Burning Bridges

19
Everyone has heard this piece of advice when they quit their jobs: Don't burn your bridges.

Although I agree that employee should heed this advice, I think employers have forgotten that it also applies to them.

Many employers forget that the company is made up not only of employees and customers, but also of its ex-customers, ex-employees and job applicants. I have turned down requests to submit my resume to certain companies. I told the recruiter/headhunter that I was not interested to apply for any positions in that company. Ex-employees, customers and suppliers who have worked with that company don't have anything good to say about it, and I had gone for an interview there once: they discounted my years of work experience to that of a fresh graduate with 1 year of experience. Essentially, they were saying that they were only willing to offer me a lower salary scale and a lower job title than what I had my job then. Essentially, they wasted my time!

There are companies that short-change their ex-employees on expense reimbursements and salary. They must be proud of themselves, savings a few pennies for the company! There are companies who do not pay their suppliers on time (according to the agreed payment term). They must be proud of themselves for helping out with the company's cash flow problems!

Companies who have a poor reputation in the market seldom can attract talent, good customers and suppliers. Which decent party will want to work with another who has a reputation for being poor pay masters unless they themselves are?

Most employees follow the rule not to burn brides. Employees would usually remain silent and accept whatever their soon-to-be ex-employer does to them, because after all what bargaining power do they have left?

When employers burn the bridges at their side, why should an employee watch and do nothing? He should cut the ropes off the bridge ASAP so that the fire does not spread to his side of the land.

Similarly, the employee's reputation is not only determined by the "management" but also by his colleagues, customers and suppliers. If there is a disagreement with "management", it should be directed only at "management" for the bridges with colleagues, customers and suppliers should certainly not be burned.

When I think about ex-colleagues who resigned or got retrenched, I have a good impression of those who took the effort to handover work properly and answer all my questions (even though they might have given me a hard time because of a natural conflict of interest between departments) whereas those who do a slipshod job in their last month of work and get irritated at me when I ask questions would never get a positive recommendation from me. It's a small world and we'll never know who's working at a company we're applying to work at! I acknowledge that conversely, some people whom I didn't have good relationships with might be working at a company I might be applying to join. If what they say to their hiring manager about me results in the company's decision not to hire me, that is fine because I wouldn't want to work with such people anyway. Interestingly, I had been hired before despite some negative comments. He shared with me that he wanted to decide for himself. He was a cool boss!

If you haven't already guessed from my ability to spare time to write such a long post, yup, I'm off today and changing job.

(For avoidance of doubt, the bridge and fire are only metaphors.)

19 comments:

Paul said...

Best of luck to yr future endeavours, Yu-Kym. May you find what you are looking for in the deep blue sea...Lol

Paul

Paul said...

All the best to your future endeavours, Yu-Kym. May you find what you want in the deep blue sea. Lol.

Paul

Anonymous said...

All the best in the Deep blue sea?

Good golly! is this a well meaning comment or what? lol

curious cat

David said...

Yu-Kym,

Sad to read that once again you are looking for work. No doubt the reason(s) you are looking for a new work environment is in the reasons you wrote about.

I would think that by now, with your background and experience, you have a somewhat extensive network of professional contacts that and quitely give you information on potential employers.

I know you will research business news, and annual reports for infomation that will help you craft questions for a potenial employer to answer when you start the interview process.

The dance between the company and potential new hires is always interesting.

Of course now, with a little extra time, you might want a pleasant diversion with Mr. CC.

I wish you well.

David

Yu-Kym said...

Thank you for your well wishes. I am starting work next week.

Anonymous said...

The best is to be financially independant so one doesn't have to work as an employee.

A simple example is to "Control or own resources in demand".

Look at Australians, they are richer than Yanks because Oz has lots of iron ore that China pays a good price for.

Look at the Arabs with oil.

Perhaps in Sillypore, you can do the same?

Anonymous said...

When the old leech resigned, someone said "We wish you find a good job under the nine streams"

Anonymous said...

There appears to be lots of frustration in Yu-Kym's blog about the employers she comes across. Good that she has this blog for her anger therapy.

Yes Yu-Kym, I too wish you every success! Not the deep blue sea!

curious cat

Anonymous said...

Yu-Kym must be quite a naive girl. In the general scheme of things (barring exceptions), I have never heard of an employer emerging worse off for burning their bridges. Obviously, the employer may lose the services of a particular individual, incur some behind the scene badmouthing, etc but there are many other individuals who do not care much for adverse impressions of employers and are willing to fill vacancies. He/She has mouths to feed.

More likely also, the individual will have to go through the rigours of finding a job. The employer none the worse for it.

I am an employer and I know for a fact that the organisation carries on regardless of what damage it did to its bridges. The individual however having burnt his/her bridge may not carry on as seamlessly.

