I feel betrayed when employees quit

A reader writes:

I’m a manager who has trouble when employees leave. I had a recent experience where I was shocked that my employee was leaving, despite having no inkling of it prior and also having extensive conversations where we discussed her future.

I get that things come up and that people need to do what they think is best for them, but I work really hard to be professionally supportive and understanding of personal issues (and I was very helpful with this employee around family issues). I just feel betrayed. Thanks for your advice.

It’s not a betrayal, and it’s not personal. People leave jobs. It’s normal.

You can be the most supportive boss in the world, and people are still going to leave. It doesn’t have to be a reflection on you; it’s often about wanting new challenges, wanting a shorter commute, wanting more money, wanting to get more experience in a different area, simply wanting a change, or all kinds of other reasons that have nothing to do with you.

Or, it could be about you — and sometimes it probably is. You don’t like everyone (I assume), and it’s not reasonable to expect that everyone will like you. As a manager, you have a very specific style and way of managing. Some people will like it (hopefully), and other people will not. That’s okay. That’s normal.

And ultimately, the biggest thing to keep is mind is that employees don’t owe you lifelong loyalty. That’s not what the relationship is. It’s business. It’s not family or friendship, no matter how warm the relationships might feel. These are people who are working for you in exchange for money. They might really like you, but this is still a business transaction. (See how many of them would keep showing up if you stopped paying them.) And part of this relationship is that either side gets to terminate it. Just as you might lay off or fire someone, your staff members might leave. That’s part of the deal.

As a manager, the best thing you can do is to make real efforts to retain high-performing staff members … but to be genuinely happy for people when they move on to the next thing in their lives. And know that it will happen eventually no matter what you do.

{ 145 comments… read them below }

  1. Mena*

    This is professional and not personal. I doubt your company is guaranteeing lifetime job security – why would you expect lifetime loyalty?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Not always! I think a lot of people leave jobs where more money wouldn’t keep them there, not unless it was so much more money that realistically their position isn’t ever going to pay that.

      1. KellyK*

        Absolutely. If nothing else, people do make major career shifts, and the money isn’t relevant if you decide the career itself is a bad fit.

        For example, I taught middle school for a couple years, got horribly burned out, and took an entry-level copyediting job that paid less than I could have made as a teacher. The amount of money for which I would consider teaching a roomful of seventh graders again (assuming it’s not my only option) is easily *double* what a teacher can expect to make.

        Money is nice, but it’s definitely not the only thing that matters to people.

        1. Jamie*

          The money thing is actually an informal formula I use to gauge my own satisfaction at work.

          If I’m happy with where my career is going the number for which I’d jump is MUCH higher than if I’m unhappy. Unhappy enough I’d just for the same or less money. But if I’m satisfied with where I’m at then the number it would take for me to leap would be pretty unlikely. That’s why it’s important from a business standpoint to not pay people radically under-market. The more under-market they are the likelier they are to find a company willing to meet their jump number. Pay them at market and it’s less likely.

          But to be honest, I would never be so happy anywhere that there isn’t a number. I’ve always got a price…how high that price is depends on a lot of other factors…but there’s always a magic number.

          1. KellyK*

            That makes sense. One thing about more money is that it can mitigate a lot of the other downsides. It might not be so bad to have a really stressful job if you can afford a massage every week. And a super-long commute becomes much more doable if your food budget can accommodate less cooking and more take-out, or if you can pay someone to clean your house every now and again.

            1. Beth*

              When I left a professional job 5 years ago, I met with the GM and he asked me if there was anything they could do to keep me. I remember responding that even if they offered to pay me twice as much, I wouldn’t stay.

              And what if they had offered me twice as much, and I took it, because it was a lot of money? I’d stay and be totally miserable. Then I’d still end up leaving down the line. Throwing more money at an employee who really wants to leave is often a recipe for disaster. It’s a short-term fix and in the end probably a misallocation of funds.

              1. Ruffingit*

                I completely agree. I have had jobs where the environment was so bad that no amount of money was worth subjecting myself to it. I took pay cuts to leave and was fine with doing so. Money isn’t the be all, end all in my world. I give a lot of credence to good working environment having suffered through some really bad ones.

          2. tcookson*

            I hadn’t ever thought of it in such specific detail, but that is pretty much the mental process behind how I feel about any give job, and t’s helpful to have it spelled out for me.

          3. Agree*

            I couldn’t agree more with this! I think that happiness sets the gauge for the financial decisions some of us make (career wise)… Well said! Another thing about paying below market… I think personally that this is the for an employee’s resentment which will grow, and “little things” will seem all the more frustrating because of that underlying issue.
            I’ve been is situations where these apply. One job paid me wonderfully, but the stress and politics of that workplaces were beyond my tolerance level, so I ended up taking a pay cut (about 25 percent- steep) to leave the industry and move on. They tried to retain me, and NO AMOUNT of money would have kept me there.
            Now on the flip side…. I am making much less and find myself more easily frustrated with leadership decisions, and I know that it comes down to pay…

      2. Sidra*

        I started my new job a few months ago, and this was the case. My new salary is less, and I turned down a counteroffer as well. It’s not about money to me, beyond making a decent amount. I am much happier now, and have a lot more opportunity. I’ll probably end up making more in the end just because of potential to grow at my new job. I didn’t have a bad boss before – but the job was boring and going nowhere despite their promises.

    2. Josh S*

      I disagree wholeheartedly. I’ve left 3 different jobs, and none were because of the money.

      In fact, my first job out of college I was making ~$60k (counting the OT I was putting in), and left to work a combination of a volunteer position and a sales job that earned ~$30k. It had NOTHING to do with the money.

    3. Adam V*

      Saying “it’s all about money” misses the mark by a wide margin. People will leave jobs for any number of reasons, and while money is a large consideration, it’s not the only one. The new job could be closer to home; the benefits could be better; it could be in a new industry that you’ve always wanted to get a foothold in; more flexible hours; the new job lets you work with a coworker or boss who you’ve enjoyed working with in the past; etc.

      1. Jamie*

        Yep. It’s always about the money is as false as saying it’s never about the money.

        It all depends on the reasons for wanting to leave…but I can certainly understand someone leaving an otherwise awesome job for more money, but that’s by no means universal.

        Key is understanding what motivates individual people. Some of us are more motivated by money than others…where some care more about specific hours, or great benefits, or a short commute.

        1. tcookson*

          . . . or a compatible philosophical/principled stance. There are some industries that I don’t think the number could be high enough.

    4. EngineerGirl*

      Absolutly NOT. My job pays me lots of money. But I’m starting to get really unhappy because of increasing demands that I be available at all hours. This is a new shift on my employers part – there used to be no problem with taking vacation, weekends, etc.
      My boss is great but the environment around him has shifted. And the money isn’t what I want right now – I want my life back.

    5. Mike C.*

      I think it’s better to think of money as the bottom floor. After all, no one would be coming to work if your paychecks bounced.

