update: my employee gave me an “it’s her or me” ultimatum

Remember the manager last week whose employee given her an “it’s her or me” ultimatum? I wrote that it seemed like that employee had it in for her coworker and wasn’t trustworthy and that the manager was pretty badly mishandling the situation. She got a lot of criticism from both me and the commenters, but was gracious enough to send in an update later that day anyway:

So today was a rough day after I read your response. I don’t have a lot of managerial experience but in other parts of my previous career, people always praised my leadership skills, so I thought I had this in the bag. I didn’t go into the office today. I went to talk to my brother-in-law and filled him in on everything over lunch. He’s a department VP for a big state-wide company and oversees and manages a huge team across the state. (Nothing had changed much since I wrote in, except Miranda has pulled away drastically and Laura has mentioned she’s upset with me for not having acted yet on her ultimatum.)

After I told my brother-in-law everything, he was quiet for a second and then asked for Miranda’s information so he could offer her a job; they have remote positions open, and local positions in her area. When I said I was relieved because it let me off the hook for having to fire her, he said he wasn’t letting me off the hook, he was poaching a hardworking professional who deserves better. I think that’s when it hit me that I’ve been wrong about this whole situation.

He also told me I needed to take managerial classes and was very ticked off about Laura loaning me her car. Everybody seemed ticked off about that, I read the comment section. Never read the comments.

That was five hours ago and Miranda just texted me her resignation, no two weeks notice, no transitional help, nothing. I get why she’s doing it, but I feel like it’s pretty unprofessional of her after 4 years of working together.

When I texted the rest of the staff in our group chat to let them know Miranda left, Laura didn’t say anything, she just texted me privately asking to clarify that Miranda was definitely fired and that she didn’t quit.

I have a feeling Laura might leave on her own and I’m preparing to bring the shipping contractor back on board if that’s the case. I learned a lot of lessons today.

And then an update to the update a few days later:

Laura did quit when I told her I wasn’t discussing Miranda and she took one of the other staff with her. They both trashed me to the sky on social media, which lead to a demand for refunds and cancellation of orders I can’t recover from. The one staff member who stayed is trying to help me keep everything going. I had a competitor offer to buy out my business, and I think I’m going to take her up on it because she’s offering a great price despite knowing I’m in the red.

When I hired Laura, she was recommended to me by a close friend of hers who happens to be a close friend of mine. We shared a lot of friends in common and as much as I don’t want to admit it, I realize I oversold how much I needed Laura’s help when I interviewed her, and I might have undercut Miranda from the beginning. Laura came in with the sense that she was being hired as a fixer. My brother-in-law and my sister (who also owns her own very successful small business) along with your wake-up call helped me realize all the huge mistakes I’m making. I used to work in medicine in a highly competitive field that was unfriendly and cliquey, and I think that’s what drove me to push for friendships instead of an employer/employee relationship. I offered Miranda her job back but she doesn’t want it. It’s hard to admit, but that’s fair. I really screwed up.

Because she was recommended by my friend, I didn’t check any of Laura’s references. She said she had managerial experience from her previous job. She didn’t. Through some town chatter, I found out her department at her last job threw a party the day after Laura quit, and an acquaintance who worked at the company expressed a lot of shock that I hired her. I called her references and two of the numbers were disconnected, and the other person is the close friend who recommended her to me.

I can’t believe the Koolaid I was drinking a week ago. I found some business classes at our local college and I’m going to take some time off and go back to school and freelance. Such a crappy week. Thank you for your honesty. I really needed it. I might print it and put it in a frame.

{ 793 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    For people taking issue with the letter-writer’s statement that Miranda quit with no notice: This is a 2-part update. That part was written the day her letter was published. The update a few days later has a very different approach and says she realizes she was wrong about the entire way she was looking at things.

    Please keep comments here constructive, per the commenting rules, particularly when someone was gracious enough to write back in after scathing criticism from commenters and shows this much willingness to reassess. Comments violating the site rules will be removed.

  2. Lady Catherine de Bourgh*

    Wow. Hard lessons to learn, but sometimes it’s the only way. I hope you can get back on your feet and move forward with new wisdom.

    1. Grand Admiral Thrawn Is Blue Forevermore*

      Agreed. I know she did things wrong but I do feel badly for her, it’s hard hearing about someone’s business/dream failing. I think she shows a decent amount of humility and ability to move forward. I hope she uses all this as a springboard for bigger and better things.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        I wish the OP would have written in to AAM earlier and maybe had a chance to salvage the situation. I really thought an update would fight back against the advice, but it sounds like the OP really had the best intentions but things spiraled out of control quickly. Since the OP has humility, I hope she does bounce back.
        In 10 years, AAM may be promoting the OP’s book “The Springboard: How my Biggest Failure led to my Greatest Success!”

        1. MissM*

          It may be a good thing that it was all poised to go so bad by the time LW wrote in, because she did not seem ready to hear Alison and commenter advice until it all actually started falling apart. I also hope all the best for her going forward.

        2. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

          In the original comments there were a lot of comparisons to shows like Kitchen Nightmares and Bar Rescue, and I think it’s apt – like this OP, business owners don’t recognize they’re struggling until it’s too late and by then all the good advice in the world isn’t enough.

          OP, I commend you for taking lessons from this situation and I’m sorry it turned out this way. I hope you can find something that makes you happy.

        3. TessInLondon*

          Lovely thought ! OP, you’re going through a tough time at the moment but perhaps think about the many people who don’t have the courage that you’ve had to acknowledge what went wrong and take steps to move forwards.

    2. Quinalla*

      Good luck OP! We all fail and fall down, I’m impressed that you took the feedback to heart and are making changes, that is SO hard.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Agreed. Everyone ends up eating a few slices of humble pie at some point in their career. What matters is the lessons we learn from those humbling experience and how we move forward.

    3. Jules the 3rd*

      Same! It’s really hard to realize when you’ve messed up, but learning to see your errors is the first step to not messing up again. Just these two updates show you’re able to understand what part your actions were in this (and what part were Laura’s), and you’ve got a good basis for actions and next steps.

      Best of luck in future ventures!

      1. SarahKay*

        Seconding this. I’m so sorry that everything went so badly, but I’m really impressed that you can look honestly at what happened and decide to do better.
        Best of luck for the future.

    4. Elenna*

      Yeah, I’m really impressed with OP’s ability to turn around their thinking in between the two updates and publicly admit they were wrong. I hope they remember these lessons and their future endeavors go better for them!

    5. LTL*

      Yes, OP really took the time to think about all the feedback she was getting, and she was getting A LOT so it couldn’t have been easy.

      Best of luck with everything OP!

    6. Olga*

      I would really love a sort of debriefing from Alison on this one. How does a seemingly intelligent, not wet-behind-the-ears individual run a successful business for years and then suddenly and dramatically go off the rails?! I am having a hard time understanding the trajectory. I mean, I understand how each bad decision led to the next, but why didn’t LW see any of the red flags?

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Seems like this is an excellent example of how badly a toxic work environment (LW describes their previous job as “clique-y”, so probably not great) can mess with your sense of normalcy. Add to that that Laura was recommended by “a good friend”, and it seems likely that LW subconsciously may not have wanted to see the red flags or simply being so used to them from the clique environment they were in before that they didn’t register as red flags.
        I am also definitely impressed by their admitting they were horribly wrong, however. LW, on the off chance that you see this…you already seem to be taking steps towards remedying the issue, which is something to be applauded.

        1. Lego Leia*

          It also sounds like a lot of wilderness stories that end in disaster. Each decsion on its own isn’t terrible, but all together result in catastrophe. You don’t realize until too late that you are unable to recover.

      2. AntsOnMyTable*

        TBH, it sounds like Miranda was running a huge part of the business so once the OP got taken in by Laura everything went off the rails.

        1. Cj*

          This. Plus it was only four years, which isn’t really that long. Add to that the fact that Laura thought she had been brought in as a “fixer”, and I’m not so sure things had every been all that great.

      3. Ermintrude*

        People like Laura run a great line in convincing people they’re worth having around and listening to, before they start to do their worst, in my experience.

      4. Le Sigh*

        I’d argue it probably wasn’t all that sudden — it was building for a long time, incrementally, and by the time LW wrote in it was already at a breaking point. Like a frog in boiling water situation — maybe bc of LW’s previous toxic work situations, they brought some bad practices with them and maybe that didn’t matter as much at first, but it led to them not paying enough attention to detail. Smaller issues built up, but they were doing okay. Which could make this situation ripe for someone like Laura, who comes in and says the things you want to hear. By the time you see all the little warning signs, they’ve piled up so high it’s too late.

        1. AcademiaNut*

          The weak points were always there, but things didn’t fall apart until enough pressure was applied, and then it exploded.

          In this case, the LW’s first employee was highly competent and honest, and was able to work independently, so things worked well for a long time, without much management actually needed. If Miranda has quit during that period, even with two weeks notice, things would have gotten messy, with the LW needing to learn Miranda’s job and then train someone else, but possibly recoverable.

          The second employee, however, was actually malevolent, and that’s when the lack of good practices led to disaster. Checking references would have cut things off before they started. Not hiring the new employees BFF’s on their recommendation would have kept Laura’s clique from being able to control so much. Recognizing the love bombing techniques, or having a good grasp on professional practices and management (not just the opposite of the previous toxic jobs) would have raised alarm bells much earlier, before Laura was so entrenched, and Miranda badly treated. Having a network of other managers/business owners to ask for advice might have stopped things before they got to the breaking point. But without any checks before the letter to Alison, things had gone so far that when things started to slip, all the weak points burst at once.

          1. Fran Fine*

            You summed up every single point of failure in this situation perfectly.

            This is why it’s so important for businesses, especially small ones, to check references. Had OP done her due diligence upfront, she would have realized only one person vouched for her, and that one person was a friend who wasn’t going to give an unbiased opinion.

            OP, you really need to reconsider your friendships as well as your business. Your mutual friend lied to you knowing how Laura is and that lie helped to tank your company. None of these people have your best interests at heart. None of them.

        2. Amaranth*

          I think there must have been more problems with the company in general because one person griping on social media about employee issues won’t normally get people asking for refunds. If Laura started trashing quality or said products were sourced from factories known for child labor, I could see some blowback but not to quickly sink the company.

          I do wonder if Miranda went to work for BIL…and why it mattered to Laura if she was fired or quit. To see if LW took action? That whole dynamic was very strange.

          1. At Any Cost*

            I suspect Laura wanted to know if she’d won. If she did, she might have stuck around a little longer to gloat over her uncontested territory, and maybe loot it before she bright it all the way down.

          2. onco fonco*

            That part, where Laura wanted to know if Miranda was fired – that really summed up Laura to me. I mean, that’s malevolent. The person she wanted gone was gone, and she still needed to know if it happened in the worst possible way – because she wanted maximum harm to Miranda, and because she wanted to know she had control over LW. I’m glad for LW that Laura and her minion quit without doing even more damage than they did.

          3. FrivYeti*

            I suspect that Laura had insinuated herself into the supply chain by then, made friends with clients, and was busy blaming everyone but herself for any problems and convincing them that she was the lynchpin holding it all together. When she quit and launched her scorched earth offensive, people who only knew her and not OP had no reason not to believe her story.

          4. SilverChimera*

            “one person griping on social media about employee issues won’t normally get people asking for refunds”

            It depends partly on the accusation & partly on the source. In this case, the source is a former employee (and one who quit rather than being fired), so they have more credibility in many folks’ eyes. And the accusation likely used certain key words that trigger significant backlash in this day & age (like we already see her doing in this story, words like “unsafe”). You don’t get boycotts anymore by accusing people of using child labor (or slave labor) in their product sourcing. You get them by telling folks that you were “targeted” or “preyed upon” by another employee, that you felt unsafe, and that your employer did nothing or took the side of the other party.

            Look at the controversy around Ellen DeGeneres — little to none of it was stuff that *she* was accused of doing herself, it was all, “She didn’t do enough to prevent x, y, or z.” Not sure if it’s okay to post links, but if so: https://www.glamour.com/story/the-ellen-degeneres-show-controversy-explained

          5. SilverChimera*

            “one person griping on social media about employee issues won’t normally get people asking for refunds”

            It depends partly on the accusation & partly on the source. In this case, the source is a former employee (and one who quit rather than being fired), so they have more credibility in many folks’ eyes. And the accusation likely used certain key words that trigger significant backlash in this day & age (like we already see her doing in this story, words like “unsafe”). You don’t get boycotts anymore by accusing people of using child labor (or slave labor) in their product sourcing. You get them by telling folks that you were “targeted” or “preyed upon” by another employee, that you felt unsafe, and that your employer did nothing or took the side of the other party.

            Look at the controversy around Ellen DeGeneres — little to none of it was stuff that *she* was accused of doing herself, it was all, “She didn’t do enough to prevent x, y, or z.” Not sure if it’s okay to post links, but Google “Ellen DeGeneres controversy” and click on the story by Glamour for a good synopsis.

      5. Wintermute*

        They say that a lot of key things about a person aren’t defined by their day-to-day lives, but by how they act in a few, rare moments of crisis, temptation or pressure. And that’s the case for businesses too. A very small business could well have simply not faced a true crisis of this type for their entire existence, and when one cropped up it was a fatal blow.

        In addition, there’s a tendency (all of us do it here, I’ve seen it a ton) to assume incompetence must be universal– that someone who is poor at dealing with one aspect of their jobs must be bad at their job in general– but that’s emphatically not true. Domain competence is a thing, someone could be excellent with customers, great with suppliers, have a lot of skill in the planning and execution sides of a business but just be unprepared for a messy HR issue. In fact I would say that’s remarkably common, it’s why so many startups are deeply dysfunctional, because they have no HR department and everything is run through the founder who no doubt has excellent skills in other areas, but falls down badly when HR matters are concerned.

        1. Anon for this*

          Yes, this. I once worked for a department that had won national awards, and yet rapidly became toxic. The reason: staff who were individually highly competent, committed, and who had innovative ideas, but weren’t so good on the management side.

          Whether it’s your own business or a field you are passionate about – even if your staff are unusually committed to the cause, they likely won’t be as invested as the leader/owner is. So you can’t just assume that the people-management will take care of itself, even if the cause is worthwhile of itself.

      6. JB*

        It sounds like LW is very trusting. So long as the people she trusted were professional and competent (Miranda), things went well. But inevitably, a bad actor (Laura) stepped in and took advantage of that trust.

      7. Kayla*

        It sounds like OP had long ago abdicated most of the business management to Miranda, which was probably the start of the end.

    7. HR Exec Popping In*

      I hope OP remembers that we all make mistakes. What is important as we learn from them and it sounds like she is dedicated to doing so.

      1. Satchel of Sparkles*

        Yes, reading this, I was reminded of early Arya:
        “Silvio says that every hurt is a lesson, and every lesson makes you better”

    8. Ginge*

      I agree. Such a hard, hard lesson though. In some ways I feel sad for her. Being a good manager is difficult in itself. I hope things work out.

    9. AnonInCanada*

      It didn’t surprise me how this bleep-show would end up, but it was nice for OP to update us on this one. Chalk this one up as a lesson learned, OP: when you ostracize your best worker the way you did, it shouldn’t have surprised you that she fled the coop at her first opportunity.

    10. allathian*

      Wow, hard lessons indeed. Good luck, and I hope that with your new self-awareness you can bounce back from this quickly. Kudos for reading the comments, even if it was a bit of a pile-on, and on recognizing that you needed to reassess things.

    11. GlitsyGus*

      Agreed! We all need to learn things the hard way sometimes. It’s really positive at the end of the day that you did learn this lesson. Good luck with your classes! I really hope you can start again down the road a bit with all the new knowledge and skills and have a really successful venture.

      I have also worked in very unfriendly industries, so I very much understand you knee-jerk desire to not keep that feeling going. There is a line, though that you need to watch for, and I think you can now see where it is for the future.

  3. PolarVortex*

    I hope Miranda is poached by your BIL, you didn’t make it clear if she just left without a back up or if he was able to poach her.

    But I do feel like you had some painful but needed growth here. Good luck in the future, take this lesson and learn from it.

    1. BubbleTea*

      It wouldn’t be very surprising if Miranda wanted to steer clear of OP’s entire family out of caution.

        1. Fran Fine*

          Same. Miranda has no way of knowing the BIL saw right through Laura’s nonsense as well and told OP she was wrong as hell for how she treated her.

      1. Venus*

        It could be very easy for the BIL to get an offer to Miranda without revealing his connection. They likely have different last names, but more importantly he is a VP and has access to a large HR department that would do everything officially.

        1. Teapot Repair Technician*

          Even with HR involvement, deciding to offer Miranda a job site-unseen after one conversation with OP is probably not doing “everything officially.”

          1. Kal*

            There is a significant chance that it was more an offer of an interview, that would then go through the normal processes for interviewing a candidate recommended by a VP, instead of an instant hire. I doubt a large company wouldn’t have a process already in place for this sort of recommended hire, if its any sort of decently managed company.

            Though going back to the earlier comment, it definitely would be better if the family connection and the reason she had been recommended for an interview was explained in the initial contact with Miranda so she could decide for herself if she was comfortable with it.

          2. Ding ding*

            I also wonder if the BIL was more making a point to the letter writer, vs actually trying to make a hire.

            1. Groove Bat*

              Yeah, that’s the impression I got. I suspect Miranda already has a new job. I don’t know why everyone is hanging on this one offhand comment as the shining solution to Miranda’s future. I’m pretty sure she can take care of herself.

      2. June*

        I would. I’d move on completely. Quitting without notice in this case is completely justifiable.

    2. ENFP in Texas*

      I’m hoping Miranda quit because she got an offer from the BIL.

      And as much as it sounds like the OP has learned a lot of harsh lessons, this sentence still hit me wrong: “I get why she’s doing it, but I feel like it’s pretty unprofessional of her after 4 years of working together.”

      It’s jaw-dropping for the OP to call *anyone* “unprofessional”, and makes me think that maybe she hasn’t learned quite as much as she needs to.

      1. Lola Banks*

        Yeah, the use of “unprofessional” to describe Miranda’s actions threw me off here given…well, everything about this situation.

        1. OhNo*

          To be fair to the LW, it is a bit unprofessional. After all, we here in the comment section so often tell people to be careful about burning bridges when they leave a job.

          But in this case, it’s a matter of scale. What little bit of unprofessionalism Miranda showed there was but a drop of water to the ocean of other things that were occurring.

          1. Anon for this*

            It’s unprofessional, but it’s also like the LW who quit with no notice after they were demoted so someone close to their boss (kid? friend?) could have their job. At some point, there is a level of mistreatment that justifies such things.

          2. MusicWithRocksIn*

            There are little bridges and big bridges. I don’t think Miranda would ever trust the OP enough to use her as a reference, and the business is so small that her word wouldn’t carry a lot of weight in the industry. Burning this bridge isn’t a lot of sacrifice, and Miranda probably assumed (correctly) that if she put in two weeks notice that Laura would make that two weeks hell for her. If you would let any employee that gives two weeks notice be treated badly during that time you don’t deserve the notice.

          3. Rainy*

            This bridge was already pre-burnt for Miranda’s inconvenience. If you were Miranda would you use the LW for a reference after all of this?

            1. foolofgrace*

              I would think the OP would feel guilty enough, and level-headed enough, to give Miranda a good reference. After all, Miranda did do good work for four years. And it would be bad if Miranda had a four-year gap on her resume because of this. I also hope the OP puts Miranda in touch with the BIL. She might as well, it would maybe help to undo some of the damage.

              1. Rainy*

                The fact that she’s complaining about Miranda’s unprofessionalism at all suggests to me that she probably wouldn’t have done–and anyway, if I were Miranda I sure wouldn’t count on it.

                And she wouldn’t need to leave the job off her resume, just not offer LW as a reference.

              2. MadisonB*

                Miranda presumably doesn’t know what we know about OP and OP’s thoughts on the situation. I would never contact OP or want OP’s involvement in my career again, if I were Miranda and given what Miranda realistically knows.

              3. Wintermute*

                Just because you don’t use someone as a reference doesn’t mean you have to leave the job off your resume! you just use other references, and if they press you give a neutral reason why you don’t think that this particular manager would be a representative reference for you. When it’s a really small business (widely known, rightly or wrongly, for dysfunction) most people won’t bat an eye if you don’t use them or tell someone not to contact your current manager (who was current at the time presumably)

              4. JB*

                But that assessment is based on what you read here, directly from the LW.

                Miranda, presumably, has not read these posts. She may have received an apology from LW now (presumably when LW tried to offer her her job back) but at the time she quit, it doesn’t sound like she had any idea LW was starting to realize she had made mistakes.

                So, that being the case, if you were in Miranda’s shoes at that time, would you be looking at LW as a potential reference?

          4. Marzipan Shepherdess*

            This reminded me of the OP who wrote in asking how to scold his ex-employee who, after overcoming incredible odds in her life, was denied permission to attend HER OWN college graduation ceremony. The OP in that case was, however, more oblivious than the OP in this one; he didn’t recognize that he’d done anything wrong at all and only wanted Alison to tell him how best to heap verbal abuse on said ex-employee for HER lack of professionalism.

            OP, you’ve come a long way and learned much the hard way, but you still need to put this in perspective. After professionally abusing Miranda, you expected HER to be more professional than YOU are? That’s not the way it works!

            1. Dream Jobbed*

              That’s what came to my mind too – sometimes quitting without notice is reasonable. I.e. if you fear two weeks of Laura abuse and gloating.

              1. Kal*

                And if she had knowledge of how OP was thinking of her, that gives her a good justification for leaving without notice – if you’ve been repeatedly told that your work that poor for that long of a time and you’ve already been demoted (and might be aware that you may be at risk of firing), then why would you give two weeks notice or offer help for the transition? If your boss thinks you’re that bad at your job that they already gave the title to someone else, why would they want you to still do it for a couple more weeks or need any transition help? At that point it makes more sense to make a clean cut.

                Though, as others have noted, it does seem like OP has been absorbing more of the message in the time after the first update, and seems to be gaining the awareness of how their own behaviour contributed to all of this and likely feels differently about Miranda’s leaving than what they said in the first update.

                1. biobotb*

                  Yeah, plus if Miranda had been demoted because Laura so (allegedly) so much better at her job, there shouldn’t be a need for a transition, right? Laura should have been able to handle that. (Of course, we know why she couldn’t.)

          5. froodle*

            Mm, to my mind Laura and OP dynamited that bridge, Miranda just declined to pour any water over it in her way out…

            1. Sara without an H*

              Yes, if you set fire to a bridge while I’m standing on it, I will not respond well when you ask me for a fire extinguisher. My only goal will be to get the hell off that burning bridge.

              It sounds as though nobody on this thread has read the second update from OP. Be sure to check that out — OP admits error and says she offered to hire Miranda back. Miranda refused. Who can blame her?

          6. Autumnheart*

            Yeah, but OP was about to fire Miranda purely on Laura’s say-so. How much notice was Miranda going to get for losing her job that way? It was only after BIL offered to poach Miranda that OP even considered whether it was the right move.

            Miranda GTFO of a highly toxic situation. She saw the writing on the wall and took the emergency exit.

            1. WellRed*

              I can’t believe Laura thought she was entitled (!) to this info. Glad OP finally gained a semblance of a clue.

              1. Autumnheart*

                I’m just like, OP would have been in this position either way—Miranda would have been out the door with zero notice, and taken all her expertise with her. But since BIL spoke up and called Miranda a good employee after all, OP is like, “Oh, she is? Well, maybe I shouldn’t fire her then!” and wanted to call Miranda unprofessional for leaving anyway!


                If there’s one overarching lesson in all of this, it’s to not let yourself get so divorced from the day-to-day operation of your business that you can’t immediately go in yourself and get a snapshot of how things are going. There is also a lesson that you cannot fail to perform due diligence. Whether it’s about checking references, checking employees’ work, maintaining healthy boundaries between employees and management…not doing any of this cost OP her business, full stop.

                1. wittyrepartee*

                  And when people are alternating between being really helpful, and really demanding- treat them with suspicion.

          7. Lobsterman*

            Hard disagree. Quitting without notice is an appropriate response to abuse or feeling unsafe.

          8. MCMonkeyBean*

            I agree, I feel like we usually say here that leaving without no notice is pretty much inherently unprofessional but sometimes warranted anyway. Like yeah, sometimes you have to burn a bridge because that’s the right thing for you and that’s okay. But that doesn’t make it *professional*

            So I feel like “I thought that was unprofessional, but I get why she is doing it” is honestly a fairly reasonable stance from OP’s perspective–especially if that update was given with literally no time to reflect on the situation.

      2. Escapee from Corporate Management*

        I agree. OP, it’s great that you are learning what you did wrong and are taking steps to fix it, but you need to admit that Miranda is not unprofessional. She is responding professionally to someone-you–who has treated her in a most unprofessional manner. It is completely unfair to hold Miranda to a subjective standard which you have not earned.

        1. serenity*

          OP created an environment that is unequivocally unprofessional, and she needs to either drop that word from her vocabulary or learn what “professional” really means. A small business owner who staffs her company through friend referrals, for example, is not “professional”.

        2. Marzipan Shepherdess*

          This x 1,000! OP, you’ve learned a lot but you still have a lot left to learn about professionalism in general and why you can’t (metaphorically) stab people in the back and then expect more loyalty from them than you’ve shown them yourself. And you learned the hardest way possible that Laura is no friend to you and she never was. (Frankly, I’d start looking carefully at the judgment of the mutual friend who introduced you to Laura and recommended her, too…)

          Since you mentioned your desire for camaraderie, how about looking for a club or group that focuses on your interests, hobbies, favorite causes or spirituality? We all need friends and finding some who share a common interest or goal with you could go a long way towards helping you meet that need without feeling that you must turn to your workplace subordinates in order to do so.

          1. Wintermute*

            this is a great point. The more things you “ask” work to be, the less of any one thing you’re going to get. If you’re also asking your work to be your social circle and support network then you’re going to have to compromise business aspects to get there. In this case it turned out that asking those compromises left a business that wasn’t viable, which is unfortunate, but it’s a predictable result of trading off functional needs for personal ones.

        3. somanyquestions*

          OP also used “really unprofessional” in the first letter about how she felt the two of them were putting her in the middle of the discussion, when she SHOULD be the one making those decisions. She didn’t like it, but being uncomfortable and dealing with the decisions were her job.

      3. ThatGirl*

        To be fair, I think she realized after a few days that she was even wronger than she thought. And normally, leaving with no notice *could* be considered unprofessional … but in this case, it was 100% warranted.

      4. Myrin*

        That’s in the first part of the update which OP sent in on the very same day the letter was published, though. She also still says there to “never read the comments”.

        Seeing how she then ended her second update saying that she might just frame the wakeup call she received here, I feel it’s safe to say that a lot of introspection and thinking and learning has occurred in the days between the two updates.

        OP has been very honest with us and put herself in a vulnerable position so I think it would be fair to cut her some slack for not wording everything perfectly and still feeling hurt and stung and even defensive on the very day she had read over a thousand comments of strangers (fairly and rightly, but something like that still can’t be pleasant) chastising her.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          Agreed – all of us end up at some point “eating humble pie” but most of us aren’t doing it in public. It sounds like OP is trying to learn and do better – let’s give them credit from learning from their mistakes.

