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

It’s “where are you now?” month at Ask a Manager, and all December I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past.

Remember the letter-writer worried about burning a bridge by resigning right after getting promoted? Here’s the update.

I wrote to you several months ago about resigning after accepting a promotion. I also posted a brief update in the comments.

It got worse before it got better. I used your and commenters’ excellent suggested wording to push back against the ED’s statement that I didn’t deserve to be “rewarded” with the agreed-upon salary given that I was leaving the org in a difficult position. He responded that “[he] and [I] will just have to disagree on whether [my] recent actions amount to a breach of trust” but agreed to pay my salary at the higher rate with vacation pay-out at pre-promotion rate. He suggested I end employment early and begin contracting with them because it’d be easier to run monthly payroll. I’d wanted to time my departure to maintain healthcare coverage for the month; the org is too small to qualify for COBRA. Luckily, when I called the Finance admin they said it was no issue to keep me on payroll for the duration of my notice.

I worked out the rest of my notice period with very little sleep and a lot of emotional stress. But I made it through. And I stopped feeling so guilty and thinking I somehow needed to make amends for resigning after nearly 10 years of dedication and good work. I moved towards the opposite extreme – feeling bitter and resentful – for a short while but that balanced out with time.

I heard nothing from the Board of Directors throughout this entire process, except for one board member who advised that my resignation would damage my reputation. They hired an external consultant to do an exit interview a month after I’d started in the new role. I doubt my responses went anywhere. I did get a kick out of one question though: the consultant pre-empted it with, “I want you to know that I wouldn’t normally ask this in an exit interview; this is from the board,” and the question was, “How can ORG retain energetic, talented employees such as yourself so that they are happy and stay forever?”

Thankfully, the requests/expectations that I’d participate in hiring new staff and work as a contractor were dropped. You and the commenters were spot-on that I wouldn’t be able to do my new role justice if I was still thinking about past projects. Plus the ED wrote, “my assumption is that a fair rate is close to your departing salary paid hourly”, and I just couldn’t face the potential drama of trying to negotiate.

I left a novella of documentation, including recommendations such as hiring/contracting HR staff, standardizing onboarding/offboarding procedures, developing support structures for staff burnout, and implementing policies that promote workplace equity. I fielded a few questions from my former teammates, which I was happy to do, and otherwise made a clean break with only minor hitches.

I am super happy at the new organization and just had a great three-month evaluation in which my manager affirmed that I am meeting/exceeding all expectations and that my skillset is a valued addition to the team. The amount of resources available and encouraged for skill development and career growth are amazing. My former org has since hired two new staff so I guess they’re doing well too.

Thank you and huge thanks to all the commenters – your responses were 100% the reality check I needed. Also, pretty much everyone who participated in my hiring process commented that I had fantastic application materials and interviews, so thank you again for the advice in your book and blog!

{ 101 comments… read them below }

  1. Observer*

    He suggested I end employment early and begin contracting with them because it’d be easier to run monthly payroll. I’d wanted to time my departure to maintain healthcare coverage for the month; the org is too small to qualify for COBRA. Luckily, when I called the Finance admin they said it was no issue to keep me on payroll for the duration of my notice.

    Wow! He just had get his one last nasty knife into you! It’s glaringly obvious that he wasn’t worrying about making things easier, but rather to cause you problems. I also love the idea that they did an exit interview a month after you left. Why would they expect you to take the time to do it?

    I’m so glad you’re out of there and in a reasonable environment.

    1. Artemesia*

      It would have been so tempting to respond to his poncy little lecture with ‘I am having trouble imagining you writing something so infantalizing to any of your male subordinates who choose to move on to new opportunities after giving the organizing 9 years of superb work. ‘

      yes bridge burning, but tempting. The sexism just leaps off the page.

      And what kind of organization expects people to stay forever?

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        And what kind of organization expects people to stay forever?
        Wait, I know this! One that doesn’t plan to offer guaranteed life employment back.

      2. lifer*

        Well, the company I work for used to; they talked it up quite a lot back when I hired on in the late nineties. They bragged about never having had layoffs and showed off their geared-for-longevity benefit structure. They have some strangenesses about their products and their management structure that don’t mesh well with short-termers.

