My blog post about a resignation letter in which you share future plans prompted this exchange with a reader. Your thoughts are welcome, too. Please join the discussion.
Reader Question About a Resignation Letter
"I'm curious as to your feedback about not including a paragraph such as the one you suggested:Answer:
'I will miss working with you very much as you have provided me with many opportunities to both learn and contribute. Your coaching and support have been invaluable to my progress. I will also miss many of my coworkers and customers and take many positive memories with me to my new employment.
'Again, best wishes for a positive future. Please call on me if there is anything I can do to help ease the transfer of my work to other employees or to help train your new employee.
'Again, I am excited about my new opportunity, but sad to leave.'
"What if the reason a person is leaving (people leave people, not places of employment) is due to the fact that the boss was absolutely horrible to work for and the company, in general, had no leadership or direction? When does one tell the truth so that after leaving the company, some one is put on alert that there are inherent problems that are causing people to leave.
"Isn't a paragraph of this nature perpetuating the lie and enabling the boss and organization to continue the same behaviors?"
I was actually being sincere in my example and assuming the boss had been decent. I have worked with and known many decent bosses over the years.
At the same time, to answer your question, yes, people leave bosses more often than they leave jobs, but this individual was leaving for a much better opportunity.
I don't recommend that a manager or a company is critiqued in an exit or resignation letter. They develop a life of their own, they live forever, and you never know who is reading or interpreting them, even many years later. And, they all reflect on you.
I like to see companies do exit interviews during which you may express your concerns. But, again, understand that companies are not without understanding. The HR person doing the interview rarely has power to change things and they have probably heard most of what you have to offer before.
Your best bet to change your company is while you are a valued employee. You do this by approaching your hierarchy with solutions and suggestions after developing a positive relationship.
This is really the only time you have for impact and making a statement as you exit the door is not effective. Unless you were the most important employee in the company because of skills or contribution, your exit words should bridge to a positive memory in the future.
That said, if you had a rotten boss, don't say nice things in the resignation letter about him or her. I'm not an advocate of lying. Use the simple resignation letter I've also provided.
"In essence, I ascribe to your alternative tact of writing a simple, factual message of resignation and leaving it at that when circumstances don't warrant anything more positive. Certainly, a letter of that nature is not the place to 'exit-vent' or to advise about all that's wrong with the organization. So, I concur with your thought process there.
"What's amazing to me, and perhaps it's my own naivety or wishful thinking, is that there is so much writing, curriculum, business theorists, proven methodologies and information that is accessible to companies today to help them perform better; yet, so many of those companies either refuse to acknowledge their developmental need or they are 'unconsciously incompetent' when it comes to connecting with their employees, and therefore don't know that any needs exist.
"As an OD/Training professional, I've experienced a lot of disconnectedness among corporate leaders, middle managers and rank and file employees to the extent that turnover is largely based on the fact that people felt that they weren't appreciated. I've been in situations when I have tried to effect change by building relationships with senior management--I call it my personal value stream/proposition--and yet, I feel that I'm looked upon as some kind of 3-headed alien.
"When the brick walls get higher and stronger and company leaders simply don't buy in, it can be pretty demoralizing to a facilitator of learning who has the tools to bridge those kinds of gaps. I've always believed that Training pros struggle the most when empathizing with employees who really want to learn and grow and being frustrated when there is no care or support from the top. What a ping pong match that is!
"Well, this has been long-winded enough. Thanks--Really! for listening."
More About Resignation Letters