      At the same time, lots of employers have no problems making payroll.

    6. TL*

      I’m looking to move on, not because I don’t like my job and not because I expect to get more money from a new job – I probably won’t – but because I want different experiences and, fingers crossed, will get to move across the country and have a great new adventure.

      I have a fantastic job, benefits and coworkers-wise; I’m just not particularly fond of the work or commute and there’s nothing I can do about either.

    7. Meg*

      I have to chime in with disagreement as well. My father had a well-paying job as a chemist, but ended up changing careers and becoming a teacher. As a teacher, he makes noticeably less than what he did in his previous career, but I highly doubt he’d ever go back, no matter how much his old company offered him. For plenty of people, money is the major motivator in their decision to stay at a job, but there are people out there who would rather have a great office culture, or extensive benefits, or a good work/life balance than have a big salary.

    8. some1*

      If this was true, no one would become a cop, teacher, or other occupations that are notoriously paid low salaries.

    9. Jubilance*

      Not always. I’ve left 2 jobs and money wasn’t a factor in either situation, and simply offering me more money wouldn’t have kept me. Money doesn’t solve everything.

    10. SevenSixOne*

      My job doesn’t pay much… but the benefits are AMAZING, it’s <10 minutes from home, I like the job and most of the people I work with, and it's a low-stress job that begins when I clock in and ends when I clock out. That's a huge improvement in my quality of life that I didn't have when I was in a better-paying job that made me stressed out and miserable.

    11. AdAgencyChick*

      I took a pay cut — not a huge one, but a pay cut nonetheless — to come to my current job. And I wasn’t even looking to change careers or have a significant change in my role for the new company, so it’s not like I was taking a hit in order to get started on a new path. The difference in company cultures simply meant that much to me in terms of my sanity and quality of life.

      I suppose there’s enough money in the world to have made me stay at my last job, but they would have had to throw enough of it at me to make retiring within a couple of years a possibility, and THAT would never have happened.

  2. A Nonny Mouse*

    I wish I could show this post to my most recent ex-boss. A month into my employment, she bought me a very expensive necklace as a “reward” for being “amazing.” Uncomfortable, to say the least.

    After three months, I had some pretty nasty health problems arise as a result of the stressful and disorganized environment in the office, and so, on the advice of my doctor, I found a new position elsewhere, and gave her three weeks’ notice per the handbook.

    Despite my telling her that I was quitting for health reasons and that it was nothing personal, she sent me several emails about how I was “betraying” her, how she had been “unfailingly kind and generous to me,” and how “karma” would catch up to me. To my HOME email address, no less. All this after only three months of employment. Needless to say, I did not serve out my notice period and quit the next day.

    I’ve noticed that especially in small businesses, where your manager is also the owner of the company, resignations are taken a lot more personally than they would be at a larger company. I think it’s because the owner tends to see the company as an extension of who they are, and thus takes the decision to move on as a “rejection” of the owner as a person.

    1. Jamie*

      Very true in small businesses…it’s more personal.

      The joke is resigning isn’t so much like quitting, but running away from home.

      Alison’s second to last paragraph needs to be required reading for everyone in or entering management. And there should be a quiz. You can’t drive if you don’t get the concept of stop signs you shouldn’t manage if you don’t get the concept of it being business.

    2. Meghan*

      “I’ve noticed that especially in small businesses, where your manager is also the owner of the company, resignations are taken a lot more personally than they would be at a larger company. I think it’s because the owner tends to see the company as an extension of who they are, and thus takes the decision to move on as a “rejection” of the owner as a person.”

      This. I work for a very small company with high turnover, and any time someone quits, the owner/my boss takes it very, very personally. He’s still talking about how one employee “really screwed us over and left us in a tough spot” a year after he left. The employee in question was only working one day a week at the time he quit, and put in two weeks notice, so this really wasn’t the case at all. I have no doubt in my mind that when I leave, my boss will spend months, if not years, complaining about it.

    3. Plus one*

      +1 on the small business aspect! I felt terrible when I left my boss/owner of the company for his bigger (more opportunities) competitor. He was a terrific guy and he had the “we’re all family” mentality. He had big plans for me but I didn’t see them coming to fruition because of his lack of motivation. Despite working a one month notice, writing a manual on all of my standard procedures and presenting him a status report of every project his company was working on or towards, he refused to shake my hand as I was leaving. He wouldn’t even look up from the desk at me. When I showed up to my new job the next Monday, he had already called and left a VM that I had left him high and dry and had not told anyone how to do my job and now he had no one. I kinda felt sorry for him until he did that! His office manager was also my best friend and she never spoke to me again.
      I am currently going through a divorce that is not as painful an experience as that was!

      1. Ruffingit*

        That is so bizarre. That level of taking things personally leads me to believe there are mental health issues hovering in the background. I hope your new company was able to see the voice mail for the crazy that it was.

      2. Revanche*

        One of my previous bosses was like this! For 4 yrs after an employee had moved on, I heard about it *regularly* as the basest betrayal. *eyeroll*
        I worried over how badly they would try and wreck my professional reputation when I eventually left, for months, because they expected The Family would always stay together.

      1. Jennifer*

        Seconded. I hear enough bad treatment of employees at small jobs that it makes me glad I’m at a big company. The folks I know sound like they are being nibbled to death by ducks for all the nitpicking that happens to them all the time.

    4. Ruffingit*

      Agreed that the owner takes it as a personal rejection in small businesses sometimes. I’m curious about what you did with the necklace. How awkward! Also, what did your boss do/say when you came in and said “You’re a creepy stalker who emails me at home, I’m leaving now.” ;)

    5. AdAgencyChick*

      Ohmigod, YES. When I worked for a small business I was DREADING what quitting would be like, even though I hated the job, because the owner was all, “we’re faaaaamily!” and she expected that everyone who worked there would be a “lifer.”

      Fortunately, when I did quit I had a reason even she couldn’t argue with — moving to a new city to be with my then-fiancé. Then it was all about work “family” vs actual family!

    6. Brooks*

      Just wanted to add a datapoint that it’s not always this way at small businesses. In my case, my boss was completely understanding when I gave him a month’s notice, warmly congratulated me on the new job, and made a point of saying that he doesn’t take people off his Christmas-party invite list.

      One of my previous coworkers had one of those life-changing events where he suddenly decided he wanted to become a doctor, and gave my boss something like eight months of notice! My boss wrote him letters of recommendation for med schools, he worked hard for eight more months and made sure we could pick up where he left off, and we all wished him well.

  3. fposte*

    Is this part of something larger for you, OP? Do you feel you’ve betrayed jobs by leaving them yourself? Are you a person who would feel guilty changing doctors or mechanics or grocery stores? If so, maybe you can just frame this as your thing about leaving rather than it being an employee betrayal.

