1. Escapee from Corporate Management*

          LW, I see you are trying to do the right thing, but I think the right thing is to simply leave now. That note was amazingly insulting. If that is even close to normal discourse in your nonprofit, then you are in a truly toxic situation. If you want to set a precedent that will protect others, leave today and let your team know why.

          BTW, don’t worry about burning a bridge. Your leadership has already used tactical nuclear weapons on the bridge. Don’t help them clean up the rubble.

          1. PNW bridge-burner*

            I appreciate that and it is satisfying to imagine leaving today (along with a healthy dose of guilt since I haven’t completed all the documentation the projects team will need yet). Unfortunately, if I leave before the beginning of September, I won’t have healthcare for September – the benefits for my new role don’t kick in until October 1.

            1. Baby cobra*

              Re: health insurance —
              Depending on your need for health coverage (to manage a chronic condition vs. insure against catastrophic loss), you may be able to get by with COBRA (assuming your employer qualifies, which I think requires 20+ employees).

              COBRA is retroactive to the date of the qualifying event (job loss) and you have 60 days to sign up. So, if you didn’t need health insurance for anything ongoing, you could theoretically quit immediately and plan on not having insurance in September. BUT if something did end up happening in September, you could sign up for COBRA immediately and your insurance would be retroactive to the date you quit, so you’d still be covered for whatever ended up happening. (Not an expert on this, but I did this once when I had a 6 week gap between jobs and this is how my HR benefits friend explained it to me).

        2. Wisteria*

          while making it clear that this is not appropriate or professional

          I understand the need to make yourself heard, but don’t. They will *not* get the message. It *will* cause bad feelings. You are leaving them, let the Letting Go process begin now.

          1. Autumnheart*

            After 10 years of hard work and commitment on your part, they ask you why they should bother to pay you at the promoted rate since you’re resigning, and apparently making their lives harder?

            That’s it? That’s what you get after a decade? Girl, I would leave today.

        3. Malarkey01*

          This is absolute crap and completely unacceptable, and I’m very sorry to say this but your bridge is burnt and there’s no smoothing it over based on this development (NONE of it your fault). At this point I think you should ask for the salary for the job you worked (the fact that they are talking about payment for work YOU ALREADY PERFORMED is beyond shady and potentially illegal depending on your jurisdiction), and then end your relationship with them. You should not continue to help them nor serve out your notice. This is going to get increasingly toxic until you leave.

          I’m so sorry you are dealing with this and best of luck in your new position!

          1. PNW bridge-burner*

            Thanks for this; I also think it skirts the line of legality. Technically the salary & growth strategy letter for my new role was not signed, so I doubt I have the leverage to hold them to it.

            I am very concerned about how things may move forward from here, though still hold hope that the email above was written and sent in emotion and that further communications can be more professional. Unfortunately, if I leave before the beginning of September, I won’t have healthcare for September – the benefits for my new role don’t kick in until October 1.

              1. PNW bridge-burner*

                Possibly? I really, really wanted a week of break time between jobs though; I can’t remember the last time I had a full week off, and I’ve never taken a week of vacation without at least checking emails.

                I am also hesitant to bring this drama to a new employer. Since I was so adamant about pushing the start date back as far as I could, it feels like an abrupt turnabout has the potential to read poorly.

        4. animaniactoo*

          the clearest way – IMO – to make it clear that it is neither appropriate nor professional – is to not agree to it and not set the precedent that it has happened.

          The bridges are burning here, but you didn’t spread the lighter fluid, and you didn’t bring or set the match to it. This is top-down on them, and holding them to what they SHOULD do from a professional standpoint here is the only thing you can do. Not holding them to it is not going to make it any better or easier and could absolutely make it worse for others down the line.

        5. anonymath*

          “Thank you for your email. I accepted the position of Associate Director in good faith, without a salary or job description, because I knew the organization was in a difficult period of transition and I wanted to serve our mission. As of August 5 we had a salary agreement and I would prefer that you honor it.”

          1. Name Required*

            This right here with one tweak “As of August 5th, we had a salary agreement and I began acting in the role. I expect the organization to honor our agreement.”

          2. Controlling controller*

            +1 for this response. I work in nonprofit (just for context) and I would send this. OP, the more you internalize their weirdness and guilt tripping, the longer you’ll think you deserve this unhealthy treatment. You deserve to stand up for yourself, and I bet the work you’ll be doing for them during this time and August is that higher level. So you should be paid for it.

          3. have we met?*


            And if they refuse to honor it, then cut your notice period short. No point in doing the Associate Director job if they refuse to pay you Associate Director rates.

            1. Sasha*

              Email the new job, ask if you can start now. Then walk from this one. What are they going to do about it?

          4. Spero*

            This! With a healthy dose of “as you are aware, I have been performing the duties of the director at (aug 5 pay rate) rather than the (previous job) at (previous pay rate). I believe the common practice is to pay according to the role that one is performing and am surprised you feel it is fair to pay someone at (previous pay rate) for (director duties).”

          5. hbc*

            Yes yes yes! Really, how dare they talk about acting in bad faith when they won’t pay you the rate that they said is fair for the work that you’ve been doing?

            Oh, wait, they’re not even just telling you that you haven’t earned it, they’re asking *you* to say you haven’t earned it. They sound like an abusive parent making you go out and cut a switch.

            1. PNW bridge-burner*

              I think I wouldn’t have felt so badly about this if it had been a statement! It could have been “we’ve decided it’s fair to pay you at X rate” and I would have just rolled my eyes and let it go.

              1. misspiggy*

                I think it’s because they know they’re in the wrong legally so they want you to agree to this. Don’t.

                1. Carol*

                  Yeah, they are looking to pick fights for sure–but it’s a dumb fight to pick, because it’s not really technically legal, what they’re doing. And also can’t possibly save them that much money. I would absolutely calmly respond with some kind of fair pay for work thing–they agreed to a new salary and you did the role. It’s not a bonus they’re withholding–it’s earned wages. Not legal.

                  “To be in the clear legally, I need to receive the pay rate agreed on for the role I assumed.”

          6. tamarack and fireweed*

            This! I probably would end the email with a paragraph such as “I understand that professional opportunities and business decisions can rarely be scheduled in a way not to ever inconvenience one party, however much I wish it were otherwise. An expression like “breach of trust” doesn’t apply here. I wish you / ORG all the best for the future.”

          7. The New Wanderer*

            “If you find that you cannot honor our agreement, I must decline to work any further at a salary not commensurate with my efforts. This email serves as an updated notice that today is my last day.”

            1. PNW bridge-burner*

              That feels satisfying to imagine. Unfortunately, if I leave before the beginning of September, I won’t have healthcare for September – the benefits for my new role don’t kick in until October 1.

        6. Dasein9*

          If you do decide to just let this go because that’s what’s best for you, please consider letting your co-workers know it happened so they are aware of the precedent. You’re not the one setting the terrible precedent; your awful soon-ex boss is.

          1. PNW bridge-burner*

            I am definitely considering this. I would not want any of my coworkers to receive an email like this one.

      2. no dogs on the moon*

        this x100 — they are burning the bridge with you. under many any other circumstances i would say fight for the higher pay they promised, but they’re clearly going to dig in their heels and drag it out. i would just say something like ‘it clearly seems like the best thing for the organization would be a clean break, so i will accept (whatever your current rate and payout are) and will be moving my final day up to x, with no additional consulting work moving forward to reduce any inconvenience or confusion for the organization.’ and just make sure anyone you would want to use as a reference in the future is clear on the situation and knows how you’ve been treated over this (especially the coworker imo, because even when folks recognize things at an org are bad they can still think ‘well they wouldn’t treat me that way.’ no, they super will when they find a reason!)

        i really don’t think there’s a way any consulting or part time work immediately after your departure would be a pleasant experience for you and you deserve to start an exciting new opportunity with a fresh outlook and not have to bring any baggage from these other folks into a new job.

        congrats on the new job — time to focus on that 100%

        1. no dogs on the moon*

          also absolutely move up your start date, but if you can afford a gap give yourself at least an extra long weekend before you start so you can destress after all this drama!

          1. PNW bridge-burner*

            I was originally hoping for a two-week break since I understand that’s a common recommendation for burnout symptoms. Unfortunately that timeline wasn’t possible. But I will definitely be taking a week between jobs!

        2. CatCat*

          Yeah, on team end this now. They’re just going to keep manipulating OP during the contract work. OP is not the one burning this bridge. The execs have set it on fire and somehow expect OP to keep standing on it. Clean break and run.

        3. Daffy Duck*

          Absolutely you should cut ties cleanly. No, no, no consulting work for them after your last day! Move up your last day of work (if you can afford give yourself a mini-break before starting new job, you don’t need to move up your start date with new job to leave the old place). They are treating you horribly, you have no reason to impale yourself for their enjoyment.

          1. PNW bridge-burner*

            I would like to do this, but am concerned over the reaction I’d get and also won’t have healthcare/benefits for the month of September if I leave before Sept 1.

            1. allathian*

              Yeah, that’s not good. Can you cut your notice period short on September 2 and still retain your benefits for September? They’re acting in bad faith already, you’re not making it worse by doing that.

        4. Allegra*

          This wording is EXCELLENT, and I would especially agree about not consulting–these people are massively condescending and way out of professional norms, and they do not deserve any more of your time or energy. (also, @no dogs on the moon, I am listening to The Stolen Century as I type this and your username gave me a big smile.)

          1. no dogs on the moon*

            i’m about to start a relisten myself, can’t wait to cry about a family playing d&d!

        5. Smithy*

          Absolutely this.

          I too worked for a small nonprofit “like family” job where I agonized about quitting to the point about essentially coming up with more of a sob story when I quit vs a resignation (needing to relocate to be closer to an ill parent vs it being the right time to move on). I’m not going to say all behavior on their part was 100% professional, but ultimately was professional enough were I did remain as a consultant in a way that benefitted both of us and kept good references for the most part.

          I say all of this because while I thought I was going to come here to write “I’ve been here, it gets better” – they very much so didn’t do what was said in this comment. When it came to financial obligations they were entirely professional and respectful. Make sure you have a couple references and politely cut ties.

          Nonprofits make this harder emotionally because even though this can “just be a job”, a huge part of why we pick this work is for emotional connection to missions and projects. And that’s hard to leave. So find a way to mourn and grieve, but really do move on. This is very wrong.

          1. PNW bridge-burner*

            The grief is real. And so is/was the emotional connection to my project work. It really was a tough decision to leave, even amidst all of the reasons to do so. Thank you for validating that.

      3. AVP*

        Hoy crap. I know a lot of people are saying this but maybe a solid chorus will be helpful – these are bad people to work for. They are treating you badly, and normal organizations don’t operate like this. I’m glad you’re getting out, and remember that you’ll likely need to totally recalibrate your sense of how people treat each other at work after this doozy.

        1. PNW bridge-burner*

          Thanks. The chorus does help – as a friend said, “There are 300 internet strangers outraged on your behalf!”

          Most of my work at this org involved collaborations with external partners, so I am hoping those helped me retain a sense of professional norms (along with Alison’s blog, of course). I also expect an adjustment period in my new role with my new team.

    2. Rous*

      I don’t have a helpful strategy note but I’m commenting to say I’m so so so glad you’re getting out. The audacity of them to send that email! I saw it and was reminded of my own worst nonprofit work. Get paid what you’re worth and then flee.

      1. knitcrazybooknut*

        I was reminded of my crappiest boyfriend! “Well we didn’t like you anyway! So there!”

        1. MissBaudelaire*

          Gosh, right? They’re acting like they want to take their toys and go home, but the reality is–these are OP’s toys. And she’s entirely within her rights to take them and go home. And she should! I love the “Well, it seems to be for the best that I just move on and not do consulting for you.”

          I’m sure they’ll talk amongst themselves about “Look! She didn’t even help us after she left! Look at the mess she made for us! She really left us in a bind!” while also not realizing that they’re the ones that tied the knots in those binds.

          1. PNW bridge-burner*

            Yes, this is one of my fears – that stories will be spread where I am the villain in the narrative. The ED has many high-level regional connections. I struggle with people-pleasing tendencies and it feels like the scariest thing in the world to potentially leave with leadership badmouthing me and my work to external partners. I am not sure whether this is a valid concern or whether it is driven by anxiety.

            I hope in my new role I can build a solid reputation that counters any shade leadership might throw.

            1. MissBaudelaire*

              But there are some people you’re never going to make happy. If they throw shade (and they might) but the people they’re trying to spill the tea to know you–well, they’re gonna know the flavor is off, to mix metaphors.

      1. RJ*


        There was no “breach of trust”, and there is never going to be a good time to leave. I agree with the others – change your notice to two weeks and get out. You can’t save the relationship because ALL of the bad faith is coming from their end and it literally doesn’t matter what you do at this point. THEY set the bridge on fire – just do a nonchalant superhero walk-off and don’t look back.

        1. PNW bridge-burner*

          Ha, I am going to envision a nonchalant superhero walk-off at the end of every uncomfortable conversation from now until the end of my notice period! Thanks for that!

    3. Justme, The OG*

      If they’re not going to pay you the director rate then you don’t need to be doing the director job.

      1. LDN Layabout*

        This, exactly.

        That’s the response to this nonsense. You either do the new work at the new salary or you don’t do any of the new responsibilities at the old salary. End of discussion.

        1. MissBaudelaire*

          Agreed. They can pay director salary for director work, or they can pay previous salary for previous work. Choice is theirs.

    4. LDN Layabout*

      Your executive director is several words that would likely see my comment deleted if I used them here.

      This is a disgusting email to send to anyone and I commend you for being as calm about this situation as you are here in these comments.

    5. Vaca*

      Reply to the email and cc the entire organization:
      “This is exactly why I’m leaving. Best of luck hiring a replacement.”

      1. Kwebbel*

        Mmhmm, I’m pretty tempted to suggest this, too. Maybe with an added “to avoid any more room for disappointment on your side, I’m moving my end date to this Friday, and won’t be doing any further consulting work for you.”

    6. Redundant Department of Redundancy*

      Ooof, the tone of that email is just…wow.

      Do they know/expect you to be helping after you have left? Personally I’d go for something like ‘I completely understand your position, and as you don’t feel like paying me the money I’m owed I won’t be able to help after I leave’ (Or something more/less polite).

      Although that’s only if you don’t really need the money – if you need it I would try and fight for it, but I imagine it’d be difficult and stressful!

      1. Bostonian*

        Yup. They’re refusing to honor the agreement on salary because they’re butt-hurt that you left. You no longer have to honor your agreement to help afterwards.

      2. PNW bridge-burner*

        They expect me to be helping after I leave. I told them I had tentative but not final approval from my new org to offer transition support on projects that were not a conflict of interest.

        They want me to participate in the hiring process for a new staff person, but I don’t know how they envision that working given that they plan a 3-interview process that will not start until after I leave the org.

        I am lucky enough to not need the money; I only wanted to offer to smooth the transition because I knew the reaction to my resignation would be bad. Two senior staff leaving within a month of each other is bad optics. And I was the only one at the org with my particular skillset – a skillset which the org’s project work is based around.

        1. identifying remarks removed*

          I’m late to the conversation but if you’re reading this OP please make a clean break and do not consult/help interview or anything else. The management are like an octopus – they will just keep using multiple reasons to draw you back in. They have shown their true colours with the letter about your salary and multiple other comments. There is a risk of your new job being sabotaged by them if you are weighed down and being pulled back to deal with their ongoing drama. I’ve dealt with something similar when I moved departments and it was exhausting. Because I was just an email away people didn’t stop and think they just contacted me to fix stuff. Focus your skills and energy on your new job and enjoy the llama drama free environment.

        2. Despachito*

          In that case, you could possibly use their horrible e-mail as a leverage for NOT helping them afterwards (as if “you did not honor your promise and did not act in good faith, do you really think it would be fair to request anything from me after that”?)

          (Or at least say this for yourself, as I understand it would not be tactical to say it openly, but to help you mentally support your decision. I see in you the hesitation of a responsible and fair person who is assuming that of course the other person is as responsible and fair as them… but s/he isn’t. I think it is not an uncommon pattern to see a fair person honestly questioning all their – correct and professional – decisions, while the unfair one never questions their unreasonable behaviour and tries to use the former’s honesty against them. I hate, hate, hate it. ).

