At work, I applied to a new department and got the job. The only thing is I had to wait 3 months to get the job so I needed to stay 3 months at my current department.

The thing is my current boss is extremely mad that I didn't tell him about my applying to the new job (It's company policy that we are allowed to keep it secret) and that he is going to lose an employee. I work in a specialised field so it his hard for him to find someone else and give them the whole formation and stuff.

My problem is that the boss is so mad at me that now he is lying to my new boss by telling him I lost motivation and that I am not doing the job good any more and that he should reconsider getting me on the new team. Which is totally false. I love my job and would never do anything to screw it up.

Now the new boss is meeting me and confronting me with all those lies. And even thought I try to explain, I feel he's not believing me at all.

Obviously, the new boss will believe my other boss as they are supervisor colleagues but what he his telling him is totally false. How should I handle this professionally. I know I should be careful because I don't want to give my old boss a real reason to be mad at me. But I don't want to lose my new job because of the lies he made up.

  • 1
    Why did you apply to change departments? Did you have a good relationship with your boss before the change? Is the change of position a step up, or just a step to the side? How long were you in that role prior to changing? I feel like you are missing part of the story. Maybe that's all there is, but I felt the need to check.
    – jmac
    Jan 17, 2014 at 8:04
  • @jmac I changed because it is a good opportunity for me and it is a step up.
    – user798
    Jan 17, 2014 at 16:36
  • I generally hate to suggest this, but can HR help at all? It seems like you're being treated to what has become a toxic environment due to the interactions by a manager.
    – CGCampbell
    Jul 17, 2015 at 14:01

6 Answers 6


From the outside, you appear to be caught in a power struggle. Worse, it's one-sided; your new boss doesn't seem to realize (or believe) that your current boss is just trying to hold on to his existing team.

Quick aside - does your current boss have any reason to say anything like what he's saying? Have you left work 5 minutes early? Were you late for any meetings? Have you missed a deadline, even if it's just by an hour?

Anything concrete he can point to, no matter how small, is potential evidence he could bring up. Be sure that you're dotting your i's and crossing your t's the rest of your time under this boss.

If there is something, then you need to address that, with both your current boss and your new one.

To your current boss,


I understand you're not happy because I was late to the status meeting. Rest assured that it won't happen again while I'm still on this team.

To your new boss,


We were discussing John's comments about my lost motivation. I believe he was referring to a status meeting where I was late. I have already informed him that this won't occur again, and I wanted to let you know as well that I have every intention of staying productive during this interim period.

Absent any real evidence that you're "slacking off", I think your best bet is to schedule a quick meeting with your new boss. Let him know that you're unsure what your current boss could be referring to, but that you've noticed he isn't taking your departure very well, and seems to be frustrated that he has to find a new employee and get them up to speed. Assure him that you are still fully motivated, that you're excited to go to work for the new team, and that you'd never jeopardize your employment or reputation the way the current boss is accusing you of doing.

Ideally, you would follow up that meeting by having a meeting with the three of you to outline that:

a) you were completely within the company policy about the team transfer, and

b) you fully intend to fulfill your duties to the existing team throughout the three-month interim period, and

c) you don't want to be accused of any "slacking" that's not actually occurring.

Your boss needs to see that you recognize what's actually going on here, and that you're not going to accept slander without taking action to protect yourself. If your boss' boss could attend, he could make it clear that the transfer has been approved, and that he doesn't want to see any shenanigans in the meantime, but I'm unsure whether you or your new boss have enough influence to persuade him to attend.

Above all, your tone throughout this situation should be matter-of-fact - as though it's obvious what's happening, that you're simply informing everyone of what they should already know. You can't get angry, or upset, or vindictive; you have to continue to work with everyone involved after this situation clears up.

Ideally, your new boss walks away assured that you're committed to both your current and new teams, and the company as a whole, and your current boss understands that you're not going to put up with any additional rumor-mongering.

