Many have been put in the position at some point in their lives where they either had to quit their job working under poor management, or give up on their self-respect. This story of a woman quitting her job from the perspective of her manager is extremely satisfying catharsis for those who have been in that former situation.

Alison Green of Ask a Manager shared a letter from one of her readers. The letter writer ran into a situation where the members of the team she manages would have to work overtime and at odd hours. One employee—who the writer freely admits is an amazing worker—asked for two hours off so she could attend her college graduation. But:

I was unable to grant her request because she was the employee with the lowest seniority and we need coverage for that day. I said that if she could find someone to replace her for those two hours, she could start later. She asked her coworkers, but no one was willing to come in on their day off. After she asked around, some people who were not scheduled for the overtime did switch shifts with other people (but not her) and volunteered to take on overtime from others who were scheduled, but these people are friends outside of work, and as long as there is coverage I don’t interfere if people want to give or take overtime of their own accord. (Caveat: I did intervene and switch one person’s end time because they had concert tickets that they had already paid for, but this was a special circumstance because there was cost involved.)

Ah, yes, the cost of concert tickets. Irreplaceable, unlike the cost of a college education earned through night classes by her most diligent team member. The manager ended up telling their employee that she would not be able to attend her college graduation. An hour later the employee “handed me her work ID and a list of all the times she had worked late/come in early/worked overtime for each and every one of her coworkers. Then she quit on the spot.”

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The kicker to all this is that the writer is asking Green for advice on how to tell this employee that quitting on the spot is bad for your career, because they assume she has no one else to model professional behavior from. Because:

She was raised in a few dozen different foster homes and has no living family. She was homeless for a bit after she turned 18 and besides us she doesn’t have anyone in her life that has ever had professional employment. This is the only job she has had. Since she’s never had anyone to teach her professional norms, I want to help her so she doesn’t make the same mistake again.

The manager’s former employee had worked for the company six years, and during that time she had earned her college degree with no family support and through periods of homelessness. According to the writer, she never missed a day of work and was the go-to person for weekends and holidays. But she needs a lesson on professional behavior?

Thankfully, Green responds to this absurd situation appropriately, saying in part:

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What?! No, under no circumstances should you do that.

If anything, you should consider reaching out to her, apologizing for how you handled the situation, and offering her the job back if she wants it.

While good managers are frequently people with a boner for the rules, there’s a time to be lenient if you want a happy, committed and productive staff. As Green writes, “There’s a lesson to be learned here, but it’s not for her.”


Image via Shutterstock.