When is Involuntary Resignation appropriate? Archives

Being Bully-Boss’ed? – The 57 Signs . . . Is It Happening to You?

Published on July 17th, 2018 by Alan L. Sklover

“I find in most circumstances people leave bosses,
not companies.”

– John Rampton

ACTUAL CASE HISTORIES: Over the past two years, Nike has terminated five senior executives for being bully bosses – four men and one woman. One of those terminated had been identified as the probable next CEO. A rising tide of bullying at Nike resulted, too, in the CEO calling a “town hall” meeting of all 35,000 Nike employees, at which the CEO apologized for letting it get so out of control, and promised not to let it happen again.

From recent press accounts and a rising number of lawsuits, the incidence of bully bossing seems to be on the rise. It may be that so many managers feel under so much pressure to do so much with so little. It may be a reflection of a seemingly rising incivility throughout society. No matter the cause, workplace bullying seems to have become more common, and is a widely discussed phenomenon.

While employees bear the brunt of workplace bullying, employers are coming to recognize that they are victims of bully bossing, too, as it results in depressed morale, increased law suits, significant distraction, loss of valuable human talent and diminished retention of key employees. Oh, it also poses real risk to very significant reputational damage to brand, which is perhaps the “Achilles heel” of every organization, especially those with great investment into brand development and management.

And, too, it seems “something big” may also be changing: “I’ve been bully boss’ed” is, to many, the new “me-too movement.”

If you think how you are being treated by your own manager may constitute bully bossing, this list of the “57 Signs” may help you in two ways: First, it represents something of a “checklist of abuses” against which you can measure your own treatment so you can draw your own conclusions. Second, if you do conclude that you are, indeed, dealing with a workplace bully boss, this list may assist you in addressing the problem by identifying to Management, HR and even the bully boss, himself or herself, with specificity, the elements of the problem.

LESSON TO LEARN: Two questions often arise in workplace bullying situations:

The first question is: “Do I have just a very tough boss, or has he/she crossed the line to represent a true ‘bully boss?’”

The second question is: “If I am being bully-bossed, how can I address that subject, with the most effective manner and yet, if possible, avoid retaliation?”

Well, as I often tell my clients, “Specificity yields credibility.” By being able to identify what is going on, you can help yourself answer both of those questions. Specificity is necessary to identify a problem – like a blood test or x-ray does for a physician. And, too, specificity may indicate to the physician where to apply the medicine or other treatment, how long it should be applied, and what are the indications of improvement? Well, the same holds true for any problem, including bullying at work: the more specific, the more effective will likely be the diagnosis and treatment.

The list below helps you understand whether you are, indeed, being bullied. It can also help you spot the many ways in which workplace bullying often shows itself. While it is not entirely exhaustive, it does contain most of what we all mean by workplace bullying. And, too, it can assist in your standing up to it.

One thing to keep in mind: bully bossing does not need to be intentional. In fact, many bully bosses are not even vaguely aware of what they do. As they have done it so many times before, without being called out on it, they think it is “normal” managing, which it is not.

This is why it is being said, more and more, “Bully Bossed is the new MeToo Movement.”

WHAT YOU CAN DO: To help make a conclusion about whether you are being bully bossed, and to also help you report it to others, here is a list of 57 signs of bully bossing. Of course, associated issues should be considered, including (a) how often the activity takes place, (b) its intensity, (c) its effects on you, (d) how long it has been taking place, and (e) whether it has continued after you have taken reasonable steps to stop it.
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“Problem Not Yet Solved; What’s My Next Step?” Your Five Alternative Next Steps

Published on April 5th, 2016 by Alan L. Sklover

“One of the secrets of life
is to make stepping stones out of stumbling blocks.”

– Jack Penn

ACTUAL CASE HISTORIES: A very commonly asked question is this: “I have followed your suggestions, but it has not yet worked . . . What do I do now?

The writer usually explains that her email memo to management “pushing back” against a dishonest performance improvement plan (“PIP”) did not get her what she wanted. Or, his request for better terms of severance achieved only minimal results. Or, perhaps, her attempt to get a waiver for a non-compete agreement received no response. Or maybe, even, his complaint of discrimination was essentially ignored.

