34

I've been working at this company for over 6 years and for those 6 years, my boss has been an absolute bully. He micro-manages everything I do, dumps so much work on me, and then criticizes everything that I do. He literally yells all the time and bangs on his desk. When he wants something done instantly, he would put a lot of intense pressure on me to the point where I feel like I'm about to have a heart attack. There have been several complaints about him from my colleagues and former colleagues, but no one does anything and he just gets worse. These past couple of weeks have been particularly bad where he's been dumping so much work on me that I've been working 12 hours a day straight with no lunch break. And the next day, he complains about the work I did and screams at me because there were other minor work that I was unable to complete due to the heavy workload.

I finally got fed up and decided to just quit. I have enough savings to live on for the next several years so I decided not to become a slave anymore. So I tried to resign today and in order to not end on bad terms, I tried giving two weeks notice and said that I have a very important family obligation that came up that will require me to be out of work for an extended period of time and I can no longer continue with the job.

My boss was stunned and said that I'm a very valued employee (which was shocking to hear after the way he always treated me) and he begged me to not be hasty and resign. He told me to take a leave of absence for as long as I want (even if it means several months) and start the leave anytime I want and I don't ever have to come back if I can't.

Why did my boss do this? How is this benefiting him? Any catch I should be aware of?

  • 1
    You asked "why" about this idea of unpaid leave of absence. With respect, it's hard to guess about that unless you tell us more about the company. Is this guy a midlevel manager whose bonus is reduced when his people resign? Has this guy been claiming credit for your work, and will your departure expose his reliance on you? You could, if you wish, edit your question to give us more information about those things. – O. Jones Oct 18 at 11:35
  • 10
    Why did he offer leave of absence? Because you decided to lie about the reasons you were quitting, and made it seem like you had stuff going on which was forcing your hand, rather than telling him straight that you'd had enough and wanted out. He's trying to offer a solution in the belief that your "important family obligation" will eventually be over and you can return to work. – AdzzzUK Oct 18 at 13:29
  • @AdzzzUK lol, we must have been writing those at the same time :) – Reinstate Monica --Brondahl-- Oct 18 at 13:32
  • 1
    It's possible that he wants you to stay technically employed so that, if you do take another job, he can enforce a notice period to screw up that job. Do you work in a right to work area or have you signed a contract stipulating a notice period? – Jaguar Wong Oct 18 at 15:36
  • 1
    Have you considered that perhaps never being honest with him about what you dislike about your situation is partially to blame for it? – mxyzplk says reinstate Monica Oct 19 at 16:40
88

Why does it even matter?

If what he asks doesn't help you, then ignore it. You're not quitting for it to be a benefit to him. You're quitting to benefit yourself.

Strictly speaking, if you haven't resigned, he can legally claim you're staff, or consider you an employee without actually paying you, or just use your headcount to benefit himself, or commit outright fraud by claiming to pay you but pocket the money, etc.

Whatever he is doing, you don't want to be a part of it. If the situation is bad enough, you probably may not even want to give him that much notice if you believe he's going to pull something shady. Know your rights and figure out what it is that you can do to protect yourself.

Also, him saying you're a valued employee only when you are threatening to quit is completely dishonest. It is absolutely worthless talk at this point.

  • 13
    That's why it matters because it DOES benefit me. Not only can I leave NOW without having to wait two weeks but as long as I'm on leave, I can go on job interviews and still claim I'm employed, further increasing my chances of finding a new job quicker. – DaDude Oct 18 at 2:27
  • 18
    You're giving your boss the benefit of the doubt to not screw you over. What if he sets you up and sues you for embezzlement? You're on staff, but he knows you want to leave, and you're fine with him claiming you as staff while not actually being there? I really don't think you can safely tangle yourself up by trying to benefit yourself with this "unpaid leave". – Nelson Oct 18 at 3:00
  • 18
    @DaDude, after reading your initial post it is very possible that your boss might be rigging this to fire you for absence. Even if you would have something in writing with some people that is worth less than a paper it is written on. Reasons could vary from "why not demonstrate a power for a last time?" to "him going away puts me in bad light, however if I fire him with a "valid" reason...". Bottom line is that while staying might get you better negotiating position on interview you are betting on that your boss wouldn't screw you. – AlexanderM Oct 18 at 4:05
  • 3
    This is the right answer. Much like with a financial con, where you don't need to understand what the scam is because the scammer definitely does, the OP doesn't need to know why the boss offered this to them. After all this time, has the boss ever shown concern for or extra kindness towards the OP? Not from the question as written. Either the boss has abruptly become a better person, or this is in some way another example of the behaviors driving the OP to leave. Deciding it's the latter is as specific as the OP's understanding needs to be here to stick to the original plan and quit. – Upper_Case Oct 18 at 15:30
  • @DaDude This does NOT benefit you - you're still listed as an employee but you get no pay so technically you still have obligations. You can get no pay and have all the free time you want by quitting and then you won't have obligations. This is only benefitting your abusive boss in some way that we cannot see from your description. Simply write a resignation email (CC higher management / HR if any), thank him for the offer and state that you're quitting either with a deadline or effective immediately, whichever you prefer. – xxbbcc Oct 18 at 15:39
39

It's possible that this is genuine - many who behave as your boss does seem rather oblivious to how obnoxious they are being.

