August 23rd, 2005


Resign or be fired

The president of Cincinatti University has given an ultimatum to their basketball coach, Bob Huggins: resign or be fired.

Would you rather resign, or be fired? Does your answer change if the ultimatum is semi-public (i.e., your next employer will know that your leaving wasn't entirely voluntary) ?

Me, I say go ahead and fire me or lay me off. Legally, it's a lot easier for me to get unemployment or go after the employer for wrongful termination if that's the case. Resignation means I have to argue that I was constructively fired. And in reality, I am always pretty clear about the reasons for my leaving companies with future employers. For instance, in 1999, I was let go, or laid off by Syndeo Systems. In reality, they fired me because I was burned out and burned up over the company's mismanagement that normally had me working 60 to 90 hours weeks.

The idea that resignation is somehow better I just don't get. I suppose in some circumstances for high salaried execs it might. But everyone knows when someone leaves for personal reasons they have been fired. Unless the person is announcing their plans immediately (such as going to another company, writing a book, raising the kids), they've been forced out. Sometimes even if plans are announced, they've been forced out. But so often it seems to me companies don't realize that everyone knows. And I'm sure sometimes they want everyone to know, they just don't want to say it. That sort of thinking just doesn't make much sense to me.