Employee Resignations Gone Wild

Angriest Cat on Flickr?
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UPDATE: The girl who quit via dry erase board, was a hoax. Jenny is Elyse Porterfield, an LA. actress. The other examples cited are unfortunately not auditions. You can read about Jenny/Elyse here.

Last year Jackie Ramos created a YouTube video, Why Bank of America Fired Me,  after being terminated from her job. She named her employer’s location, bosses and shared the internal policies that resulted in a “top performer” being let go from her position. LeBron James quit his job in an hour long interview with sponsorship dollars donated to charity. Earlier this week, flight attendant, Steven Slater cursed out a passenger over the loudspeaker and made a sliding exit from his career. Today, I learned of a young woman, Jenny who quit her job via dry erase board and emailed all 33 photos to the entire office. Her resignation included revelations about her mean boss and information from the company computer tracking software about how he spends his time online. Jenny ended her resignation by saying that she did not have a new job but “Something tells me I’ll be just fine.” I am not so sure.

These employee resignations have gone viral thanks to the swift transfer of information via social media. Many are applauding these employees as folk heroes and offering comments of support. We all relate to stressful working conditions and difficult people so these extreme actions seem like a win for the “little guy.”  I see them as a dangerous precedent that can have far reaching implications in our culture.

I once worked for a boss so horrible that when I was promoted, people from divisions I did not know went out of their way to congratulate me on my promotion and escaping a hostile working environment. Working with this boss felt like doing battle with Satan but I kept my head up, remained respectful and exceeded every metric. To get through it all, I took a lot of bubble baths but at the end of each day I knew that I had not allowed someone else’s bad behavior to change me. I could live with my choices and my boss would have to answer for hers.

Dramatic resignations may feel great in the moment but how many employers would view these employees as a liability? Would you hire someone who was comfortable bad mouthing a former employer? Even if the incidents quickly fade from public view, what happens when a potential employer googles you (and yes they google you)?

It is not simply the hiring risk that is at issue here but a question of character. All of these employees became fed up in some way with their organization’s policy, environment of management style. Rather than taking steps to find a new job (LeBron is the exception) they simply quit airing their grievances along the way.  Maturity has taught me that I always have a choice and that choice should always include taking the high road.

These employees were not standing up for their rights, or acting as their own advocate, they reacted to negative situations with an equally negative response. They were not pushed or forced into impossible choices, they chose their response. Each could have achieved the same end by submitting a respectful, formal resignation. They would have given up their 15 minutes of fame, but would have gained the experience of suppressing an irrational, immature response.

If you are unhappy in your job, by all means take action, but please take that action with respect. Work on your resume, begin networking and find a job that will fulfill you. You never have to resort to bad mouthing a former employer or making a dramatic exit when you are mature, in charge professional. Of course if you’re aiming to leverage your 15 minutes for a spot on Jersey Shore  then ignore my sound advice.

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