Is social media the right place to say ‘I quit’?

Resignations are becoming all too common on social media; on Monday, Gujarat chief minster Anandiben Patel offered her resignation on Facebook


Anandiben Patel’s use of Facebook signals an era where it is becoming more acceptable to quit over social media. Photo: Mint
Anandiben Patel’s use of Facebook signals an era where it is becoming more acceptable to quit over social media. Photo: Mint

Bengaluru: Former Top Gear host Chris Evans did it. SoftBank Corp.’s president Nikesh Arora did it. Even Justin Bieber did it.

So, it wasn’t a complete surprise when the septuagenarian chief minister of Gujarat, Anandiben Patel offered to resign over a Facebook post to her 386,188 followers.

Increasingly, resignations are becoming all too common on Twitter and Facebook. While resignations of top personalities have always been shrouded in mystery till a formal announcement is made, some of them are shedding the cloak of formality and taking to social media to announce their departure.

On Monday, in a post written in Gujarati, Patel said though she would reach the age of 75 only in November, she decided to step down early keeping in mind next year’s assembly polls and the Vibrant Gujarat summit. The resignation would give her successor enough time to settle down, she said.

Even though Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party are known to use social media extensively, Patel’s use of Facebook signals an era where it is becoming more acceptable to quit over social media.

Politicians, artists, business executives alike have used the medium to announce that they are hanging their boots.

In June, Nikesh Arora, president and COO of SoftBank Corp., said over a tweet that it was time for him to move on.

Some HR experts feel use of the medium helps people pass the exact message that they wish to convey.

“People take to the medium because they are able to communicate their message across and find it a convenient medium to express their feelings,” said S.V. Nathan, chief talent officer and senior director, Deloitte India.

Not just that, resigning over a public medium helps one control the messaging and connect directly with their stakeholders on what changes or does not change with the exit. For instance, Arora used Twitter to assuage his 477,000 followers that his exit will not have an impact on the investments made by him and fielded various questions on his future plans.

While Arora’s tweet on his resignation from SoftBank indicated an amicable exit, some others have been angst-ridden.

Siddharth Varadarajan, the former editor-in-chief at the national daily The Hindu, announced his resignation over Twitter in 2013 when The Hindu returned to being a family-run newspaper.

Some feel this approach is unprofessional.

EY’s Rajiv Krishnan, partner and leader - people and organization, feels that there should be a certain protocol when it comes to resignation. “There is a relationship between employer and employee and putting out a resignation on social media before informing everyone in the organisation is disruptive and has a demoralising effect on other employees,” believes Krishnan. He adds that only once the resignation is accepted and everyone internally knows about it should one take to social media.

Krishnan also believes that tweets on exits does not bode well with future employers and strikes a negative impression.

“Tweets on exit also carry insinuations about the company to an extent and it is a cardinal sin to air comments about the employer publicly. Also in an employer-employee relationship, both are equals. By tweeting, one gives the impression that one is above the company. This can affect the image of the person,” says Krishnan.

Either way, he believes companies should now add clauses when it comes to announcing exits on social media.

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