my ex-boss isn’t that into me (but I’m still into her)

A reader writes:

I recently left my old remote job of one year for a role with a new team in the same company. I thought I was close with my manager (messaging regularly for business and casual friendly text chats, Christmas gift, birthday gift — even drove one hour to ship me sweets from my favorite bakery), but she gave me the cold shoulder and a lecture on my last day. Instead of the usual warm fuzzies as you would expect on a last day, she asked for only “business critical” updates. Mind you, this was literally the last 15 minutes we’d talk as manager-employee and my transition plan had already been discussed weeks prior. In the lecture, she didn’t seem too jazzed with my two-week notice (she’d asked before if it could be pushed back). It felt like a bad break-up. I didn’t hear from her until a month later when she messaged me to check-in. I don’t know what to do. My feelings were hurt. Do I let her know? Should I try to clear the air?

It’s worth noting part of the reason I left was that she has an unexplainable allegiance to one of her other direct reports who I think does sub-par work and I often had to pick up the slack. When I started during the pandemic I was told that person could not be expected to prioritize work because she had young kids at home. The greater team culture is also very inclusive where they don’t really point out people’s mistakes and everyone gets a participation trophy for different levels of work/contribution. Also, I felt like I was working around the clock and not being compensated for it other than really big THANK YOUs. So I asked for more money. I phrased it as, “What would you need to see to get me to X salary?” In truth I was hoping for just some acknowledgement of my contributions (other than the all too frequent team thank-yous) or at the very least a counter or rebranding my role (something I’d casually mentioned before). None of this happened. After three months at our quarterly check-in, I was told my ask was out of the range for my role (while also stating she didn’t know the top range for my role) and to look elsewhere. I didn’t really believe she looked into it like she said she did and it made me feel undervalued and dispensable. So I took her advice and looked elsewhere. So that’s why I’m confused about her reaction to my leaving.

Is it worth trying to re-establish a friendship with this person? Can I just ignore any other check-in messages and only respond to business critical questions (which are unlikely)?

Honestly, sometimes I feel a bit used for the last year and it is causing a lot of resentment. Is this normal?

Is there anything I could have done differently to change the outcome? I think my ideal outcome was either to have less things on my plate (unlikely) or more money. I didn’t want to leave, but they seem to be doing just fine without me. That hurts too. What do I do? How can I put this behind me and move on?

There’s lot of stuff going on in this letter!

Most importantly, I think your expectations are out of sync with what the relationship really was. You’re responding as if this were a friendship … but this wasn’t a friendship! Your boss was friendly, but she was your boss. It makes sense that you haven’t had much contact since you left, because that’s how it normally goes when you leave a job! Typically when someone leaves a job, they might never interact with their manager again — or if they do, it’s likely to be very sporadic, more toward the once or twice a year end of the spectrum. Since there was a warm relationship, having her email you to check in about a month after you left sounds pretty normal … but then I’d expect there might not be a lot of (or any) contact for a long while after that.

There are exceptions to this, of course! Some people do stay in closer contact with former managers — but that’s more the exception than the rule, and you shouldn’t read anything into it not happening here.

Generally, manager/employee relationships — even when very warm and friendly while working together — are much more transient than what I think you’re envisioning. That’s true even when birthday and Christmas gifts are exchanged and cookies sent. Those things are just … stuff a manager might do because they have warm relationships with their employees. It doesn’t indicate a personal relationship that transcends the employment one.

I am also concerned that you asked about your salary while hoping for a whole range of other things (more acknowledgement of your work, a rebranding of your role, etc.) and then were frustrated that you didn’t get any of it. It’s legitimate to be frustrated that you didn’t get a raise you felt you’d earned. But the other stuff — if you wanted those things, you should ask for those things! Otherwise you’re expecting your boss to read your mind instead of being straightforward about what you want.

About your feelings that you were used … the employment relationship is sort of about being used. You are using the work to get a paycheck and your employer is using money to get the labor they need. That’s the arrangement in a nutshell. I suspect you feel used partly because you went above and beyond in the expectation that you would get things beyond a paycheck — things like loyalty, more vocal appreciation, better and fairer treatment, etc. Those are reasonable things to want! But if you don’t get them, it’s not personal. It’s just … an employer who sucks at those things, and so then you need to decide if you want to stay under those conditions or if you’d rather take your labor elsewhere. But I also suspect you feel used because you saw your boss as a friend, and she hasn’t been treating you like a friend. But again, she’s not a friend; she was your employer.

Now, it does sound like she mishandled your departure. Some managers respond to resignations as if they’re personal betrayals. That’s unreasonable and generally a sign of real dysfunction in the person’s approach to management, but it happens. If it happened here, it’s on her and not on you. (That would be the case regardless, but it’s especially the case after she told you to job search because they couldn’t meet your salary request!)

You definitely should not tell your former manager that your feelings were hurt by how she’s acted. That’s putting expectations on her that aren’t appropriate for the relationship. Similarly, there’s no “re-establishing” a friendship, for that same reason. If you want to have a warm, collegial relationship going forward, you can probably have that! But it won’t happen if you ignore other check-in messages and only respond to business-critical questions. If you want a warm, collegial relationship, you have to respond to her in a warm, collegial way.

Ultimately, what this sounds like is an employer who overworked you, declined to pay you more when asked, and then was shocked when you left over it. That happens a lot. As for whether you could have done something differently to change the outcome, I don’t think so. You wanted less work (which you knew was unlikely) or more money, so you asked for more money and when you didn’t get it, you found a different job that seems to meet your needs better. That all makes sense.

The thing to do differently is … well, to see work as work. It’s a job! Your boss isn’t your friend (and shouldn’t be — in fact, if she is, that’s a problem). When you want something different in exchange for your labor, ask for it straightforwardly. If you don’t get it, then decide if you still want the job on those terms or not. When you leave, assume they will do fine without you.

Right now you are seeing this all through the framework of a friendship, but it’s not.

{ 275 comments… read them below }

  1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    That manager sounds like a real piece of work. Manipulative as all get-out. Be glad you’re not working for her anymore.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Maybe! Maybe not. The only two things she clearly did wrong were being cold on the OP’s last day (which I do think is a big deal) and being shocked that she was leaving after the manager told her she’d need to job search to get a higher salary. Neither of those is good, but they put her somewhere in “middling” on the scale of bad boss behavior.

      Edited to add: Wait, there was also the allegiance to the employee who the OP thinks does sub-par work. Still wouldn’t call that manipulative as all get-out though!

      1. Momma Bear*

        I had a manager that pretty much ghosted me on my last day. Didn’t even pretend to care I was leaving. Having any kind of interaction with the boss before leaving was better than that.

        1. Fran Fine*

          I had two managers that did this as well. One even went so far as to make sure she was out of the office and working from home (when she never did this) on my last day, lol. It was comical coming from her, but hurtful coming from my last boss who did this since, like the OP, I thought we were cool and he would be mature about my decision to move on.

        2. Eeyore's Missing Tail*

          I had this happen as well. My boss decided to work in his other office all day. The only thing I heard from all day was an email he sent 30 minutes after I left for the day asking me to do something.

        3. Persephone Mongoose*

          One of my fiancé’s former bosses had him work his final day by himself. Didn’t even show up to get his keys to the premises. Instead my fiancé had to give me his keys (I worked for the same company in a different branch) and I ended up handing them in.

        4. Green Goose*

          Yeah, I’ve experienced this for the most part too. Managers I liked and did not like. I think it’s just the way it is. One manager that I worked closely with for 3.5 years, we did eventually reach out to each other and have some potential plans to have dinner together which we haven’t been able to follow through with. I think people just get busy with what is in front of them. When I was newer to the workforce I looked at my coworkers as actual friends but sort of realized over the years that even when we were really chummy at work, connection dropped pretty quickly after we stopped working together. I used to really bum me out but I’ve accepted it over the years.

        5. AJR*

          When I left my last job, I had a peculiar related experience. I quit during the pandemic (May 2020), but I had to come bring my keys and other materials in, so I thought my boss would not be there on my last day (our organization went remote). At that point, I had not seen her in person for about four or so months (her constant absenteeism is part of why I quit). For context, she commuted every week from five hours away and had multiple offices on multiple sites, so the odds were low that she would be there.

          Oddly enough, she was indeed physically there in the building – she was, her immediate supervisor was, both of their executive assistants were – but when I went into their office suite to turn my keys in, she appeared to have physically left for the entire hourlong period of time I was there (?). Like, lights on in her office, her immediate supervisor poked his head in looking for her, so she must have just left a few minutes before I entered their office suite.

          It wasn’t quite a complete ghosting, as we had a very awkward 15-minute phone call on that day, but it was pretty weird that it sort of seemed like she kind of went out of her way to not see me in-person (?).

      2. What's in a name?*

        And to be fair, managers tend to have a lot on their plates and are usually at a disadvantage when someone leaves. Some of the things that happened (excluding the attitude on the last day) strike me as aloof and disorganized, but generally understandable.

      3. Malarkey01*

        I would even take the sub par work with a grain of salt. Joining a new team in the middle of the pandemic means you miss a lot of context. I had absolute rock stars that overnight struggled because they had kids at home/scared to death/didn’t have an ideal setup to work from home or didn’t adjust well. I gave all of them a lot of grace and we did what we could to make it through. Not okay to just dump work on a new person and overwork them but I think it’s hard for a new person to judge whether the treatment of that subpar person is unfair or actually just accommodating a great employee during an upheaval.

        1. A Genuine Scientician*

          Agreed, though with a strong reinforcement of the idea that that accommodation can’t be on the backs of the other employees.

          I am all for employers extending grace toe employees who are in difficult circumstances here. 20 months in, a lot of people still don’t have access to reliable child care when they would outside of the pandemic. For those people where work is still remote, some locations there just isn’t very reliable internet access, not everyone has sufficient space in their home for a home office, etc. I think it’s entirely reasonable for employers to do what they can to deal with the reality of what their employees are facing.

          But it can’t come at the expense of those who don’t (appear to) have the same demands. That was…somewhat reasonable when it looked like this was going to be a 2-3 week flatten the curve thing. But it’s not a viable option when we’re a year and a half into the ongoing problems. Employers need to either lower the total expectations so that no one is doing more than they would have been doing otherwise, or substantially compensate people who are performing well in excess of what their normal job would be. Otherwise it’s not the employer that’s extending grace; it’s the coworkers who are forced to do so.

          1. Observer*

            Agreed, though with a strong reinforcement of the idea that that accommodation can’t be on the backs of the other employees.

            The thing is that it’s not clear just hom much the OP ACTUALLY needed to pick up the slack. Because the OP says that “hey seem to be doing just fine without me. ” Which seems to indicate that they weren’t needed to pick up THAT much slack.

        2. LetterWriter*

          I think you might be right. I do think there was a certain grace I needed to allow my worker and maybe one that was due my co-worker because my manager had mentioned she’d saved her during an audit and that she trusts her implicitly.

          But because I wasn’t there for that, it’s hard to fully appreciate. There were many nights where I was up at all hours of the night because I was “helping” this coworker do work or having to finish things that were dumped on my plate at the last minute. And I don’t think that expectation was ever placed on co-worker during my time there.

          But I know I did more noteworthy work because we have this internal recognition system and I have a lot more posts than she did over the last year by upper management.

          1. LetterWriter*

            Actually I was going along with everyone’s thoughts about grace for a longtime good employee but then after reading all the comments I remembered, that although my manager and this co-worker had worked “together” for about 2 years, they were only co-workers, albeit seemingly close. The department was restructured and they only became manager – direct report in Dec 2019; I started mid- 2020.

          2. Alpacas Are Not Dairy Animals*

            Were you up at all hours of the night because you were asked to be or because you were trying to curry favor/forge a bond with your boss by doing favors so she’d have to like you?

            1. Caraway*

              This doesn’t seem like a very charitable reading of the OP’s actions. It may be that there was no need or expectation for her to be working in the middle of the night, but she might have been doing it out of a sense of duty or strong work ethic rather than what you’re implying. And then again, it’s also possible there was a need/expectation for her to cover her coworker – which isn’t fair if it meant she was giving up her sleep time to do so!

      4. Calliope*

        Well, and also, giving an employees with small kids some slack during the Pandemic is kind of more complicated than “normally” I think.

