I'm technical lead in a team of 40+ people working in IT. My current manager and his manager (the N+2 as we say) are currently on holidays (at least for another week).

One of our coworkers sent a very harsh mail today about leaving the company. In his mail he says he was insulted, pushed to quit and other very serious accusations. While not explicitly directed at my N+2, it's pretty obvious that he is one of the intended targets, especially as he put HR and the N+2's boss in copy of the email, as well as the N+2 itself and the rest of our team.

The guy was not well appreciated (or known) by most of the team, and I personally don't believe his accusations, not that it matters much. This mail will probably reflect way worse on the sender than anybody else but still, it will make people talk.

I happen to have the trust of/a very good relation with both my manager and the N+2 (I have their personal cell numbers for instance). Should I bother them during their holidays about how they should check this particular mail (and give them a chance to do some damage control) or should I just stay silent ?

  • 4
    This really depends on your corporate culture and the personalities of the people involved. Some people in some places absolutely yes, other people in other places absolutely no. I don't think it's possible for us to know which is the case for this person working for this company.
    – Myles
    Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 22:35
  • @Myles Fair enough. I guess a valid answer could still try to hypothesize the possible outcomes.
    – ereOn
    Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 22:37
  • @TheMuffinMan You may have missed the part about them being on holidays at the moment. It was not a matter of them not handling the situation but about them not being aware of it before (too ?) long.
    – ereOn
    Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 2:24
  • @ereOn My confusion was on how you were going to email these people on vacation to tell them to check their email, through email, but looking closer you have their phone number. Sorry about that. Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 2:28
  • @TheMuffinMan No problem :)
    – ereOn
    Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 2:30

4 Answers 4


Keep well out of it. If either HR or N+2's boss think that N+2 should be informed, they will contact N+2 - bottom line is it's part of their job to manage the fall-out from things like this, let them manage it the way they think it should best be managed; there may be issues here you're not aware of, and you could potentially make things worse by getting involved.

But yeah, the person who's going to end up looking like a prat after this is the guy leaving the company. Hey bridge, please meet my friend "fire".

  • I didn't see "ensuring the information is known" as "getting involved" but I guess you have a point that as the N+2's boss was indeed in copy of the mail, whatever action is needed will anyway be taken care of and he will get to the bottom of it. I doubt it makes much noise anyway given the quitting guy's attitude and his global appreciation. Thanks !
    – ereOn
    Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 2:31
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    It's not your job to make sure everyone in the organisation knows everything. There are times to go "outside the hierarchy", but this doesn't feel like one of them given that N+2's boss is already involved. Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 9:11
  • And HR is up-to-date as well, I imagine they will have personal cell numbers as well.
    – R-D
    Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 15:31

Should I bother them during their holidays about how they should check this particular mail (and give them a chance to do some damage control) or should I just stay silent ?

If they regularly check emails while away from work you could forward it to them and add something like "Just FYI. If you want more information before you return from your holiday let me know."

I don't see anything time-critical here, but perhaps they will.

  • Sending an email to tell them to look at their emails would seem rather inefficient ;) I was more asking whether I should send them a phone text message to make them aware of it but Phillip's answer basically convinces me I should not.
    – ereOn
    Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 2:33
  • From your question, it's not obvious that N+2 was included on the original mail. Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 15:51
  • @PhilipKendall I thought I had it written but I was mistaken. My bad.
    – ereOn
    Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 22:01

The key point here is

I happen to have the trust of/a very good relation with both my manager and the N+2 (I have their personal cell numbers for instance)

If you contact them on their personal number, it's not like you are bothering them with work issues, it's completly different than calling them to their work number.

If you really have that good of a relation, and feel usually text to them to their personal number, do not doubt, inform him. This won't harm your N+2 and he can then decide what to do, if he wants to ask more or forget it until he comes back.

With that being said, don't tell the full-story, just a short summary that gives your N+2 enough info to know that a coworker is leaving in bad terms, if he has such a bad reputation, he might already have an idea of what you are talking.

  • Sorry, but this just doesn't make sense. It doesn't matter which number you call me on, whether you turn up at my house in person, or whether you send it by carrier pigeon, if you're talking about something at work, it's a work issue. Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 16:32
  1. Your co-worker is leaving, so he's going to have no further impact on the company. Whatever he says about the N+2 is not going to change anything at the company. Rebutting the co-worker can wait until the N+2 is back.

  2. There is need for damage control if your co-worker has professional credibility. Going by your post, I'd say his professional credibility is limited.

What the co-worker is doing is the equivalent of dropping his pants and pooping on the floor in front of everybody. That was his best shot. What if he did it and nobody cares?

I'd suggest that you email everybody that your co-worker emailed and clearly state that the co-worker's allegations don't reflect anything that you know about the N+2, that you work with the N+2 on a daily basis and that you've known the N+2 for x years. And that the N+2 will deal with the allegations when he gets back. Make sure that you also cc the N+2 in your email. I am leaving it up to you to decide whether you want to cc the co-worker in your email.

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    I think this is very bad advice. There is no reason for the op to become publicly involved in an email argument about the credibility of a former employee's parting shot. (Privately sharing it with the manager himself is a different matter.)
    – intx13
    Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 23:03
  • @intx13 - The co-worker made public allegations and I never let public allegations go publicly unchallenged if I am in a senior or lead position. I don't care if you're afraid of a fight. If you are afraid of a fight, I don't want you hovering around me. And don't expect me to recommend you to senior, lead and management positions either. Either you have a spine or you don't. Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 23:17
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    well OP is the technical lead, not the guy's manager, I would have agree otherwise.
    – Walfrat
    Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 12:21
  • @VietnhiPhuvan I believe your point of view about public rebuttal on these issues heavily depends on culture. In my country, replying to such an email would be seen as overly defensive and very unprofessional. In other cultures, denying to join the fight might be interpreted as defeat. In Western culture, better don't respond to that kind of parting shot.
    – daraos
    Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 18:37
  • @daraos - We live in an age of demagogues, rabble rousers, terrorists and liars. Dignified silence is not a response. It's an anachronism from another age, it's a non-response and most probably the most useless kind of non-response there is. Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 20:19

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