    1. Diane*

      Oh, that’s a great point! OP, if you feel abandoned or betrayed when other people or professionals in your life move on, or when you stop yourself from making a change out of some sense of loyalty, look at it as a larger pattern. It takes time and lots of logical self-talk, but it can happen. And you’re doing a great thing in realizing that it’s an issue for you.

      1. Ethyl*

        I was just popping in here to say something similar. In addition, in my own life, this tends to be a manifestation of my anxiety disorder. That might be something worth thinking about or bringing up with your doctor, OP, if you feel it’s part of a larger pattern.

        1. coconutwater*

          Great questions and good points here. I encourage the OP to discuss this with a good therapist to work through the feelings.

  4. Rebecca*

    Thank you for this post. I wish I could print it out and leave it on my manager’s chair (I just might do this).

    My manager found out I interviewed for another position, and threw a screaming fit, complete with “we’re a family, and family doesn’t do this to each other”, the whole disloyalty thing, among others. I calmly reminded her that this is a business not a family, and workers are free to pursue other opportunities. We work for the company, and the company gives us money and benefits in return. That’s it.

    Needless to say, when I leave, she gets the standard 2 week notice, and if she pulls a stunt like she did before, pacing around, screaming, etc., I’m leaving that day.

    1. Ruffingit*

      What did she say when you pointed out it was business, not a family? I always wonder about people’s reactions.

      1. Rebecca*

        That didn’t go especially well, either. She still ranted and raved, and said I was ungrateful, among other things. We all try to just avoid her as much as possible. I know of at least 6 of the 20 people in our office who are actively looking for other jobs, and those are just the ones who confided in me. There could be more. (Yes, I’m one of them).

        1. Elizabeth Ann*

          I’ve had to gently remind my boss a few times that we are not a family here, as much as it may feel like it. We are co-workers. He is also a small business owner who takes resignations personally, “If you’re not for me, you’re against me!” — everyone here does. They talk terribly about the people who have left, bring up every mistake they ever made, and act as if they’ve betrayed their own mother. I put a stop to it when I’m around — “It’s nothing personal people, Wakeen left because he wanted to advance and we had nothing available in the foreseeable future. Let’s move on and wish him well!” Sheesh. (I should point out that other than this, it is a great company to work for — the closeness is a real plus…as long as you have no plans to leave! :))

    2. tcookson*

      I used to feel warm and fuzzy about companies/managers who embraced the “we’re a family” mentality . . . but as I’ve matured in my career (and have heard stories like this on AAM), I’ve come to appreciate the bosses who [respectfully and with a degree of sensitivity] conduct business as BUSINESS, without any of the weird ersatz-family folly.

  5. Mary*

    I think it’s okay to feel that way, especially when you have invested your resources in training or mentoring an employee, but just recognize that it’s not going to change their decision. In the same vein, you could genuinely like an employee, but need to reprimand or discipline them for poor job performance. They might feel betrayed too, but you are doing what is best for the workplace as a manager.
    Also, you never know. Employees could leave, believing “the grass is greener” elsewhere, and if you maintain a supportive and friendly professional relationship, there may be opportunities to rehire than person in the future, either here or at another place you may both end up.

  6. Gjest*

    Did my old boss write this? And Alison’s answer is spot on. Some of my reasons for leaving were because of my boss, but there were a lot of other reasons. Some of those being the overall management of the non-profit I was working at, but a good deal of it was just personal stuff too. My supervisor took it amazingly personal when I left. I gave up trying to make her feel like it wasn’t personal (to her) after a few conversations about it when I gave notice.

    OP, I recommend you read AAM’s answer closely, and also think about the fact that it is not (all) about you.

  7. My 2 Cents*

    Ironically, I sometimes find that the bosses who have the biggest problem with people leaving create such a bad environment that people leave more. If someone feels utterly betrayed by an employee leaving then they probably have a few other behavioral issues as well, which makes the employees want to get out of that situation quickly. It’s a vicious cycle.

    1. themmases*

      I agree. My boss also obviously feels betrayed when long-term employees leave, and if anything it’s reduced my respect for him and helped confirm my own decision to go. And I will not be giving the generous notice period and full disclosure about what I’m doing that I once thought our relationship would merit.

      In my boss’s case, he doesn’t seem to really believe that anyone can get a job outside our hospital or department– including himself. I’m going into a field that is growing faster than overall employment (and learning stats along the way) and he asked me if there are actually jobs in that! He says the same thing to my coworker who is preparing to go to med school– seriously.

      My boss is a little weird, but I think it’s probably fair to say in general that if a boss believes their employees never can/will/should leave, then they will behave towards them as though they will never leave. That combined with taking their personal feelings out on those below them combine to make someone a bad manager, no matter how good a relationship they may believe they have with their subordinates.

      1. Windchime*

        My boss at OldJob also felt that nobody would ever leave, because he knew there weren’t a lot of options in our small town. There were only two other big employers who could even come close to matching salaries/benefits, and they were both hard to get hired on to.

        So now there are several of us working in the closest big metropolitan area. There are always options. The crappy job market makes things tougher, for sure, but in my opinion it is a huge mistake for employers to just assume that they have their employees over a barrel and they won’t be able to leave.

      2. tcookson*

        if a boss believes their employees never can/will/should leave, then they will behave towards them as though they will never leave

        This. If the boss has the underlying belief that people don’t have options, then she is more likely to unconsciously lower the amount of respect she shows her employees. People pick up on even very subtle lack of respect, and it diminishes their incentive to stay.

    2. Mints*

      Yeah I’m kind of wondering of OP is really open / obvious about how they feel about employees quitting, and probably in general. If my boss freaked out and acted like they were breaking up everytime someone left, I wouldn’t want to have that conversation and would act peachy keen until I gave notice. And even then, would be super vague and not as open as people might be if transitioning was easier.
      My point is, maybe if OP really worked on transitioning people who quit in a way that was really positive, potentially quitting employees might be more open, thus OP would feel less blindsided.

    3. MR*

      I was just thinking a very similar thing. Bosses who have these types of reactions are generally not the best bosses and turnover tends to be higher.

      It may not be a bad idea if the OP takes a long, hard look at what she is doing and an honest look at her results. She may find out if she is or is not really cut out for management.

      1. tcookson*

        While it’s true that some people are not cut out for management, I think there are still options for OP to explore for getting a handle on her reaction to people leaving.

        Maybe she needs a management mentor who can hear her out about this and offer some insightful feedback on how to deal with it internally instead of showing it to her subordinates.

  8. B*

    This is purely business not personal. There is no such thing as job security, people move on for all sorts of reasons.

    I always tell people the only person who will look out for you is you. A company is in the business of making money, they are not looking out for you.

  9. periwinkle*

    Along with AAM’s excellent advice (and everyone else’s), I’d like to add that it’s okay that you feel a bit betrayed and sad that your employee has chosen to move on. It’s not okay if you act out towards the departing employee via screaming, sulking, ignoring, bad-mouthing, or other unprofessional behavior.