      5. Esmeralda*

        I’m not sure that the OP is reading the sub-par work situation accurately. I know we are to trust OPs, but she had not been there long and doesn’t know the full context. I remarked on this below — the “sub par” co-worker may have earned the different expectation, so to speak. Is the OP in a position to assess how sub-par that worker’s efforts are? My sense from the letter is that the co-worker didn’t have to put in the same amount of time?

        I may be wrong about this!

        1. (Perceived) Slacker*

          I was thinking along the same lines. I worked on a small team (three of us reporting into our manager). I have 3 young kids, my other coworkers don’t have kids. I got a lot of projects that were flexible on the timing, and spent a lot of really late nights and weekends working when my coworkers weren’t, but to them it may have appeared that I had a much lighter schedule. They also didn’t have visibility into all of the projects that I worked on—so they were assuming that my load was lighter than it was; I recently changed roles, and my peers in my department were surprised at the number and scope of projects that I needed to transition. Might not be the case with your department, but if you don’t have 100% visibility into everyone’s workload, your perception could be skewed.

      6. Tuesday*

        There was the “unexplainable allegiance” to the other direct report, but it looks like that mainly involved trying to be accommodating when she had young kids at home during the pandemic. But most people have viewed that as a sign of a good manager – people were really in a bind when schools were closed and childcare wasn’t available. That doesn’t mean that everything should fall on the OP, of course, but then I think what was warranted was a discussion about her workload. She was only there a year, so it’s not that unusual that promotions or raises weren’t available at that time.

        I actually think the manager did the right thing by letting her know that staying was unlikely to result in the pay increases she was looking for. That means the OP was right to look elsewhere. The only thing I see that was a real problem was that she was cold to the OP on her last day. (Was she shocked the OP was leaving? I didn’t see that in the letter).

        1. Observer*

          The only thing I see that was a real problem was that she was cold to the OP on her last day.

          Agreed. That’s off.

          Was she shocked the OP was leaving? I didn’t see that in the letter

          Neither did I. I’m not sure why the OP was so confused by the managers reaction. Yes, the coldness was a bit weird, but the manager did kind of explain it. According to the OP Manager had wanted a longer notice period. Being annoyed that they didn’t give it is not all that confusing, although I’d say it’s not appropriate.

        2. LetterWriter*

          I think you all and Alison are right… I was quite emotionally attached to my manager and saw her as a friend. But she does fall in the camp of saying that x,y,z people are her like her family. X is the co-worker mentioned.

          So to me if that was the bar to reach, I wanted to reach it.

          I think not having the warm fuzzy farewell that I’d seen with other people who left felt very cold to me. I just didn’t see the point about lecturing me on the notice time on the last day. What was the point of that. Honestly, to me the ask felt outrageous…if I’m leaving for money…why would I stay one more minute making less?

          1. Tuesday*

            Yeah, complaining that you didn’t stay longer than two weeks was out of line, but especially so on your last day! I’m guessing she was probably stressed about working around your absence, but she should have dealt with that herself, not dumped it on you. I think her reaching out shows that she’s interested in maintaining a collegial relationship if you would like to.

          2. Observer*

            It’s fine that you didn’t stay longer – your logic is perfectly fine. But the reaction is a bit outsized. It’s fine for her to ask, and it’s fine for you to say no. Being snippy about it is not fine, though.

            But I think you’ll do a lot better if you recognize that you are dealing with “moderately inappropriate” not “outrageous” or even close to that.

          3. Butter Makes Things Better*

            Yeah, if there was a marked difference between previous farewells and yours, I could see how that would sting. It’s the sort of thing I’d notice myself, and not be thrilled about.

            Also get being frustrated with hearing about the notice again on your last day, esp. re: leaving for more money after she’d told you they couldn’t offer you more. “Outrageous” seems a little … intense, though. Perhaps that reaction is amped up a bit because of it feels like she should have been connecting dots that seem obviously connected to you? E.g. *I’m leaving because you suggested I look elsewhere because of money, and I’m giving you the standard two weeks, so you should know that asking for more notice is taking money directly from my bank account, how could you not know that?* vs. the likely-not-outrageous scenario of a boss just wanting more transition time and not having your monetary concerns in mind.

            1. All the words*

              The time to mention the length of notice was when the notice was given, not on the last day of employment. What’s the point of mentioning it on the last day when nothing can be done?

            2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

              I get the impression that there might have been less warm fuzzy farewells because OP hadn’t been there very long (others may have been there for 20 odd years, in which case of course the farewell drinks will be at the top of the fuzzy warmth scale.

              And maybe because WFH doesn’t generate as much warm fuzziness among employees – OP started last year so maybe didn’t have much IRL interaction with their colleagues?

          4. JB*

            I’m going to, in the kindest way possible, gently suggest that you do a better job of looking after your own boundaries.

            It’s neither a normal expectation nor healthy to treat ‘being like family with your boss’ as a goal. Even if she says some of your coworkers ARE ‘like family’ to her. Even if she implies that SHOULD be your goal.

          5. Sarah55555*

            I have to be honest, reading this and reading your responses, I think there is a lot of social cues that you have missed, and it sounds like you may still be very new in your career. Advice: take this as a learning experience, and instead of focusing on what everyone else does, only focus on YOU, and what you can learn and your own choices.

            1. LetterWriter*

              Nope, this wasn’t the case at all. Our team was very much a hyperbolic multiple exclamation point team, as in everything is amazing!!! You’re amazing!!! We’re all amazing!! Hahah.

              We love everything and everyone!!!
              After a four day weekend or PTO, it was not uncommon to express how much you missed the other person. And I love you to a coworker in a team meeting was also not uncommon even for other manager – direct report relationships. Not just mine.

              Again, this was my first time being on a team/ dept like this so I just went with it.

              Anyway, I loved reading all the feedback and perspectives!! You all are amazing !!

              1. Tali*

                Sounds like the team is very effusive and performative, and you interpreted that at face value. That’s not even a mistake on your part, that is genuinely very confusing! But it was shallow and performative camaraderie for them.

              2. RG5*

                Taking into account your response to her, I think Sarah is right. You took the communication style at face value and missed underlying social cues/reality of the relationships.

                If that’s the culture of communication style, people are going to mirror it because it’s what they see and because it makes people feel good to say nice things! But if everyone is doing it, it seems more likely that it’s performance and not real, deeply held affection.

                Your former manager has a weird style of communication that involves a lot of hyperbole. That’s her style, but that doesn’t mean that she literally feels deep emotional attachment to her direct reports or that your coworkers literally think of each other as family. People say a lot of stuff they don’t mean because it smooths the social interaction or because it makes them feel good.

      7. Meep*

        I am going to disagree simply because while it is possible she didn’t know what she was doing, she WAS manipulative. It sounds like she let OP have a skewed idea of what their relationship was – so long as she was benefiting from OP’s work – and was hot and cold depending on if OP was acting as they want. She might’ve been too kind or too green to get a handle on being personable and professional, or maybe OP was the one who read too much into things. OP doesn’t have the best grasp of professional lines but they were taking their lead from their manager who then punished them for that.

        1. pancakes*

          How exactly would the manager have known the letter writer has a skewed view of the relationship? It isn’t being hot and cold to exchange friendly texts and gifts with a coworker now and then while not in fact being close friends. Nor is manipulative. It’s entirely appropriate and very common.

        2. LetterWriter*

          Letter Writer here…

          I know Alison is right, but a part of me is still inclined to believe you. I was very vocal about how much I loved and admired her. We exchanged more than a few friendly texts. It was pretty much a running commentary even on weekends. For that all to suddenly stop, seemed bizarre. Again we’re at the same company, so the Teams chat was still there….just glaringly silent.

          Here’s how the last meeting went:
          Me: I already miss everyone so much!
          Mgr: Let’s focus on business critical updates only…
          Me: (shock! horror!)

          1. miro*

            Hmm, the way you’re describing it here actually makes me think it’s even less weird than in the original letter. You had a relationship based on the fact that you worked together (in a pandemic, no less, which seems to have made some teams act/feel closer and talk more than they might have otherwise with more social stuff going on) and then you stopped working together, so the relationship didn’t have the same thing to be based on anymore!

            Quick anecdote time: I used to work somewhere were people were very close both in and out of work when they worked together and once people left the relationships both inside and outside of work toned down significantly–it wasn’t a big deal or any sort of referendum on the people, just an understanding that work friends are *work* friends and without the work connection there isn’t necessarily a friendship, nor does there need to be. I’m wondering if your team could have been like that and you just didn’t realize. especially if you hadn’t been there long enough to see people cycle through and model healthy shifts to a much more distant, if any, relationship?

            1. miro*

              Another thing that came up for me with this comment (and sort of in contradiction to what I said above, lol) was wondering if your manager thinks the same about you that you do about her in terms of going hot-to-cold. As in, you were vocal about loving and admiring her and then you left after roughly a year, which is pretty short. That’s not to say you shouldn’t have done that or were at all wrong, but she might be feeling some of the same “woah, we’re not on the same page about this relationship” that you are.

              1. LetterWriter*

                Don’t give me false hope, haha. I’m trying to heed Alison’s advice and keep a professional distance

          2. Rusty Shackelford*

            See, that’s the kind of statement I was referring to in a different reply – you can just ignore it. It seems unnecessarily cold to say “no, I don’t want to have this kind of conversation with you.”

          3. Fran Fine*

            This entire update is…concerning. You told your boss you loved and admired her? That’s way too familiar in the workplace (and I’m praying you’re being hyperbolic here and didn’t actually use the word “love” with her). And then she actually said that to you, just like how you outlined above, after you expressed sadness about leaving?! That is cold AND awkward as hell.

            Distance between the two of you to reset professional norms is probably for the best right now.

            1. Esmeralda*

              Yep, that is completely inappropriate with ANY co-worker, manager, supervisor…

              I’ve worked at the same employer as my husband for many years — different dept, we almost never see each other at work. When we do, we NEVER use any endearments, physical affection, etc.

              I’ve become good friends with a few co-workers over the years. Again, always strictly professional at work, if we are arranging a get – together we do it on a personal phones.

          4. allathian*

            What to take from this experience? Never, ever say “I love you” to a boss. That’s so inappropriate that I can’t even… I get it that many people throw “I love you” about like confetti, and maybe I’m not the best one to comment because I’ve never even said “I love you” to my husband, the closest I’ve come is “you’re very dear to my heart” and “I guess I could live without you but I’m not sure I’d want to” and he’s said it to me once, when I was holding our newborn son in my arms, and even then I’m not sure if he said it to me or our child…

            Honestly, all the communication reeks of toxic positivity to me. How did your coworkers react if you had a bad day and things weren’t amazing!!!! one day?

        3. JB*

          There’s no sane way for one person to be responsible for the ‘skewed idea’ another person has of their relationship. Humans are neither able to psychically divine what another person thinks of a relationship, nor able to force another person to understand the truth about said relationship.

      8. Observer*

        dited to add: Wait, there was also the allegiance to the employee who the OP thinks does sub-par work. Still wouldn’t call that manipulative as all get-out though!

        Actually, to me that language says that the OP’s perception may be a bit off here. Because it sounds like the team was trying (poorly perhaps) to be accommodating to a parent that was having problems during the pandemic. Refusing to deal with the problem in the context the OP describes doesn’t sound like “allegiance” even if it wasn’t great management.

        Also, where does the OP say that the manager was upset that they were leaving? The only thing I noticed as that she was upset that it was only a two week notice, which may not be reasonable but is not the same as being upset at them leaving altogether.

      9. MCMonkeyBean*

        I agree, although I think there is a slight extra layer of weirdness given that this sounds like essentially an internal transfer. Maybe my company culture is unusually good around internal job moves, but I am used to seeing managers be quite supportive of their employees getting a better-paying job inside the company! Obviously with a lots of “I hate to lose you, but” framing.

      10. Susana*

        Agree with Alison’s take completely, but would add that it seems manager is pissed that OP was expected to take on the extra work created because people with small children could not do it during the pandemic. I have seen this happen A LOT. I am very sympathetic to parents of young kids who suddenly were forced to manage kids at home while working. The pandemic and ensuing chaos is not their fault.
        But it is also not the fault of single and childless workers who have been expected to take on extra work simply because they do not have the added personal-life burden of kids. They need to be compensated in sone way.
        And yes, we should all pitch in to help coworkers going through an unusually hard time. But how many marrieds-with-kids stepped up to help a single person who got out of the hospital with no one to cook for them or even take them home after surgery?
        It’s just been too easy for employers to shift work onto single and childless folks, then act appalled if you don’t consider other people’s kids part of your own social duty. Added pay must be part of it, if they end up taking on more work. No wonder OP left, and manager is annoyed OP found a better option.

