We have received your letter of resignation. Of course, it was not a written one, using paper and ink, and you may be surprised that we are ending our employment relationship. We've finally caught on, however, to what your conduct has been saying on a daily basis: "I've resigned."
The beginning paragraph of your unwritten resignation was when you missed the deadline on submitting an important report to the executive board. Although a dedicated employee—to use an old-fashioned term—would have been apologetic, you just shrugged, walked back to your desk, and improved your Solitaire skills. We were surprised you gave no sign of embarrassment, but at that point, of course, we didn't understand: In order to be embarrassed, one must first care.
As the days passed, you gave us other signals of your desire for distance. "Never take initiative" and "Never take responsibility" were among your more memorable unwritten lines. Your coworkers probably wondered why we permitted you to sit while they scrambled. There is a shameful reason for that: We were afraid to confront you. No one likes unpleasant scenes, and your well-known lack of amiability became a shield. Although you weren't producing, it was easy to pretend that, given enough time and a few workshops, you would somehow turn around. We could indulge in such dreams because we didn't have to work alongside you.
So now you're gone. There will be no more paychecks from us. You can move on to the next step in what will no doubt be a long chain of employers. You may not believe it, but we wish you well and hope that your unwritten resignation will be a positive turning point.
MICHAEL WADE writes Execupundit.com, an eclectic combination of management advice, observations, and links. A partner with the Phoenix firm of Sanders Wade Rodarte Consulting Inc., he has advised private and public-sector organizations for more than 30 years.