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My supervisor and I bid on the same job…

Dear Office-Politics,

My supervisor and I bid on the same job. Through office gossip, it was pretty clear that this was a set up to let her go. In fact, the hiring supervisor asked to me to apply for this job. I ended up with the position and she has been given 60 days to work in HR and to find something else.

My dilemma — she hired me, has been extremely supportive and nice, encouraged me to turn in an application for the job, etc. I am feeling guilty and want to know if I should send her a note. If she is working in the same building for the next 60 days, chances are that I will run into her. Any advice?


Unwittingly trumped the Boss

timothy johnson

Dear Unwittingly trumped the Boss,

First of all, congratulations on your new position.

Your letter spoke volumes about your character, and I am sorry that a great event had to be tied up with a political situation to oust somebody else. If you do send your former supervisor a note, I would not recommend mentioning anything about the rumors you’ve heard. The rumor mill is a quirky character, and the bearer of bad news is sometimes associated with causing the bad news. In other words, by sharing the rumors with her, she may think you were the one who started them. Instead, you might tell her some of the other things you mentioned in your letter: how much you enjoyed working with her, how appreciative you’ve been of her support, and how you would like to stay in contact with her. As a bonus, you might let her know that you would be happy to help if there’s anything you can do to assist her with her current job search. Rebounding after outplacement is all about contacts.

Should she bring up the rumors to you directly, you will have to rely on your instincts and your relationship with her. (Tempered) honesty is a good approach. A simple response, such as, “Yes, I was made aware of those rumors as well. If they are true, I find that to be unfortunate. I hope it won’t impact our relationship, because regardless of the circumstances, I still respect you very much and feel bad about how things transpired.”

Thanks for writing to Office-Politics.

Best wishes,

Timothy Johnson, Author

Timothy Johnson is the author of Race Through the Forest – A Project Management Fable (Tiberius, 2006) as well as the upcoming GUST – The “Tale” Wind of Office Politics (Lexicon, 2007). In addition to writing, consulting and coaching, he teaches MBA classes at Drake University on Project Management, Creativity, and Office Politics.

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