    2. June*

      I don’t agree. I don’t think you can have a true friendship with a manager. And workplace friendships rarely last when one party moves on. OP was expecting a “friendship” type goodbye and got the all business send off.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        I don’t know about rare – most friend groups I’m in and aware of have at least some “we used to work together” strings. It’s hard to find other ways to make friends as an adult. But the manager/subordinate part definitely does lend to problematic friendships.

      2. someone*

        I’ve kept in touch with 1 previous manager at a friendship level. This is likely because we have shared outside-of-work hobbies. I had warm relationships with my other previous managers, they just didn’t last past the end of the business relationship.

      3. alienor*

        I think you can, but it’s rare. I’ve had close to 20 direct managers over my career, not counting my current manager. Of them, one is now a very close friend, three are somewhere on the spectrum from Facebook friends to friendly acquaintances, and the rest I haven’t spoken to in years (not from animosity, we just don’t have a reason to stay in touch). The only time it’s bothered me was on a couple of occasions where my manager changed jobs within the same company, but never interacted with me again afterwards–like, we don’t need to hang out or anything, but it feels a bit cold and weird to just walk past me in the hall with barely a nod.

      4. PollyQ*

        Rarely, but not never. Both of my parents are still friends with past managers (going back decades), and I’m still FB friends with one of mine.

        1. allathian*

          Were you friends with your manager while they managed you, or did that develop later when you were no longer in a manager-report relationship? The latter can and does happen, and if the relationship was friendly and professional when you were working together, I don’t see that as a problem.

      5. PT*

        The former managers I am still friendliest with- and the former employee who I managed who is still friendliest with me- are all situations where there is a gap of at least one full generation, if not two. I suspect this is because it created a situation where we weren’t ever socializing as same-age peers (woo girls night type stuff) to begin with.

      6. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        Only once in my working career have I ever had a friendship with a manager that lasted beyond the job. And it only really started once I’d left and he wasn’t my manager anymore.

        We’ve been friends now for…over 10 years but the day I left he was just as professional as ever. Of course there were the usual accusations of me sleeping with him because female employee and male boss getting along were seen as a bit ‘dodge’ by some others. Ahh well.

      7. Esmeralda*

        Right. I’m friends with some former managers — emphasis on the former. My current supervisor is someone I would be friends with in real life, and eventually I will retire or he will move on and then we can be pals.

    3. BRR*

      This…doesn’t feel that egregious to me. Certainly not the world’s greatest manager, but nowhere near manipulative as all get out.

  2. Lacey*

    It sounds like you work in a somewhat dysfunctional place that has skewed your thinking on what professional relationships are like. It is beautiful thing to have normal, professional boundaries.

  3. 3Owls*

    The line about participation trophies actually really reminded me of my first “real” job after college. They were very into this whole idea that “an individual win is a team win” and vice versa. And if one person was praised, everyone had to be praised. And that is literally what happened, no one could receive praise for doing a great job on a difficult project, or going above and beyond, without our manager also praising everyone else individually for something. It was especially irritating to watch people who basically showed up and didn’t even do their whole job receive the same accolades as the people who picked up their slack.

    1. Lacey*

      I never worked anywhere that bad, but a former employer was really insistent on everything being “fair” which meant work would would be given to people who didn’t have any experience, just because they thought it would be fun so it was only fair to let them try!

    2. LetterWriter*

      I wish I could fully express how irritating this is because some of the projects I worked on took up my nights and weekends for most of the last year. And my co-workers would just attend the meetings and that was their contribution.

      1. Emily*

        LetterWriter: This sounds absolutely infuriating. I can’t state how strongly I agree with those who said while it’s nice that your boss wanted to accomodate this other employee, it shouldn’t have been on the backs of other employees, namely you. Your boss should have found a way to accomodate this other employee that didn’t put so much of the burden on you. It was easy for your boss to be accomodating because she was simply giving your co-worker’s work to you. Your boss actually wasn’t doing that much accomodating at all. You did the right thing by leaving that job and I hope going forward you can set better boundaries.

    3. Nanani*

      Sounds like elementary school, without the reason schools did it (namely that parents would complain if their kid didn’t get anything)

    4. Chantel*

      I feel this so much. It’s just patently wrong to give the same level of credit and reward to slackers alongside the real laborers. It’s also a great way to lose dedicated and reliable employees.

    1. Momma Bear*

      This. You might keep in touch professionally via LinkedIn but it’s not likely to continue to be any kind of friendship, especially if she was your manager.

    2. Kate*

      Yes. And it’s really, really important to understand the difference between “friendly” and “friends.”

  4. Jean*

    This is pretty much a “your boss sucks and isn’t going to change” situation – but the good news is, she’s not your boss anymore. It might also help you let it go if you do as Alison suggested and frame this whole situation as “business and not personal.” Good luck in your new role.

  5. Nia*

    I do not agree that what the manager was doing was normal friendly manger things. My manager is friendly but he would never text me or give birthday gifts or drive an hour out if his way to send me cookies. She sounds like she has all kinds of boundary issues with her reports.

    1. Lacey*

      Exactly! I’ve gotten Christmas gifts from managers before, but they’re usually pretty low key. And birthday stuff is just, “Hey, an excuse for cake!” no gifts.

      1. quill*

        It feels like the company or team culture was one that encouraged some very fluid boundaries, and that’s contributed to OP’s thinking.

    2. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      Agreed. OP’s perspective on the boss/employee relationship is skewed not from her own understanding or belief, but from the actions of her boss.
      If her boss could maintain benign disinterest, a card on her birthday, a similar one size fits all end year/slash december holiday gift, OP would not be quite so shaken.
      “If you want more money, you should look elsewhere.” that is not followed by, or part of and explanation of the company hierarchy, pay scales, promotion paths and examples of “Jane started in X and moved into Y,” is not a conversation, it’s a challenge.
      And the cold shoulder after?
      OP, walk far away from this person and situation.

    3. Gerry Keay*

      Yeah I agree, especially within just a single year of employment. Hell, I barely even act that way with friends I’ve only known for a year! I wonder if LW was just responding to the (weird and semi-inappropriate) relationship dynamic their boss set up.

      1. Nicotena*

        I think the fact that the employment was only a year is part of the issue. It sounds like this boss was kinda love-bombing OP to make up for the fact that she wasn’t offering real compensation in the form of raises / promotions. Then it sounds like she was pretty irked that OP only stayed for a year. Boss was probably hoping she could get a longer term employee than that and felt like her efforts were “wasted.” That’s my read. OP doesn’t seem very aware of typical workplace dynamics but boss also sounds out of synch with professional norms. That said, a lot of bosses are pissed if you only stay a year. It often takes six months or more to train an employee into a role so it truly is a loss when they leave quickly (which doesn’t mean OP shouldn’t have done it, just – that’s why your boss is mad).

        1. Fran Fine*

          This is also a good point. Or if the manager went to bat for OP behind the scenes in ways the OP doesn’t know about, I can understand the boss being upset (not that it’s right to be cold towards OP as punishment, of course). I had a boss that was very angry when I was promoted out of her division and then didn’t show up on my last day of work because she was still bitter that she put my name in the ring for her succession planning (to one day replace her), and I wanted no parts of it, her, or that toxic division anymore.

    4. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Yeah – sounds like the old manager didn’t do well with boundaries- and that created a situation where the OP thought this was a friendship. But the boss was shocked when the OP did exactly what they were told.

      I’d go forth and not look back OP. Just chalk it all up to lessons learned.

    5. Colette*

      Different offices have different norms about these things. And unless the manager said “I drove an hour out of my way to send you cookies”, it’s possible she was doing something else and stopped by the bakery because she was already there (or that she also love those cookies and decided to get some herself and send some to the OP at the same time). Doing an occasional nice thing for your employees doesn’t automatically equal bad boundaries.

      1. Nonnie*

        Yeah, I agree. Pre-Covid, I was visiting my parents about an hour away from my work and found someone selling vegan Christmas cookies. Since I knew we had a couple of vegans on staff, but that the head would probably not buy vegan friendly Christmas treats, I picked up a few for them. I was already visiting my parents, so it wasn’t that big of a deal, and if that had gotten turned into “oh, Nonnie drove an hour just to get me cookies!” I would have been very confused.

    6. Fran Fine*

      Yeah, my second manager at my current company (I’ve had four in a little over two years – this is software, so reorgs and job changes happen frequently) gave me a $50 Amazon gift card for Christmas after only managing me directly for four months. Then when he left, his boss became my direct boss, and he bought me very expensive bottles of alcohol just to say thanks for my hard work and on my birthday this year. So when I got a promotion into another department a couple months after this year’s birthday and he pretty much stopped talking to me unless he absolutely needed to, at first, I was hurt by that because we’d had a much closer relationship prior to that.

      But then I got over it because honestly, it’s petty behavior I want no parts in perpetuating, so good riddance, lol.

    7. Teapot Repair Technician*

      I don’t see those as boundary violations..

      In my on-site job, it’s common for the bosses to bring in baked treats, wish employees happy birthday, and give gifts. If we went remote, I wouldn’t consider it inappropriate if those things continued via text and mail.

    8. BlueberryFields*

      I had an old manager who was constantly gifting people things and it made me uncomfortable. Especially if LW is the only one getting these gifts (which we don’t know, obviously), but it would be something to watch out for…hopefully old boss wasn’t being ~too~ friendly.

    9. Meep*

      My first manager was/is like that. She would pressure me into going out for a drink with her after work – sometimes she wanted to drink during the day. She would also say the most inappropriate things to me and it would send off red flags, but because it was my first job, I wasn’t sure how to react. Oftentimes, I would get scolded for caring out the rather inappropriate tasks she demanded of me when it backfired on her. (An example of this is when someone was fired, she “jokingly” told the accountant not to pay him for his last two weeks because he “didn’t do anything” – which is illegal. She got mad when the accountant told her boss and her boss was annoyed she was suggesting wage theft. She would offer inappropriate and often illegal solutions and then get mad at me when I would ignorantly say “Well [Manager] suggests we do x.”)

      This was a lady who held my fate in her hands and she had admitted she would destroy me if I “crossed” her. Getting another job is scary when you have some actively bad-mouthing you to potential employers and know all of them (small niche field).

      She also loves to make people feel “in the know” so they feel indebted to you and will try to punish you by being “secretive” with the “work gossip” (potential clients mostly).

      I have written novels on what I have learned from her, but it isn’t a fun place to be as I walked out of it with PTSD.

    10. pancakes*

      It isn’t necessarily normal, but it’s also not in itself an indication that they’re close friends, and/or going to remain friends when one of them moves on.

      1. what am I, a farmer?*

        Yeah, this and the details LW is giving elsewhere suggest that their manager was maybe overly concerned with being liked by their direct reports, and wasn’t fast enough to draw a boundary. None of that is great! But LW’s reaction is buying into the line-blurring wholeheartedly — hopefully they know if this happens again to be a little skeptical of a boss who wants to act like they’re besties with you.

    11. Eukomos*

      At my first job my boss gave every employee a Christmas gift (the same one, in fact), and at my current one HR gives everyone an extra day of PTO to use in their birthday month. It’s handled a little differently at every company but holiday acknowledgments like this are pretty standard cheap morale boosters.

    12. LetterWriter*

      I tend to agree with this as well. I have a colleague at the same company and she didn’t get any of those things. I have gotten Christmas gifts from bosses in the past… but generally we all just got the same thing… candy or little dust collectors.

      And I think while there is certainly professional norms but we are all people with personal experiences. In the last 5 years prior at my other job, I only really interacted with my manager 1x/mon during our 1:1 check-in. Sometimes not even that. I didn’t know much about their family and the only pictures I saw of their kids was what was framed or taped to their cubicle. I didn’t know what they did on the weekends, etc…

      This was not that.

    13. Yorick*

      Sending cookies may have been a way to show appreciation for OP’s work, which made it seem it weird to me that OP felt they didn’t get enough appreciation.