    Just think about how you would want your own boss to behave towards you when you give notice or accept an internal promotion/transfer. Do unto others, y’all.

    1. tcookson*

      Yes, I think it’s okay to feel this way, and to have a person or two (outside of work or above her subordinates’ peer level) with whom OP can discuss the emotional aspect of this, especially if doing so will keep her from acting out to her reports.

      I’ve seen how my boss handled having to fire a close friend who was also friends with many other of the faculty and with his wife. He didn’t have anyone with whom to discuss his decision who wasn’t as emotionally involved with the person as he was, so he talked with me about that part.

      Having had that view of the dichotomy between what a difficult, emotional decision it was for him personally and how outwardly professional he was about it really increased my respect for him.

      I think it would be helpful for OP to find somewhere appropriate to vent the emotional part so that she is able to show her employees only professionalism.

  10. EngineerGirl*

    I am concerned about one part of the note – the part about “having no inkling” that an employee is going to leave. That may be true for some employees, but it shouldn’t be true for all of them. If you know an employee is unhappy about some aspect of the job then there is always a possibility that the employee will leave.
    I question that the manager is actually having meaningful conversations with the reports if there is absolutely no indicators if issues / problems.

  11. A Teacher*

    Old job: my bosses would send out a department wide e-mail, tell us at the monthly department meeting, and then go on and on at our monthly individual meetings that when Jane or Joe quit how they were in the words of one old email: “a two-faced betrayer that thinks nothing of the family.” (one of my favorites) All it did was serve to make my bosses look pathetic and kind of stupid. The rest of us would roll our eyes and knew at some point our time was coming too.

    1. Adam*

      I always find it bizarre when higher ups refer to the company as a “family”. It’s great to get on well with your coworkers and what-not, but they still are within their right to terminate you when they feel it necessary and that often results from fewer grievances than one might require to terminate a familial relationship.

      And what about when times are tough and they’re forced to downsize? The managers may not enjoy it but they’ll usually do it with minimal fuss. It’s not like if I’m having a lean year I can turn to my kids and go “Sorry, we’re going to have to cut one of you loose.”

      1. Jazzy Red*

        My company is a family run business. It would be OK if the family wasn’t so dysfunctional, but that kind of behavior spills into the business. It can’t be helped because they don’t know any other way to act.

        They don’t seem to get upset when people leave, though. And they’ve laid off half the staff in the last 18 months, including family members. That’s OK, though, because I have my exit strategy.

    2. jasmine*

      All this talk of “bosses”, “family” and “betrayal” makes me think of the Mafia for some reason.

    3. tcookson*

      Wowser! It makes it sound like you’re in the Godfather or something. Watch out for those kneecaps. ;-)

  12. MiketheRecruiter*

    This is a great article. I’m currently in early-mid stages of looking for my next role after 1.1 years (I received 1 promotion in this year too). I know no one in the organization has the slightest idea I’m looking to leave – but we have insane turnover and our most key player has just resigned (I work in a start up), so I need to do what is best for me. The long hours and unreasonable expectations have burnt me out, so I’m looking for a new challenge – it’s absolutely not personal, I get the need to be pushed, but everyone has a maximum output and I’m at mine.

  13. Yup*

    Is part of your discomfort that the resignation comes as a surprise? The part about how you had “no inkling” made me wonder. Perhaps part of your strong feelings stem from feeling blindsided by what you perceive as a break-up of sorts.

    If this is the case, you can mentally prepare yourself by remembering that median job tenure right now is about 5 years. It’s normal for people to leave jobs – this is just what happens, for a variety of reasons. Focus on why you care about your employees: you want them to be happy, thriving, successful people, right? Sometimes the path for them to be that might be to pursue a different job. It’s such a great feeling as an employee when you tell a respected boss that you’re moving on, and they’re proud of your new accomplishment and sincerely wish you well.

    1. some1*

      “Is part of your discomfort that the resignation comes as a surprise? The part about how you had “no inkling” made me wonder. Perhaps part of your strong feelings stem from feeling blindsided by what you perceive as a break-up of sorts.”

      This is what I noticed, too. But the reality is some employees are not going to give you an “inkling”. Either because there reasons for leaving are nothing you have the power to change, or their mind is made up, or they are just not good at awkward conversations.

      I have never told a current boss that I was job-searching because of pride. If she knew I was looking, but then never gave notice, it would look I can’t get anyone else to hire me.

      1. Yup*

        “I have never told a current boss that I was job-searching because of pride.”

        That’s so interesting, I’d never have pegged that as a reason. (And it’s a good one!) For me, I’d never tell a boss I’m job searching for fear they’d mentally lame duck me and I’d get worse treatment, less interesting assignments, etc.

  14. Seal*

    +1. While I’m usually (but not always!) sorry to see employees go, I am well aware that nothing lasts forever. I make a point of telling departing employees that while I’m sorry to see them go, I’m happy that they’re moving on to bigger and better things. Because I really do find it rewarding to watch my employees grow and improve and realize their potential, even if it means they wind up leaving.

  15. Cat*

    I also think this is a situation where it’s helpful to separate feelings from actions. I have a boss who I know feels betrayed when people leave, and I think he will always feel that way; that is just the kind of person he is. However, he doesn’t let it affect his decisionmaking – he doesn’t rail at departing employees; he doesn’t refuse people references, or give them bad ones when they deserve good ones; he gives smart and sane advice to employees who come to him for career advice when they’re thinking about leaving; and he maintains friendly professional/networking relationships with departing employees (letting the good ones know they’re welcome to come back; some do).

    He’s not perfect by any means; God knows the angsting other people are privy to when people leave gets to be a bit much. But nobody’s perfect, and he has managed to treat departing people well in spite of his emotional reaction to it.

  16. Dani*

    Wow, this could have been written by a manager from my old work (not that I think it is). Employees made a point to warn people who left their notice that the Development Head and CEO hated people who left, no matter the circumstances. They felt that having a job at the organization offered prestige in our community and considered leaving a betrayal. It was such a shame that they felt that way – we had some great employees who left that would have been happy to continue supporting the organization as a donor/volunteer but who were driven off by the drama created by the duo.

    Sometimes it’s personal (they hate it the job/the company/their coworkers), sometimes it’s not (they’re moving/changing careers/getting paid more/starting a family/backpacking through Asia/whatever) but it’s always about the person leaving and not about you, and certainly not a betrayal. I’ve had awful managers and stayed in jobs because other things made it worth it to stay and I’ve had AMAZING managers and left because I completed my degree/moved states/had to take care of an ailing parent. The best thing to do for both parties is just to respectfully honor your side of the transaction/relationship.

  17. JoAnna*

    I left a good job that I really liked because my husband and I made the decision to move 1,800 miles away. It had nothing to do with my job satisfaction.