There are five simple “next steps” available in each of those problem situations, and others, too, that remain unsolved despite your best efforts. While choosing which “next step” among them is the best one for you, surely one or more of them is the wisest one for you. And, in fact, you can try all five if you wish.

What needs to be kept in mind is that there is no problem without a solution. And many different approaches can be tried to solve a problem. It might even be your second, third or fourth attempt to solve a problem that turns out to be the most effective.

LESSON TO LEARN: Maybe you did not immediately get the results you wanted to get when asking for removal of a negative reference from your HR file. Or maybe you were turned down in your first request for an investigation of your complaint of harassment. Or, maybe, too, your repeated complaints of unsafe working conditions were simply ignored. In each of these instances – and many others, too – you would likely be frustrated, demoralized, perhaps even angry.

As the simple saying goes, “Don’t get angry . . . get even.” Or, as we are reminded, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” Or, perhaps, bear in mind the adage, “There are more ways than one to skin a cat.” (My apologies to all of you cat lovers out there.) Don’t give up. Don’t get frustrated. Just keep going.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: Here are your five alternative next paths available to you. Coincidentally, each path forward ends with the letters “ate,” as do the words “navigate” and “negotiate.” Might it be pure coincidence?:
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Self-Help Action Plan 1: “Totally Frazzled from Work? Here’s What You Can Do”

Published on December 9th, 2015 by Alan L. Sklover


SkloverWorkingWisdom™ – Self-Help Action Plan 1

“Totally Frazzled from Work?
Here’s What You Can Do”

A Plan for Addressing Extreme Exhaustion
and Possible Need for Time Off

© 2015 Alan L. Sklover

Employees often report that their job duties – and the way they are being treated at work – have been made them feel exhausted, drained, frustrated, bullied, confused and near debilitated. They report feeling hopeless, anxious, depressed, and unable to work, sleep, eat or think straight. If this describes you, you probably need to do something about it. It is for people in this situation that we have prepared this Self-Help Plan of Action 1, entitled “Totally Frazzled from Work? Here’s What You Can Do.”

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“Stress from work is killing me. Please help!!”

Published on May 3rd, 2013 by Alan L Sklover

Question: I have been employed by a company for almost 5 years and the stress is becoming unbearable to the point that when I come home, I just want to curl up in a ball and be left alone.

I am almost 60 years old and I just can’t handle stress like I could at 25 or 30. I even talked with a therapist for the first time yesterday and confirmed that by me staying there it is doing much more harm than good. My mental health is more important than the job.

I have no work performance issues and in fact if my boss knew that I am considering leaving she would be shocked. I am concerned that if I quit, could I still get unemployment benefits? This situation is affecting my relationship with my wife and I have to decide very soon as the job is not worth what it is doing to me.

Please help!!  

St. Paul, Minnesota

Answer: Dear Ken: For a very long time I have counseled people in your situation. Though I am not a therapist and do not claim any training or expertise in therapy, I believe that what I have learned from my experiences helping clients in your situation may be of some help to you. I sure hope so.            

1. First, congratulate yourself: Despite your great stress, it is a personal triumph and a clear indication of your innate survival skills that your values and priorities remain solidly intact. I would like to express to you that I, for one, am very impressed with the fact that you continue to bear in mind that your health and marriage must come first, both before and above your job. The applicable saying goes something like this: “Good health and good family will get you through times of no job much better than a job will get you through times of ill health and no family.” Your “inner compass” on this point is surely grounded, and I for one am certain that you will survive this ordeal.

So, count your blessings and when you do so, know that your good values and healthy perspective are among your greatest blessings, and the ones that will safeguard your continued health and family relations.  

2. Second, making a “Plan of Positive Action,” however tentative, will in itself relieve some anxiety, and is a great place to start. What do I mean by “Plan of Positive Action?” Quite simply, steps you can take, all of which are positive to health, emotions, finances and career, to go from where you are – entirely stressed out – to where you will be better off – out of your present stressful situation at work, perhaps in a different department at the company, or collecting unemployment benefits, maybe in a new job elsewhere, potentially opening up your own business, or even collecting disability benefits.

