by Steve Adubato, PhD
It’s not a big surprise that the Internet is on fire with people praising Steven Slater, the angry, frustrated and out of control flight attendant who very publicly quit his job by taking a couple of beers, cursing over the plane’s PA system, jumping onto a inflatable shoot and getting into his car to make what he was hoping was a quick get away.
His much-talked-about rant went into how frustrated he was with being disrespected as a flight attendant and how he had had it with the job. Basically, he was saying, “Take this job and shove it.” Okay, I get it. I understand lots of people hate their jobs and would love to quit in such a public and flamboyant fashion. You tell the boss where he can stick it, you trash the company, you tell off your colleagues and you supposedly feel real good about yourself when it’s over. But there is an obvious catch. If you ever have to work again for another organization, it will stick with you for years to come.
With this in mind, consider the following tips and tools on how to communicate when quitting:
--No matter how much you hate the job, there is no value in saying so. How are you helping yourself by telling your boss that he’s a jerk or telling a coworker that you hate him or her? I’m not suggesting that you go out of your way to lie and tell them how great they are, but show some dignity. Take the high road and communicate something like this; “You know, I wish it could have worked out here. But, both of us know it just wasn’t the best match. I tried my best and I’m sure you did as well. I wish you success in the future.” How does that hurt you? What does that really cost? Tell your friends and family in private everything you really feel. Get your frustration out there, but remember, when you publicly trash the place and the people you are leaving behind, that carnage has a tendency to follow you when your next prospective employer calls some of those folks and asks about you as an employee. Think about your next step before you open your mouth on your way out the door.
--Now matter how happy you are to leave and want to get out the door as quickly as possible, make sure you communicate how willing you are to take the necessary time (preferably two weeks or longer if possible) to train your replacement. You may hate everything about doing it, but it speaks highly of you and your professionalism when you do this. It will help when people check out your previous employer and it will also do something for you to know that you’ve helped a new person learn the ropes. Karma is a funny thing.
--Communicate face to face that you are leaving, first with your supervisor and then with anyone else who matters in the organization. Former New York Knicks basketball coach Pat Riley infamously quit his job by sending a fax to the Knicks organization. Talk about tacky for a guy who’s a leadership and communication guru that gets a lot of money for giving motivational speeches and writes books on the subject. Never e-mail, fax or text your resignation. Just like you don’t accept a job through electronic communication, you shouldn’t leave a job in the same fashion. Face to face communication will hopefully never go out of style in the world of business.