        2. Twenty Points for the Copier*

          Yes, I agree. It seems like she was still in shock when she wrote the first update. Starting to reconsider things but not quite there yet. The attitude in the 2nd update is so different and gives me a lot of hope she can move forward and do much better in the future.

          1. NotJane*

            OP was probably also panicking in that first update, because no one but Miranda knew how to do Miranda’s job. By the second update, OP at least had a potential exit strategy.

        3. INFJedi*


          While no one was really rude in the comments, it still would have been very hard to read. And to be fair: yes ,in general, leaving without 2 weeks notice would be considered unprofessional, while in this case I think every commenter here understands Miranda’s decision, I do understand LW’s first reaction. It literally was her first reaction.

          The 2nd update showed that she has learned a lot during the last week(s?), and I think it is brave that after the reaction of both Alison as the commenters, LW still sent an update.

          I wish LW good luck with her studies and her business.

        4. Observer*

          Seeing how she then ended her second update saying that she might just frame the wakeup call she received here, I feel it’s safe to say that a lot of introspection and thinking and learning has occurred in the days between the two updates.

          Very much this. I think it really bears repeating.

        5. Wintermute*

          I feel like comments are usually the unvarnished truth, we have no reason to sugar-coat, not address the elephant in the room for to be overly nice. We get a snapshot, the only data is what’s in the letter, so yeah, we’re going to not see a lot of your good points, there’s probably a lot of great stuff about you that’s not in your letter. As a result you have to be able to set aside your ego and take it for what it is– a commentary on this specific situation not an indictment of your entire personhood.

          And that is a gift, to be honest. When I wrote in, I didn’t see a lot of deeply dysfunctional things about my job. I was blinded by the fact I was making more money than I ever had before, and my friends were either only seeing my rose-glasses assessment or they were not wanting to speak up because they didn’t want to “ruin it for me” (as a few later admitted, basically).

          But the commenters, lacking any reason to sugar-coat, pointed out more than a few things that should have been immense warning flags. And guess what? sticking that job out was a massive mistake, personally and professionally! They were 110% correct, if anything they were too gentle once I gave more details as prompted. But engaging in that discussion in the comments gave me priceless information.

          Now, it’s true sometimes people have bad takes, or engage in flights of speculation, but if there’s a broad consensus that “you’re the jerk, here” that’s the plain-talk truth of a swath of people who read a lot of workplace situations and care enough to actively engage with advice columns… you have to take your ego out of it and listen.

      5. zolk*

        I can see why Miranda wouldn’t want to work with anyone related to OP but I do hope BIL gave her an amazing offer.

        And omg my jaw dropped when I was OP call Miranda unprofessional!!!

      6. R*

        That she did quit without notice does suggest this is the case — this is someone who obviously doesn’t care about burning a bridge or explaining to her new boss why she left without notice. BIL seems pretty perceptive about Miranda’s situation — I wouldn’t be surprised if “and we’ll all understand if you want to just text her your resignation and never work there again” was offered as part of the benefits package.

        1. Mango Is Not For You*

          Given Laura’s repeated pressure for OP to fire Miranda immediately, I would absolutely assume that Laura was sniping at Miranda directly as well. In which case, I wouldn’t blame Miranda in the slightest for taking the herring option and just dropping OP’s company like hot lead.

      7. Some dude*

        I’ve been called unprofessional in workplaces for setting boundaries or pointing out process flaws. And called unprofessional when I brought up differences like race and economic status in regards to business decisions and expectations.

        I know it’s not always the case, but this word is often used nefariously as a way to control workers. And usually, workers that are already marginalized and oppressed.

        1. Mr McGregor's Gardener*

          Yeah, I’ve some things described as being “unfair”, (not changing my pre-agreed shift patterns) when what they really meant was “I don’t like it”. But they know unprofessional or unfair sounds better.

      8. Observer*

        And as much as it sounds like the OP has learned a lot of harsh lessons, this sentence still hit me wrong: “I get why she’s doing it, but I feel like it’s pretty unprofessional of her after 4 years of working together.”

        It’s jaw-dropping for the OP to call *anyone* “unprofessional”, and makes me think that maybe she hasn’t learned quite as much as she needs to.

        That would be true if it ended there. But if you read the REST of what the OP says, it’s pretty clear that Laura’s quitting and what they have found out since was a big enough shock to really make them “get it”.

        1. At Any Cost*

          If LW had two weeks to ease into the idea of no more Miranda, and Laura had two more weeks of poisoning LW against Miranda, who knows if LW would have had the same wake up call? And who knows what that last two weeks would have been like?

      9. So sleepy*

        Yeah, this threw me, too. After four years of working for the business, she deserved better than to be demoted in favour of someone whose only qualification was that they were willing and able to manage her boss’ personal life and who was clearly trying to push her out. It’s not great to leave without notice, but she didn’t really owe LW any courtesies by the time she left.

      10. M*

        Also, like… how much notice do we reckon OP gave Miranda of her entirely undeserved demotion? Reckon she got two weeks? Two days? Two hours?

        It seems like OP woke up to reality a fair bit more between the first update and the second, but yeesh does that first update lack a sense of perspective and context.

      11. Queen Esmeralda*

        This was my first thought. After all the abuse heaped on Miranda, OP has the nerve to call her unprofessional?

    3. MtnLaurel*

      OP, it sounds like you learned a hard and valuable lesson. I also made a poor hire (kind of a Laura) and I learned so much as a result. Sounds like you are in a great place to continue to learn. Well done.

  4. lazuli*

    *hugs* I’m so sorry you’re having to learn this lesson in such a hard way. I wish you success with your classes and your future.

      1. Calyx Teren*

        I feel the same way. Yeah, she really screwed up, but she took it on the chin like a champ. Her gracious, open response now says some very good things about her capacity to learn.

        OP, many of us have screwed up in memorable ways and not had to sell our business as a result. That is a tough lesson. There but for the grace of, et cetera.

        Those of us who’ve been in the biz a few decades longer are looking at this and saying that it could be the making of you, especially because you had the sense to ask for help and listen to it when it came. It’s not meant as a patronizing comment, but a statement of remembrance, encouragement, and solidarity. Very best of luck.

    1. AndersonDarling*

      I hope the OP reads these comments. I know I laid in hard in comments for the original post, but it sounds like the OP has learned the tough lessons. I hope they find happiness.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        The original thread got bad, and I will admit that I posted a bit harshly in a comment as well. I think at least for me it was trying to shout loud enough to be heard.

        Most of the time this commenting group is really good – but if something acts like a bee in our bonnet – well, we can lay it on just a touch thick.

    2. MamaSarah*

      I have a lot of compassion for the OP – they made some mistakes and it can’t be pleasant to reflection. But I also see a lot of future success for the OP as they are willing to learn and grow from their hardships. OP – you are strong and resilient!

    3. Katie from Scotland*

      I completely agree. I really felt for the OP when reading the original comments on the post. I could easily imagine myself or a friend who’s new to business making a similar set of mistakes. Running a business, growing a business, taking on new staff, managing all these different branches of a retail business – I can imagine being just as overwhelmed by everything and getting it all wrong while trying to see the wood for the trees.
      It hurts hard when you realise you’ve screwed up so badly, especially at something like running a business which is such a big part of your identity when you do it. Take care of yourself, and be kind to yourself too.

    4. Malika*

      Op stated never read the comments. I hope she does see these comments and that it validates her subsequent decisions. We are all a product of our past work experiences. If she had experience in working within a cliquey environment then this situation would have been influenced by defining moments in her past career. We all carry these past unhealthy experiences and we need to grow in order to get past them. The Op has been incredibly receptive and self-reflective, this will stand her in great stead moving forward.

      I once made a massive mistake that lead to a layoff. For a very long time that was at the forefront of my memories when looking at my tenure in that position. As time went by and my perspective became clearer, the positive memories came back. I hope the Op can see that the foundation and growth of her business also involved positive decisions and outcomes and that they encourage her to find her next career venture.

    5. Pants*

      Agree – and OP: definitely keep using Brother-In-Law as a sounding board. He sounds like he’s got a good head for it and can be a valuable resource!

    6. KayDeeAye*

      It does sound as though you have been through the wringer, OP! Thanks so much for writing back to us. It seems to me that you were taken in by a very talented and actress and opportunist, and you know, that happens sometimes to most of us. But in the end, you showed a lot of class and a lot of grace, and that will help you in the long run.

      But bad as this is, keep in mind that it could have been worse. The good news is that you did NOT act on Laura’s ultimatum, and in the end, even though it didn’t save the relationship with Miranda, well…jeez, think of how bad things would have almost certainly turned out if you’d given in to Laura! She was already a sneaky, brown-nosing troublemaker, so imagine if she’d succeeded in becoming a triumphant sneaky brown-nosing troublemaker!

  5. Chc34*

    Oh, I have been wondering how this was going to turn out and am glad we got an update so quickly. LW, it sounds like you’ve learned a lot of really tough lessons during this entire process, but it also sounds like you’re taking them to heart. Best of luck with your future plans!

    1. wittyrepartee*

      I would like to suggest to OP that she investigate how this kind of really bad judgement extends into her normal life. Is it common for her to be taken advantage of or manipulated by bad actors?

      1. biobotb*

        That’s a good thought. Throughout all of this, the LW was looking to other people to guide her and make decisions for her: Laura, Alison, her BIL. If she’s going to try entrepreneurship again, she’s going to have to make her own judgement calls eventually.

        1. wittyrepartee*

          But also- Laura was pretty obviously manipulative. Demanding someone else be fired, and then not accepting “she’s left” as acceptable (ie. wanting punitive action rather than an action that fixes the problem), is REALLY beyond the pale. Especially when she’s trying to oust a good employee that you’ve worked with for four years. I’m wondering if that’s a pattern in OP’s life.
          I feel like there’s something off with her danger sensors. Reading the gift of fear, or a similar book seems appropriate here. Maybe some therapy too.

    1. NotAnotherManager!*

      Same. No doubt that OP made significant mistakes (which it takes maturity to both realize and own up to), but losing one’s entire business is rough and not an outcome anyone wants.

    2. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Same. Except I was pleased to see that LW has learned what they did wrong and is taking advice from the right people. Best of luck, LW. I think with the kind of attitude you appear to have, you might just recover well from this.

    3. Elbe*

      Yes, this was quite the update. The LW wrote in about how to fire Miranda and now a week later they’re probably not going to have a business at all. That’s a short timeline.

      Hopefully this is something that the LW be able to learn from and then move on to something better. Being able to take the criticism with grace is a good sign that the LW will be okay eventually.

    4. Ellie*

      Yes – I’m really sorry your business failed, but I think you learned a good lesson from this.

      The employee that stayed with you – make sure you offer them a good reference, and see if you can use your contacts to get them a position somewhere. It sounds like they’ve had a very bad week too.

  6. Campfire Raccoon*

    OMFG I am so sorry. This was a learning experience for sure, but I wish you hadn’t had to learn it this particular way.

  7. aaaaAAAAAAAAA!*

    It’s so rare when a LW admits they were wrong, but I’m glad to see you have smart people around you to call you out on your mistakes. Hope things improve for everyone soon!

  8. leeapeea*

    Very gracious of you to share this here, OP. It’s never a pleasant feeling to realize you’ve been mislead, or on the wrong track, and even worse when it’s your own business on the line. I’m sure reading the comments felt very, very hard. I’m glad you chose to reach out to the experts in your family as well as the ones here, and that you have an option to either sell or try to rebuild. Best of luck on whatever is next for you.

    1. SomehowIManage*

      I agree. The very fact that you read the comments and sought the advice of someone you trusted and came back to update us shows your humility and ability to learn. I have no doubt that you will rebound.

      I picked the name SomehowIManage in honor of the Michael-Scott-from-the-Office-esque cringeworthy stuff I have done in my career. However, now I am frequently called one of the better managers in my group. Live and learn!

  9. Miri*

    You’ve given up the right to feel that Miranda is being “unprofessional” by resigning without notice; you did her incredibly dirty. I wish you well on your learning curve.

    1. littledoctor*

      Hard co-sign, Miranda has been absolutely screwed over by LW. Literally LW doesn’t deserve notice or transition help from Miranda when LW has behaved so unprofessionally and unkindly to her.

      1. Worldwalker*

        Given the fact that she told her BIL that his wanting to hire Miranda would let her off the hook for firing her, and the fact that Laura wanted confirmation that Miranda had been fired, not just quit (what kind of vicious person *cares*?) I’m wondering just what the LW expected Miranda to do? Given that she was clearly going to be fired — through no fault of her own — was she just supposed to wait to get the sack? That would be the “professional” thing to do? In what universe?

        1. sharrbe*

          Exactly. Miranda quit so she wasn’t put into a position where she had to tell a potential employer that she was fired from her last job. It’s a lot better to explain that you left a position because the environment was untenable than it is to try and explain that you were fired because an employee sabotaged you and poisoned your boss against you. Even though that was Miranda’s case, an interviewer might just assume she is dramatic and a troublemaker. Miranda did the right thing for her own future. She owed the LW her nothing at that point. I’m actually in awe of Miranda for not telling the LW off. Now THAT was professionalism.

    2. Sunflower*

      That stood out to me too.
      And Laura is horrible. She wasn’t satisfied that Miranda is gone. She wanted her fired.

      1. MissBaudelaire*

        Yeah, that left a bad taste in my mouth.

        Laura couldn’t be happy that the person she wanted gone was gone. No no no, it had to be fired. And I promise you, even if OP had told her that ‘in confidence’ that tea would have been spilled to the other’s in her clique.

        1. Former Dean*

          It may have also been that Laura did not actually know how to do the job without Miranda.

        2. The Rules are Made Up*

          Yeah, I thought that the comments were being extreme in declaring Laura some kind of business stealing mastermind who was probably embezzling and stealing inventory when she was mostly just a manipulative drama llama. But it’s true that she is horrible and this nailed it for me. If the issue is the other person and that person is gone, what difference does it make if she was fired vs quit if the end result is the same? To someone who isn’t petty and vengeful, of course. I’d bet money that she got that glowing friend recommendation because she’s good at doing “favors” to get in someones good graces and spinning any conflict into being another person’s fault.

      2. Elbe*

        Honestly, I hope that Laura can get some professional help. Her previous office threw a party when she left, and now she brought down her new employer’s business? YIKES.

        1. Susana*

          Professional help? Yeah, I guess. But she’s not the victim here; she’s the perp. I hope others get help (of some kind) before Laura, who I hope suffers.

    3. CeeKee*

      I almost wonder if Miranda came across the original post, and that’s why she quit with no notice.

        1. Worldwalker*

          Given the toxic mess it’s clear that job had become, I suspect she quit as soon as she found a job in a coffee shop. Anything to get out of there.

    4. Meep*

      I am glad LW is “waking up” but that drove me to see red too. There was a lot of taking accountability (great!) but there were also instances of back-sliding (this instance for example) in the letter too. I wish LW the best of luck figuring it all out, but I have a feeling she is going to experience a lot of failures and hard-truths before she fully grows and overcomes this.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I felt the same way, until I read the second part, and then it seemed like pure defensiveness. It’s hard to be told you f*cked up.

      2. Oh Behave*

        This bit from the second update stood out as well. “and I might have undercut Miranda from the beginning”
        I too took LW to task. Even if LW fired Miranda, Laura would have made LW’s life hell. Tough lessons learned and maybe rereading those comments to plug in the gaps.

    5. Gina*

      That Laura wanted to know whether Miranda quit or was fired. Like really wanted to know is creepy. And frankly none of her business.

      1. Estrella the Starfish*

        And quit because she wasn’t told! She got rid of Miranda and that still wasn’t enough. I wonder if Miranda saw through Laura’s b***shirt early on and that’s why she’s been gunning for her.

        1. Fran Fine*

          That’s exactly what happened, lol. She couldn’t bully or manipulate Miranda, so Miranda had to go.

      2. Anonymous Hippo*

        Sounds like she wanted control, not necessarily Miranda gone. The OP standing up to her and refusing to answer showed her they had grown a spine and weren’t going to as easily manipulated as they were prior.

        1. LTL*

          Yes. It’s possible that Laura is very vindictive but it’s also possible that she’s a predatory manipulator and OP seemed like a bad target.

      3. Empress Matilda*

        Yeah, Laura is the actual worst.

        OP made a lot of mistakes, but I do believe she was doing her best. Plus coming here to ask for help, and then coming back after that comment section! OP, you have a lot of character, and I think you’re going to be just fine.

        Whereas Laura was just running around sticking her fingers into everything, causing trouble and trying to get people fired, and who knows what else. Whatever she did, she did it deliberately and maliciously. I hope she steps barefoot on Lego and Barbie shoes every night for the rest of her life.

      4. Sparkles McFadden*

        Wanting to make sure Miranda had been fired and didn’t just quit tells us everything we need to know about Laura.

      5. Lily*

        Yeah that’s so f* vile, like who on earth would care about this, wouldn’t everyone who thought Miranda was a problem be like “good Problem Employee is gone” and not like “must be fired”?

      6. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        That was the bit that really set off my alarm bells. Like that’s a stunning level of malice – calculated malice too. It’s like an abusive boyfriend deciding to test you by demanding you drive a friend away and no, it doesn’t count if the friend walks away of their own accord – you HAVE to make them feel dreadful first.

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Came for this here for this.
      I would like to point out that Laura’s reaction was so weird that she may have taken it on herself to warn Miranda her job was on the line. I would seriously suggest you send one last note to Miranda offering to be a strong positive reference for her in the future and yes apologized for letting the Laura situation get out of control.

      1. LTL*

        Offering to be a strong reference, along with an apology, may be a good idea. I wouldn’t necessarily expect a response, however.

    7. Merci Dee*

      That one comment about Miranda being “unprofessional” for not giving notice made me thing, more than anything else, that the OP really hasn’t picked up as much of a lesson from this situation as she should have. Additionally, while the updates on the party that Laura’s former coworkers threw after she left and the incredulous reaction of one of the OP’s acquaintances were rather interesting and unsurprising, it looks like the OP is just kind of shrugging her shoulders about this with an “oh, well, how could I have known?” attitude. I mean, sure, it’s fine to get a recommendation for a new employee from a close friend — absolutely, that’s fine! But getting a few good words from a close friend doesn’t absolve you of your duty to perform due diligence on anyone you’re bringing into your business. And that just absolutely fell apart.

      Also, I’m seeing a pattern here, between the two letters:
      1) OP basically let Miranda run the business on her own for 4 years, to the point where OP didn’t know where any of the sourcing was coming from for her inventory. She admitted she hadn’t used the business’s software in years.
      2) She hired a shipping contractor to handle the packaging and shipping for her merchandise, outsourcing yet another layer of responsibility for her company.
      3) She hired on Laura at the recommendation of a friend to run her warehouse, “overselling” how much she needed Laura to step in and help straighten things out, calling Miranda’s experience and expertise into question as she did it.
      4) As mentioned above, OP didn’t do anything to check Laura’s background to see if she had the management experience she claimed. She took a close friend’s recommendation as all the vouching she needed for someone who was going to come in and run her warehouse operations. Also brought on other employees at Laura’s sole recommendation.
      5) OP believed Laura when Laura told OP how much Miranda was screwing up, even though OP admitted that she didn’t have enough knowledge about the business to know whether Miranda had made the mistakes that Laura claimed — she took Laura at her word, and completely 180’d her opinion on Miranda based on nothing but someone else’s word.
      6) OP developed an inappropriate relationship with Laura, to the point where =Laura was managing the OP’s personal life=, by the OP’s own admission. I think this is a strong enough statement on its own.
      7) OP is confused about the problems that she’s running into between Laura and Miranda, to the extent that she refuses to get hands-on to put the issues to rest.
      8) OP writes in to an advice blog to try to figure out what to do, gets a pretty strong response from the blogger with years and years of experience in the management field. Gets strong responses from blog readers.
      9) OP goes to lunch with her brother-in-law to discuss, and seems surprised when he has an equally strong response to the situation and says a) he’s not saving her from having to fire Miranda, and b) he’s going to poach Miranda because she deserves better treatment. This seems to be the point at which OP finally understands that the proverbial fecal matter has hit the fan.

      I fully admit that this is my own perception, and it’s entirely possible that my perception is incorrect here (we have two letters that describe the totality of what we know about the OP as a person, a business owner, and a manager, so our scope is limited,) But I’m seeing a person here who seems to be extremely okay with taking a back-set in her own life and handing the reigns over to anyone else who happens to come along at the time. From the letters, I got the impression that the OP just felt that she’d been swept up in all this stuff that was going on around her, without a clear idea of how she’d gotten there. And that’s just . . . a lot. I guess maybe it’s just that I can’t imagine giving up that much control in my life, especially as it relates to my financial future. Am I the only one who got this same read on events?

      1. Green Beans*

        Honestly when the OP said she’d been in the medical field it made a lot more sense to me. There’s a lot of siloing in hospitals/research that can lead to a really unhealthy “brilliant genius comes up with ideas and peons manage the unimportant details to execute idea” culture.

        I don’t the OP was thinking of it as giving up control; I think she likely had just dismissed all the logistics that actually make things possible as unimportant. A management course is a fantastic idea, OP.

      2. Jules the 3rd*

        I do get that feeling, some. OP reminds me of some of my creative friends, who are uncomfortable with business nuts n bolts (balance sheets, payroll, inventory / carrying costs). Anytime a number comes in, they get uncomfortable, even when it’s addition / subtraction / multiplication. OP seems like that, but on a lot more fronts.

      3. Archaeopteryx*

        Yes this does read a lot like the root problem is someone thinking of themselves as a passenger to their own decisions. OP mentions drinking the kool-aid, but… *she* made the kool-aid herself. I’m really glad she followed up with a gracious response, but it seems like her whole method of making choices in her life could use some strenuous review.

        1. MissBaudelaire*

          Right? Yeah, she drank the Kool-Aid, but she mixed it and was pouring herself glass after glass of it.

          I am very sad for OP that the lessons here come at such a big price. That sucks and is Too Bad. I can only hope that she sees beyond the business lessons and more into the Life Lessons about being responsible for yourself, though.

          1. Worldwalker*

            The School of Hard Knocks teaches some very good courses, and the lessons are lasting, but the tuition is steep.

            1. Littorally*

              Or, as I’ve heard — experience is the worst teacher, because you get the test before the lesson.

              Either way, I hope the OP’s road leads up from here.

        2. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

          One bit of advice I got from the myriad therapists I saw after I’d spectacularly torpedoed my own life (not going into details, it’s not work) was that I needed to really work on removing “oh X just happened to me” passive style language from my volcabulary because I used it the whole time I was describing anything bad.

          Even when it had been a decision on my part to say/do X. The passive language made it out like I was powerless to prevent any of this happening and I was just shunted along by it all. Instead, I learnt upon some really painful reflection that actually…I had made the choice(s) myself. And hurt others doing it.

          Reframing things from passive to active voice hurt a lot BUT I felt less powerless in my own life going forward.

          1. MissBaudelaire*

            Aren’t those lessons always the roughest? Mine taught me “If the common denominator in all these problems is you, the problem–might be you.”

            1. MissBaudelaire*

              “Choosing nothing is still a choice with consequences!”

              Literally said that to my kid’s principal.

      4. Worldwalker*

        “Am I the only one who got this same read on events?”

        I think you summarized it nicely for most if not all of us.

      5. Not One of the Bronte Sisters*

        I think you’re absolutely correct. One hundred percent correct. It seems to me that OP has been way too uninvolved in the operation of the business from the beginning. OP also didn’t go to the trouble of vetting a possible new hire. I wonder whether running a business of OP’s own was ever a good idea. But the good news is, there seem to be some valuable lessons learned.

      6. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        “This seems to be the point at which OP finally understands that the proverbial fecal matter has hit the fan.”
        At that point, OP was still sure Miranda was still unprofessional (like when she wanted a job description and when she didn’t answer emails over the weekend and when she told OP what their software could and couldn’t do and it’ contradicted Laura.)
        It took until LAURA left her high and dry that she realized …
        She’d been talking to Kaiser Sosay all along!

      7. LTL*

        OP, if you’re reading this, I think there’s something worth considering. I may be off-base and if I am, feel free to ignore, but Merci Dee’s comment reminded me of a time in my life when I’d always need input from others.

        Do you trust your judgement? Have you experienced gaslighting in your adult relationships or as a child? I often needed someone else to tell me I was doing something right until I got a couple years of therapy. I didn’t realize why this was until things got worse when I was in a relationship where an ex would constantly gaslight me. I left him and my mental state improved again. At that point I realized where the “mind fog” was coming from. It may be worth asking yourself if you have trouble acting and coming to conclusions independently. If you always need validation, why?

        These things are difficult to see while you’re still in the mindset so I would highly, highly recommend speaking to a therapist to at least help evaluate if there are any patterns of relying on others to make decisions in your broader life.

        1. Not So NewReader*


          Going the opposite way, there’s a slew of people out there who sincerely believe life happens to you and you just have to soldier though whatever happens next. I married one of these people. In some ways he was a counter-balance to worry-wart me who had to have things covered. We made it work, he listened when I worried and if he said “Don’t worry because of [reasons]”, I’d listen to him. It took years for us to get to the basic discussion of “does life happen to us, or do we have some autonomy?”. That was, umm, a very interesting discussion. He was a brilliant man and presented his points extremely well.

          I concluded that for me, I have to believe that I can impact how my life plays out. I actually believe that the other perspective would be disastrous for me. But I do understand that those who believe life happens to us and we have to just bear it all, also can’t see it any other way. I think that both types of people serve a purpose and we need both types of people.

      8. T.N.H.*

        Good points. OP should also check in with a therapist. In addition to working through this tough series of events they can recommend further testing, if warranted. Feeling so completely overwhelmed by life can be an overlooked symptom of anxiety, depression, ADHD etc.

  10. fposte*

    Sorry, OP. Running a business can be really hard. But lots of long-term managers and business owners have a tough learning experience in their past; you’ll be a much better businessperson in the future as a result of this.

  11. Hills to Die on*

    I want to give you a hug. You have made huge progress and have done what you can to fix it. You did the best you could and you learned. Good job. <3 That's all you can ask from a person. You mentioned offering Miranda her job back – I would recommend officially apologizing to her.

      1. Malika*

        Yes! Miranda will need some space to heal. Knowing that once she gets back out there her reference will be v positive will stop the jitters that come with getting ready for the job search.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I actually felt a lump in my throat reading the second letter, OP.

      I kind of guess that you won’t read the comments here. FWIW, your BIL kind of jarred me with his quick willingness to poach your employee. But I have to think that if BIL did poach her it was because you gave your BIL her contact information. It this is the case, I have to say I admire your grace and finesse here. It could be that you set her free to get to a better spot in life. I can applaud that.

  12. Two Chairs, One to Go*

    Good for Miranda!

    I’m sorry your employees trashed you on social media. Hard lesson learned but now you see who Laura really is. I hope you can move forward.

    1. EPLawyer*

      If they trashed after getting what they wanted but quitting anyway, they were ALWAYS going to do this. Who knows what they were saying to others while employed.

      This is why you ALWAYS check references. You are hiring for your business, not planning a social event. You need to consider business needs not anything else when hiring.

      1. BabyElephantWalk*

        And don’t trust friends of friends. Ask for references and call them. To not do that is such a recipe for disaster. If the person being referred is a friend of the referral source, that middle person could be doing the referree (Laura) a favour much more so than you.

