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Old 08-10-2013, 04:08 PM   #41
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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.
I understand. This HR man did understand the dynamics and I had long since established myself. I just kept right on working. The manager got fired.

I don't mean to sidetrack the thread.
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Old 08-10-2013, 04:32 PM   #42
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.........No, HR is not there to help individuals. That is a lawyer's job. ..........
Bingo. You can consult a labor attorney without threatening a lawsuit, but at least the advice that you receive will be in your best interest.
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Old 08-10-2013, 07:43 PM   #43
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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.
That's certainly true because marital status is a protected class in anti-discrimination laws. Financial independence or receipt of a stock option windfall is NOT similarly protected. Perhaps there is an indirect correlation with age (as age over 40 is a protected class) but you may have a very hard time making this connection stick.

The sudden change from stellar performer to problem employee without you being aware of any change is often indicative of a move to move you out, or at least document "problem" in preparation to moving you out. The fact that your manager changed in the last year is often highly correlated to such activities, but if it has really been a year they're being surprisingly slow about it. Are there any other corporate cost cutting, outsourcing or cleaning house initiatives that might have prompted this discussion?
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Old 08-10-2013, 08:36 PM   #44
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I would assume the worse and conclude that they want you out. It does not matter why. Probably has nothing to do with your performance.

He acted inappropriately when discussing your company stock options and personal finances. He was probably trying to engage you in a conversation to extract further personal information.

It sounds like things might get bumpy and consulting with an attorney might be appropriate. Start documenting conversations and other unusual things that occur.

Don't assume that they want you gone tomorrow. They may need to keep you around for a while.
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Old 08-10-2013, 11:12 PM   #45
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+1

Remember people don't leave companies, they leave supervisors.

-gauss
Actually, that's not always the case. I recently left a national company after 24 years of service because it had changed tremendously and I no longer had the desire to be under the new centralized management and policies that had taken over. I had absolutely no issue with my supervisor, in fact I only had contact with him a few times a year.
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Old 08-11-2013, 12:12 AM   #46
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There are some managers of people out there who are really screwed up. They want to have the people who work for them, indebted to them. They want each of their reports to know that they owe their job to the big kahuna. They're sick.

I had the misfortune to be involved with one of them. I was independently successful, with a good track record. I kept my independence, and there was always some level of fencing going on with that boss. I made sure I grew ties into other areas of the company, which he discouraged his people from doing. My project went well and made $$$ for the company. And this boss always talked this success down. Instead of thinking that if someone who worked for him did well, that it would reflect well on him, he took the opposite view.

I don't think that deep down inside he was a "bad person", but for whatever reason, he always wanted to be in control of everything, maybe it fed his need to be wanted. But I didn't care what the reason was... you don't do that crap!
I ignored his suggestions on changes, on employing people, they were stupid. I handled any problem that came up in my area. I told him just a brief gloss-over of it after the fact, after it was solved.
If he reached for the steering wheel, I made a hard left and slid him over away from the wheel

The same thing has been happening in city government. A new big boss, who slowly gets rid of all department heads that he didn't hire. Hires in a new crowd. Gets rid of the best independent-thinking worker bees, to replace with his hired oh-we-owe-everything-to-you drones. Sickening.

In my many years of management, I saw many bad managers. And a few really good ones.
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Old 08-11-2013, 08:47 AM   #47
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I've been a Director/Manager for three different mega-corps over my career and am dumbfounded over the approach this new manager took in your performance discussion. Sounds like he lacks some basic management training and the dos and don'ts of counseling employees. Like others have mentioned, I've seen other managers taken to the woodshed by HR for making inappropriate comments like yours did. I would definitely maintain a file of these discussions and do not hesitate to go to HR if the situation worsens.
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Old 08-11-2013, 09:08 AM   #48
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I agree with most of the other posts. I think this conversation was designed to plant the seed and see if you would leave. I would make sure you have all your financial ducks in a row and ready to bail if you have to. It appears that you are in charge of when, how, and why you would leave. Make sure you do not make a hasty decision.

