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Old 08-10-2013, 09:06 AM   #21
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It seems like questioning someone's commitment to the job because of their financial situation is no different than questioning commitment because of anything else in their personal life. If the conversation had been instead something like "you recently got married, and I've heard you are interested in having children. Are you now less committed to your job than before you were married?", it would clearly be inappropriate and any action by the boss based on that assumption would probably be grounds for a lawsuit.
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Old 08-10-2013, 09:25 AM   #22
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It seems like questioning someone's commitment to the job because of their financial situation is no different than questioning commitment because of anything else in their personal life. If the conversation had been instead something like "you recently got married, and I've heard you are interested in having children. Are you now less committed to your job than before you were married?", it would clearly be inappropriate and any action by the boss based on that assumption would probably be grounds for a lawsuit.
+1

This is what I was thinking. If you are FI why not put pressure on THEM with a suit (or threat of one) and get a good package. I'm not a corporate guy however so this may be a stupid idea.
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Old 08-10-2013, 09:50 AM   #23
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Pretty bizarre. Why wouldn't he raise the issue when your performance was supposedly sub-par? Why did you get promoted under those circumstances? And why would he ask why you are still working long hours? Most managers wouldn't question this.

Sounds like he's prepping you for a bad rating in your upcoming review. He wants to justify no bonus or raise, or maybe even letting you go. Maybe he's got different criteria than your last manager, or maybe he feels you haven't stepped up to the expectations of your promotion, or maybe you don't realize that your performance did slack off for some reason.

It could also be that he is under some pressure to can someone and you are his target. My last company had a policy to get rid of the bottom 5% and first line managers were encouraged to identify candidates so that the director or VP could show they were doing it.

It could also be that he's on your side, but is getting some pressure from above for some reason. He's trying to make a case that you are still committed.

I'd be prepared for anything. I think it's also legit to go back to your manager and say that you were confused by your last meeting and ask if there was some message he was trying to convey or some action you need to take, or whether you need to be concerned. You might even ask if your job is in jeopardy, and say that you weren't thinking at all about leaving but if this might become reality that you need to mentally prepare as well as line up things like health insurance.

I went through something somewhat similar, though my manager knew I was kind of looking to get out and he wanted to keep me as long as possible. He got pressure from above to move my project to India and get rid of me. When they brought up training my replacement, I told them I needed some kind of incentive to give away my job, and negotiated a decent exit package. You don't sound as ready to leave as I was. I was 3-4 years younger than you, btw.
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Old 08-10-2013, 10:15 AM   #24
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+1

This is what I was thinking. If you are FI why not put pressure on THEM with a suit (or threat of one) and get a good package. I'm not a corporate guy however so this may be a stupid idea.
Probably stupid . They have this whole department of people called Human Resources (HR) supposedly there to help employees. Their real job is to protect the company from you. They go to great lengths to make sure they meet all requirements to avoid problems. They also have more lawyers than you can ever hire. The comments all sound familiar, it may also be he doesn't have a choice. Somebody up top may have decided you got to go and told him to make it happen.
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Old 08-10-2013, 10:24 AM   #25
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I agree with most of the above posts. The bad news is that your new manager would like to see you gone. The good news is that you are in a position to retire, find a new similar job, find a fun, low stress job or follow your dreams.

This may be the best thing that ever happened to you, but you won't know it until you are past it.
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Old 08-10-2013, 10:31 AM   #26
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Could be a sign that you're 'on the bubble' so watch every move.

Could also be the sign of a young incompetent leader. I was a manager for Megacorp for many years, if I had a conversation about option conversion and performance, I would have been in HR having a 'what were you thinking' conversation.

The prior point was made well, HR is there to prevent lawsuits, but sometimes it's about stuff an ignorant leader is doing, that could cause the company problems. I would not play any lawsuit card, but I would review any written policy and procedures.

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Old 08-10-2013, 10:50 AM   #27
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Sounds like a very similar pattern I've seen with a couple relatives and friends. A person is with mega crop for years, reaches a nice pay scale around the age of 50, mega corp suddenly lets person go.
It's all about the bottom line. Hire two hungry kids to replace the older and experienced worker for less $$. Lower pay and lower health insurance costs.
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Old 08-10-2013, 10:51 AM   #28
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If this conversation happened in my workplace it would definitely be the first step, carefully documented, of the formal process to make you aware your performance was below standard and you may be terminated. The constant reference to your financial independence sounds like something a manager would say who is nervous and inexperienced and is looking to soften the message.
Yes, the discussion of your financial independence was your manager talking to himself in your presence IMO. Whether he discovered your participation on the forum, or found out that you are nearing retirement from some other information doesn't really matter at this point, it seems to me. He knows.

