25 October 2023
Each week, Dr Kirstin Ferguson tackles questions on the workplace, career and leadership in her advice column “Got a Minute?” This week: a messy resignation, a difficult choice and the perils of too many suitcases.
I just resigned, and my big boss is shocked. He didn’t take it well and is upset at me for not raising the reasons for resignation with him directly earlier, despite the fact I’d spoken with my direct manager. My big boss told me I’m letting the team and business down, as we will be short-staffed and unable to meet client demands because of me. How should I approach the situation? Did I make the right choice?
Your big boss sounds like a big jerk. You made an excellent choice. Run – don’t walk – to your next job.
Where to start? First, he should be angry at his direct report (your manager) for not telling him that you were planning to resign sooner – that is on your manager, not you. Your manager clearly didn’t do anything about it before it was too late. Your big boss should be speaking with them for failing to act.
Second, saying you are letting the business down for leaving is simply him projecting his poor management of resources, people, culture – whatever the reasons – means a good person is leaving. Your big boss and your manager should have created a working environment that motivated you to stay, not want to leave. Too often, bad leaders wait until it’s too late to realise they need to do more to keep good people. I suspect your big boss knows that and is frustrated at himself. I would see out your notice period as professionally as you can, ignore his tantrums and focus on the future.
I’m at the point where I need to make a choice in my career. I love the company where I currently work – the culture is fantastic, my boss is supportive and being in the office is a lot of fun. However, we don’t do the type of work I’m most passionate about. I find the work interesting enough, but it’s not what I envision doing for the rest of my career. After a recent promotion, I feel I need to make a choice between a great workplace culture and pursuing my interests. Is it worth sacrificing a great culture for more interesting work?
Great question and a tough choice, for sure. Before you leap into something new, make sure you have fully exhausted every possible opportunity where you are now. It sounds like your boss would be eager to make sure you are being challenged, so I would talk to them about your concerns. Be open and honest, and let them know you love much about your role, but there is a part of you that isn’t being challenged enough. Think about ways you could make your current role even more perfect and present those options to your boss to see how they respond.
If there is no possibility of changing the work you’re doing now, and you decide to make a move, be clear on exactly the type of work you want to be doing and the parts of your current culture you value. That way, you can have a clear list of non-negotiable must-haves when you weigh up the best next step for you. Good luck!
I work as a sales representative and carry large suitcase around, which are filled with company product. My portfolio is getting larger and the company vehicle provided isn’t fit for purpose. We are told nothing should be visible on the back seat of our cars or else they need to be stored in our homes, which isn’t possible for me. A simple solution, which has been raised many times, would be for my company to spend more money on a suitable car, but this idea gains no support. What would you suggest?
Your question, for me, raises far more questions than answers! Why can’t you have company products on the back seat? Why doesn’t your workplace have a warehouse, or even an office, where you can leave product? Why do you need to carry around large suitcases if you have a car with you? What are you selling?! Bottom line: it sounds like you need a bigger car. Maybe get your boss to spend a day or two on the road with you to see how they find all this suitcase lugging and product hiding?
To submit a question about work, careers or leadership, visit kirstinferguson.com/ask (you will not be asked to provide your name or any identifying information. Letters may be edited).