I sent a text about my problem employee to the wrong person

A reader writes:

I find myself in a pickle and am a nervous wreck. I have been a manager for two years and it has not been easy.

The manager before me was stepping down and badmouthed me during a staff meeting she held with the employees prior to my arrival. It was hell when I arrived. One particular employee undermines everything I say and new rules that I put into place. She is very passive-aggressive and nothing is ever her fault. I have been fed up with it and I asked my sister, who is a minister, to put a request on her prayer list. The request was to remove this employee and any other problem employees from the facility and to make the facility peaceful. Well, I accidentally sent the text to an employee with a similar sounding name, and she showed it to the employee. I feel like a complete idiot. What should I do?

I answer this question — and two others — over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and sometimes updating/expanding my answers to them). You can read it here.

Other questions I’m answering there today include:

  • Our recruiters send rejections “from” me with errors in them
  • Employees want to throw me a baby shower but we just need money

{ 281 comments… read them below }

        1. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

          Do you know any gay people? “I’ll pray for you” can very much be a threat.

        2. not nice, don't care*

          Err day all day, for billions. There may or may not be anyone answering these prayers, but those of us who are targets of certain religions definitely feel the hits on a societal and civil rights level anyway.

          1. CommanderBanana*

            I thought if you prayed for bad stuff to happen to someone you’d get in trouble with the Christian god? Is that not a thing??

            1. Llama Identity Thief*

              To a lot of Christians, “bad stuff happening to the right people” is something the Christian God would actively smile upon.

              1. Dust Bunny*

                I seem to recall that “bad stuff happening to the right people” was something God instigated without human encouragement.

                Anyway, I’m an atheist in a Red State. I consider myself living, unconverted proof that prayer doesn’t work.

            2. tinybutfierce*

              The sort of folks who use prayer to wish for harm to others are generally the same sorts of folks whose interpretation of the word of God seems to be “whatever justifies my own behavior/wants”; the fact that they’re outwardly a “believer” matters more to them than what their actual beliefs are.

              1. CommanderBanana*

                Dang. This whole time I thought it was a “you’re the rubber, I’m the glue” situation.

              2. Rex Libris*

                Yep. Personally, I’d have reservations about believing in any God who just happened to hate all the same people I did, and actually gave a sh*t whether my favorite sportsball team won, but many people apparently don’t see any problems there.

                1. Zap R.*

                  I feel confident in saying that if God is real, he hates the Toronto Maple Leafs specifically.

            3. Irish Teacher.*

              I guess it depends on your view of God and Christianity. There are multiple interpretations, which is why there are so many denominations – each has a different interpretation. And even within denominations, various people interpret things differently.

              As I interpret God, He would disapprove of this, but that’s just my interpretation and somebody who believes God is more interested in whether we truly believe in Him in our hearts than in our relationships with other people might have a different interpretation as might somebody who believes strongly that some people are God’s chosen ones and others are inherently sinful (which probably aren’t great examples of other interpretations, but are things Christians might focus on).

              There’s a thing I heard once that “we create God in our own image” and I think there is some truth in it. Most Christians (and probably Jews and Muslims, but I don’t want to make assumptions about other faiths) believe God to be perfect and therefore assume Him to have whatever views they judge to be the “correct” ones.

              1. Random Dice*

                Jews often think God is a bit of a jerk, but our jerk. It’s actually refreshing to read the worst parts of the Torah and hear people (including rabbis) be openly critical of this deity, in a way I haven’t seen Christians do.

                Note that Orthodox Jews are a small minority (10%) but very extreme, they seem to go the perfect God route.

            4. Olive*

              I’m not a Christian anymore and I’ve seen bad prayer behavior, but it is generally acceptable to pray for justice, which may include bad deeds being punished appropriately. The letter doesn’t give us enough detail about the employee in question, but praying that someone who does deserve to be fired would be fired doesn’t strike me as an inherent misuse of prayer.

              1. Panhandlerann*

                Well, for one thing, this is the manager of the employee asking for the prayer. The manager should instead, you know, manage the employee, including, if warranted, firing that person.

                For another thing, the prayer requested would be a PUBLIC one, apparently naming names. That is surely “an inherent misuse of prayer.”

                1. House On The Rock*

                  They are also asking their sister, who is a minister, to include this prayer in their prayer chain. I would have thought/hoped that their sister would explain how inappropriate that is, but people have weird ideas about work and management, so maybe not.

            5. No Longer Looking*

              Yeah, that’s not a Christian thing, their god is all about Smiting. Read about the Egyptian plagues. It DOES track with Wiccanism though, one of their big sayings is “An ye harm none, do what ye will.”

            6. Rebecca*

              I mean, the god in the Bible sure did a lot of smiting. I don’t see why it wouldn’t be considered acceptable if it was a righteous smiting.

            7. Reluctant Mezzo*

              I used to pray for a certain boss to win the lottery or for me to do so. I called that one a win-win.

        3. Lizzianna*

          In the church I grew up in, the main reason you participated in the prayer circle was because that’s where you heard all the best gossip…I mean, prayer requests.

    1. Heffalump*

      I see and I hear and I speak no evil;
      I carry no malice within my breast;
      Yet quite without wishing a man to the Devil
      One may be permitted to hope for the best.

      –Piet Hein

  1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

    “Please pray for this person I don’t like to get fired” is… not a good look for ANYBODY, including the minster who accepts this as a prayer request, but especially not for the person’s actual manager.

    1. Tinamedte*

      My thought exactly. Imagine that the minister sister would have done that for the OP — how unbelievably unprofessional and ungodly!

    2. Heidi*

      It concerns me that they didn’t specify that the person be fired, just that they were “removed from the facility.” This could be like that other letter where the co-worker prayed that the OP would die so that another co-worker could survive and then got mad because she wasn’t invited to OP’s wedding. That was also messed up.

        1. The Rafters*

          Thank you for posting this. It was the first thing I thought of when I read OPs letter.

        2. Wendy Darling*

          What fully baffled me about that one is Sally could have just kept her mouth shut and none of this would have happened. We have all had terrible, uncharitable thoughts, it’s totally normal, the trick is to not tell the people they’re about about them.

          Though it became clear in the followup that the root of the problem here was Sally’s terrible boundaries.

      1. Socks*

        I think that’s a reach. It’s more likely they meant, “I want them to get fired or quit or transfer, I don’t care which,” than, “I want God to smite them.”

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I feel like all the historical precedents for negotiating with all-powerful deities is that you should be really, really specific about no smiting.

          Like, a large meteor hit on the facility would make it very peaceful.

          1. MsM*

            Long-term, maybe. In the immediate aftermath, I imagine there’d be a fair bit of screaming and chaos.

          2. Socks*

            Oh, of course, if you’re going to be making unethical bargains with all-powerful entities, careful phrasing is a must! The monkey’s paw would do a number on this LW for sure. But talking purely in terms of their intentions, I think smiting is unlikely

            1. Captain Vegetable (Crunch Crunch Crunch)*

              I once wished for my school’s gym to burn down… a similarly named school’s gym burned down the next day. Gotta be specific!

          3. Rex Libris*

            It’s important to know your deity too. Yahweh might have a vastly different interpretation of “remove this person” than say, Thor or Zeus.

