If you’ve read our posts before, you know we encourage workers to make tactful departures. We also encourage workers to be direct with their bosses and be confident in their abilities. Now, what happens when these two situations converge? You get a memo dripping in red ink.
As regional blog Torontoist explains, publishers at newspaper Toronto Star recently announced editing positions–possibly as many as 100–would be outsourced. This news naturally upset the editors. As a result, one editor decided to take his or her red pen to the memo announcing the outsourcing and make a point. The editor marked up the outsourcing announcement to show why editors are necessary in-house members of the paper’s team. [I should point out that the pen-wielding editor sent this memo directly to Torontoist anonymously--or at least they're not printing his or her name. So we don't know who did this.]
We can all learn a few lessons here, I think. Though I’m sure you can add even more (and please feel free to do so in the comments). The lessons aren’t just about leaving a job gracefully, either–they’re about dealing with workplace conflicts and conversations with your boss.
- Keep discussions in-house
I’m not taking sides in this debate, but making your case to a third party and in public can backfire on you. This person’s goal might be to pressure the boss into rethinking his decision, but few people give in to public embarrassment.
- Quantify your contributions
Public airing of grievances aside, this editor did successfully make the case that he or she and presumably the rest of the editors know their trade. When you tell the boss you deserve a raise or a promotion, don’t just say, “I deserve it.” Have proof.
- Keep the focus on the job, not on the boss
If you’re frustrated with your boss because you’re not earning as much as you think you deserve, you haven’t received a promotion in a couple of years or you’re experiencing some other disagreement, don’t take it out on him or her. While this memo’s intent is about preserving editing jobs, the decision to choose the publisher’s letter to mark up makes it more about attacking his writing skills than about the outsourcing. As stated on the Torontoist, the union leader described the benefit of on-site collaboration between editors, writers and other staff members. That point gets lost in this example.
- Don’t ruin your reputation
Again, without taking sides, I can say that the eager proofreader was smart enough to remain anonymous (or at least remains anonymous thus far). When we feel jilted, we all say some pretty crude things. Haven’t most colleagues complained about their bosses during happy hour? But we also know that when we’re interviewing for a job, we don’t badmouth our previous employer. Had this editor proudly signed his or her work, you can assume few employers would’ve ever wanted to hire someone willing to publicly bash the company.
- Don’t be afraid to make your case
As explained in the above post about connecting with your boss, you shouldn’t be afraid to talk about what you want at work. If you’re confused or concerned about a decision that affects you, have a discussion with the boss. If you approach the conversation with a respectful attitude, your boss won’t view your concerns in a negative way. You might even be seen as someone who is proactive in his or her career, and that could benefit you in the long run. If you always keep your concerns to yourself, you could end up regretting your silence for the rest of your career.