Ask Natalie by Natalie Bencivenga

Bad Management Creates Difficult Work Situation

DEAR NATALIE: I have had bad managers in the past, but at my most recent job, the person in charge was so horrendous, I had no choice but to quit. I liked my team a lot and love what I do, but I couldn't function under this person's thumb. They tried sabotaging me on many occasions, and so without warning, I just quit on the spot. I felt terrible because my poor team had to pick up the pieces, but for my own sanity, I had no choice. 

Fast-forward a month. My terrible manager was fired and now human resources is begging to hire me back. I am torn. I am looking for a new job (haven't found anything yet), but they want me to start ASAP. The problem is, I'm afraid of what I will walk into. Is my team going to hold a grudge against what I did? I know I deserve some attitude, but will it be more than I can stomach? I'm worried that I could be opening a big can of worms. What should I do? I really miss my job and co-workers, but do they miss me? -- BAD MANAGEMENT

DEAR BAD MANAGEMENT: This is one tricky situation. On the one hand, I can see your trepidation in stepping back into a potentially toxic work environment. On the other hand, I can see why you would want to go back to doing what you love now that the negativity has (hopefully!) been removed. At the end of the day, you have to do what feels right to you. What is your gut telling you? It sounds as though you really liked this job and your team. If you want to take the job again, just do it. Take your team members out for a round of drinks to smooth things over and explain to them why you felt pushed over the edge. If you had a good relationship with them before, you can work to build back your rapport. People appreciate humility and graciousness. Don't throw away what makes you happy over fear of what others may think. If you live like that, you'll be walking backward through molasses forever. 

Natalie's Networking Tip of the Week: Speaking of building rapport, working with a team can be a great way to network internally at your office. Get to know people on a more personal level and see what you can do for them. Give of yourself at work, be a team player and see how you can help each other to build a better network from within.

Please send your relationship and lifestyle questions to or tweet them to @NBSeen. You can also send postal letters to Natalie Bencivenga, 358 North Shore Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15212

(This column was originally published by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.)