        The benefits haven’t kept pace with society (and the pay never really did, LOL). I don’t mean to be all “but sandwiches!” / “not all companies!” at you, but it’s definitely a mindset, and there are some workers (like me!) who also prefer the stability.

        1. After 33 years ...*

          “And what kind of organization expects people to stay forever?”

          Many universities and govt organizations of my acquaintance. The long-term approach indicated by lifer is part of the mindset.

          1. Artemesia*

            Yes good point — I did work for such an organization and stayed ‘forever’ — but most businesses expect some degree of turnover. This was less true a generation before mine. My father worked for one company his entire career. When I was very young he had a nearly fatal reaction to penicillin that put him in the hospital for 6 weeks and had him out of work for 3 mos; the company didn’t hesitate to pay him this entire time and he was eternally loyal. Towards the end of his 40+ year run he developed Alzheimers; this of course comes on slow long before it is diagnosed but it meant for the last 2 or 3 years before the pension kicked in he was really struggling; he was literally a rocket scientists having been in charge of the engineering for an important element of the moon shot and brilliant but he just couldn’t do it anymore. His boss carried him those final couple of years, taking him off management and project responsibility and making him his ‘assistant’ and giving him things to do that he could still manage. So yes I understand some companies once did and some now do expect lifelong work as the norm and return that loyalty, but this is not the norm today and a business that reacts badly to an employee who has done great work for 10 years and now is moving on in the way they reacted to the OP here is ridiculous.

            1. Anastesia Beaverhousen*

              If more companies did this they would deserve some loyalty. Unfortunatlty it is more like an abusive relationship and they expect the loyalty to be one way.

            2. Nanani*

              Very true, and sadly there are still people who experienced the lifetime work world and do not realize/acknowledge that this is not an option for people who entered the workforce later.
              The younger generations aren’t leaving out of flakiness but because we genuinely aren’t getting the pay and benefits and consideration they did :/

      3. BridgeBurner*

        And what kind of organization expects people to stay forever?

        A nonprofit in this case, but admittedly a nonprofit with low turnover! I work in a field where it’s not uncommon to stay at an organization for many years.

    2. Jackalope*

      I’m definitely not a lawyer and don’t know how the law would apply here, but it seems to be skirting the edges of legality at the very best to take someone who is an employee who has given notice and specifically change them to a contractor for their notice period while still having them engage in the same work they were doing as an employee. Again, not my specialty, but it seems sketchy at the very least.

      1. Boof*

        I’ve never heard of that being illegal (asking someone to volunteer for something they were paid to do, yes. Switching from salary to contractor, no) but this quote says it all “my assumption is that a fair rate is close to your departing salary paid hourly”
        HAHAHA usually contractors make like, double the salary wage because all the benefits are dropped (meaning, if you are going from a W2 to a 1099 wage). They were just trying to gouge the OP on the way out and playing dumb about it.

        1. IndustriousLabRat*

          Yup, the bit you’ve picked up on in your quote made my ears steam. Salary paid hourly!? Sometimes it’s hard to see where aggressive stupidity (like, there’s no POSSIBLE way someone can not be this clueless about how benefits work? Or COULD they?!) blends into just passive aggressive nastiness disguised as ignorance- total cheap shot to the back, this one. Glad OP is free of this mess.

        2. Observer*

          I’ve never heard of that being illegal (asking someone to volunteer for something they were paid to do, yes. Switching from salary to contractor, no)

          I’m not a lawyer, but I’m pretty sure that it IS illegal. The definition of contractor vs employee is not entirely something the employer gets to decide. In a case like this, where nothing changes – neither the work, nor the working conditions – it’s almost impossible to make the argument that they actually changed from an employee to a contractor.

          but this quote says it all “my assumption is that a fair rate is close to your departing salary paid hourly”
          HAHAHA usually contractors make like, double the salary wage because all the benefits are dropped (meaning, if you are going from a W2 to a 1099 wage). They were just trying to gouge the OP on the way out and playing dumb about it.

          Definitely. And I don’t believe for one minute that he doesn’t know it. DEFINITELY gouging.

        3. Artemesia*

          You can’t treat someone like a full time employee and make them a contractor; she would be continuing her same job — that can’t be legal.