        2. Crooked Bird*

          I think you’re right, although I also think Falling Dipthong’s response is hilarious. Fine print says no smiting!!

        3. anonymous 5*

          I don’t think that “I want someone’s career arc to change in a significant way for my benefit” is gonna score big on the moral scale…

          1. Rebecca*

            That’s so ambiguous and could be interpreted so many ways that I just had to point it out for the irony. It could easily mean “I want them to be promoted to be my boss because then I’d have an awesome boss”. No smiting in sight.

        4. MassMatt*

          This really isn’t any different from the coworker who was saying she would lay curses on people she disliked. Just because this one is under the rubric of a major religion and the other is derided as a superstitious “folk tradition” doesn’t make it any more OK.

          1. Socks*

            I didn’t say it was OK. I just think it’s unlikely the LW was hoping for God to kill their problem employee(s), which was what Heidi’s comment was suggesting.

            1. Butterfly Counter*

              The issue becomes that if, suddenly, the coworker DID die in some way, OP would explain it in her benefit as “God working in mysterious ways.”

              She may or may not want her to die, but by not specifying, she’s washing her hands of the method. Basically, if that’s how God takes it and complies, who is anyone to judge Him?

              1. Socks*

                I’m not denying there are people like that, but I still think it’s a reach to insist the LW must be one of them. They are (or at least were) an ineffectual manager who decided to ask other people to pray for God to intervene to save them from having to actually manage. I think we have enough to criticize them for without writing fanfic about how they’d be cool with someone literally dying.

                1. Butterfly Counter*

                  Meh. Let’s just say the people I know who are like that say a LOT of the same things and prayed in the same ways OP has said she has: full of wiggle room for God to do whatever and plausible deniability for the person praying.

                  If it quacks like a duck, I’m going to say that I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a duck.

                2. MassMatt*

                  Maybe the curses the coworker put on people were entirely benign also, when she said she would “take care of them” perhaps she was referring to giving them soup?

                  In “Some Like it Hot” the mobsters use the euphemism “we’ll ‘retire’ him”. They weren’t talking about a gold watch.

                  We don’t know much about the LW except their very poor judgment.

            2. Lucia Pacciola*

              It’s not like LW was praying for God to bless her bête noire with a fantastic dream job offer, including a raise and a promotion and full relocation expenses, in some wonderful but faraway city, where the problem employee will thrive and grow and live happily ever after.

              1. I Have RBF*

                Yeah, I tend to be more specific, like that they get a better job that is well suited to them, but away from me.

            3. Heidi*

              Hey, I was just pointing out that “removed from facility” is a lot less specific than “fired.” The OP could have prayed for a firing, but left it completely open to interpretation. By an all-powerful entity. Who has been known to smite.

        5. Wendy Darling*

          “I pray that Wakeen will get an amazing offer for his dream job someplace I never want to work, or possibly win the lottery and retire.”

          1. But what to call me?*

            This is basically the strategy for people who give a great reference for a problem employee who is job searching. “Yes, yes, please do hire them for this job they want. I’m sure I’ll cope with never ever having getting to work with them again somehow.

        6. English Teacher*

          I hope that’s true, although given that OP is the manager, they are presumably empowered on the firing or transferring fronts! Maybe they just don’t feel they could justify it.

          MY first thought was, gee, I wonder why the old manager might have had negative things to say about them…

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          It’s entirely possible that Covid got everyone “out of the facility”. So in that case, the OP’s prayer was technically answered!

          1. Glitsy Gus*

            This, again, falls under the heading of “You Need to Be Specific When Negotiating with Deities.”

          2. AnonyNurse*

            I was hired in Jan 2020 to reduce non-emergent visits to a satellite ER cause the state was holding up the approval of an expansion at a different facility.

            I was EXTREMELY successful. By the end of March 2020, there was essentially no one in the ER who wasn’t extremely ill.

            (Also, that job was a nightmare for many reasons, and I left in March 2020, two months into the job).

            1. Wendy Darling*

              Were you just sitting there in March 2020 imagining a finger curling on a monkey’s paw?

          3. Random Dice*

            That facility was soon VERY peaceful.

            The team, on Zoom, with their screaming kids, not so much.

          1. Dainerra*

            nah, my friend group caused covid by deciding to toast in the New Year with numerous shots of Mad Dog 20/20. lol

          1. STAT!*

            REALLY sinister ways, apparently. As covid was already circulating in 2019, maybe the machinery to answer the prayer was in motion before the prayer was even made!

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

      I wish we knew more about what the text said. Like Pray for me to have stregnth to deal with removing X and it’s a peaceful transition is different than pray that X gets removed and peace is restored.

    4. bamcheeks*

      I so want to know whether the sister-minister’s response would have been, “sure, are you thinking lottery win or reversing bus?” or, “ABSOLUTELY NOT.”

    5. What_the_What*

      Right? I mean “Please pray that I receive guidance in managing this person” isn’t great, but at least it’s …better than praying that they get FIRED. This person is NOT management material, and I’m amazed that the prayee (?) hasn’t gone over her head to complain to HR or her boss about it. Not.A.Good.Look.

      1. A woman never gets a break*

        This person is human there are plenty of unmanageable employees out there and nothing wrong with wishing they would leave. Just never put it in writing, ever.

      2. Phryne*

        Maybe the employee was indeed a bad enough worker that going to HR was not in their interest, because reporting that message to HR would definitely be my first action.

    6. Irish Teacher.*

      I remember my dad, who was a very devout Catholic, telling us when we were very young (I think I was 7 or 8) that you should never pray for anything bad to happen to anybody or for yourself to get an unfair advantage over them

      And honestly, there are so many ways the LW could have phrased the prayer request that would have been harmless. A request for prayers that she would succeed as manager and help to create a more peaceful team would be reasonable or a prayer that the team would accept her and that they would work well together. Even praying for the strength to make the difficult management decisions if necessary would be a reasonable thing to pray for, even if it might still be one you’d want to ensure you didn’t send to your team members.

      But praying to remove specific people from the team is definitely not a good look and nor is naming names. Even if it’s highly unlikely the sister would know the people in question, it still isn’t really appropriate. I know people complain about colleagues by name to family members, but asking for people to pray that a specific person, named by name, be removed from the workplace feels a bit different.

      1. Flor*

        I was also taught that prayers generally should be things you have to put some work into yourself when they’re for your own benefit. So it’s fine to pray for your surgery to go well and without complications, but you don’t just pray for an easy recovery; you pray that God gives you strength and perseverance to progress in your physio appointments, or the patience to rest while you heal. You don’t just ask God to fix your problems like a miracle vending machine.

      2. Anonymity*

        I am a person who believes in prayer, and my approach has always been to pray in a way that doesn’t take from someone else or ignore what could be someone else’s prayer. For example, if you enter a dance competition there is a chance that multiple people might pray to win. This doesn’t work because than if you ask god to make you win, you are praying for god to ignore someone else’s prayer and for them to lose. But if you pray that you do your best, don’t forget any steps, and are able to feel good about your performance and accept the outcome gracefully, no matter if you win or lose, that can happen for you without taking from someone else. In this case, saying a prayer that the employee is removed isn’t about the LW getting something, it’s about the employee losing something. Praying that they are able to find ways to effectively manage, or even just that they can find ways to feel peaceful at work when things are frustrating (this is my big prayer at work right now lol) are focused on what the LW can do. It still would be a bad look for this text to go to the wrong person, but its very different from praying that the employee is removed entirely.

