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How to Avoid Your Boss' Going-Away Party

How to Avoid Your Boss' Going-Away Party

Alison Green l Ask A Manager

May 06, 2010

A reader writes:

So my horrible boss is finally leaving (and the villagers rejoiced). She’s doing it in a remarkably unethical way (we’re going through some restructuring and she’s submitting all her plans as if she’s staying: once they are approved, committing the company to certain things that give her more flexibility, she’s going to quit before the ink is dry), but regardless, she’s out. And I couldn’t be happier, as she’s been a complete nightmare to work for on so many many levels (not to mention I’m the one going to be stuck holding the bag when she leaves).

Until of course, she asks me to help plan her going away party. I as a rule loathe these events and I’m wondering: If you work in an office environment where cake, heartfelt speeches and tears are the norm, how do you gracefully avoid them without looking like a pain?

My office mates have the ability to be groaning about someone for literally weeks but the minute a sheet cake with “best wishes’” appears, out come the waterworks and “I’ve learned so much from you!” and “I’m going to miss you so much!” As soon as the forks are washed, the bitching recommences. I know my boss is going to expect fireworks, cake, presents and speeches. How do I, without looking like a heartless goon, NOT be forced to celebrate her wonderful achievements and contribution to my life in front of people, including clients because she is inviting basically everyone we work with in any capacity? I’ll have to work with these folks afterwords – is it better to suck it up and smile and force some tears as I give a sentimental speech and endure her hugs, stand in a corner and fake intestinal distress so I can run away 20 minutes after arriving the strains of “ding dong the witch is dead” in my head, or do I just not attend at all? Is there an option I am not even seeing?

This… is not a problem. This is an hour of your life that you’ll just tolerate because you don’t want to burn bridges and maybe you’ll want a reference from her one day.

You don’t need to fake-cry. You don’t need to give a speech. If asked, you say, “I’m not one for speeches.” You show up, you smile, you wish her good luck in whatever she’s doing next, you eat some cake, and you go back to work.

Seriously. This is just work, not family drama. This is work. You don’t like your boss, she’s leaving, that’s good, behave professionally, get paid to eat cake for an hour, the end.

That was an easy one.