Is There a Right Way to Quit your Job?

Gareth Cartman

Gareth Cartman

This blog post was written in response to the Coffee Shop HR World Café topic: “Is there a right way to quit your job?”

“It’s not you, it’s me”… is what you’re meant to say.

There’s no easy way to quit your job, even when it’s pleasurable. You feel that you’re going to upset someone. You feel that someone’s going to be put out by your decision to move on and “fly the nest”.

Think again, though. If your business is put out at the thought of you leaving, then perhaps it’s not “fit for business”. If they’re going to be upset at your departure, that implies that you’re more important than you thought you were, and they’re not as prepared as they should be for the inevitable departure of their employees. If they value you so highly, they don’t deserve you.

You should only be worried if they roll out the bunting.

So is there any good way of quitting your job? How can you leave an organisation with a cheery goodbye and a pat on the back – and crucially, avoid being the one who gets blamed for everything that goes wrong for the next 6 months?

You have to do it right, for a multitude of reasons – you might meet these people a few years from now. You might even need a reference.

It’s all about timing

If you’re just starting a major project, or you’re halfway through it, handing in your notice is not going to be received well. It shows you don’t care – and as a result, you won’t be cared about too much during your notice period, or after it.

And quite right, too. You’re acting like a toddler. At least they have developing brains as an excuse (or so they claim). Stick around to see the job out, and then you can hand in your notice – you’ll be all the more appreciated for doing so, and won’t be seen as burning your bridges.

It’s not all about you

Remember, everyone leaves their job at some point. Otherwise, you become a “lifer” – one of those ghosts that walk around the same company they’ve been at since they were 14, having received twelve watches, three plaques and a massive leg of ham. Nobody works for legs of ham. You always have to move on, for sanity’s sake as much as progress.

But it’s not all about you. If your departure is going to disrupt the work of colleagues, then ensure that a smooth transition is in place. Promise to see out your full notice, and train someone else up to carry on your work. Promise to complete a certain workload, and work your notice period as you would any other. Perhaps you could even offer to support the interview process for your replacement.

Again, keep that goodwill. You never know, you might be working with these people in another organisation later down the line.

Remember, some people like their jobs

If you’ve just handed in your notice, and you’re thinking of trashing the company every day, putting your feet up and tripling your coffee breaks, have a little respect. There are people all around you who are trying to get ahead in their lives and their jobs – people who may – whisper it – still like their jobs.

There may be newbies around you who haven’t developed your level of cynicism yet. Give them time to grow into it. Don’t bang on about how brilliant your new job is, and don’t bang on about how crap your current job might be.

Again, you’re being a toddler. The business hasn’t changed – you have – and it’s time for you to move on. So do it quietly, and have some respect for those who aren’t yet ready to move on, or who view the business through a different lens.

Some things you should definitely avoid

Above all, please try to avoid doing the following:

· Handing in your notice by text message
· Being overly joyous about your imminent departure
· Calling your boss names and thinking you can get away with it
· Hiding dead fish inside computer towers on your last day
· Updating your Linkedin status to “Released from prison”
· Changing your screensaver to a countdown to your last day
· Whistling the tune to “I’m free to do whatever I want” as you walk around the office

How can job seekers get interviews when entry-level job postings demand previous work experience?

Jessica Lau

Jessica Lau

This blog post was written in response to the Coffee Shop HR World Café topic: “How can job seekers get interviews when entry-level job postings demand previous work experience?”

When entry-level positions demand that all applicants have work experience, how can recent grads and those seeking to enter the field land their first job?

What an interesting topic, as this is something I’ve been struggling with in the past few months. When I used to work in Hong Kong a few years ago, this was not as much of an issue. As an executive recruiter in Hong Kong, I was able to help candidates get into positions where they have not had the work experience in the field easily. The clients seem to understand and accept the fact that for entry positions, having the appropriate education such as a BBA degree for an HR administrative assistant is sufficient. Perhaps it has to do with the labour economy in Hong Kong at the time.

I honestly don’t have a definite solution to overcome this but I do have some ideas that may work.