    7. Observer*

      “Please pray for this person I don’t like to get fired” is… not a good look for ANYBODY

      Adn the LW’s request is even *worse*. “Removed from the building” has a really negative ring to it.

      I wish we had gotten a follow up on this letter, but not surprised that we didn’t. Because they really got a real shellacking in the comments. Deserved, to be sure, but still hard to read. Especially since they don’t seem to understand the fundamental issue here.

    8. Cupcake*

      There was a coworker I did not get along with at a previous job. She would create elaborate processes that she would then get mad at us for not doing, and also be horrible at training. The processes were overkill anyways. She sometimes gambled and I remember wish so hard that it felt like prayer that she would win enough to retire! I didnt want had things for her, I wanted good things for her that also benefitted me and my other coworkers. Seriously OP, as a leader or a team, find away to wish for good all around. You will sleep better and no one will think poorly of you.

      1. littlehope*

        I’m fully prepared to believe that LW wasn’t at any point consciously thinking, “I am praying for something bad to happen to this person that I don’t want to deal with, that’s what I am asking God to do,” but…if you are in the habit of asking God to do stuff for you and you believe he might really do it, you should probably think a lot harder than LW seems to about exactly what you ask for. And you should *really* think about how your requests might be perceived by the people they’re about unless you have much tighter opsec than LW apparently does.

  2. Richard Hershberger*

    LW1: This is a terrible use of a prayer list. It perhaps comes up just short of being an imprecatory prayer, but only barely. Also, God famously helps those who help themselves. You are the manager.

    LW3: Setting aside the issue of the direction of gift giving, I would be astonished if you have everything you need. Assuming you are using disposable diapers, the consumption rate will be astonishing, with the size of the diapers gradually increasing. Similarly with formula. Even onesies. Presumably you have a supply in infant size, but infants grow, and fast! What you don’t need are adorable thises that thats. The problem is that many people have lost the thread that the point of a shower (whether wedding or infant) is to help the happy couple with their new needs. Many treat it as a forum for oohing and aahing over adorable whatevers.

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      Also, God famously helps those who help themselves. You are the manager.

      I agree… LW should be asking her sister if she has a template for a PIP, not for prayers.

    2. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      Yes. You are the managed #1, manage. Don’t just throw your hands up. Have that hard conversation, I know you preferred old manager, but I am the manager now. I need you to follow the rules I have set for everyone, can you do that? If not, we will have to discuss transitioning you out.

      Check with your own manager about how to handle this. Because if you are at the point of prayer instead of acting, you need concrete help. Not someone praying something bad happens to someone else. Think about that. You want this person to lose their income because you don’t want to do the hard work of managing.

      1. Clisby*

        Exactly. The OP should be handling this. To think that some deity is willing to micromanage everybody’s work lives is … not realistic.

        1. Irish Teacher.*

          A de Valera quote seems pretty appropriate here. He said something about how miracles “can happen for the other side too” and that “I do not believe we have any right to expect the Almighty to work miracles for our especial benefit. If they come by the way and help us, we can be grateful for then, but it is presumption on our part if we put reason aside and rely on them.”

          This was from a letter he wrote to a comrade during the Irish Civil War, who I assume must have been insisting they would win the war (they didn’t!) because God was on their side or something like that.

          1. StormFly*

            And de Valera was certainly not what you’d call a progressive Catholic; he was all in on creating a pseudo theocratic state.

        2. Rex Libris*

          On the other hand, a good number of people seem to expect their deity to be intensely interested in what bathroom everyone uses, so who knows?

    3. KarenK*

      I don’t think that LW3 actually has everything they need, but that it is a convenient excuse to avoid having their direct reports give them gifts, which they should not.

      1. Hannah Lee*

        ^ This

        As the LW said and Alison agreed, money, gifts should flow down the org chart, not up.

        “We have everything we need” is a convenient white lie that’s likely generally true WRT the big stuff, if not literally true in that LW will at some point need to buy diapers, baby tylenol, bigger onesies, etc. It allows LW to fend off inappropriate gift giving, while not damaging work relationships.

      2. Formerly Ella Vader*

        When people want to throw a baby-shower-at-work, they’re trying to express several things.

        – we want to welcome this small person by knitting or quilting things for them or by buying things for them. LW3 is correct that in this case, it doesn’t fit the custom of no upward giving, to sanction a party called a shower. LW3 might still get some presents privately from people at work without a party, and can use their judgement about whether/how to say no. In LW3’s place I probably wouldn’t turn down a quilt or booties made by the giver.

        – we want to meet your baby! Babies are cute and we want a chance to meet them when we’re not trying to answer the phone. This one the LW3 can do. Tell them that you have everything you need, but your partner would be able to bring the baby in over lunchtime on Friday, and everyone’s welcome to visit in the conference room between 12 and 1. If other people want to provide cake, let them. Or if there’s an office budget for celebrations, remind them to use it.

        – also, in this case, they might mean to say something like “I know it’s important to be just as welcoming to adopted babies as we are to babies who are born into their families. I remember earlier times when some people would not treat adopted children equally. And in case the baby’s grandparents or other relatives aren’t treating this baby like family, I especially want to show that we don’t feel that way.” It could be this kind of well-meaning but awkwardly-expressed wish that started the suggestion of having a shower. Especially if the baby was adopted from overseas or if the baby has a different ethnicity from white parents. Or maybe they’re curious about adoption in general or about your path to adoption or about how you will manage contact/inclusion for the birth parents, and they’d like to know more but don’t know what’s polite to ask. You get to set your own boundaries on all of that, but if there are myths you want to dispel, you can look for opportunities.

        tl;dr: Tell them you don’t want a shower but you’d love to bring the baby in and have a party.

      3. Pdf*

        I share your opinion,, but I 4emember the original letter; IIRC OP was in the comments really doubling down on everything except money being as useful as trash.

    4. Artemesia*

      the manager should absolutely not be receiving gifts for a shower. Have a cake and a moment to treat the staff. Absolutely don’t mention a need for money.

      1. Glitsy Gus*

        I agree with this. If they bring in some diapers or wipes or something, you can accept them, but I agree a, “we have everything” is a good way to deflect upward flowing gifts.

        Let the team have some cake and share a couple of especially cute photos, though (if you are comfortable with it). That part of celebrating a milestone is more about the human side, and makes a team feel connected. Plus, well, cake!

      2. KitKatBar*

        I am remote so a shower wasn’t really an issue, but one of my directs asked for my registry several times. I wasn’t willing to accept gifts from someone I manage but did end up accepting a big box of hand me down baby clothes and boy have they been handy!! Having a few things in all the sizes has been a lifesaver.

        1. Ariaflame*

          For this case they would not have spent extra money on a gift for management (and in some ways you would be taking surplus things they no longer need)

    5. TG*

      I think you’re answer is great but I DO think as a Manager it’s different – let them ooh and ahh over cake but no gifts up!