On the other hand (and what I think is more likely) is that it's rather more self-serving of him and could lead to an unceremonious firing for being a no-show. Or a scapegoating - "I'm such a generous boss.. I gave DaDude an unrestricted sabbatical and they stabbed me in the back by never coming back to work" etc etc

The benefits of being able to say you're still employed are real when job hunting - but I think the sacrifice of those is worth it when getting them is essentially gambling on a leopard changing their spots. I'm not saying people never change but what's more likely, that your boss has suddenly decided to be a selfless good person or that they will continue on in the existing pattern of being an abusive arse?

  • 13
    +1 for the possibility of it being genuine. I've met people like that. They're way overpassionate about work to the point of being oblivious to the way they treat people, but down deep, they value the people. (Not a reason to stay, ofc, but such people do exist.) – João Mendes Oct 18 at 10:33
  • Yup, agree that it seems genuine. The boss seems like an impatient, low impulse control hothead. Those types of people are very rarely capable of Machiavellian scheming and plotting. It is very incongruous. If he always reacts with feelings, why is not this last reaction also? If I was OP, I'd stay on leave long enough for him to miss me and then see if he changes attitude. – Stian Yttervik Oct 19 at 7:48
36

If you want to be a bad boss, then your goal should be to push as much work as possible out of your employees just to the point where they almost break, but not so much that they do break. The closer you can get to each person's breaking point, the more productivity you get. But it is imperative that you do not get beyond their breaking point and get them to quit.

When an employee quits or becomes chronically ill, you pushed too far. You now have to go through the hassle to find a replacement. You have to train them, you need to discover what buttons you have to push at them to get them to work more and where their breaking point is. That could take months! And even if you do, will you ever find someone you can push as far as your old employee?

So when an employee puts a resignation on your desk, you know you fucked up. How do you fix that? Reduce the pressure. Appease them. Guilt-trip them. Make a couple false promises. That's how abusive relationships work. Torment your partner until they are about to leave, then suck up to them to change their mind. Then repeat.

But keep in mind that in most abusive relationships, there are two people at fault. The person who is abusive and manipulative, and the person who willingly puts up with that.

  • 3
    "Willingly" is the wrong word there. From what I've heard most victims of abusive relationships have been programmed to think they deserve it. That's not the same as willing. – Tim B Oct 18 at 14:38
  • 3
    @TimB Yes, or to think that escaping it is difficult or impossible, like in the case of employment. – Aaron Oct 18 at 15:21
12

This may be genuine and he didn't realize you were so close to quitting.

However, that doesn't really matter.

Congrats on your financial well being!
Even if it is due to having no time to spend your money (I've been there!)

Be sure to send a copy of your resignation letter (you did this in writing, right?) to HR or send to your boss's boss if there isn't an HR dept.

Thank him for the offer and decline due to personal reasons (because that's the inaccuracy that you gave already).

Spend the next two weeks documenting your knowledge and fixing small things that need to be polished. Send him a list of a few things that you intend to accomplish - make sure this list can be done in 20 hours or less, because he will tell you other stuff is more important but still expect what you sent to be done.

Limit yourself to 8 hours/day, even if he starts yelling again, even if you don't get it all done.

Take a month off then start looking for a new job - find one you like and remember not to bad mouth your boss.

  • 1
    I am not well-versed in obnoxious boss management and job changing details, however I up this answer and would like to stress Chris' last line. Taking a month, or at least a "long enough" period, off, will do wonders for your successive job search. You'll recover some life balance and take distance from the toxic environment state of mind. This will greatly help when you will talk about your previous experience, as you will not need to "vent out" the stress you endured, but just talk about a "highly challenging environment" - a game changer in job interviews. – phagio Oct 18 at 15:25
5

You handled yourself professionally in a terrible situation. You gave notice, which is an offer to help other people pick up your work. Well done. Many people would have simply walked away.

The moment you resigned, your boss's problems stopped being your problems. You don't owe him anything. Whatever you do for him from now on is a freely given gift from you to him. You don't have to give him anything.

I guess you're in a frame of mind where it's difficult to both behave professionally to your employer and hard-nosed about your own career and life. (You could have said "I'm leaving to do other things" instead of something about a family emergency. For that matter, you could have quoted the old country music song, "take this job and shove it, I ain't working here no more.")

It's understandable you are in a tough frame of mind right now. Still, you have one more highly professional task ahead of you. It's to decline his "offer" for you to take a leave of absence. You need to do this in a way that does not open the question to debate.

It would be best if you can have this conversation with somebody else present (HR? your boss's boss?) You might say something like this:

"I have thought hard about your suggestion I take a leave of absence. With respect, I have decided to resign instead. " "I have decided" are your key words here. If he tries to argue with you, just repeat yourself: "I have decided." He'll invite you to join some kind of argument about alternatives. Don't join the argument. He may give you a counter-offer like higher pay. In that case say, "I've made my decision. Let's not go there." You get the idea. Every sentence should start with "I have decided."