      2. AndersonDarling*

        This is the perfect example on why you need to check references. If the OP made 2 phone calls, she would still have a business! Just two ding-dang phone calls! This single employee managed to tear apart the entire business!

      3. MissBaudelaire*

        This is an excellent point. Laura and Company were never going to be happy until Laura had everything going her way. And, for a time, it looked like OP was giving that, so everything was happy. But when she didn’t get Miranda fired (and how sick is that? If someone is not a good coworker and they go for any reason, you just be happy they’re gone, you don’t pout and seethe and QUIT because you didn’t get them fired. Which makes me think she just wanted to be able to gloat that she got someone fired), she took her toys and went home.

        It was never going to be enough for Laura.

        1. onco fonco*

          I think Laura wanted control over LW. At the very first sign of LW growing a spine – when she said she wouldn’t discuss Miranda – Laura walked out and set the last shreds of a functioning business on fire as she went. God knows what she would have done if she’d stayed.

          1. MissBaudelaire*

            Oh I do think it was a power move. I think it was always about power. Laura wanted to be a manager/supervisor/in a position of power. And not for the good of the company. Just because she is a person who wants power. Some people are insecure and the power makes them feel better, some people really think they know better all the time, and so the power only seems natural. I can’t say what Laura was.

            I did say in another comment it is possible she felt that because she was hired as a ‘fixer’ not getting rid of Miranda meant that OP didn’t trust her to fix things, and that she expected OP to beg her to stay and that the flaming was a panic response. And all that is possible.

            I really think Laura is just one of those people who must be in power. I won’t discount possibilities, I’m miles and hours removed from the situation. But I really just think Laura needed power. Had to have it. Was willing to do whatever it took to get it. I don’t think she was going to intentionally destroy the business/steal/oust OP. I think she just is a person who requires authority, and when she saw she wasn’t going to get it, she split and punished OP.

      4. NYer*

        Yes, but a reference is never going to say ‘we had a party the day she quit!’ … which is really what you’d want to know I guess?

        1. Paulina*

          It’s quite common to have a party when someone leaves. The distinction is whether they’re the guest of honour or entirely absent.

    2. learnedthehardway*

      I think the best outcome from this situation is that Laura quit – I feel badly for the OP but relieved for her that she has learned some hard lessons and that she isn’t dealing with Laura any more.

      OP – the best way to salvage what you can from this situation is to apologize to Miranda and to tell her that you will always be ready to be a reference for her.

      Keep this experience in your back pocket for future interviews – when asked about your worst mistake in business and what you learned, you’ve got a doozy here, but while it really hurts now, it is going to set you up for being a good manager in future because you’re obviously learning from the experience.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Going to the next step in logic, GOOD employers may see that trash talking and it might be a real obstacle for Laura and her friend in the near future. Sometimes we think we have reach the end of a story, but we actually haven’t.

    4. The Rules are Made Up*

      Yup. That woman was never her friend. People who are your friend only as long as you do what they want, when they want, are not actually your friend.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Joan Jett phrased it great, “You’re never really loosing when you loose fake friends.” Laura was and always will be a fake friend. OP you are much better off without Laura.

    5. Malika*

      Imagine if we got trashed on Linkedin by our colleagues and that prospective managers and colleagues could read scathing comments on what was a tough situation that we handled badly but we had grown from. Yikes! I hope this doesn’t affect Op’s subsequent career step.

  13. Alda*

    You’re going to be such a great manager in the future of you manage to learn from this without being broken by it, and it really sounds like you will. I hope for all the best things for you.

    1. BabyElephantWalk*

      Equally likely: the OP might not be suited for management at all, but will come out of this with a better understanding of the types of roles she *is* suited for.

      1. serenity*

        Worth noting that “management” and “owner of small business responsible for everything” are also quite different. I hope OP takes this moment, now that the dust is clearing, to really understand what’s going to make the most sense for her going forward. It may or may not end being the owner of a small business.

        1. BabyElephantWalk*

          Good point. But either way, this is the time to regroup, step back and figure out what she does value in a career, and what sort of work and work environment makes her happy, what skills she currently does and does not have and develop the skills that will support her goals.

      2. Worldwalker*


        Management is a skill like any other. Saying that everyone should be able to be a manager is like saying everyone should be able to be a computer programmer, or an artist, or a teapot designer.

        A friend of mine was fired by his employer in a “rightsizing” because he wanted to keep on being a good programmer (and he was one of their best), not be “promoted” to become a bad manager (he’d had enough experience to know he’d be one of their worst) He fell upward — he got a job, with higher pay, with another company in that field who was perfectly happy to have a great programmer continuing to be a great programmer; they hired programmers to program, and managers to manage, and don’t conflate the two. (incidentally, his former company failed within a couple of years, mostly because of boneheaded corporate decisions)

        Far too many companies — and would-be managers, for that matter — think that way.

        The LW might not be any more suited to being a manager than to being a teapot designer. She needs to figure out what she’s best at, and do *that*.

        1. Retro*

          Highly recommend “The Peter Principle” by Lawrence Peter for a (recognizable, pointed and humorous) take on that phenomenon.

          1. Retro*

            One criticism I do have of his book (which was written in the 1960s) is that he seems to view competence very linearly: at one point he says that some women reach their level of incompetence by being a housewife, which disregards that being a bad housewife doesn’t mean being a bad worker. Similarly, being a good manager doesn’t mean being a good line worker.

      3. Aerin*

        Or she’ll know what to look for in a business partner who can balance out her weaknesses (and hopefully she’ll have learned enough about how to run the business to be sure the partner isn’t taking advantage of her).

  14. Artemesia*

    Bless you. What an impressive CTJT with yourself. I hope your buy out comes through so you have a chance to start over with something that is a better fit.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Agreed – I am sorry that the business is failing, but grateful you have the chance to salvage at least something from the destruction. It also sounds like you will be a much smarter and more experienced manager the next time you are able to run your own business.

      My other two cents (fee free to ignore if it doesn’t apply/isn’t needed).
      If you reach out at all to Miranda make it a very sincere apology with no expectations of any reply.

      Oh, and yes – Laura showed you what she was, please think of her the next time you are hiring as the reminder of why it’s important to check references.

  15. Akcipitrokulo*

    Ow, that’s a rough week.

    Hard lessons to learn, and hard that they came about so dramatically. Obviously happy for Miranda, and I think you have grown immensely over that last week!

    Good luck for future – I hope you get chance to put these lessons into practice (if you want to!).

  16. Amy Farrah Fowler*

    OP – I’m really proud of you. It is really hard to take criticism with grace and humility, and you really seem to recognize what went wrong and are working to fix it, even though that didn’t mean salvaging the relationship with Miranda. I think there will be some continued lessons along the way, but I really appreciate you being vulnerable and working to improve your skills.

    1. Batgirl*

      I think OP learned a lot of things quite fast and went to great sources for information (Alison and the BiL), once she realized things weren’t adding up. Sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know, and all you can do is check yourself with others. The social media shit storm was always going to happen the first time OP refused to jump for Laura, so it’s actually great that happened, so quickly. If something is going to fall apart, get there fast so you can start rebuilding.

  17. Heidi*

    This really turned around quickly. I do feel bad for the OP, but I can’t help but be a little nettled by that one last dig at Miranda, saying that it was “unprofessional” of her to quit without notice after 4 years. That’s kind of like saying Cinderella was unprofessional for leaving her stepmother’s house without notice to go marry the prince.

    1. Wants Green Things*

      Or that the one call center employee was “unprofessional” for quitting so she could go to her own graduation, after her boss denied the morning off request but let another employee go to a concert.

      Pretty sure everyone *except* Miranda – and the one other employee still hanging on – has been unprofessional.

    2. Phoenix Wright*

      I felt like this too when reading it, but then realized this was the update that she sent the same day her letter was published. The second update sounds a lot more humble, so it seems LW is taking the advice to heart.

    3. EPLawyer*

      Yeah this part tells me that OP still doesn’t quite get it. All the words in the world won’t matter if she still doesn’t see that she basically pushed Miranda out the door and all Miranda did was walk through it.

      Also doing the same thing about Laura, instead of recognizing that SHE (OP) messed up by not checking references and just going on the recommendation of a friend. Lots of justification for WHY but still the subtext is Laura lied to her, instead of acknowledging it was her DUTY to do her due diligence, not Laura’s to be truthful with her (well it was on Laura not to lie). If she had, Miranda would still work for her and Laura would not have destroyed her business on the way out the door.

    4. Haley*

      Agree – if you demote someone with no notice after 4 years, surely they can quit with no notice after 4 years. That said, for the most part it looks like LW is seeing the light and I think they will come out of this for the better

    5. Adrienne*

      The bitt that nettled for me (great phrase btw) was the ‘I can’t believe the Koolaid I was drinking a week ago.’ part.
      OP didn’t drink someone else’s Koolaid, that pitcher and the sugar and all was hers. She mixed it even. Her spoon.
      I think y’all get my metaphor.
      drinking the Koolaid speaks to getting taken in, but it sounded like *TO THE LAST* OP was an active participant in their self-deception.

      1. BabyElephantWalk*

        Glad for the about face and improvement, particularly with the second update, but there’s still work to be done on accountability and accepting her own failures.

      2. Your Local Password Resetter*

        Isn’t that exactly what that phrase means? And Op seems quite well aware that she’s partially responsible for what happened.

        1. Tali*

          Usually “drinking the Kool-aid” refers to blind devotion to someone else, as in the mass suicide tragedy the phrase originally comes from (it’s a pretty gross phrase, isn’t it). I understand Adrienne’s point to mean that OP frames herself as “taken in” or “deceived” and therefore less responsible for what happened. When actually, OP is almost entirely responsible for what happened: She didn’t check references on Laura, she managed the situation poorly. In order to grow, it’s important that OP fully realize her part in this and not minimize her choices and decisions.

          1. BabyElephantWalk*

            This right here. The phrase implies to me that she’s taking responsibility for being fooled by Laura, but not for how her own management and actions created and grew the situation. Laura is awful, but she’s only as much of a problem as LW let her become.

  18. Eldritch Office Worker*

    I’m glad to hear you read the comment section, OP. That must have been hard. It sounds like you’ve taken a lot from this situation and I wish you the best.

    I am, however, incredibly distressed to hear you still referring to Miranda as unprofessional. I hope in the unlikely case she ever needs you as a reference you’ll drop that line of thinking, or at least keep it to yourself. Don’t sabotage her any further.

    1. Mental Lentil*

      Yeah, agreed. I read “it hit me that I’ve been wrong about this whole situation” and then was a little shocked when LW described Miranda as unprofessional. There are definitely a lot of hurt feelings that will take LW time to get over. Therapy may help.

    2. Pony Puff*

      Good point. After screwing Miranda over, the least she should do is provide a good reference if need be.

  19. Mental Lentil*

    I’m glad Miranda is landing on her feet, I’m not surprised at all by Laura’s response (what a petty, petty person—for the love of all that is ramen, she has to be one of the most toxic people I’ve read about here), and I’m glad that OP has got an exit plan. Tough lessons to learn, to be sure.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      OMG she’s horrible. I pity whoever hires her in the future and dear gawd please don’t let me end up moving and working with her.

    2. mcfizzle*

      I cheered when BIL said he was going to offer her a job. And then cheered again at his succinct, spot-on response for why. Thank you BIL!!!!

    3. Lance*

      Seriously. After the original letter, there was some shreds of doubt that Laura was outright toxic instead of immature and behaving ridiculously… but asking for clarification that Miranda was fired, rather than quit, shoved those tiny little shreds way off the edge. Just… wow.

    4. Butterfly Counter*

      I admit, I couldn’t quite tell from the first letter last week whether or not Laura was wrong about the business side of things. Maybe Miranda WAS screwing a lot of things up? Obviously Laura was being unprofessional and manipulative, but I believed it was on the OP to have the facts enough to at least know who was being truthful.

      And now it definitely looks as though Miranda was always doing the right thing and Laura probably never was.

    5. Batgirl*

      They threw a party when she left her last job. I’ve worked with honest to God demons who concealed their tails, and still no one threw an actual party.

      1. Mental Lentil*

        Yep, that really stuck out to me as well.

        It reminded me of when Margaret Thatcher died and the song “Ding Dong the Witch Is Dead” hit the charts again shortly thereafter. You really have to have had a bad experience with someone to go to that level.

      2. Ally McBeal*

        Yeah I’ve worked with a demon or two as well, and have actually texted with close coworkers “ding dong the witch is dead” when one of them was pink-slipped, but that particular layoff happened during lockdown so there was no opportunity to have a party. Maybe when we’re all back in the office again ;)

    6. Tiny Soprano*

      I was certain Laura was manipulative and toxic after the first letter, but I sure wasn’t expecting the level of downright evil she’s turned out to be. Wowza.

      1. Fran Fine*


        I saw right through her ass from the very beginning, lol. I love being vindicated.

  20. Me*

    “That was five hours ago and Miranda just texted me her resignation, no two weeks notice, no transitional help, nothing. I get why she’s doing it, but I feel like it’s pretty unprofessional of her after 4 years of working together.”

    And the OP still doesn’t get it. I know you said never read the comments but I sure hope you do. And re-read them because you’re still missing the boat.

    Miranda owed you NOTHING. You treated her like trash. You demoted her, let another employee trash her reputation and you believed it because you have zero employer/employee boundaries, refused to update her job description after demoting her, complained about her not being at your beck and call. And then you have the nerve to complain about her lack of professionalism because she quite a terrible job in a terrible toxic working environment with a terrible toxic boss (hint =its you) and didn’t do anything for you?

    Sell your business. Take your classes but don’t even think about becoming a manager until you figure how Miranda was a victim in all of this who owed you nothing.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Again, this is a two-part update; that was in the first. The LW clearly changed her perspective by the second.

      Please be constructive here, as well as kind to someone who is clearly struggling. Most LWs wouldn’t come back and update at all after last week. This one showed a lot of grace and humility in the second part.

      commenting rules

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        I’m surprised we got an update at all, and that she made her way through the comments. It was rough – ultimately constructive, but rough. Many LWs would have run for the hills, still in denial. I’m very impressed with this LW.

        1. MissBaudelaire*

          Oh for sure, I am proud of her, and I am sorry this is what it all came down to. It’s too bad, it really is.

          It’s almost like that one Letter Writer who revealed she had bullied someone in high school and then lost out on job opportunities from it. I remember seeing her in the comments realizing that she had been a jerk, and sometimes this is what happens when you do jerk things.

          Play stupid games, win stupid prizes. I think a lot of people never expect to actually collect that prize, though.

        2. Medusa*

          I completely agree. I’ve absolutely done stuff in my past I’m not proud of, and it was extremely painful and difficult to come to terms with. I imagine the LW is going through something similar, and I think it’s very brave of them to have written back after the pile on in the first letter. Even though none of the comments were malicious, they were harsh, so I really commend LW on coming back and deciding to evaluate her approach.

      2. Bostonian*

        You keep saying that, but where is it in the second part? I don’t see the second update mentioning Miranda not being unprofessional for leaving without notice.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          She doesn’t address that specifically, but her entire perspective on the situation changed by the second update — “I can’t believe the Koolaid I was drinking a week ago,” etc. It doesn’t make sense to berate her for the first email when clearly her perspective had changed by the second one. (She also says it was fair that Miranda didn’t accept her offer to return and “I really screwed up.”)

          It generally takes more than a few hours for someone’s perspective to completely shift, and you can see that in these two emails side by side.

        2. gbca*

          She didn’t say it specifically, but I think this part makes it pretty clear she’s changed her tune about Miranda: “I offered Miranda her job back but she doesn’t want it. It’s hard to admit, but that’s fair. I really screwed up.”

        3. Super Doctor Astronaut Peter Corbeau*

          It’s right under the bolded sentence that says, “And then an update to the update a few days later:”

        4. Ellie*

          She offered Miranda her job back – that’s a pretty clear indication that she no longer considers her unprofessional.

    2. Skl*

      I agree with you 100%!! OP makes it a point to state Miranda was unprofessional but the real unprofessional person here was Laura then OP.

    3. LTL*

      C’mon. It was a few hours after Miranda quit and OP had just gotten a lot of tough love from Alison and the commentators. Let’s show the LW some grace.

      1. Batgirl*

        I know right, people take more than half a day to rethink their actions of a year and decide they deserve any and all response.

  21. Tehanu*

    It sounds to me that you are selling your business? I am sorry that is has turned out this way – it sounds like you have learned some tough lessons through this. I hope the comments weren’t too hard to read – commenters on this site are generally better than elsewhere and Allison tries to keep it civil in here, but to see all these strangers criticizing you must be difficult. Best of luck and I hope we get to read a wonderful update from you in the future!

    1. Reluctant Manager*

      Having a small business that someone’s willing to buy is an achievement. LW has some work to do on management skills (though let she who is without sin cast the first stone…), but I hope for another update in the future.

      LW, I might be careful about taking advice from that friend in the future.

      1. Fran Fine*

        Having a small business that someone’s willing to buy is an achievement.

        Yes, Miranda’s achievement. She was the one actually running the place for four years after all. The OP didn’t even know what was going on with any aspect of the business.

    2. Ally McBeal*

      The comments on AAM are only overwhelmingly harsh when the letter writer is deeply, deeply wrong. Too many of us have suffered under bosses who were cruel, incompetent, or both, and it elicits a primal anger. I hated reading “lesson learned, never read the comments” because this is such a reliably excellent comments section, and hopefully when she’s healed a bit she can come to terms with her reaction.

  22. CeeKee*

    Oh wow, what an incredibly bad week.
    I could tell Laura was trouble from the first letter, but I didn’t realize she was the “it’s not enough that she doesn’t work here any more, I have to KNOW she was FIRED” level of trouble.
    This is really a lot for the LW to go through all at once.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        And then Laura left anyway. That’s what’s so bizarre. She caused all sorts of trouble, got the outcome she wanted even if it wasn’t in the way she wanted, but then ran for the hills.
        Hmm. I guess Laura wanted to control the OP. And when Miranda quit, she realized that she didn’t have the control she wanted. This is Netflix mini-series level manipulation.

        1. Siege*

          But she didn’t get the outcome she wanted, because Miranda wasn’t fired. That has consequences that simply leaving a job might not, and Laura sounds exactly like someone who wants to KNOW that her enemy is at risk of being denied unemployment, losing her home, facing personal consequences, etc. I would note in my mental directory that Laura is sociopathic, in the event that anyone called me for a reference, personally; I’m not aware of another term for that level of hatred, and calling it petty would be inadequate (not that you did, but I feel like that’s the term that will be used to avoid diagnosing, which I’m not doing – I genuinely do not care what Laura’s problems are, her behaviour is sociopathic in its effects.)

          1. Paulina*

            The “I must be in control or I will destroy it” is a very strong signal of narcissistic tendencies, and that seems to have been Laura’s attitude towards the LW and the business. LW pushing back on the “you have to have fired her” insistence told Laura she was not in control, so she destroyed.

        2. Dream Jobbed*

          I think she left because Miranda was covering things Laura could not, and knew she’d be found out anyway.

      2. quill*

        Her last set of ex-coworkers threw a party over not having to deal with her anymore was beyond even my expectations.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          Agreed. The most I’ve ever done is a private chorus of Ding Dong the Witch is Dead (generally on my own at the end of the shift in my car) when an employee I had serious difficulty working with left. That they had an actual party -possibly even in the Office with the knowledge of their boss speaks VOLUMES about Laura – and none is good.

          1. Anon and on and on*

            Yeah, I’ve been to an event like that. It was outside the office, at lunchtime the next day. No regrets. It was THAT bad.

          2. Robin Ellacott*

            At an old job I took over from a petty, inept bully of a manager. There was a party after she quit in which personalized game of “pin the tail on the donkey” was played with the donkey being a drawing of her and the tail being an idiosyncratic piece of clothing she wore.

            I was an inexperienced manager but honestly I could have come in and done nothing but NOT cruelly belittle people and they would have loved me, so it worked out great for me.

            It reminds me of a tweet I saw after an election which said “live your life in such a way that people don’t dance in the streets when you lose your job.”

            1. Fran Fine*

              It reminds me of a tweet I saw after an election which said “live your life in such a way that people don’t dance in the streets when you lose your job.”

              Ha! Truth.

    1. Bostonian*

      Laura’s reaction is so beyond the pale. She got what she wanted (I thought?) with Miranda no longer being there. So what if she quite before OP fired her? Goes to show how toxic Laura really is.

    2. ecnaseener*

      Yes omg. If there was any doubt about what kind of person Laura is, there’s the proof. My jaw dropped at that.

    3. turquoisecow*

      Yeah I still don’t get why she quit. She wanted Miranda gone, why does it matter to her if she quit or was fired? And then she quit over it? Seems extreme, like she must have had some serious personal vendetta against Miranda.

        1. Susie Q*

          That was my take on it. LW finally drew a reasonable, professional line by saying she wasn’t going to discuss Miranda. So Laura quit, taking another employee with her, and went on a social media revenge campaign.

      1. Green Beans*

        She didn’t want Miranda to be gone; Laura wanted control. Miranda quitting was out of Laura’s control; the OP saying that Laura didn’t get to retcon it was taking away more control. Hence, the tantrum.

        1. Elenna*

          This really makes me wonder if Laura has any jobs lined up, or if she just threw a tantrum without even thinking about what she was going to do. Which honestly would not surprise me. Hopefully any jobs Laura interviews for check her references! And hopefully Miranda goes on to work at a great job with 100% less toxic co-workers (at the BIL’s firm or somewhere else, whichever).

          1. Hapless Bureaucrat*

            It’s also possible Laura quit hoping LW would panic and beg to rehire her. It all has a very “of you think you don’t need to listen to me? WE’LL SEE ABOUT THAT” feel– including the trash talk follow-up when LW didn’t cave.

        2. Batgirl*

          Absolutely. Laura doesn’t have any work skills to offer, she operates through cronyism. If OP isn’t going to be in a vicious clique, and at her beck and call (much less have the gall to keep another employee’s confidence) then OP is no good to Laura.

      2. Archaeopteryx*

        Or like Laura wanted proof that OP was entirely in her control, and OP saying no to one thing, ever, for the first time led to Laura bringing out the big guns.

        1. Teapot Repair Technician*

          This is the plausible answer. Laura was bad, but not necessarily stupid.

          Miranda was the only person who knew how to use the company’s “software.” Presuming this is the software they use to receive orders from customers and place orders with vendors, Miranda’s sudden resignation (without a replacement lined up) means that Laura is now responsible for a warehouse full of stuff that they don’t know how to sell or return, without being able to count on her next paycheck (assuming Miranda was also the only person who knew how to do payroll.)

          1. onco fonco*

            And Laura could see LW getting wise to her when LW said she wouldn’t discuss Miranda – no more cosy gossip sessions about what Miranda said and did. A heads-up for Laura that she wouldn’t be able to BS her way through for much longer.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        Laura wanted OP to fire Miranda. OP didn’t. Laura knew she was losing her control over OP, so she knew she had to quit. Laura is all about control.

        I think when OP goes through to figure out why the business is in the red, the answer will be Laura. I suspect that Miranda had some idea about this tip of the iceberg and the size of the iceberg under the water.

      4. Ellie*

        Yes, nothing but scorched earth was going to satisfy Laura. The fact that her ex-coworkers threw a party when she left speaks volumes. She’s a seriously nasty piece of work.

        If OP hadn’t drawn this boundary, it would have been some other one, at some point down the track. Someone like that is either your BFF or your hated enemy, there’s no in between.

    4. A Library Person*

      This is what struck me the most about the updates, in terms of the things that happened. Ultimately, Laura’s insistence on getting Miranda fired shows so much about her character and reiterates a feeling I got from the first letter that Laura is one of those vindictive people who simply wants to see others suffer.

      OP, I’m sorry this happened and I’m impressed by our grace toward the comment section. I hope that you did choose to read the comments on this post and see all of the support and good will toward you here.

  23. Adriano*

    “He also told me I needed to take managerial classes and was very ticked off about Laura loaning me her car. Everybody seemed ticked off about that, I read the comment section. Never read the comments.”

    “I think that’s when it hit me that I’ve been wrong about this whole situation.”

    I don’t want to pile on, but if you ask an expert for advice, and then it takes a different talk with your BIL to listen to the same advice, and also end up with the idea that you should never read the comments in one of the best comment sections I’ve seen… You do have a lot to internalize.

      1. Mental Lentil*

        I think it’s going to be a process. She has a lot to grieve here and she’ll need to go through those five stages of grief to come out on the other side.

        I do hope we can get an update in a year or two.

        1. have we met?*

          Agreed. Incredibly brave of OP to update us, after getting absolutely reamed in the initial comments (and rightly so).

          In the end, the only people really hurt were OP and maybe the last employee who stayed on. Sounds like Miranda landed on her feet, and Laura is free to wreak havoc elsewhere, dragging friends in her wake. Unfortunate for OP, but it could have been much worse for all involved.

          OP, sounds like you’ve learned an important, if expensive lesson, and I wish you the best for your future.

          1. Fran Fine*

            If you don’t think Miranda was hurt in this, you’re mistaken. We don’t know that she landed on her feet, and dealing with this nonsense for a year could not have been good for her mental health or her self-esteem. Let’s not make the OP the victim here. We can have empathy for her losing her business through her poor decision-making without rewriting history.

    1. Eric*

      Advice that says “you’ve been messing up, badly, for years” is always going to be hard to take, and usually will take hearing it from many trusted sources to internalize. I think it is impressive that she has moved her thinking forward this quickly.

      1. MissBaudelaire*

        Yeah, no one wants to hear “Well yeah, you screwed the pooch on this one.” Like, whoever wants to hear that the ruination of their business is their own fault? No one!

        I’m so impressed and proud of OP for being like “Know what? You’re right.” and actually taking it to heart AND taking steps to not fall into this trap again.

      2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Sometimes the worse the news is, the more different sources need to say the same thing because you only internalize a little bit of it each time.

    2. Putting the Fun in Dysfunctional*

      I didn’t see it that way. When you see something in the comments section on the internet, it can seem removed, it can seem like maybe everyone has group think and is just piling on. You can get defensive. But you share something in person with someone you trust and respect, and that person has the courage to say to your face that you made a huge mistake and confirms what people are saying in the first place it can solidify things. This was also just one day after reading the comments and trying to process everyone’s thoughts. It can be daunting and overwhelming. And it sounds like brother-in-law nicely encapsulated everyone’s points in two direct comments: Should never burrowed the car from an employee, and he wasn’t saving her, he was saving Miranda who he saw as a hard working dedicated employee that got the short end of the stick with the boss.

      1. Properlike*

        I read that part and said to my computer: “Best BIL *ever*!” In the sense that he’s willing to be honest with her. And it means something that OP took it to heart and is making some big changes!

        Criticism is always hard to take right after the fact, no matter how valid. I appreciate that OP took some time to reflect and update us.

      2. onco fonco*

        Yeah – and the volume of comments on the original post was truly overwhelming. I mean, when that many people agree about something they’re probably right! But it must be immensely difficult to take that feedback on board rather than instinctively flinching and defending yourself, just because the scale of it is SO huge. Harder than one trusted person saying the same thing, I imagine.