That's life for you. Many a time it can be unfair to the individual. I sympathise with Yu-Kym if she has had any personal experiences with bad employers. She is not alone but surely she need not have ranted as much and revealed her bitterness.

curious cat

Yu-Kym said...

"The best is to be financially independant so one doesn't have to work as an employee."
The best is to be born filthy rich so that one never has to work!

curious cat, you have never seen companies shut down, get bought over or remain small despite their intention to grow?

Anonymous said...

Yu-Kym,

I am an employer so of course I have known of companies that go into demise or remain stunted and there are varied reasons.

But in general, companies are seldom hurt by burning their bridges with employees.

But employees go through more difficulties post-burning bridges.

organisations vs individuals. It's seldom a level playing field. It's just like men and women in life. Men generally have the upper hand.

Unfair but that's life.

curious cat

Paul said...

Well, the deep blue sea to me is a metaphor of the vast opportunities out there...heard of the Blue Ocean ??? I'm sure Yu Kym knows what I meant.

Anonymous said...

Oh Ok Paul, Sorry, I misunderstood.

I thought its like choosing between heaven or the deep blue sea. I guess u meant well with the vast opportunities in the blue ocean lol. good for u and her! We all mean well for her.

curious cat

Anonymous said...

Paul,

U make me laugh again whenever i think of the manner in which u interprete "deep blue sea".

Coz i think again "devil and deep blue sea".....this always mean something negative..and yet your interpretation of deep blue sea is a positive vast opportunities.

I am intrigued how you interprete commonly used phrases with commonly accepted meanings with a whole new take of their own.

I am curious to know of your unique and unconventional interpretations of other phrases!

curious cat

David said...

CC,

Full of surprises are you!

Are a corporate shill or savvy entrepreneur?

Please describe the type of business.

New scenarios abound now, think of you and Ms. Loh collabarating on business projects. Perhaps your company can use her new employers services or vice versa.


Now it is your turn, IOW, tag.

To anon and others, read her posts carefully. Yu-Kym does not reveal why she is leaving the current employer.

Those engaging calling Yu-Kym naive or foolish are engaging in animadversion.

Wishing Charlene Yu-Kym Loh the best of luck.

Which for all the doubters, she has in reserve. Her business acumen will serve her well in the new endeavour!

David

Anonymous said...

haha David,

I am in the construction and property development business. I am a poor businessman but I think I am very good in corporate management.

I dont think Yu-Kym would find me a suitable partner for business projects and vice versa. Nor do I know anything about her new employer.

I also do not know anything about Yu-Kym's business acumen, not the least know whether she has any or not. But I do know sometimes she can be very naive and reckless. So does that a good business partner make? lol

curious cat

David said...

I am a poor businessman but I think I am very good in corporate management.

Your statement requires an explanation.

Only Yu-Kym can inform us regarding her business skill.

Remember Steve Jobs? Her took immense risk.

David

Anonymous said...

David,

To me, a good businessman has to have one all important quality - the courage to take great risks and and the ability to identify and grab business opportunities that many others do not see. This I do not have of sufficient dosage enough to make a good businessman. So therefore i am a poor businessperson.

At times, one must not think too much, calculate the dollars and cents, balance the sheet, weigh all the pros and cons...but just plunge in come what may with one's capital when you have that intuition and gutfeel about certain improbable ventures.

In corporate management, you take such decisions too but with relatively lesser impact coz you are not playing with your own money or your own business. At most you get the sack.

And because i dont fear the sack and I know the impact if i get the sack is not that great.... I make very good corporate decisions. It wont be so if its my own company and my own money. lol

Yu-Kym certainly is daring in her travel risks...but I am not too sure her bravado can be translated to taking immense business risks. She is too careful in this aspect. She is courageous in her travels only because she has something lacking within herself and she wants to prove something.

curious cat

David said...

CC,

You stated "In corporate management, you take such decisions too but with relatively lesser impact coz you are not playing with your own money or your own business. At most you get the sack.

I am not so sure about that. I work with corporate managers who while frugal and are squandering $100K, 400K there, and occasionally a million or two dollars on projects that are often delivered on time, and on the surface meet the contract requirements, but after a short time or during user acceptance, we discover shortcuts and substandard work.

I am working several projects about to be put on hold, or have the budgets combined into a get-well package for one of our bigger projects.

Morgan Stanely just posted $2 billion USD in losses. Not good by any standard.

The corporate managers you refer too often bleed slowly and repeatedly large sums of cash flow that in the end are losses or cost more, often much more to correct at a later time.

I have learned a great deal during the last year on how to deal with a renegade project management group. Not easy, not fun, but now changes are occuring that will allow the team I am part of play big role in correcting many substandard deliverables.

Pardon me now while I fall off my soapbox....


Ouch! ! ! !


David