“What is the best way to get out of a bad employment relation?”

Question: My question is this: I feel like the writing is on the wall at my job.

I have received an email every week stating that my minimum metrics aren’t being met and that they need to improve. (I’m in sales.) I am starting to feel like I am waiting for them to fire me.

It has become a hostile situation for me and it’s affecting me mentally. Before I have a mental breakdown, how do I get them to mutually agree that this isn’t working for both parties, and that they should “let me go” out of this circumstance?

West Orange, New Jersey

Answer: Dear Al (by the way, love that name!): I get a lot of inquiries like yours. Here are my thoughts:        

1. It is more than likely that your employer is trying to get you to quit, and thus deny you both (a) severance, and (b) unemployment benefits.  I have seen this sort of thing happen so many times I couldn’t count them: both sides are afraid to be the one to say “It’s over.” Your employer’s constantly “needling” you with emails and hostility is meant to destabilize you, and to get you to quit. Please – don’t let them win in that childish game. And don’t get yourself sick about it. Instead, choose a positive, sensible course of action.

2. I suggest, first, that you put into a respectful email, to your supervisor, or your supervisor’s supervisor, that you feel (a) you are being treated in a hostile manner, (b) it is starting to affect your health, and (c) you think a frank, open discussion is preferable.   (i) This should serve to make a “record” of what you are experiencing, that you believe it is both wrong (and against company policies), and is causing health issues to you. (ii) It should also serve to “wake management up” to what is going on, so they can’t later claim “You never reported this.” (iii) Lastly, it should serve to motivate management to act a bit more like mature adults, and responsible employers, are supposed to.  

3. In your email, suggest that a fair, reasonable, and respectful departure and transition would be best for all; however make sure you say absolutely clearly, that “THIS IS NOT A RESIGNATION.” It is so much better for all if a relationship of any kind ends on a sweet, respectful and “classy” note. It is so much worse for all if a relationship of any kind ends with anger, recriminations and accusations. You might suggest that (a) a limited “notice” time be provided to you to find a new job (at no extra cost to the company), (b) the company agree not to oppose your application for unemployment benefits (at no cost to the company), (c) the company give you a positive reference letter (at no cost to the company), and (d) if you have no job when you leave, a limited severance of, say, three months (which will surely be less than legal fees would be if this became adversarial.)

4. If unsuccessful in this very reasonable and respectful approach, consider an “Involuntary Resignation.” This is something I sort of invented that many people find very useful: It is a resignation that says, “I did not resign voluntarily, but only because working here was killing my health and sanity, and you refused to stop the aggression.” It (a) preserves your legal claims if you have any, (b) will have a good chance of qualifying you for unemployment benefits, and (c) makes a record of what really happened. It is a very, very useful tool, and is often unexpected and unexpectedly effective.

We have a good video on this topic on YouTube; to view it, just [click here]. We also have a good newsletter that explains Involuntary Resignation; to read it, just [click here].

If you would like to obtain a Model “Involuntary Resignation Letter” that you can adapt to your own use, just [click here].   

Al, please try to keep your sanity; the world needs every bit of that we can preserve. I hope this is helpful, and that you make a peaceful, positive and productive transition to a job you love, and where they love you.

Thanks for writing in; please help us by telling others of our blogsite, our YouTube videos, and our Model Letters.  

Al Sklover

© 2011 Alan L. Sklover, All Rights Reserved.

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