      1. Black Horse Dancing*

        Per the LW in comments, they worked their butt off and were given the same consideration as the barely working co worker. As in when boss gave out credit, hard worker was acknowledged but so was lazy co worker.

        1. Alpacas Are Not Dairy Animals*

          But did the “lazy” coworker get the cookies, is the point.

          If so, the cookies weren’t a special indication of friendship. If not, the cookies could easily have been an appreciation of the hard work and still not a special indication of friendship.

    14. allathian*

      Agreed. The one thing I really appreciate about all the managers I’ve had at my current job is that they never texted me outside of working hours.

  6. EvilQueenRegina*

    A remote employee whose manager had an allegiance to a subpar employee…I feel like this is the flip side of Miranda and Laura.

    1. EvilQueenRegina*

      Or at least a similar situation, the odds are against it being really that company but I can’t help but think of them.

      1. alienor*

        I can’t link it, but if you search “my employee gave me an ‘it’s her or me’ ultimatum” it should come up.

  7. Meghan*

    The most a boss has done for me is buy lunch on my birthday. Anything more would be overkill? In fact, I didn’t tell anyone that it WAS my birthday at my new place.

    It sounds like your boss had some boundary issues.

    1. Nicotena*

      Yeah actually I’d be uncomfortable if my boss went outside of workplace norms to befriend me. The best reward is a raise, yaknow?

      1. Guacamole Bob*

        Yeah, this read to me as someone who hasn’t had a lot of experience leaving jobs and managers. That sense of “how can they be doing okay without me, after how great they told me I am?” is very familiar from my teens through mid-twenties. Same with the sense that falling out of touch with people you were situationally close to is a real blow. Now, in the middle of my career, I have a much better sense of how normal and expected those things are.

      2. what am I, a farmer?*

        Yeah, I had this happen to me in my mid-20s when a manager I was on very friendly terms with got a job in a new department and suddenly we just didn’t talk anymore. It was a little bit of an ego blow to realize that, while I had no reason to believe she didn’t personally like me, ultimately, talking to me was part of her job, our conversations were mostly a means to an end, and being friendly made her job easier; it didn’t mean we were really friends.

        1. GammaGirl1908*

          This to me is what work friendships … are. You may like the people, and you are friendly with them, but you don’t have enough in common beyond the job to maintain a relationship once one of you moves on and you no longer have a job in common. It has nothing to do with being true friends, and therefore it’s not a hurtful thing when the person doesn’t stay in close touch once they are engaged at their new job (that’s especially because these days, if you needed to get in touch with them, you probably could, but after a few weeks, everybody else at the current job has moved on emotionally and projectwise as well). It doesn’t mean you loathed someone at your old job not to stay in close touch once you’ve moved on.

          Not for nothing, there are always shades here of the ongoing complaint women have that men think that women who are being normally friendly in passing are expressing romantic interest, and then the women have to fight off a man to whom all they did was be basically polite. Or, likewise, when a woman who works in a service industry is polite to a customer, and he thinks she is coming on to him.

          The location of the interaction needs to inform the depth and meaning of the relationship.

    1. oranges*

      Yes. It’s a job. People are all paid to be there.
      I left my previous role for another one in the company a couple years ago. I was friends with a coworker who managed the rest of group, but she was not my direct supervisor. I passed down clothes to her kids, we traveled together for meetings, we talked openly at work, etc. The day I told her I was leaving, she flipped out. It was the most bizarre conversation that totally blindsided me.

      After I moved upstairs to my new role, I unfollowed her on social media, and we’ve never talked since. I still think it’s strange that she took my departure so personally, but we were work friends and now we’re not. I used to talk her every day and now I don’t. It’s totally fine. There are plenty of real friends and relationships in my life.

      1. TiffIf*

        I have a lot of people I am friendly with at work, but only a select few that I am friends outside of work with.
        There’s been some significant turnover recently at my company and I’ve lost touch with a number of them, though I wouldn’t be opposed to seeing them around town and saying hello. But one of them became a very good friend and even though he has moved to a different company I still hang out with him and talk to him. In just about every job I have had, there have been people that I am friendly with but only one or two who I am real friends with (in three cases, the friendship preceded working together).

        I had one job where my manager, only half-joking, asked why I hadn’t friended her on Facebook. I replied that I only friend people that I interact with outside of work. Even though I haven’t had a Facebook account in 8 years I still think its a good rule to follow.

      2. allathian*

        Yeah, but I suspect that if she hadn’t flipped out, you would’ve been happy to grab lunch with her occasionally even if you didn’t talk to her on the daily, since you were friendly enough to pass down clothes to her kids.

        I’m friendly with lots of people at work, and when I’m at the office, I enjoy talking to them. I’ve even missed talking to some of them during WFH, but not to the point that I’m in any great hurry to return to the office. But if they leave for new opportunities, retire, or I get a new job, I’m sure all of them will drop out of my life sooner or later. These aren’t even contacts to cultivate for networking purposes. I’m in a small profession, and for as long as I stay working for the government, those who do other jobs can’t even really help me network, because I’ll most probably hear about open positions through my professional network faster.

  8. GarlicMicrowaver*

    Just came here to say the headline is way juicier than the actual story. Also, drove an hour away to deliver sweets? That goes beyond a friendly business relationship. I wouldn’t even do that for my circle of friends in most circumstances.

    1. Gerry Keay*

      Yeah I totally thought this was going to be one of those “I have a thing for my manager” letters. For the sake of LW, I’m glad that’s not the case because yeesh this would be even messier.

      1. Lady_Lessa*

        Once, I was laid off, and after the HR person left, I told my boss that I was interested in him. I figured that since he wasn’t my boss any more, and we were both single, it was fair.

        Nothing happened, and I wasn’t going to contact him. Looking back, I can see what I now consider as red flags that the relationship would not have worked.

        1. Gubby*

          Uh… I see one major red flag too. It rhymes with “asking out your boss during the meeting where you got laid off.”

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      I wonder if the sweets were actually a case of “Happen to be in Waynesboro, remember that OP mentioned she loved the cookies at this bakery, and picked some up” rather than “Made a special trip to Waynesboro just for OP.”

        1. Colette*

          Would you be weirded out if the boss brought cookies into the office? I think it’s likely the boss was sending stuff to the OP’s home to replicate that kind of thing since they’re not working in the office.

          1. allathian*

            No, I wouldn’t be weirded out if my boss brought cookies to the office when we’re in the office. I also wouldn’t be weirded out by my boss sending a big bar (170 grams or 6 oz) of chocolate through the mail, like my former manager did as a gesture of appreciation before handing the reins to her successor. But I would be very weirded out if my manager showed up at our house to give me the chocolate or cookies in person.

            My former manager knew that all of us like/love chocolate and that we also eat it now and aren’t avoiding it for any reason. At one of our last team meetings that she ran, she had an informal icebreaker survey about our favorite kind of chocolate (dark, milk, or white), and for those who didn’t like chocolate there was the option to state their favorite sweet or savory goodie. I think everyone had a favorite kind of chocolate, so that’s what we got.

      1. TiffIf*

        I have a group of friends who all like to bake, so we will often share our latest experiments with each other. When I deliver to them it is usually an hour to an hour and a half round trip. However, even though I met both of them through work, none of us are or were any of the other’s managers (one I still work with regularly, the other moved to a different company earlier this year). And the one that lived farther away recently moved closer!

        But even given that, I find it weird for a boss to do that.

      2. Essess*

        This says that OP was only at the job for 1 year with this old manager, so that sounds like the entire employment would have been during pandemic. So all these ‘extras’ would be attempts to keep up employee morale, especially to give a feeling of ‘teamwork’ when everyone working remote. It could also be read as the manager’s attempt to provide recognition (through things that the manager can provide instead of raises) while OP says they never received any recognition.
        This sounds a lot like a disconnect that OP didn’t understand the culture of the team due to the lack visuals of the team interactions due to the remoteness and was viewing it through a personal relationship lens instead of a professional relationship that is trying to navigate pandemic-remoteness.

        1. Simply the best*

          Thought the same thing. During the pandemic, especially during the first 6 months or so, my boss went way above and beyond what she normally would in order to boost morale we were all working from home.

      3. LetterWriter*

        Nope. It was during the pandemic. She lives in an urban area and had no reason to be 1 hour away from home in a small town.

        1. Simply the best*

          Do you know everything about her life? I certainly don’t know everything about my boss’s life and would not be able to say with any kind of certainty that she had no business being a place that she was.

    3. Eldritch Office Worker*

      In January my boss drove to everyone’s houses to bring cookies and house plants. It was a “thanks for working through this mess” thing. I think context could matter.

      1. what am I, a farmer?*

        I’m the kind of person who will sometimes run an absurd errand (drive an hour to get a sandwich I like, say) just because I’m bored. Especially if I can justify it as somehow work-related, lol. I would not personally do that for an employee because, even though it’s not a big deal to me, I’m aware that it reads as over-the-top to someone else, but I agree — context matters here, and this was a time when a lot of companies wanted to do nice things and had their hands tied on what, exactly, they could do.

        1. Yorick*

          I think a lot of people especially did these kinds of errands during the pandemic, when you aren’t spending time doing local things but you really want to get out of your house for a while.

      2. NotJane*

        Adding to this, OP made it clear that they felt underappreciated and dispensable because they didn’t get any acknowledgment of their hard work and decoration other than a verbal one. But maybe going out of her way (whether she was already in the area or not) to get OP something from their favorite bakery *was* the manager’s way of showing that extra appreciation.

        I’m just a little surprised that everyone seems to be ascribing some unwholesome motive to what I read as a potentially thoughtful gesture.

        Also, OP wrote that the manager shipped the baked goods to them, so is it possible that the manager never actually visited the bakery in person, but rather placed an order online or over the phone?

    4. Colette*

      “An hour out of her way” is 30 minutes away, and presumes that the only reason she went there was to buy cookies, which it may not have been.

    5. Teapot Repair Technician*

      I’ve often driven an hour to one of my favorite bakeries. Where I live, an hour’s drive gets you from one side of the metro area to the other so it’s not an unusual distance.

      Also, I don’t think OP necessarily knows the full story of her boss’s trip to this bakery. In my case, I typically combine the bakery trip with stops at other nearby stores, and if I’m buying baked goods for someone else I’ll get some for myself as well.

      1. Yorick*

        Agreed. OP says in a comment that the boss had no reason to be in this small town, but OP can’t know this unless the boss said they went out of their way specifically to send goodies to OP.

    6. fhqwhgads*

      I think it kinda depends on where you live? Where I grew up an hour away was considered a schlep. No way I’d drive that far for an errand or to pick something up. Where I live now, there’s so much traffic it regularly takes an hour to go pretty much anywhere I might want to (unless it’s like 5 AM in which case it’d take 25 minutes). I realize OP clearly thinks it’s a schlep, but if the boss is used to somewhere more sprawl-ey, the time isn’t really an indicator as much as miles might have been. And even then, maybe she just goes there a lot. I certainly am like that with bakeries.

  9. Richard Hershberger*

    “About your feelings that you were used … the employment relationship is sort of about being used. You are using the work to get a paycheck and your employer is using money to get the labor they need.”

    It is even worse than that. Your employer is paying you less than your labor brings in. Or if they aren’t they aren’t going to be in business for long. This isn’t an anti-capitalism screed. I can do those, but this isn’t one of them. Paying workers less than they bring in is the source of profit, and while removing profit from the system looks good on paper, it doesn’t work in practice. The closest thing that can sometimes work is an employee-owned company, but I am skeptical about how well this scales up. In the general case, we can’t get away from owners using their employees’ labor for their own profit.

    1. MK*

      Eh, why would anyone run a business without profit? That would mean that the employer would be doing a great deal of work and taking on substantial risk for…nothing?

      I have been self employed, when I got to keep everything my labor brought in, but also handle everything myself. And I am now an employee, working for a salary, which almost certainly is less than the benefit of my labor to my organization, but I also only have my job to worry about. One could say that I am “paying” my employer the extra value of my work in exchange for them handling the administrative, promotional, payroll, etc, parts of the job.

      1. Parakeet*

        A business without profit, is the core concept of the whole nonprofit sector. And with worker-owned businesses that aren’t nonprofits, there’s no profit in the traditional sense because the money is going to the worker-owners.

