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Should I tell 'em what I think?
Old 11-25-2007, 12:42 PM   #1
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Should I tell 'em what I think?

My last day of work is January 4, 2008. I work for the Federal Government, which many of you may know, is full of dysfunctional people. While I like most of the people I work with, there are two people I give a lot of credit to for my intense desire to retire early.

One, not surprisingly, is my boss. She is a super ambitious control freak who is downright rude and disrespectful to her staff. She has a habit of criticizing people then being too busy to listen to or consider any explanation.

The other is a colleague who has worked here for over 40 years. She is the embodiment of the "puritan work ethic" and has no intention of retiring even though she could easily do so. She watches everyone like a hawk and runs to the boss to report those who took 10 minutes too long for lunch. She considers everyone lazy and loves to see people get in trouble. We even found a notebook she keeps tracking everyone's coming and going times.

I think the best thing to do is go out graciously and be thankful I am in the position to retire early. The reality is, once Iím gone I know these two will quickly fade from my memory. I plan to remember them only to reinforce my decision to retire and resist the temptation to take any future offers of employment. However, I find myself contemplating conversions with these two explaining how their behavior has been destructive and hurtful to myself and others. Iím also wondering how to handle the exit interview. No one confronts them because they are intimidated so I donít think upper management realizes the situation. What do you think? Out with a smile or speak my mind?
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Old 11-25-2007, 12:57 PM   #2
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I am a federal employee as well, and got a good laugh out of your descriptions of these two since they sound JUST like two people at my work as well.

I'd say not to bother speaking your mind or telling them off. Believe me, it won't make any difference! Things will NEVER change. Upper management probably knows about it anyway, even though it seems like they don't.
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Old 11-25-2007, 01:17 PM   #3
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act in a way today so that when you look back at yourself tomorrow you will continue to be happy with yourself into your future.
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Old 11-25-2007, 01:22 PM   #4
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On your last day you might want to say, "Wow, this is my last day in this office....words can not describe how thrilled I am."

Let everyone else fill in the "words".
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Old 11-25-2007, 01:37 PM   #5
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I'd resist the urge to pour on the criticism.
1) It will make everyone uncomfortable, especially if you do it in a very public way. I've been there when folks have used the occasion of their farewell or retirement lunch to "tell 'em what I think." It reflects far more on the speaker than on the individuals criticized.
2) It is unlikely to change anything. I'm sure you're not the first person to notice the "problem children," and nothing has been done to change their behavior yet. It's especially unlikely to happen due to the criticism of a retiring individual, since there's no continuing reason to change things (the person that "had a problem" with the two people has now retired). If you REALLY want to put some heat on the issue, pull your retirement papers and turn into a royal PITA regarding these folks. You've got enough time to retire, so now use your freedom to hep your fellow employees: stay in the trenches and formally complain every day about the unfavorable work environment created by these two folks. They two of them might even pitch in to give you a bigger gift if you'd only retire. If you decide to go this route, it's a good idea to start checking under you car for new wires and packages before you get in.
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Old 11-25-2007, 02:30 PM   #6
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Thanks. I think you all are absolutely correct. I should save my observations about my unpleasant co-workers for my closest friends. Thanks for reinforcing what I already knew - complaining at work rarely, if ever, changes anything and the complainer is often portrayed as the problem. Time to focus on the future and let go of the office drama.
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Old 11-25-2007, 02:33 PM   #7
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On my last day from my job I was going to tell one of the radiologists that he was a pompous ass .Well I went into his office and he said "I've been meaning to tell you how great it was to work with you .You've really made a difference in the department ".That shut me up !
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Old 11-25-2007, 02:54 PM   #8
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She watches everyone like a hawk and runs to the boss to report those who took 10 minutes too long for lunch. She considers everyone lazy and loves to see people get in trouble. We even found a notebook she keeps tracking everyone's coming and going times.
We used to have two of those in my office. Not surprisingly, they were cousins. One day, one of our coworkers came in, maybe a few minutes late, and one of the cousins looks at her, taps the face of his watch, and gives her a condescending look. Both of these cousins are the holier than thou type, so this tracking other people's times thing was actually one of their more minor offenses.