          Also, am I correct that they expect you to do all the post-exit counseling for free? Please, please, please, don’t (and even if they pay you, don’t).

          1. PNW bridge-burner*

            Oh no, I will definitely not be consulting for free! I don’t know what their expectations are, but I would insist on negotiating a fair rate if I were to engage in future consulting.

        3. Kevin Sours*

          Have you ever done hiring before? Because part of your role in an interview is to sell the candidate on the position. How are you going to navigate the question “is this a good place to work?”. It’s going to be a hell spot ethically to be involved in.

          If they needed you that badly, they should have worked to keep you.

    7. greycat*

      So they think you should have been bound by a verbal agreement, but they aren’t bound by the verbal salary agreement? Convenient. I would be tempted to respond and let them know that if I am/have been doing the higher level of work then I should be paid as such. If I am to be paid less, then I will return to the lower position.

    8. Two Chairs, One to Go*

      Wow that is such a passive-aggressive email. Maybe just aggressive. Get out ASAP.

      I’d absolutely ask for more money – if a number had been discussed you can lean into that. You were managing 5 additional people and doing the work. Plus they should pay whoever takes the position next fairly. Can you have a discussion then respond to the email to document what you agreed upon? That email feels like a trap. Ignore any reference to you resigning or a vacation payout and stick to fair market value for the role.

      But maybe other commenters have better ways to deal with it.

      1. PNW bridge-burner*

        One issue is that I feel as though I am being told very different things by different members of the leadership team. This org has always had this issue – it’s like playing a game of telephone. At this point I’m feeling a preference for email communications just because then I won’t be told A and later castigated for not doing B.

        1. Sara without an H*

          Yes. Keep records of all interactions with your leadership team. They are clearly acting in bad faith. It’s (past) time to start documenting their asses off.

        2. Pocket Mouse*

          And make sure to forward to or bcc your personal email so you maintain access to this documentation after they shut off your email access. Wow and oof.

          1. No Tribble At All*

            Yes! In six months when someone comes whining at you, you want to be able to look at these emails to remind you why you got TF out of there

      2. PNW bridge-burner*

        To my knowledge, while they plan to hire in the near future, it will not be an associate director hire but instead a lower-level role. I believe they are offering my coworker a promotion to an associate director role. The salary range of the draft lower-level job description extends significantly higher than what I was paid at a more senior level of that role over the past few years, which doesn’t feel great.

    9. Jellyfish*

      Whoa, what whiny manipulators! You should be paid the higher salary from the date you started the higher job. Your pay is a business arrangement, not a gift from them.

    10. many bells down*

      “Breach of trust?” No. You didn’t steal money or falsify paperwork. You got a new job, a perfectly normal thing that people do all the time. That is not a “breach of trust.” Alison was exactly right when she said they’d penalize you if you told them you were looking, because that’s what they’re trying to do now.

      1. MissBaudelaire*

        Right? That’s why it’s not family, it’s a business!

        So many people use “We’re a family,” to mean “Tolerate our abuse, the way families should!” Well, if I don’t tolerate that kind of behavior from my family, I darn sure don’t tolerate it from my bosses/coworkers. Later, haters.

      2. Salymander*

        Exactly. Bridge Burner, you have not breached their trust. FFS. They breached your trust, though. For sure!

        These folks remind me of my mom’s boss of about 30 years. It was a nonprofit, affiliated with a church. The boss and her lackeys ran that place like a medieval fiefdom, complete with serfs to bow and scrape and be grateful for their (poorly paid) jobs. Employees were expected to give 6 months notice when quitting, but when they did give notice they were immediately escorted off the property. People were fired seemingly at random, and with no hint that it was coming, often for such heinous crimes as “looking unhappy” or “smiling inappropriately.” References for former employees were uniformly bad, in a hinting-at-inner-evil sort of way. Asking for a raise, if it didn’t trigger instant dismissal, at least opened up the employee to lots of wailing and gnashing of teeth and sighing about how they were like a faaaaamilyyyyy. Because you can’t put a price on family.

        Bridge Burner, I am really glad you are getting out. If you stay too long at an organization like that, it starts to warp your sense of what is ok and appropriate for an employer to do. My mom got sucked in and didn’t escape for *decades* and I am glad you won’t be doing the same. Maybe rethink the whole consulting after you leave idea, eh? Don’t let them manipulate you into doing anything you don’t want to do. You did nothing wrong, and your bosses are tools.

    11. Persephone Mongoose*

      So instead of just burning this bridge, they decided to nuke it from orbit instead?

      Do not give them another moment of your time or energy. They have officially lost all goodwill with you. Get out get out get out.

    12. Golubs*

      You should have zero interest in ever working for these people again, but they must think you’re a doormat if you’re answer won’t be “I think you should pay me the absolute maximum for the work I did.”

      If you were doing the work related to the new position in August, you should be paid for the work in August. I suppose if you hadn’t actually started anything and you think they’d make your life hell, you could consider the loss paying for the pleasure of getting rid of these people, but you are owed what you were promised.

      1. PNW bridge-burner*

        I think they expect me to feel guilty enough about leaving that I won’t stand up for myself. They’re almost right, in that I would consider the lost pay to be a small price to pay for not dealing with this kind of email. It feels awful to hear these things from people I’ve worked with for 10 years. If only I could guarantee that by agreeing to the retroactive salary I would get professionalism for the rest of my notice period.

        1. Telgar*

          You can’t buy their professionalism. They don’t have any. Do things the way that is best for you; do not expect to be treated fair or professional by these people, no matter what you do.

        2. Kevin Sours*

          You are only going to get professionalism for the rest of your notice period if you demand it. I mean you said you wanted to weeks off between jobs. There is still a way to get that…

          “Treat me with respect or I can just go home now”

    13. A Poster Has No Name*

      OMG. Between this and the “That situational awareness is something to think about as you move through your career.” comment, really, this guy and eff the eff of. FFS.

      There are times to be concerned about burning bridges, but this isn’t one of them, IMO. This dude sucks and it’s likely that people know he sucks so even if he does have a bad opinion of you that likely will work in your favor rather than the opposite.

      Yes, it’s fair that you get paid the new salary for the time you put in working with your new responsibilities. It’s petty and disgusting that he would even ask you that.

    14. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Have you been doing the higher level work?

      “First, I would like to officially end this narrative that I breached the trust of the organization. I at no point misrepresented my situation, and at the time of taking the Associate Director position did not believe I would be leaving in the near future. While I have greatly enjoyed my decade of service at [org], you must know that people eventually move on and the timing is rarely ideal. I understand you feel inconvenienced, but this is a natural end to our business arrangement and not a personal slight against you or the organization.

      I have been working in [x role] since [date] and do believe it is fair I get paid out for the level of work that entails. I have left thorough documentation, I have offered a transition strategy, and I have dedicated ten years of solid work to the organization and earned the position I was promoted into. All of that warrants the salary I’ve been granted for August.

      Thank you for sharing your concerns and I look forward to a cordial resolution on the matter”

      1. Bamcakes*

        As beautiful as this is, I’d resist the urge to craft something scathing and satisfying a d just speak to an employment lawyer about what their legal liabilities are. Don’t get even, get paid.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          I believe the emphasis on nothing being signed was the employer posturing the fact they have no legal obligation to pay the OP – and it’s very possible that’s true, depending on the strength of verbal agreements in their area. So I’m not sure a lawyer could do much.

            1. PNW bridge-burner*

              I did send the email to a friend who is a lawyer. She thinks it’s not crystal clear but since nothing was signed it’s likely legally defensible on their end.

      2. Respectfully, Pumat Sol*

        Yes, this is the most perfect letter. Politely but firmly calling them out on their gaslighting, manipulative tactics. LW get what you’re owed!

      3. NJ Worker*

        Great response. I would leave out some of the softening language. “I do believe it is fair I get paid” -> “I am due the agreed up on salary.” Don’t allow room for opinions, it is a matter of facts.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          I intended it as mirroring language as opposed to softening but you’re absolutely right.

      4. Blue*

        Based on your other comments, I would send a version of this email cc the other leadership you have been in contact with as well as HR. Save your own0 copies of these communications as well as written performance reviews in case they ever try to give you a hard time via references. Best of luck, OP. I hope the new role allows you to use your skills without all the emotional manipulation!

        1. PNW bridge-burner*

          There is no HR at this org, which may be one of the reasons this is all happening. Thank you; I hope so too! My new team seems really great so far and they are excited about my work in a way that feels new and wonderful.

      5. Wisteria*

        While they certainly deserve this response, or something stronger, the most likely outcome will be more trauma for you, LW. They are not going to respond with, “By Jove, how right you are and how wrong we were!” They will probably just respond with more of the same, which will just drag out unpleasant interactions.

        I would stick with just the last line and start focusing on the future.

      6. PNW bridge-burner*

        Wow, this is beautiful. I will definitely use some of this language – especially the first two sentences. Thank you so, so much for this.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          I’m glad it helps! Good luck – and please take to heart everyone’s responses that you are absolutely doing nothing wrong and your leadership sucks.

      7. Home Away from Work*

        This, or something similar. Is he suggesting they breach their verbal agreement to pay you more for a job that you’ve been doing in good faith? If you want to concede anything, you *could* offer to take your vacation payout at your old rate.

        I would suggest you be gracious, professional, and firm. They owe YOU for your years of hard work, and for the increased workload you’ve been doing with the promotion? It sounds like they are taking it VERY personally. This is a business decision. You need to do what is right for you, and you are doing your best to leave them in the best place you can.

        PS- use your old boss for a reference for this job in the future.

      8. Keymaster of Gozer*

        This I like. Also, this whole ‘we won’t pay you based on your work, but how much we feel you can be ‘trusted’ because feelings’ stuff is one of the most unprofessional things I’ve encountered.

        The kind of firms that try and make out like you have an obligations to stay with them and never, ever, leave are always places that are run badly or treat their staff like absolute cack.

    15. HQetc*

      Wowow what an obnoxious letter. Ugh. I think you’d be in the right to just say “ef you. pay me.” But I also know that’s a lot easier to say from the outside. I’m also a non-profit employee, so I understand that it can feel a lot less straight forward than that. One middle way, maybe: could you ask for the raise for the month of August, but take your vacation payout at your previous rate? For myself, I could see that feeling “fair” because I had earned the vacation days at the prior rate. Again, I think you’d be completely justified in just taking the higher rate across the board, especially given the context that you’ve been going above and beyond for so long, as corroborated by your coworker. But that may be a way to still take a bit of a stand, but also offer something back. (Other than your years of hard work, which apparently are peanuts. All the eyerolls to them for that.)

      1. PNW bridge-burner*

        That is a compromise that I’d considered! It does feel fair to take vacation payout at the prior salary since I’d accrued those days in the prior role.

        It doesn’t account for all the vacation time I’ve lost due to consistently exceeding my vacation cap and also working at least a little bit on all my vacation days for the past two years…but it feels like pointing that out would come across as bitter. I feel bitter when I say it! Taking vacation and enforcing boundaries around vacation time is difficult for me, so in part the fault is on my end for that.

        1. knitcrazybooknut*

          I’d bet a zillion dollars that a higher-than-reasonable workload contributed to your not taking vacation time. I have been there, obviously. A decent organization and good manager would have supported you in taking time off, and a good org/mgr combo would have encourage you/kicked you out the door occasionally.

          Yes, I encourage you to set boundaries for vacation time in your new position! Any organization worth their salt will know that rest time = more productive and happy you.

        2. drpuma*

          “Taking vacation and enforcing boundaries around vacation time is difficult for me, so in part the fault is on my end for that.”

          If you’ve been working at an org that is supportive of its employees taking vacation, encourages folks to use their vacation time, and where there’s a culture of not contacting folks who are OOO? Sure, I can see part of the fault being on you.

          Assuming this org guilt-trips people for taking vacation, throws up obstacles in terms of “required” events or seasonal occurrences, there’s a culture of not hesitating to contact folks when they are out? Not taking all of your vacation days is definitely not just a you thing. Make sure you get all of the payout you are entitled to.

          1. BubbleTea*

            Yes, my organisation makes a point of reminding people to take their accrued leave, and it is a discussion point for every manager catch up and quarterly review. I’ve never felt like I can’t take time off.

        3. Keymaster of Gozer*

          Not your fault mate. If it’s the kind of place that pressures you into thinking that you *must* be working 24/7 or tries to make out like any time not spent in the office is stealing from the company then it’s natural to end up with a disordered notion of holiday leave. Especially in a ‘family feel’ organisation.

          As long as you don’t keep that viewpoint for the rest of your career you’re fine.

          1. PNW bridge-burner*

            Thanks, I’m planning to try my best to have healthier vacation boundaries at my new job. Other staff have taken vacation time this summer – the ED was out of the office for most of August and is on vacation this week. (This is one of the main reasons I did not have a signed salary letter, and also I think one of the reasons he is reacting emotionally to my resignation – I ruined his vacation.) Prioritizing vacation time is a skill I need to improve and isn’t necessarily reflective of the org’s vacation policies.

        4. I should really pick a name*

          It’s fine if you want to make that compromise, but please don’t tell yourself that it’s fair.
          A pay increase means your vacation payout increases.

          It feels like you’re going out of your way to accommodate them when you’re fully in the right.

          1. Pocket Mouse*

            Right- it’s not compromising, it’s settling (in the vein of legal settlements, to avoid a longer, more intensive and exhausting process). Something acceptable, but not something fair.

            And OP, it is totally okay to find this resolution—or any resolution other than pay at the rate you mutually understood for the work you did in fact do, and payouts at the most recent salary in accordance with standard practice—unacceptable.

        5. HQetc*

          Ugh, it %10000000 sucks that they are putting you in the position of deciding what to do hear instead of just paying you like they said they were going to! It’s a real jerkbrain move. Most of the rest of this comment is me working out my own stuff, but in a way that is maybe related to some of what you are dealing with, so here comes a novel that you should skip if you wanna!
          I totally think, if you can afford it, there can be a sense of peace in taking the “high road” (not sure that expression really fits here, but it’s a close as I can get) just to not ever have to second guess whether you were reasonable. But I also recognize that the reason that feels good to me is because of a whole bunch of cultural conditioning about being “reasonable” and “nice” and “kind” and … everything else that female presenting people are “supposed” to be. So, I guess what I am saying is, I know by doing that (taking the “high road” to my own detriment for the sake of peace of mind) only confers peace of mind because fighting against that conditioning is tiring, and the “high road” give me a way to short circuit those conversations, both with myself and with others. But I also know that I have limited energy for those fights, so sometimes acknowledging the conditioning, and then taking the conditioned actions anyway can be a form of self care for me. Ideally, in the long run, I’ll get better at pushing for my own interests without that taking a boatload of mental energy, but sometimes I just need to meet myself where I am.
          Also, I think the struggle to enforce boundaries and take vacation are part of that same conditioning, so there is maybe (probably) less blame on you than you are taking. A good culture wouldn’t have required “setting boundaries,” they would have said “you’re almost at your cap, so take Mondays for a while, and a week or two soon. Lets talk about how to move work around to make that possible.”

          1. PNW bridge-burner*

            Your novel is exactly reflective of the things I’m thinking! I’m glad to have company in the struggle to determine what I need/deserve versus what feels good/is rewarded because I’m acting in culturally-pressured ways (not actually glad, because it sucks, but I’m sure you know what I mean).

        6. Recruited Recruiter*

          Depending on your state, this might not be legal. In Colorado, vacation must be paid out at the rate of pay upon termination of employment, not the rate of pay the at which the vacation was accrued.

          1. PNW bridge-burner*

            I admit that I’m not sure what the laws are in my state. My guess is that it’s not worth spending the time/money to find out because although the email was framed with “what do you think/how do you feel”, my response likely won’t change their decision.

        7. Kwebbel*

          I don’t think that your needing to work during your holidays is your fault! This company had guilt tripped you into feeling like you had no choice. And if your situation is anything like mine was, I just know that the only people at the org who seemed not to notice that you weren’t getting a proper, logged-off holiday were exactly the same people who stood to gain from you being 24/7 on during your holidays.

