I'm an engineer at a small business that employs 10 people, well 9 now. One of our machinists that has worked here longer than almost anyone else texted our boss this morning and said he is quitting, and gave no advanced notice. I know this because our boss told one of the other machinists, who then told everyone else. My boss even had the locks changed right away this morning. However, he hasn't even mentioned the fact that the guy quit to anyone else.

I'm used to working in medium to large companies and this just seems weird and unprofessional. In the 2 larger companies I have worked for in the past, there was always a standard email that went out and then, if you were affected, a couple of hours later your boss would sit down and discuss what the game plan was moving forward and who was taking over what responsibilities. I expected him to address everyone about it, give us a quick pep talk and send us on our way. So far though we are at the end of the day and it's like it never happened.

My question is: Should I ask my boss about this and discuss who is taking over what responsibilities and what the game plan is moving forward? Or should I just keep my head down and not mention it?

  • 8
    The why he quite is not my business, the fact that we are down a person. And he is sudently, not here. Even though he is involved in projects with myself and others is my business. This is very strange this kind of thing is always discussed at larger company that I have worked for. Aug 14, 2017 at 18:00
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    @ChristopherEstep It is normal in a company of any size to not send out the information until it is officially final. He may be waiting to contact the person who has resigned, and they may be in negotiations. There's no point announcing someone is gone until they are officially gone.
    – Kent A.
    Aug 14, 2017 at 19:12
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    In a small company like that you should very seriously consider that this might be very embarrassing to your boss. It shouldn't be, but I'd treat it as if he considered it a failure on his own part and didn't want to discuss it. I could be wrong but at any rate, he might not behave as well as you'd like to having it thrown in his face. I'd let him bring it up first.
    – Bill K
    Aug 14, 2017 at 22:11
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    It's entirely possible that the boss rightly or wrongly thinks he may be able to persuade the person to withdraw his resignation. It's also possible that he doesn't consider a text message to be a formal resignation (the guy's best mate might have sent the text as a prank) and thinks it prudent to have it officially in writing first. It's also possible that he doesn't want to have to answer questions like "what happens next" with the only possible honest answer "I haven't decided yet". Aug 14, 2017 at 22:17
  • 5
    @MichaelKay the boss (owner?) immediately had all the locks changed. That's a pretty sure sign of a permanent breakup...
    – RonJohn
    Aug 16, 2017 at 0:09

8 Answers 8


There is a certain amount of "getting your ducks in a row" that may be necessary when someone leaves employment very quickly. They may have been fired (despite someone saying X texted Y "I quit", you may have been deceived) or known they were about to be fired. If locks are being changed, something went down - I've had people give notice at my small firm, laid people off, fired people, and though I asked for keys back, I didn't change the locks.

One of the things you need to get in a row is answers to obvious questions like "will X be replaced? Who is going to do X's things tomorrow? Is B getting a promotion because of this?" and so on. A sensible boss will take a few hours to get answers to these things before starting the conversation with staff. They know that some of you know. They hope the gossip is being kept to a minimum. And they'll provide complete information when they have it, instead of coming back 5 or 6 times the first day with updates, or saying "I haven't decided, we'll have to look into that and make a decision" every time anybody asks anything.

Of course, the things staff ask about are by no means the only tasks you have to cover after a quitting or firing, especially an unhappy one. You also have to make sure they don't get their recurring paycheque automatically, possibly issue a final paycheque, do paperwork with various government bodies such as for employment insurance, possibly notify any regulatory bodies that track which licensed people work where, tell or ask the insurance company when their coverage ends, and write up a formal letter telling the person all these things. You might need to take away their computer accounts, email, or work-issued phone, or get stuff forwarded from those, and decide who to forward them to. You need to think of and remember all this stuff, too, all while trying to do whatever it was you had planned for today.

In larger companies there is a written process and there may be someone whose job it is to swing into action in these circumstances. In smaller ones you have one person whose plate is already pretty full and now has to deal with this as well. Plus whatever may have gone down that triggered it all. Satisfying curiosity on the floor may not have got to the top of the priority list yet.

What should you do today? Exactly what you would do if X were off sick today or otherwise unavailable. Tomorrow, if there's been no announcement it wouldn't be wrong to stick your head into your manager's office and say "I'm covering X's stuff again today, right?" If you get a curt/gruff agreement (no eye contact, perhaps an unhappy facial expression or an actual wave of the hand) go back to your station and cover X's stuff and wait to see if more information is shared in another day or two. If you get a more welcoming response (smile, eye contact, "Thanks, yeah, that would really be helpful") then you can try a gentle question like "is there a long term plan shaping up that I can ask about?" But don't be surprised if the answer is "I will let you know as soon as I know."

