Qumar Zaman, a radio announcer for the Lake County Fielders, a minor league baseball team outside of Chicago, had just finished covering a game last week when he signed off his broadcast saying, “[The team] didn’t pay me all the money owed to me, and that’s why I’m leaving right now.” And he left.
A bad idea, for so many reasons (The first being that he didn’t have another job lined up).
It’s understandable that sometimes, the decision to quit just hits you. Your boss is a jerk, you’re underpaid, and most days, you’d rather get dental work than go to work. But, regardless of how strong your urge is to tell your boss where he can shove it, quitting your job should be a strategic and tactful move. What it shouldn’t be is impulsive or emotional. Or public, for that matter.
For one, you never know where an old colleague or boss will show up again in the future.
“Just like the song says, it is a small world after all,” says Jodi R.R. Smith, owner of Massachusetts-based Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting and author of “The Etiquette Book: A Complete Guide to Modern Manners.” “If you have specialized in a specific field it is highly probable that you will cross paths in the future with the people you are leaving behind today. So it’s important to keep relationships positive and the communication open. You never know when you might see these people again.”
So, before you go all “Jerry Maguire” on your office (“Who’s coming with me, besides ‘Flipper,’ here?”), take a minute to think through your decision. Smith, who has served as a business etiquette coach to companies like Fidelity Investments, Marriott International and PricewaterhouseCoopers, offers the following steps as a guide to a proper, drama-free and professional resignation.
1. Write a resignation letter: A resignation letter is still an expected formality at most companies. Yours needs only three pieces of information, Smith says. “Your last day, contact address and phone number, and your signature.”
No need to include details of why you’re quitting or a personal manifesto of what’s wrong with your company. “You are better served by keeping it simple,” she advises.
2. Time it right: “Once you have decided to leave a company you often become a lame duck,” Smith says. “Plan your announcement and your time remaining carefully. Be sure to factor in time for a replacement to be found and some training to take place, but do not linger.”
3. Set up an exit interview: As in a resignation letter, prudence is key in an exit interview. “Answer all questions judiciously. Some exit interviews are confidential, while others are not,” Smith cautions. “You want to be sure not to burn any bridges. Boomerang employees — those who leave a company only to be hired back a few years later — are becoming more and more common.”
4. Take the high road: “Leaving a company can be a stressful and unnerving time,” Smith says. “But it is at times like these that it is especially important to keep your wits about you. Do not yell at anyone, do not destroy company property, and do not disparage the organization to the media or to the clients. What you do reflects on you.”
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Have you seen someone quit their job the wrong way? Tell us about it in the comments section.