Ask Mabel: How do I handle a goodbye party for an employee leaving on unfavorable terms?
An employee in our office who has been with us the longest, five years, has decided to leave to start her own practice. As to be expected, I am not very thrilled with her decision or the way she is making this move. She is asking if she can throw herself a goodbye party at the office to wrap things up with coworkers. I know that the polite thing would be for me to host such a shindig but I am uncomfortable with this idea. I don’t want to send the message that we celebrate people leaving this way. I am thinking that I should suggest she throw her own party outside of work. What do you think? Does this come across as rude?
Sincerely, Janet from Hawaii
Mabel: Hi Janet. I understand how this situation is a struggle for you as the head of the office. I do think it is reasonable to do a casual send-off lunch. Nothing over the top, just a formal low-key goodbye. After all, you wouldn’t want to let her go without any recognition. Tell her if she wants to have a party then she can do it on her own. You can explain to her that you haven’t hosted a party for a previous employee and have no plans to throw one for a future employee. It wouldn’t be fair for her to be the only one you threw a party for. She should understand this, and if she doesn’t oh well. You are making an appropriate and fair choice.