      2. FridayFriyay*

        They’d have to meet the definition of a contractor and not an employee for it to be legal, which seems like a hard standard to meet for someone doing their same job during their notice period before they’ve left the organization.

        1. anonymous73*

          Not to mention, it probably wouldn’t be worth the effort to switch OP unless they were staying for months. By the time they switched them, they’d be gone.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            This is where I landed (after laughing hysterically at “salary paid hourly” as what he wanted her to believe he thought was the norm): It’s usually not “simpler” to undo people, redo people, and then let them go. That’s just adding in layers of work and potential for things to go wrong in payroll and need to be ironed out.

            1. The OTHER Other*

              Yeah, the thought that this would be “easier” for anyone when it was only going to be for a month or two was laughable.

              It’s a shame that this employer behaved this way, the managers etc were really immature. Putting all this together with the other info in the letter and update (that LW felt underappreciated, worked so hard it affected their health, etc) and I think the workplace was pretty terrible overall. LW might have found it hard to see due to believing in the nonprofit mission, or maybe had been there so long it warped their norms.

              But if anyone burned a bridge, it’s the business and it’s managers/directors, not the LW.

              1. Falling Diphthong*

                Sometimes an ash-smeared person is standing on the other side of the burning bridge, holding a lighter and laughing, and you need to accept that this bridge has been burned. (As with two updates on, where the reference cut off OP for daring to ask reference not to out their job hunt.)

              2. BridgeBurner*

                It was my first job after grad school, in a field that rewards passion-driven overachievers. I didn’t have a good sense of work norms or good boundary-setting skills. And I was passionate about my field and also full of self-doubt/impostor syndrome. A perfect storm of circumstance.

          2. BridgeBurner*

            It would have been a switch for literally the last two days of my notice period!

            At the time, leadership was having discussions about keeping me on some projects as a part-time contractor for several months afterwards on top of the new full-time position – the ED asked me to ask the new manager if I could start my new role part-time to give old org an easier transition. (I did not ask new manager.) So my guess is that he wanted to ensure I was under contract before leaving.

        2. PT*

          Plus I believe there’s now a checkbox on your income taxes you can check off that says “I believe I have illegally misclassified as a 1099 contractor” and the IRS will sort it out for you, rather than you having to do the legwork to get your taxes straightened out, due to so many employers abusing this mechanism.

      3. pancakes*

        The employer didn’t change the letter writer’s status to contractor; the ED “suggested” that they switch to being a contractor, and the Finance department said that wouldn’t be necessary. Making a lousy suggestion isn’t illegal.

        1. Artemesia*

          LOL. So the only thing that stopped this was the OP being smart and the payroll department not being clueless — the boss was sure trying to do it and screw over the OP.

          1. pancakes*

            I’m not sure I’d characterize all that as “only,” since both seem pretty significant to me, as does the fact that the ED didn’t in fact make any changes to the letter writer’s status without their permission or behind their back.

            1. Observer*

              The only reason they didn’t do it without their permission is because there is no way the fiscal folks would have agreed to it otherwise. Also, because the ED almost certainly knew it was illegal, so was trying to pin it on the OP.

              The guy does not deserve the benefit of the doubt here. He made an outrageous suggestion, to do something illegal for reasons that are clearly not true. And THEN he tried to additionally low-ball consulting rates.

              1. pancakes*

                You are misunderstanding what I’m saying if you think I’m saying anyone should give the ED “the benefit of the doubt” in some way.

        2. pancakes*

          (I suppose I should add something that seems obvious to me but might not to others: Making a lousy suggestion that someone voluntarily change their own status to contractor isn’t illegal. I’m not commenting on the legality of other lousy suggestions unrelated to this particular one!)

          1. Observer*

            I’m not sure that you are correct. True, you can’t be prosecuted for that. But suggesting to someone that they do or cooperate with something illegal IS a legal problem.

            1. pancakes*

              You want me to agree that suggesting to someone that they do something voluntarily that would be illegal if done to them without their involvement or consent is somehow illegal? I’ll pass, and I don’t see how that’s in any way relevant to what happened here.