    I’m thinking of leaving my current job (not immediately, but within the next 6-12 months) simply because I want to stay at home with my kids. I have a terrific manager but frankly my kids need me more than he does right now (plus my commute is awful).

    So yeah, it’s rarely if ever personal.

  18. Randy*

    To steal a quote from Bob Sugar (from Jerry Maguire), “It’s not show friends, its show business.”

  19. Anonymous*

    I feel compelled to want to get hired at OP’s company and then quit almost immediately without notice.

  20. Mic*

    I should forward this article to my former boss turned friend turned enemy. She no longer speaks to me after I resigned. This is following a 10 year business relationship.

  21. Anna*

    Excellent advice, as usual.

    I want to add… if your employee-manager relationship has ended, it doesn’t have to be the end of the relationship – it just evolves into something new if both parties are open to that. Keep this in mind when people leave – it opens the door to a new relationship, possibly more friendly and more enjoyable.

  22. Kinrowan*

    I was wondering if they are leaving badly perhaps. We just had an experience at my job where we just learned that someone is leaving because HR called us to tell us when her last day was going to be. She had not told anyone else, neither her direct supervisor neither the person above the supervisor. This is someone who has a lot of potential but I really think she burned some bridges.

    1. Adam V*

      The only reason that her direct supervisor shouldn’t be the first one to know someone’s leaving is when HR is calling to say “his/her last day was today because of [example of gross misconduct]”.

    2. Clever Name*

      Was she young/new to the workforce? She maybe just didn’t know how it was supposed to be done. I hope her manager or HR gently told her how to handle it in the future.

      We’ve got some younger workers who have done a couple of bone-headed things, and I’m reminded that I was young and dumb once too, and it will help them more if we approach it as a learning and mentorship opportunity rather than getting pissed that they haven’t developed the judgement that it’s taken me years to develop.

    3. Windchime*

      Was there reason for her to think that there would be some kind of big scene if/when she gave her notice to her supervisor? If not, then I agree with Clever Name that maybe this was just an employee who didn’t know any better and thought that giving notice to HR was the correct way to do things?

  23. Anonymous*

    “It’s not family or friendship, no matter how warm the relationships might feel. These are people who are working for you in exchange for money. They might really like you, but this is still a business transaction. (See how many of them would keep showing up if you stopped paying them.)”

    This is spot-on.

  24. The Other Dawn*

    OP, I think that it’s OK to feel a little “betrayed” privately, after all you spent lots of time training, coaching, whatever, but it’s definitely NOT OK to voice those feelings either to other people or to your employee. She probably wants more opportunities, is moving, or wants a shorter commute. You have to remember that it’s business, it’s not personal. You will move on one day, too, and do you really want to be made to feel that you are betraying your boss?

  25. Sabrina*

    Every job is temporary and no matter how much you might like it, you stay only until something better comes along. The difference is how high the bar of “something better” has to be to get you to leave. They say that people leave managers not companies, but I don’t think that’s always true. People leave companies, careers, commutes, schedules, cities, etc. You can’t take it personally.

  26. Mike C.*

    OP, if this sort of thing really, really bothers you or impacts your business that much, have you considered using an employment contract? Spell out how everything works, let them be fired for reasonable cause or mutual agreement and no more surprises.

    1. Clever Name*

      Bingo. Have you ever had to lay anyone off or fire someone? Did you think you were betraying them, or did you think it was a business decision? Unless you are willing to extend the same consideration (of never ending the employment relationship) with your employees, it’s not fair for you to allow feelings of betrayal affect what is just a business relationship.

  27. Meg*

    OP, I have issues with stuff like this too. I’m not a manager, but I’m absolutely one of those people that takes things too personally sometimes. I have a lot of anxiety regarding my fear of doing something wrong and driving someone away, and I can absolutely see myself feeling this way as a new manager. Alison’s right though – keep reminding yourself that it’s not personal, it’s business, and that your employees need to do what’s best for them, not for you.

    In the past, it’s helped for me to try and relate to the other person and why they’re leaving, whether it’s for better hours, a shorter commute, or whatever. As weird as it sounds, I’ve done this with breakups, and I swear it helps me come to terms faster.

  28. John*

    Your energy might be best spent on some soul-searching.

    First, consider if there are factors outside your control that make it difficult to retain staff (below-market pay/benefits, no opportunities to progress in the organization).

    If you can’t find good reasons, it’s time to get honest with yourself. Because, as other posters have opined, people will frequently sacrifice pay increases and shorter commutes if they feel they are treated well, enjoy the environment and are given recognition for their contributions. For those of us who have been in bad situations, those things are HUGE.

    There may be changes you can make that will help retain your people.

  29. anon for this one*

    if you’d like to know how NOT to handle a resignation…here’s an email that went out the whole staff at an old job when the CEO’s assistant decided to move on–something that was definitely taken personally by the powers that be (presented in its entirety; names redacted):

    “To start, I have some very unfortunate, disappointing and sad news to deliver. Effective [date three weeks away], [EA] will resign her position as Executive Assistant to [CEO]. This was an extremely tough and some what reluctant decision for [EA] to make, but it clearly shows that she really does love [her long-term boyfriend] more than her [This Company] family :) . For those of you that are not aware, [boyfriend] recently asked [EA] to marry him and of course she happily accepted. In this, [EA] has a desire to become a part of the Academic Industry (along with [boyfriend, who was pursuing a PhD]) and in this opportune moment a position has become available @ the [local university] that matches her career path. [EA] is more than happy to give you all the details, for I am sure I left something off… right [EA]? [the EA sent a follow-up email thanking everyone for their camaraderie & actually naming her title at the new job.]

    [EA] will be truly missed and we wish her well and much success in her future endeavors. We are currently in search of someone to fill this position, so if you know of someone that have the necessary experience/skill set and personality to match the attached job description, please forward their resume to myself, [EA] and/or [CEO]. Thanks.


    To end on a somewhat positive note, for those curious minds… Yes, Summer Hours officially begins today through Labor Day.

    Best Regards,

    [HR Manager]”

    1. Jamie*

      Wow. They included everything but the results of your last physical and copies of your tax return.

      That is a lot of information.

      And wtf? For the record I love [name of Jamie’s husband] more than any work family I have ever, or will ever, have.

      That’s why I married him and didn’t do a communal marriage with everyone in accounting. Sheesh.

      1. Jack*

        Considering we’re expected to put our work ahead of family (in terms of scheduling, overtime, etc) while I work at my current office, I wouldn’t be surprised if they also expected me to put work ahead of family if it came to leaving the office.

      2. Brooks*

        Personally, I’d read that as the sort of thing written by someone who assumes it’s so obvious that a person would choose their partner over the company that they can’t imagine anyone taking that as anything other than a silly joke.

        Of course, knowing the context could change all that.

