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Job Resignation For The Wrong Reasons

resignation

Reassess before you turn in your resignation

13 reasons why accountants turn in their resignation letter

One of the smartest guys I know, a VP of Accounting recently shared a post about employee resignations. We had such an interesting discussion on the topic, I decided to share the discussion.  Thank you, TB.

The below list left me frustrated and frankly, sad. I realized that the list doesn’t just apply to accounting positions. HR employees also turn in their resignation letters for many of the same reasons.  Entry-level employees through the mid-management in every industry turn in resignations for many of the reasons below.

These employees are leaving before exploring opportunities in their current company. As an HR person who fights turnover, it is frustrating to see employees leave when they can find what they want in their current companies. Here are the reasons the post listed (I rearranged the order, but the items in the list are quoted):

13 reasons why accountants turn in their resignation letter

  • Repetitive accounting work.
  • Boredom
  • The daily grind of manual tasks.
  • Stuck in the same old processes.
  • The feeling of always burning out.
  • Less advancement opportunities.
  • Limited progression paths.
  • The pressure of work.
  • Many accountants feel underpaid and undervalued.
  • Not keeping up with the new tech tools.
  • Location-bound work.
  • Shifting to the FP&A role
  • Starting your own accounting firm.

Many of the above can be alleviated with communication and initiative

Boredom, Repetition, Daily Grind, and Burning Out

As an HR person, I am used to seeing employees early in their careers turning in a resignation letter. In the exit interview, I ask the employee, “Did you mention burnout or boredom to your manager?”  9 times out of 10, the employee says, “Yes, I did,” or “They know I am burnt out”. But in further digging, we realize there were only “hints” of boredom and “assumptions” made by the employee. The manager didn’t have real reasons to know. There were no direct conversations.

It’s hard to fix something when we don’t know it is broken.

As an employee, it is our career. It is not our manager’s career. This is not the company’s career. It may be in the manager’s or the company’s best interest to retain employees, but the career belongs to the employee. If we want something for our career, we must overcome obstacles to attain it.

Speaking to your manager about these reasons can usually lead to a solution. Cross-training, learning new methods, and introducing automation are just a few ways to add a new dimension.  These new dimensions add value to the company and the employees.

Many employees wait until they are frustrated and angry to have these conversations. The manager receives a lecture on how the department is inefficient and not providing career development.  No manager wants to help an employee who comes across as an activist. Managers do not want to present bad attitudes candidates to their VP for additional opportunities.

FWIW, usually, the folks who lecture, are also those who are resistant to automation, cross-training, or change in general. Remember, the company is paying the employee. The company is the employee’s customer. The employees are NOT the customers.  

Lack of Advancement and Career Opportunities

It is a yellow flag when I interview candidates and discover they turned in a resignation letter at their prior company for lack of opportunity. If they are leaving a family business that doesn’t want to grow or scale I get it. But generally speaking, large companies have hundreds of established roles and have a history of creating new roles. Small companies usually have plenty of work and not enough employees to do the work. 

The thing that is missing in this case is initiative. If we want to advance, we need to do a few things:

  • Explain to your manager the next step you want to take in your career. Be specific.
    • “I want to be a manager.”
    • “I want a big client.”
    • “I want to work on Project X.”
  • Present a plan to your manager that will qualify you for the next level. The manager needs to buy in to be supportive.
  • Do the work to show you have initiative. This may mean you are working on your own time, but it is the number 1 way to show initiative. When presented positively, you would be surprised how many managers will give employees company time to qualify for the next step.
  • Support your manager. Managers need to present candidates that their manager will see as qualified. A positive attitude toward work and company goes a long way. 

If there wasn’t an opportunity at the last company, then for the same lack of initiative, there would be a lack of opportunity with the next company. Despite how hokey this sounds, I encourage you to adjust your attitudes and actions to navigate corporate life. It’s our career, not the company’s.

Pressure of Work

Believe it or not, this category of resignation can be alleviated. Initiative and communication may be uncomfortable, but again, it is our career. If we don’t learn this skill at our current company, we will face the same challenge at a new company.

If there are work pressures, we need to communicate with our manager. Many employees feel overworked. We have 45 hours of work, and a leader comes to us with another 10 hours of work. This is usually because they don’t know you already have 45 work hours. Does your manager wake up in the morning, rub their hands together, and smile, thinking, “I am going to make Johnny’s life a living hell today”?  

Instead of just keeping quiet and fuming about how unfair life is and turning in a resignation, try this approach when given too much work:

“Manager Max, thanks for the new project. I currently have priorities X, Y, and Z, and my plate is full. I can put your assignment into the queue, but I want to set expectations that this may not get done for 10 days. I’d like to ask for 10 minutes of your time to re-prioritize my assignments. I know you have people depending on all of these projects getting done, and I want to make sure you set the right expectations.” The employee will look good if they make a recommendation on the priorities and timelines.

It’s going to be hard for a manager to respond with, “This guy isn’t a team player, what an asshole.”.  It’s not what we say; it’s how we say it.

Send a short email confirmation after the discussion.

Undervalued, Underappreciated

Many employees feel underappreciated. This is in part because managers may not have received training on how to show appreciation. In many cases, the employee doesn’t share accomplishments with their manager. Many employees feel that sharing their accomplishments is demonstrating bravado. Others feel they shouldn’t have to share accomplishments. They feel their manager “Should know.”

We shouldn’t look at sharing what we accomplishments as braggadocio. Rather, present accomplishments as updates. Your manager cannot make the most informed business decision if they don’t know what is happening within their departments. They will now know if you are qualified for the next opportunity if they don’t know what you are capable of.

EG:

  • Manager Suzy, I have been working in the call center for about 6 months. My eNPS rating is 75 and I am taking 40 calls a day. My goal is to take an average of 50 calls in 3 months and raise my eNPS score to 80. Am I on track for someone who has been here for 6 months? Are these appropriate goals?

In the above, we shared our accomplishments while asking for feedback. We were not bragging.  

Leaving for an FP&A role or to be a founder

I don’t think that a resignation for an FP&A role is a bad thing. This is the employee taking control of their career and being proactive.

Accountants can shift to an FP&A role and stay with their current company. When an employee leaves a company for an FP&A role and the company has FP&A positions, this is a loss. When an employee transfers departments, that is good for the company and good for the employee.

If your company doesn’t have an FP&A department, show initiative. Remember, this is our career. This is our reputation as a manager who loses employees to turnover. We have a couple of options:

  1. Make a pitch to show the value of FP&A. Maybe the company doesn’t understand the role of FP&A.
  2. As an accountant, you can provide simple, easy-to-understand reports that are FP&A-related. At this point, I wouldn’t mention that you want to be a full-time FP&A person. If your leader doesn’t understand the value of FP&A, they are not going to be able to envision losing your current 40 hours a week and filling 40 hours of work for an FP&A. Especially when they don’t understand FP&A.

I understand leaving a company to start a firm. This is a completely new chapter and career shift. When someone leaves our company to start a business, I hope we can be partners. I take solace in the experience our company provided the employee, which probably helped them start their next chapter.

 

HRNasty

nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, ridiculously good, tricky, and manipulative but with the result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone good at something. “He has a nasty forkball.”

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