        1. Caraway*

          Hey, I know I’m late to this conversation, but as a long-time non-profit employee, I just want to clarify that non-profits absolutely do expect to make a profit! That’s how they grow. What qualifies an organization for non-profit status is that the profit goes back into the work. When a non-profit ends up with extra money, they can provide additional services. For-profit companies give the profit back to the owners/stockholders.

      2. Parakeet*

        Also (sorry to double-reply, I should have said this in my last comment), the admin, promotional, etc, are labor that’s being done by other workers. In a business that wasn’t for profit (or was worker-owned), there would probably also be workers doing that labor. It’s just that the value that labor creates, would be going to the workers and not to non-worker owners/shareholders.

      3. Richard Hershberger*

        Marx cogitated on this very question. Adam Smith broke down a business’s costs into various categories: raw materials, labor, the land the business was located on, etc. He counted the profit–the return on investment–among the costs. Marx’s thought was that this last bit was unnecessary. In some respects he was right. There are some employee-owned businesses that make this work. And really, this is what Hutterite colonies have been doing for centuries. The problem is that it doesn’t scale up. You soon get problems of freeloaders, and decision-making becomes a big issue.

        1. Adam*

          Freeloaders and decision-making problems exist in for-profit enterprises as well. That isn’t a nonprofit issue.

          1. Richard Hershberger*

            True, but they are aggravated in the context of collective decision-making. The trick is to simultaneously maintain collective authority, while having the collective delegate as much of this authority as necessary (but no more) to individuals or groups small enough to make a decision. Lefty groups are notorious for tying themselves in knots arguing fine points: The People’s Front of Judea versus the Judean People’s Front. You need well designed governing documents to keep things moving. Or in the case of the Hutterites, they are both a kinship and a religious group, divided up into colonies small enough for everyone to know everyone else (marrying between colonies to avoid inbreeding problems). It usually works quite well. Removing individual profit motive can work in this context. But when a colony goes bad, it can get very ugly.

      4. Marzipants*

        You wouldn’t run a “business” without profit, but you might very well run any of myriad kinds of labor-dependent organizations without an individual profit model. The “why” would be some strong shared organizing principle or philosophy. It’s not only possible to organize a society around something other than a capitalist model, it’s actually been done! Here on planet Earth!

    2. GammaGirl1908*

      I’m … not bothered by this. The owner makes profit in exchange for taking on risks and costs and effort of doing business.

      I passed by a letter written by a young man who was IRATE that his consulting firm charged the clients 3x his rate, and he was sure he was being ripped off. He had no idea about overhead, benefits, administrative costs, et cetera; none of that was part of his calculus. That’s where that 2x goes.

      Either way, I have the choice of running my own business and dealing with the drama that comes with it, including making different profit but taking on different risks; or working for a business and accepting salary but less risk.

  10. Metadata minion*

    I mostly agree with this, but I think the lack of communication is potentially a bit different since the LW is still with the same company. How big is the company? Would your roles normally cross paths at all, or is it the sort of giant business where you might as well have moved someplace entirely new?

  11. Parcae*

    “Ultimately, what this sounds like is an employer who overworked you, declined to pay you more when asked, and then was shocked when you left over it.”

    The song of my people! OP, I’ve been down this road and for my money, the more you can disengage, the better. Respond to any communication cordially (especially since you’re still at the company), but don’t try to (re)create a friendship. Enjoy the distance and hopefully better compensation. This is all normal; you’ll feel better in time.

  12. Falling Diphthong*

    A lot of this sounds like what a manager might do if she’s trying to keep her people motivated but can’t offer more money or less work. A warm friendly interest in their lives; small treats at intervals.

    For the less-effective employee with small kids at home, that strikes me as unremarkable: If she proved herself for several years prior to the pandemic, then struggled to work while parenting toddlers with no daycare, it would be normal for someone with a long relationship with her to be more forgiving, and someone who only met her mid-pandemic to be less so.

    1. Colette*

      Agreed. I don’t think the OP was wrong to move on, but I also don’t see anything outrageous in what the manager was doing.

    2. hbc*

      Yeah, the stuff that was supposed to be so awful was kind of…meh to me. She was friendLY with her employees, more so than I would be, but not egregiously so. And I’m wondering if “allegiance” to the under-performer was beyond simply not firing them in the middle of a pandemic or refusing to badmouth them to another employee.

      OP, it sounds like you did a lot of good work and I think your boss could have been more gracious with your last day. But if I look at some of your actions through her eyes and reading between the lines a bit (quitting after a year, asking for a raise in less than a year in not-great economic times, angling for a coworker to be fired, wanting people’s mistakes to be publicly aired), I’d be surprised if she wanted to have more than a cordial but distant relationship. Just respond to any check-ins with something vague and neutral (“things are going pretty well, hope you’re doing well too”) and move on.

      1. Smithy*

        I know that we’re supposed to give the OP’s the benefit of the doubt with their letters – and I recently had a former colleague go through one year on a job where she clearly needed to go after just a year. So this isn’t to say that there might not be a whole lot more context from the OP’s side. But a lot of this stands out to me in part of a larger context to their being a bit of a “no fault divorce” here. Maybe both parties weren’t perfect, but neither side was so egregious either.

        While I’m a long time AAM fan, as well as having come up in the working world in jobs that demanded professional boundaries – I have a close friend who clearly desires more friendly and personal relationships at work. Genuinely talks about all of work as family AAM cringe phrases like they’re appealing. While I’ve worked on slowly explaining the downside, her stance has also helped me learn at least one reason why someone would crave that.

    3. it's me*

      Yes, I think you’re right. Treats and excessive thank-yous were supposed to keep OP from leaving, and then when OP did anyway (even though OP was told to look elsewhere!) the why-I-never reaction occurred.

    4. LetterWriter*

      I think you’re right for the other employee but I wasn’t there for the goodwork years, so it made it hard to be as empathetic.

  13. fiona the baby hippo*

    My first reaction to the stuff about the “participation trophies” and how the boss would do things like drive an hour out of her way to send baked goods was that it gave me a very ‘we are a family’ vibe of making things overly personal and close in lieu of fair market rates and reasonable. It seems like once LW left for a new job, the boss no longer had a reason to “compensate” LW for their labor via treats and closeness so it ended.

  14. Falling Diphthong*

    I took their advice and looked elsewhere. So that’s why I’m confused about their reaction to my leaving.

    I feel like this happens in a huge range of contexts. 95% of the time the person who said “You will need to look elsewhere to get that” is astonished that the person is willing to do so, or that elsewhere is willing to provide what they wanted.

    There are exceptions–managers who tell their employees that the employee can’t get promoted with the current upper management and manager will be a reference, go look for that promotion somewhere else–but being surprised that people have more options seems like our unflattering human default. (See yesterday’s “letter of intent” employee–I believe OP is correct that he is not going to find this dream job, but plenty of cases where in fact people could get better conditions elsewhere and then left, to the astonishment of management at the old job.)

    1. Teapot Repair Technician*

      I had to reread the letter, and I’m still unsure of what’s wrong with the manager’s “reaction to my leaving”. The manager requested (but didn’t get) an extended transition period, lacked “warm fuzzies”, and discussed critical updates before OP departed. All of that would be business as usual any place I’ve ever worked.

      Even the events leading up to OP’s job change seem not-so-bad. “I know you want a promotion, but we don’t have a higher-paid position open in this department. However, there are positions in other departments you can apply for.” Which OP successfully did. That may not be exactly what OP wanted, but it’s pretty close.

  15. The New Wanderer*

    The OP’s perspective on the manager’s allegiance to the “subpar” coworker seems a bit unfounded. OP started during the pandemic and coworker had significant challenges at home due to the pandemic, so it’s not surprising that the coworker’s work product might have been subpar at that point. However, if the coworker had been there for a while before pandemic and had built up a good reputation with the manager, it’s not surprising the manager would offer more grace to that employee in the situation. The flip side is that OP felt they had a close relationship with the manager; why would it be any different for the other reports to have equally close-seeming relationships with the manager?

    OP’s best course of action would be to respond warmly and professionally, and set expectations that any future communication will probably be infrequent but well-meant.

    1. Fran Fine*

      All of this. Sorry OP, but you just may not have as much context around this situation with the other employee as you think you do.

    2. Alanna*

      Yep. I worked with a lot of people in that situation over the past year. If the company had been going out of the way to praise the work of people without those challenges while ignoring the contributions of those who were trying to get on Zoom calls with a toddler in their hair, it would have been a massive issue for morale and caused a lot of outrage.

      If LW’s company just piled all the work on them rather than rebalancing responsibilities across the team, that’s not great and the company didn’t handle it well. But if they started during the pandemic, they may not even know for sure that’s the case.

  16. WoodswomanWrites*

    OP, relationships with managers evolve to new footing when you are no longer an employee. Mine have run the gamut. I work in the nonprofit world, so I don’t know if that might be different than other contexts.

    At my last job, my manager said he wanted to keep in touch personally and I am limited that to LinkedIn because while we had a positive working relationship, I don’t see him as a friend. Years ago, I had a fantastic manager but after that, her life was very full with family. When we run into each other through professional circles, she’s always happy to see me, gives me a hug, and we catch up but don’t see each other outside of that. On the other end of the spectrum, a former manager is a friend, we still get together, and on her own initiative she put in a word for me when I was applying for a position and helped me get my current job.

  17. Moira Rose*

    OP, if your manager texted you to check in, reply on the warm end of civil/professional. You’ll likely want to use her a reference for your next job hop. Take your personal feelings out of it and see her as a business resource to maintain.

  18. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

    I don’t … I mean, if this is how you’re describing this person, why are they someone you would WANT to maintain a friendship with? My viewpoint may be a little skewed, on account of I’m super introverted and deliberately try to keep my social circle as small as I possibly can, but I’m not seeing anything in this relationship that’s particularly worth bending yourself into pretzels for.

    1. Fran Fine*

      Same. Outside of the gift giving from the former manager, I don’t see why there would be a desire to remain in contact. (I would miss the gifts though, lol.)

  19. Karrie*

    It seems like a lot of “AskaManager” questions stem from confusing working relationships with personal relationships. I get it its hard. We spend a majority of our time at our workplace and its natural to start friendships/relationships. Especially since its so hard to start friendships/relationships in the ‘real world’. From my own personal experience after several jobs that were soured by bad relationships or vice versa; I have made a strict “leave work friends at work”.

  20. learnedthehardway*

    Think about the future long term here – your past manager is likely someone who you will want to provide as a reference to future employers. So, respond pleasantly to her follow up note and let her know that you’re glad to hear from her and really appreciate it. If you’re happy in your new role, let her know that. Express appreciation for her advice and mentoring and tell her you look forward to staying in touch in the future.

    Odds are, she’s gotten over the disappointment that you left her team, and wants to wish you all the best. It can be hard for a manager – esp. in light of the axiom that “people don’t leave jobs, they leave managers” – to not feel pretty badly when a good team member leaves. Not that this is a reason to stay when you want to leave, but it can explain why a manager might be a bit standoffish when you resign. Sounds like your former manager has come to terms with it, though, and wanted to maintain contact. That’s a good thing, usually.

  21. Esmeralda*

    OP also asked for a (substantial?) raise after working there for three-months. Not very likely to get a raise so soon after starting at most jobs, I think.

    Asking for different/less work at that point: also may be a non-starter since it was so early. Boss may have thought, well, it takes more than three months to really get up to speed with this job; it *seems* like a lot, but it’s not after you’ve been doing the work for awhile.

    OP might also think about the boss “favoring” the other worker with the young kids. How long has that co-worker been there? She may have earned getting some slack cut this past year because of previous years of stepping up. (Some years ago I was able to not do an onerous task that everyone else had to do, because it was Too Much while I was dealing with my child’s chemo. I earned that temporary “slack off” because I’d busted my ass for a long time and was an employee they wanted to keep for the long term. But some of my co-workers resented it…)

    I’m glad the OP found a job that fits better! That’s the right thing to do.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      OP also asked for a (substantial?) raise after working there for three-months.

      You might be reading something that isn’t there. OP asked for a raise, and three months later was told it wouldn’t happen and that she should look elsewhere. But we don’t know how long she’d been there before asking for a raise, other than it was less than a year.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          Yes, I agree. But she did phrase it quite a bit softer than that – “what would you need to see for me to get to $X” is not the same as “I’d like to be paid $X right now.”