    3. Susie Q*

      I think it’s okay, even normal to go to more than one source for advice. My first thought on hearing she had resources like this brother-in-law, and sister who runs a success small business of her own, was that she should have gone to them a long time ago. She know them personally, she’s more likely to trust the advice they give than any advice from online sources.

      1. Anthony J Crowley*

        She might not even have listened to them if that was the first viewpoint she sought, and then realised later on when Alison’s advice was the same.

    4. Anonymous Hippo*

      Sometimes people come across weird in print, maybe they thought they explained it better in person. And honestly, everyone here piling on makes sense because we all follow Allison, so they could almost be considered one single response. BIL is someone they had a (presumably) good relationship, and would give the LW the benefit of the doubt…and the answer was still that LW royally messed up. I don’t think it was a odd sequence of events at all.

    5. Mallory Janis Ian*

      She wrote to someone who she knows gives unbiased, professional advice, and then she compared it against the advice of a trusted family member who she knows to be professional. It seems that comparing both pieces of advice helped OP internalize the message. Kind of like here in the comments section: one person commenting their opinion about someone’s circumstances is exactly one data point; the point is often most strongly made when multiple others concur.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        For major life decision it’s actually pretty wise to seek advice from more than one source. I have to wonder if OP was thinking of selling when she went to her BIL. Deciding to sell is a big move and not something one should take lightly.

        I will say, OP chooses advisors very well.

    6. Managing to Get By*

      There’s a difference between receiving advice online from someone who you don’t know and doesn’t know you, and getting advice in person from someone who knows you well and has every reason to cut you slack but doesn’t. It’s also helpful to hear the same advice from different sources especially when it’s a really big message suggesting huge changes in your viewpoint. Her journey to self-awareness makes sense to me.

    7. The Bill Murray Disagreement*

      She got expert advice and went to her BIL on the same day, that’s not so egregious really. And one week later she realized the full extent of her missteps and wrote a very gracious pair of updates. It isn’t perfect but it’s not bad either.

    8. Social Commentator*

      For what it’s worth, I took that comment as a sort of self-deprecating joke. “Don’t read the comments” is a common expression among folks I know to underscore the frustration that they feel when they get sucked into polemical chaos. But here, coupled with the fact that the comments coincided with her brother-in-law’s opinion, I took it more as a simple acknowledgement that reading all the comments was painful, not that they were irrelevant.

    1. calonkat*

      I think all of us only wish you the best and hope that you come out of this with the tools to do better with a new business. Please do let us know how life has turned out in a few years.

      And I agree with the commenters who have stated that you should apologize to Miranda and offer to be a reference for her in the future. Don’t burden her with your troubles, just an apology, a recognition of her years of valuable service and the offer.

    2. These Boots*

      Has anyone else wondered what was going on in the warehouse with Laura and her buddies? With Miranda gone and an owner who has no idea what’s going on in her own company, they could get up to a lot of mischief. I obviously watch too much crime drama. I’m always looking for motive.

      1. Ellie*

        I wondered that as well – OP writes about orders being cancelled, which has put her in the red. I wondered whether that was really to do with those online comments, or if there were serious issues that Laura had been ignoring for some time.

  24. Apostrophina*

    Oh, OP, I’m so sorry. I think a lot of people just don’t expect to have a “Laura” enter their lives and they’re not prepared.

    (Also, though I don’t know if this speaks to your situation: as the child of a parent who should not have been running their own business, there’s no shame in deciding you don’t want to do that—even if you only have to take a break from it after what sounds like a rough year. Best of luck, and thank you for the updates!)

    1. Rayray*

      These kind of Situations make me glad I dealt with my share of “Laura” mean girls while in school. I can usually smell them a mile away. We had a woman at my workplace and prettt much from my first interaction with her, my internal alarms were going off to keep away from her. My instincts were right, she would insult my 22-year old coworker and heir her feelings and she talked a lot of smack about my now-manager who is actually a wonderful manager. She has since been fired from the company, and good riddance.

      1. Tiny Soprano*

        I’ve been in the arts and have Laura radar. My dad… works in something adjacent to a lot of politicians and keeps getting suckered in by the nice guy act. He’s not an idiot, he’s just never had to deal with two-faced evil vipers before so he has no idea how to deal with it. I feel like OP was in the same boat, but now she’ll know a Laura when she sees one again.

        1. old biddy*

          My husband is similar to your dad. He’s a big trusting extrovert who wants to be BFFs quickly. When he meets other people similar to him, it’s great, but he also has let some vipers in.

    2. Greige*

      As a child of a parent who was taken in by another Laura, this happens. It doesn’t make you a bad person; you expect other people to be ethical because you are ethical. Even though you’re selling your business, I’m glad you found out what was happening before Laura did even more damage. (Believe me, it’s possible. Believe me.)

    3. PT*

      We had a Laura at my previous workplace. Everyone loved her! She was so great! My boss thought she was the best.

      She spent a ton of time bullying people behind the boss’s back. My boss left her in charge while she had surgery and she tried to get me fired. A bunch of people on staff’s llama training certifications started to expire and I offered to run a class to recertify them, since I was an instructor in that class. Our Laura cut me off and said that Boss would do that when she got back because BOSS is the instructor. Boss had to come back from her medical leave early and ended up with permanent damage because she was not able to finish her rehab.

      Eventually I realized that my boss was one of those people who saw the good in people so much, she got taken advantage of herself. I’d spent a ton of time angry at her for letting Laura run the show, I didn’t realize she’d also let Laura take advantage of her, too.

  25. kittymommy*

    LW, I can only imagine how difficult those comments were to read, but you should be very proud of yourself for objectively looking at your actions in this, taking responsibility and looking for correction. That is incredibly mature of you and honestly shows a strong character. I truly wish you the best of luck as you move beyond this.

  26. Littorally*

    Yeowch. I’m sorry you hit the learning curve so hard, OP — for what it’s worth, you don’t sound like a bad person, just one who went into the small business world very unprepared (which is most small business owners, to be fair).

    Still, in these updates, I’m reading a lot of good that bodes well for your future. In particular, your reflections on how you may have undersold Miranda’s contributions from the beginning and overstated the situation to where Laura thought she was coming on as a fixer is admirable, and that is the kind of lesson you can build strongly on in the future to do better. A buyout offer from your competitor at a generous price is a much softer landing than many small business attempts end up in. You’re going to school to learn better skills, and you have connections you can lean on as a resource for learning as well.

    You’ve had some hard knocks, but I think you can look upward from here, and I very genuinely wish you good luck.

    1. Littorally*

      Also, I was hoping for an update and absolutely wasn’t expecting one — and we got not one but two. OP, thank you for letting us know how it all shook out!

  27. Liz T*

    Wow, I wonder if Laura told Miranda about the ultimatum–that timing is kind of suspicious isn’t it?

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Nah I’m surprised Miranda even held out that long – I read it more as OPs BIL reached out right away.

    2. Mental Lentil*

      I read it as BIL reached out to Miranda, she accepted, and then texted LW. I could be wrong, but that’s the timeline I see.

      1. Rubie*

        That’s how I read it too, although it was unclear from the post. I wouldn’t blame Miranda one bit for heading out the door the second she had another offer. (My guess is that the only reason she didn’t quit sooner is because she didn’t have anything else lined up yet.)

        1. MissBaudelaire*

          Yeah, I was going to say, Miranda was waiting for a lifeboat to swim to before she jumped ship. When a good opportunity falls into your lap, you can’t pass it up.

          Good for her.

      2. Elenna*

        Yeah, I’m guessing it’s unclear in the post because Miranda (quite reasonably) didn’t tell LW where she was going, but the timing does make me think that she took BIL’s offer.

  28. SheLooksFamiliar*

    OP, I’m sorry about the fallout, but sometimes the most important lessons are learned the hard way. I hope you can time to reflect, regroup, and only then re-launch yourself.

    Also: Miranda was not unprofessional for quitting without notice. Based on what you shared with us, I’m only surprised she stayed as long as she did.

    I wish you only the best, please keep us posted.

  29. Velawciraptor*

    OP, I’m sorry you had such a hard week and learned so many lessons the hard way in quick succession. I hope that your offering Miranda her job back is a sign that you’ve also internalized that you had no right to call Miranda unprofessional for her resignation given the work environment you’d created for her that forced said resignation. Here’s hoping that you keep learning and that this winds up being a growing experience that helps you in your next step forward.

  30. Kramerica Industries*

    Ultimately, I think this is the best scenario that could have come out of this. Miranda’s efforts were finally recognized and she was poached (I hope BIL made it very clear that he wanted her for all her expertise and professionalism), and OP, while being in the red is never great, an offer to be bought out seems like a great way out while you take a break from everything you’ve had to digest over the past few days. Happy to hear you took the comments to heart and are taking managerial lessons – that really couldn’t have been easy to read though the sheer volume of people telling you that you were wrong. But I’m really proud that you did. All the best!

    1. Sparkles McFadden*

      This really does seem like the best possible outcome, though I am sure it doesn’t feel that way to the LW. Sell the business, take management classes and get a fresh start.

      While I am sure getting trashed in social media (and reading some of our comments) was not fun, the LW is now free of Laura, who would have done even more damage as time went by.

      These were a lot of painful lessons to learn all at once. Thank you for sharing the updates, LW. Best of luck!

  31. Age of the Geek, Baby*

    It takes a lot to admit you were wrong – and a lot more to take the correct steps to address it. I’m sorry you’ve had a rough go of it, OP, and I’m hoping that your next chapter is a lot smoother with the lessons learned.

    I’m sorry to see that Alison was right that Laura was a snake in the grass after all, especially trashing your business when she “got what she wanted” – Miranda gone. I hope Miranda has landed at a good company as well.

  32. Arclight*

    I am reminded of the phrase “Smooth sailing does not a sailor make.”
    What a lovely attitude you’ve shown in the face of this imploding …wish you all the best, LW!

  33. Robin Ellacott*

    I’m sorry this was so hard, but I’m glad you got Laura out of your life. That is honestly a win, even if it’s a bittersweet one. She showed more of her true colours when she was concerned about knowing Miranda was fired… proving this was a power trip and not “what’s best for the business” thinking.

    Kudos for seeking out and listening to other opinions and your willingness to admit some mistakes. I wish you more growth, success, and real friendships outside of work in the future.

    1. Tiny Soprano*

      And there’s no way you get Lauras out of your life without an extinction burst, so it was always going to be hard to get rid of her and she was always going to try and wreck the business on the way out. It sounds to me like LW is now on a good path to running a good business in a Laura-free zone one day.

  34. anone*

    Oh wow, LW. I genuinely wish you future successes, because you are taking on-board a lot of very difficult (valid) criticism and serious real world consequences at the same time but it sounds like you are already working on how to move forward from this with grace. It’s very hard to be humbled in this way and I respect you for how you are handling things now.

    I also appreciate how much this whole story illustrates the importance of asking for and getting honest feedback! It doesn’t have to be brutal or unkind, as Alison’s compassionate-but-direct approach shows, and wow is it ever valuable to get the straight truth, whether it’s about the quality of a potential hire or about one’s own leadership skills.

  35. Alda*

    Also, it can be worth noting that the comment about Miranda being unprofessional came in the first update, before Laura really showed her true colours, and I can honestly see it as leftover Laura influence. It’s really unfair to Miranda, but OP was also really heavily manipulated for a long time, and I can be happy about her coming around while also understanding why it wasn’t as instant as one might have wished.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        Yes, and it was interesting to see that the OP did realize that they had internalized some warped attitudes about work as a result of their previous toxic work environments. I’m glad that they’re taking management classes and I wish them and Miranda the best.

  36. Been There*

    I have to say I don’t understand Laura’s reasoning in quitting because Miranda quit and didn’t get fired. What does it matter, the end result is the same?

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Pettiness. Laura wanted the win of getting Miranda fired. It would be confirmation she had the LW wrapped around her finger.

    2. it's me*

      I think at first she wanted to make sure Miranda was on LW’s bad side in getting fired, but it may also have been Laura’s way out if she started sensing things were going south for her.

      1. quill*

        Yeah, she quit right after, from her perspective, she made a demand, she asked for confirmation of the ultimatum, and OP abruptly grew a spine and told her to mind her own beeswax.

    3. Littorally*

      Cynically, because it wasn’t really about getting rid of Miranda so much as it was about cementing her control over OP. She needed to know not just that Miranda was gone but that the OP had followed her (Laura’s) bidding.

    4. I should really pick a name*

      One possibility is that without Miranda, it might come to light that Laura isn’t actually good at her job, so she got out before that happened.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Maybe, but it seems like Laura would have stayed if Miranda was indeed fired.

        1. onco fonco*

          I think that when LW wouldn’t discuss Miranda with Laura any further, that was Laura’s clue that she wouldn’t be able fly under LW’s radar any more. She only wanted to be there if LW had zero boundaries and zero control. Makes me wonder what she was planning to get up to.

    5. Myrin*

      If I’m reading correctly, Laura didn’t quit because Miranda wasn’t fired but rather because OP wouldn’t discuss the situation with her any more.
      We’ve actually had several letters with this before – the one that most notably comes to mind is the one where an OP’s sister managed someone with manipulative outbursts and when the sister finally set a boundary in place, the employee immediately resigned -, where someone is on such a power trip that you’d think no one could ever get rid of them but then as soon as someone refuses to budge exactly once they fold like lawn chairs and exit the situation.

      1. Smithy*

        In a parallel but not identical way, this reminds me a lot of an argument I had with a friend that at the time felt very strange.

        Essentially it was along the lines of my friend seeing work as this place where “since it’s where you end up being there 10-12 hours a day, obviously you want to become close friends with your boss/coworkers”. We work in a somewhat similar industry where certainly intense commitment does happen, but her stance on every point just was at this extreme level. It wasn’t just about having friendly connections at work, but this idea that your coworkers were people who would obviously help you move or drive you to the airport before a personal vacation.

        Ultimately my friend encountered a problematic coworker and she then needed to implement more professional boundaries. First, she hated every single relatively normal one I mentioned (i.e. stop inviting your coworker to your home for dinner) but once she started doing them – the response was wild. So I do think that for people where these types of boundaries feel very unnatural or unpleasant, they are far bigger deals.

    6. Siege*

      If Miranda left because she had another job, she won’t get unemployment denied, won’t risk losing her home, car, or other possessions, won’t face massive upheaval in her personal life, etc. It sounds like Laura’s sole goal at the company was to punish Miranda. I thought last week that Laura wanted the company and was going to start in on LW next, but I no longer think that was the objective. It seems to have been to destroy Miranda, and Laura came perilously close to it.

      LW, I realize you feel like you got burned by the comments, and maybe you did, but I’m really glad that you didn’t go ahead with firing Miranda, and instead listened to the part of yourself that said that was a step too far and asked for advice. Good luck in the future.

    7. Jennifer Strange*

      I think it was less about Miranda and more about OP’s unwillingness to discuss the specifics with her. That seemed to signal that they were no longer “buddies” but rather an employer and employee.

    8. MissBaudelaire*

      Because if she wasn’t fired because of Laura whispering in OP’s ear, then a lot of Laura’s power isn’t confirmed. That’s scary for someone who has built themselves up as being able to click their fingers and make something happen. She isn’t going to change, and being in a situation where she doesn’t have the power she craves/needs/feels she deserves/feels is destined for her/whatever is not going to work for her.

      That’s why she trashed OP’s business online. To punish her. OP didn’t toe the line, OP didn’t follow the script, and for someone like Laura, that’s not acceptable.

    9. Batgirl*

      She was actually trying to get OP’s soul, rather than merely wanting Miranda fired. It’s like a war movie where they ask a defector to shoot a compatriot.

    10. Macaroni Penguin*

      Laura is actually a Super Villain who needs to know her Enemy will suffer. The desired outcome* was that the OP obeyed Laura, and that Miranda couldn’t get EI. (Presumably). Just having Miranda gone wasn’t enough for Laura. Either that or Laura expected to be fired herself, and got the heck out of there.

    11. Bagpuss*

      I wonder whether Laura expected OPs response to her quitting to be to beg her to stay – she seems like the kind of person who might be stunned to learn that their resignation was accepted…

      1. MissBaudelaire*

        You make an excellent point. I admit in my previous comment I paint Laura to be someone who has many issues.

        It could be she expected OP to bend and just tell her everything, or plead with her not to quit, and the trashing online was a panic response when she realized that OP wasn’t doing that. OP did say that Laura had felt that she was hired to ‘fix’ everything, and she could have been trying to demonstrate to OP that she didn’t feel she was allowed to do her job in the ‘fixing’.

  37. ELT*

    Props to you letter writer! U-turns are really hard, but you’re doing the right thing and heading in the best direction for your and your company. Best wishes.

  38. Detective Amy Santiago*

    Good luck to you in whatever you do next, LW.

    It takes a lot to admit you were wrong and not only did you do that, but you started taking the right steps to course correct. Please update us again in a few months and let us know where you land.

  39. CatPerson*

    After all of that, you still have the lack of self-awareness to say this about Miranda: ” I get why she’s doing it, but I feel like it’s pretty unprofessional of her after 4 years of working together.”

    I find that statement to be rather stunning.

    1. AnonNurse*

      Yeah, I think there is still a bit of a curve on seeing the reality of what was happening. Miranda had another opportunity and after being treated the way she was by the OP, she no longer felt they had a good working relationship or a need to give notice. That absolutely reflects on how badly things had deteriorated and the OP should also consider her expectations based on everything she shared.

    2. RosyGlasses*

      Her tune changed in the second update – that’s why Alison made the comments she did at the top of this thread.

  40. AnonNurse*

    Thank you for sharing these updates. It sounds like things ended about the way Alison thought they would but I can imagine this is a rough time of transition for you. It also sounds like you did “listen” to what Alison had to say though and what your sister and BIL. I wish you the best of luck in your studies, in learning from this, and in taking these lessons on to your next endeavor!

  41. Goose*

    OP, I’m really proud of the steps you’re taking to improve! You made mistakes, but you admitted them, and you’re learning and asking for help. I look forward to seeing you come up on top of this.

  42. CatCat*

    I’m glad OP has been able to learn from this.

    I hope OP will come to understand that the “no notice” resignation from Miranda was something OP had earned. It’s a reflection on OP. Professional courtesy runs both ways. If you do not give it, do not expect to receive it.

    1. Tara*

      Yeah, it made me respect Miranda even more. She did not deserve the fuckery she had to deal with and I’m glad she got out as she did.

      1. Worldwalker*

        Yeah … she demoted Miranda without notice or discussion … when Miranda came to her for an updated job description, she literally refused to give her one … and then she’s surprised when Miranda decides not to give *her* notice? She should be thankful she got that text — if Miranda *had been* unprofessional, she’s just have ghosted the LW.

        1. londonedit*

          Yeah…I got the feeling Miranda decided to go for ‘work to rule’ when the OP demoted her and wouldn’t give her a new job description. That’s why she stopped being available outside her working hours – she’d decided to stop going above and beyond and just do the bare minimum that she had to. And I don’t blame her – I’d have done the same if my boss had suddenly demoted me and given my job title to some random person who’d just appeared on the scene and made themselves best friends with the boss. Miranda had no obligation to give two weeks’ notice, and it seems pretty fair seeing as the OP gave her no notice of her demotion and no information about what her job should be going forward.

  43. LaLa762*

    I’m so sorry this turned into such a sh*t show OP, but I’m so proud of you for seeking further education in an area you think needs work!
    YOU should be proud of you too!

  44. Tara*

    Thank God your brother was able to offer a ‘see the light’ moment from your delusion, I hope the classes help and Miranda thrives in whatever she’s doing now. I disagree with your never read the comments comment, though it sounds like you only listened to the message in real life anyway, so maybe written feedback isn’t quite for you yet!

    1. Presea*

      Even though most of the comments were coming from a kind and constructive place, I can see how the existence of a huge pile of criticism might have felt too overwhelming to absorb to OP; some of the phrasing implies that they still have a lot to learn from this experience, at least to me. The important thing is that they’ve learned a lot already and they’re taking steps to continue to learn.

      Also, it was their Brother-in-Law, not their brother :)

      1. Tara*

        Ah, in my family in ‘the laws’ aren’t used (once you’re married, you’re in the family not just by law mentality) so I tend to forget to make the distinction elsewhere – my bad!

    2. BigHairNoHeart*

      Written feedback can often come across as incredibly rude (there’s no way most people in the comment section from the last post or this one would feel comfortable saying out loud what they’ve written to OP–the anonymity of the internet makes it easier to be harsh). And getting it from about 1,000 strangers on the internet is an extra hurdle. So you may be right that this type of written feedback isn’t something that OP was/is ready to handle, but I’d argue that very few people would be ready for it.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Fully agree. I’ve been thinking of having a commenting rule that says something like, “Particularly if your comment is critical, ask yourself how you’d word it to a friend who was having a bad day and say it that way.” I don’t know how much it would help, but it’s how I’d like people to approach commenting.

        1. ADidgeridooForYou*

          I think that’s a great idea. Plus, I can see how harsh receptions in the comment section could make many people weary of writing in for fear of getting the same response, even if a softer/better worded version of the advice could be useful to them.

          1. banoffee pie*

            Tone is really hard to convey in writing. It always comes across colder than I mean, that’s why I add the smileys :)

        2. BigHairNoHeart*

          I agree, it’s hard to say if that kind of rule would help, but I appreciate the sentiment and think it would be worth a try (I also like the way you’ve phrased it here, since it encourages us to view letter writers as friends rather than strangers).

        3. acmx*

          Yes, please. So many commenters respond so dramatically. I’m very surprised the advice seeker graced us with an update. To me, this is another example of them taking your perspective to heart and is doing self reflection.

        4. HannahS*

          I think it’s worth trying. I’ve noticed that when you set rules (no medical advice, no diagnosing people over the internet), it takes time for the shift to happen, but when someone’s wildly out of line, another commenter will jump in. My only worry is that we’d start getting tone-policing. Would you consider trying putting it at the bottom of all posts for a month, and seeing if it changes anything?

          1. Boof*

            yeah, I think it’s best to make sure people see this is the “mindset” they should try to approach comments with, but the current limits of enforcement still make sense.

        5. MsSolo (UK)*

          I wonder if a reminder to hit ‘refresh’ after reading and before commenting might be worthwhile too – I think a lot of what looks like a pile on is dozens of people all starting threads that say basically the same thing, because they haven’t seen the existing ones. Conversations within threads tend to prompt more nuanced discussion and are easier to collapse once the reader has got the jist of the critique, whereas having to scroll past loads of near-identical comments (and people then commenting on them to say they left a near-identical comment) makes it harder to find the more unique takes that offer more helpful advice.

          1. MCMonkeyBean*

            I’m definitely guilty of that sometimes. I open all my unread AskAManager posts first thing in the morning and then just leave those tabs open for whenever I have breaks in the day. Sometimes I don’t get around to a tab until a few days later. I’m trying lately to remember to refresh before reading…

  45. Sunflower*

    Your brother-in-law reached out to her (I’m happy about that), but if I were looking through Miranda’s eyes, it just looks like you took the easy way out by asking him to hire her so that you’re rid of her. Of course she didn’t give notice.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      I mean, that’s possible, but it seems unlikely that a successful business manager would say “sure, I’ll take this bad apple off your hands,” and I don’t know why Miranda would jump to that conclusion. It seems more likely that he told enough of the truth (“my sister in law says you’re great at X, and I’m looking for someone to do X”) to look reasonable.

      1. Anon and on and on*

        I read “the easy way out” to mean OP was giving Laura her way, getting rid of Miranda without (in her mind) looking like the bad guy.
        The easy way out of a conflict in her business BrotherinLaw ex Machina.

    2. Observer*

      I don’t think I would react this way.

      On the other hand, if I had reason to believe that that’s what happened, I’d be thinking “maybe she actually realizes that she’s being unreasonable?

  46. ChemistryChick*

    OP, I know it might not feel like it right now, but you’re going to get through this and be better for it. Personal growth can be painful, especially when you have to deal with hard truths about yourself.

    Good on you for recognizing the problem and taking steps to fix it. I wish you well.

  47. The Bill Murray Disagreement*

    This is a very hard way to learn the consequences of poor management, but I do admire your coming back and owning up to just how large your errors were. Whether you’re able to salvage your current business, or sell and start a new one, I would strongly recommend you avoid trying to establish *friendships* in your business and instead work on creating a warm and positive working environment for employees by understanding what they’re doing, what ways they work best, and what you can do to make those circumstances happen for them (or remove the impediments that keep them from their best work).

    I would also caution you against giving Laura too much credit that she thought she was coming in to fix things. That might be true, but she clearly also had an agenda (whether conscious or not) to undermine more senior employees, bring in new employees who were sympathetic/loyal to her, get into your good graces by offering help in your personal life, and create a culture that was unprofessional (and potentially hostile) to Miranda–a long-term employee of yours. She showed you exactly who she is when she quit because Miranda left of her own accord instead of being fired.

    As you go through your classes, also look into how to interview prospective candidates and uncover areas where they might have had issues dealing with coworkers, or navigating conflict. And please, please check references thoroughly.

  48. Yeah*

    I’m a bit upset that OP consider Miranda “unprofessional” after all of the unprofessional behavior OP has shown. OP if you want to retain ANY sort of professional credibility you need to give nothing but glowing – shiny glowing reviews of her.

    1. Rubie*

      In the second update, it does sound like OP learned their lesson – they even went as far as offering Miranda her job back.

    2. joss*

      OP needs to consider that the fact that her small business survived and thrived was solely due to the knowledge and professionalism of Miranda. OP did not know the systems or anything regarding her business. She did not manage her business at all. Next she hires a newbie without checking her references, demotes the driving force behind her business, and the business is taken down within a short period by a vicious back stabbing gossip. I hope that OP not only sees the errors she has made but really sees that in all this time she has never had, or at least shown that she had, what it takes to run her own business.

      Glowing/shining reviews for Miranda are the very least she can do.

  49. quill*

    OP: It’s a tough lesson you’re learnig, but in many ways you are in a better place as of this update than you were when you wrote in. You have the advice of people who are already in your corner and willing to dispense some tough love, you have a plan for transitioning your business out of the current disaster, and you are no longer waiting for the shit to hit the fan.

  50. CTT*

    OP, thank you for writing back in. I do want to push back on your thinking in your second update a little. You said “I used to work in medicine in a highly competitive field that was unfriendly and cliquey, and I think that’s what drove me to push for friendships instead of an employer/employee relationship.”

    I think it’s important to remember that cliques often seem friendly to the people who are part of them. I think moving away from the ideal of friendship and into being welcoming would be helpful if you decide to lead a business again. That way you’re creating a nice atmosphere without getting caught in the trap of prioritizing friendships with some employees over others.

    1. Airy*

      Yes, and I hope OP isn’t getting the message from this “if you want to be a business owner you don’t get to have friends.” Of course you still deserve to have friends, and kind, supportive ones – they just need to be people who don’t work for you.

    2. AndersonDarling*

      So well said!
      I’d hate for the OP to start up again and we start reading those “They said it’s like a family” letters from the new business. Work is work and friends are friends. The best workplaces are the ones where every employee is respected and valued. It’s a different feeling than friendship, but just as good.

    3. The Prettiest Curse*

      In my experience, work cliques are almost always great for the people in the clique, but crappy for everyone else.