          These people will make you feel like it’s your fault for not enforcing boundaries, when the guilt trips they would have laid on you if you had probably would have felt like too much to bear. It is their fault, not yours.

        8. fhqwhgads*

          Is the vacation payout in question mandatory based on state law, or just policy in this job? Where I live it wouldn’t be legal to pay out the vacation for the rate at the time it was earned. It has to be for the rate at time of departure, so you may want to verify that before suggesting it as a happy medium. It may be no more legal than him giving you a retroactive pay decrease for the month you already worked. I’m sure he’d love to agree to more variations of illegally paying you less, but no need to offer one up.

          1. PNW bridge-burner*

            I believe vacation payout is not mandatory in my state, but I admit I am not 100% sure.

    16. Gone Girl*

      I wonder if it would be helpful to use Alison’s advice here as well? As in “ Of course if I’d known, I would have shared that with you but at the time there was nothing to share. I understand the timing was bad, but I had no idea about when I accepted the promotion.” It was not a breach of trust. And reiterate how it *is* fair that you be paid for the work completed given what was verbally agreed upon.

      You ought to be paid for the work you’ve done under the new promotion, but unfortunately, if nothing was signed I’m not sure what leverage you may have.

      Otherwise I say cut your losses: don’t do the extra part-time work for them and let them keep their money.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        I wonder if it would be helpful to use Alison’s advice here as well? As in “ Of course if I’d known, I would have shared that with you but at the time there was nothing to share.

        I wouldn’t. It’s out of line for them to expect that, and there’s no reason to indulge their ridiculous little fantasies. It will only convince them they are in the right.

    17. Hannah*

      How about something along the lines of

      “I accepted the role in good faith, assuming that I would be able to continue forward along the path I’ve spent the last decade building here. I accepted your promise for a salary increasing in that same good faith. It is unfortunate that things did not work out as planned but I did honor my promise for the last XX time period and believe that it is fair that you honor your promise as well”.

      Again – as Alison said, you really shouldn’t have to do that. But lean into the disfunction a bit longer to get what you are owed / a good reference and then move on.

    18. Rainy*

      I really wonder if it’s even legal for them to retroactively demote you so your payout will be less.

      1. PNW bridge-burner*

        Since nothing was signed, unfortunately I don’t think I have much recourse. But I’m wondering the same thing! And regardless of legality it feels icky.

    19. serenity*

      I’d love to hear Alison’s response to this, which is not off-topic and related to your letter very strongly.

      The patronizing tone you received from the ED in the quote you provided in your letter seems to have now morphed itself into a strategic effort to pay you less for your last few weeks in your role. I don’t know if it’s worth it to you to push back strongly or to receive an employment attorney’s input (as you noted, a mutually signed agreement on your new salary at the time of your promotion hadn’t happened) but this conduct from your ED is reprehensible.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I actually hadn’t seen the OP’s other email yet (I write posts ahead of time and it looks like it came in yesterday) but I don’t think it’s off-topic at at all. OP, were you doing the work of the new role for that whole time? If so, you should get that rate of pay. One option is to respond with something like the language above and “Re: the pay, I think we need to follow the law, not base this on what I or anyone else decides is fair, so my understanding is the org will owe me $X in my final check.”

        1. No Sleep Till Hippo*

          I’d be DEEPLY tempted to add something like “The law requires that I am paid at [agreed-upon rate] for the duration of the time I was performing higher-level work. To do otherwise would put the organization at legal risk. That situational awareness is something to think about as you move through your career.”

          But then again, I’m feeling *extremely* petty on OP’s behalf. :)

        2. PNW bridge-burner*

          Thanks, Alison, I got that email first thing yesterday morning, so it was very recent.

          I officially started in the associate director role Aug 1, though had taken on most responsibilities in July through my former manager’s transition out. I’d been fulfilling some of these responsibilities since last fall, while in my previous role, though only in terms of project-related responsibilities and not staff management (aside from my one direct report). I make that point only for context so that you’ll understand when I say that I’m not sure whether I was doing the work of the new role? There are no other associate directors at the org, so I have no comparison, and 90% of the AD job description that I drafted and leadership approved were tasks I had already been doing. The only real change was managing more staff and more contracts than I had been in my previous role, and a month isn’t really enough time to know whether I was doing the job well.

          Since nothing was signed, legally they might be right that I didn’t officially have a new salary. I did ask a lawyer friend (not sure what branch of law) and she thought it’s likely defensible to pay me at the lower rate.

    20. Cleo*

      Wow. This is a master class in passive aggressive manipulation.

      I’d be so tempted to ignore the manipulative crap and just say yes, I’d love to talk about this with you. Does tomorrow at 2:00 work? Me and my lawyer will be there.

    21. Escaped a Work Cult*

      Well, first, if you need to scream into a pillow over the insanity that this response is, I recommend it. The goal is to go at with a clear mind because I absolutely think this is a bonkers response. Holy crap. Second, communications must be in written documents for this response. Backup the emails. Third and I encourage input from others on this point, I believe a polite reminder of 10 years of service would be a great jumpstart response. I also feel that there’s a freaking swarth of labor issues here but I’m not a lawyer nor do I want to touch them due to my lack of knowledge.

      I think I need to lay down from that email, what the hell is that.

      1. OhNoYouDidn't*

        Yes, saving the emails is super important. I’d probably be CCing my personal email account on all correspondence from here on out. If this ends in sudden termination, LW could lose access to their email account.

      2. PNW bridge-burner*

        Screaming into pillows. Check.

        I passed a draft response (using language from these suggestions) around to a couple friends to make sure it was professional. I’m at the point where I’m not trusting myself – I don’t think I’ll have a clear mind about all this until it’s far in the rearview mirror.

        This is great advice, which I guess I should expect from “Escaped a Work Cult” – you’ve clearly had similar experiences.

    22. Bamcakes*

      They are trying to get you to say, “oh, just don’t worry about it” without them having to actually do it, in case they create a legal liability for themselves.

      To be honest I’d talk to a lawyer, because I would want to know how heavily you can lean on that verbal agreement. All the passive aggressive emotional blackmail stuff and the implied legal terminology can piss off: I would focus purely on finding out what their legal liability is.

      1. MissBaudelaire*

        Ooooh, that’s an interesting idea. I did once have an apartment complex try to get me to sign off on me owing them money for damages I didn’t do. I asked for proof of the damages, they didn’t have any. I just said “Hmm, interesting. Before I sign off on anything, I’ll have to chat with my lawyer.”

        I got a call back so fast my head spun. Wouldn’t ya know it, I didn’t owe them a penny!

        OP, just saying “Before I could ever agree to take less money, I think I’d better chat to my lawyer about all that.” could make them see you’re not a doormat and you’re done playing around.

        They’ve kicked and screamed. They’re mad you’re leaving. You get it. Sorry they feel that way. But your pay is not a debate or a discussion, it is your rate of pay.

        1. Ori*

          Yep. Had a landlord try to withhold my deposit. “Not a problem, clearly the next step is mediation. Which holding company did you place our deposit with?” Got it back the next day.

      2. PNW bridge-burner*

        I asked a lawyer friend and she thinks without a signed salary they likely have a legally defensible position for paying my previous rate.

        I’m also not sure the monetary difference is worth the effort and bad feelings I generate by pushing back. Not just bad feelings on their part, also the horribleness I will feel if I get more emails like this one.

    23. I should really pick a name*

      Honestly, I think this is kind of useful.

      There is not point in trying to mend fences with someone who would send this email.
      Instead, you can confidently make decisions that benefit you with no concern as to how it effects them. You aren’t going to get anything useful out of someone who would write this.

      Part ways completely once your final day comes up. Do not provide any support after that point. It won’t improve their opinion of you.

      1. BRR*

        All of this. With this type of attitude I would definitely say the higher pay regardless of anything else. I consider it pain and suffering. But if you’ve been doing higher-level work for the past month or two say that your pay should be the higher-rate to match what your responsibilities have been during that time period.

        “I have no interest in leaving our relationship with you in a sour place,” I would strongly disagree with that statement. They seem to have an intense interested in leaving your relationship in a sour place.

        And do not provide support after you leave. I know it can feel personal when it’s a nonprofit but a) it’s business and b) they’re terrible to you personally and professionally.

        Congrats on the new job!

        1. knitcrazybooknut*

          In my mind, their tactics closely resemble those of the letter from a few days ago.

          “I have no interest in leaving our relationship with you in a sour place.”


          “I have integrity!”

          Both are statements proven to be inaccurate, but by stating this, they put the letter writers in the awkward position of arguing about someone’s intentions/character, instead of addressing the facts of the situation. Add the soupcon of guilt and you’re back in gaslighting territory!

          1. BRR*

            *Screaming internally* they are similar! Like, just because you keep saying it, doesn’t make it true.

        2. MissBaudelaire*

          Yeah, “I have no interest in leaving our relationship with you in a sour place.” seems to translate to “So make me feel better about this whole thing. And paying you less makes me feel better. Let me hurt you so I feel the score is settled.”

    24. Anhaga*

      Wow. That is obnoxious. Have you been doing the director-level work? If so, the response needs to be something along the lines of, “I’m a bit confused by this message. I have been doing the work of the new position since X date and was under the impression that the higher pay was to compensate for that more complex and increased workload of the work I was doing. Is that not the case?”

      I would also be tempted to add a “If you don’t want to leave the relationship in a sour place, please pay me appropriately for the level of work that I have been doing,” but I don’t know how salty you’re feeling. I would WANT to be that salty, but I don’t know if I’d have the guts. That statement would help to put weight on the idea that they sure as heck better be aware that THEY are burning a bridge with YOU. They do not have all the power in this situation, moral or ethical or otherwise, even though they seem to think they do.

    25. HalloweenCat*

      Since you can’t reply by sending him a picture of your raised middle fingers, I’d start by contacting your new employer and moving up our start date if possible. I would then reply to your ED and say
      “I think it is definitely ‘fair’ to be paid the director-level rate and vacation, given that I have taken on the director’s responsibilities for almost a full month without the appropriate compensation. I can only assume the organization is in a dire financial situation for you to insinuate I shouldn’t be compensated at the new rate so if you’re unable to honor my salary and benefits for the duration of my notice period, I’m happy to cut it short.”

      1. PNW bridge-burner*

        That feels satisfying to imagine.

        The org is currently in the best financial position that they’ve been in since I started there. A little bit of salt in the wound, since I’ve seen the org budgets and I know that the pay difference is small potatoes in comparison.

        I’ve secured nearly $300k for the org in project grants over the past year and yet I’m not worth an extra $1500.

    26. Mememe*

      After reading this from the ED, I don’t think you’re the problem. They’re in charge and could easily state that your pay will remain the same for the reasons they stated. Instead, they send a snarky email. Seems like they are really taking this personally and I really don’t think there’s much you can do to fix them.

      The phrase, “… given that you are leaving the organization in a difficult position?” really sums up the harsh truth- you are inconveniencing them by moving on to a better place. Any manager worth their weight is happy for someone who moves on to better opportunities, even if it will be tough to replace them in the short term.

      If you have the fight in you, ask for more money. Or stay at your pay rate and work toward wrapping up projects and transitioning out. If you maintain your current pay rate, I’d be firm in not taking on new projects or bumping up your last day. Passive aggressive emails with phrases such as “sour place and breach of trust” don’t bode well for your director’s ability to conduct themselves in a professional manner. Again, you didn’t do anything wrong. It’s not your responsibility to manage their emotions (or deal with their unconscious biases).

      I completely agree with everyone else though- don’t stick around for contact work. This place is incredibly toxic. Plus, you have the awesome job. You don’t need the ED for a reference. Your previous manager and others in the org will vouch for you.

    27. Jasmine*

      Well it was the foreseeable future; you didn’t foresee being offered the better job! If the ED thinks this is a breach of trust, I’d hate to see what the reaction would be to someone stealing IP or physical items.

      “Do you think it is fair for us to pay you at a higher rate given that you are leaving the organization in a difficult position?”

      Yes, yes it is fair. They need to pay your the rate for the job you’re doing for the duration that you’re doing it. That’s how jobs work. I don’t think I could hold back on rolling my eyes while writing a response to this.

    28. TiaTeapot*

      Congratulations on getting out of there soon!

      I’m not even remotely qualified/experienced in this, but I think your approach should be along the lines of “well, this is the work I’ve done during this time period, and it’s within the {whichever, I assume new?} job description, so despite formalities & based on our years together I think that’s what I should be paid”. Absolutely no idea how to do that formally or effectively, though!

    29. Shannon*

      Sure is a nice reference I have for you. Be a shame if anything happened to it …

      Add my congrats to the pile. Nothing but the best for you!

    30. animaniactoo*

      You should not follow what EvilMe™ has to say here, but take away whatever pieces you wish:

      “I think that I’ve been doing the job I was promoted to – after neither being credited or rewarded monetarily appropriately for the work that I WAS doing for quote some time – and that yes, I should be renumerated for what I have actually done. I do not consider it a breach of trust to not give you information that you might have used AGAINST me over a situation that might never have happened. I DO consider it a breach of trust that you once again failed to credit my accomplishments or work for this organization when you announced my departure. Or maybe it wasn’t much trust, since I kind of trusted you to continue in the vein of not giving me credit.

      If you don’t want this to end on a sour note, I suggest not quibbling over a financial issue that should have been settled before I even received the promotion, and trying to retroactively punish me for daring to consider that it may not be in my best interests to remain with this organization after all the years in which my contributions were not recognized, despite recent moves to do so. You may have heard the phrase before “too little, too late” “

      1. PNW bridge-burner*

        I’m using these phrases in my cathartic unsent email version. Thank you!

        Yes. I feel like I keep forgetting that it’s not normal to be offered a new role without a salary and job description already in place with the offer. It’s probably not normal that I’ve always written my own job descriptions either.

    31. Wisteria*

      They wanted your verbal agreement to be binding, but they don’t want to be bound to their verbal offers. Hm.

      Elsa that ish–let it go. Respond graciously with something non-committal like, “I understand your position, and I am sure you will come to a decision that is fair.” Then just accept whatever they decide and Let It Go, Let It Go, Don’t Give a Sh!t Anymoooooore….

    32. Asenath*

      You might, just for the sake of peace, not request the additional salary and leave, but if I got an appalling letter like that, my initial response would be to write a scathing reply addressing especially the term “breach of trust”, and any misinterpretations of the events. I hope I would have the maturity to not send it. What they should have done is decide whether they were going to pay you on the old or new scale, and notify you in about two sentences: “Your remaining salary and benefits (on your original pay scale/on your offered new pay scale) will be. Please let us know if you have any questions.”

      I suppose the mature thing for you to do now would be to write “I am willing to accept salary and benefits for (dates) on (orignal/new pay scale). And I don’t think I’d do a minute’s worth of contracting for them after I left.

      1. PNW bridge-burner*

        Yes! I would have felt way better about a straightforward email notification like that.

    33. animaniactoo*

      Also – if you had ANY remote thread of a question in your mind about whether you should have stayed and tried to make the AD position work.. this should quite firmly put that to bed. This is a narrow escape. Congrats on the new position, I hope it works out well for you.

    34. Pyjamas*

      It’s probably not worth the hassle. I like to imagine you walking out today but it’s more prudent to keep your head down and
      get safely into your new job. Then you can ignore any future emails from them and block their number

      1. PT*

        I would write an email or two that politely states the case. “I have served in X capacity since Y date and expect to be paid the salary commensurate with that role, as we agreed in our meeting(s) on date(s) (list dates.)”

        Then, keep the copies as documentation and file a back wage claim with the state after you leave and let the state figure it out. They have no HR so they will have a hard time defending themselves. Places without HR never keep the right documents and the state can tell.

    35. ENFP in Texas*

      Holy smurf. WTH is wrong with the leadership over there that they feel that is professional behavior?

      If you’re financially secure, I’d be tempted to torch the bridge altogether and say “Keep the increase, and consider this my official two week notice.”

    36. Rusty Shackelford*

      “I am confused. I was filling the Associate Director role starting on July 12, expecting to be paid an amount you decided was fair, but you now feel I shouldn’t be paid a fair amount for the work I did? Do I understand you correctly?”