My guess that he needs to get rid of somebody for budgetary reasons and that if you do not quit/retire, he will have to terminate someone else. So naturally, he wants to know if he has to do that.

But then, it is possible that I am wrong and he is gathering paper to force your departure so it might be best to get your ducks in a row. Regarding that, it sounds to me like you are already FI so that should not be an issue. It might be time to start thinking about the psychological adjustment to retirement, and/or reading books that are designed to help with that. I haven't read any of these books but I am told that Zelinski's How to Retire Wild, Happy, and Free is a good one.
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Old 08-10-2013, 11:12 AM   #29
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Probably stupid . They have this whole department of people called Human Resources (HR) supposedly there to help employees. Their real job is to protect the company from you. They go to great lengths to make sure they meet all requirements to avoid problems. They also have more lawyers than you can ever hire. The comments all sound familiar, it may also be he doesn't have a choice. Somebody up top may have decided you got to go and told him to make it happen.
Ha! Former HR person here. Some of what you said is true, but I'm not convinced there is a decision to let him go. But it does sound like the manager is dancing around something without saying it out loud.

To the OP:

- It is inappropriate for the manager to be tying your age (retirement) to your performance. He seems concerned that your age and financial status mean you won't work as hard for them, despite evidence to the contrary. This is a potential sign of age discrimination.

- He said your performance had previously dipped, but didn't really give you specifics on how. One or two little things, but hardly substantial. Again, a soon that he is either a poor communicator (very common) or he's decided you should be put out to pasture. If he thinks your performance dipped, he should be able to provide concrete examples. That's his job.

- as much as I blush to say it, there *are* some older folks (a small minority) who essentially retire in place and come to be seen as a drag on company coffers. These are the ppl who put in the minimum effort to scrape by, never sign up for new projects or share new ideas, and sprint for the door at 5pm precisely. In short, they are seen as less committed, more expensive to employ, and less productive than others. It can become an unfair stereotype too - if someone has just one of these characteristics and is gray haired, overweight, etc, a manager might pigeonhole them as "less motivated" for no good reason. I assume from your comments that you have not "retired in place."

A few suggestions:

1. Keep notes of these conversations. (Date, what was said, etc.) Email them to a trusted friend outside of work (not a spouse) to date stamp them, or at a minimum, date, sign, and save them.

2. Do a self-check of yourself compared to your peers. Do you demonstrate the same level of commitment that they do? It's not just about the hours. It's also about tone, willingness to change, and so on. Look inward first.

3. Bring a notepad to your upcoming review. Consider asking the following questions:
1) A while back you said my performance had slipped. It's important to me that this doesn't happen again. Can you tell me what specifically you did not like about my work? I want to make sure I understand.
2) Am I meeting all your expectations?
3) to improve my review rating, what do I need to do?

Document those answers, and make a point to take action on them. If you don't get answers, note that too. Be genuine and curious, rather than defensive. Try to understand his points, rather than dispute them. After the meeting, start taking action on the items he pointed out. Document that you have done so.

4. If you reach a point where you feel your job is in danger unfairly, gather all your notes. You can do the next part solo or with an attorney.

1. Go to HR.
2. "I've come to you with a problem. I hate doing this but I need your help."
3. "On date my manager came to me with some weird questions. He kept asking if I was planning to retire, and he said that I didn't seem motivated... This is weird because I had been working 12 hour days and...
4. "I took careful notes during my review and took action on all three items he listed.... "
5. "Despite this, he continues to question my motivation. On date he said...."
6. He is calling me out as a poor performer but I see no evidence of this.
6. "I've been very careful not to jump to conclusions, but I can't help but think my job is in danger because of my age..."
7. I no longer believe I'm being evaluated fairly and I'd like you to (move me to another department... Get him to stop threatening my job.....)
8. Please look into this, and let me know what you can do.

Companies may have a lot of attorneys, but they fear lawsuits like a beer fears a thirsty old man.

If your boss is just a weak communicator and this is a one time incident, there is no reason to make a case out of anything, but if this is a pattern of behavior with him, be prepared to protect yourself.

PS: be careful of what you sign. A common ploy is for a company to ask you to sign a "release of claims" saying you will not sue, sometimes in exchange for a small concession.

Good luck!

SIS

PS: standard legal disclaimer - I'm not an attorney, I don't provide legal advice, make your own damn decisions and live with the consequences.
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Old 08-10-2013, 11:13 AM   #30
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ShortinSeattle is giving you priceless advice.

It may come down to should I stay or should I go. The best time to look for another jobs is while you have one.