    4. Alexander Graham Yell*

      Exactly. I don’t know what the environment was like before Laura came on board, but by becoming buddy buddy with her the OP actually turned it into a cliquey environment, but it’s very difficult to see that from the inside. It’s like fog, you know? It’s clear from the outside that there’s fog, but when you’re in it the fog seems like it’s near you but you’re in a little bubble the fog isn’t touching.

      OP, it sounds like you’re having a really rough go but I think you’ll be able to dust yourself off and be better for having gone through this. It seems like Miranda landed in a good place and Laura will probably find somewhere else she can try to bend to her will. I hope your other employee that stuck around to help can find something soon and that the sale goes smoothly.

    5. Filosofickle*

      I also wonder if that history blinded OP to the clique that Laura created! That wasn’t friendship, even if it felt that way. The clique was pushing out Miranda and coming for OP next.

      1. CTT*

        Totally – and Alison always talks about how being in one toxic work environment can skew how you see your next one.

        1. Filosofickle*

          And not only at work! Throughout our lives we tend to replicate dysfunctional situations because they feel familiar and normal, even when we consciously try not to. Very human.

  51. Lady Knittington*

    It seems that Miranda was as professional to the letter writer as the letter writer was to Miranda.
    Like someone further up the comments, I take no joy in the update but am very pleased for Miranda that she’s been able to find a new job where she’ll hopefully be properly appreciated.

    1. mcfizzle*

      Miranda’s been way, way more professional than LW; she just didn’t give the standard 2 week notice. In theory it’s not good practice, but with this circus, I still think Miranda took the highest road she could. I wouldn’t have wanted to wait 2 weeks to see what Laura would try to do with that remaining time. *shudder* Regardless, I agree and am happy Miranda got out.

      1. MissBaudelaire*

        I wouldn’t have wanted to stick around for two weeks listening to whatever Laura was going to spew. Because I don’t think Laura would have been professional and empathetic about it. It would have been snide remarks and gloating and discomfort for Miranda. Why would she put herself through that?

  52. D.C. Paralegal*

    That escalated quickly, as the Anchorman meme goes.

    I don’t want to pile on, as this has clearly been the worst possible outcome for the OP…except to say that Miranda was completely justified in quitting with no notice and it would go a long way towards making things right if OP were to proactively reach out to her and offer to be a good reference. (And obviously, when providing said reference, not mention the details of her departure unless done in a way that reflects well on Miranda.)

    1. Elenna*

      I mean, OP did reach out to Miranda and offer her the job back – I feel like that implies “I’ll be a good reference”, although I agree that OP should probably spell that out if she hasn’t already.

      1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        Regarding the reference. OP, please talk to Alison or your brother in law, or an instructor in your upcoming classes about being a good reference. You have a lot of emotional ties to this situation. You may want to support Miranda in the future, and that’s great, don’t sabotage it by offering up all kinds of information about this situation. Practice what you will say about her work and about how she left until you can speak confidently and comfortably.

      2. Tenebrae*

        Eh, Miranda’s taken a lot of bad treatment seemingly out of the blue. I do believe that OP is genuinely working to do do better, but if I were Miranda, I’d be afraid she’d take against me again because I didn’t come back to “save” her business.

  53. Rubie*

    Good for you for taking this as a learning experience, OP. That couldn’t have been an easy lesson to learn.

    I’m so curious about Laura’s side of things here. Why did it matter to her whether Miranda quit or was fired? (I mean, she was absolutely wrong for trying to push Miranda out to begin with, but even so – why was that piece of it so important? She wanted her gone, and she’s gone.) And why was OP’s refusal to discuss Miranda’s departure the catalyst for her quitting? Something seems off here – this sounds like more than a simple case of two people not working well together.

    1. Beautiful, talented, brilliant, powerful musk-ox*

      Just spitballing, but she probably A. Wanted more ammunition to trash Miranda, either as deflection or just to remain in OP’s good graces a bit longer and B. Wanted to verify that OP was still able to be manipulated.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I wondered that too, but I think the answer is in this part: Laura quit “when I told her I wasn’t discussing Miranda.” That likely signaled to Laura that there had been a shift in the power balance.

      1. Rubie*

        Ah, that makes sense. Laura does sound like the kind of person who would take it extremely personally when people try to set professional boundaries.

      2. Ben Marcus Consulting*

        Agreed. Laura wanted a signal that she had broken down OP and would have a deep control over the whole operation; when she didn’t get that she realized at some point she would be under more of a microscope.

      3. Ha2*

        Yeah. If Miranda was fired, Laura would know she’s got OP in her pocket. If Miranda quit, and OP is unwilling to discuss it, that means OP just got a big wake-up call and was about to take a close look at Laura. (Which is in fact what happened! Laura wasn’t wrong that her scam was about to be discovered!)

      4. Worldwalker*

        I’m wondering if Laura read AAM? Or a friend who does could have said “hey, read this, it sounds like where you work.”

        If so, she would have seen how her scheme was being dissected in detail, and the LW was being given advice that included “Laura must go” — and when the LW wouldn’t discuss Miranda with her “BFF” Laura, it became obvious that she was taking that advice.

    3. Tex*

      Because the tussle with Miranda was a power struggle, not about the actual work/strategy of the business.

      Laura probably wasn’t doing a great job and knew it. So she decided to leave before there was an implosion where she could be blamed. With Miranda gone, there was no other scapegoat.

    4. Carol*

      This is bothering me, too. In addition to what others have suggested, I think it’s possible that even if Laura didn’t have some grand maniacal plan, she could just be a very pride- and ego-driven person who had painted herself in this righteous battle for appreciation, the good of the company, etc. I’ve known a couple of otherwise competent employees who get wrapped up in the story of themselves as the only smart one, the savior of the department, etc., and they get really angry when management disagrees with them. She needed to be “right” more than she wanted the promotion, I guess? I think not everyone who causes chaos like this is a mastermind–sometimes they’re just reacting from one moment to the next to preserve their ego.

      1. MissBaudelaire*

        Well now that you mention it… I have seen that too.

        Perfectly decent humans. They just get trapped in “I’m the only one who does any work around here!” when that’s not really true, and a lot of the time they’re sticking their nose in where it doesn’t belong and worrying about things they didn’t need to fret about. Laura could well have been like that. I know I’ve made her sound like some kind of super villain here. And it could have been that when she said “I have manager experience.” she felt she did. In her head, she WAS the manager! Even if no one at her job would agree with that, including the real higher ups.

        Laura could have felt that Miranda was the cause of each and every problem, even if that wasn’t true at all. OP never knew because she didn’t know how the business ran. Without hearing that the Problem was really going away, Laura could have felt that OP missed the point. She needed to know that she was right, like you said, and know that OP was seeing things her way so she was right and that savior complex could carry on. All hail Laura, who is the real reason we have food on our plate.

        1. M*

          Yeah, I had a manager like that. She referred to her previous role as “the unofficial deputy head of X”, in a context where even if that were what her colleagues would have called her (spoiler: it was quite clearly not) that wouldn’t have meant she had meaningful management experience. Suffice it to say, not a good manager.

          1. MissBaudelaire*

            And what kills me is people in those positions always think they make the best managers.

            Managing ain’t for everyone. That isn’t a commentary on whether or not someone is a good employee. It just means that not everyone is going to be good at managing, like not everyone is a good baker.

  54. Monty & Millie's Mom*

    Oooof, OP, you’ve definitely had doozy of a week, and I realize you likely won’t be reading comments again, but if you do, I just want to offer a bit of encouragement! You seem to realize that you personally made a lot of errors, and you ALSO seem committed to doing better in the future, so kudos to you for that! You easily could have just doubled down that you were right, but you didn’t, and I think you can be proud of the steps you are taking to not let this happen again! Best of luck to you!

    1. Blue*

      Yeah, OP, it sounds like you’re really having to learn all these lessons the hard way, and that’s tough on you. But this might not be worst possible outcome – it sounds like you’ve got a decent deal for your company, Miranda sounds like she’s going to be fine, and you’re safely shot of Laura and probably won’t fall for someone like her again.
      You made a lot of mistakes, but it sounds like you’ve started not just taking a step but absolutely sprinting in the right direction, so good for you. Lots of people never manage to course correct like you seem to be. The classes sound like a great idea; I hope that goes well and you can build a better company with all this hard-won experience.

    2. banoffee pie*

      it’s a pity if OP isn’t reading the comments this time because most people are commiserating now and wishing her well for the future. I think most ppl think she’s been punished enough!

  55. TG*

    Wow you learned some hard lessons and I know you’re probably feeling down but you are to be applauded for understanding your issues and moving forward to address them – that’s a very positive thing you should take away.
    As for Laura – wow. This shows you need to check references! Also talk to people who know of someone’s work. I’m all for giving people a chance but she sounds truly toxic and you might have saved a lot of heartache if you’d done your due diligence and found that out.
    The fact she quit and poached someone – goes to show just how underhanded she is.
    I really wish you luck moving forward and much success – everyone has missteps and makes mistakes. Apply what you’ve learned and don’t beat yourself up about it. It will make you better in the long run!

    1. TootsNYC*

      Not only check references, but whenever possible, access that “town chatter” that our Letter Writer speaks of.

      find out what the grapevine has to say before you hire, if at all possible.

      I work in an industry that has people crisscrossing from one employer to the other. I had a boss who would call anyone she knew at the employer of any serious job candidate to ask what they were like. I used to worry that this might risk someone’s boss finding out that they were looking, but it never seemed to; most people in the industry understand, and nobody went tattling to the boss.

      But when you have that resource, it would be folly not to try to tap into it.

  56. Mockingdragon*

    Oh OP, I can tell how hard this is, but you’ve handled it with incredible grace. Thank you for coming back to let us know, and I wish you all the luck in the world in your future endeavors! One day this will be a funny story. I’d bet working with Laura has given you plenty of anecdotes!

    1. The Bill Murray Disagreement*

      Can you imagine how vindicating it would be to be Miranda and see your situation laid out as if you’re the wrongdoer and then read how both Alison and the commentariat were on your side? (Sorry, OP – that won’t be easy for you if you’re reading the comments this time, but if it were me, I’d be like Bender at the end of The Breakfast Club.)

  57. Ms. Ann Thropy*

    Well, it sounds like you finally learned a lot, though at a high cost. Business classes are a great idea. Congratulations on taking the initiative to make real changes. Good luck in the future.

  58. TrackingCookieMonster*

    “Laura came in with the sense that she was being hired as a fixer.”

    If she trashed you on social media the first time you actually did something managerial toward her, she’d be a pretty bad fixer anyways.

    1. TrackingCookieMonster*

      While I’m at it, I’m glad to hear you’re taking up small business management classes, OP. A lot more business owners out there could use them.

      1. Dream Jobbed*

        I will add, I’ve learned a lot more here than in any managerial class I’ve ever taken, so keep reading!

  59. Peppercat53*

    I’m not sure if this has been said in the comments already but if I were LW I would be seriously reconsidering my friendship with the friend who recommended Laura to me. Especially so given Laura’s prior employer threw a party after she left and the only viable reference turned out to be the friend. LW’s friend seems to have serious judgement problems or was it in with Laura to score a job off of LW.

    1. Jam Today*

      I was thinking the same thing, Laura’s behavior is *pathological*. It was so manipulative, petty, vindictive, and *specific*, I find it hard to believe that this doesn’t manifest in her personal life also.

        1. quill*

          I would at least take mutual friend’s judgement under review. Either 1) OP is now wiser than former friend about the manipulative ways of the world’s lauras, 2) former friend recommended Laura with incomplete knowledge and shouldn’t be trusted to consider all angles in the future, 3) was incredibly casual about recommendations, and therefore can’t be used for them.

        2. biobotb*

          Yeah, I was thinking perhaps that Laura’s friendship with the mutual friend was not longstanding, and there hadn’t been time (or opportunity?) for her to torch it yet.

      1. Tiny Soprano*

        Laura sounded almost verbatim like a case study we used in my psychology course that week for a certain disorder characterised by pathological lying, callous unemotional traits and glib, manipulative behaviour. Certainly not enough information for an as yet unqualified junior psychologist to make an armchair diagnosis but man it was nearly identical behaviour. Definitely pathological from the standpoint that it affects Laura’s ability to function and maintain relationships, and that it has an extremely detrimental effect on others…

    2. Jennifer Strange*

      I had that knee-jerk reaction too, but then it occurred to me that I have plenty of friends who I enjoy being around, but for all I know they’re a nightmare to work with (it’s unclear if this was a work friendship or just a social friendship). In this case it seems like Laura’s pathological behavior would have shown itself to the friend even if they knew each other outside of work, but some folks are really good at hiding that (especially when they’re in low stakes situations where there isn’t a possibility for gaining power). Now, I don’t think the friend should have agreed to be a reference unless they could actually speak to Laura’s work (and if they could speak to her work…then year, any recommendations from them going forward should be ignored)

      1. CommanderBanana*

        Ooof, same – just like friends you know you couldn’t share a house with (I am probably that friend, haha).

      2. Just Another Zebra*

        I have that friend. We’ve known each other for 25 years; we grew up together. I know he’s a terrible employee. I would not want him as a coworker. Once upon a time he put in an application at the retail job I had. He put me as a reference. When the manager asked me if I would recommend him, I had a moment to think about it, and said I wouldn’t. Best choice I could have made.

        OP, I would seriously talk to this mutual friend. It isn’t her fault – you still hired Laura without checking references. But I’d ask her what about Laura made them recommend her.

    3. BabyElephantWalk*

      It makes me wonder if Laura was a previous employee of the mutual friend, or perhaps a current employee the friend was looking to unload. I’ve seen that happen with small businesses more often than you’d like.

      Referrals from mutual friends are not biased in your favour. If you’re open to hiring them please make sure that you check references.

    4. Fran Fine*

      I’m right there with you. This mutual “friend” has to know how screwed up Laura is – people like her, well, their masks slip sooner or later. This “friend” likely valued her friendship with Laura more than the one she had with the OP, which is why she referred someone problematic in the first place. I wouldn’t trust this person again.

    5. Lizard*


      I would certainly want some answers from the friend who recommended Laura. And I would warn the rest of the friend circle about that friend and about Laura.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I am not happy that Laura came away with this with the lesson if things don’t go her way she can sabotage someone’s business. She’s going to do more damage in the future.

      1. Beth Jacobs*

        Laura’s not the winner here. She’s unemployed, reference-less and emotionally damaged enough to do this. I wouldn’t trade with her for all the money in the world.

    2. Uranus Wars*

      Right and the wanting to make sure Miranda was fired? There is enough here for OP to question the friend who originally recommended her!

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        At a bare minimum, if Laura is “misguided” enough to ever use OP as a reference – then OP please be as honest and specific as possible about how badly everything went.

        I really don’t think based on the letter that Laura will do that though.

    3. ellekay*

      Yes! I am still so confused by her insistence on pushing Miranda out. Like, to the point that she wanted to clarify that she’d been fired, not quit on her own volition?!

  60. I edit everything*

    LW, I know your world must seem like it’s spinning off its axis right now. I hope you don’t beat yourself up too much and take some time to heal. It sounds like Laura is a true expert at manipulation, and you sound like a sweet, trusting person, just the type the Laura’s of the world can best take advantage of. Lick your wounds, then get up and go forth a little wiser, but still good at heart.

  61. Michelle Smith*

    You seem like a genuine and decent person who made a mistake. I hope your business bounces back or that you are able to follow through with the sale, if that’s what you want. Sorry you’re going through this!

  62. SentientAmoeba*

    This implosion was inevitable, but I am glad OP got some much needed advice before it all blew up so she knows what went wrong, even if by the time she realized the problem, it was too late to solve it. A LOT of the commenters were spot on in predicting how this would all go pear shaped though I don’t think many expected it to go this quickly.

    1. Observer*

      Yes, I think that the speed with which it happened is the only surprising thing. But even that shouldn’t really have surprised anyone.

    1. Mental Lentil*


      I mean, the commentariat may have found this an entertaining read, but this is LW’s entire life and business. Now is the time for kindness.

      1. Murphy*

        Really that was hardly an unkind comment. Especially when this website is literally to entertain (and educate).

        It was an unexpected rollercoaster of an update, and I’ve said nothing unkind about OP.

    2. ADidgeridooForYou*

      Yeah, I agree that’s pretty harsh. OP learned a lesson, but as much as we might feel angry on behalf of Miranda, she’s gone through a huge amount of change/learning in a short amount of time. If you ever get to a point like that, I’m sure you wouldn’t want people finding it entertaining.

    3. Batgirl*

      I think that whatever happens to Laura in the future would be decent popcorn. She sounds like she’d leave a trail of social media debris pretty visible to the OP. She sounds proper banana crackers. Though I think if I’d been manipulated this badly, I’d probably draw curtains on the whole thing via blocking.

  63. Beautiful, talented, brilliant, powerful musk-ox*

    Honestly, considering the reality of the situation — Laura appeared to be sabotaging Miranda and obviously was in OP’s favor — I also would hesitate to give notice. I’d be afraid that I’d be let go immediately or mistreated for two weeks or give Laura more chances to trash talk me. I don’t blame Miranda at ALL for not giving notice.

    OP, I’m glad you’re taking the feedback you received seriously and are intent on learning. I hope you’re able to salvage things and eventually look back on this experience as an unfortunate blip in you career rather than a pattern! Best of luck!

    1. Kit*

      Oh yeah, the horror stories on this site alone of employers who fostered a toxic/abusive work environment for years, and then escalated during their employee’s notice period… nope. If Miranda had been the one writing in, she would have received a whole lot of agreement that an employer who demotes you without notice and refuses to define your new job duties doesn’t deserve the courtesy of a notice period, especially given that her employer was taking a toxic ‘friend’/employee’s word as gospel truth about Miranda’s work. I would have assumed that the bridge was pre-burnt and my odds of a good reference were basically nil anyhow, under those circumstances; why bother sticking around to deal with more abuse when a better offer was available?

      OP, taking all this feedback on board hasn’t been comfortable, but I hope you continue to learn from it, and would second the suggestion from elsewhere in the comments that apologizing unreservedly and offering to be a positive reference for Miranda, and then leaving her tf alone, is the kindest thing you can do for her.

      1. MissBaudelaire*

        Yeah, if the environment is just so toxic and you have demoted me, I’m basically figuring I’m on thin ice anyway. I’m not gonna start tap dancing.

    2. Ellie*

      She might even have thought that leaving without notice was the best thing for the OP and the OP’s business, as well as herself. Since Laura was gunning for her to be fired, it might have provoked her to worse behaviour if she was clearing working out her notice before she went to a new job. This would have hurt everyone.

  64. Narise*

    If you ever have the opportunity to apologize to Miranda for not seeing the issues sooner and addressing them please do so. You don’t have to do so now but in time it may help close the book on this chapter. Good luck!

  65. Goldenrod*

    It’s not easy to admit when you were wrong, or to have the self-awareness to consider that you aren’t as good at something as you thought you were!

    OP, I admire your willingness to admit fault, examine yourself and work on positive change. That’s all pretty awesome – and rare! Looking back, you can hopefully see this as a positive experience in your life that helped you to grow. Good for you for doing the hard work of being willing to change…a lot of people can’t or won’t do that. We all make mistakes, but we don’t all admit them or learn from them.

    1. beentheredonethat*

      OP please read this, you had a difficult time and made mistakes and reached out for help and got it and (this is the great part) you listened and took action. Wow that is amazing. Every single thing was hard. If you read any great business stories, they all struggled and sometimes had businesses that failed. BUT, they evaluated and then made new choices. Please breathe. You are brave and have shown you can grow. Yeah you. You have people rooting for you.

  66. ENFP in Texas*

    “I used to work in medicine in a highly competitive field that was unfriendly and cliquey, and I think that’s what drove me to push for friendships instead of an employer/employee relationship”

    The irony is that by trying to push for “friendships” she created a work environment that was unfriendly and cliquey… but didn’t realize it because she was in the clique.

    1. Deanna Troi*

      Yes, this really stood out to me as well. I hope she now realizes her behavior was classic favoritism and mean girl.

  67. I edit everything*

    Also, I hope the employee who didn’t bail is as genuinely upstanding at that action makes them out to be, and is rethinking her friendship with Laura. She might be worth reconnecting with further down the line.

    1. BigHairNoHeart*

      I was thinking this too. OP, if there’s anything you can offer the employee who has remained (even if that’s just a good reference in the future), you may want to do that. Of course, we don’t have all the context, but they seem to have a good head on their shoulders.

  68. Confiscated Toad*

    OP, I hope your time off and upcoming education give you everything you need to succeed and a lead healthy team or land somewhere else that suits you. Good luck!

    1. Yep, me again*

      Yeah, I was thinking the same thing. Some time off to reflect and reorient is a good move here. It’s sad to see if come to this, I guess really it’s a cautionary tale of being very, VERY careful who you hire.

  69. Hiring Mgr*

    At this point i think it’s good that they both resigned – now you’ve got a clean slate to do it better this time

  70. Yep, me again*

    Hard week for the OP but I’m glad she is taking the steps she needs to move forward.

  71. Lab Boss*


    I’m no expert in business (happily working for a large company here so I don’t have to take on the stress of ownership), but one of my close friends is a serial business-dude who ended up with a PhD teaching B-school. One of his go-to opinions is that “most people could take the money they spend on business school, use it to start a business, absolutely run that business into the ground over the course of a few years, and come out of it knowing more from their failures than they could have learned reading about successes.”

    These are painful lessons you’re learning, but hopefully the lessons will stick once the pain fades. Go forth sadder and wiser, and with any luck this will someday be just a story you tell to the next generation of young entrepreneurs about your own big screw-up to help them learn from it.

  72. I'm just here for the cats!*

    I kind of feel sorry for the LW. I mean, she dug herself into this hole, but I still feel sorry.

    LW I hope you can learn from this experience and will enjoy the manager classes you are going to take. I hope for nothing but good things for your future.

    As for Laura and the other employee trashing you on social media, try and take the high road. Don’t engage with them. Ask anyone who may be in your corner not to engage with them as well. They will just look bad for them. Ignore social media as much as you can.

    good luck!

    1. Uranus Wars*

      I think this is good advice. And if anyone says “Whoa! I saw what Laura posted” just say you had to part ways and it was amicable. Just don’t feed into the gossip monster or defending yourself and you’ll come out ok in the end. Not easy but you can do it.

    2. boop the snoot*


      Depending on the layout of the social media situation, it *might* make sense to post one neutral, matter-of-fact business update that mentions no one by name and DOES NOT engage with drama or directly respond to any of the Laura/etc comments.

      “Thanks for your support of BUSINESS over the years. We are currently restructuring in order to support you better/provide better products/increase efficiency/whatever. We’ll have more news to share with you shortly but in the mean time, we appreciate all the love our customers have shown to a small, local business!”

      or something vaguely to that effect.

      But then again, depending on Laura/etc’s reputations vs. yours, how widely it’s spread… any statement even indirectly addressing the debacle could make things worse. Whatever you do, don’t engage with the comments/posts themselves directly, and stay perfectly neutral with whatever you do say.

  73. BabyElephantWalk*

    It sounds like this situation has the best possible resolution. Miranda presumably has a new job that will treat her well, you are free of Laura (albiet with serious fall out), and still after all this poor business practice and management you have a potential buyer. 100% take that offer, and don’t wait – you are not ready or willing to run your own business.

    And as much as I see you’re second update shows more of a willingness to reexamine your situation, you still need to think long and hard on your perspective in this statement: “That was five hours ago and Miranda just texted me her resignation, no two weeks notice, no transitional help, nothing. I get why she’s doing it, but I feel like it’s pretty unprofessional of her after 4 years of working together.”

    LW, you have no idea what professionalism is. You screwed your amazing long term employee over time and again, you got mad at being asked to manage your employees, and it took how many people to tell you that you were the problem before you started believing it? You are the unprofessional one, and it doesn’t seem like you have the perspective to truly understand all the ways in which that is the case, and in which other people have treated you with more professionalism than owed.

    Your BIL is right that if you ever want to step into a management role again you need to take classes. But before that, please please do yourself and everyone else a favour: sell the company and spend a good long time working as someone else’s employee before you consider moving into anything related to management. Even with classes it sounds like it will be a long time before you are ready to go there. You need to see good management in action, and participate in a well run team before you consider running your own again.

    1. Hiring Mgr*

      I think that’s a bit harsh – the business had apparently been running well this whole time and as far as I can tell from the letters and updates there hadn’t been any issues prior to this.

      Did the OP mess up big time? Absolutely – but so does just about every business owner at one time or another. I don’t think the answer is “Sell and don’t own a business again!” (unless that’s what the LW wants of course)

      1. sell your business*

        The business was running well because Miranda was running it! The lw doesn’t know anything about what’s going on in her own business to evaluate the performance of any of her (thankfully former) employees. It was exactly as harsh as needed, and tbh less harsh than deserved.

        1. Hiring Mgr*

          If the OP sees this as a wakeup call there’s no reason at all they can’t turn things around. Businesses go up and down all the time, often becuase of ownership/management blunders. If every business folded the first time they had problems…

          1. Fran Fine*

            Many of them should have, and this one definitely needed to because as sell your business said – the OP didn’t know anything about it. It may have been her idea, but she wasn’t the one actually running it, which means it was bound to fail. Until OP can get into some business classes, learn management practices and leadership skills, and possibly get into therapy to work on her gullibility and whatever else is going on in her life that’s leaving her overwhelmed and feeling like she needs a Laura to manage her entire life in the first place, she has no business owning or “running” anything. She’ll only end up in the exact same place, which we don’t want, and I think BEW was absolutely correct to point that out.

      2. LKW*

        The business was quite literally run into the ground because one employee was able to manipulate the OP and then sabotage operations. Per the OP, the business is in the red and can not be recovered.

        I agree with the sympathy and encouragement for the OP, and I agree that business classes are in order. But that will only provide a foundation. The OP should really consider leadership training, look at group management, EQ all of the softer side of running a business – and by softer I don’t mean soft. I mean less tangible than balancing the books and making sales.

      3. BabyElephantWalk*

        I didn’t say never own a business again. But right now? LW has no business continuing to run a business. She has a buyer ready to take her struggling, in the red business off her hands after she has massively screwed up managing it. She doesn’t know how her software works or how her business currently functions – that was all Miranda. As far as I can tell from her letters, Miranda was the driver of any previous success.

        Sure, she’s growing and that’s awesome. But she’s still the same person who last letter said something along the lines of just wanting someone to make decisions for her and run her life. Who thought that employees escalating a disagreement to management was unprofessional. Who got upset that after a demotion, her employee wanted to clarify what her job duties were. She needs to see professionalism in action, because she can’t currently recognize it.

        She needs to learn how a well run team functions, and until she has a clue how to recognize it she should not be running a team or having employees. She needs to learn if she is cut out for leadership: not everyone is (and it’s not a moral failing), and sometimes someone who would make a great mentor would still make a terrible boss or manager. She needs to evaluate if leadership would even make her happy, in the end. But she isn’t going to learn that just from a few classes. They might point her in the right direction, but she needs to see it in action, and feel what it’s like to participate in a well run team and working under a good manager before she should consider leading.

        1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          She has a buyer ready to take her struggling, in the red business off her hands after she has massively screwed up managing it.