              1. Observer*

                It would be illegal even if the OP agreed to it. The ED almost certainly knows this.

                It’s relevant because it’s part of the bad faith with which this person is operating.

        3. Falling Diphthong*

          The comment you are replying to literally says that it would be illegal to do this, not to say this.

        4. Ask a Manager* Post author

          This is a lot of arguing about semantics! Pancakes, they’re saying that what the boss suggested would be illegal to do, which it would be. Please move on.

          1. pancakes*

            I’m perfectly happy to move on, but I thought Falling Dipthong was replying to Artemesia. I don’t think it’s fair to speak as if I’m the problem here when there are three people picking apart what I thought was a quite clear reply from me.

        5. Justcuriousiguess*

          Making a suggestion that someone assist you in committing a crime certainly can be (and often is) a crime in and of itself

    1. BridgeBurner*

      zaracat is correct; my boss and I both left. They’ve hired two new staff and are in the process of hiring a third.

  2. Heidi*

    Okay, it says a lot about this company that they think getting an employee to “stay FOREVER” is a reasonable and achievable goal. What is this, a haunted house that traps unsuspecting visitors?

    Congratulations on the new job!

    1. Science KK*

      For some reason your comment made me picture OP’s board to all be the Count from Sesame Street, and I got a kick out of that.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        … I could be here for a series of workplace letters from Sesame Street.

        Dear Alison,
        My officemate starts drumming, then screams and tears the office apart while screaming “An-i-mal!” Management won’t do anything.

        1. Whynot*

          Dear Alison,

          My coworker keeps bringing all these chickens in during working hours and some of their interactions suggest an inappropriate relationship. Sometimes I think I hear explosions from his office. Should I go to HR?

          1. Resident Catholicville, USA*

            Dear Alison,

            My coworker works out of a trash can that he also lives in and that is brought into work every day via garbage man. My coworker is grumpy and I think an elephant also lives in the trash can. Occasionally, he sings, “I love trash!” and bangs the lid shut at random intervals. I’ve tried air fresheners, noise canceling headphones, and bag of peanuts. Considering management lives in a bird nest and is 6 years old, is it worth bring to them? Help!

            PS: The garbage man seems pretty chill though.

        2. Beth*

          Dear Alison,
          I’m 8 feet tall and covered in giant yellow feathers. HR says I’m in violation of dress code, but I can’t find clothes that fit me. Also, my repeated requests for an ergonomically appropriate desk and chair have been rejected.

        3. Beth*

          Update to: our CEO is a micromanager and we can’t get anything done

          Dear Alison,
          We used your script to get the Count transferred to inventory, and he’s never been happier. Payroll and financial audits are SO MUCH EASIER now that we don’t have to wait for him to count every single item! Thank you!!

        4. Beth*

          Dear Alison,

          My grandboss, who is an Amphibian-American, overheard me talk about boiling a frog, and I don’t think he understood it was a metaphor. I’m so embarrassed I’m considering resigning. How do I apologize?

        5. a tester, not a developer*

          Dear Alison,

          Every time I get up to do a presentation, two older men make snarky comments the entire time. Everyone says that’s just the way they are and that they wouldn’t keep attending the meetings if they didn’t enjoy my presentations, but it’s really bringing me down. My boss says there’s nothing he can do. What are my options?

          1. Beth*

            The snarky comments are bad enough, but then they both do this nasty laughter, which is even worse. They aren’t even really funny, just obnoxious.

        6. The OTHER Other*

          Dear Alison: I’m a lab assistant and the head of the lab doesn’t seem to have eyes, but still wears glasses. The lab explodes constantly; most Tuesday evenings in fact. I’m too afraid to say anything, or do anything really. So far I’ve tried pulling my head inside my shirt while sputtering “meemeemeemeemee” What else can I do!?

        7. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Dear Alison, I manage a small theater company that has been lucky enough to contract with a charismatic leading lady who will be a big draw for ticket sales. Unfortunately she has developed an obsessive crush on me, and it is very uncomfortable. She is a bit of a drama queen, and I’m afraid if I break it off she is going to flounce to another theater company. How do I get the sexual harassment to stop without losing my headliner?
          It’s Not Easy Being Green

        8. Heidi*

          Dear Alison: Whenever someone brings cookies into the office, my coworker shoves them all into his mouth at once, screaming “Om-nom-nom-nom-nom!” Is there anything we can do to ensure that other people get cookies too?

