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I can see the fat lady getting ready to sing
Old 04-30-2014, 09:44 AM   #1
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I can see the fat lady getting ready to sing

Hey all,

My story may not have quite the drama of Ellis Wyatt's departure, but some of you may find it amusing.

Overview - I currently spend my days running a teacher professional development program at a little (8 staff member) non-profit. Last fall, the President announced his resignation (effective today) and the Board endorsed his choice of our CEO as his replacement. The Board also directed that we undertake a 90 day strategic planning process which ended Monday with a presentation to the Board.

During the last 90 days it has become increasingly clear to the staff that the new President is NOT going to be up to the job. We were quite unhappy that the Board did not undertake a search for a replacement, but were willing to wait and see how things would play out.

The Board endorsed the new strategic plan on Monday and seems to be comfortable with some staff turnover due to what will be a major change in direction for the organization. All program activities will be halted and we will return to our roots as a research and advocacy organization. This is fine with me, even as I was leading the programs, I knew that they were a poor fit for the organization. Plus, I was planning my exit by the end of this year, anyway.

So far, boring, I know. What makes it interesting is that the organization currently has several grants that are expiring this fall which still have some work remaining to be done, including one with a VERY IMPORTANT FUNDER. These tasks depending critically on my cooperation and that of 3 other staff members who are currently searching for jobs, especially my program manager who possesses most of the information that is needed to fulfill the grant. The new boss spent considerable time reassuring the Board that we would fulfill all of our obligations under these grants.

Yesterday, as the program manager and I were discussing the progress of her job search, it came to my attention that she has received 1% pay increases over the past two years while the rest of the staff has received 3%. Naturally, she is rather PO'd about this, as am I. This young woman is the hardest worker in the organization, but she and the new president have not gotten along from the very beginning.

Anyway, the temptation is to walk out the door immediately after my program manager receives a job offer and leave the new boss without the expertise on staff to carry through on the organization's commitments. This goes against everything I've ever done, but she has done everything possible to push us out the door other than tell us to leave.

Sorry to take up so much time, but it feels good to dump this out there.

Not really asking for advice, but I am certainly willing to listen if anyone wants to make suggestions. Also, if there are willing listeners, I have much more that I could say on the topic.
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Old 04-30-2014, 10:26 AM   #2
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...<snip>
Anyway, the temptation is to walk out the door immediately after my program manager receives a job offer and leave the new boss without the expertise on staff to carry through on the organization's commitments. This goes against everything I've ever done, but she has done everything possible to push us out the door other than tell us to leave.
I understand the temptation, but ultimately you'll feel better about yourself & the whole situation if you take the high road, do what you can to complete the project successfully & leave with your reputation intact. And involve the new boss as little as possible so it is apparent to all that she doesn't deserve the credit.
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Old 04-30-2014, 10:29 AM   #3
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There are usually unintended consequences of burning bridges so it is hard to recommend your plan but very easy to understand that screwing the new President would give you at least a moment of happiness.

It could backfire in that she would then have a ready excuse for her failures in that you and the program manager left abruptly and she might be able to spin the board that you two are blamed and I suspect that is not the legacy you want to leave.

It does sound tempting but just make sure you have assessed all the potential follow-on effects before making a decision.
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Old 04-30-2014, 10:35 AM   #4
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Is there some reason that the shafted coworker does not realize that she has them by the short and curlies? In her shoes, I would like up another offer, then go back to them, get a good grip with both hands, and yank as hard as I could.
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Old 04-30-2014, 10:36 AM   #5
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I have had the temptation to "walk out the door immediately" many times over the years, along with a strong temptation to sing the "take this job and shove it" song (not actually sing it, but you know what I mean). I agree with the first two posters, take the high road it pays off in the end. When it is time to go, leave gracefully.
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Old 04-30-2014, 10:39 AM   #6
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Thanks, BOBOT and pb4uski. That's definitely where I've been over the last 4 months, it's only the events of the last few days that have made me drift toward the dark side. I am currently trying to figure out how to finish the commitments without the program manager. I can not in good conscience tell her not to take another job when it has become clear that she is no longer wanted around here (except by me, of course). If she and others leave (all much younger and unwilling to risk sticking around here) then I will be unable to finish the commitments and will be the one left looking bad. I am currently leaning toward doing as much advance work as possible and try to maximize my ability to take care of some things if everyone else heads out the door. But there are some things that I just cannot see getting finished without the rest of the staff.
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Old 04-30-2014, 10:41 AM   #7
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Is there some reason that the shafted coworker does not realize that she has them by the short and curlies? In her shoes, I would like up another offer, then go back to them, get a good grip with both hands, and yank as hard as I could.
I have discussed that possibility with her (and considered it myself), but we are talking about a sweet, Midwestern girl who has some problems with assertiveness.
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Old 04-30-2014, 10:54 AM   #8
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It looks to me like there is no happy ending to this story no matter what you or anyone else does. If you stay it will probably not be pleasant working with the new boss and if you leave as pb4uski posted you would likely be blamed for the failure of the program. My only advice is to try to set emotions aside and take at least a few days and consider which of the two options would be the least distasteful to you.
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Old 04-30-2014, 10:59 AM   #9
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I have discussed that possibility with her (and considered it myself), but we are talking about a sweet, Midwestern girl who has some problems with assertiveness.

