Hi Ronnie Ann! I recently gave notice to my employer and am trying to leave with dignity and fairness. But have found myself being subjected to unfair treatment by some of the upper management in the company.
Almost all of my co-workers have come to me privately to tell me that they could not believe how poorly I was being treated. And I have received several offers for good job references from some of the senior members in my department.
But I am truly flabbergasted by the way I am being treated because I have always gone above and beyond for this company. And I have received quite a bit of praise for both the quality of my work and the huge amounts of (unpaid) overtime I have put in.
I don’t wish to burn any bridges (especially since I don’t have a permanent position). But I’m very unhappy and wondering if I should leave before the date specified in my resignation letter. (I gave quite a bit of notice because our department is extremely shorthanded.)
“Normally I wouldn’t leave early”
I am not normally a person who would consider doing something like that. But I am tired of the constant pressure and of being screamed at for things I did not do wrong. Furthermore, judging by the way I am currently being treated, I am not sure that I will receive a good reference even if I stay the full month.
I have considered approaching upper management with some of my concerns but have been discouraged from doing so by some of the senior members of my department. They told me that this might backfire and manifest into more ill treatment. (My company does not have a history of treating employees very well.) What should I do?
Thank you so much for any advice you can give me.
~ Troubled at Work
Gave notice & got retribution?
Hi Troubled at Work!
First let me tell you how sorry I am that you’re going through this. I don’t care what their reasons may be. This is unprofessional behavior on their part, pure and simple. Especially for someone so conscientious and caring about how your leaving effects others.
And I can totally understand why you want to get away from there at this point. Especially since you think they probably won’t give you a good reference even if you do stick it out.
You have to do what feels right to you. I can’t possibly know every nuance of the situation. So what I’m about to say is only my reaction based on the little I know. Please take it with many grains of salt!
Should you stay or should you go?
Personally, I would stick it out if I could. Unless of course they ask you to leave even earlier. It may not be comfortable, but you’d be showing them (and yourself) that at least you know how to be professional.
Since you use the words “dignity and fairness”, I think it would feel good to you afterwards if you could find a way (if at all possible) to live up to your own values. Even if they can’t.
How they are acting should not deter you from being true to yourself. Unless circumstances force you out. Or it becomes truly unbearable.
References after you gave notice…
Also, when a reference checker calls your references, you don’t want them to add “She gave us notice and then walked out without even seeing it through.” Coloring your departure against you.
Of course you can explain all that, so don’t worry too much if you do decide to leave early. Also, employers are reluctant nowadays to tell too much for liability reasons.
Still best to keep it simple if you can. Plus, if you manage to see it through with your head held high, you yourself can leave on that last day with full knowledge you were the adult.
Now if it is so intolerable that you would be hurting yourself by staying, then of course you have to first take care of yourself and leave. But let’s see if there are some things you can do to help see it through.
You’re not a green frog
I once took a self-awareness class that wasn’t all that great, in my opinion. But I walked away with one thing that I’ve always remembered: “If someone calls you a green frog and you are NOT a green frog, than there is no way it can hurt you.” (None of us in the class happened to be green frogs, in case you were curious.)
I mention this because you can use the rest of your time there to practice letting what they say just slide off your back. If it help any, just smile and say to yourself “I am not a green frog,” I’ve found this to be good practice for life in general too. 🙂
When they scream at you, just listen. DON’T take it to heart. Think to yourself “I will be gone soon, but this person has to live with his or herself forever.” What they are saying to you just doesn’t matter now. And that’s what bugs them the most.
It’s infantile for them to behave this way. And they’re actually displaying that they feel powerless and angry that you’re leaving. In effect, it’s recognizing your power over them, since they can’t control you anymore. (That really drives control freaks and bully bosses crazy.)
If you know in your heart that you are making a wise move (which it sounds like you are), then whatever they say (or yell) is THEIR STUFF. It’s not about you. You’re the one smart enough to get out of this emotional roller coaster!
Talking to management after notice
In addition, I understand your colleagues suggest that you don’t talk to upper management. Normally, that’s probably right. But since you are willing to walk out anyway … well, what would be the harm of talking to your boss in your situation?
They are only your boss for a little longer anyway. Actually, your best approach might be to ask if you can speak with them. And, when you do, surprise your boss by NOT complaining. Again at this point, no reason to. Instead you can play the adult card:
- Calmly look your boss in the eyes and simply tell them that you know this is a tough situation with you leaving.
- And you want to do all you can to make this as comfortable as possible for everyone.
- Next you ask them what you can do to help make the transition easier.
- Then just wait to see how your boss responds. All the while stay calm and positive, since you are only there for a bit longer.
Be prepared for whatever the person says — even if it is anger or put down language. Again, you are being the adult and are there to just listen and react later. And you are not a green frog. No matter what they say, keep your inner calm, knowing at least you are doing all you can.
After trying that, if you still feel like leaving early, do what you think is right. But sometimes in a situation like this, just by presenting a calm, strong front, you will change the dynamic enough to at least make it more tolerable for yourself.
A few more thoughts
I wish you luck deciding what to do. And even more luck finding that next job. You gave notice and are doing what’s right for you. That’s a powerful choice — and one that you will feel good about long after you’re gone.You can out that same energy into finding your next true-to-yourself move.
Wherever you wind up, remember that you deserve respect. Maybe less unpaid overtime and more letting them know what you need and want. Think of this experience as a wonderful lesson that can help you establish yourself in your new job in a much stronger position. In that way, even horrible experiences like this can actually turn into gold. (I wouldn’t say this if I haven’t been there and done that myself!)
Whatever you do decide, give yourself credit for having done the best you can. And for having the wisdom to move on. You are not responsible for the stupidity of others. But each time, the stupidity you encounter and deal with can help make you wiseer!
Good luck! Please let us know what happens.
~ Ronnie Ann
[Post updated 2020]
About the author…
Ronnie Ann, founder of Work To the Wise and Work Coach Cafe, bases her real-world advice on her many years as an organizational consultant where she helped interview and hire people, added to a certificate from NYU in Career Planning & Development, as well as her many adventures as a serial job seeker.
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