      2. Heidi*

        I’m not sure I’d want to work with the Count. I’m sure his numbers are accurate and all, but the indoor lightning and thunder would be a lot to put up with.

    2. KateM*

      Maybe it’s a figure of speech – they know very well that nobody stays forever but the actual goal is to make the employee FEEL like they could stay there forever?

      1. ecnaseener*

        Idk, they considered it a betrayal that OP didn’t stay forever. I think that really is their goal.

      2. Observer*

        The fact that the outside consultant provided his caveat before asking the question says that it’s probably NOT just an awkward figure of speech.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          For the good employers out there I bet the thought is “we want you to feel comfortable and like you could stay forever” and the crummy employers are all “you must stay forever to prove your loyalty.” Given the question they old board had the contractor ask, I’m putting ex-employer in the second category.

    3. EPLawyer*

      They know folks won’t stay FOREVER. But they want to know why folks don’t make this a long term job (although 10 years seems pretty long term). The fact that the ED and one BOARD MEMBER got all pissy about OP leaving would probably be the big reason. Apparently loyalty flows only one way at this place.

      1. JP in the heartland*

        From what I’ve seen, in many, if not most, jobs, 10 years is about the max a person should stay. Hard for the employee to do/ go
        anywhere else. Equally hard for the business to replace. I worked at a non profit where the ED retired after being there for 40 years. It was HER nonprofit. They have struggled in her retirement, going through several short-term leaders since. She did them no favors by staying.

        1. NNN222*

          I was at my last position for 13 years and you’re not entirely wrong. I spent a good chunk of the last two years updating documentation and crosstraining people on my primary duties, though, so I don’t think it was too terrible when I left. If anything it was a small organization where people took on a hodge podge of responsibilites and it sounded like they were going to use the opportunity to rearrange who handled what in a way that would make more sense than “You started doing X five years ago and John started doing Y three years ago so we’re going to keep doing it that way even though it would probably make more sense for Mary who started two years ago to do both X and Y.”

      2. Smithy*

        Given how pissy they were over someone leaving after a 10 year commitment, I don’t exactly know how to read the question otherwise.

        I’ve known a few people stay in nonprofit roles for 10-20 years….and I think because the nonprofit sector overall does not have a huge capacity to invest in management and leadership training, it becomes very common for someone to end up being very specialized in how that nonprofit runs or how a specific program there runs vs being a more well rounded professional.

        In a very small case, I was reviewing the resume of a nonprofit peer and he’d listed proficiency in a type of software that was used to manage grants at our old workplace. While it’s very common for large nonprofits to have that kind of software, he’d just mentioned the name of the software and it had happened to be a program developed specifically for that nonprofit only. So instead of his resume saying “proficiency in grants management software” it essentially read “proficiency in internal jargon”. You multiply that over a number of styles and means of work, and it inevitably limits the impact your resume has and how difficult a transition can be.

        1. BridgeBurner*

          because the nonprofit sector overall does not have a huge capacity to invest in management and leadership training, it becomes very common for someone to end up being very specialized in how that nonprofit runs or how a specific program there runs vs being a more well rounded professional.

          This, exactly. One of the fears that kept me up at night was that I’d stayed too long and would have to restart my career from scratch.

    4. SheLooksFamiliar*

      Whenever I hear a company brag that their employees stay ‘forever’, I rarely think it’s for good reasons. Met too many people who stay for a good benefits package, or it’s close to home, or they love their team enough to ignore the other, um, stuff.

      OP, I’m very happy about your new role. I hope your former boss learned something from your exit interview and/or his own botched handling of your departure, but I have my doubts.

      1. The OTHER Other*

        Unless a company grows a lot, it’s hard to have a lot of long-term employees that grow their careers. There’s nothing wrong with sticking with a job you like and are good at, but at most places there aren’t enough jobs higher up for everyone that might want one.

    5. ThatGirl*

      My company celebrates people who stay a long time, there’s a “quarter century club” once you make it to 25 years. But that doesn’t obligate anyone! Plenty of people leave after normal amounts of time to do something else, and there are occasional if unfortunate layoffs.