  • 15
    Amazing answer. It's easy to forget that in small companies, there's not a dedicated person to hand hold. The same person that has to handle this today is the dame person who was super busy yesterday, and even in a company of 10 you can last a while down 1 person. Otherwise that one person could never get ill.
    – coteyr
    Aug 15, 2017 at 8:27
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    If locks are being changed, something went down I suspected that too but didn't feel sure enough of it to say so.
    – BSMP
    Aug 15, 2017 at 16:25

The boss might be waiting to get some issues related to this resolved before saying anything.

It's also possible that the boss feels an 'official' announcement isn't necessary. He's told one machinist and they told everyone else. If your boss knows that everyone else now knows, then he might consider this handled already.

In my experience how this gets handled varies. Some organizations will send out an email whenever anyone leaves, some organizations handle that at the department level, some managers only tell you if it affects your work, and some leave it up to the grapevine. Also, some organizations that would normally say something might keep quiet if the resignation happened very badly or there are outstanding legal issues.

he is involved in projects with myself and others

It is reasonable to ask your boss how they want this work to be handled now that this person is no longer an employee. Don't ask why they quit or "what happened".


If someone quits by text message and locks are being changed, there is a history with a lot of shit hitting the fan. At the current point of time, the boss is dealing with the fallout of that history. Figuring out how much of it should or should not be disclosed to other workers for legal, personal and motivational reasons is part of that but likely not the first priority.

This could well have been an "either you quit immediately or else" deal in action: this kind of thing is not unheard of for long employment but egregious misconduct. A voluntary job termination makes for a lot less hassles and followup costs.

Of course that is just one of several possible scenarios one may speculate about. The point is that circumstances are unusual enough that the amount of information you are not getting is not likely an accident: the boss is likely still structuring what you need to hear.

In a small company like this, you'll likely eventually hear some details through the grapevine. Don't expect too much in the way of official information though.


One of our machinists that has work here longer than almost anyone else texted our boss this morning and said he is quitting, and gave no advanced notice. I know this because our boss told one of the other machinists, who then told everyone else. My boss even had the locks changed right way this morning. However he hasn't even mentioned the fact that the guy quit to anyone else.

It only happened this morning. And you indicate that everyone already knows.

It's not so weird that your boss hasn't made some sort of announcement yet. It's likely that he has lots of things to do (locks changed, etc) including determining if the machinist has actually quit via text (very odd thing to do), was just venting or would accept an offer to stick around for a while.

Should I ask my boss about this? Who is taking over what responsibilities, what the game plan is moving forward? Or should I just keep my head down and just and just not mention it?

You already heard the news through the grapevine so there's nothing you need to hear about that part. For the rest, just do you job until your boss decides it's time to change.

  • 15
    wasn't there a question about someone who was shocked to find that he allegedly "quit" while he was on vacation and it turned out a coworker had done it by posing as him? Aug 14, 2017 at 19:22
  • 11
    @RichardU Yes, there was. Aug 14, 2017 at 19:29
  • 2
    Ironically closed.
    – JonH
    Aug 15, 2017 at 1:29

Over the decades, one accumulates more experience of the strange things that can happen working in a large organization than in a small one, for the obvious reason - there are more co-workers around!

I have come across situations where the web of lies told by the person who allegedly "resigned." in an attempt to cover their tracks, were almost beyond belief. (The most bizarre example was someone who tampered with his own car, in order to "prove" somebody else in the company was trying to kill him by causing a serious accident - he actually staged the accident, but the police and the insurance company quickly discovered that "somebody else" was not the cause of it).

In situations like that, a statement like "I'm quitting without giving notice" hardly registers on the scale, once the true story emerges.

If there is anything to tell, it will probably be told eventually, but if "the locks have just been changed," there may well be some legal proceedings in progress, and right now some of the information can't be make public because of that.

I've also come across a situation where a co-worker physically assaulted a manager - which of course resulted in instant dismissal, and not surprisingly the manager didn't want to talk about what happened, even after it had been decided whether or not to take the employee to court.

Just keep your head down and take things one day at a time, till the "fog of war" clears.


There are so many things that could be wrong about a text being sent. Any wise boss would know that. Who sent it in the first place. Could be anything from

  1. kids playing a prank on your co-worker not realizing it is a quite serious issue
  2. having had his phone / messaging account stolen / hacked.
  3. a previous employee holding grudges against the company and wants to sabotage it.
  4. or a competitor who wants to sabotage the company (maybe even hire the guy for themselves).

There is no such thing as a typical procedure for what happens when an employee is terminated. If your management has done so in the past, it's been done out of operational necessity or courtesy, but management is not obligated to share any information with you whatsoever. Your business doesn't include who's working and who isn't.


if we look it at glance, yes. its pretty much unprofessional.

since your boss confirmed it and he didnt even worried about it. means there must be a grave issue that your co-worker need to solve. also your boss should have a plan already for this.

but still, you should mention to your boss about that . to discuss what should you do. if he said something like "dont worry", then he had a plan already .

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