Anyway, this girl goes to one of our high-level managers and asks him if this guy was supposed to be in charge of her...tracking her time, etc? The manager said no, and she told him what happened. Needless to say, he was told to knock that off real fast. Ultimately, his attitude did him in, as nobody wanted to work with him, and he was pissing off countless customers (we're gov't contractors). Eventually he pissed off the wrong people, and he was outta there!

The cousin still works with us, unfortunately. She tends to come in about 25-30 minutes late, and her rationale is "well, I know YOU don't always come in on time!" Yeah, okay, so sometimes I might come in 5-10 minutes late. I also work through my lunch most of the time, and if I come in 10 minutes late, I make sure to leave 10 minutes late. But of course, that part goes un-noticed.

I've actually gone through the same fantasies, of telling some of these people off when I finally leave. But I'll probably keep it at just that...a fantasy. Besides, the really important people in our organization know about these chumps, anyway...so me telling them off won't change anything.

I'd say just take solace in the fact that you're retiring, and outta there, and on to a happy new chapter in your life, while these miserable people are still stuck in their own personal hell. And they'll probably take that personal hell with them, no matter where they go.
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Old 11-25-2007, 02:59 PM   #9
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The other is a colleague who has worked here for over 40 years. She is the embodiment of the "puritan work ethic" and has no intention of retiring even though she could easily do so. She watches everyone like a hawk and runs to the boss to report those who took 10 minutes too long for lunch. She considers everyone lazy and loves to see people get in trouble. We even found a notebook she keeps tracking everyone's coming and going times.
Water balloon with something far more foul than water in it, lobbed over the cubicle wall from an unidentifiable direction.

Rinse and repeat as necessary until the behavior improves.

If this method is not effective, removal of all four valve stems from the car tires and/or installation of toothpicks in the car door locks is recommended.

If the individual has no automobile, a combination of laxatives and lunch items is frequently effective.
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Old 11-25-2007, 03:14 PM   #10
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This is too funny. The individual in question is highly allergic to cats. I share my home with 4 fab felines. What say you to depositing a large wad of cat fur, harvested from daily brushings, in the ceiling air vent directly above her desk? Wouldn’t really do this, but it is somehow therapeutic to consider it
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Old 11-25-2007, 03:22 PM   #11
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Just remember, the whole point is to just enjoy yourself.
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Old 11-25-2007, 03:23 PM   #12
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This is too funny. The individual in question is highly allergic to cats. I share my home with 4 fab felines. What say you to depositing a large wad of cat fur, harvested from daily brushings, in the ceiling air vent directly above her desk? Wouldnít really do this, but it is somehow therapeutic to consider it


You could make a pillow filled with cat hair and give it to this person on your last day. Tell 'em it's a little something for them to remember you by.
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Old 11-25-2007, 03:23 PM   #13
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Sorry to say, but I am one to tell the higher ups... they might not know... but do it constructively and not 'mean'...

But, I would think that federal gvmt work would be hard to 'fix' the problem as long as they are doing their job.. but I could be wrong.
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Old 11-25-2007, 03:37 PM   #14
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This has me wondering if you could powderize cat hair in a food processor..
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Old 11-25-2007, 05:05 PM   #15
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Hey, Purron, I've worked with those two also. Tell 'em I say "Hi!"-- I'm the guy who called the Government Fraud/Waste/Abuse Hotline in their names.

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Sorry to say, but I am one to tell the higher ups... they might not know... but do it constructively and not 'mean'...
But, I would think that federal gvmt work would be hard to 'fix' the problem as long as they are doing their job.. but I could be wrong.
You've already heard the right answer-- don't bring anything up. Hopefully you've already cleaned out your desk, scrubbed your hard drive & e-mails of any non-official data, and accounted for all your stuff. You could just keep smiling, tell them you're really happy to be retiring, and let your classy manners (& broad grin) make them wonder who you've complained to. Their guilty consciences (if they have consciences) will do the rest. Or at least they'll wonder what's going to start stinking in one of the little-used file-cabinet drawers a few days after you're gone, but you didn't hear that from me.