One of the ways to overcome this may be going through an internship. An internship is an excellent way to enter and gain some experience in the field you are interested in. Even if there is no internship available, you may be able to find your own internship. Through internship, you can gain some work experience in the field you want.

Two is to go through contract jobs. Through contract jobs, you are able to gain a few months of work experience that most employers look for. This can be difficult at times because a lot of contract jobs do ask for individuals with some work experience.

Third is to work for the company in another role that you are eligible for. You know of a company or industry you are interested in, apply for a role that you are eligible for and through this, you can gain some experience in the company and learn the culture. While you are with the company, you may want to try to gain some cross-training and job shadowing someone in your ideal role.

Seeking Brave HR Writers & Creative Artists for Coffee Shop HR

Join the Coffee Shop HR TeamIn today’s marketplace, the internet can serve as your dynamic calling card. Working in virtual teams and often paperless offices, you probably get more significant emails throughout the day than telephone calls.

It’s no wonder that employers scrutinize what their employees and prospective employees post online.

Coffee Shop HR is a site built on the submissions created by volunteers who care about initiating and discussing HR issues. It’s the perfect opportunity to showcase your gumption and creativity in a professional way.

If you’re an artist who’s dedicated to using media that’s not digital, this is an opportunity to build a portolio online.  We welcome art designed through any means – hand drawn, painted, digital, video, photographs.  Let your creativity be exposed to a wide business community.

We’re currently seeking volunteer HR Writers and Artists to contribute to Coffee Shop HR.  The Deadline to submit your resume is October 1, 2013.

Feel free to contact us at for more information or view the active postings:

Posting for HR Writers

Posting for Artists

How can job seekers get interviews when entry-level job postings demand previous work experience?

Bonnie Milne, PhD

Bonnie Milne, PhD

This blog post was written in response to the Coffee Shop HR World Café topic: “How can job seekers get interviews when entry-level job postings demand previous work experience?”

While work experience is important – let’s just take a step back and think about what a recruiter is really looking for when they are asking for work experience. Work experience demonstrates the ability to hold down a job, which put simply, means getting to work on time, performing the duties of the position and getting along with colleagues and customers. There are other activities that demonstrate these abilities. The first thing that comes to mind for many of us is volunteer work so I won’t delve into that except to say that it is an excellent way to learn and practice these skills.

I would like to look at how responsibility and creativity are developed in other ways. Being a member of a dance troupe, a sports team or a musical group are ways that applicants can demonstrate the attributes a recruiter is looking for. Each of these activities requires one to show up and perform. Not only that, but in order to be successful on a team or in a musical group, one has to get along with a variety of people, take direction, and often, practice on one’s own. What a great precursor to a job!

When I ask my youngest son how he gets along with his colleagues, he always refers back to his experience on hockey teams. He had to build relationships with his team mates or they wouldn’t pass the puck! They trusted him and he trusted them. He understands management styles because he has had a number of coaches with incredibly different styles, from those who were very demanding to those who were stood back and let the team make decisions.

A recruiter could craft a set of requirements rather than relying on the ‘catch all’ of previous work experience. Why not ask for experience working with or leading a team over a period of time? This would open the door to applicants who have developed their skills outside the workplace.

Another aspect one could explore is training – it is not experience or application in the usual way, but training develops skills that are critical to success in the workplace. In the UAE, teens don’t hold part time jobs. Their first jobs are entry level jobs and they may not have any previous ‘work’ experience. College graduates have worked on team projects (we all know how difficult these can be) and they have usually completed a ‘work experience’ with a company. These are training experiences that segue nicely into an entry level position.

In my experience, students who demonstrate leadership potential in college or university are often offered coaching, workshops, or other opportunities to develop their potential. They might take a leadership role on the student council or in campus clubs. This training and these roles provide the experience students need for an entry level position. Seeing this kind of experience on a resume is a cue that this applicant has been recognized for their potential and has begun to develop their skills.