  • 14
    One other bit of advice: Document, document, document. Keep a log of what has happened, and keep copies offsite (at your house). This sounds to me like lawyers might be involved in a couple of months. I hope not, but no matter what: Document! Jan 17, 2014 at 1:20
  • 2
    @WesleyLong - good point. You might need the assistance of the new boss to find out exactly what the current boss said to him, but having a written record of what's being said about you could be very helpful if you want to show a pattern of negative rumors pointed at you. I doubt it gets to lawyers, though (unless user798 gets pushed out of the company); odds are HR would get involved before it gets that far and they tell the current boss to back off instead.
    – Adam V
    Jan 17, 2014 at 1:26
  • @AdamV - I hope you're right. I'd hate to think a person could lose their job because of hurt feelings, but I've seen it happen before. Jan 17, 2014 at 1:29
  • 19
    @AdamV Thanks so much Adam. Just want to let you know, the meeting was done. I explained my point of view and I even printed statistics that disproved the lies. I got a meeting the within the same day and the new boss announced that I will be starting in a few days instead because this is causing too many conflicts between the two departments. Very helpful advice thanks again.
    – user798
    Jan 17, 2014 at 16:38
  • 3
    @user798 - I'm glad it worked out for you!
    – Adam V
    Jan 17, 2014 at 17:32

I like user13618's approach very much.

How you handle this has in part to do with your level of seniority in the company. If you haven't been there that long, and/or if you are relatively new in your career, I can understand why you feel uncomfortable with some of the confrontation recommendations above.

If you have a strong HR department that follow protocol, you could write up a written document about the chain of events that have occurred and your discomfort with them (i.e., your boss telling lies about you). This may trigger HR to hold a meeting to include you and your current boss, but this puts you on the offensive instead of the defensive. Bullies back down when you stand up for yourself, and this way you'd have the situation documented.

Get a lot of visibility. Think like a politician and start making the rounds down the halls more often over the next few weeks. Go into the offices of your future colleagues and introduce yourself. Ask a few to lunch. Make the effort to get to know some of the reasons why they like about the work they do in their department. Build rapport.

With your current boss, kill him with kindness if you elect not to do the HR route. If he's admitting to you or implying that he's said these things about you, smile and just say,

"Oh I'm sure it will all work itself out. I know the change won't be easy and if I can be of any help to train my replacement, please don't hesitate to ask. I'm happy to prepare a document that outlines my responsibilities if you think that would be helpful. Oh, and I really want to say how much I appreciate having the opportunity to learn and grow in your group. Had it not been for your leadership and guidance, I would have never gained the knowledge I needed to get to the next level of my career. My family is so excited and the extra money I will be making will make a huge impact on us."

Maybe you might want to make a point to say this in front of someone who can overhear it.

Your boss is a big childish baby with a low Emotional IQ. If you let it get to you, he wins. Rise above it, focus on the positives. And if your new manager is having second thoughts, suggest you go to lunch and get to know one another better. Don't defend your position. Rather, empathize with your current managers position:

(To the new boss) "I want to say for the record how much I appreciated the opportunity in Mr. Smith's department. I learned so much and without his leadership, none of this would have been possible. I know the change has come as a surprise and I get the feeling that he's not taking the change too well. Do you have any suggestions on what we could do to ease the stress? I was thinking, maybe I offer to write an overview of my role and responsibilities and if you're ok with it, I could work in "Mr. Smith's" team once a week for the first few weeks. That way I can carry some of the responsibility on training my replacement and being sort of a mentor to them while they adjust. I'm very excited about the projects I'll be working on in your department and I'm anxious to get started. Is there anything you can give me now that I can start reviewing to help speed up the learning curve I'll have? Oh, and Sally and Bob and I are going to lunch on Friday. I thought it would be nice to get to know more about what their roles are and get to know more about them personally. I'm really looking forward to it!"


In my opinion and linking above with Eastern Philosophy....

1) you should not be worried or to say afraid of loosing your job...no-one in the world can take away what is meant for you unless and until one behaves irresponsibly.....