          1. CmdrShepard*

            But still a year in still seems to early to be thinking about a substantial raise. I think the usual wisdom is that the first 6 months you are still learning how to do the job, but it takes about 1/1.5 years to really master the role and excel at it. Yes OP might have been covering a lot of other work, but might not have mastered/exceled at the main aspects of the job, or still only getting the other/extra work done at an acceptable level versus excellent level.

            I think it comes off as a skier who just learned green slopes, maybe handling blue slopes, asking about when or what they need to do to tackle black or double black diamond slopes.

    2. Ampersand*

      Yah, I was confused about the asking for a raise situation (I am working on my own raise proposal so I’m quite focused on that word right now). I can’t imagine granting a request for a raise after 3 months, and if the writer meant they waited 3 months for an answer to the raise request it becomes even more strange. Sounds like this was a bad fit situation, and moving on was best, but I would also try to recalibrate my expectation going forward if I were the writer.

  22. Rusty Shackelford*

    Typically when someone leaves a job, they might never interact with their manager again — or if they do, it’s likely to be very sporadic, more toward the once or twice a year end of the spectrum. Since there was a warm relationship, having her email you to check in about a month after you left sounds pretty normal … but then I’d expect there might not be a lot of (or any) contact for a long while after that.

    Maybe it’s because I don’t work for a huge organization, but I’d think it was pretty odd if I left for a new team at my same employer and my old manager specifically pointed out she only wanted “business critical” updates from me. I mean, it’s one thing to just not respond to someone you don’t work with any more, but to warn them ahead of time that you don’t want to hear from them? It feels unusually cold to me.

    1. MK*

      I think this is one of those things that everyone knows but spelling them out comes off as a bit rude? Like meeting people on vacation, you probably won’t even think about them again, but it would be weird to state that as you are leaving.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      OMG I don’t think she meant “never contact me with anything but business critical updates ever again”! I think she meant that’s all she wanted on the OP’s last day — like she was busy and just needed the top-level stuff.

      1. Colette*

        That’s how I read it, too. She wanted to make sure they covered the business critical stuff before the OP left and didn’t have time for anything that wasn’t critical.

        1. Simply the best*

          And that phrasing definitely makes sense considering the op says elsewhere they started the conversation by basically saying “oh my gosh I miss everybody already.” 15 minutes before the end of your employees last day and you need to get stuff done, I also would probably try to cut off having to manage my employees emotions.

        2. pancakes*

          Yes, exactly. It seems like a real reach to read it as the boss saying, “now we’re done talking about non-work things forevermore.” To the extent there was genuine friendship there, there was all the time in the world to continue being friends after the close of business on the letter writer’s last day.

      2. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

        That was my read as well in light of the “last 15 minutes we talked” statement.

      3. Observer*

        This makes a lot more sense. Especially since she did then message a month later to “check in”. That doesn’t sound like “I don’t ever want to hear from you again.”

      4. LetterWriter*

        Haha! I think she did mean it for the last day… but it’s just so hard to capture context… I definitely extended it to any other communication (again, because I took it personally).

      5. what am I, a farmer?*

        Yeah, and OP wasn’t LEAVING leaving. She was going to another team! At a big company, but it’s not like they’ll never see each other again. She’ll still be in the same system, the boss has her email, etc. I totally get not thinking a big sendoff is appropriate in that case. (Though there are a lot of steps between “cold shoulder” and “big sendoff” and it sounds like boss could have been a little more gracious.)

  23. Mayflower*

    At our quarterly check-in, I was told my ask was out of the range for my role and to look elsewhere.

    I took her advice and looked elsewhere. So that’s why I’m confused about her reaction to my leaving.

    She told you “take it or leave it” fully expecting you to “take it”. You chose to “leave it” instead. It’s a classic case of “play stupid games, win stupid prizes” and the prize winner is always shocked at the outcome.

  24. Falling Diphthong*

    Instead of the usual warm fuzzies as you would expect on a last day.
    Curious: How many people leaving this job for a better job (not retiring or leaving for some other “it’s not you, it’s me” transition) view their last day as full of warm fuzzies?

    They don’t really point out people’s mistakes.
    Bog-standard advice here is to do this privately, not publicly.

    1. Soup of the Day*

      I don’t think warm fuzzies are that uncommon if you have a good relationship with your coworkers! I can see people being bitter or jealous in some circumstances, but I’ve left three different jobs where my managers went above and beyond to thank me and wish me well on my last day. If OP thought she had a good relationship with her boss, it would probably be pretty jarring to have such a cold send-off.

      1. LetterWriter*

        I’d been invited to a couple people’s farewell virtual “lunch.” And it was all warm fuzzies and nostalgic. No lectures!

        1. miro*

          FWIW, I think that the fact that you left after about a year might be significant here, as that’s a very short time to be at a job. In my experience (and I’ll fully accept the possibility that this is the outlier!) the warm fuzzies/nostalgia/kudos/celebrations are generally reserved for people with *at least* 3 years at the org/dept, but often more like 5+ years. It’s not that people with shorter tenures weren’t valuable or appreciated, necessarily, just that before that point people are unlikely to have had a huge influence on processes, programs, etc or be seen as closely tied to the dept.

          With someone being there for only a very short time like you were, I think it can feel (for other staff) like you just kind of passed through their work lives but maybe don’t warrant any dramatic displays of work-affection. Especially if you’re earlier in your career, I realize that a year might have felt pretty long and significant, and I get that! But I’ve also noticed that, for instance, interns at places I’ve worked sometimes overestimate how much they were noticed and remembered after their 6mos-1yr. It’s no slight to them , just the fact that it’s a blip on the radar as far as relationships, influence, contributions, etc go, and staff are focused on so many other things.

          1. Jackalope*

            The fact that the year fell during COVID may also be relevant. I’ve had coworkers that I got close to and genuinely missed after a year of working with them, but none of those coworkers were people I met during 2020-2021. What with working from home most of that time and having so much pandemic-related stress, I haven’t had the opportunity or energy to get to know anyone who’s started since March of last year. (With one coworker exception.) It’s possible that people only vaguely knew who you were, especially if you were remote.

          2. CmdrShepard*

            I also think that OP staying with the same company might not really seem like they are leaving. It might be the combination of OP not being there that lone 1 year, and moving up/promoted to a different position does not need a send off because they are not going anywhere, even though to OP it seems like they are.

    2. ThatGirl*

      At my last company, I moved from a customer service-adjacent role into a more creative one (which was more my background anyway) and my old manager was pretty happy for me – she knew I wasn’t being valued enough in that department, and they gave me little gifts and such. Not that I would expect that everywhere, but it’s not unheard of.

    3. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      Depends on what “warm fuzzies” means though — “Thanks for your hard work and good luck” is about the level of fuzzies that I would expect for a job of a year, especially if I wasn’t really leaving the org and just moving to a different team. If I’d worked with someone for 3-5 years and was leaving the org, maybe a cake in the breakroom; 10-15 years, I would expect we all go out to lunch.

      1. Fran Fine*

        I was taken to lunch on my last day at an insurance company I worked for for four years – I had only been in my final division itself for about a year and a half (I was promoted into it after a contentious battle between managers – it got ugly, lol). My whole team came. When I left my last company, my manager took me and only me out to lunch as a farewell (it was odd – we didn’t have the best of relationships). It was also my birthday on my last day, so coworkers bought me a pretty farewell/birthday card, gave me $25 to Starbucks, and sang Happy Birthday about an hour before I left (early, at my former boss’s urging).

        I would say both times gave me warm fuzzies/bittersweet memories. I wasn’t leaving either place because I hated it, but because I wasn’t being paid enough and I was bored after awhile (or overworked and underpaid as was the case with the insurance company).

    4. Lacey*

      As long as the person isn’t getting fired, yeah, it’s pretty standard to have some warm fuzzies.
      It’ll matter how long you’ve been there and what your role was somewhat. When I left my longtime employer they bought the good donuts and gave me a little gift basket. When someone who’d only been there a few months left she just got a nice card.

    5. what am I, a farmer?*

      The two times I left a job after a year or less, it was not warm fuzzies so much as awkward turtles. I’d had strong relationships at both workplaces prior to giving notice and everyone was professional and gracious during the notice period. But at that point they knew I wasn’t happy (I’d left after a year!) and I knew they weren’t happy (because giving notice after less than a year is a pretty painful ordeal sometimes) and it was a pretty brisk goodbye and good luck on both sides.

  25. Soup of the Day*

    Just chiming in to say I would also be super confused if my manager went from driving an HOUR to personally deliver me treats to basically saying “never contact me again except for business.” Although it’s not great to be friends with your manager while you worked for her, if you had a warm relationship it’s not that weird to hope you could maintain a friendly relationship or even pursue a friendship once you left (especially since she TOLD you that you should leave if you wanted more money!)

    I feel like I could email any of my previous managers for a friendly non-work-related catch-up and they would respond with equal friendliness, just because when you work with someone every day and have a positive working relationship, you surely end up caring about them in SOME capacity. Maybe she didn’t want to be friends (and she doesn’t owe you a friendship, of course) but the preemptive shut-down is weirdly antagonistic imho.

    I also don’t see too much of a disconnect in what you were asking for, because I’ve found that things like not receiving recognition or having too much on your plate can feel worse when you’re also not making enough money! Whether it would actually feel better if you were paid more is another matter, but it’s easy to think “I would be willing to put up with X amount of extra crap if I made more money.”

    All this to say I feel for you, OP. Keep your chin up!

    1. ThatGirl*

      She didn’t say “never contact me again except for business,” she said she only wanted business-critical info on the last day, implying that she was very busy and only wanted top-line info.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Yeah, that bit to me landed as the manager intended something like “I’m busy today, so just tell me the highlights I need going forward” when OP was trying to do a warm fuzzy recap of the past year. Reading it as “never contact me again about anything not business critical” was an odd interpretation.

      2. Soup of the Day*

        Ooh, I definitely read it the other day. In this case, still cold but much less so, and more understandable if she really was busy.

      1. Mannequin*

        LW, I say this with all the kindness possible, but it’s troubling to me that you only seem to be pleased by the comments that seem to agree with your point of view, despite them being in the form minority, and far outweighed by the many thoughtful comments explaining that regardless of your manager’s actions or motives, your skewed expectations of what a managerial relationship should look like are the bigger problem here. And those are the ones that are going to help you get through this, not the ass pats. If you expect that your manager should be your best friend, you will continually be hurt & disappointed by managers acting professionally & appropriately, while being incredibly vulnerable to getting sucked in by toxic workplaces with terrible managers that love-bomb you.

    2. Mannequin*

      It doesn’t say she drove an hour to personally deliver treats to OP, it said that she shipped them…in which case they might even have been bought online.

  26. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

    The only thing that’s so out of place to me is the one-month “check in”. I know OP moved to a different team in the same org, and I could understand if OP just happened to run into her in the hallway and she asked in a generic polite way, “How are you doing?” but to check in is a curve ball since OP was only there a year. Everything else is pretty normal: ask for more than 2 weeks transition — lots of managers do that when you move from one team to another within the same org, and sometimes they negotiate that with the new manager without employee input because of business needs; ask for business critical information on the last day at an exit interview — that’s pretty normal if she’s panicking about not having more time and there’s a 15 minute window for the conversation, or maybe HR has protocol over what needs to be done/said and she can’t deviate. I’m really not sure SHE took OP leaving so personally, but OP did. I don’t know the tone of voice when she said it, but saying “if you want more money and a better title, you’ll have to go somewhere else,” is unfortunately the case in A LOT of jobs and she was honest about it instead of stringing the OP along with promises that never materialize.

  27. BlueberryFields*

    I think there are a lot of boundary issues here. LW might want to work on setting more work/life boundaries for themselves. The busyness might be inevitable, but sometimes you have to look for gratification in hobbies or activities outside of the office. Workplace friendliness doesn’t always equal real life friends.

    LW’s old boss also appears to have some boundary issues, too. It’s worth thinking about whether or not your boss was treating everyone similarly (gifts, etc.). If not, it’s possible that old boss was too attached to you. I had a boss who would shower people with trinkets and gifts (some sort of secretly so coworkers wouldn’t get jealous) and it always weirded me out. It was one of my first job out of college, so I didn’t know how to handle it.

    What I’ve learned is that the best gift a manager can give you is being a competent manger.