    6. Spero*

      My mind also went straight to a diaper shower or even better a board book shower, where it’s a low per-employee investment and is not immediately obvious if someone doesn’t contribute. Money is too trackable, and regular shower type gifts are too high cost.

      I had a shower as a manager on my small team, where most of the giftees were not members of my team, and I did pull my team aside and let them know ‘you know usually I feel gifts flow down, so I am not expecting you to contribute.’ They ended up teaming up to buy diapers one of them made into a diaper cake. Impressive, but in terms of per employee contribution it was lower than the non-team members and we were all fine with that.

  3. e271828*

    My advice to LW1 would be to move to a different city in another country and change their name and profession.

    1. What_the_What*

      Hah! When I read it, my first thought was “Oh dear. You’re going to have to fake your own death now.”

    2. Elsewise*

      The advice podcast My Brother, My Brother, and Me had a refrain in older episodes when they felt a situation was unsalvageable of “pack your bags and move away”. I feel like this might be one of those situations.

      1. La Triviata*

        I periodically threaten to run away and join the circus to get some peace and quiet.

        1. Wendy Darling*

          I threaten to sell all my worldly possessions and move to a monastery on the top of a mountain. I never specify the type of monastery because it does not matter.

          1. Zennish*

            I spend a good deal of time at a local Buddhist temple that is, in fact, on top of a mountain… The pipes freeze constantly, there’s mice in the walls that chew through the wiring, it’s impossible to keep up with all the maintenance and repairs, raise enough funds to pay workers and bills, etc. etc.

            The problem is that wherever you go, Reality already got there first. :-)

            1. Wendy Darling*

              I think a vivid illustration of the problem with my life is that sometimes freezing my ass off on the top of a mountain fixing rodent-chewed wiring sounds incredibly relaxing. Like, I know it’s definitely not, but getting some time off from your own problems and just doing someone else’s problems instead can be nice sometimes.

    3. Wendy Darling*

      I think I might have to dig a very deep hole, climb into it, and die of embarrassment.

  4. Don’t Call Me That*

    I don’t think I could continue working for someone who is praying to their God that I get fired. And is asking others to pray for the same thing.
    Just….wow. Good luck to you & your employees.

    1. tinybutfierce*

      Ditto. I’d be in some higher up’s office the next day asking for an immediate transfer, at best.

      1. anonymous 5*

        I hope I’d be able to show the text and request that the *manager* be transferred!

        1. Clisby*

          Me too. A manager resorting to a prayer list instead of just doing her job might as well come in wearing a T-shirt emblazoned MANAGER IN NAME ONLY.

          1. MigraineMonth*

            I’m trying to imagine asking someone else to pray that my employee get fired, when I’m the person with the power to fire them??

            Maybe there’s a process involving warnings and a PIP, maybe there are rough conversations up ahead, but unless LW1 actually cannot fire them, why on earth are they asking for heavenly intervention to do their own job?

            1. No Longer Working*

              HR PIP Protocol:
              Step 1 – Put employee’s name on a Firing Prayer List at your church.
              Step 2 – If Step 1 yields no results in 30 days, manage them.

  5. Yup*

    I think the issue is much less that you accidentally sent a message to someone else than the fact that you decided praying the problem away was a serious solution to a workplace issue. Employees are much more likely to forgive (or at least understand) a steam-venting message gone wrong than a message showing their manager’s hands-off approach to dealing with a complicated problem. No amount of apologizing can fix that. You’re going to have to change how you manage.

    1. Person from the Resume*

      Yes. I commend Alison’s response and focus on what needs to be done managerially and professionally.

      Setting aside the prayer part, the LW who is a manager is simply failing to act and is just hoping and praying that the problem goes away when her job as manager is to resolve personnel problems like this.

      If she’s going to pray for something, she should be praying for the strength to have a difficult conversation and resolve a difficult situation professionally.

      1. Observer*

        If she’s going to pray for something, she should be praying for the strength to have a difficult conversation and resolve a difficult situation professionally.


        The first is a legitimate thing to pray for, the latter? Uh. . .

  6. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

    Yeah, there’s no coming back from that. Between the inappropriate prayer request and the sloppiness/poor judgment of sending it to the wrong person, who just happened to be one of your employees (!), you are just not a good candidate for people management. Work on yourself and learn, that’s all you can do here.

  7. Chris*

    I once texted a complaint about my boss TO my boss. He was understanding about it (he had requested something after hours) but I put this system into place which has worked for me ever since (~10yrs):

    Everyone gets an emoji.
    First name (emoji) Last name.

    Keeps me from accidentally sending to the wrong person all the time.

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

      ohh thats a great idea! Especially if you use emojis just for family/friends and dont for work.

    2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I’d like to hear more! Do the emojis work as categories/tags? Like Sally [workplace] Smith, Sally [constructor] Jones, Sally [school] Miller, Sally [red heart] Turner? or is it just “safe to vent to” / “pain in my ass”?

      1. Chris*

        No I don’t categorize. I usually ask the person what emoji they like (this helps me cement the conversation in my head too). It has been a cute, fun icebreaker for folks. At my job now I use lots of labels in my gmail and ask folks what emoji they want there too. Helps me notice at a glance what is happening.

        For folks who don’t want to choose I pick something related to their job.

    3. Blarg*

      I once sent a text to my mother that was about my mother. In that case, it wasn’t a similar name situation. Just a ‘mom on the brain.’

      She was really bad/overreacted to almost every situation, but for some reason handled this one (circa 2006, really early texting) really well. She just replied “that wasn’t nice,” I profusely apologized, and we never discussed it.

      Still live in fear though.

  8. OtterB*

    LW3 (baby shower) One option would be a book shower where attendees bring a favorite baby or children’s book. This still involves gifts but there are lots of inexpensive choices.

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

      And they can be passed along to someone else at a later time! That’s a great options

    2. Book Addict*

      I was going to suggest the same thing! Especially for books that can carry the baby through childhood.

    3. Artemesia*

      This is too much to expect from one’s employees. Kids’ books are not cheap — people should not be expected to bring $25+ gifts to a work shower for anyone but especially the manager.

      1. What_the_What*

        What kids books are you buying that are $25? Heck the dollar general sells some. WalMart, $5 below, Marshall’s, TJ Maxx, Target…all have kids books for under $10–even Dr. Seuss, etc…

      2. Genevieve en Francais*

        A lot of board books are in the $5-10, especially if you go somewhere like TJ Maxx
        Source: I get suckered in every time I’m waiting in line

      3. Banana Pyjamas*

        A lot of my favorite baby and toddler books are around $10. Make believe ideas Ltd has great, inexpensive board books. That being said, team still shouldn’t be gifting to manager.

      4. Gumby*

        I love to gift books “to start off Newborn’s library” and I definitely find less expensive books than $25! And that is new from a book store with me sharing some of my favorites and not just grabbing a book because it’s on sale. You can find bath or board book versions for under $10 easily and Little Golden Books cost $6 here (The Pokey Little Puppy and The Monster at the End of This Book have been well received). If it is someone who I am closer to and am willing to spend more then I do throw in something on the higher side. My niece got Where the Sidewalk Ends which does come in around $20-$25 ish.

