We all know this has been a long time coming. I’ve tried to find every possible reason to stick it out with you. Even when it was obvious to everyone else that I had one foot out the door, I tried to reason with myself. Was I ready for that loss of stability? Was I willing to give up the set of friends that I made essentially because they were connected to you somehow?
But the signs were all there. The agitation. The restlessness. The feeling like any small infraction was going to be the tipping point. I was phoning it in every single day, wondering what was the minimal amount I could do to keep you from getting mad at me. My eyes were wandering. There’s no doubt about that. I felt a bit of guilt going behind your back and looking for someplace new, but I guess you can call me a serial salary-ist.
And now the time has come. I let you know in person and in a letter, in case what I said out loud didn’t convey what I was meant. You acted like you were okay with it to my face, but I know what will happen the second my back is turned. You’ll huddle around your cups of office-brewed coffee and talk about my lack of initiative, my lack of devotion and loyalty. How could I hurt the company like that, and out of no where? Maybe you’ll talk about how my expectations are unrealistic, or how I’ll come crawling back or run into the exact same problems at my new job. You’ll shake your respective heads and promise that, next time, you’ll find someone worthwhile. Someone with staying power. Someone who actually cares.
Well, former bosses, I want you to know that you can rest easy, because it wasn’t me. It was you.
You can pretend the blame rests on me, because that’s easier than addressing the harder issue. I’m the bad guy because I didn’t communicate my qualms. Never mind that you were the one who shut down those lines of communication in the first place. You can ignore the double standards you set up, the atmosphere that your arbitrary policies and passive-aggressive emails created. Just focus on how I messed up. Life is easier to assume someone walked away because they were the bad guy. At best, they weren’t a good fit. We’ll ignore the part where a “perfect fit” is a doormat, or the type of person who no one wants to be or be around.
“People don’t quit jobs. They quit administration.” If you got an honest answer from every person who broke up with their place of employment, you’ll find that most of them attribute poor management as to at least part of the reason why they left. Sure, you’ll get the occasional mover, the one who left because they genuinely believe that they “can’t do distance.” But in every few of those paycheck-breakers, you’ll find a few of them were relying on the distance excuse just a little too much, hoping not to hurt your feelings as they finally moved on.
And don’t try to tell me it was because times got hard. People will stay in the hardest of times if they feel like they truly have someone behind them and in their corner. Nothing is ever always easy, but with the right amount of respect and support, the right people won’t scatter.
Maybe that’s the problem. Because there are people who will scatter – give up, cop out, become lazy and selfish – you assume that everyone who leaves you falls into this category. Maybe you imagine yourself as someone who gives and gives and gives and all your ungrateful employees just take and take and take. And you don’t see how unhealthy it is to have that mindset.
And you’re right: maybe I did give up. I know I didn’t get along with everyone you knew. Maybe I didn’t try my hardest to smooth out the rough edges. Maybe there was more I could do. Maybe I could’ve found new ways of communicating. Maybe I could’ve been the one to make you realize where you were going wrong and help you try to fix it. Maybe I was too wrapped up in my own problems to really see things for what they were. But I was exhausted. You pass a point in a toxic situation and there’s no turning back. Nothing but burnout and the inevitable breakup.
But I hope, despite all of this, we can remain civil. As much as you have hurt me, I can’t burn that bridge just yet. In some messed up, co-dependent way, I still need you. There are people who might call you, asking about me as a person. I’ll try to keep it to a minimum, since I know how awkward of a situation that must be – new administration talking with old – but it’s bound to happen.
I wish only the best for you. Maybe you’ll realize the error of your ways. Maybe you’ll come around and change how you act and interact. Maybe you’ll recognize that we’re all flawed human being who need an extra moment of understanding before reacting. Or maybe you’ll just find that perfect doormat, someone who is perfectly okay with a lack of support or respect or communication. Someone who will nearly kill themselves to fulfill those unrealistic expectations you have for what an employee can and can’t do. Someone who will never try to challenge or question you. And you can sit back in your meeting room, office coffee warming your palms, and congratulate yourself and finally, finally finding that right someone for your company.