    37. Former Llama Herder*

      That’s absolutely wild and awful. I’m not an expert and I’m sure other people with more expertise than I will comment, but that’s sh*tty and I’m sorry you’re in this position.

    38. Bagpuss*

      WOW. That’s massively unreasonable.

      I would be inclined to respond to say something along the lines of:

      “I was surprised and disappointed to receive your e-mail.

      I was offered, and verbally accepted, the promotion on 12th July. You [or name of the relevant person] confirmed that my new salary would be $xx, backdated to my official start date of 1st August.
      While a formal document was not signed, there was a verbal agreement and I have carried out the additional work in reliance on that agreement.

      Naturally, I expect that agreement to be honored both in my August salary and in the payout of my earned vacation.

      I have of course been charring out my work in the new role, including preparing for a smooth handover for my successor, since 12th July , in good faith and relying upon your confirmation of the new salary. At no time was there any agreement relating to the length of time I would remain in the new post, nor was I aware at that time either that the Board wished to seek such a commitment or that I would be offered an alternative role elsewhere.

      I agree that it would be sad if, after my years of service to this organization, the end of the relationship was soured by a failure on the board’s part to honor their commitment, or any underpayment in relation to my agreed salary or holiday entitlement.
      The salary of course reflects the the work I have been carrying out since accepting the role on 12th July, not any payment in advance for any future work, and is of course unchanged by the fact that I will now be moving on.

      For the avoidance of doubt, I am at a loss to understand your reference to any ‘breach of trust’ on my part. I accepted the new role in good faith and at the time I did so, I had not been offered, nor was I anticipating being offered, a new role elsewhere. At no time have I acted in breach of trust and I find the suggestion that there was any such breach to be offensive. I am however willing to accept your apology in this regard with a view to avoiding any ‘sourness’, as you suggest.

      For clarity, as soon as I received a firm offer of employment I notified you , and I have gone above and beyond to minimize the impact on the organization of my departure, including negotiating a later start date with my new employers, and agreeing a longer notice period, to allow the board the maximum time to select a replacement. While I appreciate that my departure is inconvenient is is not in any way unusual or unprofessional and I trust that you will not allow a normal business event overshadow my decade of hard work ”

      Personally I might point out to them that ‘breach of trust’ is a very serious allegation. I am not sure whether it might even be seen as defamatory given that it tends to cover things such as disclosing confidential information etc – but maybe not in the initial email!

      Equally, if they don’t pay you, take advice bout whether you are entitled to the money – I should have thought they would at the very least be liable to pay you t the higher rate for the period from 1st August up to when he sent this e-mail, even if they can legally demote you for the rest of your notice period. He seems hell bent on burning this bridge.

      1. HarvestKaleSlaw*

        I honestly don’t think the LW owes them explanations and should not engage with the crazy. That just validates the premise. Don’t go back and forth with people like this about whether you are trustworthy or loyal or honest – that’s a bridge to nowhere. Just keep it simple, “I accepted this promotion in good faith and expect to be paid at the agreed-upon rate. I’ve enjoyed my nine years at Buttwerefamily Partners and wish you the best going forward.”

        And if they ask for consulting work – which hopefully they will be too ashamed to do at this point – it can be a professional, but pithy version of “haha no busy bye.”

        1. Tiny Soprano*

          Exactly. The org is already determined to be sour about it, LW may as well get the full payout and then nope out of there as expeditiously as possible without worrying about their feelings.

    39. CommanderBanana*

      Oh my god. You taking another job was not a ‘breach of trust.’

      What a glassbowl. I’d be tempted to smear this all over Glassdoor. You may want to consult with a lawyer, but honestly, I’d probably consider it worth the loss to just cut ties with this crazy train.

      1. Dino*

        This is the rare instance where I’d support walking out today and bringing all documentation with you. Fuck em.

    40. HarvestKaleSlaw*

      Jesus Christ. And you worked for these bozos for *nine years*? Honey, you deserve a medal.

      1. HarvestKaleSlaw*

        Also, can I just mention that this guy seems to demand the loyalty you would give a cult leader, while displaying the charisma of a sleep-deprived toddler with a bad case of pinworms.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*


          Ohh to clean phone screen now. I should have known better than to read this thread and drink at the same time.

          But seriously, reasonable parents do not tolerate behavior like this from their children in public – why in the world should you tolerate it from your soon to be former boss (who you’ve said you don’t even need for future references!!).

    41. LKW*

      I mean, if you really want to make this a fight – I suppose you could, but while they are awful but legally nothing is signed so while they are truly burning this bridge, I suggest you take the higher road here:

      Dear Pain in my Butt,

      Thank you for reaching out concerning the change in pay status. As you correctly note, nothing was signed; given the lack of paperwork and my resignation, I do not see any merit in adjusting my pay at this time.

      Please take a long walk off a short pier.

      – as a side note I put in a passive note that there was a verbal agreement but no paperwork, but that seemed to put you back in the firing line, so I removed it.

    42. Tenebrae*

      I just wanted to add my voice to the people saying don’t continue to work with them after you leave. They have given you the perfect excuse. “Since you feel I have breeched your trust, it doesn’t make sense for us to continue our professional relationship” or something along those lines.

    43. The Prettiest Curse*

      When you escape these people, do NOT under any circumstances go back to help the. It’s clear from this email that, if you go back to help, you will end up trapped in an endless vortex of guilt. Don’t do that to yourself, no matter how bad you feel!

    44. seisy*

      Frankly, there is no good response IMO. Personally, I would be tempted to just walk away at that point. If you’re in the US, giving two weeks notice is a courtesy, not a requirement most places.

      Like, I know I sound kind of harsh maybe, but you’re so worried about not burning bridges and they’re standing there with dynamite. Having been in your shoes – or close enough to it – I really think the only way you win is not to play.

      In my final job in the non-profit sphere, the org I was working for was incredibly petty about me (and others) leaving. Your story is giving me flashbacks. I bent over backwards to accommodate them – gave them six weeks notice, did all the stuff – and it didn’t matter. They were mad and petty regardless of what i did, and the more I attempted the placate them, the more unreasonable they got. There was little they could do to harm me long term, as they had another employee who had left, since I was about to leave the country to do a PhD.
      But they sure tried. Among other things, I found out I was un-invited from the staff work day up at the summer camp (which was just all manual labor, clearing brush and similar) by finding out I had been removed from the carpool the morning of. I was told “this is a team building exercise, and as you don’t want to be part of the team…” They told all my regions/volunteers that I was leaving because I was “finally going back to school to finish her bachelor’s”. I had a master’s degree and was going for a PhD. They knew this, my volunteers knew it, so I don’t even know. Like, that’s how absurd they were. There were a number of traditions for leaving employees, and they made a huge point of not doing them for me. (Some of my coworkers filled in the gap). Thing is, the org had terrible retention. In the five years before I started there, the 24 person org had had 84 people cycle through. The only thing that slowed it down was the great recession. By the time I left, it was “only” 30 people in 3 years. I’d been there for three years, outlasting the last four people in my role by a mile (the longest had only been 13 months). Didn’t matter. That just made them angrier, I guess? If I had to put some psychology to it, it was as if by being more “exploitable” all along, when I finally showed some backbone, it made them angrier than people who had bounced before.

      So I just think that from what you described, your org is not unlike mine. If you can walk away now, I would. You have nothing to gain, and they are going to spend every moment trying to put the screws to you.

      1. PNW bridge-burner*

        Ugh, your previous org is horrible and petty. I’m so sorry you had to go through that.

        This org has only 10-15 employees but great retention – my former manager was there 20 years, as have been 3 of the offsite staff. The ED has been at the helm for nearly 12 years, I’m the next in terms of longevity with my 10 years, and the next-longest staff after me at 5-6 years.

        I wonder if what you’ve experienced is true for me too: I’ve let things slide for so long that when I finally stand up and put myself/my career first that I get more backlash. Another friend’s theory is that leadership realizes deep-down that they haven’t been professional and instead of examining why, they’re lashing out.

        1. Bagpuss*

          I think your friend is right – also – people tend to assume that others will behave in the way that they themselves would. So it may be that your boss is assuming that you deliberately misled him because that’s what he would have done, so he is getting his retaliation in first.

    45. paxfelis*

      Don’t answer it. The only answer they will accept, and that grudgingly, is your abject humiliated pleading and agreement that you, in fact, deserve to be treated like garbage. Just finish out whatever time you have left there, and leave with your head high.

    46. Persephone Mongoose*

      Wow, what a horrid email, that’s beyond the pale. Congratulations on the new job and getting out of there. This is further confirmation that you’ve made the right decision.

      1. PNW bridge-burner*

        Thanks, it really is. I’m disappointed and surprised in leadership. Not surprised they reacted poorly in general, but surprised at the contents of this email specifically.

    47. SpecialSpecialist*


      I’d make it easier for them by thanking them for their time, saying it would be in our mutual best interest if I left immediately, and walking out the door right now.

      1. ten four*

        Yeah, I’d do this too. Or if you don’t want to walk, like, TODAY you could say “I’m surprised and disappointed that you are unwilling to honor our agreement. (insert AAM’s legal answer from upthread)

        I think it makes most sense for me to move up my end date to X (make it, say, end of August), and I don’t think there’s any value to me continuing as a contractor. I wish you the best.”

        And people have been talking about “burning a bridge” up and down this thread, but I really want to reiterate: you don’t need this bridge. What you need is one good reference from this job, and you have it in your old Manager. There is literally nothing they can do to you – they have no actual leverage, just guilt and arrogantly bad behavior.

        In my experience, the best way to deal with bullies like this is to give ZERO GROUND. Don’t negotiate, don’t explain, don’t attempt to compromise, don’t attempt to placate. Just state what you can/can’t do with regard to your rate of pay, last days, documentation, and contracting, and refuse to pick up the buckets of passive aggressive/actual aggressive bullshit they are handing you.

        I would bet money that they will treat you better when you stand up for yourself. But even if they don’t, there’s literally nothing they can do to you – you’re already out! And you’re 100% in the right, they are acting like petulant toddlers, and they can kick rocks.

        Whatever you do though: cut them off as soon as you can. An absolute NO to the contracting, and I’d shorten my transition time if you have enough money to float you to the next paycheck.

        1. PNW bridge-burner*

          Unfortunately, if I leave before the beginning of September, I won’t have healthcare for September – the benefits for my new role don’t kick in until October 1.

          I like the idea of clearly stating my boundaries and expectations and ignoring whatever else they throw my way (or at least trying to ignore it). I’ll keep that goal in mind moving forward.

      2. Delphine*

        I agree. I would cut my notice short and either request an earlier start date with the new job or just take a small break.

    48. Paul*

      “We also had a verbal agreement that you would accept that position for the foreseeable future. ”

      Exactly, the foreseeable future was what was foreseeable. You had no idea you were going to get the job offer you received (i.e. it was not forseeable). When the foreseeable future changed, you informed them.

      (I would save this email, and when you cool off (because by now I can only imagine that you are a bit hot under the collar) send a copy to the CEO of this non-profit and ask him or her if this is how they treat all of the “valuable family”, then suggest that if they don’t treat you fairly, pay you want you earned, then you may have to take legal action.

      I know this will probably not be something other commenters agree on, but they threw the first hardball at you, If they want to play hardball, then batter up.

      Other than that, I agree with the comment that you should quote back to them your August 5th start date, and that you expect to get paid for performing the increased responsibilities. If they refuse, then you have every right (unless specified in a written employment contract) to just quit right then and there.

      1. PNW bridge-burner*

        We don’t have a CEO, only the ED and the Board of Directors. It would really blow things up if I forwarded this to the board – or, worse, they might support the ED. I’m not close enough with any of our board members to have a sense of which way things would go. I’m still considering what I should do.

        The board is insisting on an external consultant to do my exit interview, because they are spooked that two senior staff left within one month of each other. So I will likely give a copy of that email to the consultant.

      2. PNW bridge-burner*

        We don’t have a CEO, only the ED and the Board of Directors. It would really blow things up if I forwarded this to the board – or, worse, they might support the ED. I’m not close enough with any of our board members to have a sense of which way things would go. I’m still considering what I should do.

        The board is insisting on an external consultant to do my exit interview, because they are spooked that two senior staff left within one month of each other. So I will likely give a copy of that email to the consultant.

      3. PNW bridge-burner*

        We don’t have a CEO, only the ED and the Board of Directors. It would really blow things up if I forwarded this to the board – or, worse, they might support the ED. I’m not close enough with any of our board members to have a sense of which way things would go. I’m still considering what I should do.

        The board is insisting on an external consultant to do my exit interview, because they are spooked that two senior staff left within one month of each other. So I will likely give a copy of that email to the consultant.

    49. Lizy*

      Oh for the ever-loving…


      Respond: “I accepted the promotion in good faith, without a job description or salary in place, because I understood the organization was in a period of upheaval, and that the new salary, once settled, would be back-dated to the official start date of August 1. Since I accepted the new role and salary, I would assume ORG would also want to operate in good faith and follow through on the agreed-upon salary. I did accept the position for the foreseeable future; at the time, I did not foresee being offered this other opportunity.

      I, too, wish to leave our relationship intact. Per (whatever law it is – I’m sure Alison has mentioned it in the comments already), we cannot retroactively change employees’ pay. I’m sure ORG wouldn’t want to breach the trust of its employees, and I trust ORG will proceed with the agreed-upon salary of X”

      yahoos… good riddance and good luck.

    50. Becca Rosselin-Metadi*

      Wow, more manipulation and guilt tripping as a way to get out of paying you. They definitely don’t care about leaving the relationship in a sour place if it means they don’t have to pay you for it.
      You have two choices: press them to honor their agreement or let it go and just take the lesser payment. It may be worth it to take the lesser payment just to get rid of them and then you won’t feel guilty when you can’t help them because you’re too busy at your new job.

      1. PNW bridge-burner*

        Yes, I think it is worth it to let it go. It’s really not that much difference in pay (which sucks even more – it makes it feel as though the purpose is to punish me rather than to do what they actually think is fair/reasonable).

    51. learnedthehardway*

      LOL – what nerve of you to progress your career!!
      Personally, I would be responding as follows:

      Dear ED,
      I’ve reviewed your email and am writing to push back on your perception that I have betrayed the organization or yourself. I have made a business decision for my career. When I accepted the promotion, I did not have the other opportunity in view. The timing was not ideal, but it is the right decision for me. I appreciate the promotion you offered in recognition for the contributions I have made to this organization, but am confident that you will find a candidate who is passionate about the mandate and role.

      In terms of compensation…(decide what to put here)

      Personally, I would probably say that I want it reflected that I hold the director title in the HR records, and that is the over-riding factor. But – do you have an HR manager / director? I would discuss the email with them before getting back to the ED. It’s likely that that person will have some perspective on what the compensation issue entails. Whatever you do, DO NOT let them take back the promotion / title. That’s more important than the compensation, but you may have to insist on the compensation as it would be entailed that you move up to whatever band they pay their directors at. Hope that makes sense.

      1. PNW bridge-burner*

        This org does not have HR.

        I’m not sure whether the promotion/title matters at all – I was only in the role for a month, so don’t see much justification for (e.g.) including it on my resume.

    52. Calyx Teren*

      I recommend contacting an employment lawyer. Not to sue, but so that they can guide your communications with your previous employer. They can draft emails for you and advise you on spoken communications. I’ve done this in (far) lesser situations in the past and it helped SO much to know that I was expressing myself in the best possible way and not saying something that would come back to bite me in the butt.

      Also, the e.l. can advise you if they are doing anything illegal.

      Trust me. The expenditure is worth it. Get a couple of references to find a good one and call today.

      Also echo all the advice about not continuing any further work for the old company. It will only hurt you in the context of your new employment. You could end up sabotaging your bridge to a better future by trying to tend to this bridge to your past.

      1. Calyx Teren*

        Ps. They don’t even need to know you have engaged an employment lawyer to help you navigate your exit. That can remain completely private unless it is in your interest to reveal it.

    53. Paris Geller*

      Oh, *expletive* that.

      Yeah, this bridge has been burnt OP, I’m sorry to say. But you’re not the one who burned it. I think you should consider this up in flames, use your former manager (the one who knew about the application you had out & who had your back) as any reference you need going forward, and fight for the pay for the higher level work you were doing.