However simple it may be at first, draw up a list of positive steps to take to get you where it is you want to go. I hope that this response to your submitted question will help you begin to do just that.

I often quote the folk singer Joan Baez on this point: “Action is the antidote to despair.” When you are feeling “stuck” in a bad situation, anxiety increases, often to the point of panic. But taking steps to get you “unstuck” from that bad situation will reduce the anxiety and start the feelings of “control” that make each of us feel so much better.

Making a plan is positive; acting in a reactive manner, without direction, is negative.

3. As your “first step” you really do need to find positive ways to reduce your stress level. For everyone, stress can be a very difficult problem, and can even get you sick. Being in my sixties, myself, I can attest to the fact that stress can get to you and affect your health more than it did when you were younger. Among the positive ways to reduce stress, anxiety and panic you can simply walk a lot, (I do so for an hour every morning), pray, meditate, practice yoga, go to therapy, and spend time with friends and family. So long as it is not “negative” things like alcohol, cigarettes, gambling, or drugs (legal or illegal), take a bit of time to do stress reduction. Make doing so a regular daily habit. It will surely pay off. 

Rest and sleep are positive; curling up in a ball and ignoring others, is negative. 

4. The second step in your “Plan of Positive Action” should be to “Acquire a Positive Plan Partner.” Whether it is your wife, your therapist, your brother, a close friend, your rabbi, priest, minister or imam, find a person in whom you trust, in whose judgment you have faith, and who has the time and patience available to act as your sounding board on your Plan of Positive Action.    

There will be times you feel lost. There will be times you feel overwhelmed. There will be times you will feel frightened. We all have these feelings, even though yours may seem magnified and particularly vexing at this time in your life. Having a “partner” to lean on for needed support, guidance and direction will be a very, very helpful source of confidence for you.

Finding support, encouragement and an ear to listen is positive; “going it alone” and avoiding others is negative.

5. As your third step, please consider taking some time off – if not now, very soon.  Over the years, our society has put into place certain safeguards for employees facing difficulties of different kinds, including the kind you are now facing:

(a)    Paid sick days or accrued vacation time: If you have paid sick time or accrued vacation time available to you, by all means take a day, two or more to reduce the immediate pressures on your mental and physical health. It is likely available to you, and I urge you to consider doing so to protect your health and marriage.

(b) FMLA: You can likely take a leave of absence from work, unpaid if necessary, under the federal Family Medical Leave Act (often called “FMLA”), which provides up to 12 weeks off for such reasons, although without pay;

We offer a “Model Memo Requesting FMLA Information, Forms and Procedures” from your Human Resources representative. If you would like a copy to adapt to your own particular facts and circumstances, just [click here.] “What to Say and How to Say It.”™ Delivered Immediately by Email, 24 Hours a Day.

(c) EAP: in many companies there is a Employee Assistance Program, which is supposed to be confidential, to assist employees facing difficulties with substance abuse, emotional difficulties or similar hurdles, through which you and your employer and they might devise other means of gaining relief for you. Consider finding out if your company offers this “safety valve.”

(d) Short Term Disability: Your therapist can probably speak with you, and maybe even assist you, with filing a claim for short-term disability, which would give you time off with at least some incoming pay. 

Taking some time to calm down and “chill out” is surely a positive step forward. 

6. Now the real “Positive Action Steps” begin: Consider requesting from your boss or HR – in an email – that they consider assisting in lowering the intolerable stress by altering your work assignments, your work schedule, your work environment, who you report to, or your work group. Ken, in your note to me you indicated that you do not think your boss knows you are feeling great stress. Based on that, it seems to me that she has not been asked to assist in reducing it in one way or another. Your asking her to do that will help you in three separate ways:  

(i) It will make a permanent record that you brought to your employer’s attention the stress-causing situation, your personal difficulties with that stressful situation, and that you did what you could to reduce or eliminate the problem.  

