What have I done? Queue Beethoven music.
About a year ago, I wrote a letter to incompetent leaders from millennials. It was supposed to inspire and shine the spotlight on poor leadership and how we can fix it.
The other night, an email I received scared me. It was a long email from a millennial who was about to quit their job. They thought I’d be proud of them and perhaps celebrate. (I won’t share the whole email because a lot of it doesn’t demonstrate my point.) Here’s the part that matters:
I’m still quite bitter about my experience but I’m anticipating my departure. I can’t wait to literally drop the mic and walk out.
But what will be better is when I’m invited back as a consultant in two years to fix the culture that they thought they had already perfected.
Thank you so much for your article! I needed that ammunition to get these words out of my head.
I plan to articulate my expressions to the senior executives and if I can’t meet with our CEO in person … I will write it to him in a letter. If he ignores my letter, I might just have to find a tv station to share my opinion. I mean the investors are getting behind our company because they think it’s being innovated by “millennials.”
“What have I done?” was my first thought. My goal was never to have people quit their job in this manner. If your job sucks, then sure, leave and go elsewhere — but never forget this fact:
Everybody is replaceable
— including this blogger with a funny shaped haircut.
Two seconds after you quit your job, the internet spawns another worker in your place.
Don’t get romantic over quitting your job. You’re not a celebrity and frankly, nobody cares if you quit. Quitting your job is not supposed to be dramatic. I want to right the wrong my letter to incompetent letters may have caused and explain clearly and simply how to quit your job effectively.
Send your email of resignation and say nothing — be silent
When you quit, a silent departure makes the most powerful statement.
You getting all high and mighty does nothing for you or for the company you are leaving. All of these thoughts of revenge and making a point are nothing more than hot air.
If a company is not for you, move on and don’t blame the company. Not everybody is the right fit for a particular culture and that’s not the company’s fault. Expecting everyone to fit in and have a blast at work is a myth. It’s not practical. If you need a letter of resignation sample, we’ve got you covered.
Give up the story
As I read this long email from a millennial, all I heard was a long story. It was a story about being right. There was not a shred of empathy for all the people they worked with and what they were going through.
It was a selfish account of a mind full of vengeance and hate. The story you tell yourself about why you have to quit your job is one worth reflecting on.
In my case, a life-changing thought came to mind:
Perhaps I was the problem.
That’s a tough pill to swallow. You might be the problem not the company and that’s a thought worth pondering when you start writing the story of your company exit in your mind.
Running a business is really hard
It’s easy to critique a business. Try running one. It’s bloody hard. Everyone thinks they know best but they don’t.
If you’re quitting your job because you think you know best, reconsider that thought. Have you run a business? Have you proven you can do better?
The company you work for maybe screwed up but remember how hard running a business is. It’s not easy getting people to believe a vision and work cooperatively with each other.
The problem in any company is always getting people to work together. If all that was left in business was software running the show on autopilot, there’d be no problems left to solve.
Take a walk in a leader’s shoes.
Running a business is harder than you think. A side-hustle can teach you that.
Remember you may have to work with these people again
A customer I used to look after made a fatal mistake.
He gave into temptation and told his employer they were stupid and took a job at a cool, funky San Fran startup. That startup went on to be sold for billions of dollars and he felt really smart for being one of their first employees.
Unfortunately for him, the buyer of the company was the one he previously quit working for. All the leaders he spoke down to on his way out remembered what he had done.
His career was not bright after the acquisition. He could never shake what he’d done and he refused to apologize or learn from his mistakes.
You quit your job effectively when you remember you could be working with those same people again. Respect everybody on the way out and pretend you’ll be working together again someday.
Retain your peace
Quitting your job can be a sense of freedom. It can produce a gorgeous sense of peace. All of that peace is lost when you react negatively on your way out the door.
It’s more effective to retain your peace than quit in a blaze of glory and feel the after-effects of a giant mistake.
Avoid thinking about greener pastures
Most companies have a messy, somewhat toxic culture. There are a few that get it right and the rest operate in quiet chaos around their employees.
The chance of you going to a new company that has none of the same problems is highly unlikely. Every company has problems. The aim is to choose and stay at a company that has “your” ideal mix of problems.
Focus on your future
The most effective way to quit your job is to invest your time and money in the future. Hating your past company does nothing for you.
How do I know? I Googled an ex-employer every day for three months, hoping their share price would drop to zero. I was full of anger and it plagued my thoughts every day until I let it all go once and for all.
Being upset with past leaders isn’t going to help you develop either. The leaders who wronged you did the best they can. Like you, they were just trying to survive and put food on the table for their family.
I don’t believe for a second that any leader is pure evil. Incompetent leaders just go a little off track. Their ego gets the best of them and there’s nobody to tell them to be humble again.
Your job is not to critique; it’s to understand.
Your future career can be bright when you take the time to learn, not complain about the company you’re quitting. There are plenty of people to complain; there is a small number who seek to learn and understand.
Even if your company was a hellhole, you played some part in that story.
Your future is what matters now. Focus on that.
This article first appeared on Medium.
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