          From the looks of it, all that’s left to be acquired are the supplier and customer contacts.

          LW, my condolences. Hopefully the next opportunity is right around the corner and the lessons learned here help make that opportunity a success.

      4. serenity*

        Given everything that OP reported in her original letter and here I’m really curious to hear what “business had apparently been running well this whole time” means to you. Because to me, it does not mean a business owner who is apparently unfamiliar and unaware of many major parts of her (very) small business’s operation while also being credulous enough to let a malcontent new staff member poison her relations with a longtime staff member to an extent that the business has now been completely run into the ground. Very curious definition of “running well this whole time” – more like hanging by a thread.

        All due respect to the OP and I hope she learns a great deal from this and also figures out what her next steps will be. Which could or could not mean owning a small business and being responsible for so much. Worth considering.

      5. The Other Katie*

        The business was running well prior to Laura because Miranda was competent, not because the LW was. So the LW got lucky at hiring Miranda, but it’s pretty clear that she has some learning to do before she’s ready to try again.

  74. Anonymous Koala*

    Best of luck, OP! I’m glad you found a way out of Laura’s toxic influence, even if it was painful.

    And I know we talk a lot about the importance of reference checks, but wow, what an example. Let this be a cautionary tale to us all.

  75. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    The “try to keep both, and end up losing both” must be a gut-punch to OP.

    The additional detail of OP having come from a medical field is telling. Going from literal life and death stakes to “I sell llama accessories because it’s fun and low-stress” doesn’t prepare you for the fact that other people take their jobs seriously.

  76. Aerin*

    I know how much this must hurt, OP, but I think getting bought out is probably the best outcome here. Be sure to be gentle with yourself and give yourself time to lick those wounds and heal. Hopefully you have someone you can talk through your feelings on this with. A few sessions with a professional might help you sort through it and make sure you’ve got some healthy coping strategies in your pocket, because you shouldn’t beat yourself up over this.

    Good luck with the classes and the freelancing. I’m sure that with this hard lesson behind you, your next venture will be much more successful.

  77. bookartist*

    You are motivated, you have experience, and will really succeed in your education journey. “Better than yesterday, not as good as tomorrow.”

  78. Frequent reader, infrequent commenter*

    Oh man. Good for you for being willing to listen and change your mind. Even if it happened eventually…this is a great opportunity for growth.

  79. Jennifer Strange*

    OP, I’m sending you good vibes. To be clear, you definitely screwed up here, but you’re willing to learn and that’s good! As I said in my comment on the original letter, you may just not be cut out to own your own business, and there is no shame in that. I hope the classes help you either become the manager you want to be or find a career path that will play to your strengths.

  80. pickaduck*

    Sounds like some positive steps and lessons learned! But in the case of AAM, always read the comments!

  81. EmmaPoet*

    OP, you’ve learned some very hard lessons this week. I’m sorry Laura turned out to be that awful, having your business trashed and basically destroyed by a saboteur is painful. Your family and Alison gave you some solid advice which you seem to have taken on board. I think you’ve made the right decision to take classes, and now you know in the future to check references even if the friend recommending the employee is your very best bestie. Also, it’s nice if people are friends at work, but you as the boss need to maintain some space. I hope you thrive as you move on from this. Good luck.

    1. EmmaPoet*

      One other thing, the comments can indeed be very painful to read! You did learn from them, I’m guessing, but it’s not easy to see yourself being castigated even if you did mess up.

    2. I'm just here for the cats!*

      I wonder what Laura said to make people ask for refunds?

      It’s vary telling that Laura wanted to know if Miranda quit or had been fired. I think Laura would have quit the first time OP stood up to her. Its just so sad that she is bad mouthing her to everyone

      1. EmmaPoet*

        It sounds to me like Laura is one of those people who just wants to watch the world burn. She might be charming enough get in with people, but at some point she’s going to turn on you.

        And I agree, it tells us a lot about Laura when she just had to know whether Miranda quit or was fired, and quit when she wasn’t told.

      2. Worldwalker*

        I wonder too. I can’t envision anything that *anyone* could say to my customers that would make them demand refunds. They know my business and they know me. I could see somehow cancelling contracts with suppliers, etc. But this?

  82. Rusty Shackelford*

    That was five hours ago and Miranda just texted me her resignation, no two weeks notice, no transitional help, nothing. I get why she’s doing it, but I feel like it’s pretty unprofessional of her after 4 years of working together.

    Oh, you didn’t get it, you really didn’t. But it looks like you get it now. I’m sorry it was an expensive lesson, but letting Laura destroy your business (as she surely would have done) would have been even more expensive, and I wish you luck in your next endeavor.

    1. Yikes*

      But Laura DID destroy the business anyway by trashing it publicly after she quit, causing the loss of clients, etc. The OP says the business has been wrecked because of it.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        But it’s intact enough that she’s able to sell it, so Laura wasn’t able to completely destroy it.

        1. Batgirl*

          Yeah, I feel like if OP had gone with Laura’s ultimatum, and deferred getting outside advice she would have been left without anything to even sell.

        2. MadisonB*

          I wouldn’t be surprised if the prospective buyer is friends with Laura. Trash the company and have someone buy it out for cheap.

    2. TootsNYC*

      I think the other thing the Letter Writer didn’t get, quite yet, is that Miranda WAS exactly as professional as the Letter Writer was to her.
      It was really unprofessional to demote Miranda, and once that trust was reached, Miranda did not have an obligation to give notice or transition time.

  83. President Porpoise*

    It can be incredibly difficult to even recognize that there may be an issue with how you conduct yourself, much less solicit blunt, honest advice and implement the changes recommended. It is hard to recognize and accept that a dream which you have sunk so much money, love, and effort is failing and to cut your losses. You have shown an extraordinary amount of courage, OP, especially when we factor in the rather harsh comment section from last week. You are learning from your mistakes and educating yourself so you can do better next time. I hope there is a next time – you can become a successful manager, since you’ve shown a willingness to learn, admit when you are wrong, and improve yourself. All of us here started as doofuses who couldn’t manage our ways out of a paper sack. We’ve all sought additional guidance on how to do better, which is why we’re even reading Alison’s work. Most of us have not taken the plunge and started our own business, which is an additional pile of stress, heartache, and complications. Be encouraged. Next time, you’ll have this experience to draw on, you’ll be more open to talking with your family, you’ll have those classes under your belt, and you’ll have Ask a Manager to refer to.

  84. RunShaker*

    I know it was hard to read the comments but I appreciate the OP providing an update. Please give Miranda a good reference, she deserves it. And so unbelievable that Laura couldn’t / wouldn’t let it go & that Miranda had to be fired. I’m glad the trash took itself out the door. OP sending hugs & glad you’re moving forward. Best of luck.

  85. Asenath*

    That was an interesting update. It sounds like a truly terrible experience for OP, but also like she’s ready to learn from it. Sometimes, when everything comes to pieces, the only thing that can be salvaged is lessons for the future – and some people don’t even accept that. OP is one up on those, since she’s learning from her experience. Whether she sells or keeps her business, I’m sure she’ll do better in the future, and Miranda, I hope, had somewhere else to go to when she resigned. I can’t say I’m much worried what happened to Laura and her buddy. Best wished to OP for the future.

  86. idwtpaun*

    I really didn’t expect we’d get an update to this one. Like many above, I raised my eyebrows at the first update, but then just felt sad after the second.

    It’s no surprise at all to find out the story behind Laura’s hiring—this is exactly what you risk when you choose to hire friends or friends-of-friends instead of making it a proper, professional search. What an incredibly expensive way for OP to learn this lesson.

    OP, I am genuinely sorry for you, because running your own business is a big risk and this misstep with hiring Laura on a friend’s word has snowballed into the worst consequences. It seems like everything we were predicting in the last post (Miranda will leave to find a better job, Laura will leave when she doesn’t think she can take advantage of the situation anymore) has come true at accelerated rates. But I’m glad to hear you’re already taking next steps with business classes and plans to freelance. I hope it works out.

  87. TvrH*

    I’m impressed that you took a good, long, honest hard look at your situation. I’m sorry about your business. I wish you good luck. Kudos to you for being brave enough to dig into this.

  88. Carol*

    Thanks for being willing to update, LW. I’m sorry you had to learn these lessons so harshly. The silver lining is that Laura is out of the picture–I think a lot of people were worried she had more nefarious plans up her sleeve. Not to minimize the damage she did to you, which is real, but at least she left and is out of your life. I hope this break and transition gives you some peace after all this.

  89. eons*

    Big hugs to OP. What a hard week. You made mistakes, you’ve learned from them and you won’t make them again. Thanks for the update, we appreciate it!

  90. Anonosaurus*

    Wow. A lot going on here. I commend your humility in acknowledging the lessons you have had to learn very quickly and in a very difficult way. It might be worth investing in a few sessions with s trusted mentor or business coach who can help you pick through the bones of this and learn as much as possible for the future? We can all get it wrong because we’re all human and all we can do is learn, regroup, and take as much good of it as we can. It sounds like you’re on the right track and I wish you the best.

  91. SimplyAlissa*

    It’s an expensive lesson to learn….financially, emotionally, and reputationally.

    But the fact that your next step is to start educating yourself, to work on improving yourself, that’s a big thing. Whatever you do next, I hope that it’s not only a positive experience for you, but also for everyone you work with.

    And here’s to Miranda enjoying and growing in her next career/role, and Laura getting fleas/never being able to con anyone again.

  92. Quickbeam*

    I really feel for OP, I do. I have a lot of friends who have taken “how to be your own boss!” courses and open a business with zero training. Mostly end up much like OP, navigating friendships and hurt feelings. This is often in the craft world when the person in OP’s position is a skilled knitter. Running a business is a hard slap of reality often. As one friend said when she shuttered her yarn store: “They come in, want the yarn for free and want me to knit the sweater for them”.

    OP, best wishes to you going forward.

    1. CommanderBanana*

      ^^ THIS. I have many friends who have amazing creative talents, and other than when they gift me something they’d made for a birthday or similar, if I want a sketch or a cake or a knitted thing or something from them, I am going to pay for it and I’m going to pay what they would charge any other person for it. If you are friends with someone, you support them!

      1. Selina Luna*

        As I’ve said before, this is why my cute cafe/bookstore dream is going to stay in my brain. What I want is a place to hang out and drink coffee with my buddies. I don’t want all the hassles of actually licensing or selling anything.

    2. SomebodyElse*

      I didn’t want to speculate in the first comment section, but honestly I was thinking yarn/indy dyer/yarn shop. It’s sadly a cliche at this point about how often this type of thing happens in that world. It also doesn’t materially change the advice that the OP needed to hear.

      It usually comes down to a few things in common:

      1-being very good at “Thing”
      2-growing steadily and successfully until the big boom of success
      3-large unmanageable expansion- too many orders, new employees, new processes, too diversified, etc.
      4-the crash – infighting w/in the company (often public), missed orders, unhappy (but often loyal customers), excuses, then total meltdown

      I don’t think it’s unique to this community, but I think it has all the hallmarks of the OP’s business, especially with the latest update. It really is sad, because I tend to think the same thing when I hear a story like the OP’s “You don’t have to be an expert at everything to run a business, but you have to run it as a business, which includes hiring (or partnering) with the right people and keeping personal relationships out of the mix”

      I think it’s usually the personal relationships that typically dooms the small businesses.

  93. MassMatt*

    I’m sorry for Miranda and hope she has moved on to a better situation, and I’m sorry that the LW’s business has been so terribly damaged. But thank you OP for responding. The advice and especially the comments must have been really tough to read. I hope you learn from this whole experience and become a better manager/business owner.

  94. Uranus Wars*

    Honestly, I think this was the best outcome for everyone. Miranda is going to get a shot at a great company, the OP learned a very heard lesson and Laura is, well, whoever Laura works for might not actually have a good outcome.

    1. Batgirl*

      I heard recently that you should try saying “everything is as it should be”, when stressed and I wondered what sort of situations would apply. I think this is it!

  95. Anonymous Hippo*

    I 100% applaud the letter writer for graciously accepting this harsh lesson. Not everybody can do that.

  96. WoodswomanWrites*

    OP, you have shown a lot of courage and grace here by coming back to share and acknowledge the painful lessons you’ve learned. It’s great to hear that you are moving forward wisely, and I wish you great success going forward.

  97. EstrellaDelMar*

    Good for LW for realizing the error of her ways. It’s tough to admit you’ve messed up and need to change. The “never read the comments” reaction to totally valid comments had me worried she’d listened to nothing and learned even less… but it seems to have caught up with her. I hope she does with with her classes, freelance work, and whatever she decides to do next!

    1. Mannequin*

      Yes, especially since the comments HERE are not like comment sections elsewhere. I wonder if OP realizes that.

  98. boop the snoot*

    Hey OP,
    Cheers to you for being willing to reframe your thinking, even when it’s rough. It sounds like a horrible situation and while I’m glad that you seem to have a better perspective on it now… it certainly hasn’t left you in a good spot. I hope things improve for you & that you take these lessons forward and can laugh at how out-of-bounds your thinking was 10 years from now. I hope Miranda’s been able to move on to a company that will both value her work & provide a neutrally positive environment without all the drama.

  99. Butter Makes Things Better*

    Like many others here, I am so impressed with the graciousness and humility of OP for sending not one, but two updates, and in particular the second one where they showed such a huge turnaround and realized just how much they were wrong about the whole situation. It is no fun at all to feel the weight of an entire comment section as an OP, let alone when you realize so many of the comments are right.

    And I am very much hoping for an update to these updates where OP has their feet back under them and is well on their way to a lessons-learned brand of success!

  100. JustKnope*

    OP, sending you all the best wishes as you process all of these changes. It’s going to take some time and energy to work through – please take these learnings to heart but don’t be too hard on yourself. I highly recommend working with a counselor for a couple of months to have a safe, neutral place to work through your feelings and help yourself move forward constructively. It’s hard to have your world upended and be told by an entire comment section that you’re in the wrong. Kudos to you for reading the comments and I hope this is ultimately a good thing for you moving forward.

  101. Jules the 3rd*

    What’s interesting to me is how much of an object lesson this is for small businesses to hire wisely, and the importance of actively managing.

    I have a friend who’s got a small business; he’s hired mostly from a family / friend group. I’ve sent him to AAM multiple times and made some recommendations about how to shift away from that fam /friend group because of specific situations he’s described, where his team leads are treating people like family not like employees. I will definitely be sending him this letter and update.

  102. cubone*

    Honestly Alison, thank YOU for all your hard work and thoughtfulness in responding to the OP and your comment moderation. This has been a really insightful, interesting and honest series of events and I feel kind of in awe of all of it

  103. Lady Blerd*

    That is a hard way to learn a lesson OP. I won’t pile on to your reaction to Miranda’s resignation but had she written in with her side of the story, we would definitely be supporting her decision to quit without notice. In spite of your failures though, I am sorry Laura drove your business into the ground, that is a crappy way to lose your business. There are many hard lessons to learn here, next time lean into your sister and BIL’s experience on how to deal with such situations. And definitely make sure you know how your business is run even if you’re not hands on. Good luck in your next ventures.

  104. Yikes*

    I wish we knew for sure that Miranda has gone to a great job with the brother-in-law. A lot of commenters seem to be assuming so, but there’s nothing in the letter that confirms that. I hope OP comes back and clarifies.

    1. Tuesday*

      I was wondering that too. I didn’t take the brother-in-law’s comment to be that serious necessarily. More like, “Wow, Miranda sounds great and like she’s being mistreated. Give me her number because I’d love to offer her a job.” I thought it was a way to make a point to the letter writer.

      If the brother-in-law did contact Miranda, I’m assuming he would still want to interview her, check references and all that, so that’s a lot to happen in such a short period of time. I think it’s more likely that Miranda was already looking for a job after being demoted and seeing her bosses favoritism toward Laura, etc. I think she was trying her best to get out of there as quickly as possible.

  105. HarvestKaleSlaw*

    You know what, LW? I had you pegged wrong. I was harsh in the comments and pretty certain that you would get defensive and double-down on trusting Laura/trashing Miranda. I apologize. 9 people out of 10 would have done just that, so I’m honestly impressed.

    What I will say is this, however: Laura identified some kind of vulnerability or void that you had. There was something she gave you – or pretended to give you – that you needed so badly, you warped your own judgement and ethics to get it.

    I don’t know you well enough to know what door Laura kicked in (my best guess is that the pandemic has been really, really lonely for a lot of people), but it might be worth talking it out with someone you trust.

    1. biobotb*

      It seemed to me that perhaps the void was that the LW would prefer someone else make the judgement calls and actions based on those judgements. They jumped at the chance for Laura to take over this in their own life, also tried to farm it out to their BIL and to Alison. I certainly have a lot of sympathy with not wanting to be responsible for the hard or even medium-level stuff in life.

  106. Elizabeth West*


    OP, it really sounds like your head was in the wrong place the whole time due to your previous experience. I’m sorry you lost the business; these were some hard and costly lessons to learn. Every moment and every day is a chance to do better. Understanding what went wrong and why it happened is half the battle.

    Good luck with your schooling and I hope that you’ll take these lessons to heart if you find yourself in a manager position again. In fact, if you’re willing to share them with your classmates once you get some distance from the situation (and if it comes up), you might help someone else avoid the same thing.

  107. MuseumChick*

    Very hard lesson to learn. I haven’t gotten to read all the comments but I would give some serious thought to talking to the friend who recommended Laura and let her know how badly things went. Not revealing anything inappropriate but definitely send the signal that this friend should not be recommending her for jobs.

  108. Roscoe*

    I mean, while BIL is doing something good for Miranda, I gotta say, with family like that, who needs enemies. It seems she went to him for advice, and he decided he would take her employee. That seems a bit shady at best, even if it was a help to the employee.

    Aside from that, there was just a lot here.

    1. Save the Hellbender*

      woah. I think BIL was just reframing “thank you for hiring her so I don’t have to fire her” to “she’s not in the wrong, so I’m happy to help her out.” I think he gave much needed advice to OP and a lifeline for Miranda. I don’t know where you’re getting that he was nefariously scheming or trying to hurt OP.

    2. Mental Lentil*

      You are reading way too much into this. As someone else said, I like the cut of BIL’s jib.

      I wish OP had gone to BIL earlier. This whole thing could have been avoided.

    3. Pibble*

      Interesting, I read it as never actually intending to poach Miranda, but trying to come up with the most impactful way to express to OP that they were siding with the wrong employee, which it clearly did.

      1. Tuesday*

        That’s the way I read it too. I thought he was just making a point, and Miranda was already working on an exit strategy on her own.

      2. AnotherLibrarian*

        Yeah, I did as well. It’s a way of saying, “You are not understanding this situation and are reading it all wrong. You’re reading it so wrong that I would like to hire away your employee, because you don’t value her.” I didn’t think the BIL was serious (though if he was and Miranda benefited- good on her.)

    4. Lady Blerd*

      I’m not sure her BIL was serious in wantig to poach Miranda. I’m certain that if LW hadn’t said anything about not having to fire Miranda, he would have found a way to get to the real point he was getting into.

    5. Xantar*

      It was not only helpful to Miranda, it was also ultimately helpful to LW. Her business was a house of cards waiting to collapse any minute. Nobody would have been doing LW any favors by propping her up.

    6. Batgirl*

      I can’t agree. If your relative is doing someone wrong AND it’s unsalvageable (Miranda was never going to be able to trust OP again, or the validity of her business), then stepping in to help the person who is harmed is much better than blind family loyalty. It’s also for the good of the BiL, and good advice for the OP. A good deed all around.

    7. Worldwalker*

      Do you really think Miranda was going to stay there?

      She was going to leave the first chance she got. That was an incredibly toxic workplace. Even if the LW didn’t fire her, as she clearly intended to do, Miranda would have taken any job that got her out of there. The demotion — and the reason for it — was not just the LW burning a bridge, but calling in an artillery strike on it and dynamiting the footings.

      And it wouldn’t have mattered if Laura and her mean girls had quit en masse and left the place to Miranda. The fact that the LW was willing to believe Laura and go along with her schemes had irrevocably poisoned the relationship between them. Miranda could no longer trust the LW … and would *you* want to work for the kind of person who — all else aside — demoted you, gave your job to a new hire, and told you it was because that person had been so helpful in running the boss’s personal life for her? Seriously, that’s when you look to see if McDonald’s is hiring. It’s not as much what specifically the LW did as that she’s the kind of person who would do those things.

      The only thing the BIL did (or may have done) is offer Miranda a landing pad. She was already going to jump from this burning building of a job.

  109. LizB*

    I feel shocked just reading about how quickly things came to a head here – I can’t imagine how shocking it must feel for you, OP! It takes a lot of grace to have a few hundred internet strangers tell you how everything you’ve been doing is all wrong and then come back to let them know how things shook out, and I appreciate that. I hope you’re able to some good learning and reflecting from this whole mess, and eventually find your feet again.

  110. KellifromCanada*

    I’m sorry for everything you’ve gone through in the past week (and before), but glad that you’ve had such an important learning experience. I’m sure you’ll benefit from taking some business courses at your local university, but honestly, the best advice I could give you to start with is to read Alison’s blog. Read, read, read as much as you have time for. Her advice is invaluable. It’s really important to be supportive and helpful to your staff, but to remember that even though you are friendly with them, you are not their friend. Definitely don’t ask for personal favours from your staff, ever, or involve them in your personal life. Also, it seems like your business processes, procedures and policies are not documented and you don’t know them. It’s essential to have all this documented, and for you to fully understand your business. Being in the position of not knowing how to do things, or who to believe about the state of your business, puts you at a huge disadvantage. Best wishes to you for lots of success in the future.

  111. Dr. Rebecca*


    I do have advice for the OP: learn to distinguish between feelings (good or bad) and business decisions. You liked Laura; that’s good, but it doesn’t make her a good fit for your business. Miranda’s resignation hurt your feelings; that doesn’t make it unprofessional. I hope the classes help, and the buy-out gives you breathing room to try again.

  112. HR Ninja*


    Thank you for updating us on what has happened with your situation. I’m sure it was very difficult to go through, let alone share it so publicly.

    If I may be so bold, I would also like to suggest personal support, as well as managerial classes. If it is financially feasible, I would seek out therapy/counseling. You have been through the ringer professionally and personally. Utilize as many resources as possible to get you back on your feet emotionally and career-wise.

    I sincerely wish you luck with the next part of your career.

  113. Abigail Chase*

    Tough, tough week for you OP but I hope you learn from it all and land on your feet. Wishing you the best!

  114. Jennifer Juniper*

    OP, thank you for being a perfect example of how to handle being wrong and owning up to your mistakes. You are gracious in humility and adversity and are a quick learner. I hope you take your brother-in-law out to a thank-you dinner for giving you the advice you needed (once you get back on your feet, that is).

  115. HB*

    Just want to say that you’ve demonstrated more growth in a short period of time than most people do. You’re going to be okay. Best of luck to you!!!

  116. El l*

    OP, good on you for admitting you were wrong. That must have been hard, and lots of people can’t do that.

    All you have to do now is focusing on learning the right lessons from this – which it sounds like you are. You’ve paid for your mistake. You’ll do much better next time. Best of luck to you.

  117. Djuna*

    Whoa, if my head is spinning after reading those updates I marvel at OP for even being able to write them.
    Those were some hard lessons, delivered back-to-back, at speed.
    Good for you, OP, for not immediately dismissing Alison’s advice as many before you have.
    Good for you for checking in with someone you trust in real life and listening to them.
    Good for you for holding the line with Laura even though it led to pain for your business.
    I know you’ll give Miranda a glowing reference, and I know you’ve learned so much, and will learn still more from those management classes. It’s just a shame that the lessons were so harsh.
    I also hope you read the comments this time, and take some comfort from them.
    Wishing you smooth sailing and fewer life lessons for the rest of your career!

    1. TootsNYC*

      I think there’s another lesson here for the world at large.

      Be the trusted brother-in-law. Tell your friends the truth when they vent to you; don’t just make them feel good. Tell them when you think they are wrong.

      Do it kindly–those of us who read this blog have an excellent example in Alison. But don’t equivocate, and don’t let people kid themselves or lie to themselves about their situations.

      Also: don’t lie for your friends, either. Don’t recommend someone when they’re iffy; don’t hedge and weasel out of honesty.

      It’s good the Letter Writer had an honest brother-in-law.

      1. Djuna*

        100%, your real friends are the ones who’ll tell you what you don’t want to hear, when they know it’s what you need to hear.

  118. Falling Diphthong*

    OP, I really appreciate the follow-up. The updates are a nice feature of AAM.

    This update just underscores why it was a good idea to write and get outside perspective–Alison, the commenters, and your sister and brother-in-law could all see the red flags you were too close, and emotionally invested, to pick up.

    I’m glad it looks like you have a path out.

  119. TiredMama*

    Very happy for Miranda. What a relief for her. OP, I wish you luck on this new journey and I hope someday you thank Miranda and apologize for making her life so stressful for months. And here is hoping karma finds Laura.

  120. Ray Gillette*

    Some people need a hard lesson, and some people are the hard lesson.

    This certainly isn’t easy for LW or Miranda, but it sounds like the best possible outcome. Miranda has a new, better job; and LW is free of Laura’s influence and has already shown a solid capacity to self-reflect and learn from her mistakes. Best wishes in your next steps, LW. I hope to hear from you again in a couple of years.

  121. Delta Delta*

    I’d be really interested to see another update from this OP around the end of the year. It seems like OP got a lot of pretty tough information in a short time (from the commenter and also from her BIL) and things went from toxic to totally fallen apart. I’d hope OP sells the business and perhaps includes a provision that the buyer continue to employ the remaining employee (if that person wants to stay, of course). I have a couple thoughts about this: a) someone is offering actual money for the business and b) it may be best to make an entirely clean break and start over with something new. Some people are great at running businesses. Some people aren’t. This whole tale makes me want to encourage OP to hit pause, reflect, learn some new stuff, and maybe try something different.

  122. Yellow*

    I am sorry for you personally, that this all happened, but I am glad that you were receptive to the criticism, and have learned some really hard lessons. Most people would have dug their heels in and tried to blame someone else. You proved that you can learn and change.

  123. Bilateralrope*

    > They both trashed me to the sky on social media, which lead to a demand for refunds and cancellation of orders I can’t recover from.

    I wonder if the letter writer has enough for a slander/libel lawsuit against Laura here. Proof of harm looks easy. Proof Laura was lying comes down to information we don’t have. Then there is the question of how much Laura is able to pay if the LW wins.

    Walking away will likely be less stress.

    1. Phony Genius*

      I wonder about these clients who would end their business relationship based solely on what a couple of people said on social media, without at least asking the business owner about it. I wouldn’t make rash business decisions this way.

      1. CLC*

        I work in marketing and you’d be surprised. That whole “one bad Yelp review could put me under” thing is actually pretty true for a lot of small businesses. (Not so much on Yelp itself anymore since that’s falling out of fashion but certainly on some social media platforms like FB.)

      2. M*

        Eh, depends who the clients are and what the product is. Indie cosmetic company goes under after disgruntled former staff member trashes them on social media is a pretty… cliche story, to take one example. Or OP is out of the medical industry – not implausible she’s running a medical supply company of some form, with corporate clients who are deeply risk averse and likely to pull orders fast if Laura is claiming poor warehouse sanitation. Lots of options, some where it’s even a rational choice on the clients’ part.