  30. Joey*

    The best analogy are professional sports players. They’re only loyal to the organization that will give them the best deal for themselves. Whether its money, team performance, personal fulfillment, or the boss’ philosophy it all boils down to the same thing. Ultimately sports players and employees work for the benefit of themselves. When someone comes along and offers a better deal why wouldn’t they take it? Its a business. Don’t ever believe an owner or boss that tells you your work is your family. That’s an attempt to manipulate where your loyalty should be.

    1. Jamie*

      Easy litmus test – imagine your death bed and look around. I’m seeing my kids, my husband, and the rest of my close family. As much as the people at my work like me they just aren’t there.

      I assume it’s the same for most people.

      1. Joey*

        When my wife was changing jobs she was hesitant to leave because she was going to be leaving some of her “friends”. I explained to her that 90% of the people you work with aren’t really friends at all they’re fauxriends. That is they’re only friends with you because you work together. They’ll likely have the same relationship with the person that replaces you. A few may keep in touch for a little while, but for the majority it will be too much work to maintain any sort of real friendship. And besides, you’ll likely replace those old fauxriends with new fauxriends. Real friends and family aren’t temporary.

        1. HAnon*

          Yep. When I was fired (it was very personal according to my boss, but I never found out why I was fired!) the people I had considered my “friends” from work for over a year and a half wouldn’t return my calls, emails, or talk to me when I ran into them in public. And it hurt. But I’ve learned that true friends are going to stand by you when you need them, not just when it’s convenient. I may be leaving current job (will find out on Monday!) for better job, and I know I’ll miss some of the friends I’ve made at current job. But I have to do what’s best for my career.

        2. SevenSixOne*

          I think you can take this a little further and say that 90% of ALL your relationships are these kind of superficial connections, which is depressing! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve bonded with someone over _____, then the relationship disintegrates once one of us no longer has/does _____ and we realize that was the entire basis of our “friendship” :(

    2. Mike C.*

      Just imagine if you could be traded away to a different company for a good receptionist and two interns to be named later…

      1. Windchime*

        This is actually kind of funny, since we have a guy on our team who can do just about anything and we teasingly call him our “utility player”. I hope he doesn’t get traded, but he does have that bum knee….

      2. EA*

        It’s not always just players that can be traded … I know of at least one trade that involved future draft picks, an equipment manager and a zamboni driver.

        Or, the case of sportscaster Al Michaels, who was traded for a cartoon rabbit.

  31. Sunflower*

    On the flip side, I know people who feel terrible when they leave their jobs- not sure if betrayal is the right word but something close to it. The hardest part of leaving every job I’ve ever had has been telling my manager- mostly because I don’t want them to take personal offense to it.

    I am currently looking for a new position. I’ve been in my job about 6 months and I LOVE my manager. She’s one of my favorite parts about my job. I’m leaving because of money- which my manager has no control over- and size of the company. They’d either have to almost double my salary or increase the staff members x100. And even with a salary increase, I’d leave eventually.

    OP, try taking a look at your organization. Do they conduct exit interviews? If they do, and you were the reason your employees left, you would probably hear something about that. Is there something you know your organization doesn’t do well that you feel is the reason employees might be leaving? It’s worth thinking about, for your own well-being, and possibly bringing up to the people in your org who have the power to change those things.

  32. BCW*

    People are as loyal as their options. If their options suck, you have a ton of loyalty. When they have a lot of options, the loyalty decrease.

    1. MrSparkles*

      Chris Rock put it best in one of his classic stand up sets, except in tad crude and, though his context was in relationships, it easy applies to one’s career:
      “A man is a loyal as his options”.

  33. HAnon*

    Is it possible that feeling “sad” is a more accurate feeling than “betrayed”? Feeling sad that someone is leaving because you’ve enjoyed working with them and built up a friendship is understandable, and is very different from feeling betrayed, which is feeling as though someone has intentionally taken an action against you to wound you.

    Even if I was working for the best manager in the world, if there was a reason that I needed or wanted to change jobs, I still wouldn’t tell my manager until I had an offer in hand — it’s not personal, it’s just the wise thing to do. Offers fall through, bosses can be volatile and send you packing the same day you give notice, etc, and even if my manager wanted to convince me to stay, the reasons I am looking for a new position may be entirely due to factors that are outside of my manager’s control. Either way, I’m going to do what is best for me, as I would expect any manager/employee/business owner to do.

    Your employee owes you nothing but professional courtesy and the standard 2-weeks notice (and perhaps, some transitional training/documentation for her replacement), and you owe her nothing but respect and an honest reference and whatever pay she’s due. Should the two of you choose to keep in touch, you can continue to develop a friendship outside of work. But please don’t take her desire to grow in her own life and career apart from you and your company as a betrayal. It’s really, really not. And you wouldn’t want to sour a relationship that could have farther reaching effects than you’ve anticipated — what if she wants to refer an excellent potential employee to your company in the future, but is afraid of the way you’ll handle it? Also consider, if you really think of this person as a friend, then you should want what is best for her — wanting her to stay just because it’s better for you is very one-sided.

    1. StudentA*

      Some people feel Betrayed with a capital B. Not “sad”. My ex-boss was that way. Everything was personal to her. She could’ve written the OP. It also made it difficult that deep down, she knew she created a difficult work environment, and that was at times the cause of resignations. It was no secret that I left because of her “management” tactics. Everyone knew she was impossible.

      1. StudentA*

        I forgot to say she also reacted most unprofessionally when I resigned after 5 years of working for her.

  34. TAZ*

    I can relate to the OP, as a manager who’s had people depart in good ways and bad. My initial reaction is usually shock, followed by disappointment. I don’t take it out on the people involved, however (though it is an effort to suck it up and smile).

    I think this is a natural reaction, not something to be pathologized. It isn’t so much about being “betrayed” as much as “how am I going to get all this work done”? I run a small department and if someone leaves, everyone (especially me) has to do more work. This used to be a temporary state of things for 2-3 months, but in recent years there’s been no guarantee that our management will let us replace people who leave (or delay a new hire for a year or more). So my shocked reaction is usually because I’m suddenly seeing a tough short term (or long-term) future for myself and the team.

    There is a silver lining: Inevitably when someone has left, the next person I hire will turn out to be even better.

  35. definitely the employee*

    I could almost swear that I’m the employee about whom this manager wrote, in a “You’re So Vain” Carly Simon way.

    If this is my manager:

    I so appreciated everything you did to accomodate the tough family situation, but it was time for me to move on. I know I took you by surprise, but I didn’t want to jeopartize any potential future I might have had with the company if my plans of leaving didn’t pan out.

    Don’t take it personally. I needed to spread my wings in an environment with like-minded people, and I was severely cramped in my cubicle. I was loyal as an employee, and my leaving doesn’t indicate a betrayal.

  36. Greg*

    I understand that attitudes like the OP’s are common, but I have to say I’ve always thought the exact opposite. I’ve always felt that one of my jobs as a manager should be to help my direct reports succeed, even if that ultimately is for a different company. When I had a superstar employee give notice after two years because she had been recruited away by one of the major players in our field, sure, I hate to saw her go, but I was genuinely happy, not just for her, but for what I saw as a validation of my decision to hire her.

