Reporter's Notebook

The art and science of the interview

Posts Tagged ‘Resign

When Staff Disappear

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Leaving Employee

“We thank X for his/her contributions here at W-whatever, and wish him/her the best in his/her future endeavors.”

How much more non-committal than that can an official statement announcing the departure of a broadcasting professional be?  I recently saw that language used and decided to Google phrase keywords to see just how much of a stock phrase it is.

Among the results at the top:
Freshman Guard – University of Iowa
Artistic Director – Rockford Dance Company
Offensive Coach – Sacramento Kings
Chief Operating Officer – Lands’ End
Chief Financial Officer – Intelsat
Senior Official – Jet Airways

Google showed 242,000 more results

Statements like this don’t hint at whether the person was fired or quit (the sanitized version of the latter is “resigned”).  Also, if the words “effective immediately” are high up in the statement, the goodbye was probably a bad one.

There seems to be a slight distinction between whether the person making the statement says “We” versus if they say “I”.  People who say “I” tend to add more personal details, such as how long they’ve know the departing person and what they might specifically do after they go.  And occasionally, these statements are very glowing.  The speaker gives a history of the person’s accomplishments, talks about how much they will be missed, and reminds their new employer of how lucky they are.

Of course, it’s hard to know the sincerity of any these unless the person who themselves is leaving is standing and smiling beside the person making the statement.  Unless it really feels like a friend and respected colleague is going away, you can bet everyone wants to get this part of turning the page over as quickly as possible.

Which is why, almost in the same breath, the speaker says something like, ‘Y will assume X’s duties temporarily”, followed by a description of Y’s qualifications.  Besides the obvious, “We want to return to normal operations as soon as possible”, another message might be “We’re will immediately begin working to erase this person’s memory from our institution and your head.”  Still, at least they merited a statement.  How many employees are shoved off the edge of their desks into a shredder never to even be acknowledged?

Of course, if they committed a crime, weren’t meeting a standard or needed to go because management felt they were poisoning the work atmosphere, that’s management call. I’m sure the employee would have a different opinion.  But it isn’t always so cut and dried.  Someone who works hard to get where they are probably doesn’t choose to blow it up.  And once a tide turns, there’s little they can do but let it wash them away.   But that’s why America is the land of rebirths.  A drone at a B-level job goes on to be a leader at an A-level job.  It happens everyday.

Still, leaving is hard.  Getting booted is harder and getting booted happens a lot.  At the beginning of an ending, this is all the public will ever know.  But when you hear this language, you know pretty much all you need to – something went very wrong and this person you’ve gotten to know is never, ever coming back.

Written by Interviewer

April 11, 2016 at 01:46

Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber

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I interviewed former Oregon legislator Dennis Richardson in April 2014.  At that time, Mr. Richardson was running against Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber as the Republican nominee.  And during that conversation, he hinted that the governor’s office should uphold high standards of behavior.  Specifically, he told me:

“As far as being governor’s concerned, what I want to do that will set an example is be a governor who truly is mindful of the people. I feel the higher up your position the greater your responsibility for a larger number of people to represent them and to be accountable to them. To have a governor who is accessible, who’s transparent, who’s open, who’s honest, who’s willing to accept advice from the right sources and then use that to make the judgment that he feels is best and then explain that to the people to truly represent the people of the state and not merely have this title of being governor”.

Did Mr. Richardson know something that he preferred to not say?  In light of all that is happening with Mr. Kitzhaber right now, those comments now seem prescient.

Hear the entire interview with Mr. Richardson here.

Written by Interviewer

February 13, 2015 at 07:44