  28. Kau*

    Things like this are why I have a strict “no friends or socializing at work” policy. I have a hard line between my work and personal lives. At work talk to me about work. I keep everything else private and I wish others would do the same. Many problems like this would be avoided.

    1. allathian*

      I’m sure I wouldn’t want to work with you. Some friendly talk can go a long way. It can be superficial and you don’t have to share any details about your private life if you don’t want to, and it wouldn’t be okay to attempt to goad you into sharing anything you don’t want to share. But we’re humans, not robots, and I’d far rather work with friendly people than unfriendly ones.

      All my work friendships have been situational. With the vast majority of my coworkers I’m friendly and professional. I don’t expect any of my few work friendships to survive either me or the other person leaving our current jobs. There’s only one or two people at work I’m strictly professional with because we don’t get along. I don’t talk about anything except work with them, and I don’t even do that unless I absolutely have to. If there’s a more friendly person in the department, I’ll ask them for help first before approaching the “strictly business” person.

      1. Mannequin*

        People can be friendly AND professional, without engaging in small talk or revealing anything of their lives outside of work. I don’t know why people act as if the opposite of being chummy with all your coworkers is being impersonal, cold, and distant. It is not. Acting in a strictly professional manner is not inherently impersonal, cold, or distant.

    2. unpleased*

      That only creates different problems. At my job, we have to be able to have at least surface-level rapport building conversations. We do that with external clients, but internal customer service, as it were, is also a really big deal.

    3. Mannequin*

      I’m the same and it never harmed me during my working life. I have honestly never understood the whole ‘work friend’ thing- obviously, there are exceptions, but at work you are among a bunch of random people that usually the ONLY significant thing you have in common is that you work for the same employer. Maybe you have some surface level similarities that are so broadly focused as to not be remarkable- you have kids, went to the same college, watch the same TV shows, something like that. It seems like it’s the grade school mentality of “your friends whoever happens to be in your classroom/live on your street”- as adults we have numerous options to make friends through whatever our actual hobbies or interests are and are no longer forced to chum around with people simply because they happen to be in our vicinity?
      Of the dozens & dozens of people I’ve worked with over the decades, I can only think of a small number that I actually had enough common interests with to even have an in depth chat about something, let alone become friends outside of work…and even THEN, it’s only because I’ve worked at jobs that cater to some of my specific niche interests! At more mainstream jobs, that almost NEVER happened.
      I was always warm, cordial, and polite with my bosses, coworkers, and customers/clients, so no one at any of my jobs actually NOTICED that I was really super introverted & never talked about my own personal life.

  29. Benny*

    Something that I think hasn’t been mentioned before: the dynamic might be different when you do an internal transfer, compared to actually leaving a job. I had the same experience – worked for one team for over 5 years, then changed teams and they didn’t even throw me a goodbye party (which was normal in our office) and went from being warm to surprisingly cold. One possible reason for the 15 min chat is that they genuinely didn’t think it’s a big deal, because OP isn’t going anywhere else, they are still in the same company. Second possible reason is that there might be some sense of rivalry with the other team, so OP’s manager felt OP was ‘poached’ or ‘defected’. It can also feel like a slap in the face, like saying “you weren’t a good enough manager, so I’m going to go to another team in the same company which is similar in all ways except having a different manager”.

    1. MCMonkeyBean*

      Interesting, I just said the opposite! I mean, yeah I wouldn’t expect a party if you’re not actually leaving the company, but I would usually expect the boss to be *more* supportive of an internal promotion.

  30. Salad Daisy*

    Your coworkers are not your friends. Your manager is definitely not your friend. I do keep in touch with a very few folks I have worked with over the years, but for the most part once you leave a company you never hear from those people again unless that have a critical work-related question.

  31. Alexis Rosay*

    I recently left a job where I had a warm and friendly relationship with my manager, and where I was personally very, very emotionally invested in the job. I was not expecting to become friends with my manager after I left, but I did end up feeling a little hurt by how the transition was handled for a variety of reasons.

    OP, I do think it’s common to get emotionally involved in your work, and it’s okay to allow yourself to feel hurt when you value your work more than your work values you. However, so many elements of your letter show that it’s good you moved on. It’s good that I’ve moved on from my old job too. Let’s both work on calibrating our expectations in our next role, eh?

  32. Ann O'Nemity*

    Sounds like the manager tried to be accommodating to an existing employee with childcare issues during the pandemic. Sounds great, right? Except the manager was able to accomplish the accommodation by piling work on the brand new employee. Of course the OP felt taken advantage of.

    1. Alexis Rosay*

      Yeah. I think OP’s feelings are inevitable. If some folks are doing less work, others will most likely be doing more. A ‘thank you’ might be enough if it was a few weeks, but not a year and a half.

        1. Black Horse Dancing*

          But LW left after a year–a year with the manager who basically let LW carry the load for her distracted co worker and did nothing when LW asked for more money/appreciation by the company. If you are hired to do a. b. and c and end up doing a-m, your company should be ponying up money and title.

      1. Esmeralda*

        If some people APPEAR to be doing less work.

        OP does not know anything about how the manager handled this with the co-worker with kids. That person may be doing something else that the OP does not see or know about.

        Every job I have ever had, starting with cashiering at a crafts store when I was 16, I’ve had to pick up extra work (sometimes a lot of extra work) to accommodate a co-worker on vacation or leave or one who needed flexibility or a change in duties for some reason the manager deemed appropriate. Every job. Including the one I have right now, where I just last week got a very increased caseload due to a retirement. And my colleagues have picked up extra work for me too. That’s how jobs work.

      1. Black Horse Dancing*

        Not true. The manager could have offloaded work to another team or simply did it herself or dropped the balls. LW was worked far harder than they should have been and wasn’t appreciated. LW, your former manager was a jerk. Just do well in the job you have now and don’t forget how this manager used you.

        1. Hannah*

          Do you work with the LW? How do you know that her manager could have offloaded work to another team or how hard LW worked relative to others?

          1. Anoni*

            They don’t. Which is why they said the manager could have. It’s a theory about what may have happened; not a definitive identification of what happened.

  33. CommanderBanana*

    I mean, if, as a manager, your response to workers asking about raises is to tell them to look elsewhere, I feel like you can’t be too cheesed off when they take your advice.

    1. Observer*

      Except there doesn’t actually seem to be any evidence that the manager is annoyed that the OP took another job in the organization.

      1. Soup of the Day*

        The OP said that the manager gave her the cold shoulder and a lecture on the last day – I’m not sure if the contents of the letter were all that gave OP that impression or if there was more. But if there really was a lecture involved, the manager would seem to be annoyed about something, at least. And acting that way solely about the two-week notice would be kind of weird, especially since OP left for a job at the same organization – surely the annoyance would be better directed at the new manager for not allowing the date to be moved back?

        It seems from the letter like the manager did get noticeably cold when the OP left, which would be unusual if the manager was truly not bothered.

        1. Observer*

          The OP said that the manager gave her the cold shoulder and a lecture on the last day

          Yes, the manager have them the cold shoulder – over their “short” notice. I’m putting short in quotes, because it really wasn’t but the boss was being pretty specific about her issue. I agree that it was not appropriate, but it’s not the same thing as being upset that the OP found a better position at all.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It was actually the OP’s subject line to me (slightly modified) and I kind of loved it. (I don’t normally use people’s email subject lines but I like this one.)

      1. Tuesday*

        I was excited to see it when I sat down to lunch today! It’s the kind of subject line that makes me want to dive right in.

      2. unpleased*

        I think it normalizes some problematic behavior, though, to treat that so uncritically. We don’t need to spread a discourse of “being into” one’s manager or employees, even when we think we’re being ironic.

  34. Observer*

    they seem to be doing just fine without me. That hurts too.

    Seriously? OP, you are taking this WAAAY to personally. And the idea that they should all be wailing and gnashing their teeth, or the department should be falling apart without you just doesn’t make any sense. The department is not managing AT you. They are managing because that’s what functional departments do.

    As Allison advised, it’s probably a good idea to respond to your former manager in a warm and collegial way. You’re not FRIENDS but you could be FRIENDLY colleagues. And she could be a good contact for you gong forward. Worst case, by staying friendly and collegial, you keep the relationship from doing you damage down the line.

    Whatever you do, do not EVER express hurt that the department continued to function well without you.

    1. what am I, a farmer?*

      Over the past couple of years, my company has lost several key people who had been with the business for more than a decade. I’m talking founders, top leadership, adored middle managers, star individual contributors. The hard truth is that people will cry at the goodbye party and say that the office will never be the same, we can never replace them, etc. And they likely mean it. And then someone is assigned to temporarily cover their portfolio, and the hiring gears start turning, and within four weeks it’s like they were never there. The work moves on. People have stuff to do. “Sit around moaning about how much we miss Bob” is not an agenda item.

      And that’s for people who were absolutely crucial to the company. An employee who’d been there a year? It’s never too early in your career to learn that everyone is replaceable — which is sobering, but also freeing. Knowing the company will move on without you means you owe them nothing.

  35. what am I, a farmer?*

    So… within a year you had started the job, asked for a big raise, been told to look elsewhere, found a job, and gave notice? That is a really short timeframe for the level of emotional investment you’re putting in this situation and raises a few flags. Less than a year into a job is very early to ask for a big raise, particularly in a pandemic when a lot of companies were trying to keep the lights on. Leaving a job after a year is not wildly unusual, but it’s something bosses aren’t always thrilled about.

    The way your boss treated you on your last day was childish — but honestly, in the situation you described, I’d give an employee a thank you and a modest sendoff and breathe a sigh of relief.

    I’m sorry to be harsh, because I understand what it’s like to have a good relationship with a boss. I sobbed this year when one of my old bosses left the company and another was promoted so that I no longer reported to him. But as a manager, I can say that if you’re lucky, your boss isn’t thinking about you at all — and in a few months, you won’t think about this boss either. A year is a blip.

    1. Black Horse Dancing*

      I think you’re missing how OP dove into work, carried the load when co worker would not, and asked what it work take to get $x, or a title change. If you are carrying the load from the get go, I don’t blame the OP wanting some acknowledgement and consideration. It took the boss three months to even answer those questions.

      1. unpleased*

        I don’t think this commenter is missing anything. LW doesn’t have a historical context for understanding the situation as fully as she could, and she admits as much in other comments.

  36. Fashionably Late*

    These are not signs of a good manager. But if your manager was actually friends with you in the way you wanted, they would also not be a good manager.

  37. Well...*

    I think feeling used by your employer is def legitimate sometimes. There are degrees.

    Like if you get pressured to do something that doesn’t really help your career but makes you a team player, and then halfway in realize the activity actually promotes the work of someone else who didn’t get tapped to help out.

    Also see various instances of sex/class/racism where you get asked to do things outside your job description other people don’t get asked to do.

    Exchanging labor for resources may be inherently dehumanizing depending on who you ask, but some things feel way more dehumanizing than others.

    1. Soup of the Day*

      This is super true. And feeling underpaid can make you feel this way x 1000, especially if your extra efforts are going unappreciated. It’s true that the employer/employee relationship is inherently transactional, and both sides use each other, but if you feel like you’re not being compensated fairly for the amount of work you do then that using seems one-sided.

  38. LetterWriter*

    Dear Alison,

    Thank you so much for responding to my letter! It was such a welcome boost to an okay day. After scouring your archives and actually stumbling upon another article you wrote on slate in 2018 (, I have a better understanding that this not a unique experience. It was just my first time being this close to someone who was managing me. I blame COVID :) for all the Feelings.

    I’ve left other jobs and not given it another thought. I think you are right that I did consider my boss a friend, whether or not she was implicit in this is difficult to know. I do think she is very friendly and very charming and I may have wanted to believe I was special in some way.

    But I think whether she intended to or not, her response to my departure and the subsequent follow-up did more clearly define our relationship as strictly professional.
    Of course you are right about asking directly for what I wanted – which was actually a salary bump if my workload could not decrease. I think what I would have wanted as a consolation prize was what I’d indicated– “you’re our best employee” or “you’re already at the top of the range.” I know this sounds silly to someone with your experience but if I was going to be fed “office-speak,” I wanted a better story (i.e how can I be out of range for a range you don’t know). Haha. But again, I think I was looking for some confirmation that we actually were friends and I’d reached the same level of favor as my co-worker. Obviously, that’s not a thing you can ask for so it makes sense that I was denied on all fronts.