As part time work becomes more difficult to find – the economic downturn meant that some of those part time jobs disappeared and others were taken by full timers who were downsized, we need to be more creative in our approach to hiring for entry level positions.

While I have written about what I think recruiters can do to dig a little more deeply, applicants can also think about ways to demonstrate their ‘unpaid’ work experience.

Time to Get Back into the Game!

Geraldine Sangalang, CHRP

Geraldine Sangalang, CHRP

Here in Vancouver, we pretend that the weather doesn’t rule our lives, but it does. We just work around it because we know that when the weather is beautiful, nature will remind us of how vivid colours actually are.  When the weather is not so lovely, the world is grey.

A local news station used to play a weather commercial where news anchor, Tamara Taggart explained that sure there’s a lot of rain in Vancouver. But once the sun comes out, that’s when you realize just how lucky you are to live here.

We’ve been blessed with a fortunately warm and dry summer in Greater Vancouver this year, and that’s been my excuse to avoid – completely forget about – my professional development.

We all have our excuses for neglecting professional development:
• It’s gorgeous out
• The annual raises are coming soon
• I finally get along with my boss, so I won’t rock the boat right now

But guess what, it’s a work in progress. Professional development is your responsibility, and it takes time.

My undergraduate degree is from the University of British Columbia. I only attend alumni events once or twice a year (confession time: I’ve only attended wine tastings, but they really were valuable networking opportunities). So when I saw the invitation to the Annual UBC Alumni AGM, my initial reaction was, “why would anyone attend? Why would I vote for people I don’t even know?”

That cynical, “why should I care” mentality is what snapped my brain into fight mode. When I form a strong opinion about something I know very little about, and a wash of complete cynicism (without humor) takes over my thoughts, I know it’s time to form an educated opinion.

I registered that day.

But I understand if you would have hesitated if you saw the same invitation. You’re probably thinking:
• It could be a good networking opportunity, but networking is scary!
• What would I wear?
• Where is it?
• Should I dress formal or wear something comfortable?
• Should I bring a friend?
• Where are my business cards?

I really do get it. A lesson I’ve learned along the way is that you need to accept that networking is a conversation – that’s it. If you make it scary, it’s a scary conversation. Again, that’s it.

You also need to accept that every opportunity is a chance to improve your life. You’ll never know which chance takes you down the road you’ve been hoping to find all these years.

So I’ve registered for the Alumni UBC AGM. Do I know anyone going? Who knows – probably not. What  I gonna wear? Who knows – something nice.

All I know is that invitation, combined with my ridiculous reaction was the kick I needed to get into gear, and focus on my professional development again. And truly, that’s all I need to know right now.

A friend shared a great quote with me that I like to reflect upon when I know I’ve been neglecting something:

“Courage doesn’t always ROAR. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying,
‘I will try tomorrow’ Mary Anne Radmacher

Good luck trying to get back into gear before the end of the summer!

Should micromanagement be viewed as a negative management style?

This blog post was written in response to the July 2013 Coffee Shop HR World Café topic: “Should micromanagement be viewed as a negative management style?”

Bonnie Milne, PhD

Bonnie Milne, PhD

Negative is a very strong word. To me the connotation is that there is nothing positive about it – it’s at the very far end of the ‘wrong’ scale.

I define micromanagement as giving very clear instructions and following up on every detail to make sure that these instructions are carried out ‘to the letter’.

I don’t think that any management style can be seen as completely negative so micromanagement must have some redeeming qualities. Perhaps there is a time when it is necessary, like when an employee is just starting out, or learning a new task or when the task is critical, like in nursing and the person needs to learn the protocol correctly and completely. These situations might make micromanagement a necessity – at least in the beginning.

In the long term, once a person has learned the steps, the protocol, or the correct procedure, as the case may be, micromanagement is no longer necessary. The supervisor can move on to a different style that works for the employee and the supervisor.

Micromanagement ensures that employees do their work to the manager’s standard. It doesn’t encourage initiative or creativity – it simply sets a standard and maintains it. I have found that I am less likely to take care with my work when I am being micromanaged. I know that my supervisor will double check everything so if there is an error, it will get caught. Sometimes I think the supervisor will be happier if she finds an error to fix. This, unfortunately, encourages her to continue to check every detail, reinforcing the cycle.

