There is something that has always perplexed me about employees who resign. No matter what the level or situation, a resigning employee rarely says where they are going. Because of my personality (insert how you see me here – I’ll just say I’m unfiltered) I always ask – “Hey! That’s Great! Where are you going?” Always – and I mean always – I get – “Well…I would rather not say.” Then the conversation boils down to this:
Me:“Really!? You would rather not say. Why exactly, would you rather not say!?”
Employee who is dead to me now: “Well, I don’t want to jeopardize my new position.”
Me: “Well, that makes complete sense, since I actually do have the power to stop positions at every possible company you might go to – great call by you!”
Employee who is dead to me now: “I’ll tell you once I’ve started.”
Me: “Oh, don’t do that! Won’t matter – once I know, I’ll get you fired!”
Employee who is dead to me now: “What!?”
Me: “At this point nothing will stop me from ruining your entire life!” (I don’t really say this, it’s internal dialogue – but wouldn’t it be fun to say!)
It really doesn’t even matter how good of a relationship you have with that specific employee – it almost always goes down this path of the employee not wanting to tell you (HR) where they are going. It’s really the only question anyone cares to know or ask when you say you’re leaving. HR wants to know. Executives want to know. Your boss wants to know. I think the resigning employee doesn’t want to tell because for the first time, for most employees, they have the power! They have something the employer wants, information, and they don’t have to give it up. It becomes this big cat and mouse game of discovery.
The funny thing is, about 99% of the time by the last day the person is leaving – they come clean! Probably they feel like they power is lost once they walk out the door so they have one last card to play and that is to actually tell everyone in a glorious announcement – “I am leaving you for…” At which they come clean and tell us the information we already discovered by looking back at their email history, grilling their coworkers who where ‘friendly’ but not friends with said employee, staking out their home, interviewing their neighbors and tapping their phones. We’re in HR – don’t tell us we can’t know! We have ways – don’t forget that employees!
So, why do we ask? Why do we play this game? Curiosity. Plain and simple. Why would someone want to leave us? Who is taking our talent? Who else is looking? Resignations force a litany of questions to come pouring into our consciousness of HR that can drive you mad! It’s funny to watch HR Pros get completely crazed in trying to find out where someone is going. Then once they find out – nothing. Freaking Nothing! They do nothing! At least make a call over to your fellow HR competitor and tell them “Congrats you hired away our biggest problem! We were days away from firing him! Thank you!” At the very least you now throw them into a similar craze that you’ve been on a 3 bender dealing with!
Confession Time: HR Pros hate resignations, mostly, because we take it personally – we feel like you’re leaving ‘us’ – not the company. What can you do about it? Nothing – it’s our neurosis – just leave it be – enjoy the greener grass – know we hate you, until you want to come back (if you’re good) then we’ll love you again. What can I say – we have issues!
If you Google “Tim Sackett” you’ll find our Tim, and a truck driver chaplain. Our Tim is NOT the truck driver chaplain, although how awesome would that be if he was!? He is a prolific writer in the HR and TA space who just happens to also run an Engineering and IT contract staffing agency (HRU Technical Resources) out of Michigan. He also writes every day at his own blog, the Tim Sackett Project. Weirdly, he’s known as an expert in workplace hugging, which was kind of cool years ago, but now seems painfully creepy, but we still love him and he’s fairly harmless. Tim is also on the board of the Association of Talent Acquisition Professionals (ATAP), lifetime Michigan State Spartan fan, husband to a Hall of Fame wife, 3 sons, and his best friend Scout. He also wrote a book with SHRM called The Talent Fix, you can find it on Amazon.