        1. Elsajeni*

          I also think that it would not be difficult for Laura to describe this in a way that is accurate enough that you couldn’t really dispute it while also making it sound like she was 100% the victim of an exploitative boss and a harassing coworker. She did a bunch of personal favors for her boss, and felt like they were more friends than employer-employee; she complained about feeling unsafe around another employee; her boss had a sudden turnaround in attitude toward her and she just, gosh, felt that she had no choice but to quit…

    2. 3DogNight*

      I wonder if those are real orders, or part of what Laura is trying to cover up. I still feel like something shady was going on there, and when she realized the OP was going to learn the really reals about the business, she bailed. I hope there is some forensic accounting going to happen.

      1. Worldwalker*

        Now that’s an interesting thought indeed. Those orders may never have existed in the first place. I don’t know about the LW, but I know if I were the buyer of this business, the first thing I’d do was have the books audited and find out what I’d bought — or, preferably, *before* I bought it.

  124. Tex*

    OP – the toughest part about running a business is not the technology or the financing, it’s the people management.

    You got hoodwinked by pot-stirring Laura but you also didn’t have a good gauge on Miranda. You trusted Miranda for several years (and lucked out because she was an honest employee), but there have been many stories about ‘trusted’ employees stealing from their employers due to lax oversight. Laura rightly point out that you don’t know what Miranda is doing or that you don’t have relationships with essential suppliers. But implementing a system where you could oversee Miranda’s work is a far different and prudent course of action than just taking one employee’s opinions as fact.

    1. El l*

      Totally. Learning to be responsible for the operation of all areas of her business – and not just trusting someone else’s word – seems to me to be the most important lesson for her to learn.

      (Though I wouldn’t argue with the many who’d put “better boundaries” as Lesson #1!)

  125. Laura Ann O'Nymous*

    I just have to say that as a Laura, reading this whole saga and all the comments has been…amusing!

    1. Laura Ann O'Nymous*

      That is, as someone whose actual name is Laura. Not as someone who acts like this Laura. I swear.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Ha. It took me a moment; I was like — I don’t think someone who really was a Laura, behavior-wise, would be here admitting to it.

    2. Beth Jacobs*

      I don’t live in an English speaking country so the only Laura I know is Laura Ingalls Wilder. She’d never do this!

      1. another laura*

        You need to read “Prairie Fires” by Caroline Fraser and find out more about the very complicated relationship between Laura Ingalls Wilder and her daughter Rose Wilder Lane. There is a whole different (and not very polite side) to each of these women.

    3. Laura H.*

      Also… a little awkward. I hope I’d never do something like this.

      But I’ve had that awkward feeling before when I read the poem “Goblin Market” in British Lit class.

  126. CommanderBanana*

    1. I like the cut of your brother-in-law’s jib
    2. It is really rich of you to call anyone else unprofessional
    3. IMHO you got off cheaply with Laura leaving
    4. If you need someone to help your life run smoothly, I would recommend a personal assistant

    It takes a lot of self-awareness to recognize when you’ve screwed up. My sympathies here are with Miranda, who I think got royally screwed by you and Laura, but I’m glad that you are realizing that instead of digging in. I am very sorry about your business.

  127. Forrest Rhodes*

    I agree, OP, this one definitely belongs on the List of Least Favorite Weeks. I’m also sorry you had to go through this, but am in total admiration of your open-mindedness in re-examining the situation.
    Hope things improve for you quickly, and that you enjoy the process along the way.

    1. TootsNYC*


      Just, you know, brace yourself.

      And it’s why Alison insists on people not being mean, even if their message is harsh.

  128. Box of Kittens*

    Wow, I am actually very impressed with this LW. What a perspective shift from the first letter. To be honest, this seems to be like one of the happiest and most productive updates I’ve seen – Miranda has a new job as she deserves, and the LW is actively filling in the gaps in her knowledge she’s realized she has. Love it. I hope I can be as accepting of deserved criticism.

    1. TeaCoziesRUs*

      Me, too. I see so much growth and hope here. Proud of you, OP. Hard lessons suck, but it sounds like you have the courage to learn the lessons. <3

  129. alienor*

    OP, I admire you for being able to admit that you were wrong and see the lessons to be learned. While this was a crappy experience all around, I think ultimately you’re going to come out of it equipped to be a better boss/business owner if you go down that path again in the future. And I hope Miranda lands in a good place even if she doesn’t take your brother-in-law up on a job offer (I can see why she might not want to, in order to make it a cleaner break) and recovers quickly from everything that’s happened to her.

  130. WantonSeedStitch*

    This whole situation is reminding me a bit of the young manager from a while back who was basically trying to manage her best employee into quitting because she didn’t get along with the clique that was the rest of the team–and that team was bullying that employee and treating her like garbage. Just as mind-bogglingly toxic of a situation. At first the LW was like, “hey, how do I get rid of this awful employee?” and Alison was like, “ummm…you have some serious learning to do.” and then LW, over time, saw the light and learned. Seems like this LW is going in the same direction. I hope they’re successful and grow from the experience.

  131. Van Wilder*

    I take no pleasure in this. I’m happy for Miranda but I wish that you could have figured it all out sooner; maybe the relationship could have been saved. I was not expecting Laura to quit and destroy your business on the way out. I thought she valued her sense of power at your company. I’m sorry that it all went this way and wish you better luck in the future.

    1. TootsNYC*

      she did value her sense of power–that’s why she demanded to be told that Miranda had been fired and not just quit on her own.

      And when OP started showing signs of not giving her any more power (by refusing to indulge her demand to tell her about Miranda, and perhaps Laura realized that Miranda hadn’t been fired, which means OP hadn’t bowed to Laura’s demands), she quit and torched the business on the way out.

    2. RunMirandaRun*

      I have been dying for an update on this situation. I am so happy that Miranda got out of that whole situation. As much as this hurts now, I’m hoping LW learns from this and either seeks employment through other means or gets more training and experience in managing before starting a new business. There’s a reason most places do not accept references from friends because it can lead to situations like this where a person is fine to be friends with but a terrible employee. However, LW didn’t know even the basics of how to run the job herself, this situation or not, Miranda leaving would have always led here due to that.

  132. photon*

    OP, I know it’s been a hard week, and I wish you all the luck in trying to recover personally & professionally. When you get a bit farther along on that process, I’d really encourage you to try to figure out why things had to go bad for you, personally, before you understood that you were in the wrong. A therapist or similar might be useful for that type of introspection.

  133. TootsNYC*

    wow, Laura is NOT a nice person at all!

    To demand to be told that OP has fired Miranda, and not to just be content that Miranda left? And to quit over not being allowed to gloat?

    OP, I wish you great good luck. And I hope that you will have learned so many valuable things in this situation.

    (For one thing, you have a brother-in-law with experience; I bet if you’d been in closer touch earlier, you’d have gotten some good advice.)

  134. Marie*

    Being a manager or owner is a tremendous responsibility and I don’t think many realize that. You have direct power over other people and their lives.

    I was a manager for 20 years and I always felt like more of a servant to my employees. Yes I was the boss but it was my responsibility to see that they had the tools necessary to do their jobs sucessfully. That was alot of work, but I believe the boss should lead by example and be the hardest worker in the place.
    Recently I took a job as just an employee (have already been offered Manager but turned it down) I don’t want that responsibility anymore. Just want to come in and do my own work.
    I just don’t think many people realize how hard being the boss is.

    1. TootsNYC*

      One of the best bosses I ever had was not necessarily the hardest worker in the place. But she was effective.

      She once asked me if I minded that she left at quitting time while I stayed late. It had never occurred to me to mind. She couldn’t do the things we did; we had to be the ones. So she’d have been sitting around for no real reason.
      But also: she made sure we got what we needed from other people. She worked hard and effectively at HER job: workflow, resources, information, respect.

  135. LadyHouseOfLove*

    Because she was recommended by my friend, I didn’t check any of Laura’s references. She said she had managerial experience from her previous job. She didn’t. Through some town chatter, I found out her department at her last job threw a party the day after Laura quit, and an acquaintance who worked at the company expressed a lot of shock that I hired her. I called her references and two of the numbers were disconnected, and the other person is the close friend who recommended her to me.

    Her ex-coworkers threw a party after she quit? Oh, my God.

    I do recommend OP that you talk to the mutual friends you and Laura have. If she’s willing to wreck your professional reputation, she is likely to do the same to your personal reputation.

    1. Khatul Madame*

      Yes, some degree of damage control is in order. The first conversation should be with the mutual friend who was the recommender/reference for Laura – whose side will she take?
      I would also double-check the inventory and financials. Smear campaign might not have been the only damage done to the OP’s business.

      1. RagingADHD*

        This comment is too far down.

        LW, please check your credit report, audit your business books, and do a thorough inventory!

        The Lauras of this world have an agenda, and it is rarely confined to simply psychological manipulation. She wanted to get rid of the only person who understood the software for a REASON.

        You need to find out what she was doing with that software, and what “sourcing” she was doing. that she didn’t want Miranda or you to know about.

      2. Batgirl*

        It’s so hard to know what kind of person the recommending friend is. On the one hand, they should have known something truly solid about Laura and her history before recommending her. On the other, all of Laura’s substantial energies go entirely on hoodwinking and manipulating people. It’s difficult to know if the friend is a co-conspirator or fellow victim.

  136. CommanderBanana*

    Also, leadership skills are not the same as management skills. I have know people who had great leadership skills – when it came to ideas, motivating people, etc. – who were terrible at the daily grind of managing people. They get conflated, but they’re not the same – just like how leadership and authority aren’t the same thing.

    1. Countess of Upstairs Downstairs*

      Came here to say the same thing. Leadership skills are important, but being able to manage an operation to make it run day after day after day is a whole specific skill set.

  137. Properlike*

    OP, I saw your mention that you worked in a completely different field before owning your own business, and it’s in that field that you got praise for managing others. This may seem obvious now, but while many skills are transferrable between fields, the expectations, norms, and even qualifications of employees may not track. For instance: my management style for a retail storefront that pays minimum wage and relies on lots of high school and college students will necessarily be different from a large company’s where people may have advanced degrees, or previous work experience in an office, etc. We don’t always know what we don’t know.

    I’m seeing this even today in managing a relatively new employee who’s coming out of a different industry into education, where we have rules upon rules. He’s ascribing my requests to personal preference (and, interestingly, phrasing it as “fear”) and not to the context in which we operate, which is not the male-heavy “I think it so I’ll say it out loud” world he’s used to operating in.

    Hugs to you for taking all this feedback and course correcting so drastically. That’s admirable!

  138. RosyGlasses*

    Thank you for writing in, and for the updates. It sounds like you took the advice, both from AAM and your family to heart, and I wish you all the best in your future pursuits. It’s not easy to admit failure, particularly so publicly, and I commend you on your plans to move forward.

  139. Sun Tzu*

    Thanks for the updates, OP. At least the situation is solved now. I wish you best of luck for your future endeavors.

    “Laura didn’t say anything, she just texted me privately asking to clarify that Miranda was definitely fired and that she didn’t quit.”
    “Laura did quit when I told her I wasn’t discussing Miranda and she took one of the other staff with her. They both trashed me to the sky on social media”
    … and here’s another proof of Laura’s toxicity.

  140. Robbie (New Zealand)*

    LW, is there someone else who can look over your books before the sale goes through?

    Call me an alarmist if you like, but if Laura has had access to your finances all this time and was able to wrest control in some areas from Miranda, then her rapid departure could be that of a fraud fleeing the scene now that the gig is nearly up.

    1. identifying remarks removed*

      And OP should think very carefully about the remaining member of staff if they were hired on Laura’s recommendation. If so they can hardly be trusted not to provide updates to Laura on any kind of audit etc.

    2. Essess*

      That was my big thought too. I’m picturing one big embezzlement hurrah and get out fast while Miranda is gone so that there’s no one watching or could prove who took the money now that you have both of them leaving at about the same time. If I was the new company, I’d want a forensic audit before finalizing the purchase price or confirming the sale.

    3. M*

      Or, worse, blowing up the remains by trashing the company everywhere she can, so that OP is too busy – and lacks the motivation – to check the books.

  141. Lab Boss*

    Not directly related to OP’s end of the situation, but this fallout makes it pretty much impossible to give Laura the benefit of the doubt at this point. Let’s imagine a world where Miranda really WAS in the wrong and using poor business practices. If Laura really just wanted things to be run well, she would have no reason to care why or how Miranda left as long as she was gone (I think we’ve all been there- I don’t care if my problem coworker quit because they won the lottery and sailed off on a flying pony, they’re out of my hair).

    The fact that Laura apparently quit because OP wouldn’t confirm that a departed employee was actively fired (!) means that either she was running some kind of scam and planned on quitting all along, or that she is a level of hilariously petty that I can’t even comprehend it.

    1. irene adler*

      Or Laura realized that she no longer has the LW under her control.
      And you may be correct about there being some sort of scam going on. There may be a few surprises awaiting discovery once the detailed processes, books, etc. that involved Laura are reviewed in-depth (most likely by the new owner).

      Trust is nice, but really, “trust but verify” is the way to go in a business situation.

      1. Mental Lentil*

        Trust is nice, but really, “trust but verify” is the way to go in a business situation.


        One of my earliest managers told me that “the key to effective management is follow-up.” I’ve taken that to heart for the past 30 years.

  142. Redd*

    It was a hard lesson, and honestly somewhat deserved, but kudos to you for having learned it instead of continuing to deflect. I hope things go well for you in the future.

    1. Empress Ki*

      We don’t know but I wonder if she would want to work for the OP’s brother in law. Not if she has other options.

  143. Anonymous Coward*

    When I read the first part and she didn’t respond to the employee’s “It’s her or me” with “I reckon it’s you,” then I knew she was in for it.

    But props to her for owning every last bit of her stuff. Sterling character (which will be greatly served by taking some management classes.)

  144. Emily W*

    Not related to the content of this at all, it’s just my personal bone to pick — OP, if you (or others!) happen to read this, I’d encourage you to move away from using the phrase “drinking the kool-aid”. I used to use it to until I actually read about the details of Jim Jones and Jonestown. It’s truly a horrific event on many levels, and once you know the details, that phrase will come across as … insensitive, at best.

    1. Mental Lentil*

      That’s actually the source of this expression though, which is why it is apt for a terrible situation where people are basically the cause of their own destruction.

      Also, we’re asked not to nitpick language. It’s in the rule…

      1. Foila*

        I think the difference is that the phrase is generally used to mean that people have bought in to a horrible philosophy that has them out of touch with reality, when in fact the deaths of the Jonestown members were not suicide but violent murder, something they absolutely were not expecting or okay with. So it’s kind of victim-blamey and inaccurate.

      2. Emily W*

        I’m curious what makes you think that I don’t know that’s the source of the expression? Genuinely, because why else would I bring up Jonestown?
        Regardless, my whole point is that the people killed (they overwhelmingly did not just down a poisoned beverage of their own free will) at Jonestown were *not* responsible/the cause/however you’d like to word it, for what happened to them. I also don’t think it’s “nitpicking” to say “I used to say this until I learned the story behind it, now I don’t, I’m sharing that story with you”. You are free to say whatever slang you like.

        1. HarvestKaleSlaw*

          It’s odd to me to find out that people DON’T know where that phrase comes from. I guess it has passed into the vernacular already, and people use it who don’t know what happened at Jonestown?

          Thank you for filling me in that it has become a sort of generic expression about gullibility. It used to be used more for a tiny bit of shock value and/or to express deep cynicism.

      3. MCMonkeyBean*

        Yes, the fact that that is the source of the phrase is the reason Emily W is suggesting we should stop using it. I have also only learned the details in the last couple year and similarly suggest people stop using the phrase the way we casually do.

        Educating people about harmful language is not the same as nitpicking.

      4. TootsNYC*

        I think one of the reasons to express caution about using that phrase (which is not quite nitpicking) is that most of those people were forced to drink the poison.

    2. I edit everything*

      Emily, I agree.

      It goes so far beyond just being sucked into a toxic culture. There are still living relatives of those who were murdered, and I can only imagine how they must feel every time they see the phrase.

  145. Empress Matilda*

    Oh wow, OP. What a time you’ve had. The good news is, you might have learned more in these past few weeks than you have in your entire career! The bad news is – ooof, experience is one hell of a teacher, isn’t it.

    I’m really glad to hear you’re considering the buyout offer, though! It may not have been the outcome you wanted, but it’s great that you’ll get some space and time (and money!) to take a step back for a while. First to get some R&R from all the stress you’ve been under lately, and then to figure out what your next steps are going to be. Business classes are a great idea.

    Take care of yourself. And if you have an update this time next year with all the great things you’ve been doing in the meantime, I’m sure we’d all love to hear it!

  146. SpringIsForPlanting!*

    Laura is a predator. LW, you obviously made a lot of mistakes here, which you (impressively!) acknowledge, but I hope you give yourself a bit of grace as well. Most people are ill-prepared to encounter someone as manipulative as Laura. You fell for her tricks, which is on you, but the fact that she’s an awful person in the first place is not your fault.

  147. It's Growing!*

    While not a happy ending of her business, this could have been so much worse for LW. She knew so little about the business end that Miranda took care of – suppliers, computer programs, etc. – and the warehouse end that Laura oversaw, that she could have been totally fleeced by employees on both ends without realizing it. Having a competitor offer her a “great price” for her business, especially with orders being being withdrawn and refunds demanded, gives her a not-horrible way to end this. Hard lesson, not-tragic ending, and a way forward leaves her with a decent ending and a new beginning. May your future, LW, bring rainbows, puppies, and kittens – or whatever floats your boat :-).

  148. AuntAmy*

    Well, this was quite the wild ride! I can imagine how hard it was to read the comments, but I am glad that you did. I hope that you are able to make a fresh start and enjoy success in your next chapter.
    And this: “she just texted me privately asking to clarify that Miranda was definitely fired and that she didn’t quit” – is a forest of red flags, and the flags are on fire. OMG, Laura, get a grip.
    I hope you write in a few years from now with a Friday Good News story!

  149. fogharty*

    OP, please have due diligence in checking out the people/person who is offering to buy your company. Have them checked out, get a good lawyer to represent your interests, make sure there’s no relationship with Laura or her cronies. Perhaps your sister and BIL could offer some advice or recommend a good business attorney.

    1. Empress Matilda*

      Oh goddess, yes. Find yourself a lawyer who has lots of experience with this kind of transaction, and make sure they do all kinds of due diligence on the offer.

      The competitor *might* not have any connections to Laura, but it’s best to find out for sure. You don’t want to find yourself jumping from the frying pan into the fire – especially now, when you’re so close to being free of the whole thing. Good luck!

    2. Carol*

      Ooooof…yeah, good point!!! My guess is that Laura is off on her next adventure starring herself and would rather be able to tell herself the place failed because she left, but yikes, wouldn’t this be awful…

    3. CliveBrucknerInRepose*

      I scrolled all the way down just to see if anyone else was chiming in with this advice. My very first impulse when I read about the fortuitous buyer was to wonder how many degrees of separation were between Laura and that buyer.

  150. Sick of Workplace Bullshit*

    I would LOVE to hear about this situation and an update on this from Miranda’s point of view!

  151. Sara without an H*

    Hello, OP — It was very gracious — and brave — of you to update us. I know the commentariat here can be kind of rough.

    You’ve obviously learned a lot in a very short time. If you have an interested buyer, I agree that selling out now may be the best solution for you. Unload the business and start over with a clean slate.

    Your BIL is right, you do need more management training before you try this again. Think, too, about what kind of business would be right for you.

    I’d also suggest making sure that you have good work-life balance going forward. If your personal life is in good order, you’re less likely to try to use work (and employees) to fill in the gaps.

    Good luck! And keep reading AAM. The commentariat can, indeed, by snarly at times, but you can learn a lot here.

  152. You Are Your Own Manager*

    OP, I give you credit for reading the comments and sending the updates. It cannot have been easy to have such a massive rude awakening in a very public forum.

    I truly believe that in a few years, you may look back on this as a turning point that leads to immense growth for you. The hardest lessons have a way of doing that.

    Good luck to you – and to Miranda, wherever she may be.

  153. Marian*

    Honestly OP, you shouldn’t believe 1 word Laura farted out. Check your company’s (or even personal) finances and when you see that Laura has a new job, I would even reach out to that employer to tell them about Laura’s behavior. Laura seems like the type to put YOU as a reference, but list your number as one of her friend’s number, and they would pretend to be you.

    1. Observer*

      I would not suggest that the OP reach out to anyone. It’s not her circus or her monkeys. Any employer who isn’t making it their business to reach out to HER is not doing their due diligence and would not be open to listening to the OP.

      Think about it – do you think that the OP would have been open to listening to some random person who called her when they found out that she’d hired Laura? No. And to be honest, that would not have been a terrible mistake, either. Because a new employer would have no way to figure out what the real motivation is.

    2. TootsNYC*

      can you say “tortious interference”?
      Be honest if asked. Don’t go seeking to ruin her new relationships

  154. The one who wears too much black*

    OP, I just want to say that I see you; this was so hard. One of the hardest letters I have seem AAM answer in a long time. I am glad that other resources like your family were not far away and immediately available when you asked for their help.

  155. MadisonB*

    Some person randomly reaching out after Laura and Miranda both quit to buy the company sounds oddly coincidental.

    1. Observer*

      Not coincidental at all.

      I’d bet that the competitor saw the social media storm and decided that it is an opportune moment.

      1. FD*

        +1 If they have a lucrative client base, this is a thing that happens. I’ve seen it done before.

      2. MadisonB*

        There is great advice above about getting a business lawyer and very carefully vetting this miracle buy out offer that has come when OP is at their lowest and the company is disintegrating, largely because of efforts Laura is still making. I would also suggest that OP not make any huge decisions while emotionally raw and in full self-flagellation mode. There is little subjectivity in a time like that.

        Laura is a con artist and her suddenly quitting after asking about Miranda being fired or quitting is a huge red flag. My only question is if Laura was a con artist who lost her mark and flounced out, or if her con was a longer one that is still playing out.

        1. Observer*

          There is great advice above about getting a business lawyer and very carefully vetting this miracle buy out offer that has come when OP is at their lowest and the company is disintegrating, largely because of efforts Laura is still making

          Getting a lawyer is an excellent piece of advice. But there really is nothing to “check out” in terms of the buyer. What the lawyer needs to “check out” – very carefully! is the actual current state of the business, and the terms of any deal.

          Laura is a con artist and her suddenly quitting after asking about Miranda being fired or quitting is a huge red flag.

          It’s more that just a red flag. But that’s about her character and possibly what she may have done to the business. But a plot to ruin the business is a bit too convoluted. It’s a lot more likely that someone saw the sharks in the water and saw a good opportunity.

        2. M*

          Or if Laura had already taken some form of benefit from her con, identified that Miranda quitting rather than being fired was a sign that OP might hire an actual accountant rather than installing Laura in Miranda’s role to continue conning, and tried to blow up the business badly enough that OP wouldn’t bother auditing anything. Either way: forensic accountant or business lawyer before inking a sale.

    2. Ginger Baker*

      So I’m not the only one who thought of that movie where some dude rents an apartment in order to systematically destroy it to bring the purchase price of the house down?

  156. Mimi Me*

    Oof! This was a rough update. I have to admit I had a bit of a horrified laugh when I saw the update to the update and the LW realized what an awful person Laura was…and how Laura’s last job literally celebrated her leaving. I couldn’t help but think how a simple phone call might’ve saved the LW from all of that if she’d bothered to check references. Of course, the lessons best learned are ones where we’ve been burned first. It sounds like the LW is definitely trying to find something to learn from this and grow from it. It’s just sad that she lost a great employee and possibly her business in order to learn it.

  157. That One Person*

    There were definitely important lessons learned here, which I think you’ve glommed onto more with that second update OP. It sounds like your Brother-in-Law is a good resource for when you want to double check how crazy a situation may be – not something to abuse, but to keep in mind when some advice might be needed for a third party viewpoint.

    But there was learning done here I think with checking references for starters. However remembering employer/employee boundaries is another good one to keep with you. I’ve seen this one hit the fan a bit where my ex coworker and ex supervisor were buddy-buddy, but once she had to lay down some law there was definite backlash and attitude…and things got awkward in the office for a while too. Finally it felt like you were still a little unclear on what Miranda exactly did for you, so in the future I’d recommend knowing the role and its processes a bit more, not just the responsibilities so if something won’t work, you can be told “why” it won’t work and so on. Not a suggestion to micro manage, just have a stronger idea of what a person does and why in the business next time.

  158. Observer*

    Op, I haven’t read the comments, so I’m probably repeating what a bunch of others have said.

    I’m glad that you realize that Miranda was not wrong fro quitting, nor for not coming back now that you’ve offered her the job back. I’m also glad that you recognize where you’ve gone wrong.

    It’s obvious that it was not easy for you to come to this realization. And it must be really, really painful to you. I do sympathize. I hope you can use this a growth opportunity.

    I would say that Laura’s quitting is a bit of a silver lining here, because I doubt you could have kept the business going any case. But the way she quit seems to be the thing that finally made you realize what was going on.

    I’m not defending her! But that’s just the thing – it was the level of indefesibleness, for lack of a better word, of her behavior that I think made you really realize what was going on.

    Lots of luck. I hope that you can come back in a year or two with a tale of a new enterprise and lots of success. I really mean it. You had a hard time recognizing the problem, but you seem to be seeing clearly now, and are reacting very graciously. And I hope that serves you well.

  159. BookLady*

    Wow, OP, I’m sorry that everything seems to have crashed down so suddenly. I hope you’re able to get back on your feet soon. You built a successful business once, and I hope you’re able to do so again–even better this time after taking some time to take classes and learn from your past mistakes. Good luck to you!

  160. bunniferous*

    Oh, wow….OP first of all this had to all be very very very hard for you to go through. But please treat this not as a failure but as a learning experience!!! Take your time as you figure out your next steps. I like to say we don’t know what we don’t know.

    Wishing you the very best for your future!

  161. the watchful mother ship*

    OP, the hardest words to say are, “I was wrong.” That’s probably at least 80% of society’s current problem. And it’s great you’ve decided decided to take classes.

    Still, I think it might be worth your while to see a therapist. Somewhere along the way, Laura determined you were passive/had poor boundaries and would be easy to manipulate. Well-intentioned passive people tend to attract manipulative people into their lives because they are receptive to the control a manipulative person provides. This affects so many areas outside work.

    I really hope everything works out.

  162. Batgirl*

    Hugs and well wishes for the future, OP. Both the grace you’ve shown towards the criticism, and the speed of your learning to do things differently, bode well and are genuinely impressive.

  163. LadyHouseOfLove*

    Popping in with another observation, so one staff member that was friendly with Laura stayed behind to help you out. Looks like maybe two people learned their lesson in this whole mess. And I think that’s a good thing. Although, I should caution OP not to repeat the same mistake and befriend your employee.

    1. MadisonB*

      I missed that one of Laura’s friends stayed on. Sorry, I would let that person go ASAP and revoke access to all systems and facilities.

    2. MadisonB*

      I missed that one of Laura’s friends stayed on. Sorry, I would let that person go ASAP, or, at the least, revoke access to all nonessential systems and facilities.

