As he prepared to leave office on Monday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo remained both defiant in his views, particularly about the state sexual-harassment investigation that led to his resignation, and determined to work till seemingly the very last minute.
But is that the right way to go about exiting a job?
Workplace experts say it is generally a good idea to make a quiet, dignified departure, and to also ensure that anyone taking over your position assumes at least some responsibility before you step aside.
Many disgruntled employees are tempted to have the last word.
“I always say it’s best to go in grace,” said Kelly DuFord Williams, founding partner and employment attorney for Slate Law Group, a California-based firm.
Cuomo, the Democrat who served for a decade, delivered a strongly worded speech released on Monday that defied the going-without-a-fuss standard.
In particular, he challenged the investigation led by New York Attorney General Letitia James that prompted his decision to leave his post, much as he did when he announced his resignation two weeks ago.
“The truth is, ultimately, always revealed,” he said on Monday, while adding that he felt it was best to resign in order to not interfere with the state’s need to move forward.
Certainly, many disgruntled employees who leave a job are tempted to have the last critical word, workplace experts note. And in some cases, they may indeed be justified to deliver a harsh departing message.
The temptation to have the last word
But experts say they should be aware of the price of such a message, justified or not, in terms of the stir it can create and how it could affect their future chances for employment.
“If you’re going to air these grievances, are you prepared to fully own the consequences?” said Christine Sachs, a New York-based executive coach.
Another key to a dignified exit, say experts, is to remain humble about your achievements and to thank all the colleagues who have helped you along the way. In other words, it may not be wise to send out one of those overly long, companywide emails that reads like a boastful, 10-minute Oscar acceptance speech.
Some have already suggested Cuomo may have crossed the line in talking a fair bit about his administration’s accomplishments during his Monday remarks.
“Is this a resignation speech or a campaign speech from Cuomo?” said New York Post managing editor Zach Haberman in a tweet.
Williams, the employment attorney, says if you’re considering sending out a departing email, it’s worth having a supervisor review it first. That way, she says, you can make sure the tone is right and no one is offended.
Cuomo also generated some controversy in his final days as he took charge of the state’s efforts to prepare for Hurricane Henri, the storm that eventually made landfall in the Northeast as a tropical storm.
There’s inevitably the risk of a leader overstaying his or her welcome.
Questions were raised as to whether Cuomo should have deferred more to his successor, Kathy Hochul, a Democrat who served as his lieutenant governor and became New York’s first woman governor on Tuesday.
“The lieutenant governor has been briefed on all of this, and we’re in constant communication,” Cuomo said at a Saturday news conference.
Workplace experts say that planning for executive transition is always challenging, and there’s inevitably the risk of a leader overstaying his or her welcome rather than fully handing off responsibilities to a successor.
But every situation is unique, said Sachs, the business coach. And if there’s a crisis in the midst of a transition, it can only complicate the passing of the executive torch.
“The ideal version is that there’s some agreement that satisfies both parties,” said Sachs.