We've all dreamed about getting sweet, sweet revenge on our rude boss, but let's be honest here, the universe rarely seems to punish the worst among us. That's why, every once in a while, when it does happen, when the worst get the worst of things, it feels so amazingly awesome.
This is the story of Mike, who set a revenge trap for his horrible boss and the boss, like the idiot he seemed to be, fell right in it.
The Story Of Mike
This is the story of Mike. Mike was a Project Manager for a company somewhere in Europe where he had worked for six years. Mike had worked great with his bosses and his fellow colleagues for years, but that all changed when a new Senior Vice President came into the office, having transferred from an office abroad. This new Senior Vice President seemed determined from the outset that he was going to make life rough for Mike, but Mike was certainly not going to let that happen easily.
Meet The New Boss
The story started with Mike enjoying life at work. Mike described it like this: “I was running the big project, working closely with the Senior VP whom I had known for several years and we worked together great. I was making pretty good money at the time – around $120k/year which for that position was very good. The big project completed, and I was given some bonuses and career recognition, which was nice, but not really a big deal for me. Then it happened – one of the Senior VPs who had been working in the [United] States as a Lead Regional Director was moving back home and needed a new position.”
As it turns out, that meant his beloved Senior VP was out, which according to Mike, he was apparently demoted for “various reasons, but he was originally hired by another CEO, so it was the usual corporate nonsense/political stuff.”
The incoming Lead Regional Director turned Senior VP would be Mike’s new boss.
Mike Thought Positively
Mike enjoyed his role as a PM, and despite losing his old boss, he was excited to work with the new Senior VP, who we’ll call Bill, and to call him his new boss.
Mike explained: “Now, Bill, who had been working abroad for 5-6 years, returned and took over the reins. I had met him several times and liked his no-nonsense management style, so I expected us to hit it off.”
Turns it, they wouldn’t, AT ALL.
Mike Turns Negative Quickly
Mike soon realized there were going to be big problems with Bill.
“I quickly discovered that he was on a major power trip. The sort of guy who is super nice and flexible when around the other Senior VPs and the CEO, but as soon as you had him alone in a room he was bloody nuts. He had unreasonable demands in every way possible. Unrealistic targets, management by fear and so forth. A full-blown psycho.”
“Full-blown psycho” is never a great way to have to describe your boss, but Mike wasn’t alone. He said, “I and several colleagues were shocked.” But they didn’t want to rock the boat too much. “We were making good money, and most people directly in contact with him were 5-10 years in (with) the company and had broad respect in the management level – so we just did our best and tried to avoid his wrath.”
Despite their best efforts, the team, and especially Mike, wouldn’t be able to avoid it forever.
Bill Takes On The Whole Department
Mike and Bill worked closely together and at first, Mike was ok with that situation. But, as he said, things really started to go wrong not too long into Bill’s tenure. Mike explained: “In the beginning it was okay, but he became more and more enraged with minor problems and issues and quickly started firing people left and right. One of our group managers was fired by email on the day after Christmas – with over 90 staff CC’d, because Bill didn’t know how to use outlook. It was crazy.”
It wasn’t long before HR took notice, of course. With Bill firing everyone left and right, they were forced to get involved. Mike described the meetings as screaming matches. “The HR department was bewildered and had weekly shouting meetings with Bill.”
As for Mike, well, Bill “cooled towards me and sent me back to my old department, which was fine.”
But others in Bill’s way didn’t fare as well.
“A few of the PM’s got stressed out and one quit, so we were very busy. I ended up running way too many projects.”
Yet instead of loosening up, Bill doubled down
Bill’s Anger Boils Over, Mike Starts His Exit Plan
Bill was relentless, demanding more and more out of Mike and the rest of the team under him. Finally, Mike had enough.
“One of our last big clashes was his unreasonable requirements for me to fly to far away places (10-15 hour flights) to attend a simple meeting that we’d usually handle over the phone. After 3 weeks of traveling, he demanded me do another 2 weeks on another continent, and I refused.”
Enough was enough.
Bill wasn’t happy with Mike’s refusal to travel, he was, in fact, “enraged.” Bill’s anger only grew, maybe from embarrassment, when he discovered that Mike was grandfathered into the old travel policies, which meant Mike flew Business or First Class. As he put it: “I was racking up tens of thousands of dollars on airfare and hotels, while other PM’s had to fly cattle class. Bill had no idea, and his power play had backfired. He was livid.”
That’s when things started to come into full focus for Mike. And it started at home with his pregnant wife.
Taking Advantage Of His Country’s Laws, Mike’s Plan Comes Into Focus
Mike’s wife was pregnant the whole time this work drama was unfolding, and it was due to the pregnancy that Mike started to formulate his revenge plan. In Mike’s country (which he doesn’t identify), they have very liberal maternity and paternity leave laws. Mike explained: “Parents can take 12 months leave. The company pays the first 3 months and the state pays you like 50% of full salary the last 9 months. Usually, dads take like a month, and moms take 11 months.” But since Mike’s wife wasn’t working, he was entitled to take the whole 12, even though he had “requested just 3 months, at the time.”
Mike soon changed his mind as his relationship with Bill continued to deteriorate and his plan for revenge came into clear focus.