(ii) It might just work. Your boss, HR or other employer representatives just might take the steps to effectively deal with the source of your stress at work. Hey – that          can’t be too bad a thing to happen.

(iii)If after your request, your employer does not take effective steps to assist your stress, you will have a much better basis for our “Involuntary Resignation” – and all   the advantages that offers – and to collect Unemployment Benefits, too. 

7. Also, consider the very real potential value and potential advantages of presenting not a “Resignation,” but an “Involuntary Resignation.” I don’t know if you are familiar with our concept – which we invented – of “involuntary resignation,” but it sure would be a good idea for you to review my Q&A’s, Newsletters and Videos on the subject available on this blogsite. 

To view our entire blogsite Resource Center Section of Q&A’s, Newsletters and free YouTube Videos on “Involuntary Resignation,” just [click here.]  

The idea behind “Involuntary Resignation” is to make a record that your leaving is not voluntary, at all, but something you have no choice about . . . which seems quite true from what you have written. Some people must “involuntarily resign” due to health, stress, fear of abuse, being forced to engage in improper or illegal activities, sexual harassment, or many other situations at work. When doing so, it is essential to create a clear, written record of the “involuntariness” of the situation and resignation. 

We offer a “Model Involuntary Resignation” letter that you can use if you decide to submit your own Involuntary Resignation. To obtain a copy – instantly by email – just [click here.] “What to Say and How to  Say It”™ 24 Hours a Day. 

While there are no “guarantees,” if you are going to resign, by making your resignation an expressly “involuntary” one, you very much increase your chances of receiving one or more of the following after leaving, as a kind of “severance” in exchange for a release of claims: 

  1. Unemployment Benefits, because they are usually awarded to those who resign with “good cause” and can prove they did with convincing emails, etc.;  
  2. Vesting of unvested stock, stock options and other equity;  
  3. Deferred income, earned bonuses and coming-due commissions;  
  4. Release from having to pay back educational and relocation monies previously received, as well as sign-on bonuses;  
  5. Pro rata bonus;  
  6. Voiding of Non-Competition Agreements;
  7. Continuation of health care; and even
  8. Possibly, severance. 

In the event you are initially unsuccessful in obtaining one or more of your desired objectives in submitting your own Involuntary Resignation, we offer a “Follow Up Letter to Voluntary Resignation.” To obtain a copy for your adaptation, just [click here.] Delivered Immediately by Email, 24 Hours a Day. 

8. Finally, an answer to your most pressing question: If you take steps 6 and 7 above, your chances of receiving Unemployment Benefits will increase a great deal. Unemployment Benefits are given to those who either (a) have lost their jobs to no fault of their own, such as in a mass layoff or workforce reduction, or (b) those who resign with good reason. What is “good reason?” Well, it is a circumstance at work that a reasonable person would consider intolerable. Sound familiar? 

If you have emails that show (a) you were suffering or in fear, (b) you brought the problem to your boss’s attention, (c) your boss did not take prompt remedial steps, (d) you resigned, but did so EXPRESSLY involuntarily, your chances of being found to have “resigned with good reason,” and thus awarded unemployment benefits.    

Bear in mind that it is clerks, not Judges or Juries, who make the initial decisions regarding granting Unemployment Benefits. In my experience, they want to see emails and other documents, and are very impressed with email evidence of “involuntariness,” as well as doctors’ and therapists’ letters.    

Applying for Unemployment Benefits can be confusing! Eliminate the confusion, and make sure you don’t forget anything – use our 132-Point Guide & Checklist for Unemployment Benefits. To get your copy, just [click here.] Delivered by Email – Instantly!

9. So, you see, there are many steps available to you that might ease, improve or even solve the problems you are facing at work and, if need be, receive Unemployment Benefits. With a little insight, a little inspiration and an ounce of faith, you can solve almost any problem at work, or at least make it a whole lot better than it is. Though difficult to see through the “fog of anxiety,” the solutions are there. It’s just a matter of calming down, making a plan, and following that plan.

Nothing is worth the stress you are facing, or the potential damage to your health, home and happiness that your workplace is giving you. 