        It is, of course, still totally legit if someone isn’t able / willing to spend $6 for a co-worker.

          1. starsaphire*

            + 1,000

            That book taught me a lot about foreshadowing and twist endings. Very useful for a small, budding author. :)

      5. Dido*

        This is a really bizarre comment, considering the employees are the ones who are asking what they can buy and baby books can be bought for $5 – where on Earth are you buying $25 children’s booke?

    4. Betty*

      Agree, especially if you make clear that pre-loved books are welcome. We got stacks of board books that friends’ older kids were done with at our shower and it was awesome.

      1. TeaCoziesRUs*

        We’ve done that, too. :) It makes it easier for my girls to pass on their liked-but-not-LOVED books they’ve outgrown. They still have a shelf of “Don’t you dare give away,” but considering their mom has a book CASE of the same? I let it slide. :)

    5. Fire Lord Azula*

      The way the line break showed up for me was “bring a favorite baby” line break “or children’s book.”

      I was VERY CONCERNED to see the suggestion that attendees bring a favorite baby for a hot second.

      1. HA2*

        I mean it’s a baby shower, it’s where everyone brings their favorite babies to get showered. Keeps ’em clean(er).

    6. Witty Name Goes Here*

      Lovely idea but still costly. What about a low key celebration with treats, and, rather than bring actual gifts, have a blank book other employees can choose to write well wishes or parenting advice in?

      Just be careful! They did this for a coworker of mine who was open about being taken surprise by her pregnancy- and one colleague started her section off “from one mistake to another”. Yikes.

  9. Double A*

    I only recently learned about prayer lists, and that they seem to have an ambivalent reputation amongst those who don’t partake. LW 1’s request does not improve my impression of said lists, unless your sister declined and soundly put you in your place.

    A prayer for compassion and kindness to help you deal with a difficult situation? Yes. A prayer for the employee to get fired? Um. I may be an atheist but I don’t think that’s what prayer is supposed to be for.

    I mean I guess classically there’s been lots of “Lord, Help me defeat my enemies” type prayers.

    1. Professional_Lurker*

      At least in my faith tradition (Catholic), it’s alright to pray “LORD, help me overcome this challenge”, with the focus being giving you the wisdom/strength you might need. Praying “Let something awful happen to this person (or group)” is called imprecatory prayer, and is generally frowned upon [Mentally insert that Willy Wonka meme here].

      I could charitably read this letter as skirting that line — “leave the facility” could mean finds another job or retires — but it’s close. And I agree with Alison that prayer is no substitute for fulfilling your own responsibilities.

    2. Heart&Vine*

      This is why the phrase “There’s no hate like Christian love” is becoming more and more popular.

    3. Skytext*

      Religious people never see the ridiculousness of praying to a god to help them by hurting other people, who are also supposed to be god’s children. So they pray for their side to win the battle, their team to win the game, them to win the Oscar, etc. Well, the other side is presumably doing the same thing.

      1. metadata minion*

        Please keep in mind when you say “religious people”, that religions vary drastically. If you mean “a certain subset of Christianity”, say that.

        1. MissElizaTudor*

          I don’t know about the more petty stuff like winning a game, but “a certain sunset of Christianity” isn’t the only group that currently or historically appeals to their god(s) for things like defeating enemies in battle, though.

          A lot of religions have similar threads like that one or like patriarchy. Because religions are just a part of culture, and many cultures want to win wars and are patriarchal.

    4. Lady_Lessa*

      I’m active believer and you couldn’t have talked about the problems any better.

      When I ask for prayer for myself and/or others I try to be careful about my words, like praying for election workers vs election results.

  10. JMals*

    The thing that stuck out to me in LW1’s note was the “rules” she is putting in place. It doesn’t sit right with me. Not sure about the level of employees or the industry that’s being discussed, but as a mid-level, exempt contributor, I’d definitely bristle at a manager giving me rules like a toddler.

    1. Bast*

      Most places have some sort of rules, they just likely aren’t called rules. I took it that she maybe puts some new policies and procedures into place that weren’t popular and updated the company handbook type of thing.

    2. Dasein9 (he/him)*

      I once decided I wouldn’t accept a job when I asked about management style and the interviewer said, “Well, I can be strict.”

      Hard pass. Wasn’t even the reddest flag, but was the moment I knew.

    3. Ellis Bell*

      Maybe this is highly industry dependent, but it’s pretty common for a manager to institute some rules of practice. I’m not sure why anyone would react to them like a toddler unless they were in some way unreasonable; most people are glad to know where the boundaries are. If regulations change, if clients complain about a particular practice, if the higher ups need something doing differently or logged for better oversight… it usually leads to a change of rules.

  11. Tammy 2*

    My jaw dropped at L1. I’m speechless.

    I’ve been part of many work baby shower collections for gift cards. Maybe LW 3 could ask for a gift card to Target or similar? “We think we have all the stuff we need for now, but it would be helpful to have money set aside for toddler clothes, diapers, other things we haven’t thought of.” It comes off a little better than asking for money outright, and they could use it for baby needs that arise and/or groceries/other essentials so that they can channel the funds from their own bank account that would go to those things towards the adoption costs.

    1. Tammy 2*

      I missed that these are direct reports–in that case I think a gracious “no thank you” is the most appropriate response.

  12. Three Flowers*

    I know we’re supposed to take LWs at their word, but given this story, I can’t imagine a world in which the “problem employee” situation is not at least 50% LW’s doing.

      1. NotRealAnonForThis*

        We can definitely propose solutions to “not accidentally texting or emailing the incorrect person with sensitive information”. (Personally I kinda like the emoji suggestion up a few entries and am trying to figure out how exactly to implement that in my bajillion contacts)

        But this one is W-I-L-D. Call me a lapsed faithful, but, um, I don’t think that’s how it works. Matter of fact, I’m pretty sure there’s a parable somewhere about this not being how it works. And having delved into a few non-mainstream belief systems (classwork in college), it sure seems like playing with fire. One belief system, if I recall correctly, has a “returned to thee thrice” belief….and like I said, just “ewwwww”. Even if I’m remembering wrong, it seems like “would I want an all powerful entity to visit this on ME three times over? No?” is a decent benchmark of “things you should not pray for for others because it makes you a crappy excuse for a human being”.

    1. Heart&Vine*

      I mentioned in a comment below that there are some very obvious “missing reasons” here. OP’s letter is intentionally vague which makes me think they’re leaving out some crucial details in order to make themselves sound more like the victim than the bad guy.

    2. Dust Bunny*

      Or the management culture’s doing, at least, if the LW is new. But that the LW’s inclination was to ask for prayer to help solve it is not reassuring. I mean, I hated managing people, too, but I assumed that the only higher powers who could help me were the owners of the business.

      1. Check cash*

        For me, it’s not the ONLY relying on prayer, instead of managing, but also the CONTENTS of the prayer request which is super super off-putting.

    3. Ellis Bell*

      I think OP definitely had extensive work to do on their management skills, their mental approach to management and separation of personal from professional…. but I also doubt they’re in a supportive training environment. Given that the outgoing manager slammed them publicly, the whole place sounds toxic.