At my last military command, the Chief of Naval Education & Training sent out the Navy IG for their once-every-five-years lookaround. No one really wanted to spend the money make the effort but it was already years overdue. It was a routine visit straight out of a 20-page checklist with reports, seminars, interviews, and lots of free coffee & doughnuts. Since it was January in Hawaii, no one expected anything to interfere with the IG team's liberty.

On the second day of interviews one of the IG team told the XO "No one wants to talk to me about it, but you have some kind of a sexual harassment problem in your IT division." Our XO did a little digging around and gradually, over the next month, got people to open up about the GS-12 division head's general "intimidating workplace environment" and blatant quid-pro-quo sexual harassment of two subordinates. It had been going on for literally a decade but the division was so dysfunctional and incommunicative that everyone thought they were the isolated victim. One complainant preserved anonymity until the last possible moment by having their civil-service spouse file the complaint through their govt activity, and when the documentation was produced (months old by this time) it gave the XO what he needed for a confrontation.

He described it as a cesspool. After much yelling, threatening, physical intimidation, racial-discrimination accusations, lawyers, lawsuit letters, etc the GS-12 elected to retire before the entire issue was made public through the Human Resources Office and the subordinate's testimony. Apparently there was good evidence but it was so slimy so long in being discovered that there would have been backsplash over all concerned. Some settlement occurred and everything was wallpapered over. No doubt it's in some HRO's "Hall of Shame" case study by now.

My point is that these were actual felonies and they still took years to come to official attention. It sounds as though you're trapped in what's essentially a personality conflict, which may not be the best way to run an office but isn't necessarily illegal. Your exit interviews may not give the bosses enough to work with, and they may even be part of the problem. If, months after you retire, old co-workers start coming forward then you're going to have to see how you feel. But if you're not ready to spend hours writing statements & giving testimony then I wouldn't touch it.

Last month I got a call about a security clearance on an old boss who must be related to your bosses. I initially waved off and later debated spilling my guts. It turned out that the guy's workplace had initiated the entire investigation, the investigator was well aware of the problem (no one wanted to talk to her), and my input wasn't deemed necessary. Yours may not be either...
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Old 11-25-2007, 05:43 PM   #16
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Part of getting into the ER mindset is letting go of such thoughts. They hold you back from your happiness. Let go of them and they will become unimportant.
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Old 11-25-2007, 05:46 PM   #17
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I wouldn't burn any bridges at this time. Your retirement marks the end of one phase of your life and the start of a much freer, more pleasant phase.

In a year or so, after you have been away from the stressful work environment, you will have a somewhat different, milder perspective.

Besides, revenge is a dish best served cold.
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Old 11-25-2007, 06:17 PM   #18
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Unless you have a very trusted relationship with someone significantly powerful in this organization, there's unlikely to be any positive change from you speaking out. Most likely outcome is you get tagged as a malcontent (and quitter) and you quash any future possibility of lucrative consulting work or any other future work that might have been possible should conditions change.

In my current j*b, we have people leaving at almost 10x normal rate. A significant number of them ARE telling exactly what's wrong. Some of the folks who are staying have been telling exactly what's wrong. So far nothing's been done, and in all likelyhood nothing ever will be. Unless the behavior is criminal (and it's not) there are often extenuating political circumstances that keep organizations from fixing these kinds of problems, no matter how bad. Unlikely to be worth your effort to start this fight.
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Old 11-25-2007, 06:35 PM   #19
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If your HR people do exit interviews, that would be an appropriate place to tactfully provide some input...otherwise the world is too small to burn bridges - and given the little chance for change, it may not do any good for anyone...
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Old 11-25-2007, 06:48 PM   #20
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If your HR people do exit interviews, that would be an appropriate place to tactfully provide some input...otherwise the world is too small to burn bridges - and given the little chance for change, it may not do any good for anyone...
I agree. You've been waiting a while to vent you'll feel better venting and the exit interview is the place. Although the cat hair pillow would probably more fun. If you get the rare aggressive dedicated HR person who has heard other complains perhaps something constructive will come of it.

A friend of mine once complained pretty vehemently about his miserable boss during his exit interview. Since my friend was thought of pretty highly and his boss wasn't, it did factor in the bad boss eventually getting the boot.

Still the most important thing to remember is this
IT AIN"T YOUR PROBLEM ANYMORE YOUR RETIRED WOOT
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