In the first HR job I had, I was asked to draft letters for my manager and she would go over them, marking them up with a red pen, pointing out changes she wanted me to make. We had entirely different styles of writing, so there would be many changes. I didn’t try to adapt my writing to fit her style; I simply rebelled, wrote terribly, and waited for her to rewrite the letters in her style. It was a waste of our time, but we kept at it. I was, after all, reinforcing her need to check the letters carefully. I see that now, but at the time, I felt I insulted and couldn’t think of another approach.

Micromanagement, like any management style works, but it has limitations. It seems to me, that as always, communication is the key. If you feel that you must micromanage, explain the need for it to the employee and describe the process you will take. In other words, explain that, when the employee has learned and executed the procedure correctly a number of times (be specific about the number), you will change your approach. And remember to ask for suggestions for improvements to the process. Do this early in the game, while the employee is just learning. This is the time when s/he will best be able to see improvements or ask questions. Perhaps you will find that you are, in fact, micromanaging an outdated process!

Is micromanagement such a bad thing?

Gareth Cartman

Gareth Cartman

This blog post was written in response to the July 2013 Coffee Shop HR World Café topic: “Should micromanagement be viewed as a negative management style?”

We’ve all had a micro-manager – and by that, I don’t mean a really, really small one. Someone who stands over your shoulder and gets involved in the fine detail of everything you’re doing. Someone who can’t let go from the minutiae of your day-to-day job – which you were supposedly hired to do.

And yes, it’s a pain. Yes, it’s bad. And yes, micro-management is an awful, awful way to manage your people. Managers shouldn’t have to micro-manage. They should be able to stand back and see the bigger picture, and draw on the skills of their team to reach their objectives.

That’s a given. But it would be no fun it I wasn’t playing devil’s advocate.

Let’s consider some advantages of micro-management…

1) Under-performing people
Micro-management is a skill. It’s tiring. And it can be highly effective, if done correctly. For instance, if you’ve got a team member who isn’t performing as well as they could be – you have to micro-manage. You can’t let them float away and do everything they want to do… they need constant monitoring.

Your managers have to know when to use it, how to use it, and most importantly, they have to know when to withdraw.

2) Dreamers
There are people out there who need a framework, and need to be brought down to earth. An old Director of mine called them “creative types” – and every business needs them. Micro-management might annoy them, to a degree, but if you’re going to get the best out of them, you have to know when to let them float off into the clouds, and you have to know when to pull them back onto the ground, and hit every single detail with them.

3) Up-skilling and knowledge transfer
If you’re moving someone through an up-skilling or knowledge transfer process, you can’t let them float off into unknown territory – they’ll get lost and retreat to what they know best. You need to micro-manage this process thoroughly, with benchmarks and milestones to ensure that the employee reaches the desired level of skills.

4) On-boarding someone who is new to the workplace
On-boarding is one of the most micro-managed processes in any organisation, and is indeed appreciated by any new employee who walks into a new office. Graduates need it, and those whose language skills may not be up to scratch will need it while they learn the language. If you can’t micro-manage these instances, people will end up leaving before they’ve settled in.

5) Those you want to chase out of the business
Oh, you’re not allowed to say it, but you really, really would like to see the back of a certain person. She’s replaceable, from a day-to-day work point of view… and she’s a stirrer. A negative influence. How can you make things a little less tolerable? Micro-management.

Chase every detail, chase every e-mail, hold regular 1-to-1 sessions to comb over old ground… it’s not 100% ethical, but neither is making someone redundant. You’re just making work a little less easy.

Perhaps, from my vantage point outside of HR, I can afford to make blithe statements like “micro-manage someone out of the business”, but I do believe that micro-management is a skill, and is best used sparingly – in the right situations. A good micro-manager should know when to let go, and should have a process in place to ensure that the micro-management itself has goals and milestones.