How to quit your job: An Employers opinion

Shit HappensLast week there was a very nice “Ask HN” on Hacker News where the person asking had stated that he had decided to move on to a new job and to do that had to quit his job. Since it was his first job switch, he wasn’t too well aware of the whats, hows and whens of the task and hence he turned to the community to guide him. I was really happy to see that there are people who do want to go through the exit process gracefully and amicably. The response the post of extremely well and the members of the Hacker News community shared great insights and experiences and some great recommendations came out of the process. Even I shared my views on the topic as to how staying in touch with my ex-colleagues has helped me get a lot of new business for my venture when I quit my job in 2009.
Most of the comments were expressing the view points as employees but I experienced some (a few) of the recommendations were inclined towards “Screw Employer, Save Yourself”. I found it kind of disturbing to see this kind of sentiment in the community. Even though they were very few it is still disheartening to see that some people think that ways. I think it is important that an employee thinks about his employer whenever he takes a decision as crucial as quitting. This is something that is going to affect the both of you in most of the cases and hence it is important that both parties be considered when making such decisions. Here are my few points about how I expect (or would appreciate) you to quit if you were my employee

  • Tell me as early as possible – This is true no matter how big or small your employer is. The scale of the company only affects how much it is going to affect the employer but the fact that the employer is going to be affected is true. The earlier you tell us the more time we get to make a proper exit plan for you and ensure that things that follow go on smoothly. Hasty exits often leave a bad taste in the mouth. Often people blame their employers that they put obstacles in their relieving process but in most of the cases it is just because they had not given enough time to the employer to process everything. If you leave a small company of 5 people, you need to realize that they are losing 20% of their workforce. They need time.
  • Finish what you have started – Although this is true for everyone and everything it is exceptionally important for someone who is planning to quit. If you are at a crucial position, handling various projects and managing teams it is expected from you that you either wind up all your projects or give a complete and smooth transition to someone. I would appreciate if you can help me by recommending who you think should be given the project after you leave. If you are a programmer make sure that there is not a single line of code that only you know exists and why it exists. It can be extremely irritating to face a bug and not know where it is coming from.
  • Don’t slack around – This is extremely unfortunate that some people simply turn their “work mode” off as soon as they put in their papers and just sit around doing nothing until the final day comes. This “why should I work when I am on my notice period” is actually a major setback to you image on your bosses and colleagues. If the transition is complete and there is nothing going on which requires you critically then instead of sitting around all day diluting the work environment of the office simply ask your employer to relieve you early. I am sure they will oblige. I know that I would.
  • Complete the paperwork – Let me tell you something. Even I do not like all the paperwork and processes that I have to maintain as an employer. They irritate me as much as they irritate you. Yet it is due to compliance that these are pushed into my throat which in turn I forward to you. Please complete all the formalities. There was a suggestion in the HN thread that recommends that you do not sign exit papers as it indemnifies the employer. I find it extremely specific and harsh.
  • No outbursts please – Every now and then you come across a viral video of someone quitting by making a scene or by writing a very unprofessional letter to the authorities which reaches the internet. I know bosses are not perfect. I know I am not. I am sure you could have the right reasons to be doing such a thing and try to humiliate your boss or at least express your anger but still, please don’t. You need to know this hurts you a lot more than it will hurt us. As long as an employer is offering a position and money he will always find people willing to work for him. You on the other hand could face issues with your next employer if he finds out that you have the ability and experience to do such a thing. Please don’t think that this is a threat. This is the truth and the way things work. You will be an internet hero for a few days but then you will have to go back into the job market.
  • Give honest feedback – Sometime people leave because they are not happy. At that point I would want to know what I could have done to have avoided your discomfort. I run a small team and I cannot afford to neglect anyone’s comforts and concerns. I am willing to changes/update my policies and attitudes if that helps making my team happier and hence more productive. I have always mentioned in my earlier posts. I always treat you like a friend and friends are honest to each other. Don’t lie to me in the exit interview and only say nice things because people say that saying bad things in exit interviews is wrong. Tell me what you actually felt. As I said in one of my earlier posts – Employees deserve feedback.  Well so do the bosses.
  • Stay in touch – Remember, I considered you a friend. And you my friend will be missed. Even if you work for a huge multinational, your teammates will miss you. Keep in touch.

I will be honest with you. It makes me very happy when my colleagues (employees) move on to better jobs and ventures after gaining a lot of experience with me. I take pride in the fact that his association with me and my company added some value to his life and which benefited him greatly. People will come and they will leave but they time that was spent with them and the experience that was gained with them will always stay.

PS: I couldn’t find the original HN thread else I would have definitely linked to it. If you find it do share the link with me. Twitter is the best way to get in touch with me.

Update: Join the discussion on Hacker News here : http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4932329

Update 2: Found the link to the original “Ask HN” post. Find it here: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4908815

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27 Responses to “How to quit your job: An Employers opinion”

  1. Anonymous

    Hi.

    I have a question about the honest feedback.

    Why if my honest feedback could lead in my boss “fireing someone”. I can’t give this kind of feedback.

    I think you can understand the position. In which I am. I disagree in how the things are done, and know who is the responsibility. If my “boss” doesn’t worry about that things. Why should I care?

    Reply
  2. Michael Chermside

    At my last job, my policy on quitting was that I would not tell anyone until the day I planned to leave, then I would inform my boss. The reason I had this asinine policy is that the company had the policy that if you said you were leaving, that you were to be immediately debriefed then escorted to your desk to gather your things and escorted out the door by security. (Normally they would then pay you for 2 weeks “notice”.) Apparently this is “standard practice” and we needed the policy “for the normal reasons”. I can only imagine that they are worried about disgruntled employees planting time bombs or back doors in their systems and just aren’t smart enough to realize that there’s a difference between firing an employee and the employee choosing to leave. No matter how you looked at it, the policy was stupid.