    54. Despachito*

      What the … wait, I must pick up my jaw from the floor.

      How dare they? What the eff is wrong with them?

      There is a lot of excellent advice below, I am not able to give any because I am overwhelmed with rage just reading this piece of passive aggressive BS.

      It is THEM who breach YOUR trust and sour the rest of your relationship! And to boot, you even did not want to take the higher position, it was THEM who insisted… what a manipulative bunch of diminutive Richards!

      However, I think that it is worth to remove all the emotional BS and look at the hard facts. If you did do the work corresponding to the position you were promoted to, you absolutely deserve to be paid for it. If they refuse to do so, I’d think you are within your rights to revert back to your old position (you are not going to pay me for more responsibility, I am not taking it).

      I also think it would be perfectly understandable to decide this is not a hill you are willing to die on, let them stuff the money they owe you, and concentrate on your new role and on getting out of the dysfunctional place ASAP.

      I loved some of the letters below which calmly stated the facts and showed the utter stupidity and meanness of what they wrote you. Please know that it is not you who burned this bridge, it was THEM.

      Good luck in your new role, and never look back. I keep all my fingers crossed for you!

    55. Sleeve McQueen*

      What a bunch of petulant babies. I would be sorely tempted to not only burn that bridge, but all roads leading up the bridge and any boats capable of making the crossing.

      “My perspective on this is that you’ve chosen to take a routine occurrence, a resigning employee, very personally and wish to punish me financially as a result. Futhermore, you seem to view my leaving the organisation in a difficult position as a character flaw on my part instead of a failure at a leadership level”.

      I’ve had employees leave after I’ve gone to bat for them and pushed for a pay rise or whatever, and it is reeaally annoying and inconvenient for me.

      But I also understand that they don’t owe me anything and they need to make the decisions that are best for them and their careers and would never begrudge them for it unless they were spectacularly unprofessional in the process.

      1. CatBookMom*

        “My perspective on this is that you’ve chosen to take a routine occurrence, a resigning employee, very personally and wish to punish me financially as a result. Futhermore, you seem to view my leaving the organisation in a difficult position as a character flaw on my part instead of a failure at a leadership level”.

        Well said/written. However, much as I would like to have said that, when leaving my last job, some of the earlier, softer advice may be the best choice for this person. Because of her longevity, etc.

        I’ve done the ‘tude that you’ve written about, and felt righteous about it; (revolving door in a very small professional job, abusive partner, yada.) I was not quite this brusque, but close, during the 2nd ‘abuse the departing employee meeting’: “You think I should give more than 2 weeks notice because my leaving is difficult for you? That you need more time to adjust? Gosh, I’d think, as many people as have left in
        5yrs, you’d be more used to people giving just 2 weeks’ notice.”

        FWIW, I was the first person in 5 yrs to leave and stay in public accounting, the job was just that toxic, that most departing people left public accounting for private industry work. And then it got nearly-to-lawsuit levels, because of what they wrote letters to clients about me, about smaller offices.

        1. PNW bridge-burner*

          Thank you. That wording from Sleeve McQueen (thank you and great name!) is accurate to my perspective but I doubt it would be received well.

          One of my main fears is what they will say about me to external partners. I’m not so concerned about the partners I worked directly with, more so about the ED’s higher-level regional contacts. I didn’t expect to have to worry about this. But it feels as though their responses to me have been unpredictable and varying amounts of unprofessional, so I’m left with little confidence that their informal communications to external partners will suddenly be professional.

          1. misspiggy*

            External partners would find it a red flag about your organisation if they badmouthed ex staff members. I’ve seen it happen in the nonprofit world and people usually start quietly backing away from that organisation.

  5. Detective Amy Santiago*

    I’d say the best thing you can do to prevent this bridge from being burned is to focus your remaining time there documenting EVERYTHING that you have done since your former supervisor left. Make sure there are meticulous notes and processes in place so the transition is as smooth as possible.

    That being said – I am curious about what sort of conversations you did have with them surrounding the promotion. You said you felt like you had no choice but to accept it. Did you interview? Did they post it? Or was it just assumed that you’d step in? I wonder if there was an opportunity for you to negotiate picking up the duties on an “interim” basis if you weren’t sure that you wanted it (regardless of this outside opportunity). Obviously you can’t change things now, but something to consider for the future or for others reading this.

    1. PNW bridge-burner*

      It was not posted and I did not interview for it. Actually, the interview process for the new role is the first formal interview process I’ve ever gone through – which is one of the reasons I was so wonderfully shocked to get a great offer! I give credit to Alison’s book & blog.

      I was told that initial discussions among leadership included the possibility of hiring an external person into my previous manager’s role. One person on the leadership team told me she wanted to hire someone older because of the optics of promoting an early-30s person (me) into an associate director role. However, the executive director told me in our first conversation about the promotion that he didn’t see hiring externally as an option. I’d also had a side conversation with my male coworker, who told me that if they had decided to hire externally rather than promote me that he would have started looking to leave. (He has been an amazing advocate over the past few years, and I am really grateful for his support and his polite but consistent insistence on giving me credit for my work.)

      I told each member of the leadership team during my conversations with them that I didn’t feel I had a choice but to accept it. I believe I used that exact phrasing.

      I wish I had thought of negotiating an interim position! I will keep that in mind for the future.

      1. LKW*

        Let’s break this down a bit:

        Optics of hiring someone in their 30’s = we don’t have confidence in you
        Hiring externally is not an option = we don’t want to pay market rates

        Your male coworker sounds like a great person.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          Agreed – it sounds like the want an indentured servant rather than an employee – and thought they had molded you into that. Please get out (keep in touch with former manager and current advocate coworker) and accept that the bridge and surrounding fields have been burnt, and the fields sowed with salt – but all of that was done by them because you had the “temerity” to decide I want what is better for me professionally and personally.

          1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            Sorry – autocorrect got the better of me, that opening should have read: “it sounds like they wanted”

      2. Detective Amy Santiago*

        Oh WOW and I just read your comment above about the email they sent you. This place is an all around disaster. It’s good that you’re getting out and, honestly, unless they are very influential in your field/locale, I wouldn’t worry too much about burning the bridge.

        Do you still have contact info for your former boss? If so, make sure you keep in touch with them in case you ever need a reference who can speak to your work about this org.

      3. Spero*

        I think this really clears up any guilt you may feel. You did not ask for this director job. The only job you asked for is the one you are leaving for. You gave them no false information about your plans and intentions because they NEVER ASKED if you wanted the job or intended to stay, they simply forced you into it. They can’t get mad at you for ‘unmet expectations’ when you NEVER GAVE THEM ANYTHING TO EXPECT except grudging acceptance of the plate of sh*t they were forcing on you.

      4. Observer*

        One person on the leadership team told me she wanted to hire someone older because of the optics of promoting an early-30s person (me) into an associate director role. However, the executive director told me in our first conversation about the promotion that he didn’t see hiring externally as an option. ~~~SNIP~~~

        I told each member of the leadership team during my conversations with them that I didn’t feel I had a choice but to accept it. I believe I used that exact phrasing.

        Don’t feel bad that you didn’t negotiate an interim position. It’s unlikely that you would have gotten something useful out of it. On the contrary, they would have pressured you to do the work, with even LESS (if that’s possible) commitment to paying you what you are worth and giving you credit.

      5. Astor*

        I told each member of the leadership team during my conversations with them that I didn’t feel I had a choice but to accept it. I believe I used that exact phrasing.

        I want to highlight this, because this CLEARLY was you telling them you had concerns about accepting the offer! They just didn’t want to hear it, because even before you quit they weren’t treating it as a collaboration. Please keep this in mind in regards to that email claiming you breached their trust!

        Good luck with a clean break and a wonderful new job.

  6. No Tribble At All*

    They had the gall to tell you that you needed to give them better situational awareness, after they were *aware* of the *situation* of you being overworked and under-recognized? They shoehorned you into a promotion, told you they didn’t expect you to succeed (because the executive board responds better to Manly Men), and then made a whole brouhaha about your promotion? And then they’ll have to walk back all their PR because you left? That’s on them. Even a completely happy employee might start looking after a big shakeup and moving into a role they didn’t expect or necessarily want. They played stupid games, and they won their stupid prizes. The prize is a wave of public departures. Maybe they should reconsider the environment that makes people want to leave back-to-back.

    OP, you didn’t burn a bridge. The bridge was crumbling beneath you slowly, and you finally ran across to the other side. Congrats on your new job :)

    1. Elenna*

      For what it’s worth (not very much at all), I think the part about “this will be harder because sexism” was from LW’s old manager who has now resigned, who seems like they were probably not the source of the toxicity.

      OTOH, everything else you listed was true, as well as them sending a jaw-droppingly ridiculous message asking to not pay LW at the higher rate for their promotion (yes, seriously, see LW’s message above). LW, this is very much not on you, feel free to go forth and forget about this company of evil bees.

      1. PNW bridge-burner*

        Yes, the part about unconscious bias was a parting warning from my former manager. I heard later from the ED that my former manager also told him that “ED needed to listen to [me] better” in his final conversation with the ED. For what it’s worth, ED did follow that up by telling me he would try to listen to me better.

  7. Jellyfish*

    LW, it looks like you worked hard in this letter to be neutral-leaning-toward-self-decprecating, and the leaders still come out looking like jerks to me.

    You worked very hard for little credit and did not complain. It took a third party saying something before leadership even pretended to pay attention.
    They promoted you without really involving you because they needed someone to fill a hole, and they knew you’d do it.
    Then you dared to make a decision for your own good instead of the org’s, and they threw a tantrum.
    Now you wonder if it’s your fault?
    Nope. Maybe if they’d treated you well from the beginning and/or respected your call for time with the promotion, they’d have more of a case.

    Now it appears they’re mad you won’t be around for them to order around and take for granted anymore, not that you’re leaving them in the lurch. Best of luck with your new job!

    1. HarvestKaleSlaw*

      Absolutely. This is beautifully put. I think once the LW is out for a year or two, they will start to see this with this perspective.

    2. OhNoYouDidn't*

      They’re acting like an abuser does when the abused starts exerting control and leaves the situation.

      1. Becca Rosselin-Metadi*

        Exactly-they’re acting and out and trying to manipulate and/or guilt her into working for them for free, even after she’s moved on to a new job!

  8. Cleo*

    I don’t have much to say LW except CONGRATULATIONS! I hope you really thrive in your new position and that you are well appreciated and supported. And that you can use all of the skills and experience you gained at your old job to build a really great career in healthier workplaces.

  9. Kay*

    Alison is right. You don’t need to consult or help them after you leave. Making a clean break will be better for your mental health and allow you to focus on the new job. Most people who leave jobs don’t stay around to help afterwards.

  10. J.B.*

    Hi letter writer, let’s see “benign sexism” – wanna bet how much of this is you are a woman and not expected to look out for yourself? I would do some smoothing over but bluntly you’re going to the state. There are no guarantees with any job but if you buckle down and do the new job well and are accessible to people who reach out to you in your new role, you don’t need this past employer. You will build your own network likely with a lot harder hitters in it. Good job, especially on negotiating with a government agency!

    1. OrigCassandra*

      This is where my mind was going also. You didn’t need those chumps to land the job you landed. If you do well in that job, you’ll pick up folks you can use as references so that you won’t need those chumps even if it should become time to move on again.

      At most, I might put some focus on professional involvement and networking in the next couple-three years, again to build your stable of folks who will speak well of you. You CAN manage things so that you don’t need one dang thing from those chumps ever again, and I recommend it — I can say from experience it’s a huge relief.

  11. TennISee*

    I don’t think any of this would be said to a man. I might be wrong, but women have weirdly different “take one for the team” expectations men don’t seem to get.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      In a nonprofit setting everyone is subject to this kind of guilt tripping, but you may be right in a different context.

      1. quill*

        Though the predominance of women in nonprofits and “caring” professions certainly has been part of the social conventions for why those are so often overworked, underpaid, and “do it for the cause!”

        1. Sara without an H*

          This. It’s called “vocational awe.” See the article by Fobazi Ettarh, “Vocational Awe and Librarianship: The Lies We Tell Ourselves.”

          It’s open access. If you type the title into a good search engine, it should come right up.

    2. PNW bridge-burner*

      Maybe? Two of three leadership staff are now women, though the board is predominantly men, and the org has been very gung-ho about having gender parity on staff and putting women front-and-center in external comms. The comments about how I should learn a lesson in transparency from this and that I should expect my departure communications to be less effusive than the communications around my former manager’s departure came from female leadership. Of course I realize internalized misogyny is a hell of a drug.

      (Nonbinary folk like myself do not exist to this org. I am afab, female-presenting, and use she/her pronouns in professional settings because I don’t feel the org is a safe place to come out. I was on a panel interviewing a nonbinary person who used they/them a couple years ago and leadership did not use the appropriate pronouns a single time during the interview or during the debrief afterwards. Have not forgotten that.)

      1. Sara without an H*

        Interesting. Internalized misogyny is, indeed, a thing. But that interview you described with the nonbinary job candidate? I think your management sent a very clear signal there.

  12. Princess Deviant*

    Ugh, families are hard aren’t they?
    I feel like I’m making huge leaps and bounds in my progress on boundaries and healthy relationships when I read a letter and think the things that Alison writes, before I’ve read her response.
    Totally agree: they should feel like they’ve burned a bridge after speaking to you the way they did! You did nothing wrong

  13. No Tribble At All*

    Another thought re: consulting for them. (A) Don’t do it, but (B) as a civil servant, you may be prohibited from it due to conflict-of-interest things. I have no idea if this applies, but I bet if you’re determining the funding to be distributed among X, Y, and Z nonprofits, you can’t also be on the books as an associate of nonprofit X.

    Even if this isn’t applicable/there are forms to make this be OK…. just don’t, lol, and use this as an excuse. “Oh I can’t, have to be impartial, government” blah blah

    1. Sara without an H*

      Good point. OP, if you’re still thinking about consulting for these people (DON’T! RUN AWAY!), you really need to check with your new employers first and make sure it’s even allowed.

      And trust me, your new organization is going to want you to focus on them during onboarding. Right now, their good opinion is more important to you than the feelings of these manipulators.

      1. PNW bridge-burner*

        Yes, I’ve checked with the new org and made clear to them that I am fully committed to the new role. I would be prohibited from working on anything that may involve conflict-of-interest.

        Increasingly I feel – and the comments here validate – that continued consulting is the wrong choice, although it hurts to think about leaving my projects team (who are wonderful) without support. I’m very concerned about the pressure that will be placed on my immediate coworker and my direct report.

        1. Sara without an H*

          Make sure your coworker and your direct report have your contact information and offer to provide them with references in the future. Your example may inspire them to look elsewhere.

          1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            I would do the same – off the books help to the coworker – but to the organization as a whole, I’m sorry, I’m just so busy at new job.

        2. ThatGirl*

          As admirable as that is, it’s not your job to save them from a terrible company or management, especially after you’ve changed jobs.

          1. OhNoYouDidn't*

            “It’s not your job to save them…” She’s not “saving” them. The choice to leave is theirs alone to make. Offering to be a reference is a kindness, not an obligation or a “job.”

            1. ThatGirl*

              I agree – I was referring to the idea of staying on in a part time/consultant role; she said it hurt to think about leaving her coworker and reports without (her) support.

          2. Escapee from Corporate Management*

            +1000. The best way to support your wonderful project team is to be a strong reference for them in searching for a new job.

        3. C'est Moi*

          The concern it totally understandable, but nooooo don’t offer the continued consulting.
          It’s not just all the other reasons mentioned already (although they apply) but you’ve also got to look out for how this will be perceived by NewJob (it could look like you are less than committed just at the time you are trying to make the best first impression) and also because based on OldJob’s messaging up to this point they will abuse that offer.

          The best thing you can do for immediate co-worker and direct report is model professional and dignified exiting behaviour: leaving the thorough documentation as you mentioned, making leaving a normal routine business decision (and not family drama that your leadeship is attempting to do) , and staying in touch (and yes, offering good references should they look for other jobs)

        4. Eldritch Office Worker*

          I’ve been there, but you can’t protect them. The shit will hit the fan for them one way or another. If you want you can tell them you’re available to talk if they need it, or call them in a couple months for a coffee and offer moral support (neither are required) but more likely they’ll just have to experience the reality and decide what happens next for themselves.

