Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Say Goodbye the Right Way

Resign properly or don’t resign at all…

Okay, ignore the second part of the above phrase. I mean I can’t really force you not to resign if you really want to resign. But the first? Well, this is one I have puzzled about for a long time. Having experienced being an employee and now, an employer, I have seen both sides of things and sometimes, seeing a staff or a manager (or even a partner!) resign is not really a pretty sight.

If I’m not mistaken, the usual policy (correct me if I’m wrong about this) is to give a one month notice. Sometimes, even, you’re not allowed to leave until they find somebody to replace you. But lo and behold, this is not often followed. Let me just give you some instances, which, mind you, are based on actual experiences:

  • Your staff or junior (who is, by the way, new to the firm) suddenly tenders his resignation because he got accepted in the job he really wants. And the effectivity? Immediately.    
  • Or how about this one? Your junior tenders his resignation effective within a week or so. The reason? He wants to devote his time for further studies. The truth? You find out afterwards that he immediately went to work for another company. At least, in the first instance, the junior was honest. This one? Definitely, not!
  • Your staff or junior suddenly went AWOL for a few days and then he calls you to tell you that he is resigning (also immediately) because his family is pressuring him to find another ‘easier’ (read: less overtime) and ‘less stressful’ job. Correction. Your staff is not the one who called you but his older brother. No kidding! 
  • Your junior has a family problem and rather than face it head on, she decided to run from it (literally!). As a result, you got a call from her early one morning and she tells you that she is no longer going to work because she needs to ‘hide’ for a while until things cool down. No resignation letter, no turnover, no nothing! 
  • This one happened when I was still a junior but it really brought hell to one of my friends who was also a junior that time. Her manager was on sick leave for two weeks (either due to measles or due to chicken pox, I can't remember now). When he got back, he was only in the office for a day. The reason? Because he was tendering his resignation and it was effective immediately! To top it all, it was the middle of the busy season! My friend, who was the manager’s junior, was traumatized and she resigned just after that season.

I can relate a lot more. The thing is, I do not know why some people will just up and leave a company or a firm where they went through the proper hiring process in the first place.

I’m not trying to lecture or anything but this is really a sad reality and as an employer and a former manager, I have experienced this several times already.

Sure, I understand that sometimes, really, unforeseen circumstances will play a hand to one’s decision to resign or not to resign. And just sometimes, you cannot really force yourself to continue working for a firm that you already hate (read: Why They Left Part II).

But then again, when resigning, to the extent possible, protocol should really be observed. I mean, how would you feel if you’re already a manager or the boss and your junior does the same thing to you? You will not also like it (especially if it happens during the busy season).

If you want to be sure you are taking the right steps on resigning, there are a lot of sources here on the Internet about this topic (so I won’t go through them anymore). I just want to say that we owe it to the company or firm that hired us to say goodbye in the right way. And this ends my post (or rant, if you want to call it). Feel free to leave me a comment (negative or positive). I’m looking forward to reading them.

Note: Somebody asked me from my previous post what are the things I don’t want to hear from my junior or staff during the busy season. My reply is, please read the first four instances above and you’ll have my answer. Thanks for your comments!


  1. Wait, what?? Ahaha "you’re not allowed to leave until they find somebody to replace you"??? I'm not sure what planet you live on, but it clearly isn't earth...

    Honey, you can leave whenever you want. Two weeks notice is just a courtesy, you don't HAVE to give ANY kind of notice.

    Now, if you want to keep people as a reference and/or go back one day...that's a different story. But trying to say there's any kind of mandatory "can't leave until they find a replacement" is just ridiculous.

    Ahahaha....sorry, I can't get over laughing at this one.

  2. Thanks for your comment Anonymous.

    Actually, that was my reaction when I encountered that situation. That one didn't happen in a Big 4 firm (the level of turnover there is so high, the notion of finding a replacement before you resign is downright ridiculous). I tried to hire an accountant once who was already working for another small-company employer (for a long time at that). I ended up canceling my offer because the employer wouldn't let her go without a replacement (which I think was an excuse, they just didn't want to let her go). And she, being soft-hearted, does not want to leave without the replacement! Next time I encounter somebody like that, I'll refer them to your response for a wake-up call.

    I don't advice not giving that notice though. I've been on the receiving end of having people resign without notice and I can tell you honestly it doesn't look good for the resigned employee. Of course, as you said, if you don't want to get a reference, it's a different story. But if you're in an auditing firm (and a Big 4 at that), leaving properly should be the mindset because it is so easy for your potential employer to find out how you left your previous work. Unless of course, you will not include that work experience in your resume - hmmmmmmmmmm should have included this in the post.

  3. I agree with OP. One should always avoid burning bridges... you never know when you need them.

    And if you've worked at the Big 4, chances are you would want that experience on your resume since it will make such a big impact by distinguishing you from other non-Big 4 rivals.

  4. I agree that certain protocol has to be followed when resigning (the 1 month period is a bit much and the whole find a replacement is laughable).

    The thing is, I sympathize with those that "have" to resign without notice. From a lot of people's perspectives, they were recruited with what seemed like a genuine perspective only to find out that the actual working environment was nowhere near as good and contributes anger over being effectively lied to. While there, you have limited contact with other staff which further reduces the firm to a sea of anonymous faces (in the firm you can feel as if you are a "number" than a person to the firm). Lastly, you see the few friends at the firm get laid off mercilessly without notice and with flimsy excuses (often completely made up).

    None of the above excuse someone from resigning without notice but if someone tells me they resigned from a Big 4 firm I would not condemn that person either.

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