1/22/2008

When I am King: Termi-Nation

When I am King...

Employee departure notices will be standardized.

It's always difficult for a company when someone leaves. If the person left involuntarily, kicking and screaming and scrabbling at the doorframes, then the company wants to appear as if it had no choice, or even as if the employee chose to leave and those layers of skin super-glued to their office chair were mere coincidence. On the other hand, when a person leaves voluntarily, the company wants it to appear as if the employee had no choice and that, all things being equal, they would happily have super-glued themselves to their office chair. Either way, the company wants to come out looking as though it's still the perfect place to be, and any recent departures are just happenstance and don't reflect the perfect nirvana of the company's culture.

Meanwhile, the employee also has a reputation to uphold for their career. If they are tossed out on the pavement with their measly box of personal items, from the leaky mug with lip-cutting edges their kid made in first grade to the collection of vintage porn that they're hiding from the wife, they want to make it look as though they chose to leave, standing in the middle of the busy street and yelling up at the towering office block, “Oh yeah? Well you can't fire me because I quit!” as they're winged by a passing pizza delivery car.

If, on the other hand, the employee has chosen to leave, they want to appear calm, cool, and collected, and avoid the temptation to moon their co-workers, because they know that they may come shuffling back in three weeks, begging for their old job and asking for the super glue.

One of the problems faced is what everyone should say.


For the employee, there is the traditional “Goodbye email” that is typically sent to a small, private list of people which usually includes everyone in the entire company. This email should reflect the right tone on why they are leaving. Or, to be more accurate, the message should lie as much as necessary to portray the employee in the best possible light.

In response, people that receive the email feel compelled to send something in return, wishing the quitters well or finally telling them what they thought of them.

Finally, the company's management team needs to have some response ready when and if anyone asks why the drone left this most perfect of all corporate environments.

All of these messages are currently developed manually and individually, every single time someone leaves a company. This is an incredible waste of productivity, from the anguish of what to say to the effort of writing and re-writing the messages to get the nuances just right. The whole process wastes huge amounts of time which could be much better spent chatting around the coffee pot, exchanging rumors of other employee departures.

When I am King, there will be standardized goodbye messages to simplify the entire process from all sides. This could make company terminations so easy that employees will feel free to move about at will. And companies will feel free to fire entire departments and move that work to cheaper locales. (Oh wait – that's already the case!)

All of these messages, from the departing employee, the fellow workers, and the company representatives, will be provided by simple templates that can be emailed, sent to PR newswires, or graffitied on the bathroom walls as appropriate.

The employee's template is as follows. Note that the same template should be used whether the employee walked out by choice or was thrown out by force; either way, they will want to make it seem like the calm, cool, collected decision that it probably wasn't.


After [make up a number here; nobody will care] years, it is time for me to move on. Although it was a difficult decision made over a series of [weeks, months, beers], I feel it is something I must do because I:


  1. ______ Want to spend more time with family

  2. ______ Am taking advantage of a new, exciting opportunity

  3. ______ Want to try something new

  4. ______ Have been fired for gross and disgusting insubordination

  5. ______ None of the above

  6. ______ All of the above except E

  7. ______ Some combination of ABCD: __________

  8. ______ Other reason (please explain in 1 word or less): __________



Good luck to everyone here. It's been my pleasure and honor to work with each and every one of you [optional: list every person in the organization, skipping individuals that really pissed you off], and know that I'll be rooting for the team regardless of what I may be doing at the competition. And heck, it's a small [industry, valley, city, world, galaxy]; I'm sure we'll have the chance to work together again.

Should anyone feel like contacting me in the future, you can always reach me at [option: you should give a fake email address here, as nobody will bother contacting you. Your are dead to them now].

[Good luck!, Go team!, Love and kisses!],
[Your name here]


Responders to this email will use this template (thanks to Brent C in HR (Humor Resources) for some of these items):


Hey [employee name],


  1. ______ Good luck!

  2. ______ You rat fink bastard. You realize, of course, that this means we'll all be inheriting all of your work on top of everything we're already swamped with. As if we haven't been carrying your lazy ass this whole time already. We're going to miss you ... only if our aim is off.

  3. ______ Can you take me with you!? (Just kidding! ;) (But not really! ;););)

  4. ______ Whatever. You'll come crawling back. They always do.

  5. ______ When are you leaving your office? I want first dibs on your stuff. Make sure you leave that framed “You want it when?!” poster – that cracks me up!

  6. ______ Who is this? Do I know you? Please remove me from this alias.


The company, meanwhile, uses this template for responding to any inquiries about this employee:

The former employee, [employee name], is no longer at this company because:



  1. ______ He Died

  2. ______ He is taking time off from the fast lane to spend with his dog

  3. ______ He is taking advantage of a unique, if superficial, opportunity

  4. ______ His wife was diagnosed with a serious nasal condition and he is taking time off to help clean up the mucous.

  5. ______ Ah, who cares? He was a jerk anyway. A real jerk. Good riddance!

  6. ______ He lost out in a power struggle typical of the executive levels at which he operated. His departure is just the unfortunate yet necessary result of the company's corporate evolution. The company is stronger for his absence.

  7. ______ He has a terminal illness and has left the company to pursue his life-long dream of driving in Nascar and touring every Budweiser factory south of the Mason Dixon before he finally kicks it.

Hopefully, these templates will help make our society an efficient and productive environment for quitters everywhere. I'm all fired up about it. We can make it work; it just takes a little de-termination.
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