10. A final, admittedly personal, note on the critical value of faith in such times. Being a person of faith – in one’s God, in one’s community and in one’s self – in my experience provides an extraordinary advantage in overcoming the negative effects of stress, fear, anxiety and hopelessness that are sometimes brought about by events and circumstances at work.   

Faith lets you put things into a larger perspective, an overall positive perspective that is better than the narrow and negative “view” you may, for the moment, have of things you are experiencing. Faith also gives you the lift that you need when everyone and everything around you seem to be letting you down.  

I do not know if you are a person of faith, Ken, or if you are experiencing a test of your faith, but I do want you to consider renewing your faith at this time. If you do so, I am certain you will begin to emerge from the dark and dense fog and fear you see all around you, into the bright sunlight and fresh air of what your life really offers.     

Ken, I truly hope that this has been of assistance to you, and that you understand that you do, indeed, have available to you several good steps to take. Know, too, that you are in my prayers. 

My Best to You,
Al Sklover 

P.S.: Your might be interested in obtain our (a) Involuntary Resignation, (b) Follow-Up to Involuntary Resignation, (c) 119-Point Checklist for Involuntary Resignation, all bundled in our “Ultimate Involuntary Resignation Package, ” which provides you all the benefits we have to offer on this subject, with a 19% savings. To obtain the complete set, just [click here.] Delivered by Email – Instantly – 24 Hours a Day.

Repairing the World –
One Empowered and Productive Employee at a Time ™

© 2013 Alan L. Sklover, All Rights Reserved.

I fear workplace violence, but also getting fired if I complain. Suggestions?

Published on April 4th, 2013 by Alan Sklover

Question: I am very fearful of another employee who was recently discharged from a mental hospital, who has openly stated how much he hates and despises me.

In his job, he handles sharp instruments each day, all day long, which makes me nervous about being anywhere near him.

Management has allowed this to happen even though he exhibited the same behaviors before he was committed to the mental hospital.

I need my job. What do I do?

Spotsylvania, Virginia

Answer: Dear Cheryl: Fear is a debilitating and damaging emotion, and can even cause loss of health. Fear of violence – and particularly workplace violence –  is an increasing problem, worldwide. Here are my thoughts:

1. Your first consideration – before anything else – must be concern for your safety; nothing is more important. No matter what the chances may be that you will suffer a violent act, you have reason to believe that your chances are elevated by the actions, statements and history of your co-worker, and that is not right.

I acknowledge your fear of losing your job, and I acknowledge the fear you may have of being without a job, and all that comes with being unemployed. But those fears are secondary – at best – to your reasonable fear that you may be harmed by an act of violence at work. Once harmed, there is no going back in time; you don’t get a second chance once violence has taken place.

2. Second – employers are now almost everywhere legally required to provide safe workplaces for their employees, under federal – and many state – workplace safety laws. Don’t think you are being too sensitive, or too worried – than is justified. And don’t think you are alone in this, because you are not. Unfortunately, there has been an increase worldwide in people being intentionally harmed at work by the violent acts of their coworkers.

The U.S. government, through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) now requires that employers address safety concerns like yours, as do an increasing number of states and local workplace safety agencies. Many countries have, in fact, acted faster than has the U.S. government in placing workplace safety obligations upon the shoulders of employers.

Simply put, you have every reason to need protection from workplace violence, every right to demand protection from potential violence, and your employer has every legal obligation to ensure you get that protection. Period.

3. A written request/demand for protection from workplace violence is truly needed, and most effective. I am a firm believer, and I don’t think I will ever change my mind, that important communications – and this is surely one of those – must be in writing, and sent by a verifiable means, namely email. When you put things into writing, everyone is clear and certain (a) what you said, (b) how you said it, (c) to whom you said it, and (d) when you said it.

Making your request for protective measures in written form actually works to prevent the employer retaliation you fear, as well as the possibility that your colleague will retaliate, as well. This is because, as a general rule, people will not do “bad” things if they are confident that “bad” things will then be done to them in return. Or, as my mother taught me, “When people feel they will be held accountable, they are more likely to be responsible.”