If you aren't emotionally ready to retire, FI or not, start a job search and line up contact information for references. Heck, you were recently promoted and have outstanding performance reviews at the moment. In responding to the why you want to leave question I would answer "a better work/life balance, I am comfortable working very long hours but not every week", you don't want to go from one crazy hours worked to another.

Do not use your employer's computer for any personal communication!
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Old 08-10-2013, 11:15 AM   #31
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If you aren't emotionally ready to retire, FI or not, start a job search and line up contact information for references. Heck, you were recently promoted and have outstanding performance reviews at the moment. In responding to the why you want to leave question I would answer "a better work/life balance, I am comfortable working very long hours but not every week", you don't want to go from one crazy hours worked to another.
This isn't a bad idea either. Sometimes moving on is easier and more pleasant than "stay and fight."

- SIS
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Old 08-10-2013, 11:19 AM   #32
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What SIS said +100.

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Old 08-10-2013, 11:27 AM   #33
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Ha! Former HR person here. Some of what you said is true, but I'm not convinced there is a decision to let him go. But it does sound like the manager is dancing around something without saying it out loud.

To the OP:

- It is inappropriate for the manager to be tying your age (retirement) to your performance. He seems concerned that your age and financial status mean you won't work as hard for them, despite evidence to the contrary. This is a potential sign of age discrimination.

- He said your performance had previously dipped, but didn't really give you specifics on how. One or two little things, but hardly substantial. Again, a soon that he is either a poor communicator (very common) or he's decided you should be put out to pasture. If he thinks your performance dipped, he should be able to provide concrete examples. That's his job.

- as much as I blush to say it, there *are* some older folks (a small minority) who essentially retire in place and come to be seen as a drag on company coffers. These are the ppl who put in the minimum effort to scrape by, never sign up for new projects or share new ideas, and sprint for the door at 5pm precisely. In short, they are seen as less committed, more expensive to employ, and less productive than others. It can become an unfair stereotype too - if someone has just one of these characteristics and is gray haired, overweight, etc, a manager might pigeonhole them as "less motivated" for no good reason. I assume from your comments that you have not "retired in place."

A few suggestions:

1. Keep notes of these conversations. (Date, what was said, etc.) Email them to a trusted friend outside of work (not a spouse) to date stamp them, or at a minimum, date, sign, and save them.

2. Do a self-check of yourself compared to your peers. Do you demonstrate the same level of commitment that they do? It's not just about the hours. It's also about tone, willingness to change, and so on. Look inward first.

3. Bring a notepad to your upcoming review. Consider asking the following questions:
1) A while back you said my performance had slipped. It's important to me that this doesn't happen again. Can you tell me what specifically you did not like about my work? I want to make sure I understand.
2) Am I meeting all your expectations?
3) to improve my review rating, what do I need to do?

Document those answers, and make a point to take action on them. If you don't get answers, note that too. Be genuine and curious, rather than defensive. Try to understand his points, rather than dispute them. After the meeting, start taking action on the items he pointed out. Document that you have done so.

4. If you reach a point where you feel your job is in danger unfairly, gather all your notes. You can do the next part solo or with an attorney.

1. Go to HR.
2. "I've come to you with a problem. I hate doing this but I need your help."
3. "On date my manager came to me with some weird questions. He kept asking if I was planning to retire, and he said that I didn't seem motivated... This is weird because I had been working 12 hour days and...
4. "I took careful notes during my review and took action on all three items he listed.... "
5. "Despite this, he continues to question my motivation. On date he said...."
6. He is calling me out as a poor performer but I see no evidence of this.
6. "I've been very careful not to jump to conclusions, but I can't help but think my job is in danger because of my age..."
7. I no longer believe I'm being evaluated fairly and I'd like you to (move me to another department... Get him to stop threatening my job.....)
8. Please look into this, and let me know what you can do.

Companies may have a lot of attorneys, but they fear lawsuits like a beer fears a thirsty old man.

If your boss is just a weak communicator and this is a one time incident, there is no reason to make a case out of anything, but if this is a pattern of behavior with him, be prepared to protect yourself.

PS: be careful of what you sign. A common ploy is for a company to ask you to sign a "release of claims" saying you will not sue, sometimes in exchange for a small concession.

Good luck!

SIS

PS: standard legal disclaimer - I'm not an attorney, I don't provide legal advice, make your own damn decisions and live with the consequences.
+1

And finally, do not use company equipment for personal use. If you have been using the work internet to read ER.org, stop immediately. If nothing else works for them, they can use this for immediate termination.

It appears your cost to the company is what is motivating your manager's actions. You have choices, he doesn't.

You can quit - they get off with no additional financial payout.
You can transfer, his department budget gets a break.
They can terminate you and you need to then negotiate a severance package.

