Should I Complain Before or After I Resign?


I have decided to quit my job.

It’s a bad relationship between the boss and I, meaning it’s personal rather than professional, though I don’t think the two can be totally separated.

My feeling is that I have been dumped on and treated in a non-civil manner. It’s too hard to “fight the powers that be”. I feel that I have to be twice as good to fight the power structure, as it is an unequal relationship in the first place. Thus, I do not have the energy to fight what is probably a losing battle. My best way to beat it is to beat it and be happier someplace else. Still, though I’d like to express my thoughts of this unfair supervision to higher-ups in the hopes that she doesn’t do it to somebody else. Is this worthwhile? Or should I just submit my letter of resignation and see it they ask why, and then tell or maybe not even then? Or after I quit send a letter with explaining the various unfair incidents of abuse.



Ready to Move On


Dear Ready to Move On:

If you mean that your conflict is based on personality and style differences, I would agree with you that such differences become integrated with all of our work. And sometimes, there is no way to adjust them and exiting is the only solution. Dr. Gorden refers to that as, “voting with your feet.”

It seems there are a couple of issues for you to consider about this. 1. What is the overall view of managers and coworkers about your work right now? If you have been in trouble or had problems, your views might not have the clout they would have if you have been considered an exemplary or good employee.

2. What has been the history and reputation of the supervisor? If she has been successful and is generally well thought of, your complaint would not have as much affect as if she had already had some issues about dealing with people.

3. What do you want to see happen? If you can articulate that, you will be better able to decide what you want to write and what will be well received. If you are alerting higher managers to the supervisor’s habits, that will probably be more effective than if you think she should be demoted, transfered or fired–since those are not likely to happen based solely on the complaint of an exiting employee.

4. What is the nature of the supervisor’s actions? Give examples and state how that affected your ability to do work.

When you write your letter, make sure you clearly show that the company is losing a potentially good employee because of the actions of the supervisor. Mention the tasks you performed and how those were affected by the supervisor’s actions. You might also want to mention your efforts to improve the situation and what the supervisor’s responses were.

You know your organization best, but generally it is most effective to send such a letter to at least two locations…to a manager and to HR or a similar function. Otherwise, if only one person gets it, it might never been seen.

I’m sorry things have come to this point. I find it so frustrating that many companies allow supervisors to treat employees badly and no one supervises the supervisors! Morale and a spirit of teamwork is completely destroyed and it results in employees building little cocoons around themselves to avoid painful encounters.

On the other hand, I have seen situations where an individual employee swore a supervisor was mistreating them, but further investigation showed that the supervisor was only requiring a good standard of work and behavior and the employee didn’t like it. The complaint was more vengeful than anything else.

So, finding the truth is not easy! I hope you will feel better about expressing your thoughts to those higher in the organization, and that it gets results if changes are needed.

I also hope you can move on to a place that works better for you and that will allow you to be a star in every way. Maybe you will be able to gain some experiences from this current situation that will help you in the future, if that will be a good thing for you.

Best wishes in all of this. Make a strong but gracious exit!

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.