      1. After 33 years ...*

        My university gives prizes at the 20-, 25-, 30-, 35-year marks (and beyond – I knew someone who stayed for 45+ years). Long periods of employment are common, especially for faculty. Retired faculty members can keep their offices indefinitely, space permitting. In some cases, their names have remained on the door for more than a year after they are deceased, because people didn’t like to see their memory disappear. University-wide e-mails will say, “Flags will be lowered Tuesday in memory of our recently-deceased former employee X, who retired as an employee in the Mail Room in 2002”.
        Normal amounts of time are longer here: it takes time to develop a research programme, time to get your name known, time for your graduate students to start, work, and finish, time to build professional relationships outside your department …
        Written from the perspective of one about to retire, and who will not be retaining an office.

        1. Thursdaysgeek*

          I work for a utility, and what is odd to me is that we apparently have someone whose job it is to scan obits for former employees. Because every few weeks I’ll get another email about a former employee who retired in 1998 after 41 years who just died, and here’s a link to the obit. That might imply that there are people still working here who might remember them.

    6. Stopgap*

      “How can we get employees to stay forever?”

      Well, for that you’ll need to invest in iron bars and high quality locks. Maybe hire some armed guards?

  3. anonymous73*

    If a manager/director/company tries to lay a guilt trip on you when you tell them you’re leaving, they don’t care at all about you, only the work you produce and how it’s going to affect them when you’re gone. Never EVER make decisions about your future based on your loyalties to a job. They will eliminate you in a heartbeat if it keeps them afloat. This is not to mean that no company ever cares about their employees, but just to point out that you need to keep your own best interests as #1, and stop putting their needs above your own. Glad you were able to move on to a better opportunity OP!

    1. Artemesia*

      This. My boss depended on me to handle the jobs that were very important to the department but that most of the professionals did not want to do. I loved the role and was happy running several programs and functions. When I retired we spent the entire last year figuring out how to get these jobs done and ended up hiring two people who picked up most of these programs. Yet when a major national foundation was looking for someone to run a new program, he asked me if it was something I might like to do because he saw it as a wonderful position in which to end my career — it would have been a 3-5 year opportunity. I decided I didn’t want to pursue it, but I appreciated that he was willing to recommend me for this prestigious position even if it would make his life harder. Good bosses are pleased to advance the careers of subordinates even if it means they have to work harder to get the things they do done.

  4. ecnaseener*

    I moved towards the opposite extreme – feeling bitter and resentful – for a short while but that balanced out with time.

    To be clear, bitter and resentful is completely warranted and not an extreme reaction! By all means, move past it emotionally so that you’re not just steeping in your own bitterness all the time, but I hope you don’t feel that your actual opinion of this org should “balance out” — you were badly treated.

  5. Antilles*

    the consultant pre-empted it with, “I want you to know that I wouldn’t normally ask this in an exit interview; this is from the board,” and the question was, “How can ORG retain energetic, talented employees such as yourself so that they are happy and stay forever?”
    Checking OP’s post, the honest answer would be something like: You have terrible work-life balance so much that it affected my health, let me work for years without even acknowledging my efforts, underpaid me, and made me feel guilty for making a personal decision. Have you ever considered stopping literally all of that?
    Of course, the answer the company is hoping for is more along the lines of “free coffee mugs with company logo”.

      1. Montre*

        Sounds like my last job. Except the morale boosting lunch was cancelled by the office manager because she didn’t want to eat takeout. I had no lunch that day. Boss also told us to quit if we were unhappy. When two of us (half the money producing staff) quit he was shocked.

        1. HolidayAmoeba*

          Aren’t they always when someone calls their bluff? I bet he was the kind of boss who felt you should be grateful for your job and never considered that you might have, idk, other options.

          1. Artemesia*

            There are whole sites on line with stories of essentially bosses who say ‘if you don’t like it, quit’ and people quit, to the horror of those bosses. I find them very satisfying. And of course the reaction of the OP’s manager makes it clear why she was so very wise to seek better opportunities.

