Manager Straight Talk: Resignations

One of the biggest arguments I had with one of the head bosses of the company was after we lost two of our best engineers. The argument deteriorated, exploding into a shouting match that left me, a dedicated employee with dreams of building a successful company, to within an inch of resigning.

The two engineers left in a fairly short time span, if I recall a couple of months of each other, and I (being naive) could not make sense of how the company I was putting so much time and energy into could afford to lose two solid engineers.

At the time, without knowing any better, I had to air out my frustrations more than anything else.

Being a manager, I realized I shouldn’t assume loyalty among good professionals is a given, nor should I have assumed all professionals have the same career strategies. Many factors take a part in the reasons why people leave, but one thing is for certain:

The seed of clarity that cause an employee to leave gets planted early until it matures into the moment they decide it’s time to go.

That’s fundamental to something I have adhered to in my professional life is, once I decide to leave a job, I have a clear reason to leave and it is a firm decision, not subject to incentives to stay. Is that strange? Not to me, at least.

When I write a resignation letter, it is a literary piece. I explain my philosophy and the reasons I have chosen to leave the company, and then I sign it. Yes, my signature is on a document and since I did not trick myself into signing my own letter, my signature and honor are contained on that document. It may as well be signed in blood.
As much care goes into a good resignation letter as into a resume.

Money is not the reason I leave a job and yet money is about the only thing a company can throw at the problem at the last minute. You cannot build a relationship at the last minute, or repair a dead relationship at the last minute, decide to change your shaky emotional intelligence at the last minute, or alter the path of a determined person at the last minute. And from what I’ve seen, the people who are lured by money into continuing after resigning eventually leave anyway.

Am I suggested you expect that too? No. Just telling you what I’ve seen. Maybe you know of exceptions.

At the same time, I am not suggesting that compensation is not important, particularly when negotiating a new contract, a candidate may strive for the best possible terms since a company will often have some leeway in making offers. What I am saying, however, is the ability to foster loyalty through good management techniques yields results where money cannot.

Too many times I’ve heard from a leader who has lost his key employees that “it was because of the money.” I strongly beg to differ. Money is just easy for a mind to quantify, unlike the landscape of meaningful interaction.

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I’ll see you… on the next page


P.S. Today I had lunch with an engineer I used to work with. He’s a successful engineering manager now at a large semiconductor company. I probably wouldn’t be writing a Manager Straight Talk today we didn’t have our little reunion.

Challen Yee

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