The lawyer in me says there are some major warning signs:
1) Do not use company computers for anything that is not allowed even though you may have been doing this for years. Stop all non work activities with company owned property. This includes your smart phone. (get rid of the nice ER forum app)
2) Read the employee manual just for "fun". Read any recent changes to the technology use section, and anything about performance evaluations. Then re-read any new changes or amendments.
3) Keep good records of when you are at work and anything that is said to you about your performance (not just comments from your boss). If you have to, keep a "work diary". Don't let anyone know you are doing this!
4) Watch for any hints or comments that they might be discriminating against you because of age, race, etc. (you know the protected classes).

There might be some lingering animosity here amongst some of the hire up managers/execs. I have seen in my career managers that are jealous about someone that exercised options when the getting was good (and didn't wait and get greedy like everyone else) and made a killing.

When you decide to bail, give them the two weeks (unless you are in an employment contract and then follow the contract explicitly). If they seem upset about the two weeks, make sure they know in the exit interview that one particular conversation with your manager is the reason you are leaving in such a fashion. This of course will make him look bad with the higher ups, but it is important that he doesn't think he can intimidate people that are under him. This is bad management.

Yes he most likely has access to all HR records, such as 401k balances, and option decisions. Usually managers do not have access to any medical insurance records (which are usually kept and managed in separate files which are only accessable to certain HR personnel so they can follow through on med insurance issues).

Nothing in the above mentioned post should be construed as legal advice. Really, if you have questions go to a employment attorney for State specific advice and any possible Federal violations.

Good Luck!
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Old 08-11-2013, 10:54 AM   #49
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I don't know if this is the beginning of the end but it definitely is the beginning with a new supervisor. A few observations:

1. An employee shouldn't be surprised by anything that is discussed in an annual review. So if there are performance issues then these issues shouldn't go on for 4-5 months without any mention of it to the employee. So if you haven't received performance feedback regularly throughout the year then it is unfair to spring it on you for the first time at your annual review.

2. If you were promoted then a higher standard of performance should be expected. If you got glowing reviews last year you should expect more of a "meets expectations" this year. You do really need to know what the relative different expectations are between your old classification and your new classification. This should also have been discussed at the time of the review.

3. The fact that your new supervisor was present at your last review doesn't mean anything. He had just arrived and played no part in the content of the review. He was just observing the transition.

4. Discussing an employee's future plans is fair game but should be handled delicately so nothing inappropriate is asked by the supervisor. There could be some areas that are illegal to discuss but retirement shouldn't be one of them. I don't know how it works in private industry but it sounds a little creepy for your supervisor to know and be discussing your financial transactions about your stock options.
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Old 08-11-2013, 11:07 AM   #50
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You've received a tremendous amout of good information from the board. One thing that was not mentioned.

Did new supervisor get the same option grants you did? Perhaps you're dealing with his jealousy?

Just a thought, as I never have seen such bizarre behavior.

Good luck,

MRG
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Old 08-11-2013, 11:12 AM   #51
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I haven't done that at all. I've browsed this site during work but I've been doing that for years.
I'm on my second reading through this thread. I am thinking that a report of web sites accessed has been read by your manager or HR. The reporting of such things is very simple with current technology. Initially this may have been a simple report of top ten sites accessed across the company, but with drill down capability employer can see how many times, how long site is open, and who dunnit.

It's possible there are different threads to your situation, and you want to be sure to not overact to a single one. In the end you may unintentionally give them what they want - a reason to terminate you.
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Old 08-11-2013, 11:29 AM   #52
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If you go to HR to complain, HR will call your manager and tell him everything you said before you get back to your desk. Then you will have twice the problems - the manager wants you gone and the manager considers you a snitch on him. I'd consult with an attorney that specializes in this kind of thing and figure out the best way to make it a bonus payday for you.
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Old 08-11-2013, 08:10 PM   #53
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Thanks for all the advice. I think I would not be inclined to go out of the way to extract some severance package because I was starting to think about leaving in a year or so before this meeting. I think it would just make it tougher to transition away from work, to invest time, money and emotionally in some legal process to try to obtain some lump sum.

If I left, I wouldn't get any kind of severance and not sure I'd get it if I got terminated for some reason that the company considers defensible. I could consider it an injustice but in the overall scheme, I've gotten way more than I would have imagined.