  13. Heart&Vine*

    Oof. There are some very obvious “missing reasons” here. What was OP’s relationship with the prior manager? Why did they choose a meeting to badmouth OP to a room full of their future employees? What did OP do to earn the pervious manager’s ill will? Why does OP not address this employee directly? The sheer number of questions here makes me think OP is leaving crucial details out on purpose to make themselves sound more like a victim than they really are.
    Alison’s advice is still sound though. Make your apology and commit yourself to being better in the future. But you definitely haven’t made your already suffering reputation any better, that’s for sure!

  14. Web of Pies*

    Oh noooo OP! This is a great lesson that you NEVER put ANYTHING in writing you don’t want everyone to see.

    Also, you don’t need to involve God to solve your problems here, as Alison said. You’re being super duper passive about the situation…if you’re someone’s manager, you have not only the power, but the obligation to make sure they’re performing their role in the best possible way, both for the company and for their own job safety and growth.

  15. Immortal for a limited time*

    I think if I were interviewed about the worst possible type of manager I would never want to work for, I would say, “One who asks a minister to put a request on her prayer list to remove a specific employee and any other problem employees from the facility and to make the facility peaceful.” Also, a reason I would never voluntarily live in the Bible belt.

    1. Luanne Platter*

      Unfortunately bad management and passive-aggressive weaponization of faith isn’t limited to a specific geographic area.

  16. Luanne Platter*


    If I was LW1’s manager I would have a serious concerns about their future. I don’t think I could continue to have LW1 on my team in any capacity.

  17. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

    LW3, as someone who adopted our son on a short timescale and thus has a very clear idea of how little stuff a newborn ACTUALLY needs:

    Don’t ask for money. Yes, adoption is expensive. Don’t ask for money.

    If people want to give you things, ask for clothes and diapers in larger sizes – you no doubt have enough newborn stuff, and probably 0-3 months, but your kid will outgrow those in a heartbeat and you’ll need lots of stuff. Formula is also expensive, and you will need a LOT, and this is something people don’t often think of for showers given to the birthing parent.

    1. Yeah...*

      Diapers in larger than baby is wearing now sizes have always been well received in my corner of the world.

      1. Yeah...*


        Diapers in larger sizes than baby is wearing now have always been well received in my corner of the world.

    2. Adoptee*

      Thank you for saying this. As someone who was adopted, I think it’s super tacky to ask for money because adoption is expensive. Presumably the LW knew that going in? I’ll never forget how sh*tty it felt when someone said to me (decades ago), “Wow, your parents must have paid a lot of money for you.” It doesn’t feel great to have your life/birth made about how much you cost.

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

        i agree it does feel tacky. After all, in the US the hospital bill for giving birth is really expensive but you wouldn’t ask people for money just for that.

        I’m sorry someone made you feel like you were something to be bought. That was terrible.

    3. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      This is exactly why I never buy newborn-sized stuff for baby showers–I buy clothes/diapers in the 6-12 month range.

      1. allathian*

        This is the way. I do understand why people do it because the tiny clothes for newborns are so cute. When my son was a baby, he was the first (and turned out to be the only) granchild of two families. I tried to make sure that he wore every piece of clothing at least once…

        Thankfully my husband’s cousins have sons who’re younger than our son and who appreciated the little worn baby clothes.

      2. Media Monkey*

        but if you live somewhere with seasons please think about what season that will be. we got some gorgeous ahort sleeved/ shortts romper suits in 6-9 months – which my baby hit in December (in the UK)

  18. Hiring Mgr*

    I’m not religious at all but I may reconsider if I can cause specific individuals’ downfall through prayer.

    1. Genevieve en Francais*

      Thanks for the snort-laugh. There is now sesame chicken lodged in my sinuses.

    2. Clisby*

      I hope you will have the good sense to keep that to yourself instead of broadcasting it by text.

  19. CubeFarmer*

    That text sounds disastrous for LW. I think if I were on the receiving end of that, I would report it to HR.

  20. 3DogNight*

    LW3–with the baby–if your co-workers and direct reports insist on throwing you a shower, ask for diapers, wipes, baby books or formula. On the diapers they can get whatever size, and unless they’re too small, they will get used. All of it will be used, and it’s a nice thing not to have to spend that money right now.

    1. Eloise*

      Or give everyone an index card and ask for their best piece of parenting advice. They’ll get to contribute, and it’s a totally no-cost option. Then everyone can have cake and go home.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I’ve seen this done and it worked well.

        You can always ignore advice that doesn’t jibe for you, and sometimes something will really resonate. (The piece I pass on for these is to not say “no” when you mean “maybe.” Because then there you are, expending energy to uphold your no and show that whining doesn’t work, when on two minutes’ reflection you actually don’t care about the topic.)

  21. Check cash*

    As a Christian, this prayer request is bananapants. You can pray for YOURSELF to find strength to deal with this situation, or maybe even just to have peace in the facility..ok. But to pray and put it in a church prayer chain that people be REMOVED from the facility. Phew…that is terrible.
    Really really terrible. I know this is work blog, but OP, this is not it and I would be super interested if your minister sister DIDN’T shut this down.

    1. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      Seriously. It’s bananacrackers that they would actually articulate this to other people at all, let alone to a prayer group. That is just not how this works. Or at least, not how it’s supposed to.

      In a way, I think maybe God did intercede, by having her text the wrong person so that this came out. The Lord works in mysterious ways…

  22. Someone Online*

    I tell my 10 year old never to put something in text that she wouldn’t want her principal to read out loud in the gym in front of the entire school.

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      This is a very good young person variant on the concept of “never send a work-related message that you wouldn’t want to hear read out in court by a particularly snotty lawyer.”

    2. Irish Teacher.*

      I might have to steal this to use with my students. I’ve been telling them to think of the person they’d most hate to give a bad impression of themselves to, whether that be their parent or grandparent or the principal or their favourite teacher and not to post anything they wouldn’t want that person to read, but it’s kind of clunky. “Don’t post anything you wouldn’t want our principal reading out to the whole school” makes the same point rather less awkwardly.

    3. Ms. Murchison*

      I’m not sure that sort of guidance would help LW#1 though. If their religious sect condones such mean-spirited prayers, they might be fine with an entire congregation hearing it, just as long as the target of their ire didn’t.

  23. Kt*

    Based on this it is WAY more likely the problem in this relationship is the manager and not the employee and I’m disappointed the answer didn’t address that.

    1. Banana Pyjamas*

      Right? Praying for someone to be removed from the workplace really shows the manager can’t be expected to treat this employee fairly. Maybe the employee needs a PIP, but dang so does the manager.

    2. CubeFarmer*

      Exactly. One wonders how many times the manager did this instead of, you know, managing.

    3. Observer*

      I’m disappointed the answer didn’t address that.

      It’s not really relevant. And in my experience this stuff tends to be a two way street. But in either case, the fundamental issue, which the answer address, is that the LW needs to stop praying *instead of* managing, and start managing. Also, stop being so adversarial. That’s different from holding someone to account as needed. The LW can and *should* hold people to account, but they can’t act like a kid having an argument with someone.

      The rest is all a consequence of this fundamental issue.

  24. Whale whale whale*

    Wow. If I was the employee I’d go straight to HR if I learned my manager wanted to “pray me out” of my position. It makes me wonder what else they’ve done before and why the relationship is so strained in the first place!

