How nice should you be?

Aug 14, 2017

Someone turns in their notice. They were either close to being fired or should have been. They let you down. Or, they are going to work for a competitor.

Do you refuse to say “goodbye” to them?

Do you hold a party for them?

Do you send an email to staff about what a bum they were?

Do you send an email to the staff about how sorry you are to see them go?

This is ALWAYS a subject for debate. And I have personally been on both sides of it. When I was younger (let’s say the first 20 years of my career), if you quit you were dead to me. I was as severe as they come. And unforgiving.

Then when I got older I went to the other side. I wanted everyone to love me. “You never know – so-and-so might come back some day.” After a string of failures related to hiring back people who quit my businesses previously, I’m starting to swing back to my “harder, less forgiving” side.

The problem with being too mean is the rest of your people will think you’re an a-hole. And, you will burn a bridge with that former employee that could come back to haunt you down the road.

The problem with being too nice is you’re sending a signal out to everyone that there’s no risk in leaving. “We’ll always hire you back, so you get out there with our blessing and if you decide you don’t like it, we’ll welcome you back and probably even give you a raise!”

That looks bad.

It’s hard to win on this one. I guess I will just vacillate between the two on a case-by-case basis. Don’t you wish management was black and white?

Mark Zweig is Zweig Group’s chairman and founder. Contact him at

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