        5. Kevin Sours*

          *THEY* *DON’T* *DESERVE* *YOU*
          The question at this point isn’t whether or not you want to go out of your way to avoid burning the bridge. The question is do you want to haul out your flamethrower…

          1. Kevin Sours*

            “After date {end of notice} I will withdraw completely from participation with {organization}. This will allow you to move forward with people whom you have complete confidence. I wish you the best.”

        6. Thursdaysgeek*

          Perhaps it will encourage them to look elsewhere as well. Let them know that they can use you as a reference.

        7. NYWeasel*

          First, speaking from experience, even when you like your former team, it’s not worth it to try and consult afterwards. I spent a month working late into the evening, so I was exhausted at my new job, and things still “failed” bc it takes months if not years to pass along the experiential knowledge needed to manage complex tasks. My old directors had to just muddle through and stop trying to do things the “old way” until they could get a new old way established.

          Second, stop focusing on what you perceive your team as losing (ie your experience in the position) and start thinking about the opportunity you’re giving them. Again, speaking from experience, having managers suddenly unable to handle what they usually take care of is a really big opportunity to get light (or resources) put on problems that maybe the team was trying to fix for years, to challenge how things have “always been done” and to just generally shine. You figured things out when your manager left—they’ll do the same!

        8. donkeys*

          It feels counterintuitive, but in the long run it will be worse for your team if you continue to stay connected in any kind of professional capacity. If their first call is always to you, it will undermine your replacement and the new management, and your reports will likely be penalized by their new manager, as well as creating an even more toxic work environment than they have already. The best thing you can do for them is to give out your personal email address and offer to be a reference when they need it, and otherwise stay out of it.

          Judging by the email you posted above in the comments, this workplace is SO dysfunctional it’s warped your sense of what’s normal. The longer you continue to tie yourself to it, the longer you ALL continue to be trapped in this neverending cycle of suck.

          1. PNW bridge-burner*

            Thanks, I hadn’t thought about that long-run issue. I appreciate that.

            This is/was my first actual workplace, so unfortunately it was my sense of normal until I started reading AAM back in…2015? I also think my former manager shielded me from a lot of this kind of dysfunction – I’ve been frustrated in the past that I didn’t get much facetime with the ED, but now in retrospect I suspect that may have been intentional. I very much hope the new job will help recalibrate me to a healthier normal!

        9. Stitch*

          It really is.

          PNW, it sounds like this is a very good job, if people generally only leave when they retire. I think you should be all in on day 1. That means a clean break with your old job.

        10. Coder von Frankenstein*

          The best way to help your projects team is to help them find new and better jobs, like you did. Be a glowing reference for them. When you come across job opportunities that might fit their skills, pass them along. Keep in touch and help them keep a sense of perspective about what’s reasonable for an employer to expect (since your old employer is clearly dedicated to obliterating any such sense of perspective).

        11. Calyx Teren*

          Think of it this way: Your coworker and ex-report are about to get some valuable experience, which may be quite beneficial to their careers. Stepping up to cover for a talented person who left is the kind of thing that leads to professional growth and resume enhancement. Even if they have to deal with the toxicity it is not bad for them. Being a helicopter parent to them, caring as the impulse is, does not help their development. Be available to a limited extent to provide some advice when asked, but step back and let them figure this out. That is the professional norm for a reason. It’s okay.

          1. PNW bridge-burner*

            That’s another great reframe – thank you for that! I definitely don’t want to be a helicopter-former-manager.

        12. Amira*

          I’m going to reference another (incredibly brilliant) blog here. That org is full of evil bees. It does wants you to leave. If it didn’t want you to leave, it would not be full of bees.

          Listen to what it’s shown you, leave, and leave it behind. Your projects team will survive and leave as they need to. You cannot set yourself on fire to keep them warm.

        13. JessicaTate*

          If you’ve already promised the consulting, I would be prepared to honor that, if THEY press that they want it. If you don’t initiate the work/consulting, but leave it to them to initiate a process to take you up on it, it could be a passive way that it just… doesn’t happen.

          I once did this — consulting on a couple of projects after I left under not-great circumstances with a non-profit’s leadership. I found it was helpful to create emotional distance from the project, the client, and my old coworkers. I’d dispassionately focus on what, specifically, do they need me to offer in advice on X, give my advice/input, and then they take it from there. No gripe sessions or emotional labor from them. For me, I released my investment in decisions, outcomes, etc. No longer my circus, no longer my monkeys. I gave a bit of support that helped my team transition, but it pretty quickly petered out and they didn’t “need” me anymore — and I sure as heck didn’t need them.

          That doesn’t mean you need to disconnect from the humans from your project team. After that transition was over, I eventually had semi-regular calls with one of my old direct reports to help mentor her through some of the BS politics of the organization. My relationship with her sustained, even after the bridge had been burned with the non-profit and its leadership. Maybe that could be true for members of your project team. Good luck. You’ll look back in 6 months and this will be a distant memory.

          1. PNW bridge-burner*

            This is great advice; thank you!

            I have not made a formal offer for consulting, since my new job has not officially approved it yet (though newJob indicated I should expect approval). I only let oldJob know it was a potential option pending approval from my new employer. I expect that if I retract that offer they will also characterize it as a “breach of trust” on my part.

            1. Charlief*

              Don’t retract it/ just have really big prices.

              Look- you need to stop thinking that there is something magical you can do that will make them treat you better or speak well of you.

              If 10 years of being great doesn’t do it then nothing you can do now will help. Let it go. Put your focus into next job.

            2. Despachito*

              Given they already labeled a “breach of trust” something what clearly wasn’t, what difference does it make if you “breach” it one more time (I put in the quotation marks because neither the former nor the latter IS a real breach – to leave the company is a perfectly normal thing, and although you were discussing the counseling part you never firmly committed yourself to provide it, and their outrageous mail would be a justifiable deal breaker.

              I think I see where you are coming from – you mentioned you were afraid of them slandering you to your community. I understand why this is such a concern – I am self-employed and I feel my reputation is a very valuable asset. I also am not able to say how much real damage they will be able to cause by that, but I am thinking that if it is so much frowned upon if an employee trash-talks their former employers, it perhaps works the same way if an employer trash-talks their ex-employee? I mean, how they will word it? “PNW worked for us for ten years, and, um, er… is a horrible person? ” (If she really IS that horrible, why did you keep her so long? You must really suck at management!) Or “PNW horribly betrayed us… by leaving for another company” (WTF? this is a thing people normally do, don’t they?)

              There are much more experienced people than myself but won’t all this trash-talking shed bad light on the trash-talker rather than on the victim (if it is supposed to be the case if done by the employee) ?

            3. Kevin Sours*

              *When* you retract the offer make reference to the breach of trust letter. How can you effectively pursue their projects when they so clearly lack faith in you and your integrity? Why would they want you to?

              But really what they do or don’t do at this point is rapidly fading in relevance.

        14. Observer*

          I’m very concerned about the pressure that will be placed on my immediate coworker and my direct report.

          Let your coworker know that you realize that this is going to place pressure on him. But make it clear that it’s your employer that has made it impossible for you to do anything about it.

          He already knows that you’ve been underpaid and under-credited. So he probably won’t be shocked when you tell him that they have reacted to your notice in really inappropriate, demanding and boundary crossing ways. And given that you are starting a challenging new job with some clear conflict of interest rules, you can’t spare the mental resources to navigate their inappropriate behavior, nor do you want to risk having to deal with the potential conflicts that are likely to come up with people who think they can push you around like this.

          I’m not suggesting that you go into details. He doesn’t need them. But, like I said, he knows the deal with these guys. But you might offer to be a mutual good reference for him – it sounds like he is likely to start job hunting, too.

          1. PNW bridge-burner*

            He knows he would have a glowing reference from me whenever he needs one. And I offered him the advice to make sure any changes to his role and salary are in writing – although I haven’t been in these discussions, I am 99% sure that he is now being promoted into an associate director position. He was on track for that role in 2023, so it is a significant bump for him and I’m glad he’ll have the opportunity. For what it’s worth, I believe he is much less likely to be treated in the manner of the ED’s email to me, and I think that he’ll be better able to draw and enforce reasonable boundaries around his work if he stays on at the org. I hope that and the documentation I leave will be enough to counter some of the pressure I’m sure he feels!

            1. Charlief*

              You cannot do anything to stop the consequences of terrible bosses. He will leave if it’s too much and that is fine.

              You keep trying to take responsibility for the actions of others. Stop it. You can’t. In doing so you are giving cover to terrible people.

        15. Archaeopteryx*

          There is no upside to you consulting for them after you leave. It’s bad for you because you won’t disconnect right away, but also because you’ll still be letting yourself be a doormat to these jerks and it will take you that much longer to mentally heal from the warped boundaries they’ve instilled in you.

    2. Becca Rosselin-Metadi*

      Oooh, yes. the civil service may absolutely put a stop to do any work for your former org, depending on your state. Definitely look into it.

  14. Bamcakes*

    >> I had mixed emotions — excited about the potential of the new role, concern over the transition — and didn’t feel I had any choice but to accept the promotion.

    This is absolutely key. LW, the organisation apparently put all this work into doing external promotions about you moving into this role without actually checking you were excited and enthusiastic about it.

    For a senior level post and a key externally-facing appointment, the board should have been working with the candidate to find someone who was truly enthusiastic about the role, who was really bought into their vision, who felt fully supported to make necessary changes— someone who was really motivated to commit to the role! Obviously even careful, well-managed hiring goes wrong sometimes, but this really sounds like half-arsed hiring: they offered you the role without spending much time finding out whether you really wanted it, or making you feel particularly valued or supported, without really exploring your reservations or understanding your wants.

    If they’d done all of that, maybe you wouldn’t have been the right person and you’d have left anyway! But it sounds like they basically did what seemed convenient and easy, and were then surprised that you didn’t follow their script. This isn’t on you!

    1. Bamcakes*

      Also massive sympathies, especially having read your update about the pay above, because it must be so hurtful to have respected colleagues of ten years talking to you like this.

  15. Stitch*

    I’m going to add that I’ve personally never dealt with someone leaving that wasn’t at least a little inconvenient. When the guy who retired with like 2 years notice, there was still work to be done.

    There simply isn’t some magical way to leave employment that isn’t inconvenient. So don’t out that expectation on yourself. You give notice but you have to live your life. Dealing with departures is just simply part of being a manager and your ex employers need to accept that and move on.

    1. Bagpuss*

      Exactly. I mean , even if someone you are pleased to see the back of resigns, there is typically some inconvenience with sorting out a new person and dealing with the hand over, but that’s just part of how stuff is. It’s unreasonable nd unprofessional to take it out on the employee like this person is doing,.

  16. Lucious*

    Word of caution- LW should download/ save any personal documentation from Old Employer ASAP. Even if they’re not leaving right away, be prepared for passive-aggressive disruptions to work during the notice period.
    Especially delays and inaccuracies with any final vacation, medical insurance or severance details.

    1. Generic Name*

      Yes, start clearing your desk now, and make sure there are no personal files on your computer. I gave 2 weeks notice at my last job, and a few days later, my boss called me into his office to let me know that they were accepting my resignation “effective immediately”. It was super weird, and they acted like they were firing me. Since I thought I had another week and a half at that job, I hadn’t started clearing out my desk. I had a TON of crap (a lamp, a screen, plants, books, etc.) that I had to clear out in an hour or so and stuff into my compact car. Don’t be like me and be prepared.

    2. learnedthehardway*

      Yes – particularly performance reviews and any communication that confirms she was awarded the director title.

  17. HQetc*

    Another thing just to underline Alison’s point about the ways employers can be unconsciously biased against employees who look to leave: This is a place where your manager told you you should *already* be worried about bias because of your gender presentation. And then they were expecting you to risk even more bias, just to make their lives easier? No, that’s not yours to carry. You had every reason to act in your own best interests, because they had already shown you they weren’t capable of prioritizing your interests at all.

  18. Jean*

    Pretty bold of them to come right out and tell you that you’d be hamstrung in the new role due to their shitty illegal bias against you because of your gender. Talk about a bridge well worth burning.

  19. Solitary Daughter*

    Blech. Their response to you was patronizing and inappropriate. Do NOT continue to help them after you’ve resigned. Leave great documentation, sure, answer a question here or there, but make the break as cleanly as possible. I’m a long time non-profit worker, and I know how it can be. But you make it normal by acting normal, and what you want is entirely normal and appropriate. Congratulations and good luck in your new role!

  20. I should really pick a name*

    Could you have a chat with you old manager (the one who left) to get some perspective on their experience when they left?

    1. PNW bridge-burner*

      I did, last night. He told me he’d try to talk the executive director down in their meeting today. He has been pulled into this drama for advice on hiring my replacement.

      He did not have to deal with any of this type of communication when he left, to my knowledge.

      1. LKW*

        That’s because they could rely on you. You were their fallback plan. They (wrongly) assumed that you’d just happily taken on more work and that they’d come back with a pay raise and you wouldn’t say a negative word because…. of some reason.
        I mean – you said above they didn’t interview you for this. They just assumed you’d be grateful for the opportunity to take on more work and a small, likely below market, increase.

      2. learnedthehardway*

        (Sarcasm font) Well, part of that was because he is male. Naturally, men move on for professional development. It’s offensive that female employees think about their best career options. (sarcasm font off)

    2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      I think that is a really great suggestion. After all – he gave warnings to OP before he left.

  21. SnarkyMonkey*

    I don’t know how, but Alison seems to always knock it out of the park: “One more thing: Please reconsider continuing to help after you leave unless you really, genuinely want to do it. You need to be able to focus on your new job, and staying on in any capacity will make it harder to move forward mentally. I know it probably seems like it could help smooth things over — and that’s something you care about — and you might be right. But if you do it, they’ll still be getting you to prioritize their needs over yours even after you’re gone.”

    So true, so true, so true.

    Congratulations on the new job! Go forth, and enjoy it!

  22. Dust Bunny*

    I have never encountered a situation in which “we’re like family” didn’t translate to “we have unreasonable and onerous expectations of you”, and that often includes actual family, as well.

  23. Hawkeye is in the details*

    Someone may have mentioned this already – I haven’t had time to read the comments – but, LW, does it really matter if the bridge is burned?

    At least from a business perspective, I don’t think it does. You already have a new job and your actual manager – the one you worked under for the bulk of your time there – left already. He would be the one you’d want to use as a reference anyway. He’s the one who can speak to both your quality of work and integrity.

    Let the board think what they want. As Alison said, anyone who behaves this way is doing it as a way to guilt you and to manipulate others into staying. And, even if they are called for a separate reference you didn’t provide contact info for, any reasonable employers you may have in the future probably understand exactly how and why a small non-profit behaves that way.

    1. londonedit*

      Also, judging by the subsequent email the OP posted in the comments above, the Exec Director is apparently dead set on throwing a massive tantrum about the fact that the OP is leaving. So I think it’s the organisation that’s burning a bridge, not the OP – they’ve behaved completely reasonably (people are allowed to leave jobs!) and the board/directors are behaving completely unreasonably. I imagine they’d throw their toys out of the pram and refuse to supply a reference anyway, so in my view the OP shouldn’t give a toss about what they think.

      1. Hawkeye is in the details*

        I hadn’t even read that when I posted – but omg. Toddlers dressed up in board member clothing.

        LW, think nothing of walking away. They napalmed that bridge so spectacularly, there’s nothing left for you to worry about.

        I’d love to say they’ll realize they are massively overreacting in time, but unfortunately, I think we all know man-babies like this. Even if they come around privately, they’ll never admit it out loud.

      2. Eldritch Office Worker*

        I completely agree, but ugh. Ten years with an organization. This must be heartbreaking for OP to have it devolve like this.

        1. PNW bridge-burner*

          So heartbreaking. I expected that it wouldn’t be easy, but I didn’t expect it would be this hard.

    2. Teapot Repair Technician*

      I have one burned bridge in my past (which I didn’t realize until years later), and it’s never held me back as far as I know.

      If you burn every bridge you cross, that would be a problem. But burning a single bridge is probably fine. Maybe even good.