    I remember reading somewhere about how Proctor & Gamble used to basically excommunicate former employees, but then they realized that a) alumni groups had sprung up on their own, and b) their list of alumni was pretty damn impressive (Meg Whitman, Steve Case, etc.) So they finally embraced it. I think that’s the right attitude for both companies and managers.

    1. Also Kara*

      Yep. One of my colleagues had someone leave recently; he got promoted to a new department within the company. He was totally green to the industry when she hired him. She was happy for him and proud of herself that she’d nurtured him to the point where he could be promoted, and then she hired a nice person to replace him. She and he are still cool.

  37. HR Competent*

    Think of this as expanding your network, now you have strong contacts in another area.

    Keeping doors open she may come back too later, with greater skills and experience, is a great opportunity. Also, a good contact can direct others to that open door as well.

  38. K Too*

    OP, that’s the nature of business. When an employee, even the good ones decide that it is time to move on, they have every right to make that choice.

    I hope that the responses will help you re-think what management is all about.

    When I left a toxic work environment last year after a stint of unemployment, I later found out that one of the execs/owners of the company sent the department an e-mail ”explaining” his POV of why the department was going through a rough patch.

    I, and 2 other people were called out in his email. I couldn’t handle fulfilling two more weeks, so as soon as I accepted a new job offer, I gave a one-week notice. It had gotten to the point where my hair was thinning out and I was experiencing severe mood swings in a matter of 2 months. One week was enough.

    According to him my one-week departure was “unprofessional” in the business world despite the fact that I had created detailed documents for clients and account managers that were taking over my accounts. I also introduced the clients to their new contacts.

    The week that I was leaving they hired a new person, who later got an offer from a company she preferred. She left a week after I did in the middle of the day. He went on to say that perhaps they dodged a bullet and again, this was unprofessional.

    A third person , who lived out of state, was offered a position but decided to accept his employer’s counter offers twice. This lead to the exec questioning his decisions and ranting about how one should never accept a counter offer.

    When I was forwarded the email, I made sure to keep it for as long as I work. It’s an email and story that I continue to share with friends when we chat about toxic work environments.

    Don’t end up like this type of manager OP. Take a step back and reflect on whether management is right for you.

  39. Not So NewReader*

    I have seen a few articles that say “People don’t quit jobs, they quit bosses.”
    Maybe this is what OP is reacting to??
    People may like you personally but not care for your leadership style.
    Going even farther you might be a fine-fine boss but people might want someone who is more instructive or exacting or maybe they want a boss who is more laid back or more involved.
    Not everyone is for every job. There is no one-size fits- all management style.
    I would start with the word “betrayed”. That is a board term. See if you can figure out in what sense you feel betrayed. Try to narrow that down and go from there.
    This could look like:
    “I feel I lost a friend.”
    “I wasted a lot of time training this person.”
    “Everyone is leaving and I am still here.”

    1. Ruffingit*

      Excellent point about defining betrayal. It really does make a difference when you figure out why exactly you feel betrayed.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        When I first started working, I would feel betrayed if an at work friend quit. This happened a couple times. Then I realized that I should be making choices about jobs based on the job… not the friend. I changed what I was doing and the sense of betrayal was replaced with a sense of understanding. But I had to change ME, first.

  40. Jake*

    Don’t take it personal. Just don’t.

    I have been working with the same company for that last 2+ years for the best manager in the world. He gives us a ton of autonomy, respect, growing opportunities, etc. I am paid a touch above market value (although there will be no annual raises this year, so that will drop to market value shortly), and do very interesting work.

    I’m looking for a new job. It has nothing to do with my manager. N-O-T-H-I-N-G. I strongly appreciate everything he has done for me and my career, but the upper management on this job has created a hostile working environment (to the point that we are settling a lawsuit over it right now, and I’ll be shocked if there isn’t another one filed shortly for a seperate series of incidents regarding the SAME upper manager) that I don’t want to be a part of any more.

    Now, I took a different approach than your employee by telling my manager that I was going to start looking elsewhere, and keeping him informed of my progress. He has been supportive, but less so than I anticipated. I can tell he feels slightly betrayed/annoyed/sad because the reasons I’m leaving are completely out of his control, but he has never come out and said or done anything against me in any way.

    That being said, I had no obligation to do that, and you holding it against an employee for not doing that is wrong. That is, unless you would never fire somebody, even if it meant losing your own job over it.

  41. PK*

    After 3 years of working hard, getting awards, training new people, being the supervisor even while the real supervisor was there cruising along waiting for her retirement & everyone recognizing that I was running the department, I quit. Our manager promised me the supervisor job when this lady retired. Well surprise, surprise she decided to stay 2 more years preventing me from the promotion that we all new was coming and I was asked to just hold on a little longer. It was a shock for everyone and a terrible let down for me. After my manager kept apologizing and guilting me into staying another 3 months I couldn’t take it anymore looked for another job. When I put in my 2 week notice all hell broke loose and he made me feel like such a terrible human being. I then offered to stay longer to train my replacement & he says he no longer trusts me & to just leave & that I’d truly hurt his feelings when he had so much planned for my career there. Even still today, 2 years later I can’t believe how angry he turned & I wonder if I was being unkind…but I was miserable after my superviser decided to stay AND I was still doing all of her work with no extra pay.

    1. Ruffingit*

      You were not unkind, not at all. The very least they could have done was give you a raise if not the title. They allowed a woman who was not managing her department to stay for 2 extra years, retain her title and pay, but have you do the job. Yeah…NO! That’s ridiculous. They were using you and you got out. You did the right thing.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yeah. This. Barest minimum they could have offered PK a raise or promotion for the interim to tie him over. Ideally, the manager facing retirement should have been written up for not doing her job.
        PK, in one paragraph you managed to convey this lack of management skills your former manager had. It was a serious lacking. And yes, those remarks were crafted/designed to provoke feelings of guilt/worthlessness in you. Why. Well probably because he could not come up with anything else to say. No tools in the tool box.
        It takes skill, forethought and finesse to handle a notice from a favored employee. And it also takes skills. forethought and finesse to handle a long term employee who is slacking. I don’t see any of that going on in your story.
        If you had stayed, two years later you would have heard. “No! Wait!! I want two more years.” Meanwhile life would be passing you by PK. You made a good choice.

        1. Lora*

          “If you had stayed, two years later you would have heard. “No! Wait!! I want two more years.” Meanwhile life would be passing you by PK. You made a good choice.”

          THIS. You know how I know? My mother is retiring, just now, at the age of 72. In the past seven years (with the same company since 1997), she has gone through three managers and senior staff who were all eager to replace her when she retired. She wouldn’t be retiring now if she had her druthers, but the owner’s sister wants her job, so she is grudgingly handing over the keys to her little kingdom.

