my ex-friend is my new boss, employer sending rides for us in the snow, and more — Ask a Manager


It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. My hostile ex-friend is my new boss

My ex-friend convinced me back in the beginning of 2020 to take a job in the same office as her where we would be peers. Unfortunately, we’ve had a falling out since then and are no longer friends, but have kept it cordial at work and have kept our conflict out of the workplace.

However, she has been promoted and is going to be my boss, which I’m extremely uncomfortable with as she now has access to information I would prefer she does not, and has control over my promotions, raises, etc. I’m not sure how to navigate this situation but it’s extremely distressing as she has been, for lack of a kinder way to describe her, a generally vindictive, spiteful person since I’ve known her and I believe she will use her newfound power over me to make my life miserable. I’m actively trying to get pregnant and absolutely do not want to have to have any conversation with her in this regard, as I am fearful she will share information with mutual friends before I’m ready. Do I have any options here or am I stuck trying to make the best of a bad situation?

(The falling out happened because I didn’t text her to tell her about a significant life event before posting it on social media. We were friends but not close enough where that would even be a thought in my mind. She has since blocked my phone number and has me blocked on all social media platforms. I haven’t tried to address this problem outside of work as I have no way to contact her to do so.)

You said your ex-friend “is going to be” your boss, so it sounds like this hasn’t formally happened yet. Talk to someone above her, right away, today. That might be her boss or the head of your department or it could be HR (depending on the available players and what you know of each of them). Explain that you’re concerned about reporting to her because the two of you have a difficult personal history that turned hostile — that you used to be friends but she became hostile toward you, froze you out, and blocked your phone and blocked you on social media. (Don’t be tempted to gloss over those details; they’re important in illustrating exactly what the situation is.) Say she’s been hostile toward you, and you don’t think she can manage you objectively or without bias. Ask if there are other options, like reporting to someone else.

Any halfway decent manager or HR person will be seriously concerned upon hearing this, because your former friend cannot manage someone she has a hostile history with. (Frankly, I’d also be doubting her judgment since she didn’t think to disclose this herself.) If they’re not halfway decent and they leave the situation as is, I’d ask what safeguards can be put in place to protect you … but I would also be actively trying to get out from under her (even if that means taking a job at another company at whatever point you can).

2. Employer driving us to work during a snowstorm

I work in a nonprofit non-emergency healthcare organization in Texas. We are one of those areas that was hit hard by snow last week — over 10″ in three days, and our area is definitely not prepared for something like that. Our office declared an “Inclement Weather Day” for Monday-Wednesday, meaning if you couldn’t make it into the office you could use a PTO day without being dinged as a no-call, no show (though some people could work from home like we did during the past year with COVID). However, I’m writing this on Thursday and today it seems like our executive director wants more people in the office and is sending out staff with 4×4 vehicles to drive other staff members around and ferry them back and forth to the office.

This is insane, right? I’m talking about office staff, not nurses or other healthcare workers (although some healthcare workers are also being driven around). What do you think?

Eh. It’s a thing some employers will arrange when some vehicles can drive though snow and others can’t. No one should be pressured into being a driver or a passenger if they don’t feel safe or if they’re dealing with aftermath from the storm, but otherwise offering rides in vehicles equipped for the snow isn’t an outrageous thing. (That said, if your E.D. was pressuring people to come in when they could have worked just as effectively from home or when they needed to be dealing with consequences of the storm, that’s not okay.)

3. How to resign when my great manager just went to bat for me

I received a job offer for a position that is perfect for me. The pay and benefits are much better than what I have now, the commute is shorter and will be almost fully remote post-COVID, and the description is what I love to do, with lots of opportunity to grow.

The only con of leaving my current position is my manager. Things here can be a little … less than professional. I feel like the two of us are friends. We were in similar roles and worked together closely before she was promoted to her current position, so it’s been an adjustment getting into the manager-staff roles.

After my previous supervisor left, she worked really hard to get me on her team and ensure I’m only doing the work that was in my job description (I was previously doing two positions worth of work). She’s done a lot to help me, and I’ve only officially been on her team for less than a month.

I know she’ll understand my opportunity, and I know I’m internalizing this because I tend to over-empathize, but I don’t know what to say to her. The reason I’m leaving has absolutely nothing to do with her. I feel like I need a “script” to follow on how to resign when my manager is absolutely wonderful, that I can personalize. If it’s not obvious, this was my first position after college and I’m still learning how to navigate the professional world without getting over-invested in emotions and feelings. Do you have any tips for me?

It can be hard to give notice right after your manager expended a lot of effort and capital doing something for you, but sometimes that’s just the way the timing works out. (Also, for what it’s worth, managers usually have business reasons for those efforts too; she’s unlikely to have done it purely a favor to you.) The best thing you can do is acknowledge that your boss went out of her way for you, you appreciate that, and you know the timing is bad.

Here’s sample language: “I have some news to share. I’ve been offered a job that would be a big step up for me, and after a lot of thought I’ve accepted it. I know the timing is bad — you went to bat to get me on your team and I’m very grateful. I was really looking forward to working more closely with you! But this fell in my lap and was too good an opportunity to pass up.”

(If any part of your manager thinks you should have turned down the job since she’d just brought you onto her team,” the “too good to pass up” language is helpful in reinforcing that it’s foolish to expect someone to turn down a better opportunity.)

Also, for any guilt or awkwardness you’re feeling about resigning, read this and this and this. And congratulations!

4. No salary increase while on an improvement plan

I’ve recently been put on a PIP. I was expecting an automatic salary increase (this is customary in my field and is applied to everyone at my level), but was informed that I would be paid at my current salary during the duration of my PIP. Is this normal? I also recently returned to my role after taking time off for health issues. I’m not sure if this is just a case of weird timing, but it was strange that this was never brought up, as my work performance has been directly impacted by my health issues.

It’s not unusual to be ineligible for a raise while you’re on a performance improvement plan.

But I’d look closely at the issues your manager is raising with your work. It’s certainly possible they’re legitimate issues since you note that your health issues did affect your work, but make sure you’re not being penalized for the time off itself (which would be illegal if you took the time under FMLA or the ADA). If the details seem vague or are things that you’ve seen other people get a pass for doing, it’s worth familiarizing yourself with the laws protecting medical leave.

5. How do you handle resume items that used to be a big deal but aren’t anymore?

I’m a journalist, and I’ve been in the business for two decades, during which our industry has changed a lot. Updating my resume recently, I noticed older items like “helped build internet traffic by writing breaking news stories for daily web posting,” a new and interesting thing back in aught-five or so, and just part of the job now. Or “adept at use of emerging platforms like Facebook and Twitter to break news and promote stories,” a major selling point as recently as the early 2010s, and just expected now.

The obvious solution is to simply delete those lines … but at the time, these things were a radical change to the way journalism had been done for decades, and a lot of reporters resisted those changes, some quite aggressively. Is there a way to reflect what that work said about me then — that I’m flexible, comfortable with technology, not afraid to try new things, committed to doing great journalism with whatever the best tools are — without sounding like I’m embarrassingly out of touch with industry norms now?

Yes! Add some language that puts it in context — like “was one of team’s first reporters to write for the web” or “early adopter of social media, pushing paper to break news on Facebook and Twitter, leading to X and Y.”

You might also touch on your comfort with new tools in your cover letter and/or in a profile section of your resume if you have one.



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