      1. OrigCassandra*

        I have… several burned bridges. I even torched one consciously and deliberately and I’m not sorry.

        I’m still standing. It’s survivable, at least sometimes.

    3. Despachito*

      “LW, does it really matter if the bridge is burned?”

      I think LW cannot really do anything about this as it was not her who burned the bridge, and it is already in flames.

      (I hate the concept that if I wrong you and you push back, the bridge-burning only happens when you push back – and is therefore somehow YOUR fault because how dare you – while in fact it happened at the very moment when I wronged you.

      I know you absolutely did not mean to insinuate such a thing, but I just had to say that, because I unfortunately often fell prey for such manipulative BS of the original wrongdoer, and felt it was extremely unjust.)

  24. Twisted Lion*

    LW: I had the same reaction when I left a non-profit to move to a government position. I was told I should have let them know I was looking (um… no) and that they would have kept me on with a larger role if I had asked (what?). This might just be a non-profit thing. I made the move to government and have never looked back. There was so much instability at my organization when I left that it was actually a blessing because they had layoffs shortly after. You must always do what’s best for YOU and them bemoaning that you’re leaving is on them for not rewarding you while you were there. And frankly the sexist “lean in” would have had me brushing up my resume. I think you will find the culture different but more enjoyable in a lot of regards. Congratulations on your new position!

    Also why would you turn down a promotion when you didn’t have a job lined up already? Ridiculous!

    1. PNW bridge-burner*

      Thank you! The stability of a government job was definitely a big pro in my extensive pro/con lists while making this decision.

      And yeah, the “lean in” felt like a huge red flag, though I believe it was meant sincerely and with good intention – my former manager wanted to see me succeed in the new role. He gave me a wonderful reference for the new job also and told me he would support whatever decision I made.

  25. Dona Florinda*

    I’m so mad on your behalf, OP. You did nothing wrong: you were overworked (and possibly underpaid), was offered a very poorly-planned promotion and then gave notice when you found another job that not only seemed better than this one, but that would actually be a good move, career-wise.
    Your employer, on the other hand, sucks. They probably already did before this whole brouhaha, but the e-mail? The guilt-tripping? These are all signs that you did the right thing by taking the other job.
    Like Alison said, hopefully things will smooth over eventually, so just make sure you have everything in order for the transition and end things on a high note. If you really don’t wanna make waves, just accept the lower pay for the position you’re leaving, but you sure earned the raise and they should pay you accordingly.

  26. Plebeian Aristocracy*

    Congratulations, OP!! Your new job sounds like it will be so much better for you than this one.

    I’m confused, though: why are you worried about burning bridges with this place? It a) sounds like just leadership is having a problem with your departure (and it really is a them-problem now), and b) what are the consequences of burning this bridge? Would you really want their rec going forward? Are you going to be potentially partnering with them in your new job?

    Honestly, with how toxic it sounds like this place is, I don’t know that you’ll really benefit from their choosing to keep the bridge intact.

    Note: I’m not saying to intentionally burn bridges here, I’m just saying that trying to fix this one might do more harm than good.

    1. Elenna*

      This, plus I don’t think OP can even unburn the bridge at this point – not because of any fault of OP’s, but because the board members seem intent on continuously throwing gasoline and lit matches on it. Definitely not worth the effort on OP’s side.

    2. PNW bridge-burner*

      I think I’m mostly worried about what the ED may say about me/my departure to external partners. He is well-connected in the region, with contacts that I will also need to work with in my new job – I’ve moved from one coalition-building role to another, so healthy networks are important to my success.

      There are a couple projects oldEmployer has wanted to partner on with newEmployer but hasn’t been able to put in place. If leadership were reacting with their minds instead of their hearts, they might see that opportunity. (Although actually I’m not sure there really is one, because it may constitute a conflict of interest. I’m not sure.)

  27. Bee Eye Ill*

    This reminds me of a job I left about 10 years ago. I had been there @ 18 months and the place was a total dumpster fire. During the exit interview, the manager asked me if I had any recommendations on how to improve their high turnover, and when I made a couple of suggestions he started arguing with me. I don’t feel bad about leaving them at all.

  28. Mockingjay*

    …I am trying to arrange part-time/contract availability to help with the transition even after I am full-time at my new job…

    OP, keep in mind that many government orgs forbid moonlighting (to avoid conflicts of interest). I wouldn’t offer or be available to help Ex-Job once you start at New Agency. Just let them go. (In fact, that gives you the perfect excuse: “Sorry, due to government policy, I am no longer in a position to assist. Please refer to the documentation I left.)

    Best wishes for a long and happy government career!

    1. Blue Eagle*

      Or more to the point – – – – please refer to the documentation that prior manager left 6 weeks ago.
      Why should you have to document anything when they won’t even pay you the higher salary?

  29. HalloweenCat*

    I just really want to put that entire last paragraph in bold and watch you walk out like Peggy Olsen, cigarette and sunglasses and all.

  30. Happy*

    The only thing you’re being unreasonable about is that you seem determined to give your previous employer the benefit of the doubt.

    They don’t deserve it. You keep being over backwards for them while they repeatedly disrespect and devalue your work. They are the ones who should feel guilty, not you. If the director wants for people to keep working for him, maybe he should try not being a sexist, condescending ass.

    1. Generic Elf*

      This, 100%. Feel no guilt for your step up, OP. They had a long time to show their appreciation and they failed.

  31. HigherEdAdminista*

    This is such a great response from Alison. I would add that even when they gave you a promotion… they didn’t promote you to your bosses level. They created a presumably lower (paid and prestige) position to give you, likely because the Executive Director is a known sexist.

    OP, Congratulations on your new job! It sounds like it is the kind of place people tend to work for their whole careers, or at least a very long time, and if you see one of those opportunities… you can’t really pass it up if that is what you want to do.

    1. PNW bridge-burner*

      Thank you! I’m excited for the new role.

      They created a lower-paid and lesser role for me rather than promoting me to my former manager’s level, but honestly I didn’t want to be a deputy director – I don’t have that skillset. I agree with their decision not to offer me that. My former manager’s deputy director role was split into finance and projects, so the project responsibilities went to me and the finance responsibilities went to the finance director (who was in the process of hiring support for herself when I gave notice; that search is now unfortunately on hold while they work out what to do in the wake of my departure).

  32. CommanderBanana*

    This is yet another example of the “loyalty” flowing only one way. It’s crap, and the way your ‘leadership’ (using that term sarcastically, as they don’t deserve it) treated you, and impugned your character by acting as though you somehow deceived them by taking another job, is also crap.

    Congratulations on your new job! You deserved good wishes and a warm sendoff from your org and I’m so sorry you didn’t get it.

  33. Kwebbel*

    Hey LW,

    What I read in your letter sounds a lot like a situation I was in a few years back. I was pulling 60 hour weeks for a company where giving 110% was nowhere near enough.

    During my first year, I only worked about 45 hours a week, and almost lost my job because I couldn’t keep up with the workload. Feeling like I had no other options, I just accepted that I’d need to work around 60 hours a week (overtime unpaid – it was a European company and that was written in to my contract). The raise I received after two and a half years there was around a 50 bucks a month after tax and my manager basically told me I should be grateful they even kept me on at the company given my poor performance, which by that point was over a year behind me.

    I was stellar at the work that I did: people high up in the company told me that no one had been able to achieve what I’d achieved in the entire 40 years the company had been around. But at the same time, managers from the team lead level through to the C-suite treated me like garbage (insulting my skills, intelligence, experience and, er, gender when I couldn’t perform miracles for them). After one particularly frustrating moment, when I’d managed to pull a presentation together for 200 people on less than 24 hours’ notice because my manager didn’t think he could do it himself (it was a great presentation I did, BTW), which was followed by a particularly sarcastic, weirdly disciplinary email from him the following Monday because the time I invested into that presentation had meant I couldn’t complete some other piece of work for him where the deadline suddenly got moved up a week without my knowledge, I said “fuck this, that job at competitor I’ve been looking at on Indeed looks pretty interesting.”

    So I applied, and I got the job. And this is where your story reminds me of mine: when I told my manager that I was going to a competitor, he laid the most ridiculous guilt trip on me. How could I even think about going to a competitor? How dare I go to a company in an industry I was passionate about, when there were other companies I wasn’t interested in that also had job openings? It didn’t seem to matter to my manager or the CEO that I actually had applied to other companies and been rejected. They seemed to think jobs grew on trees. The CEO threatened to sue me, and told me to leave immediately because I was “dead to him.” The whole thing was really messed up.

    Looking back, what I find really funny was how my decision to go to a competitor seemed to absolve them from all wrongdoing on their side. It didn’t matter that I worked 20 hours per week of unpaid overtime for close to 2 years. It didn’t matter that I was way underpaid for my work. It didn’t matter that I was constantly insulted by them for my high quality work for all sorts of weird reasons. And it also didn’t matter that they were misogynistic, racist, homophobic and just all around awful people all the time. I went to a competitor, and was therefore the bad guy.

    So, this was a really long story, LW, but the reason I share it, if you made it this far (and I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t because it really was too long): I suspect that the reason my management team made me feel like the Great Whore of Babylon for going to a competitor was because, if they could make me the bad guy, that meant their was nothing wrong with their own behavior and treatment of me. Your management team worked you past the breaking point. Your management team (most likely pretty much definitely) underpaid you for high quality work. But if they can latch on to this one thing (you resigned and it was mildly inconvenient for them), then they’re absolved from all guilt.

    Take it from me: in a year or two you won’t feel any guilt whatsoever. You’ll look at their behavior for how disrespectful it was and be glad you got out when you did.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      OP, read this whole thing – it is sooooo important, because to everybody outside their manager group if you are the villain of the piece than there is no reason at all for them to change ANYTHING! If they don’t have to change anything, then they can continue to treat people like indentured servants rather than employees with agency over their own careers.

    2. HarvestKaleSlaw*

      I read the whole thing and, yeah… abuse has certain dynamics. And that realization that they won’t ever change and won’t ever value you and won’t ever have a moment of self-reflection or moral clarity… it sucks. But it is also really freeing. I’m really happy for you that you got out.

    3. Observer*

      On a side note – was this a European company operating in the US? Or operating in Europe. Because if it was operating in the US, your contract may not have been legal.

      1. Kwebbel*

        It was a European company operating in Europe. Taking the wording of the contract at face value, it was indeed legal.

        But,there probably would have been legal recourse for me had I wanted to cash in on the unpaid overtime I did. I wouldn’t have been the only person to take my company to court over bad faith agreements on working hours. But it would have been a protracted legal battle that would have required some of my closest work friends to pick sides – and some of them would have had no choice but to side with the company. It just wasn’t worth it.

    4. PNW bridge-burner*

      That is terrible; I’m so sorry you had to go through it and so glad you got out! Thank you for showing me what it looks like on the other side.

      This is exactly what a friend who’s been supporting me through this process has been saying: they want me to be the villain because then they don’t have to examine themselves.

      I feel as though I’ve lost a lot of confidence in myself and my work over the past few years. I get really wonderful feedback and compliments from external partners, and that helps verify that I am actually good at my job. But it is still very tempting to think that maybe I’m not that good at my job, maybe I should be doing more with less time, maybe the times when I am overwhelmed are a fault of mine and not a result of the workload. And maybe my male coworker is preferred and heard more than me because he is really a great person and good employee and much more of a people-person than I am.

      I hope I’ll start to regain confidence in the new job, where my soon-to-be team is clearly excited to have me onboard and have each told me how impressed they were with my application and interviews.

      1. Despachito*

        “This is exactly what a friend who’s been supporting me through this process has been saying: they want me to be the villain because then they don’t have to examine themselves.”

        Isn’t it the same mechanism than when a husband wants to leave his wife for his mistress, he feels the need to tell everyone how awful his wife was (because it feels more justifiable to leave a horrible person than to admit that the horrible one was in fact me)?

  34. RubyJackson*

    When a company is described as “family” I always wonder if it’s the Waltons or the Mansons.

  35. Paulina*

    “I would have liked you to have come to me before you accepted the position” translates as “I wanted to be able to manipulate you into turning it down.”

    Good news is that since your manager recently left, and sounds like was on your side, you’ve still got a good reference from your time there. This executive director was never going to be one.

  36. Sara without an H*

    Hi, OP — I read your letter, including the update, during breakfast today. Smoke is still coming out of my ears. Please go to some quiet place, where you feel safe, and repeat: “This organization is a toxic mess. This organization is a toxic mess. I OWE THEM DIDDLY SQUAT!”

    Repeat this until you believe it.

    Don’t worry about burning this bridge — it was never safe or reliable. Keep up your connections with your former manager, the one who just left. If you need a reference, he’s your best bet.

    If you’re just worried about the feelings of your swinish ED — don’t. Women are trained to believe that they’re responsible for other people’s feelings. If your ED chooses to behave like a spoiled child, that’s on him, not you.

    Right now, today, you need to download or print out everything relating to your employment — pay stubs, proof of accrued vacation time, email between you and your “leadership” team. That one about your pay rate should be kept and reread if you ever start blaming yourself for leaving this outfit.

    I hope the commentariat has been able to talk you out of consulting for these people. (Your new employer may not even allow it — check before you commit to anything.) Leave good documentation (keep a copy to prove you did that) and walk out with your head held high.

    Good luck, and we’d love to hear an update about your new job.

    1. PNW bridge-burner*

      Thank you, I hope I can provide a positive update in a few months!

      I’m impressed by the level of consensus of the commentariat on the wisdom of consulting – it’s certainly making an impact.

  37. Generic Elf*

    Now that I’ve read the OP’s update, I…I would have thought that email was written by a person who was, like…trying to be funny. I once had a manager say something similar to me, many jobs ago, and I laughed in his face because I thought he was joking. I am floored to see such behavior in a supposedly professional environment.

  38. BRR*

    If they were concerned about you leaving, they should have put forth an effort to make you want to stay. Let them face the appropriate reaction to their behavior.

  39. Fidget*

    One thought I had given that you are worried about references- given that your old manager is no longer enmeshed in this mess and should be able to speak directly about your work could you reach out to them to see if they would be willing to serve as a reference in the future?

  40. fposte*

    LW, I’ve been in a similar situation, though blessedly (mostly) without the “we’re a family!” dysfunction. And even in a more functional org it can take administration a moment to process their disappointment that their convenient course-of-least-resistance plan isn’t happening and they need to do a full job of hiring.

    What your org is doing ridiculously, as I think you know, is blaming you for that. They’re doing the organization equivalent of “I’m not mad that you broke up with me, I’m mad about the *way* you broke up with me.” But trust me, they’d have been mad that you broke up with them however you did it. It’s revealing that they use the phrase “breach of trust” in that email.

    I don’t think *you* burned this bridge, but I think you’re right that it’s pretty much torched, but that’s what happens when you work for arsonists.

  41. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

    Companies like that – there’ll never have been an acceptable time to leave your job.
    Just after being promoted, just before their big exhibition, just before end of year tax paperwork, just after a new computer system was added…

    It’s like the boyfriend who says you can’t break up with him before his birthday, or near Christmas, or when he’s got exams coming up, or when he’s got depression, or, or…

    Basically the only way you could have ever kept them happy would be to remain working there forever. So, nahh, you did fine.

    1. HarvestKaleSlaw*

      Such a good analogy. “I can’t believe she left me right when I was dealing with athletes foot! After I stayed with her for five years, even though she was really difficult, you know?”

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        I had the ‘I don’t agree with your decision, I need you here still and until I’m better I’m not agreeing to this breakup’. Resigning for a job and leaving a relationship – two times where you do NOT need the agreement of both parties :p

    2. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      Also, reminded me of the time I got accused of being unprofessional for returning to work after a long period off on medical leave – and handing in my notice.

      Boss at the time said that I ‘owed’ my coworkers and the company more than that given that they’d had to cover my work for 2 months. I really confused them when I said I don’t have another job to go to (“how dare you apply for jobs while on paid sick leave?!”) because then they really started on the pressure of ‘why not stay?’.

      Because I wanted to leave. Because that place was toxic af. Because I’d just been healing from a near fatal traffic accident caused on my journey TO the office. That was 5 years ago and they probably regard me as unprofessional still.