Check your employee handbook for policies on personal use of the internet, termination actions, layoff packages.

But most of all, remember that you are in the driver's seat here.

-- Rita
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Old 08-10-2013, 11:52 AM   #34
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3. Bring a notepad to your upcoming review. Consider asking the following questions:
1) A while back you said my performance had slipped. It's important to me that this doesn't happen again. Can you tell me what specifically you did not like about my work? I want to make sure I understand.
2) Am I meeting all your expectations?
3) to improve my review rating, what do I need to do?

Document those answers, and make a point to take action on them. If you don't get answers, note that too. Be genuine and curious, rather than defensive. Try to understand his points, rather than dispute them. After the meeting, start taking action on the items he pointed out. Document that you have done so.
One additional suggestion:

Having been in a similar situation myself, I sent a memo to my manager every other week documenting my actions to meet/exceed expectations and asked for feedback on how he viewed my progress. This irritated the heck out of him forced him to respond and allowed me to determine just how serious the situation really was. After a few weeks, he got tired of responding decided I had shown excellent progress and said my performance was no longer in question.
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Old 08-10-2013, 12:35 PM   #35
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Interesting situation. And some good advice from others!

I was telecommuting several days a week, and in the office first 3 days a week, then two, and finally for my last few years, one day a week. The daily driving time to and from work rose to take about 3.5-4 hours of driving for an in-the-office day. I could get more work done, and be fresher by telecommuting.

Because I wasn't visible in the office, there were some complaints about my not being there, and the inevitable questions about productivity. I addressed these in several ways, directed at raising my visibility and improving the perception others had of me.

1) We already had to file regular status reports on what we were doing. I raised the bar for myself, installing tracking software (made for lawyers, although I was an engineer) on my main work machine that logged what I was doing every 15 minutes. By sorting documents into task-related folders, I could set the logger to record the folder name. This let me generate a "billable hours" statement every week that I could turn into a status report. The status reports regularly reflected a 50+ hour week, broken down to the quarter-hour on tasks I was performing. (I suspect that this was slightly annoying to my manager...)

2) The 'psych' factor... The directors and executive team dressed a bit differently from the engineering staff. I redid my work wardrobe to resemble how the executives dressed, rather than how the typical programmers and engineers dressed. The first few times I did this folks I worked with regularly quietly asked if I was interviewing elsewhere. Nope. But... When in meetings with folks from other teams, I noticed that I was being engaged as though I were the person in charge.

3) I got myself added to various cross-team internal e-mail lists. This let me both get a better idea of the state of projects my team was contributing to, and gave me a voice visible to these other teams when I made suggestions on how they could better use our existing software, as well as how we could adapt our projects to better meet their needs. I suppose this actually added some real value. Oops...
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Old 08-10-2013, 03:36 PM   #36
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..........
1. Go to HR.
.........
Been there, done that. HR is not there to help you.
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Old 08-10-2013, 03:53 PM   #37
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ShortInSeattle and I are both retired HR professionals. Note what is common about our advise... think strategically and take ownership of your career.

HR's role is to see that the employer's personnel actions keep them out of litigation, establish HR processes (selection, hiring, compensation, fringe benefits) that support the employer's business goals. No, HR is not there to help individuals. That is a lawyer's job. From time to time HR will tell a manager 'don't do that' but usually they have already 'done that' and HR tries to put out the fire.
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Old 08-10-2013, 03:58 PM   #38
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From time to time HR will tell a manager 'don't do that' but usually they have already 'done that' and HR tries to put out the fire.
I can believe that! One time a guy started trying to get me fired and the HR guy put out that fire. How did he do that? He ignored the guy
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Old 08-10-2013, 04:03 PM   #39
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Sometimes not responding is the best approach but you REALLY need to know the workforce dynamics. However, if you are a subordinate dealing with a difficult supervisor/manager always be proactive, never passive.
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Old 08-10-2013, 04:07 PM   #40
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ShortInSeattle and I are both retired HR professionals. Note what is common about our advise... think strategically and take ownership of your career.

HR's role is to see that the employer's personnel actions keep them out of litigation, establish HR processes (selection, hiring, compensation, fringe benefits) that support the employer's business goals. No, HR is not there to help individuals. That is a lawyer's job. From time to time HR will tell a manager 'don't do that' but usually they have already 'done that' and HR tries to put out the fire.
+1

I was not HR, simply a manager who tried to make sure HR got the correct information. I've seen managers taken to the woodshed by HR, if they violated policy/legal documents.

Both of these posters are giving the correct advise. Neither one said your first move is to call HR. Please read their posts, both gave smart, very smart answers.

MRG
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