    Reply
  3. Andrew

    Agree with all except the “Leave Honest Feedback.”

    That one had no benefits for the exiting employer and several potential pitfalls.

    Avoid.

    And I say this as an employer giving a heads up.

    Reply
  4. Robert

    Obviously, this list of recommendations is wonderful for the employer and completely unbalanced by design, but some of them are borderline insane.

    Give reasonable notice. Lame duck employment is terrible for both the company you are leaving, and yourself… it also more than likely will make the company you are going to feel like it is second fiddle. I have made this mistake, don’t be me!

    Finish the hard stuff. Find the worst bits of your code and the most confusing parts of what you have worked on and write it up / cross train someone on it. Don’t bother trying to finish everything / make everyone happy, you will fail… and it would take months.

    Don’t slack! First point I actually agree with… work your butt of for that reasonable two week exit period. Then give yourself a week before you start your new job.

    Complete the paperwork. Sure!

    No outbursts. Never actually seen one, but sure!

    Do NOT give honest feedback, my god no. For all the same reasons you don’t do outbursts, it can ONLY hurt you as an employee. It is the worst, least thought out part of this entire set of recommendations. This recommendation WRECKS CAREERS. The answer is always “I found a better opportunity”.

    Stay in touch. Good for you, generally bad for the employer, so go for it. Nothing like being a sounding board for all those complaints that made you leave, and eventually you can convince them all to quit and come join you at your new digs!

    Reply
  5. Jeff

    All good points, but when employers release someone, it’s immediate; no two week notice, no nothing, NOW.

    Kinda skewed.

    Reply
  6. Mark

    This is very one sided & a bit naive. I have been a boss as well as an employee so I’ve seen it from both sides. Frankly, the company (especially corporate America) can fire you in an instant & you’re out the door the same hour! So tell me as soon as possible seems a bit disingenuous. Honest feedback? Hello? The company’s ears have been closed so why waste one’s breath.

    Reply
  7. Jason Pettys

    Wow – these comments indicate a real lack of respect shown by your employers. If I were working for an employer like that I’d hold my cards close to the vest, too.

    I’d suggest the author of this post may not be as untrustworthy and inconsiderate as the employers you’re used to. I’ve experience a trustworthy, truly considerate employer in my past. I was able to give him a lot of notice and was brutally honest about the reasons I was leaving because over the four years of employment he had earned my trust in that area. I cared enough to tell him the truth because he had a track record of caring about me.

    So as an employer, if you want your employees to treat you the way the article above describes, you’re going to have to *earn* that level of trust by the way you consistently, habitually deal with employees.

    Like I said, by the tone of this article, I think the author tends to be one of these types.

    Reply
    • Akhil

      I really appreciate your views. I was started to wonder what was wrong about my expecting this from my employees considering that i try to help them in every way possible and want to improve myself to provide them with an even better work environment.

      Reply
      • Jeff

        No disrespect intended, but exactly how do you handle an employee’s termination?
        How much advance notice is given?
        Is there a “sit-down”, a pat on the back, etc?
        Is there severance?

        Reply
        • Akhil

          Hi Juff, Fortunately there has been only one instance so far when a couple of employees were terminated. I think you would understand completely when I tell you the reason of their termination. They were selling my sales leads to a competitor. The day we found out they were called for a meeting and we had a discussion so that they can present their point. Shortly they confessed. No matter how nice a person I am, this kind of behavior is not acceptable. They were terminated the same day. But. They were paid their dues. Their relieving letter has no mention of their unacceptable behavior and we would have been OK if they wanted to use us as reference.

          Reply
          • Jeff

            Then you, sir, are one in a million.
            I have been terminated many times, for reasons having nothing whatsoever with my behavior, work ethic, performance, conduct.
            Never been “fired”; always “laid off”.
            On the spot.
            No advance warning, management all buddy-buddy up until the bomb dropped. Absolutely no respect, or concern for the employee.
            Here’s a good link of what WE experience:
            http://gawker.com/5969061/unemployment-stories-vol-20-i-feel-like-ive-failed-at-life

          • Akhil

            Jeff, I would be lying if i claim that i can feel what you have experienced but i have scene situations like this. I was working closely with the hedge funds in 2009, a lot of my friends were fired during recession. I did see how it happened. But this is what i practice at Green Apple Solutions. Maybe its because we are young and small and simple and have the time to do this. Maybe with time things do get complex and you have to choose between the bottomline and being nice. I just hope that i am able to stay a boss my colleagues like.

          • Jeff

            “I just hope that i am able to stay a boss my colleagues like.”
            It sounds like you already are.

            Especially referring to them as “colleagues”.

          • Jeff

            A little respect goes a hell of a lot farther than brow-beating.
            Congrats on the Inc. write-up.

  8. tby

    I think that employers should outline their exit process and expectations in the employee handbook. What happens to an employee when they give notice is often not known with any degree of certainty, and the exit interview / paperwork procedure is usually an ambush from the employee’s perspective.

    Reply
  9. Samuel H. Digan

    +1 tby. Also, regarding “Finish what you started” and “Do not slack off”, that is a two way street. Employers should recognize that putting the employee on double-duty is unwelcome. Decide on project tasks XOR knowledge transfer and leave them alone to finish it – do not ask for both AND put them on-call too. That soon to be ex-employee could simply spend those two weeks on leave if they wanted – so do not tax their patience.

    Reply

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