          Every time her boss brought up succession plans, it sort of fizzled and she said she’d be happy to stay on an extra (howevermany) years. This has been happening literally every year for the past seven years. Every time she’s had a senior manager whom the owner suggested she groom for directorship, there was something wrong with the person. In one case, I am not even kidding–the excuse was that the person was the wrong astrology sign. Seriously. She has been hanging on to her job for so long I’m amazed she was willing to leave at all. And she’s trying to wrangle a consulting deal too, so she won’t be really really gone.

          Lots of folks’ retirement accounts and 401ks are in a shambles, due to the economy. So they are sticking it out just as long as they can. I know many, many folks who are not going to retire until someone pries their cold, dead hands off the keyboard.

  42. Becky B*

    My supervisor in a Fortune 500 company seemed to feel the same way when I applied for a job in another department. I had wanted to keep my internal job search private for several reasons including the fact that under her guidance, we grew into a very dysfunctional little silo of a department, while she just kept thinking of us as her little family.

    But as we had to check the little box in the online app that notified our current managers when we’d apply for an internal position, I figured at best I could at least just keep it quiet from my coworkers, lest they do me a disservice.

    Alas, my supervisor came rushing over to stand in the passageway outside my cube, wailing, “Do you hate me that much?”

    So much for privacy.

    I did get that job; she wanted me to spend half of my time doing my old job for awhile, but fortunately my new boss said hell no.

    1. Jazzy Red*

      So what did you say to her?

      I might have been tempted to say “Yes, I most certainly do!”, but I would never actually say that to anyone.

      Your supervisor sounds like a real lulu!

      1. Becky B*

        I was so taken aback that I blurted out something to the effect of “What kind of people do you know that you’d say that to me?” and she looked stunned, then sidled away.

        At least I was left alone for the rest of the day so I could do my work.

    2. Ruffingit*

      A boss asking “Do you hate me that much” when you want to leave for another department clearly has serious issues. She has personalized the workplace WAY too much if she thinks you leaving is all about her. And, if it is because she’s psycho, she should consider not being that way instead of putting it on you. Crazy bosses…UGH.

      1. Becky B*

        And I’ve learned since then that departments takes their tone from the leader, so it was no wonder we were more dys than functional.

        A few years later, I did hear that the boss had a mental breakdown. She evidently had a lot of personal stress in addition to what she put on herself at work.

  43. Alice*

    Am I immature in getting irritated when managers refer to employee’s as “my employee”? I mean, I know it’s just wording, but it seems to imply a level of disrespect and superiority. In my experience, managers who referred to their employee’s as “my [insert title]” are really bad at managing and really good at being condescending, controlling, and putting employees on a double-edged sword. In fact, the last manager I worked for who used that phrase went completely insane when I quit, I was berated and reprimanded in email and she demanded an explanation. She was one of the reasons I quit (after two months), and I felt no need to explain myself – at all. I never told her why I quit, and I never responded to her nasty-grams. Work is business, and employers are not gods.

    (end rant)

      1. Alice*

        I understand, I guess it’s the mannerism that is different, because when I think of my current boss using the phrase (I’ve actually never heard him say it) it doesn’t irk me because he’s respectful and level-headed, that other boss though, she said it like we were minions or property, and a few other bosses I’ve had have said it similarly to her who were not pleasant to work with, either.

  44. Zach*

    I’m one of the two partners in a small business (less than 12 people). I thought I’d share my perspective as an employer.

    Our team is very small. Most of our team are all friends. We hang out outside of work and do lots of things together that have nothing to do with work. It’s easy to lose sight of the employer/employee relationship and just view work as working with people whom you genuinely enjoy in life – your friends.

    This makes it extremely difficult when people leave because as the employer I’ve become emotionally invested in everyone I work with. When they leave, it’s like a friend is saying it’s not worth being friends. I realize this isn’t actually what’s being said, people do move on for a variety of reasons, but it easily feels that way.

    I know that leaving is hard on the people leaving. They recognize the friendship likely have been mulling over the decision for days, weeks, or months before they come to terms with putting in their notice. When they do put in their notice it comes as a shock to me because it feels so out of the blue, even though in reality it likely wasn’t. But this isn’t what you first think about when you hear the words “I’m leaving”.

    The first emotion I feel is rejection. I was responsible for setting up the team, the environment, etc. Did I mess that up, what could I have done better, was last quarter’s bonus to small, should I have given them a pay raise, was the work not challenging enough, should I have sent them to more conferences, did I miss something, etc.

    It takes me time to process and sort through emotions brought on by a departure. I’m not mad at the people who move on, but I won’t lie and say that I can view it merely as a business transaction. Yes, there’s that part to things, but in a 12 person company you develop personal relationships with everyone, their spouses, and their children, so there is an emotional investment that will hurt when someone leaves.

    Recognizing that this is a part of being human and taking a little downtime to reflect helps me come to terms with the departure and genuinely wish the people the best. Most of the people that have left I wished they would have stayed, but being accepting of their decision has helped me move on and focus on the company and team that is still present.

  45. Betrayal*

    As a manager , it’s not betrayal if the employee moves on in his career and his life.
    Everyone has a choice to grow.
    However if the employee choice of growth is the hopping to our direct and fierce competitor whom we have been together arm in arm with his other colleagues and manager daily fighting against together … And he was non truthful of his next job declaration while he complete his term of notice with you…
    ……2 weeks after departing he works in the company of competition ?
    Would this not be in violation of ethics to inform the manager of the competitive move? And not be upset when ex company sees this as a betrayal ?

  46. Charlotte*

    This may sound strange…but I feel that this very bloody similar to something my old boss would say, I know it’s not, but it sounds exactly like it could be about me…
    I left my job last September, about the 20th…my boss too is everything above. He would help if I has family trouble, he actually said this to me. Also I did not tell him about applying for jobs as I had done it in the past and got no where, assumed it would be like before. Only this time it happened all in under a well…I couldn’t tell him, and when I did he got really pissed off about it, that I didn’t tell him, he felt he had the right to know..this just freaks me out when reading that cause that exactly what my boss would of said.

    Also, I wanted to ask if anyone feels sad when a coworker leaves. I know it’s odd, but in a way I feel like it’s my last day. I’ve only been there a year. He has a wife and kids, so it’s nothing like that, and I am really shy so it has taken me till now to really show who I really am, and he’s leaving :/ why am I sad. I cannot sleep. Cannot stop thinking about it, niether him. Is it wrong? I keep thinking I’m never going to see him again. I get a bit attached to people, I get comfortable, and so when they leave it unsettles me. I get scared, I feel like I could vomit right now…feel so stupid, yet I dint cause I’m sad he’s going. I think he’s moving too so I know I’ll never see or hear his voice, he’s laugh, he’s banter. Gahd this is so stupid!!! :/

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