    1. Orv*

      For me it would depend on how religious the organization was. If it’s some kind of faith-based charity or church HR is likely to back the manager on this one.

      1. Observer*

        For me it would depend on how religious the organization was. If it’s some kind of faith-based charity or church HR is likely to back the manager on this one.

        Highly unlikely. Because the issue is not prayer per se but WHAT the prayer was about, from the point of view of staff. Additionally, and maybe even more important from the management point of view, the appearance of praying INSTEAD OF managing.

        Look, I work in an organization where there is a (completely voluntary and low key) equivalent of a prayer circle on WhatsApp. Which is to say, I totally get the issue of the role that belief can play in these things. But a text like this one might just get someone fired, and if not, they would be on thin ice. You see our, group does stuff like “Please say psalms for my relative / friend / acquaintance who is ill / going into surgery / other major life crises”. Given that there is zero proselytization and no use of organizational resources, no one who isn’t interested cares.

        On the other hand, anyone who tried to post something like the OP’s “request” would get shut down *immediately*, in exactly the same way they would get shut down if they voiced a similar sentiment without any mention of prayer. Think how a reasonable HR would respond if someone texted the wrong person “I’ve had it with Emp X who I supervise. I wish they would just go take a long walk of a short pier!” I’d expect any decent HR to react with horror. If you add in the implication that you’re kind of trying to nudge that into happening? Oh, no! And that’s on top of the management issue that Alison highlights.

      2. Irish Teacher.*

        It really does depend. I think a lot of religious people would be very disapproving of prayer being used like this, for a whole load of reasons. In some cases, religious people might take it more seriously because they would be more likely to believe in the power of prayer and therefore view it as a genuine attempt to damage somebody’s career. And they may also see it as disrespectful to God or as sort of arrogant, believing that God is on your side and will help you to cause problems for somebody else.

  25. Jennifer C.*

    LW3: If it seems like some people are going to insist on having a shower with gifts no matter what you say, you could try to encourage people to just bring a jar of baby food. Maybe have someone else (without your obvious involvement) turn it into a cute contest: people are only allowed to bring ONE jar, and whoever brings the most unique flavor wins a $10 Starbucks card or something. Anyone who brings another gift is disqualified from winning.

    (I don’t know how much baby food costs, but I assume it’s a lot less than diapers or formula.)

  26. Nat20*

    Oh wow…. yeah the only reasonable way forward is to apologize directly and sincerely, and do better in the future. Any other response I can think of would only make it worse.

  27. 123*

    LW 1: better get your sister to pray for you because if my manager wrote a text about praying I got fired you but your ass I’d be taking that above their head.

  28. Falling Diphthong*

    OP3, the options are:
    1) Refuse the shower on the grounds that you’re the manager and you don’t want your reports to feel they have to get you a gift.
    2) If they are really pushing for a shower because the office norms say that people at all levels really need to cooperate with this month’s excuse to have cupcakes, ask that it be books based. (It’s really not a problem to have multiple copies of Hippos Go Berserk, as they can get lost from the diaper bag or gnawed on or flung enthusiastically into the aquarium.) At least emphasize that it’s mostly a chance to eat cake and talk about the baby and you really hope any gifts are small and things that the person has good vibes with that they want to share.

    I hold that baby showers are an exception to the general rules about gifting at work (I wouldn’t gift for a wedding, house warming, birthday, etc) because sometimes people are genuinely pleased for the opportunity to study extremely tiny socks or a copy of The Snowy Day*, which they don’t otherwise have an excuse to do.

    *Ezra Jack Keats’ The Snowy Day is the most checked out book at the New York Public Library, something I learned on a visit that brings me inordinate joy.

  29. Laura*

    I haven’t read the answer yet, but what?? You don’t put a problem employe on a prayer list, you fire them.

  30. Someone Else's Boss*

    Everyone I work with is in my phone with an emoji at the start of their name. This helps me navigate my contact list, since they’re grouped together, but it also helps differentiate them from non-colleagues. OP – I get it! I’m sorry. I hope you can work through this with as little upset as possible.

  31. Heffalump*

    OP1 messed and should apologize to her report; no argument there. But her report shouldn’t be allowed to think, “She was wrong to text her sister, therefore I am blameless.”

    1. Scarlet ribbons in her hair*

      I’m wondering what good an apology would do, since the report would say to herself, “OP is apologizing to me only because she sent the text to the wrong person. If she had correctly sent the text to the minister, she never would have apologized to me.”

    2. New Jack Karyn*

      The report can think whatever she likes, up to and including, “Wow, my boss is completely ineffectual and out to lunch. My misgivings are validated!”

  32. Mark This Confidential And Leave It Laying Around*

    I LOVED that book as a kid! Seconding the rec.

  33. ENFP in Texas*

    “The request was to remove this employee and any other problem employees from the facility and to make the facility peaceful.”

    Wow. Just wow.

    But you know the saying “The Lord works in mysterious ways”? The LW either “learning how to actually manage” from this experience or “moving to another job” as a result of her text would likely result in making the facility more peaceful.

    Be careful what you wish for.

  34. Heather*

    To the LW with the new baby. Do no task for money and do not accept gifts. Accept a cake and punch party to acknowledge the new role and let them know that is enough.

  35. Kristin*

    “The request was to remove this employee and any other problem employees from the facility and to make the facility peaceful. Well, I accidentally sent the text to an employee with a similar sounding name”

    Well, I was going to commiserate because I accidentally emailed like 1000 people the other day (with a completely anodyne message, but still) but woof, this is not really the same thing.

    1. The Rafters*

      I do believe OP 1 will be shocked to learn that she is one of those disrupting the peace of the building.

  36. A Little Prayer*

    There was a time when my daughter was struggling to handle an employee who was male, never-wrong, rules-lawyering, condescending, didn’t like women or the fact that she was younger than he, and just exhausting (there have been a couple of representations of employees just like him in AAM in the past). Her boss saw it all and was helping her work thru the PIP process, which was long and stressful. I admit to not only praying for her but praying that this guy would job hunt and find a job that was a better fit for him and leave of his own accord.

    1. Irish Teacher.*

      But you were praying for a solution that would work for everybody including the problem employee. And you weren’t in a situation where you had the power to deal with the situation yourself. And you presumably didn’t write it down and send the request to somebody, naming him by name. So I think that’s a fair bit different and more reasonable.

    2. Observer*

      I admit to not only praying for her but praying that this guy would job hunt and find a job that was a better fit for him and leave of his own accord.

      What you pray for is not the same as what your daughter would have prayed for. And also, what you prayed for is a lot less problematic. “Leave of his own accord and find something that’s a better fit.” is not “Remove him.”

    1. Emily Dickinson*

      I know! It reminds of when I went to a mom/baby group with a friend at her church and they started off accepting prayer requests and then put them
      all together in a prayer. It sounded like a letter to Santa. That was also the least uncomfortable part of the group for me.

  37. Curious*

    This really makes me wonder what the badmouthing was. It reads as missing missing reasons to me

  38. Big sigh*

    Re: #1
    The solution is always to manage the problem not practically go away.
    But I’m m a little surprised not see a mention about never sending personal email from your work email. And of course always double check the recipient before hitting send. Helps to put that in last.

