Trouble in the office? The Grindstone is here to help. Write in with your workplace drama and we’ll try to help you sort through the office politics and keep moving up the corporate ladder.
I’m leaving my job of a couple years. I got an offer that’s a better title and more responsibility from another company. And while I’ve enjoyed lots of things about my job, I also believe that there are a lot of problems there. Honestly, I can’t believe that my old company is still functioning. Some of the people I worked with are really inept. They don’t take responsibility for their work. They get very insecure and easily offended. Honestly, they made it difficult to do my job well.
So my question is, when I sit down for my exit interview with the big boss, do I explain m concerns and frustrations? Do I tell him that his middle manager often rude and almost never helpful? I don’t want to sound like I’m just whining, but I honestly don’t think that he realizes the depth of the problem. Should I speak up? Or should I just leave and let them deal with it on their own?
Leaving a job where you haven’t been happy is always a balancing act. On the one hand, you still might need those bosses or co-workers for references. If you’re still in the same industry, you might run into them again, or even work with them again a decade from now. You don’t want to burn bridges unless it is completely necessary.
And yet, I know that there’s an overwhelming urge to let loose about all those problems and irritations you’ve had while working there. I know that you feel like the bosses really need to understand that so-and-so ignores mistakes instead of fixing them or that-other-person doesn’t hold themselves to the same standards as everyone else. You want the company to understand that they had a part to play in your decision to leave your job.
At the end of the day, this decision will come down to you. You’ll be sitting in that office and your boss will ask you questions about how they can improve and what you’ve learned, and you’re going to have to decide between lip service or honesty. I can’t make that decision for you, but I will give you a couple things to keep in mind.
- Your boss already knows some of what you’re saying. It’s easy to assume that upper management walks around with blinders on. The truth is that they’re much more observant than you realize. If there are employees not pulling their weight, the company probably knows. They’re just weighing the damage done by this single person and the cost of hiring and training someone new. So you might jeopardize some relationships and not even give them any new information.
- The company will be going on without you. It’s one thing to take a problem to your boss because you want to help solve it. It’s another to throw problems on their lap on the way out. If you’re leaving, the company is already going to adjust to a new dynamic. They’re already in transition. And even though you might have been a stellar employee, this company will continue running once you’re gone. Your boss might not appreciate you throwing a wrench in their system on the way out of the door.
- Is anyone else being hurt? Look outside of your own personal issues. Are other employees being taken advantage of or treated poorly? That might be a legitimate reason to speak up about a troublesome situation. But you should focus on trying to help others, not demonize a person you don’t get along with.
- Can you live without saying it? If the answer is, “Yes,” the truth is that you should probably keep it to yourself. You can give some light constructive criticism in your interview. You don’t have to lie on anyone’s behalf. But you shouldn’t slam people unless it feels absolutely imperative to your moral conscious. You want to leave with dignity and bridges in tact.