2) Most of the times we are bothered about what others think about you or they are spreading rumors, false allegations against you...either the person to whom these are told is foolish and cannot see the trap or he cannot judge the things on his own....if your new boss is going to believe completely on what your old boss has told.....then be sure even the new person will be equally bad as the current one is

3) Let your work speak out for you.....although it might be good to keep records of who did what wrong....but i think we waste precious time in just saving such things and that too at multiple places and wasting resources......imagine you are saving everything on your personal machines and if the things have to go bad....one can even point out that you are
taking away confidential information outside the company and that can work against you

4) To every problem.....there is always a solution.....involve HR and ask your boss for 1 to 1 meeting along with HR.....open up clearly, be firm and face the allegations, ask why is he (your current boss) is making false claims....it is more important for a person to face the situation, deal with it rather than worrying about it

Well i don't know to what extent it made sense.....but believe that things happen for the good and put your 100% to whatever you do.....those who want to tarnish, spoil one's image mostly fall in the same pit


The new boss appears to believe that you're saying that the old boss is lying in order to excuse bad behaviour. You've staked out your position that your old boss is lying in order to retain you.

Rather than agreeing with the lies, even marginally, which will confirm the suspicions in the mind of the new boss (which basically becomes an unethical cover-up of your old boss' behaviours), tell the new boss to ask the old boss for specific examples of things you have done badly (if you haven't done anything wrong, the old boss won't be able to give any real examples and thus will become evasive), and in the meantime, see if you can find evidence to prove that the old boss is lying.

Simultaneously, you should make it clear to the old boss that he won't get rewarded for his underhanded tactics, and that you're going to leave the job (after seeing their truly malicious nature) anyway regardless of if you get the other job. This makes the endeavour to lie about you in order to keep you a pointless one, undercutting the motivation.

He could continue to lie out of spite, but at that stage he will have crossed a boundary. I'd recommend getting someone else (perhaps other team members, managers, supervisors) to write up statements supporting your performance in order to disprove any of the malicious statements coming from your boss.

  • I think the OP should consider the fact that the boss might not be lying and it's just something he might not be aware of(believe me, bosses know much more than we think they do). In this case, professionalism would be to give him the benefit of the doubt and to ask rather than just 'tell that you won't be rewarded'.
    – cst1992
    May 8, 2016 at 6:56

I'm in the middle of a similar situation with my supervisor except he lies to me about what other managers are saying about me and then turns around and lies to other co-workers about me. He's been caught in several lies already and has admitted to lying to me in the past. What I would do is try to find out what your boss lies about specifically and find evidence to prove they are lying. Then go to the manager that your boss is lying to and schedule a meeting proving that you are innocent.

This boss of yours may also be jealous that you are getting an oppurtunity that may not be available to them or like you said- doesn't want to lose you.

I would also confront your boss saying that you know a little about what he is telling others and tell him that he's putting you in a position that you may have to take to HR. Tell him that you care for your well-being and your job and he is being a bit selfish for trying to hold you back.

I hope everything gets sorted out. Also, I realized as I was writing this what I should do in my own situation.

  • To User12618- I completely agree with your philosophy and way of thinking. I didn't mean to write the exact opposite of what you posted right after you. However, I do believe that people should be held accountable for their actions. Understanding what you deserve and that you have a right to take what is rightfully yours is half the battle. It does not sound like the new boss knows this questioneer very well so they will most likely believe what the former boss says about the questioneer. Unfortunately, they will have to take action to prove they deserve and desire the position. Mar 28, 2014 at 10:38

You have already talked to your new boss, which is unfortunate. Otherwise, this is how it goes:

Your new boss has "hired" you into his team, to arrive in three months time. Suddenly he starts hearing bad things about you from your old boss. But your new boss is no dummy, so he doesn't just believe what he is told (there is no reason why he would trust him more than you because "they are colleagues", he knows that you are both people with possible weaknesses, and if you were so bad, why did your old boss not make sure you were fired? ).

Your new boss knows: Either the old boss lied, or you are no good. So what does he think would happen if he confronts you? If your old boss is lying, you would be outraged about the lies (but obviously hide it as a professional). If your old boss says the truth, you would be coming up with all kinds of excuses.

So here's the obvious thing to do when talking to your new boss about the accusations: You should almost but not completely manage to hide how upset and angered you are about these lies by your old boss. You might then say that your old (current) boss hasn't told you about these problems yet, but you will do your best to fix any problems anyway. Which nicely implies that he hasn't told you, without literally claiming that he is a liar, and that you take responsibility for your work.

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