An employee gave her two weeks notice. This employee had worked for the company for 4 years then left the company. Then came back to the company after 6 months into a new position. Now one year later, the employee is leaving again. Since I have worked for this company, about 7 months. I have seen employees sign a going away card for the leaving employee and give a gift. I have gotten close to the employee who is leaving. So I asked the manager if we would be doing anything or getting anything for the leaving employee. His response was no because this employee left the company once before. I feel that was a little cold and I feel the leaving employee should at least get a card. I plan to buy a goodbye greeting card for the leaving employee and pass it around for employees to sign. I plan to not give it to the manager. Am I doing anything wrong by getting the card? The card would be paid for from my own pocket. If I had known the Manager would react like that. I never would have asked him.
You are making a mistake by doing this behind the manager's back. The manager might feel disrespected after you asked and ignored the answer, or even that you are challenging the manager's authority by doing something the manager decided wasn't earned.
If you want to get her the card out of your own pocket, that's fine, but at least tell the manager your intentions if you want to pass it around, allow the manager to dissuade you, and offer the manager to sign it. If the manager pushes back again, just present the card with only your remarks.
I understand how you feel, but ultimately the only reason why I would do this would be if I was personally close to the departing employee. I would not give a gift to a random coworker, particularly against the wishes of my manager and the company at-large, and I would certainly not involve other coworkers in doing so.
If you are personally close to this coworker, by all means, buy this person a gift or a card and give it to them, in person, and in private.
I understand why you want to do this, but you shouldn't. Two different relationship dynamics are in conflict here:
(A) You and this individual as friends.
(B) You and this individual as employees of the company under a common manager.
As a professional you need to clearly separate those out, and act appropriately.
I plan to buy a goodbye greeting card... The card is paid for from my own pocket.
This is completely fine. You're doing a nice thing for a friend. Relationship A dominates. Relationship B has little relevance. For example you doing this outside working hours and even premises would not affect the gesture - in fact you may well consider doing that!
(I plan to) pass it around for employees to sign. I plan to not give it to the manager.
With this, though, relationship B dominates. You've involved other employees of the company as a collective, and by definition will likely have to do so in working hours and/or premises. Worse, you've indirectly involved the manager too by defying their wishes.
It'll still be a nice gesture from their point of view, of course, but relationship B just makes it overall inappropriate, and a negative for you, given the circumstances.
Your 7 month tenure at the company is a factor here too - you've likely not yet built the social capital at the company necessary to counterbalance any negative effect on you, in a way a more tenured employee may be able to.
Really, I think it's unwise to do this. I'd advise only doing the first part of buying a personal card/gift yourself and leave the gesture at that.
So I asked the manager if we would be doing anything or getting anything for the leaving employee.
If this is literally what you asked then the manager probably interpreted that as requesting the company to organize a dinner or gift. What other reason could there possible be to bring it up with a manager? For an employee leaving for the second time, it would be completely reasonable to say no to that.
A card is so inexpensive that there's little reason to get the manager or company involved which would be why it might not even occur to the manager that was what you had in mind.