      1. MadisonB*

        Sorry for the slightly altered double post! Sitting in a vet’s office on my phone with spotty connection.

  164. Old Med Tech*

    OP this turned out better than I hoped. I am glad you could sell your business. Laura sounds not nice. I am sorry you went through this, but sometimes you learn more from your mistakes rather than your successes. You are lucky to have family with business know-how. Taking classes is a great start. Good luck.

    1. Medusa*

      She certainly isn’t. I’m just kind of baffled that one person (Laura) trashing a company on social media has managed to result in so many people cancelling their orders that the business isn’t salvageable.

      1. LadyHouseOfLove*

        I wonder if they are in a small town. Combine that with Laura knowing how to manipulate people to her side, I can see her trying to wreck OP’s reputation that way.

  165. Elizabet Hiles*

    LW hang in there. Some manager lessons are really hard to learn. They are the lessons that weigh heavy on your heart and make you question everything. The most important thing is you are seeing things clearly now. You are going to be amazing! Hang in there!

  166. Phil*

    It takes a lot of guts to objectively look at the thrashing the OP took, realize you were wrong, and take it to heart.

  167. KK*

    Laura may be gone from the company but may not be gone from suspicion. I’d check bank statements and warehouse inventory for theft or embezzlement.
    OP I wish you all the luck in the world if you decide to make a new start here.

  168. Dwight*

    Sometimes it’s too easy to cast stones from behind our keyboards here, so I can’t imagine it was easy. Some people get it naturally, others don’t. Wish it had worked out better for you, but lessons don’t always come cheap.

  169. Raida*

    If these two staff are slandering your business/you online, act on it with a nice letter from a lawyer.
    Or don’t, and express shock and hurt to your friend group that you were a) recommended such a terrible staff member, b) backstabbed by her, c) left in the lurch (not by Miranda). Also express to them how terrible you feel about driving away such a great remote worker as Miranda all because you didn’t realise Laura was toxic, but that you’re grateful that she was poached by another business who knew her worth.

    And yes, sell your business – you will not recover from this, you don’t know how to do Miranda’s part of the business. But another business could go through her correspondence and files combined with experience and figure it out.

    Oh, and apologise to Miranda. Tel her “I completely understand why…” she left, and that you agree with her decision to leave. Tell her you are getting training to become the kind of manager that doesn’t make mistakes like this again with anyone else. Thank her for all her hard work.

  170. Ellie Rose*

    Good for you OP: admitting you messed up and then taking steps to change on something this big is HARD and you’re on the right track. Keep that willingness to learn and I think you can really grow.

    Good luck to you on your journey and wishing Miranda very well.

    None for Laura, sorry. She still needs to grow up.

  171. Jess*

    I really admire your willingness to learn and take criticism, OP. This can’t have been easy. Wishing you all the best!

  172. FD*

    I really respect your willingness to take it on the chin, OP. I hope that you’re able to start over and build something stronger a second time.

  173. HS Teacher*

    I will not try to pile on, but it makes me see red that you hired this person without checking references because they are a friend of a friend. It makes me wonder if you excluded someone from an underrepresented group who doesn’t know a friend of a friend. I may be projecting because I work in a place with major nepotism and it’s often not what you know but who you know. I’m not from here originally, and I think it is hurting my chances of promotion. It makes it frustrating to find good positions when they’re often handed out to people with an inside track.

    Anyway, it sounds like you’ve learned a valuable lesson, so in my book that’s a win for you.

  174. Don't listen to me*

    I have no reason to think this, but it may be worth seeing if Laura and friend have any ties to the purchasing company. It’s just so strange how she came in like a wrecking ball then disappeared.

    1. MadisonB*

      A couple people, including me, have considered this connection. Maybe it’s wrong. Maybe it’s not. If it were me, I’d much rather thoroughly investigate it now with a business lawyer, than say “aww, no way!” and possibly be taken for one last ride. I’d also terminate Laura’s friend who still works there and then hire a forensic accountant to audit/review EVERYTHING before entering into any sale OR moving forward with the business. I’m sure OP is tired and ready to be done with this fiasco, and may think this is their one shot at getting out and possibly making some money out of it, and that’s exactly when people are most vulnerable to scams and con artists. (This is not legal advice. I am not a lawyer. OP, I’d have another talk with your BIL about navigating this mess. Lean on your support system.) (I also think it’s really weird that Laura was so adamant that Miranda be fired. Something is off.)

      (I’d also say that, in the spirit of Gavin de Becker and “The Gift of Fear”: if you’ve thought it, you have reason to think it. LW, I highly recommend this book!)

  175. Bookworm*

    That was a ride, OP. I’m so glad that it seems like this has been a wake-up call (as painful as it must have been) and that you’re moving forward. This isn’t easy to admit or do and you should be proud of taking this step. Also, I think you’re also brave to give us an update. After your original OP I thought you might be one who would never reply/update, etc.

    Wishing you all the best moving forward. It sounds like this was best for everyone involved. Good luck!

  176. RB*

    Hey, don’t be too hard on yourself. Running a small business is really challenging on a number of fronts, from what I’ve heard. I certainly don’t have what it takes to do that and I don’t know many people who could do that, at least not without a really good partner. Sounds like you made it work well for four years or so, so that’s something you can look back on and feel good about.

  177. Macaroni Penguin*

    Hi OP, I would like to offer you a cookie of empathy. Sounds like a tough overall experience! It’s not easy coming unpleasant realization that Mistakes Were Made. Just be kind to yourself and learn for the future.

  178. Square Root of Minus One*

    I’m honestly admiring your turnaround in the second update. Not everyone is capable of taking in so hard a lesson. I have no doubt you’ll get why Miranda acted that way.
    I noticed, on the original letter, how unusual it was that Alison was so short on ideas to salvage this. Believe it: that ship was already sunk and beyond help. I think this outcome is the best one for everyone (except maybe Laura but I don’t care, and including yourself).
    I’m sorry it has to be so hard.

  179. WellRed*

    What a disappointment! I had commented that I thought op could turn the situation around but she apparently doubled down on her erroneous path before FINALLY getting a clue. Op, you can only go up from here. If you can stomach it, I’m not the only one rooting for a more positive update down the line.

  180. ErgoBun*

    Wanted to add my voice to those saying I’m sorry you had to learn this lesson so fast and with so much pain. Learning and admitting to this kind of mistake is so hard, but you’re doing the work and it sounds like you’re doing it with all the grace you can muster. Best of luck to you, Letter Writer. I hope your future is bright.

  181. TeaCoziesRUs*

    OP, you show a lot of humility and willingness to learn. Thank you for writing an update, even if the second one meant eating a big helping of crow. I’m reminded of a quote by Richard Rohr, “Success has nothing to teach us after the age of 35. We learn best from our failures.” Here’s to a bright future with many lessons learned from this experience!

  182. Baron*

    Hi, OP! It sounds like, like most people, you were doing the best you could and sometimes didn’t know what you didn’t know. Unlike some of the bosses we hear about here, your letters don’t make you sound like a malicious or unkind person – just someone who (like all of us) needs to keep working on their skills. I definitely relate to that – I’ve made tons of mistakes in managing, but I work hard to be a better manager, and it sounds like you’re doing that too. I’m glad you’ve been as receptive as you’ve been to feedback.

  183. Tenebrae*

    I haven’t seen this advice yet (although I haven’t read all 600+ comments) so I’m going to toss this out there: OP, have you considered therapy?
    I recognize that ‘get therapy’ sounds dismissive and that it isn’t always accessible or helpful. But I wonder if it’s worth considering? Your business was doing well enough at one point to support yourself and employees (I assume Miranda came onboard once the business was established) and you say you’ve previously been told you were a good leader. Your first letter, with all the handwringing and desire to have someone else run your life for a little while, reminds me of me a few months ago, when I was in the middle of a, for me, pretty bad depressive episode. I was basically doing what I needed to in order to survive and nothing else. If Covid or something else hit you like a freight train on top of your business issues, maybe some therapy along with the classes might help you get back on an even keel.

  184. RJ*

    OP, I’m very sorry that things turned out the way they did for you. I don’t think you realized how vicious and vindictive Laura could be, until she realized she wasn’t able to manipulate AND that Miranda had left on her own terms. Laura wanted you to be a puppet boss and you saw through that, so she was done, but not before she spread her poison. How absolutely terrible. You’re at the beginning of your realization of all the mistakes you made and I’m sure you’ll ruminate for a very long time on how you should have done things differently, etc. You made a mistake. You will learn many lessons from it and move on. This won’t be the end of you. Also, as a former ‘Miranda’, please know that she made the right move in leaving and that she’s going to be just fine.

  185. Hills to Cry On*

    I wanted to leave my sympathy. You messed up, and you’re learning. Congratulations. May I learn from my mistakes as well as you have.

    In the meantime, I hope you find ways to manage your stress and your business. You’re still a good person, even if you weren’t a great manager.

  186. Poodles McGee*

    That second update especially took a lot of humility and strength to send in. Wishing the OP success as she builds on this learning experience.

  187. Kateeeee*

    I am so proud of you! It takes a LOT of guts to see that you’re in the wrong and be committed to making up for it. Well done, carry on along this path you’ve set for yourself and I’m sure that you’ll bounce back.

    1. Old Admin*

      No, Laura demanding the FIRING of Miranda was a power move.Demanding to KNOW was to further establish control.
      When OP pushed back and refused to discuss if Miranda QUIT or was fired, Laura very probably knew she had lost her iron grip on OP.

      Without full control of OP and the business narrative, Laura’s own failings/nepotism/possible undiscovered crimes would have come out quickly. So instead she left with her cronies and quickly tore down the business – both to cover their tracks as well as to punish the OP.

  188. Jessica*

    Good for you, LW. Mistakes are like airline tickets: nobody got on the flight without one, but we’ve all paid different prices for them.
    I don’t know whether you read AAM regularly enough to have seen the columns Alison has run with people’s true stories of stuff they did earlier in their careers that they’re now mortified by the memory of, but reading those will reassure you that you don’t have a monopoly on errors in judgment. And hopefully someday in the future you’ll be a successful businessperson who can look back on this and both laugh (comedy = tragedy + time) and appreciate what you learned in the school of hard knocks. Best of luck to you!

  189. Badger*

    OP, thank you for updating us and I’m so sorry for everything that’s happened. We all make mistakes and those mistakes don’t have to define us. Take the wisdom you’ve gained from this experience on to bigger and better things. I have no doubt those better things are waiting for you.

  190. Skeptic*

    I’m surprised no one else has had the reaction I had: incredulity. I think this whole story was made up — both the original letter and the updates. It’s fanfic for this specific audience.

    The original story is remarkable in how many of the common management errors Alison describes are united in this one manager. Lack of attention to the books: check. Lack of understanding of the software: check. Eagerness to have friends: check. Lack of ability to assess an employee’s judgement or honesty: check. Use of “demotion” to signal loss of favor: check.

    Still, I didn’t assume this was fake until the updates. The BIL who takes a moment to be silent, then asks for the contact info for Miranda…that’s right out of a movie. The convenient buyer who is offering a great price even knowing the business is underwater…straight out of television. The Machiavellian employee who is so set on revenge she leaves a job; the business that can be destroyed **within a week** by a social media campaign; the previous job that supposedly ***had a party*** after an employee quit– that’s just not going to happen!

    And the turnaround within just a few days after reading hundreds of critical comments…But not having spoken to either the sister or the brother-in-law about any of this before…. It’s all just perfectly engineered for maximum AAM commentariat reaction.

    I’m actually very impressed and offer my congratulations to this writer. I’m thinking you had a bet with a friend about how many comments you could get. I hope you won, and that you’re enjoying the aftermath!

    1. linger*

      Also odd that LW could somehow find out about the good-riddance party at a previous workplace, but still could not find any actual references, e.g. from that known workplace. But it’s in the site guidelines — we should treat contributions as opportunities for sharing genuine advice, even if we suspect the content may be enhanced, or the narrator unreliable.

      1. Tara*

        Oh I assume a lot of the posts are made up, especially those that stir up the comments so much. I think it’s an inevitability once a page like this gets popular.

      2. Observer*

        If you noticed, the OP never made much of an effort to check references. It happens all the time. They tried the numbers, the numbers were disconnected, friend said that Laura is great, let’s not bother with tracking down actual references.

        NOW – having gotten slapped in the face with the Laura’s behavior, the OP is actually, really looking. And now that the “breakup” is public, people who knew things are speaking up. It’s a typical scenario.

        The truth is we don’t know for sure that the letter is true. But to be honest, nothing here sounds like it couldn’t have happened in real life.

      3. MHA*

        I thought the implication was that the numbers Laura gave for references were not actually real numbers/actually from her previous job, which would explain why OP was able to get through by other means but not via the numbers Laura gave her.

    2. #no1curr*

      From the Commenting Rules:

      “What if I’m skeptical a letter is even real?

      I have no way of knowing if the letters people submit are real or not. I assume all advice columnists get trolled now and then, but I don’t really care as long as the answer might be useful to someone.”

    3. Boof*

      I suppose allison hasn’t said it in a while but there’s a standing acknowledgment that letters may be fake, but we take lw’s at their word (when posted, i’m sure allison screens out many) because not sure what benefit calling out letters for possible fakery would be. And it’d be real insulting to those actually looking for help for an improbable (or very basic) issue. Pointing out management problems, real or fictitious, still communicates what good and bad management is like! And who knows, could be real too, though i have a hard tine imagining this lw was a long time aam reader as well!

    4. Observer*

      ,I.The original story is remarkable in how many of the common management errors Alison describes are united in this one manager. Lack of attention to the books: check. Lack of understanding of the software: check. Eagerness to have friends: check. Lack of ability to assess an employee’s judgement or honesty: check. Use of “demotion” to signal loss of favor: check.

      There is nothing remarkable about this in the least bit. It’s an extremely common cluster. Mostly, because they all tend to come from the same place.

      But not having spoken to either the sister or the brother-in-law about any of this before

      That actually also makes tons of sense. I’d be willing to bet that the OP didn’t want to go to family because hey didn’t want to show that they “can’t manage”. But when they were hit with the kind of barrage they received they needed to rethink and the obvious defense is “Well Allison and the commenters just don’t UNDERSTAND me, and they don’t REALLY know me.” Hence, the BIL.

      As for the rest? It’s a common trope because it actually reflects life so much. A lot of really small businesses run very close to the edge, even when the owner is on top of everything. In a case like this? Add in the very real possibility of some hanky panky on the part of Laura – again a very real possibility – and you couldn’t expect anything else.

    5. Mannequin*

      I’m always surprised when people think things like this never happen in real life, because I’ve noticed that the odd situations that happen IRL are often much weirder or less believable than things that happen on film.

      1. Paris Geller*

        Frankly I’ve felt that everything that’s happened in the world from December of 2019 to today is something I would not believe if it was in a film.
        Also, if you’ve known a Laura-type, this is VERY believable. Maybe not finding out her last work place threw a party when she left, but everything else? There’s a reason Laura was able to do what she did–people like Laura seek out people like the LW.

    6. Schrödinger's cat*

      I agree that something wasn’t quite right about the updates. It was difficult to believe that a competitor would offer to buy out the business in such a short time-frame (in less than a few days) without doing due diligence.

      1. gmg22*

        I felt the same skepticism about the condensed time frame, but a possibility that occurred to me is that that offer in question was actually made some time ago — meaning, in turn, that the OP’s business has been in the red for some time before this — and OP thinks it’s still on the table regardless of whether it really is. (In other words, the update we might not be getting is the one where OP went back to the competitor and found out that whoops, sorry, now that all this drama has occurred they’re not interested anymore.)

  191. qvaken*

    OP, this must have been a very tough week for you.

    FWIW, reading your original letter, Alison’s response and the comments helped me to better understand a situation that has been happening for me at work. So you helped me by writing in.

  192. Pyjamas*

    I’m even more suspicious about Laura’s honesty and whether the business is in the red solely due to lost orders

  193. Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii*

    Laura destroyed your business and ruined Miranda’s livelihood (and attacked her self worth).
    I’m sorry you lost your business over this. And Miranda deserves way, way better.

    Laura got off easy. Argh.

    While we are all thinking about this particular instance it would be interesting if Alison has general advice on how to prevent it elsewhere going forward, she could have faked references so that is probably not enough.

  194. rudster*

    I hope you forwarded Miranda your BIL’s offer/and or contact information. Or vice-versa. That’s the least she deserved As for her leaving without notice, I don’t think there’s much standing on that account to criticize an employee whom you were trying to fire (presumably without notice).

  195. Boof*

    Well LW, i think it was clear things were at a tipping point in your first letter, and even if i’m not surprised, I am sorry you couldn’t turn things around. I am actually a little surprised how fast things collapsed after Miranda left, i thought Laura would run her little fifedom to the ground for a few months.

    I am glad you are doing some serious reflection and thank you for the updates. I can see a big shift already even if there’s more to go. It’s really wise you’re planning to stop managing for a bit and take a few classes before launching into it again.

    I hope you give an update in a year ir two and share how you’re doing and reflections after those classes and a little distance!

  196. RI*

    I’m concerned that the lesson the OP took from this was that she shouldn’t have trusted Laura because Laura wasn’t really her friend. Aside from anything Laura did, the real lesson is about needing to understand how the business you own actually functions and not making staffing decisions based on who feels closest to you and most supportive of you in the moment.

    1. Observer*

      These two things are not mutually exclusive. BOTH are lessons she needs to take, and it seems to me that she has.

  197. Eclecticism is a Virtue*

    LW, I’m sorry you’re going through this. Yes, your perceptions and actions brought a lot of it about, but you’re learning from it and that’s the most important thing right now.

    There was something I saw in the original letter that I wanted to draw some attention to:

    “I’m ashamed to admit I don’t know if Miranda is right or not and I don’t know what is a mistake and what isn’t or about our software and the business and limitations. I haven’t used our software in years and I don’t know that much about our product sourcing and things that Laura wants to change.”

    In a small company like yours, it IS your job to know this. You should be familiar with EVERY part of the operation, even if it’s something you personally only do once a year or less. In a larger company, no, you would not necessarily need to know, but someone in a managerial role should, like a manager over the department that does the work. And you should trust the person who has been using the software and (presumably) sourcing the product for four years over someone who is new, unless the new person can show dispassionate, clear evidence. And even then, if you’re not sure, stick with the person who has been with you for years over the newcomer.

    And please, in the future, check professional references before hiring.

    (If I were Miranda, I would have quit the day of or the day after the demotion.)

    1. Alice*

      (If I were Miranda, I would have quit the day of or the day after the demotion.)

      She might not have been in the position to do so. When I had my own “I’m quitting over this” moment, the reality was I job searched for a couple of months and gave notice as soon as I’d signed an offer.

      I hope Miranda’s new job is treating her better and she doesn’t have to deal with any more Lauras in her career.

  198. Purple Cat*

    Wow, OP. I’m so sorry you had to learn these hard lessons, but it does seem that you have learned them. Thank you for your vulnerability in sharing with us.

  199. MCMonkeyBean*

    OP, I’m rooting for you! I am sorry that things took such a big turn so quickly.

    I didn’t respond to the first letter, so I’ll say here that when I started reading it I thought it sounded reasonable but then as it went on each paragraph felt a bit more like “oh no.” But I did think that it seemed like a letter that while from the outside looked clearly like things were unfair to Miranda, I could see how from the inside things happened gradually and how you thought it all looked reasonable from your point of view. I understand how you could think “oh no, well if the whole rest of the team says Miranda is a problem that must be true!” without thinking about the fact that the others were just likely to pick Laura’s side of things–and how once you believed that it all spiraled from there.

    I think it’s really impressive how quickly you were able to accept criticism and turn your view around! I hope that with an attitude like that you’re able to bounce back from this quickly.

    I also think that while this is a fairly extreme example, we should all be aware of this kind of dynamic as the world shifts more to remote and hybrid work. It’s pretty natural to build up bonds with the people you see every day and it would not surprise me to hear of more cases where that leads to bosses instinctively trusting the word of those employees more than the remote employees. I think most of us would say *consciously* that we shouldn’t have bias to the in-person employees over the remote employees… but realistically I think that kind of unconscious bias is just going to happen sometimes.

  200. Voodoo Priestess*

    OP, you probably won’t read this, but you should be proud of yourself. This was tough, but you’ve learned a lot and you are gracious and self-reflective enough to own your mistakes. You’re a good human who is trying to be better. Give yourself some grace and pay attention to the lessons you’ve learned. Best of luck to you.

  201. Don't Send Your Kids to Hudson University*

    This update warms my heart. And to the letter writer, it takes strength of character to take criticism to heart and make changes. Your plan sounds like a good one, and I hope you continue to learn from this experience and find success as a business owner, if that’s still what you want to do!

  202. Observer*

    OP, one last comment. You’ve gotten a lot of advice to have a lawyer and / or accountant look everything over. Please take that VERY seriously.

    I’m not even so worried about if Laura stole, although that’s a very real possibility. I’m more concerned that her behavior may have left you with liabilities that could come to haunt you. I agree with all the people who say that the primary reason Laura left is because she saw that her control was beginning to slip. But leaving without something else lined up is still a lot. Which makes me wonder whether she was trying to hide something significant. Get a really good auditor in there to look at EVERYTHING.

    Worst case type scenario? The IRS comes after you in three years for taxes not paid. No matter how bad the things you find, the sooner you clean everything up, the better for you. I hope there is nothing to find, but hope is not a plan.

  203. Susana*

    OP, I know this has been a difficult episode for you, and I sincerely admire you for the self-reflection, and taking responsibility for your role in this. The only thing you might want to do is call/write Miranda with an apology – saying you know you made mistakes, etc., and are focused on learning better management, and that you very much appreciate the value she brought to your company.
    As for Laura… yikes. Officially, I know it’s bad to engage with someone like this, but I’d be tempted to (truthfully) bad-mouth her as she has done to you – especially noting that she lied about having management experience.

    1. zaracat*

      Noooooo! That will just dig the hole deeper for OP. At most she should give an honest appraisal of Laura as an employee IF a reference is sought, but attempts at vindictiveness almost inevitably backfire especially where social media is involved.

  204. Badasslady*

    OP, my heart goes out to you. Yes, you’ve made a lot of mistakes, but it’s clear your intentions were good and you learned from those mistakes. I’m also someone who takes people at their word, and learning that some people are not to be trusted was a hard lesson.
    I also want to say that being a manager requires certain skills and attributes that go beyond being competent at the field or are of work you are managing. There are so many bad managers out there that don’t bother to learn and improve. Unfortunately, in a self-owned business with a very small team, you don’t necessarily have the checks and balances that might mitigate some of the blow outs as a result of management mistakes.

  205. kate*

    Hi, OP. First, I’m really impressed and respect the fact that you read the comments (and whew, they were full of constructive criticism to say the least) and then turned to a trusted, successful mentor/BIL for more feedback. Good for you! It’s unnecessary for me to point out where your update clearly indicates the need for more personal reflection since other comments have already done so, but please let us all know in a year or so how you are doing. I know many of us are rooting for you. Best wishes.

  206. Atalanta0jess*

    OP – if you read these – I am humbled and impressed by your ability to take this feedback, along with the major consequences, and move forward in learning and growing. We could all learn from that.

  207. onco fonco*

    OP, I’m so sorry things fell apart to this extent. In a way (and I appreciate it probably doesn’t feel like this!), this could be just about the best outcome at this point. I’m not sure there was ever going to be a way to salvage things with Miranda – I think she was just hanging on until she had another job offer in hand. The situation for her really was untenable.

    And you learned a lot, and you are rid of Laura. She managed to do a bit more damage on the way out, but she’s gone. She’s not in your business and in your life, deceiving you and manipulating you.

    I hear you about former cliquey/unfriendly workplaces. I can see that having a friendly warehouse team felt good to you, like how you’d hoped your business would be, and I think that made it easy for Laura to manipulate you. I don’t know if you’d ever crossed paths with a Laura type before, but I bet you’ll be more wary next time. Professional boundaries exist for a really good reason. I also really hope you’re going to take on board that your company became extremely cliquey and unfriendly to Miranda. It felt good to you because the clique was being friendly to you (while it served them to do so). But it was a clique. An awful one, really.

    You’ve been able to take some extremely difficult feedback on board, you’ve learnt a ton and you have an offer to buy the business. It’s been a bumpy ride but the outcome could have been a lot worse.

    I also hope you have sources of emotional and practical support in your personal life – completely outside of work. It seems like this might be something you were short of, and that’s how Laura got a foot in the door.

  208. HesAllThat*

    OOF. wow. I feel like Miranda was actually kind in texting you. I would have just bounced with no notice.
    There’s a lot to say here, but mostly it’s already been said. I didn’t discover this blog until i had walked out the door (with no notice!!!!) of my management job. I also used to be a terrible manager; I didn’t know it either.
    good luck to you.

  209. Stoppin' by to chat*

    Wow…I feel like I’ve been on an emotional rollercoaster with this letter from the original one, to the subsequent updates. Exactly why I love reading this blog! Hopefully Miranda landed a better opportunity, and just…wow!

  210. ForgetMeNot*

    Hang in there OP. Some of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned came from watching something blow up in my face. Give yourself the grace to move beyond this and become a better manager and stronger leader. It sounds like you’ve got a good idea of the direction to go from here. I wish you the best of luck.

  211. PlainJane*

    Oof. It was inevitable and we can all say, “See? What’d I say?” But I get it–you in an emotionally vulnerable state and this employee was an emotional vampire, who’s now annoyed because the all-you-can-eat buffet is closed. I loathe this kind of thing, this using social connections to manipulate and pressure people into behaving badly, which is what she did to you. I don’t blame Miranda for leaving–you burned that bridge–but hopefully, if you have another managerial situation, you’ll be wary of Lauras.

    I wish you well, and I wish Miranda well in her new job.

  212. Laura H.*

    My only possibly new thing to add is let this be a lesson in “friendly vs. friend with your employees”, in favor of friendly. I wholly agree with the measures other commenters have suggested that fall under “don’t get burnt again.”

    I’m sorry this all unraveled the way it did.

  213. Jay*

    LW, in your first letter you used a lot of “Laura said.” In this update, it’s a lot more of “I” and “me.” Take that as a win that you’re finally regaining your sense of self and moving away from this tangled up situation you got yourself into with the business.

    There’s hope for you. Keep your head up, take the lessons you learned with you, and keep moving forward.

  214. Tough kitties*

    “I feel like it’s pretty unprofessional of her after 4 years of working together.”

    Yeah right, almost as unprofessional as torpedoing her career.

  215. Just Another Day*

    It sounds like you still don’t 100% get it because you’re still blaming Miranda (quitting without notice and not returning to work for you) instead of realizing that the unprofessional people in this situation were you and Laura. She lied on her application, and you (1) didn’t check her references (basic hiring step) and (2) told Miranda you were demoting her because Laura gave you personal favors. Miranda owes you *nothing* and I’m glad she was able to get a new job with someone who recognizes her worth.

  216. Florp*

    OP, I’m sorry it all collapsed on you, but I’m so happy to see you climbing out of the rubble and deciding to do things that will make you stronger, like self-reflection and management training. I already know you’ve got some courage, because you came back here after the comments pile on in your original letter!

    You already got one business off the ground and it’s still in decent enough shape that someone wants to buy it. Think how much better your next endeavor will be!

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