Amazing. Well, it is what it is, I guess. I suppose if you are ready to bail you might consider being one of the first ones out the door to avoid the real mess that is coming.
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Old 04-30-2014, 11:45 AM   #10
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As you leave I suggest you give the Board a heads-up and tell them that the new CEO has essentially driven the staff out the door. Give them a copy of the list of what needs to happen with the projects you have been involved with that you have just given the CEO.

Give them your best wishes (aka, lots of luck with the mess that remains).
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Old 04-30-2014, 12:01 PM   #11
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Playing devil's advocate:

You said your friend "has some problems with assertiveness." And "she is no longer wanted around here (except by me." Reading between the lines, is it possible that although she may be a hard working employee, she has issues that will not make her stand out in management's eye? We don't have a benefit of hearing from the new CEO and I am wondering what is REALLY going on.
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Old 04-30-2014, 12:45 PM   #12
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Playing devil's advocate:

You said your friend "has some problems with assertiveness." And "she is no longer wanted around here (except by me." Reading between the lines, is it possible that although she may be a hard working employee, she has issues that will not make her stand out in management's eye? We don't have a benefit of hearing from the new CEO and I am wondering what is REALLY going on.
You make a great point. Two things in response, 1) That would have been better phrased as "she is no longer wanted around here by the boss, but everyone else realizes her importance." 2) The issue is, indeed, a personality conflict between the boss and this individual. Exactly what it stems from I cannot tell. Since this individual reports to me and has very few interactions with the boss, this has not been a problem, except for the boss's control of the salary.

I would be very interested to know what the new CEO is thinking. Several weeks ago I had a discussion with the CEO about her (the CEO's) inability to connect with the rest of the staff (she brought this concern to me). I suggested that part of the problem was that she had never had the opportunity to work alongside the staff on the issues and problems that the staff was engaged with. We agreed that I would try to include her in our future work sessions. However, she was not receptive to my suggestion that she take a few minutes to stop by everyone's office (at 5 minutes each this would total 30 minutes) for a chat to try to establish some connections with everyone and to communicate to every one her vision for where she wanted to take the organization.

I agree that there are two sides to this story. However, I am quite tired of being the staff psychologist and listening nearly everyday to staff members who are ready to quit and a boss who wants to know why people don't like her.

It is entirely possible that I am the bad guy in this drama and that somehow I am causing the entire situation. If that is the case, maybe I don't want to know.
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Old 04-30-2014, 12:50 PM   #13
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As you leave I suggest you give the Board a heads-up and tell them that the new CEO has essentially driven the staff out the door. Give them a copy of the list of what needs to happen with the projects you have been involved with that you have just given the CEO.

Give them your best wishes (aka, lots of luck with the mess that remains).
Interesting idea. I am currently thinking about how to accelerate the writing of a couple of annual reports that are due so that I can minimize the amount of work that would be remaining if everyone bails. There are a couple of other tasks that might be able to be moved forward, as well.

What can't be moved are meetings with teachers that we have committed to facilitate. That is what concerns me the most. I will probably end up leading the meetings if the PM leaves. However, it will definitely be a large drop in quality because I don't know the teachers by name nor am I familiar with the work that they have been doing. However, I can muddle through.
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Old 04-30-2014, 01:25 PM   #14
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the only thing to do is your best. I have a policy of open, honest and transparent. You never know when something you do bites someone you love in the future.

I was blindsided years, ago, by a person that had a vendetta against my brother for something he had done 11 years earlier. Many of our wars in the middle east are caused my events that started hundreds of years ago.

So, late in life my mother used to say: "I never want to hurt anyone for the rest of my life"......That was said after she almost died of a stroke......I've felt this way for years.....so resist doing anything other than your best. You can't control what others do but you can do your best, earn respect and go on to a good future without any guilt.
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Old 04-30-2014, 01:49 PM   #15
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Thanks, everyone, for the responses so far. I'm going to take some time and think about a course of action that is positive and that I can feel good about. I'll check back in later with updates if folks are interested.
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Old 04-30-2014, 03:40 PM   #16
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Good luck, jjquantz. Sounds like your organization and you care about employees. My Megacorp don't have too many managers who care. Employees have to fend for themselves.