Bill Wants To Fire Mike, But Can’t
A few weeks before Mike is set to go on Paternity leave, Bill realized what the implications were. Mike was one his best managers and Bill is angry. Really angry. Mike was already running at 120% with all the extra projects he had to manage, and Bill knew the load would fall back on him with Mike gone. As Mike explained: “I had given notice to this like 6 months earlier but for some reason, it had escaped his attention. I had done everything right with HR and the team lead. He was ticked. We had a meeting where he basically said he did not want me to come back. But didn’t fire me.”
That last part is key. Bill didn’t fire Mike. The reason? “Firing someone during leave is like the biggest no-no with employer law in our country. The fines are huge and the courts always side with employees on this stuff.” Bill knew he couldn’t fire Mike now.
Mike knew he couldn’t be fired, but he also knew the writing was on the wall and he won’t have his current position for long when he returned from leave. Instead, Mike worked out a plan to use the system to not only help himself in a big way, but to really mess up Bill too.
Bill Finally Fires Mike
Here’s how Mike did it.
In the days leading up to his leave, he changed his request with HR from 3 months to 12 months. Again, all perfectly legal in Mike’s country. HR approves the change and a week or so later, Mike is out on leave.
But Mike being on leave didn’t slow Bill down. According to Mike: “During the first month, I get a million emails and calls about all sorts of extra things I was handling (outside my actual job description) and I helped colleagues and generally ignored managers. They had no right to contact me, but I was nice about it.”
So he’s working, but he’s not paying much attention to Bill, who clearly got upset over the situation, which led to a Mike receiving a phone call from HR, requesting a meeting.
Mike walked into the office for the meeting and was met by Bill who was looking “self-content.” As Mike put it: “Then I met the very new and naive HR girl. HR girl opens up at me – Bill has this huge list of stuff I had supposedly done wrong.” Mike knows for sure now that when his leave is over, they want him OUT. He continues: “HR girl informs me that ‘leave ends in 1 month, so they will give me 3 months severance.'”
So in effect, Mike is fired. But remember, Mike changed his request from 3 months to 12 months and now, because the new HR woman was clueless and Bill was thoughtless, Mike has been fired in the middle of his paternity leave, the “biggest no-no in employment law in our country.”
Now Mike’s revenge plan was in action with much, much more to come.
Mike’s Trap Has Been Sprung On Bill
Mike has set the trap and Bill and the company’s HR woman have sprung it. In his meeting with HR, Mike explained: “I don’t tear into her, I just politely made a few points – leave is ending in 10 months – not one – as per my request (I had the emails printed out ). Plus I’m on an old contract so severance is 6 months. And I’m on the old stock program, so I get bonuses as well.”
The HR woman is stunned. “She freezes. Then freaks out – ‘YOU HAVE 12 MONTHS LEAVE AND NEW SVP SENT ME TO FIRE YOU 2 MONTHS IN??’ She knows they are toast. I’m like, ‘Yeah, so see you in court.’ She scurries away, gets the HR SVP, whom I by chance know quite well, and HR SVP says – ‘let’s do a new meeting, we’ll get back to you.'”
This is working out exactly how Mike hoped.
Mike Milks It For All It’s Worth
Now that he knows he is fired AND that the company has messed up, Mike goes for broke with almost nothing to lose. As he told the story: “Then I begin the scheduling game. They have no technical right to contact me while I’m on leave – so I drag the meeting planning out for months. ‘Oh, I’m sick, yes, I have time 2 months from now,’ etc…”
That is another piece of revenge. The Senior VP that fired him, Bill, cannot hire a replacement until Mike is officially fired. Stretching this whole thing out changes nothing for Mike as he is on paid leave and making things very hard on Bill, who desperately needs someone in the position. Besides, “hiring someone for my job, while I’m on leave, is the SECOND biggest no-no in my country’s employment laws,” according to Mike.
Mike now has all the leverage in his negotiations and he takes full advantage. “Eventually the HR director calls me up and is like, ‘ok, what do you want.’ Well, I ended up with 12 months full pay, fully vested stock options, full company bonus, full department performance bonus, free phone and internet for a year, two free laptops, a free phone and full insurance for a year. Altogether, more than $150k. And I was free to work again while they were paying my 1-year salary. I took the jump and opened my own consulting company, and I’m happier than ever.”
Mike got everything he wanted and more. His trap worked perfectly and he got revenge on Bill, who must have been steamed when he heard the result of Mike’s negotiations. Mike even admitted Bill did it to himself. “In broad terms, this mainly worked because of the leave time. If Bill had just given me a formal warning for some nonsense and played it cool until a few months after the 3-month leave, he could easily have gotten rid of me with a 6 month severance – and that severance would be devalued as they could require me to use some of my own vacation pay on some of it. However, Bill was on so much of a psychotic rage trip that he didn’t think. His long tenure in the States probably made him forget local labor laws.”
Adding insult to injury for Bill, he was demoted within a few months of the incident and fired within a year. Even funnier is that Bill has applied for work TWICE in companies that Mike was working for as a freelancer. He commented: “I can’t say I was instrumental in him not getting those jobs.” It was all downhill there for Bill. “His career never recovered and he is now doing pathetic management consulting from his home office, making less in a year than I do in a month.”
Mike won this war if you can even call it that. Bill clearly stood no chance. For everyone that has ever been stuck with a prick for a boss and dreamed about milking a bad company for all you could in revenge, Mike is your new hero. Three cheers for Mike!