      But, meh, even if I was unprofessional (which I don’t think I was)…I don’t care :)

    3. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      So agreed – I said it elsewhere- this place doesn’t want employees with agency. This place wants indentured servants whose period of service is the rest of their lives.

  42. AdAgencyChick*

    Butthurt people gonna be butthurt. Let ’em. I bet you have lots of good references (including the boss who left!) to use when you next need references in your career.

    Do NOT help these people out after you leave. Whatever you do will never be enough to make them happy with you or get a good reference from anyone who had it in mind to give you a bad one after your perfectly reasonable decision.

  43. Bex*

    Bridge-Burner, I don’t have anything to add to the excellent practical advice you’ve already gotten, but I wanted to emphasize that you made solid, normal choices given your situation, and you are not alone! I have twice resigned from non-profits “soon” (a few weeks in one case, about 6 months in the other) after being officially promoted to a job that I was already doing. One of those organizations was completely toxic, and the other was pretty good but definitely had some dysfunction. At the one that had always been toxic, “we just promoted you” was used as an argument for why I should stay, and over the course of the next few months I occasionally got texts from the ED saying things like “did I do something wrong to you?,” which I always ignored. At the other, everyone was surprised but completely supported me, I got a lovely going-away card, etc. I still volunteer there sometimes and am in touch with my direct supervisor and many coworkers.

    My point is, even semi-healthy organizations get over these things and behave decently. If the one you’re leaving doesn’t, really, they are burning the bridge with you. I realize that can still be difficult for you (though fortunately your direct supervisor also left, so you’ll have a reference from that job that’s unaffected by this mess!), but it is on them.

  44. donkeys*

    LW, you did nothing wrong. I just want to reiterate Alison’s last point — please don’t bend over too far backwards offering help after you leave. If you have thoroughly documented your processes and schedule, you have already fulfilled your obligation to them. This workplace has manipulated you into believing that you owe them above and beyond.

    If you had been hit by a bus, they would be getting nothing, and you know what? They would deal with it. If one person leaving will dismantle an entire company, it’s the company’s fault for relying too heavily on one person. Also, it’s not fair to your successor and all your old staff for you to have a weird continuing relationship with this place after you leave. The way things get done will change, because they will have to change, and it’s better for everyone if there’s a clean break so the remaining staff and your replacement can figure out a new paradigm that doesn’t include you. Don’t prolong a messy breakup by refusing to move all your stuff out of the apartment or trying to share custody of the dog, you know? Good luck and congrats on the new job!

    1. JustKnope*

      I saw another comment from LW upthread about not wanting to leave their direct report and partners in the lurch but I just want to emphasize: saving them is not your responsibility. Once you’ve left this job – a totally normal professional thing to do! – it’s the organization’s job to support them. It’s your job to be 100% focused on your exciting new opportunity in this government role. Don’t let the crazy drag you down after you’re out.

    2. PNW bridge-burner*

      Thank you and thanks for this perspective!

      Part of me thinks that they won’t have much trouble adjusting to an org without me. I don’t know whether this is partially because I’ve internalized the devaluation of my own work. But I think they’ll realize once I’m gone that they don’t actually need my input.

  45. So they all rolled over and one fell out*

    I once resigned *right* after I was promoted. My manager accused me of using the promotion just to get better title and pay at the new company, which I understand why he might have thought that, but he was incorrect about the timeline. What actually happened was that I had a job offer in hand, and went to ask my manager one last time if he had gotten me that promotion he’d been promising. He said he was still working on it, just like he said all the other times. So I accepted the offer. After I’d already left for the day, he emailed me that he had gotten me the promotion! But with no pay change. He was pretty steamed when I went in the next business day, thanked him for the promotion, but that I was giving my notice. He seemed to get over it by the time my two weeks was up, though.

    1. learnedthehardway*

      And even if you had – SO WHAT? In fact, how on earth are you supposed to purposely get promoted simply so you can use the promotion to immediately leverage a job offer, let alone better title and pay grade, ON DEMAND within 24 hours?!?! Reality doesn’t work quite like that.

  46. RJ*

    LW, congratulations on the new job and best of luck. Just to reiterate – you did nothing unprofessional and, unfortunately, this is how some companies react when a key person on their team resigns. The issue is on their end for keeping you waiting for a promotion you should have been given months back. They’re bitter about their mistake. You on the other hand, IMO, made the right move by moving on.

  47. Cj*

    I totally agree with Alison about reconsidering helping them out after you leave. You said one of the things you were unhappy about there was work/life balance. If you are working a new full time job, and consulting/part-time with your old org also, you will be in the same situation. Maybe even worse. Even if you tell them you will do it temporarily, they will probably guilt you over it when you tell them it’s been long enough and you won’t be doing it anymore.

  48. Kevin Sours*

    Everything about they’re reaction validates the way you handled this in every respect. Given the way they reacted to your leaving, do you think they’d react well to the possibility of your leaving? They’re upset that they didn’t know you were leaving because it meant they couldn’t punish you for it.

    It’s there job to keep you, not your job to want to stay.

  49. Jennifer Strange*

    OP, you sound like a really kind person, and I know for really kind people it can be hard when they feel they’ve burned a bridge. But sometimes you NEED to burn a bridge, especially if the person on the other side is doing you harm (be it mental, emotional, or physical). There is nothing wrong with putting your own well-being first.

    1. PNW bridge-burner*

      Thank you, I appreciate this. Yes, in part the yuckiness and upset I’m feeling are a result of being a sort-of-recovering people-pleaser in a situation where people cannot be pleased. It is hard. My therapist would definitely second your last two statements.

      1. Despachito*

        I think many of us struggle with this, and anyone who puts their foot down (like you are doing right now) is setting an excellent example for the rest of us. Thank you!

  50. BEES on fire carrying bridges on Fire.*

    Can you hear that? That, LW, is my teeth grinding in anger for you! After reading you initial message to Alison and then your update, your organization is full of BEES. Run, run to your new job ASAP! You have been underappreciated and underpaid for the entire time that you were there and now they are shocked, (shocked, I tells you) that you found somewhere better? As I said to my best friend this morn, “Why are you listening to these goobers?”

    There are so many check boxes for leaving as soon as possible, either going to your new job sooner or taking some time off to recover from Toxic Nonprofit with the sexist and ageist leadership:

    1) You voice was not heard and your work not appreciated because you are female presenting….to their advantage.
    2) The board hesitated to force you into a promotion due to your young age due to outside appearances but agreed based on it being easier for them….to their advantage.
    3) They scolded you about transparency, while ignoring your contributions…to their advantage.
    4) Despite you doing the work of the higher job and working on a smooth transition, they want to walk back on paying you a higher salary. Verbal agreements are only enforceable one way…to their advantage.

    It seems like their version of family involves a lot of things for them and a lot of gaslighting for you.

    I have been involved with nonprofits, including co-founding one and being on the board for another, so I get the devotion to the cause thing that they are smacking you over the head. However, if they had treated you well, you would be staying. This is ALL on them.

    You didn’t start the fire, but you have to get off of the bridge! Don’t consult for them, especially since you would probably have to file a conflict of interest form. Too much work for you for the dubious experience of having to be around these glassbowls longer.

    Screw them and the passive aggressive transparency that they are claiming you should have had, when you know full well that if you had told them you were interviewing, it would not have turned out in your favor.

    *mutters* glASSbowls /*mutters*

  51. Luke G*

    I just had a conversation about resignation-guilt in the other direction: our most recent hire, here in their first professional job, ended up putting in notice after less than a year and expressed a lot of guilt over leaving us hanging, or the amount of effort we’d put into training, etc. I finally had to say “look, dealing with this is part of managing. Not a fun part, but an important part. You don’t feel guilty that you give your garbage to the garbage man, and you don’t need to feel guilty that I have to deal with the aftermath of you leaving.”

    Expressing understanding or even some regret at leaving your boss in a tough spot is kind and humane, but don’t beat yourself up over them having to do an unpleasant part of what they’re paid to do.

  52. Kevin Sours*

    Honestly have you considered moving up your end date? They’re continuing to treat you like garbage after you went out your way to give them as much time as possible. You don’t have to. Please, please remember that you hold the power now: what are they going to do, fire you? Demand that they respect you and if they don’t well: “given your expressed lack of confidence in me I don’t think I can continue to stay in this role even for the remaining interim period. Let’s make my last date {immediate, end of week, whatever}”

    1. PNW bridge-burner*

      Unfortunately if I leave before the beginning of September, I won’t have healthcare in September. Benefits for my new job kick in October 1. But I appreciate the fantasy of leaving immediately and not getting any more emails like this!

  53. Paul*

    One parting shot – give the manager who was so reasonable with you, your forwarding email address. Ask him for a resume. Look at it this way, when all of your current coworkers see how you are being treated (no matter what the “leadership” tells them), they might be a good pool to pick from when you need to hire resources in your new job.

    Now that is KARMA.

  54. awesome3*

    Based on the unreasonable way they have acted, and even more galling in your update, I would not expect them to leave the bridge unburned, unfortunately. At no fault of your own, of course. There’s a chance the only smooth exit from this place is retiring, and that’s obviously not reasonable. I’m glad you’re getting out, but sorry they are making it so difficult.

    Also what you said about gendered stuff and who they trust, it sounds like it would have been super rough if you’d stayed, and part of the patronizing attitude might be gendered.

    Wishing you all the best in your new role

  55. tg*

    Given how they are reacting after you gave notice, there is no way, none, that you could have told them you were job hunting and had them react well. Timer to get out.

  56. Anonymusic*

    Every time I see the phrase “like a family” I’m reminded of a Terry Pratchett quote from (I think) Feet of Clay as someone is getting the new recruit tour of the Watch house: “We’re like one big family here, miss, and after you’ve been on a few domestic disturbance calls I’m sure you’ll see the resemblance”.

    Congratulations on escaping the crazy and on your new job! Take a few days to enjoy the lovely PNW summer I see out the window and then set forth refreshed and with head held high.

  57. Manchmal*

    OP, so much good and supportive advice here. I have this delicious fantasy that you will write your own “farewell email” listing all of your accomplishments and offering congratulations (modeled on the one written for your colleague), and that you will send it out on your last day, prefaced with “Here, fixed it for ya, ED.”

    What a bunch of turds. Move on and don’t look back. They will never realize the error of their ways.

  58. Sun Tzu*

    LW, the way the leadership reacted and talked to you can only reinforce the belief that your decision to leave was correct!

    I, too, think you did nothing wrong. The way they reacted was slimy and miserable.

    Congratulations for leaving, and congratulations for your new job!

    1. Despachito*

      Their crappy behaviour could be viewed as a blessing in disguise:

      – LW does not have two orry anymore if her decision was good, because she will KNOW it was
      – LW does not have to burden herself with any post-termination help – with their outrageous letter, they effed any possibility for her to do so (as she might have been inclined were they nicer)

      1. PNW bridge-burner*

        Yes, I have no doubts anymore that I made the right choice in accepting the new job offer. That is a silver lining.

  59. JRW*

    Hi LW. There are so many good comments in this thread; I just wanted to add to the chorus of people saying it’s them not you.
    I’m currently working through my notice period before moving to a new job. I spent so much time feeling guilty and second guessing my decision to leave. I like my work and my coworkers! And one of our other managers just left! And everyone is already stretched so thin after the past 1.5 years! And everyone always jokes about how the place will fall apart without me! What kind of trash person am I for planning to leave and not even giving a heads up about my job search?
    But my coworkers and executive have been great. It’s been variations on a theme of ‘this sucks for us, but we will get through it and we are really happy for you’, with a side of ‘maybe this will be fuel for the badly needed discussions about staffing capacity being stretched way too thin.’ No one has tried to make me feel guilty and they’ve offered to pay me for overtime needed for a smooth transition through my notice period. This is what the response to you leaving should have been, not the manipulative nonsense you got.
    Congratulations on the new job!

  60. Sparkles McFadden*

    LW, you did absolutely everything right! You behaved like a professional business person. The comment regarding “lessons” for you moving forward are coming from people who undervalued you all along. Please don’t offer support to them after you go to your new job. You will be doing that forever and they will try to get out of paying you because “It’s just a few questions and you did leave us high and dry after we gave you a great opportunity.”

    I hate to go down the road of speculation, but if a man had done what you did, management likely would have said something “Well you can’t keep a great talent like him for long.” When a woman takes care of her own interests like a business professional, she gets “You are ungrateful!” as if we were children getting an allowance; as if management is doing the woman a favor by paying her at all. It’s infuriating.

  61. MadisonB*

    IMO, leaning in on “I hadn’t even interviewed when I took this promotion” is opening the door for leadership to say, “So, you went forward with job hunting and interviewing after accepting the promotion.” That all but confirms what leadership already appears to be implying, and their expectation (reasonable or not) will have been for OP to back out of the interview process at the new job after accepting the promotion. OP will not win, cannot win; the only solution is to stop playing the game. Explain nothing.

    My only other advice is that, in my experience, being graciously “I wish you the best” passive and all “you go low, I go high” in response to petty vindictiveness during the notice period can escalate to career-damaging vindictiveness; for me, once with real leverage against me (aka, the other side of those fun petty revenge success stories) and once without any leverage. Sometimes, in trying to save a bridge from burning, we drown. I would avoid kowtowing and trying to smooth it over, to be honest, especially given the responses so far. I would be ice cold professional and leave as soon as possible, especially considering the update.

    Ask the former manager to serve as a professional reference, keep that person on good terms, and 100% move on.

  62. Raida*

    I’m leaning towards
    “After the patronising advice I’ve been given that’s entirely *not* in my best interests, I’ve been advised that as this business does not appreciate the effort and good work I’ve put in and continue to put in for transition, I will not be available for additional help after my final day in any official capacity. Happy to talk to the new person over coffee a couple of times, but that will be all.”

    1. Kevin Sours*

      The grey rock approach is better. Don’t give then any handles to come back with. I like the “you obviously lack confidence in me so of course you wouldn’t want me involved” approach because of the dynamic that results should they attempt to refute it. All you have to do is continue to insist that you would never want to impose yourself on them.

  63. Former Employee*

    Every time I catch an old episode of “Crossing Jordan” the theme of “we’re a family here” seems to crop up. Invariably, it’s used to excuse bad behavior on the part of the favored one, usually Jordan, while being thrown at someone else to manipulate them into doing a favor that could get them fired if someone outside of their little circle ever found out what they’d done. Of course, the favor is usually for Jordan and if you don’t want to do it, then you clearly don’t belong there, even if you are good at the job you were hired to perform.

    I was always amazed that show lasted as long as it did.

    PS: I’m also reminded of a particular song that was very popular some years back. It was titled “Take This Job And (Bleep) It”.

  64. London Calling*

    Late to this, OP, but in your place if I’d had any doubts that I was doing the right thing in leaving, my mind would have been put at rest by their frankly ungracious and patronising response to your resignation.

  65. LaLa762*

    Based on her former boss’ comment about the Exec Director not being about to ‘hear’ her, sexism is absolutely the reason she got all this patronizing, belittling nonsense when she resigned.
    I’m guessing leadership didn’t think she had the b@lls (!) to move on and go for something better than what they offered. QUITE a lot of sexists think women should shut up and take what they’re given.
    PNW bridge-burner, as you must know by now, you did nothing wrong. People – women too! -resign from jobs every day, for any reason that suits them. Congratulations!
    I also want to second the folks who say to think long and hard about freelancing for your old job. IF you decide you really want to do it, be sure your hourly rate is at least what your new rate is. Normally, you’d want it to be more. Two jobs is HARD. Might also double check if you’re close to being bumped up tax bracket too – with the new salary.

    1. Despachito*

      But why would the OldJob want a vile betraying traitor to continue working for them?

      I actually think the outrageous letter gives PNW a good reason why NOT to.

      (Not that she had to give ANY reason but I understand that they are trying to use her sense for fairness and her integrity against her, and I’d see this as a good jacking point for her to push back – along the lines “It is clear from your mail you no longer trust me, and however this is sad after the ten years of my dedicated work with your company, I acknowledge that this is your opinion. However, under that condition, it will make no sense to continue working together. “)

      1. LaLa762*

        Seriously. This kind of nonsense is what would make me joke to a friend, “Oh, just set your desk on fire, on your way out the door.”

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