my old boss got my coworker fired from her new job, awkward elevator encounter with the CEO, and more

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

1. Should I report malicious gossip about my grandboss?

I work for a large, national company in a career track position, and have a good relationship with my current boss, grandboss, and great grandboss. I recently moved to a new office more than an hour away from my original office, and my boss and grandboss are new to me. I have known Grandboss since I started with the company two years ago, and she was instrumental in arranging my transfer when my family wanted to relocate to a better city. I have a lot of respect for her and so far she has been an excellent manager.

When my transfer was made public several weeks before it went in to effect, a number of my peers, some who are her direct reports and some who aren’t, commented to me that she would not be able to help me advance my career because she got where she is by sleeping with an upper level manager. They all named names and identified the same manager, who is no longer with the company. I have not shared this information with anyone, but as it appears to be widespread, I feel compelled to inform SOMEONE. I really respect this manager and I do not believe these rumors to be true, based both on how promotions are typically handled and on what I know of her.

Should I notify HR? I assume that would require me to name names of the accusers, although that wouldn’t necessarily bother me. Or should I tell her boss, my great grandboss? He is also fantastic and I have a good working relationship with him as well. Or should I tell her? This is my least favorite option and feels the most like “tattling” or gossip. I hate to think that a whole “generation” of employees is rising through the ranks thinking these things, gossiping about her and ruining her reputation. I don’t feel like I can let this ride in good conscience, but I don’t know what to do. Whatever damage has already been done can not be undone, but if I can play a role I’m nipping this in the bud I think I have to. What say you?

That’s awful. Ideally, I think she needs to be told directly; she deserves to know that these ugly rumors are out there. If she were your direct manager, I’d say you should just talk directly to her. You’d explain what you heard and say that you were disgusted by the people who relayed these things and that that you felt you had to tell her what happening behind her back. Because she’s two levels above you, it’s a little murkier — although it really just depends on how much contact you have with her and what your relationship is like. If you have a fair amount of contact with her and a decent comfort level with her, you could just proceed with that plan. If not, though, then I’d talk with whoever in your management line you have the best rapport with.

In doing this, you want to make it very clear that you’re not approaching this as gossip and that you put zero stock in these rumors. Rather, you are relying what you heard solely because you think it’s horrible that people are undermining her in this way and it’s sexist BS that needs to be addressed, and that you felt uncomfortable hearing this and saying nothing.

2. Old boss got my coworker fired from her new job

I’m writing in about something that just happened to a friend and former colleague. We worked together for several years and were both high performers. We worked in separate departments but still very closely together in a small, husband/wife business. We always knew to be wary of the wife because she had a history of holding grudges and just being really mean. Former colleague and I both gave our notices pretty closely together and the news was not taken well (this was expected, which is why I gave the standard two weeks notice – I was told to leave after one week). On former coworker’s last day, she was run out the door as the wife hurled insults at her, including saying that she was going to call the new job and tell them they shouldn’t have hired her.

Fast forward a few months and former colleague gets a text from the wife saying she should watch out and be careful about what she can do to her and her career. That brings us to today where former colleague’s new boss says they received information that makes them not trust her and they fired her. It’s pretty clear to me that this was the wife reaching out and making good on her ominous promises.

Does former colleague have any recourse here? While I haven’t been contacted the way former colleague has, I’ve always been worried about what the wife would say about me or to me if she saw me. I’m also trying to start searching for a new role because the one I left former job for isn’t quite right, but now I’m terrified about the wife reaching out to my current or any potential employer. It’s a tight-knit industry and we’re worried about getting black-balled.

There is a legal concept called tortious interference, which is a legal violation related to intentionally damaging someone’s business relationships. Your friend should talk to a lawyer, because depending on exactly what happened, it’s possible that she could pursue that angle — and if nothing else, the lawyer can probably put the fear of god into your old company and get them to restrain this manager. You might want to talk with a lawyer about how to protect yourself too.

3. I had an awkward elevator encounter with the CEO

I ran into my boss while waiting for the elevator and things went south. Our company is huge, and our CEO is a very important figure. Everyone seems to always be on their best behavior when she comes around the corner. Out of nervousness, after she asked how my day was going, I replied that it was going well, but that “Mondays are always slow and droopy.”

Our CEO is very big on productivity and positivity. She even preaches about the importance of productivity under any circumstance on a weekly basis during our massive company meetings. The look on her face when I said this seemed alarming. She followed my statement by changing the subject to mention the weather. Is this just paranoia brought on my extreme anxiety or did I really just mess up? Our CEO is great at remembering faces and I’m worried that this will affect how she sees me or, worse, she will tell my direct supervisor what I said. Should I be worried? I feel as though I’m the only idiot to have ever said something like this to her. Help!

It wasn’t a great thing to say, but it’s not horrible either. That kind of comment about Mondays isn’t exactly unheard of; I’m sure she’s heard similar things before (and I’m sure you’re not the only one to make an awkward remark to her out of nerves either). I doubt that she was still thinking about this even 10 minutes later, but hey, if she does mention it to your boss, your boss will hopefully tell her that there’s no reason to worry about you (assuming that’s true), so that wouldn’t be the worse thing in the world. Give yourself permission to laugh at what happened and then put it behind you.

4. My boss keeps saying we’ll discuss a raise “later”

I keep asking for a raise at work and I always get the response of “we’ll discuss later” and later never happens. It’s been about a year since I first asked to discuss this. I hate bugging my managers about this, but I feel like I deserve a raise. What is the limit of asking for a raise?

Your next move here is not just to ask again, but to explicitly call out the fact that you’ve been told “later” for a year now. Say something like this: “I’ve asked about revisiting my salary several times now and you’ve told me we’ll discuss it later. It’s been a year since I first raised this, and I’d like to nail down a time for discussing it. Can we schedule a meeting about this in the next two weeks?” If you’re put off again, say, “What kind of timeline is realistic for me to plan on?”

And if it still doesn’t happen, assume this means you’re not getting a raise any time soon and decide what you want to do about that. Would you want to stay if you knew you weren’t going to get a raise for the next year? Or would you want to job search? Proceed accordingly.

5. Should I accept a rejected candidate’s LinkedIn connection request?

I’m responsible for recruitment at a nonprofit and we recently interviewed for a vacancy in our team. One of the rejected candidates has now sent me a LinkedIn request. Should I accept? My instinct is not to, as I am worried they will bombard me with questions about the rejection or future opportunities (which I do not currently see arising, they were just not a very good match for our organization). They were a very interesting person though, so I’m tempted to accept the request more out of a personal interest in staying in touch. What would you recommend?

If you’re interested in staying in touch, accept the connection request! A lot of rejected candidates ask to connect on LinkedIn, figuring that in some sense you’re now a part of each other’s networks (you’ve met in a business context, after all). It’s fine to ignore or decline these, but it’s also fine to accept them. Candidates who are going to use it a way to contact you about the rejection or future jobs are pretty likely to find a way to do that whether you accept the connection request or not, so I wouldn’t worry too much about that.

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my old boss got my coworker fired from her new job, awkward elevator encounter with the CEO, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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