The Practice Management Knowledge Community (PMKC) identifies and develops information on the business of architecture for use by the profession to maintain and improve the quality of the professional and business environment. The PMKC initiates programs, provides content and serves as a resource to other knowledge communities, and acts as experts on AIA Institute programs and policies that pertain to a wide variety of business practices and trends.
Quick update to all. This person was in the office last Friday, her direct supervisor, my office manager and I were all in the office and available. She chose to send the email after work to the three of us.
I do 100% of the hiring and firing of our firm. When I have to fire someone from a satellite office like Nashville I personally fly out to do so. I truly believe the adage "you are taking someone's job, there is no need to take their dignity". I discussed this with our senior guys over the weekend and I spoke with the person this morning first thing to let her know we would not be accepting her two week notice and that last Friday was her last day with us.
To be clear she was not working from home, our Nashville office is small and while they had the option to stay home most of this past year each person decided individually they liked working as a group better. Also, again to clarify we were all in the office that day but 2 of us were in Richmond, while her boss was with her in Nashville, so she had the opportunity to talk with any of us and chose not to.When you say "at least" she gave us two weeks, I would be equally or perhaps more, disappointed in a 30 something professional adult who did not know to give two weeks minimum notice more than than I was at an email so I hardly see that as a plus in her column.
Do we need the help, you bet. In 20 years we have only not accepted two weeks notice 3 times including this one; however, after discussing this with the Nashville team this was the path we decided upon. I think they believed the negativity was worse than the lack of her help.
All this being said, I was kind to her this morning, and wished her well in her new endeavors.
Many years ago shortly after I got my license I went to work for a sole proprietor firm. The principal was probably the most ethical person I've encountered in my career. Upon hiring me he handed me a document he had prepared called "The Code of Business Conduct". In the 4 pages or so he set out his expectations for all employees that, in addition to our responsibilities to the firm, included how we were expected to treat each other, how to treat our consultants, even how to treat Product Representatives. Not taking any chances he read it out loud to me as I followed along on my copy. I still have a copy of "The Code" to this day and try to follow it in my own practice.
When I served as Adjunct Professor at a local university we still taught office practice ten or so years ago and I taught a section on professional ethics. I'm not aware if universities still teach Office Practice to architecture students but if they don't then it becomes incumbent on those of us in the profession to teach and maintain the standards we aspire to.
I have received several requests for the "Code of Business Conduct" and I'll try to send it to the community.
Bear in mind this was written in the 1950s before the Justice Department forced the AIA to abandon the "Canon of Ethics" incumbent on AIA members and the world has changed a lot, some may argue for the better and might be offended by the tone of the Code but I won't get into that discussion.
The main point is that firms should have a written standard of behavior to which all members agree to conform when they join and they should be aware that there may be consequences if they violate the standards. My major professor in university said in our Office Practice class, "As professionals we should profess something" and ethical standards are a good place to start. As a practical matter an office standard should go a long way to protect the firm from a wrongful discharge suit if a member has to be discharged for cause.
Good luck with it and thank you all for your interest.
P.S. I think he got his French wrong, shouldn't the term be "En Charrette"?
Yes, this is among the longest running discussions in the AIA forums and I find the responses quite intriguing. In general, people who have been practicing for a long time (meaning us older people) have voiced disdain for someone who resigns via email. It's unprofessional, its poor communication, we would never have done that, etc. And, in general, younger people have weighed in about how their older employers should examine the cultures they have fostered. The firm might not have been supportive, owners might not be approachable, times have changed relative to communication preferences, etc. While most discussions are healthy, we should also keep in mind that this is a data point of – one person. Architects are a subset of the general public. We consist of emotionally mature as well as dysfunctional people , strong as well as awkward communicators, people who place high value on relationships while others are satisfied being transactional.
I agree with Leah, who suggested speaking with your staff about the reality of people moving on and the best way to approach a resignation so they aren't afraid if/when the time comes and know the protocol. And one of the best opportunities to set an example is when you first offer them a position. Let the new person know that it is important that they leave their current position as professionally as possible, even if that means delaying the starting date in the new position. You might suggest that they work out a transition plan that might last longer than two weeks so that their current employer can make appropriate plans. Creating the proper culture and expectations starts with the hiring process. Hire respectful people and then return that respect throughout their tenure. With this mutual respect as a condition of employment, we might keep the data points to only a few people.
Michael Strogoff, FAIA
Strogoff Consulting, Inc.
ownership transitions . mergers & acquisitions . practice management . leadership development . talent placement
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