Like I said, I had been thinking about it more recently, as I watched my assets grow. The things that made me hold off on taking actions were:

1. While my net worth has appreciated (about $500k over this time last year), the market is at an all-time high so I would be more comfortable to track it for another year to see if it continues.

2. Uncertainly about how health care would play out, since we're about to go through a major change.

3. Organizing my finances better. Assets are spread across several accounts and I still haven't worked out the mechanics of withdrawing, rebalancing.

Specifically, only about 15% of my assets are in 401k and IRA accounts, so I have to think about the tax implications of withdrawing, while at the same time, my taxable accounts are raising my AGI by more than 50%. This figure will only grow since I have DRIP for most of my biggest fund holdings.


Beyond finances, I haven't put much thought on how I'd spend my time, beyond assuming I'd be having a lot more leisure and travel time, time to work on various projects which have been put off for a long time, etc.

Maybe one of the first decisions on ER is whether the questions on finances or the questions on what to do need to be answered first.
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Old 08-11-2013, 11:13 PM   #54
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Companies may have a lot of attorneys, but they fear lawsuits like a beer fears a thirsty old man.

SIS
Cuidate SIS! That is sexism and ageism all rolled into one! I am almost offended!! Maybe even insufficient respect for the alcoholically impaired and possibly genetically disadvantaged! Beware the ADA!

I gotta say though, that was a nice turn of phrase.

Ha
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Old 08-11-2013, 11:49 PM   #55
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Explanade, I think the message is real clear. Seems to me you have 3 choices:

1) Stock up on ammo and prepare to commit a "workplace incident" on the way out

2) Start looking for another job

3) Make the plans necessary to break open your piggy bank and retire.

Sorry. Work sucks, managers suck, HR sucks (big time), and this situation sucks. Go to a lawyer rather than HR, but I think that is a losing game. Prepare to move on to something else.
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Old 08-12-2013, 01:38 AM   #56
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So if you haven't received performance feedback regularly throughout the year then it is unfair to spring it on you for the first time at your annual review.
While this may offend some people's sense of fair play, it has nothing to do with the way reviews are actually conducted at many companies and whining about the unfairness of it all will not help the situation.
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Old 08-12-2013, 06:40 AM   #57
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I don't know if this is the beginning of the end but it definitely is the beginning with a new supervisor. A few observations:

1. An employee shouldn't be surprised by anything that is discussed in an annual review. So if there are performance issues then these issues shouldn't go on for 4-5 months without any mention of it to the employee. So if you haven't received performance feedback regularly throughout the year then it is unfair to spring it on you for the first time at your annual review.
If you go back and read the OP, this wasn't done at an annual review. It seems to have been done specifically so this wasn't sprung as a surprise in the upcoming annual review. However, it wasn't timely with the issue, which makes it sound like the manager has decided to get rid of an employee and build a case around it, rather than the manager bringing up a performance issue needing correction.
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Old 08-12-2013, 07:57 AM   #58
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I'm asking because I don't know: Is it normal for bosses to know whether you've exercised stock options? .
At my last company/MegaCorp, it was standard procedure for a manager to get a heads up when one of their direct reports cashed in a bunch of options. It was assumed that the person cashing in might be planning to leave the company.

Don't assume anything is private in a company these days.
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Old 08-12-2013, 08:01 AM   #59
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I'd also suggest getting down to the nuts and bolts of your FIRE situation in case it comes to that.
Agree. Who knows what is going on in your company, but the fact that this conversation came out of the blue is not a good sign. It sounds like you have had a general interest in ER for a few years. Do yourself a favor and map out a more specific plan just in case.
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Old 08-12-2013, 09:58 AM   #60
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Thanks for all the advice. I think I would not be inclined to go out of the way to extract some severance package because I was starting to think about leaving in a year or so before this meeting.............
Remember this when security is watching you clean out your desk before they escort you to the door. You have to look out for yourself. Your company turned this guy loose on you and as such, is not your friend. You may not be able to extract any additional severance, but wouldn't it be a lot nicer to have been briefed on strategy by a competent attorney on how to handle it to your advantage as opposed to being humiliated and tossed out like over ripe fruit?
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