In any request for protection from workplace violence, you should note your fear of retaliation – either by your colleague or management, because, that too acts to deter retaliation.

For those like yourself who have fear of workplace violence, we offer a Model Memo to Your Employer Insisting on Protection from Workplace Violence.  It can help you get the protection you need. “What to Say and How to Say It.  To obtain a copy, just [click here.] Delivered by Email – Instantly!

4. You may also want to alert the local police precinct of your concern and request for protection. In my experience, it has always been beneficial for my clients who fear workplace violence to file a report of concern at the local police precinct. Either the Precinct Commander will send an Officer over to speak with the business owner, or at the very least, you can give your boss a Police Report Number to show him or her that you are quite serious about protecting yourself. If an incident later does take place, (a) the Police will know exactly “who is who, and what is what,” and your employer will have no excuse for not having acted appropriately. Who knows? Your tormenter may just fear the Police, and learn to control himself or herself as a result.

5. Having a written “record” of your concerns and fears, the many good reasons for them, your Police Report and your request to your employer, can only help you obtain the many advantages and benefits of the concept we invented called “involuntary resignation.” Sure, sure, the two words that make up the phrase “involuntary resignation” seem inconsistent with one another. However, if you do decide to leave, by giving your employer an expressly “involuntary resignation,” which sets forth the facts, events and circumstances underlying the reason you had no choice but to leave – and the fact that it was not what you really wanted to do – you (i) preserve your right to receive unemployment benefits, (b) preserve your right to receive severance, (c) preserve your right to sue your employer for any damages, (d) if applicable, preserve your right to collect deferred compensation or unvested equity, and (e) provide your next employer or the employer after that with a good, sound, documented reason for your departure.

If you would like to obtain a Model “Involuntary Resignation” Letter for your adaptation with your own facts, events and circumstances – but that still provides “What to Say, and How to Say It,”™ – just [ click here. ]

For these reasons, always remember to keep copies of letters, memos, emails and other materials that may serve to support your concerns, your fears, and your attempts to resolve the situation.  The truth is the truth, and is always on the side of honest people.

6. But, in the end, it all goes back to dealing with your fears . . . Cheryl, fear is the first emotion, and the most basic of human instincts. It is deeply related – some even say rooted – in our innate desire to go on living. For most people, I sometimes think, it is the “default” emotion, that people go back to almost invariably, unless there exists a reason not to fear.

I spend a lot of time pondering why people have fears, the effects of fear on people, and how people might overcome their fears. I could write a million words about the subject of fear, but I don’t think it would help you. Perhaps this one thought might at least help: If you don’t protect yourself, you may not be available to help those you love, such as your children, your spouse or life partner, your parents, brothers and sisters, or good friends. Many people need to think about “other fears,” including the fear of being unable to help those they love, in order to block out the fears that lie directly “in front of them.”

Think of the person you love the most in the entire world, and that person being helpless, frightened, perhaps in pain, and his or her looking to you for help, and your not being able to help. If you don’t help yourself in this position of potential victimhood by workplace violence, you may be unable to help the ones you love when they really need you to. Give it some thought. It is remarkable that, for so many people, it is their love for others that enables them to show the courage to demand safety for themselves, and thus prods them into standing up for themselves.

Cheryl, I hope this has been helpful to you. I really, really do.

My Best to You,
Al Sklover

P.S.: You might be interested in our New Employment Negotiation Checklist for potential “rewards, risk-limiters, and role-enhancers” to consider requesting from your new employer. To obtain copy, just [ click here ]. Delivered by Email – Instantly!

©  2013 Alan L. Sklover, All Rights Reserved.

Alan L. Sklover

Alan L. Sklover

Employment Attorney
and Career Strategist
for over 35 years

Job Security and Career Success now depend on knowing how to navigate and negotiate to gain the most for your skills, time and efforts. Learn the trade secrets and 'uncommon common sense' of Attorney Alan L. Sklover, the leading authority on "Negotiating for Yourself at Work™".

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