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Ask Sue
A Weekly Q&A Column About Professionalism, Etiquette and Problems in the Workplace
by Sue Morem

No Notice

Dear Sue: I own a small business. Recently, an employee walked out on me without giving any notice. I asked her the reason for her hasty departure, hoping I could learn from this experience, but she refused to discuss it with me.

Now I am wondering what I could have done differently and what role I played in this. I also want to know how can I prevent this from happening in the future. 

- Marge

Sue Says: I commend you for your concern and your desire to learn what you might have done to contribute to this employee walking out on you. It would be quite easy for you to assume that the ex-employee was the problem and that it had nothing to do with you!

Now that some time has passed and she probably has cooled down, you could consider contacting her to see if she would be willing to talk. However, it is possible that she won't or that there isn't a good reason or explanation for her behavior.

Unless you have had this happen before, it may just be an isolated experience. This employee may have had things affecting her personally that had nothing to do with you or your business.

Consider letting your other employees know how concerned you are about what happened and that you want to prevent anything similar from happening in the future. Be sure you are communicating effectively and openly with your employees, and let them know that you want to hear from them about any concerns or problems. Some people are uncomfortable talking about problems so consider providing an anonymous suggestion box to make it easier for those who may be uncomfortable talking with you directly.

Dear Sue: After spending five years working at a very stressful job, I accepted a similar position with another company in the same field. During the interview I was told that I was going to be replacing someone who eventually would be fired. Apparently, this employee has done some awful things, including stealing money from the company.

I've worked here for four months now and have discovered that my boss is notorious for saying one thing and doing another. He will tell you what you want to hear and he will avoid confrontation at all costs. When I first started working here he was talking negatively about this employee all the time, but lately he hasn't said a thing. The employee is still working here.

Now we have two people working at the same job and there isn't enough work for both of us to do. I feel guilty for commanding the salary I do and because I am an accountant, I am disgusted at the waste. Do I push my boss into doing something or just let him run the business the way he wants to? By the way, the pay and benefits are great. 

- Unsure

Sue Says: I doubt that you will be able to push your boss into doing something, but you can carefully try to broach the subject with him and try to find out what his plans are. Because you were told that you were hired as a replacement, your inquiry is justified. However, because he is notorious for saying what he knows you want to hear, even if he says he will fire the other employee, can you believe him?

Obviously, you can't control what he will do, but you can control what you will do and decide what is best for you under these circumstances. Are you willing to stay on if this person is never fired? Will you be content to work at a job long term that is too easy because there isn't enough work to do? Can you trust your boss and believe what he says? How does this job compare to the stressful one you left?

These are just a few of the questions you need to ask yourself before making a decision. I'm a bit wary about your boss, and if I were you, I would proceed with caution.

Sue Morem is a professional speaker, trainer and syndicated columnist. She is author of the newly released 101 Tips for Graduates and How to Gain the Professional Edge, Second Edition. You can contact her by email at or visit her web site at

Send Sue your questions by clicking here: Ask Sue
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