    1. Emily*

      It wasn’t an email. OP accidentally texted the employee went OP meant to text their minister sister.

        1. Enough*

          My mistake thank you. And this is why you always double check before you hit send wether email or text.

  39. I have opinions...*

    So you prayed that all problem employees would be removed, then this happened. Maybe this was in fact a very specific answer of this prayer?? Maybe you were the problem?

  40. Raw Cookie Dough*

    The OP blew every managerial chance they had to properly turn this around. Up until the moment that email was sent, the employee was in the wrong, not the OP. With one little click, the horrible employee turned into the victim, and gave her all the power she needs to amp up her bad treatment of the OP.
    Honestly, I think the only reasonable outcome here is that OP found another job. I don’t see any way of digging out of this. I wonder if her email could be considered religous harassment?
    We badly need an update from the OP!

  41. M2*

    #3. Don’t ask for money but you could always say you need diapers size 1-3 or something or diapers and wipes because you’ll always need them. I had some friends who sent me bigger size diapers (babies grow so much) that we just kept on the closet. It was great.

    Babies cost $. We had a high deductible and had to pay 5 figures all in. Friends had to have in vitro and that cost high 5 figures. Babies cost $$.

    But if they want to throw a party maybe suggest a baby wipes cream and diaper size 1-3 or 4 party. That way people can buy wipes if they want or small packs of diapers which are cheaper or if they want to splurge on the $45 box one they can too. Unless you are doing cloth diapers then maybe say you are all set.

    I have a team member who had her third baby and we all pitched in and gave $ for a target gift card. You can always use something at Target!

  42. HonorBox*

    Regarding the third letter… we had a similar situation with the timing of our child’s arrival (6 days notice) and we scrambled to get everything we needed. There will be more things that are needed. I agree about the power dynamics, but I think people are going to do something even if you strenuously object. M2 above suggested diapers which is a perfect suggestion. If people feel the need to do something, which they may (note how many baby showers foisted upon the recipient we read letters about) perhaps you can confidentially suggest to someone in the workplace who you trust, and who will understand the dynamics – i.e. you’re not asking for anything but if someone wants to get you something, don’t go out and crochet a blanket – that diapers of all sizes would be a great way to give something. A box of diapers isn’t a huge cost. Then you buy the cake or cookies to share in your joy.

  43. Policy Wonk*

    Where I work, baby showers are one of the few things on the list of events where a gift can flow upward. (Unique life events – wedding, baby shower, funeral, retirement.) So you can’t really hide behind being the boss. I have been to showers like those others have suggested – cards with your favorite piece of advice, picture/board books, baby consumables like diapers/wipes/lotion. If someone keeps pushing, I recommend you agree to something very low-key. Office celebrations are good morale builders, and sometimes people just want to have cake! But I also recommend you clue someone in to whatever sizes your son is wearing for diapers and clothes to be sure you don’t get something you can’t use. (I guarantee there are people who will get you baby outfits – they are fun to shop for!)

  44. Emily*

    Policy Work: Just because your office chooses to do things that way doesn’t necessarily mean it’s appropriate and doesn’t mean OP can’t “hide behind” being the boss. Alison has explained why gifts flowing upward is really problematic. OP should absolutely refuse gifts that flow upwards. If they want to do something really simple like cake and punch that might be one thing, but I’d still be concerned about who would be paying for that.

  45. WorkingMama3*

    To the baby shower: you could have people bring in a copy of their favorite children’s book (and specify if you’re okay if they’re second-hand) and/or a list of the best child rearing advice people have. It can help people feel like they are gifting you something meaningful without there being a big monetary component.

  46. cmull*

    Whew! This letter makes me wonder if the prior manager really “badmouthed” the OP or if they were just giving the employees a reasonable heads up/warning.

  47. Whyamihere*

    I would be running to HR in a heartbeat with that text. I would not want to work for someone who prayed me out of my job.

  48. works with realtors*

    I once got a text message from a coworker complaining about how I left 15 minutes early once and “who does she think she is?” I spent the next two years feeling completely awkward around that coworker, since I knew they were continuously judging me. I cannot imagine how awful I would feel if my boss did that (even if it wasn’t to me directly), and hopefully she is able to find a better opportunity elsewhere because there’s not a lot you can do to come back from that.

  49. Naomi*

    In addition to using prayer as a substitute for management, I’d be concerned about OP’s lack of discretion. This wasn’t just privately venting to their sister, it was asking the sister to tell other people that OP thinks so-and-so is a problem employee. Even without the misdirected text, should OP really be trusting everyone in the prayer group not to gossip?

    1. Catherine*

      And like… did OP even know who else is in that prayer group? The possibility that she put that employee on blast to a group that could include someone who knows them makes me shudder with secondhand embarrassment.

  50. Lizzianna*

    If you do a small celebration over cake, your team may still give you gifts. I think it’s okay to accept those.

    My team wanted to do a celebration for my new baby before my maternity leave started. I told them gifts weren’t necessary (it was our second and I truly didn’t have a registry), but they still wanted to do cake after a staff meeting.

    They pooled their money anyway, bought me a handful of small, fun gifts (baby clothes, diapers), and a Target gift card. I have no idea who contributed what to the group gift (or even who did or didn’t contribute – our culture is that everyone signs the card and can choose whether to put cash in the envelope that’s circulated with it). A couple other employees gave me small knit or crocheted hats.

    I’m generally of the opinion that gifts shouldn’t flow upwards, but even our formal ethics rules allow for an exception for rare events like the birth of a child or a wedding, as long as there is no coercion and the cost of the gift isn’t exorbitant. So I accepted the gifts graciously because doing otherwise would have been insulting to my team, who clearly put a lot of thought into it.

  51. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

    #1 is basically asking the minister to put a curse on an employee.
    That prayer list sounds like the Bible Belt version of voodoo.
    Wasn’t there an old post about an employee putting voodoo curses on coworkers she disliked?

  52. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    My Dad always said about being careful – regarding insults, snubs, vile behavior aimed at others (as this OP’s e-mail was).

    “You can look back. You can even GO back. But you cannot turn the clock back.”

    OP might try an apology – perhaps a semi-public one – and try to make amends, but, if her target is normal, and has some common sense, the gesture will likely (and rightfully) be rebuffed.

    OP’s stock as a manager is bankrupt, unless he/she is working for a sleazy outfit where such management tactics are condoned. Don’t laugh – in some places I worked, one in particular, sleaze was a management virtue.

    Other than that , OP should get the resume/CV ready and bail. But — DO learn from this.

  53. Jaid*

    Oh Lord, won’t you buy me
    A Mercedes Benz?
    My friends all drive Porsches
    I must make amends…
    ~Janis Joplin

    I mean, if folks are being all gimmee…

  54. Mmm.*

    The person whose name is being attached to poorly-written emails should absolutely speak up. When I got my rejection email from a tiny master’s program, I was actively upset…because the sender hadn’t bothered to proofread before contacting me to say they didn’t consider me worthy of their institution. I mean, I proofread my work…!

    (I’m way more mature now, but dang I remember that ticking me off!)

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