        2. Essess*

          Sounds like my Oldjob that had a big ‘thank you’ party to celebrate all the extra work and hours that my team had put in for the last 6 months. Tons of overtime resulting in80+ hour work weeks (salaried so no extra money) for that entire time. However, my team was under strict deadlines so none of us on the team were allowed to attend the party that was supposedly being thrown for us.

    1. BridgeBurner*

      My answer was something like, “This isn’t a reasonable expectation; people don’t stay in jobs forever anymore and even happy people leave jobs for better opportunities. Also I provided several actionable suggestions in my departure documentation.”

      In fairness to the Board, I doubt they ever saw the documentation, most of which would not have been useful to them anyway.

  6. Critical Roll*

    Sometimes I wonder if there’s some sort of ritualistic excision of self awareness that occurs at the door of the c-suite.

    1. Artemesia*

      There is quite a lot of literature around the subject of how being a sociopath is a useful thing for corporate success. The one high level CEO I knew well certainly has a lot of those characteristics. He was very successful at a variety of CEO roles including eventually running a fortune 500 company.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I’ve read theories that ADD was useful for hunter-gatherer tribes since someone would always be itching to go explore the next valley. And schizophrenia was useful because it gave you someone who could talk to the gods. I wonder if having a scattering of sociopaths is useful in some contexts? Or just something that will happen and so we adjust around that normal.

        1. Double A*

          I mean I bet sociopathy is helpful in warfare and intergroup violence, which humans have had a lot of throughout our existence.

        2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          Non-sociopaths usually make much better managers than sociopaths – it’s just that sociopaths are excellent at gumption and taking make-or-break risks that can be beneficial to a firm. However, most firms would be able to grow quietly without all the hoo-ha surrounding those make-or-break moves, and growing quietly is probably a better strategy in that you have time to adjust to new situations, assess whether hiring another person is a good idea, rather than making a big splash, hiring tons of people and hoping for the best.
          So all in all, if there were a magic spell to eliminate all sociopaths, I’m pretty sure we’d get by fine without them.

  7. Stitch*

    So glad you’re away from that person. I remember in the original post when OP suggested they would be contracting for them, my reaction (along with most commenters) was a big “Noooo!”

    1. BridgeBurner*

      Yes, the almost-if-not-entirely unanimous “NOOOO” arising from the comments really gave me pause on consulting. Other former employees had contracted for a period after their departures and, as silly as it sounds, I hadn’t really thought about “What if…I just don’t?” as a real option.

  8. HolidayAmoeba*

    This org is going to struggle if they truly believe that employees are going to stay forever. Even if the company/org is a great place to work with great salaries, benefits, flexibility etc., people may still leave for personal reasons, career growth or just because they want to.
    And the CEO’s response to your professional decision is concerning. A betrayal? If heaven forbid the org needed to lay off employees, wouldn’t that be a betrayal too? Or if they had to fire someone for poor performance, isn’t that a betrayal? They tried their hardest!

    1. Clorinda*

      There are some lines of work where it’s pretty normal to stay forever. I’m thinking education, particularly at the university level; somebody who has a good gig with tenure would think long and hard before leaving. Even in public education–when I started teaching, I had a choice between signing up for the pension plan or the defined contribution plan, and the pension plan was designed for a person who would stay 20 to 25 years in the state system, though not necessarily in the same school (given my age, I did defined-contribution).
      But both those examples have two-way loyalty. Tenure is tenure; the state education system doesn’t fire you after the induction period (first three years) unless you do something really egregious.

    2. cleo*

      And honestly, the way this org treated OP could already be viewed as a betrayal. They underpaid and over worked her and took advantage of her commitment to the org’s mission. But I’m sure they don’t see their behavior that way.

  9. El l*

    They wanted you to bend over backwards for them, without having to do for you. All the responsibility was on you, and not them. And it sounds like that’s always been true.

    Even the promotion was not something you’d earned – but rather something where it was all your responsibility (and not theirs) to not only tiptoe around your ED’s sexist attitudes, but also to manage how everyone in the organization felt about your promotion. Look also at the entitlement behind you staying there forever.

    You learned an important lesson about what is (and isn’t) your responsibility – and to not let anyone treat you that way again. Congrats on your new job, and best of luck!

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