    I 100% agree on the nature of the employment relationship. I’ve always looked at it as a marketplace where you exchange your time for money. It was when I realized that my exchange rate was getting remarkably lower than where I was before this gig that I started to get vocal about it.

    Again you are right… I was looking for the things you mentioned beyond the paycheck. 1000%. Honestly, I would have been more inclined to stay if I had those things.

    Thank you for telling me very explicitly not to share my hurt feelings because almost 2 months later I STILL REALLY WANTED TO.

    It’s funny that you used the word ‘overworked’ because that’s exactly how I felt and I’ve heard her say that she likes to “work her employees hard.” Again, happy to do that if I’m getting compensated for it OR if everyone else is held to the same standard.

    Ultimately, the thing I have to change my mind about is that we were never friends. Ouch. I genuinely LOVED her as a person so of course I wanted to do everything she asked to the absolute best of my ability, so to hear that it was all in my head – double ouch. This is where my headline came from – if everyone’s seen that movie… it felt like all of this. :)

    Thanks again, Alison and the AAM community!

    1. AJR*

      You aren’t the only person who has experienced this. I went through the exact same thing about a year and a half ago and am still struggling to sort through my feelings. If you figure out how to get past this, please let me know.

      Like you, I’d had experience leaving other jobs without a second thought, but there was something about my last job and last boss that made leaving so hard – she was incredibly capable, charming, disciplined, knowledgeable, someone I admired very much and wanted to model myself after. After reading this comments section, I now realize that she probably blurred the lines too much between work conversations and personal conversations with me, so I developed too much of an attachment. Part of the issue is that I badly did not want to leave the organization or geographic location, as it was so close to my family and I felt strongly about serving my home community.

      She acted very similarly to your boss when I asked her for more help. I needed more support/communication at work, since she was my only connection to the organization and of course went missing for weeks at a time (I had no alternative supervisors, and no coworkers on-site with me) – she made clear nothing about my work environment was going to change, so I asked about moving somewhere else in the organization where I might better thrive. Probably thinking I’d internally transfer, she pretty unequivocally stated that I needed to find somewhere other than her office to work after three months, period. So I did – to an entity that regulates her organization, for an increase in pay, more expansive responsibilities, and overall better work environment, five hours away.

      But I still feel incredibly rotten about it all not working out – I had invested so much in her and in the future I thought I’d have there. If you figure out how to resolve this issue and get past it, please let me know. I have see her and my former colleagues semi-regularly in meetings in my current job, where I am (obviously) professional and courteous. But the whole episode still hurts.

    2. Kella*

      OP, I am curious: Was one of the ways your manager showed your coworker that they had a special relationship accommodating her workload needs and working with her life circumstances? I’m wondering if one of the things you were hoping for in your relationship with her is for her to notice the impact your work had on your life, your schedule, and to generally be more attentive to what you needed and what would work for you.

      You’ve mentioned a few times in the comments that you were up late at night covering work for your coworker and you were overworked but it’s unclear how much the pressure to do that came from your manager vs. came from you because you were hoping to get the relationship with your manager that you wanted. To be clear, it totally makes sense why you’d do the second one, I’m just not sure which one it is or if you know which one it is. What were the consequences if you didn’t stay up all night working? What happened when you said “I need to take some things off my plate”?

      In situations like this, it can be really hard to tease out how much the person with more power than you was encouraging you to overwork yourself/discouraging you from keeping a good work/life balance vs. how much you felt obligated to do those things because of your own expectations for yourself and your idea of what your reward might be. No matter what the balance was, you should be compassionate with yourself. But if you are able to identify your contributions to the dynamic, it’ll be more empowering going forward if you find yourself feeling “used” again.

  39. LetterWriter*

    Dear Alison,

    Thank you so much for responding to my letter! It was such a welcome boost to an okay day. After scouring your archives and actually stumbling upon another article you wrote on slate in 2018 (Is it normal to get incredibly, irrationally nervous about telling your boss you’re quitting?) I have a better understanding that this not a unique experience. It was just my first time being this close to someone who was managing me. I blame COVID :) for all the Feelings.

    I’ve left other jobs and not given it another thought. I think you are right that I did consider my boss a friend, whether or not she was implicit in this is difficult to know. I do think she is very friendly and very charming and I may have wanted to believe I was special in some way.

    But I think whether she intended to or not, her response to my departure and the subsequent follow-up did more clearly define our relationship as strictly professional.

    Of course you are right about asking directly for what I wanted – which was actually a salary bump if my workload could not decrease. I think what I would have wanted as a consolation prize was what I’d indicated– “you’re our best employee” or “you’re already at the top of the range.” I know this sounds silly to someone with your experience but if I was going to be fed “office-speak,” I wanted a better story (i.e how can I be out of range for a range you don’t know). Haha. But again, I think I was looking for some confirmation that we actually were friends and I’d reached the same level of favor as my co-worker. Obviously, that’s not a thing you can ask for so it makes sense that I was denied on all fronts.

    I 100% agree on the nature of the employment relationship. I’ve always looked at it as a marketplace where you exchange your time for money. It was when I realized that my exchange rate was getting remarkably lower than where I was before this gig that I started to get vocal about it.

    Again you are right… I was looking for the things you mentioned beyond the paycheck. 1000%. Honestly, I would have been more inclined to stay if I had those things.

    Thank you for telling me very explicitly not to share my hurt feelings because almost 2 months later I STILL REALLY WANTED TO.

    It’s funny that you used the word ‘overworked’ because that’s exactly how I felt and I’ve heard her say that she likes to “work her employees hard.” Again, happy to do that if I’m getting compensated for it OR if everyone else is held to the same standard.

    Ultimately, the thing I have to change my mind about is that we were never friends. Ouch. I genuinely LOVED her as a person so of course I would do anything she asked to the best of my ability and even pre-empt what I thought she might ask and more – so to hear this was all in my head – double ouch. This is where my headline came from – if everyone’s seen that movie… it felt like all of this. :)

    Thanks again, Alison and the AAM community!

    P.S. – Sorry if this gets posted twice. The first one had a link to the article mentioned and was likely moderated.

    1. RG5*

      It sounds like you’re really listening to a lot of the feedback and that’s great!

      I’m also noticing that you’re still talking about “favored status” and wanting to believe you’re special, loving your boss, and looking to her for the story. You’re looking for a lot of external validation from a source where, honestly, it’s not appropriate. This can happen when you’re new to work, but it doesn’t matter if your boss likes *you* (as long as there’s not active dislike), it matters that your boss sees your work as positive, gives you clear objectives, feedback, etc, and treats you fairly. She’s never going to give you the validation you want, especially if that validation is based on your “worth” compared to other coworkers. If you need that in a job, you’re not going to be happy in a healthy work environment.

      Also, a side note , but your boss is never going to be paying as much attention to your workload as you are, especially if she has multiple direct reports and other work going on, and you need to communicate clearly to her what you think she’s not seeing. I used to think my bosses would read between the lines of indirect communication, but they won’t, most of the time, and you’ll be doing yourself a favor by getting clear on what you want for yourself first and then advocating directly for it.

      1. Fran Fine*

        + 1 to all of this, especially your first paragraph. OP still doesn’t seem to be grasping this, but hopefully after reading this comment and getting more distance from this manager, it’ll sink in a little more.

    2. Well...*

      As a people pleaser who wants every authority figure to like me (and as someone who works in a field largely dependent on recommendations and being promoted by Big Names who see your Promise) I SO feel this. I have so much respect for some of the people I’ve worked for, and their opinion of me has an emotional weight that’s hard to disentangle from the professional weight. It’s easy to get caught up. I hope some time and distance make things better for you LW.

    3. CmdrShepard*

      OP if it helps I put people into different friend category’s. I do think you can be “friends” with your boss, but the boss/employee relationship inherently limits the extent of that “friendship”

      There are personal friends the kind you hang out with regularly spend time outside of work, party with, can make joke inappropriate for the office, have more than a couple drinks with, be in their wedding party etc…

      There are co-worker friends people you might grab a drink with after work, or attend other events after work. Talk about sports, TV, movies, food, family. Complain about the TPS reports or crappy work policies. I wouldn’t but some people would confide in select co-workers they are job searching or complain about the boss. My general philosophy is I don’t tell a coworker anything that I wouldn’t say to my boss. I don’t expect the relationship to continue past the job. Maybe once a year catch up, but more of a networking purpose. It is possible to convert a co-worker friend into a personal friend, but only if you are prepared to not work with that person again.

      Then there are boss-friends. They are similar to the co-worker category above, but I will go happy hours less often, I won’t complaint about TPS reports or other crappy work policies to them, but if those complaints get back to them I won’t mind. Similar I don’t expect the relationship to continue past the job, except for occasional catch up, networking, and references. If you have a good boss-friend relationship maybe you can work for them again in the future.

      Some people might not consider my definitions of coworker/boss friends to be friends, but that might just be a rose by any other name. I do agree you can’t expect the same kind of relationship you have with your BFF for your boss.

    4. Mannequin*

      I’m bothered that they can’t seem to grasp that the co-worker was being accommodated during an unprecedented time, and most likely has the track record to have earned it, rather than it being a special ‘favor’ like one would grant to a friend.

    5. hbc*

      I’m really curious why you keep coming back to your coworker being favored. Even if they were the kind of people where you see right away that they’re clicking, there’s usually not much opportunity to observe that in remote work, especially over a year.

      So is it the fact that she got less work than you and still had a job? That’s not really evidence of being specially favored. 1) You don’t have a history of good work to back up a bad year. 2) You don’t have the same reason for underperforming–a manager is going to look differently on, say, someone lackluster due to chemo and someone lackluster due to marathon training. 3) You don’t even know if you could have gotten that “favor” of getting away with less work, because you always did more.

      All of the tangible stuff you say you want comes down to things that have nothing to do with whether your boss hates everyone else or loves them or in between, but you keep circling back to this idea of a ranking or competition, and I don’t think that will serve you well.

  40. Wrench Turner*

    “Work” is absolutely about being used. You are using it to survive and you are being used for the surplus value your labor generates. You can have friendly interactions with the boss and that’s great but their job is to extract as much profit* from you as possible, or at best minimize the cost of your position until you can be automated out. This is where I work now. We’re all honest about it, at least.

    *Nonprofits may just use you to help generate money to keep the nonprofit going, whether or not it actually provides any service. I’ve worked here, too.

  41. rubble*

    the headline is pretty misleading for what this letter is actually about. not a fan – it feels like it’s misrepresenting OP.

  42. Emily*

    I’ve seen a number of comments being critical or questioning OP’s decision to ask for a raise after less than a year, but given the situation OP described, I don’t think it was unreasonable at all. OP was being given the lion’s share of the work to do, and assuming the raise OP asked for was not a ridiculous amount, I think OP asking for a raise in this context was appropriate.

    1. allathian*

      Yeah. I normally wouldn’t recommend asking for a raise during the first year, unless your job description’s changed significantly from what you were hired to do. That might or might not apply in this case.

  43. anonymous73*

    She is not your friend, and just like a breakup, any conversation you try to have with her to “clear the air” will most likely lead to more frustration. The way you describe your team makes them sound dysfunctional at best, toxic at worst. So be thankful you moved on and let it go.

    For the future, you need to realize that the only one looking out for your best interest is you. A good manager will support you, but a company is mostly looking at their bottom line. If you want something, be direct – have facts and data to support it. And know that most work relationships fizzle out after someone leaves, and that’s okay. I have ex co-workers that I was really close to – went to weddings, baby showers, visited them out of town when they moved, etc. and a handful of them are just FB friends now. Life happens, and not all friends are meant to be in your life forever.

  44. Curious*

    OP1, I stayed at my very first full time job too long out of misplaced loyalty to my then-boss. I was “thanked” for this loyalty by being thrown under the bus over a massive error that was made by my then-boss and her boss, because they needed a scapegoat.

    The CEO thankfully wasn’t dumb enough to believe that a junior person had access to the systems wherein the error took place (as only senior management did), so I wasn’t fired, but that didn’t stop my then-boss from being furious and throwing a massive tantrum when I did quit about two months later, as soon as I got another job lined up.

    Lesson learned: in the workplace, loyalty to your company and/or boss is usually completely misplaced. They would think nothing of laying you off, or throwing you under the bus, if they thought it was “necessary”.

    Go for the awesome new job with a pay rise. Don’t look back.

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