Hi Evil HR Lady
I came across your blog and found it very informative. I was wondering if you can help answer my HR related question.
Due to a management realignment in my group (hostile take over), my new manager has less technical and mananagerial experience. She was recently hired to perform the role of an ex-collegue. She also is older (mid 40’s) and have been with my company significantly longer than I have.
I feel discrimminated because of my age (I’m 31) and am unhappy with upper management’s decision to have me report to her. She announced at our weekly group meeting that she looked through my code without having the courtesy to inform me (i.e. she was snooping around). I know we loose certain privacy rights at work but it shows her lack of respect.
My question is, when I quit, should I tell HR my main reasons for quitting? I am afraid to “speak my mind” because I want to have good future references. I am well liked in the company and a high achiviever. In my two and a half years with the company, I have received two promotions.
Your input would be greatly appreciated.
I am so torn on how to answer this question. The HR side of me (that would be the evil side) says, “tell truth at the exit interview. Lay out why you are leaving. We can’t fix the problem if we don’t know about it. We’ll keep everything you say a secret! Only report it in the aggregate.”
Yes, this is the HR answer. But, let me tell you, when I leave a job, you would think I was only leaving because wild, rabid wolves were forcibly dragging me out the door. I hated to leave. I love everything about this place! Everything, do you understand?
Why? Because I needed references and in at least one case, I knew I wanted to come back to that company. (I quit after the offspring was born with the full knowledge that I wanted to come back part time later–which I did.) But, I also know what aggregate means.
Sure, aggregate responses mean that we group everything together and (theoretically) your manager would never know what departing employee said what about her. However, unless you have an extremely flat organization, managers rarely have more than 1 or 2 people quit in a year (with 5-10 people reporting into them), so everything “aggregated” means absolutely nothing. They know it was you.
So, then HR departments are smart and they don’t share that information with the direct supervisor, it goes farther up the food chain, but too far up and your info does little good.
It’s really a frustrating thing–I want to know what managers are doing so I can fix the problem, (ha! Like I have that power.)–yet I know that bad managers tend to take constructive criticism the wrong way.
So, find your new job and put a big smile on your face and be quite positive about the whole thing. No need to burn bridges–at least not officially. If you have received a great deal of positive feedback and promotions you might express your concerns to a former boss. If you really don’t want to leave the company, start looking to post outside the department, but don’t complain about your current boss when you do so.
And, as a little hint, referring to a boss in her mid 40s as “older” may be true when compared to you, but 40 will creep up on you faster than you might think.