IMO, in any conflict, we need to hear from both sides. Whenever there is a conflict between one of my employees and one from another department, I take time to listen to both sides in 1 on 1 meeting, and solicit others for additional input. Rarely, one party is 100% at wrong. My role as an manager/officer becomes one of a mediator rather than defending my employee against whomever. I just wish my peers do that same before barging into my office and accuse one of my employees for wrong doing without doing due diligence work.
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Old 05-02-2014, 03:48 PM   #17
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Just in case anyone is still interested. Yesterday, the leadership team (the new president and the 2 of us who have direct reports) met with the consultant who has been trying to help us with our reorganization. Between the consultant, the DW and the comments on this board I am in a much better frame of mind than a couple of days ago. Still not convinced that the new president has the skills needed to successfully lead the organization, but I think that I can finish out the few months needed to gracefully end my programs.

One of the issues that we are dealing with is that the leadership team has three individuals with VERY DIFFERENT interaction styles. The president likes to talk through everything, does not like agendas for meetings and wants to make sure everyone is happy. I like to have people do pre-work for meetings, have an agenda and focus on what the meeting is intended to accomplish in terms of work tasks. Needless to say, our meetings tend to function very differently. She often has meetings that are scheduled for 0ne hour run closer to 3 and my half hour meetings with my staff are usually over in 10 minutes. I will admit that this is in part due to the different nature of the topics under discussion, but...

New president made two comments that I thought I would throw out for your comments to see if there are interpretations that I might have missed.

1) After we finished discussing our different styles she said, "You didn't use to mind me coming down to talk." I responded that the context was somewhat different now, she was my boss and that changes the dynamic. Two things that I didn't mention were that she almost always came down to complain about the old president and that at no time have I told her to stop coming down to my office.
2) After we had finished discussing her interactions style she said, " Yes, I am a people person. I really care deeply about what other people think about me."

Anyway, if you've read this far, thanks for listening.
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Old 05-02-2014, 03:56 PM   #18
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Just in case anyone is still interested. Yesterday, the leadership team (the new president and the 2 of us who have direct reports) met with the consultant who has been trying to help us with our reorganization. Between the consultant, the DW and the comments on this board I am in a much better frame of mind than a couple of days ago. Still not convinced that the new president has the skills needed to successfully lead the organization, but I think that I can finish out the few months needed to gracefully end my programs.

One of the issues that we are dealing with is that the leadership team has three individuals with VERY DIFFERENT interaction styles. The president likes to talk through everything, does not like agendas for meetings and wants to make sure everyone is happy. I like to have people do pre-work for meetings, have an agenda and focus on what the meeting is intended to accomplish in terms of work tasks. Needless to say, our meetings tend to function very differently. She often has meetings that are scheduled for 0ne hour run closer to 3 and my half hour meetings with my staff are usually over in 10 minutes. I will admit that this is in part due to the different nature of the topics under discussion, but...

New president made two comments that I thought I would throw out for your comments to see if there are interpretations that I might have missed.

1) After we finished discussing our different styles she said, "You didn't use to mind me coming down to talk." I responded that the context was somewhat different now, she was my boss and that changes the dynamic. Two things that I didn't mention were that she almost always came down to complain about the old president and that at no time have I told her to stop coming down to my office.
2) After we had finished discussing her interactions style she said, " Yes, I am a people person. I really care deeply about what other people think about me."

Anyway, if you've read this far, thanks for listening.
Based on your description of the president, IMO, she needs formal training on leadership. At my megacorp, she won't go past 1st line management ("people" manager) with her ways.
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Old 05-02-2014, 03:58 PM   #19
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Why would you consider leaving and giving this new Prez a built in excuse for her poor performance? Stay the course and enjoy watching her fail on her own merits. Oh, and the other hard working young lady should garner the courage to press for a raise. Afterall, it appears her leverage is pretty good under the circumstances.
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Old 05-02-2014, 04:08 PM   #20
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Why would you consider leaving and giving this new Prez a built in excuse for her poor performance? Stay the course and enjoy watching her fail on her own merits. Oh, and the other hard working young lady should garner the courage to press for a raise. Afterall, it appears her leverage is pretty good under the circumstances.
I appreciate the sentiment, but the reality is:

1) I was already headed out the door before she was anointed as the new president,
2) I lobbied for the discontinuation of the programs that I run because they were not an appropriate direction for the organization,
3) I negotiated a graceful phase-out of my time over the phase out period of the programs,
4) I have zero, nada, zip, none, no, interest in the new direction the organization is headed.
5) I am ready to stop working !!!!!

As far as the young lady goes, she has some very promising leads and I think that if she gets a job with another organization she may be able to do some consulting with our organization to help a couple of other people close out their tasks. We'll see.

As far as the potential to observe failure, I really hope she doesn't, but right now it looks like 4 of her 6 staff members may be out the door. Again, we'll see if they turn up anything that allows them to exit.
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