It's good to add "thanks for the opportunity to work here." Those words cost you nothing.

Good luck and strength.

4

I'm going to identify the fundamental problem revealed by your narrative.

At no point have you told your boss the truth. Not even a bit of it. In fact you made up a lie to specifically avoid telling him the truth.

I understand that telling an angry, yelling, micromanaging boss the truth about his behaviour, or even some of it, is difficult, and it's easy to believe that it can make things worse, but at some point it will be better if you do it. This is both for the benefit of the company, and the boss, so they understand what they are doing, but also for you. It is healthy for you to be able to tell the truth about your situation.

While understanding it's difficult, it's very much best to start before you have decided to resign. Saying something like "I'd rather you didn't yell at me please.", or "I'd prefer if you didn't micromanage me". If you absolutely can't do that go to HR, or your boss' boss.

At the very least when you resigned you should give the real reason why you are resigning. You have nothing to lose at this point (except a reference, but you probably don't want to use this boss as a reference anyway).

Given your boss' statements about you being a valid employee, this is a perfect opportunity to say "You haven't treated me like a valuable employee. You yelled at me, you micromanaged me, you overloaded me with work. That's the reason I'm resigning." This allows him to understand himself, and opens the door to a possible scenario where he agrees to change his behaviour and you agree to keep working. But only if you want. That scenario has its risks.

The fact that you are unable to tell him the real reasons indicates to me that he has bullied you even more than you think, or that you are not used to confrontation. Telling the truth here is going to be a healthy thing for you. I don't have any real expectation that if you tell him the truth he will suddenly change his mind and behave reasonably. But at the point where you have resigned you have nothing significant to lose by telling at least some of the truth. The fact that you are still conflicted by his 'offer" means that you are still being manipulated by him.

It goes without saying that he cannot force you to unresign. Resigning is a unilateral thing. If you say you don't want to work any more, and have given the legal amount of notice, then nobody can say otherwise.

  • This boss is severely emotionally abusive. Just telling him that he's emotionally abusive isn't going to get him to change his behavior. It's going to give him an opening to try to pull the OP back in, so that they can be abused further. OP needs to get out, and is doing the right thing by protecting themselves and doing so. Now, there's a faint chance that by being honest about it as they leave, they might cause a change in the boss's behavior towards others, but they also leave more of an opening to be hurt and abused further. – Ben Barden Oct 18 at 14:20
  • You'll notice I don't suggest saying "You are emotionally abusive." I suggest starting with saying specific things about specific behaviours. – DJClayworth Oct 18 at 15:00
  • 3
    Want to +1 this is how it should be, but I feel the need to -1 as this is not reality in my experience. Net +0. I have taken this leap a few times. Almost every time, it made things worse. Abusers found clever excuses for retaliation. Micro-managers found people to tell them they're not. Once I had a mediocre boss insist he wanted people to tell him the truth, "tell me like it is; I'll check my disappointment and we can all benefit," but when I did, he made the next year a nightmare - I don't mean that figuratively, I lost much sleep. The theory is great, but it often fails me. – Aaron Oct 18 at 15:31
  • To clarify, just telling him the emotionally abusive things he's doing to you isn't going to get him to change his behavior. He's already either accepting them or rationalizing them on a daily basis, and he clearly has incentive to continue to rationalize them. "Don't go back to your abuser" is there for a reason. – Ben Barden Oct 18 at 15:35
  • 1
    @dan-klasson A good point. I've edited that part. – DJClayworth Oct 19 at 13:44
2

One reason he might be doing this is because, as you say, a lot of people are complaining about him, and now people are starting to leave the company because of him, and he's aware of what that means. He knows that if people start leaving the company because of him then his reputation will decrease within the company and he could be faced with managerial issues from HR or from his higher ups, and he doesn't want that. So he wants you to keep it in the DL and not quit but just leave "on sabbatical" or something so he can say to HR that you didn't quit, you're just on leave, and his antics are not a problem.

Similarly but alternately, he could also be in a manpower crunch. He has a lot of work/projects that need to get done and not enough people to do them. That would also explain why he's shoving off so much work onto you. He knows if you leave then he will have even more work to do with even fewer people, and that means he might not accomplish his goals, and that looks bad on him, so he wants to give you something to entice you to stay.

The thing is, neither of these are your problem. Over time, your boss has proven to be a jerk. If it turns out he doesn't want to be seen as a manager who pushes away employees, then perhaps he shouldn't be a manager who pushes away employees. If he wants to get more manpower to finish his projects, then perhaps he should hire some people and not stress out the people he already has. These are not your problems, they are his problems, and you have no reason to help him solve his problems.

If you want to leave, just leave, and let the chips fall where they may. Based on this interaction you may want to describe this situation in your exit interview with HR, so they know, if the next person goes on "indefinite sabbatical", then they know what's actually happened and who to blame.

0

Lets look not from the other side.

Maybe it makes sense for you to take unpaid leave, if you're going to look for another job.

It's always better to do job hunting if you already have a job and salary negotiation is easy for you.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.