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Bridge Burning and the six other ways to quit your job

Here are seven styles of saying “I quit” identified by researchers Anthony Klotz and Mark Bolino.

Just as Paul Simon sang about 50 ways to leave your lover, a new study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology suggests there are seven ways to leave your employer. This research is the first to give us a map of “resignation styles,” as well as their causes and their impact on others. 

The researchers Anthony Klotz and Mark Bolino generated their taxonomy of resignation styles from several sources, including a survey of 53 students who described the way they resigned from a previous full-time job position and 423 more people surveyed online who had resigned from their full-time job in the past year, 38 per cent of whom were women, average age 38. Here are the seven styles of saying “I quit” that the researchers identified:

  • The most common style of resignation (31 per cent) was By The Book, involving a face to face conversation accompanied by a resignation letter, openness about the reason for departure, and a standard notice period.
  • 29 per cent took a Perfunctory approach – going through the motions above, but in a clinical fashion, without elaborating on their reasons for leaving.
  • Grateful Goodbyes (nine per cent) were positive and involved willingness to make the departure as painless as possible for the supervisor and team.
  • In eight per cent of cases, the supervisor was kept In The Loop, with the resignation the culmination of a process that was out in the open, such as applications and acceptance to graduate school.
  • Nine per cent of cases were Avoidant, minimising contact with the boss through a third party like HR, or by sending a message over the weekend to break the news.
  • Impulsive Quitting, a style that has been described in past research, occurred in four per cent of cases, and typically involved a precipitating incident or building frustrations reaching breaking point. In these cases, the quitting conversation was the end of the relationship: “she screamed and cussed at me and hung up the phone…. I left and never picked up the phone for her again.”
  • Finally, ten per cent were Bridge Burners – one short and sweet description being “Told my boss to —— off.” In such cases notice periods were, unsurprisingly, short.

Klotz and Bolino found that people who burned bridges or impulsively quit reported higher levels of abuse from their supervisors, and a perception that they were treated unfairly, compared to those leaving more gracefully.

In a final study, the researchers were interested in the impact of these different types of departures on managers and supervisors. Nearly five hundred adults were asked through an online experiment to reflect on the resignations they had received (median two experiences) and then pay attention to a hypothetical scenario where a subordinate resigned in one of the seven styles, before reporting their levels of positive and negative emotions.

Overall participants on the receiving end of a resignation reported more negative emotions than positive ones, but their positive emotions were higher, and negative ones lower when the approach used was by the book, grateful, or signified being kept in the loop (where positive emotions actually outweighed the negative). The researchers call attention to perfunctory resignations, which were far more common than the overtly hostile styles, but led to similarly negative reactions; at least in this experimental context, a clinical but formally impeccable departure can still be upsetting.

When research looks at the impact of different workplace practices, a key measure is often employees’ ‘intention to leave’. The current work reminds us that once you decide to leave, you also have a choice in how to leave, with implications for supervisors, team members, and the organisation more broadly. Klotz and Bolino open their paper with a particularly dramatic example of these ripple effects – banking executive Greg Smith’s NY Times article, published after his resignation, deriding former employer Goldman Sachs in a way that shocked customers and rocked the company. In addition, organisational turnover can show contagion-like effects, and by differentiating different forms of turnover, this work helps us understand when resignations are likely to matter most.

Post written by Alex Fradera (@alexfradera) for the BPS Research Digest.

This article was originally published on BPS Research Digest. Read the original article.


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Maps show how CNN lost America to Fox News

Is this proof of a dramatic shift?

Strange Maps
  • Map details dramatic shift from CNN to Fox News over 10-year period
  • Does it show the triumph of "fake news" — or, rather, its defeat?
  • A closer look at the map's legend allows for more complex analyses

Dramatic and misleading

Image: Reddit / SICResearch

The situation today: CNN pushed back to the edges of the country.

Over the course of no more than a decade, America has radically switched favorites when it comes to cable news networks. As this sequence of maps showing TMAs (Television Market Areas) suggests, CNN is out, Fox News is in.

The maps are certainly dramatic, but also a bit misleading. They nevertheless provide some insight into the state of journalism and the public's attitudes toward the press in the US.

Let's zoom in:

  • It's 2008, on the eve of the Obama Era. CNN (blue) dominates the cable news landscape across America. Fox News (red) is an upstart (°1996) with a few regional bastions in the South.
  • By 2010, Fox News has broken out of its southern heartland, colonizing markets in the Midwest and the Northwest — and even northern Maine and southern Alaska.
  • Two years later, Fox News has lost those two outliers, but has filled up in the middle: it now boasts two large, contiguous blocks in the southeast and northwest, almost touching.
  • In 2014, Fox News seems past its prime. The northwestern block has shrunk, the southeastern one has fragmented.
  • Energised by Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, Fox News is back with a vengeance. Not only have Maine and Alaska gone from entirely blue to entirely red, so has most of the rest of the U.S. Fox News has plugged the Nebraska Gap: it's no longer possible to walk from coast to coast across CNN territory.
  • By 2018, the fortunes from a decade earlier have almost reversed. Fox News rules the roost. CNN clings on to the Pacific Coast, New Mexico, Minnesota and parts of the Northeast — plus a smattering of metropolitan areas in the South and Midwest.

"Frightening map"

Image source: Reddit / SICResearch

This sequence of maps, showing America turning from blue to red, elicited strong reactions on the Reddit forum where it was published last week. For some, the takeover by Fox News illustrates the demise of all that's good and fair about news journalism. Among the comments?

  • "The end is near."
  • "The idiocracy grows."
  • "(It's) like a spreading disease."
  • "One of the more frightening maps I've seen."
For others, the maps are less about the rise of Fox News, and more about CNN's self-inflicted downward spiral:
  • "LOL that's what happens when you're fake news!"
  • "CNN went down the toilet on quality."
  • "A Minecraft YouTuber could beat CNN's numbers."
  • "CNN has become more like a high-school production of a news show."

Not a few find fault with both channels, even if not always to the same degree:

  • "That anybody considers either of those networks good news sources is troubling."
  • "Both leave you understanding less rather than more."
  • "This is what happens when you spout bullsh-- for two years straight. People find an alternative — even if it's just different bullsh--."
  • "CNN is sh-- but it's nowhere close to the outright bullsh-- and baseless propaganda Fox News spews."

"Old people learning to Google"

Image: Google Trends

CNN vs. Fox News search terms (200!-2018)

But what do the maps actually show? Created by SICResearch, they do show a huge evolution, but not of both cable news networks' audience size (i.e. Nielsen ratings). The dramatic shift is one in Google search trends. In other words, it shows how often people type in "CNN" or "Fox News" when surfing the web. And that does not necessarily reflect the relative popularity of both networks. As some commenters suggest:

  • "I can't remember the last time that I've searched for a news channel on Google. Is it really that difficult for people to type 'cnn.com'?"
  • "More than anything else, these maps show smart phone proliferation (among older people) more than anything else."
  • "This is a map of how old people and rural areas have learned to use Google in the last decade."
  • "This is basically a map of people who don't understand how the internet works, and it's no surprise that it leans conservative."

A visual image as strong as this map sequence looks designed to elicit a vehement response — and its lack of context offers viewers little new information to challenge their preconceptions. Like the news itself, cartography pretends to be objective, but always has an agenda of its own, even if just by the selection of its topics.

The trick is not to despair of maps (or news) but to get a good sense of the parameters that are in play. And, as is often the case (with both maps and news), what's left out is at least as significant as what's actually shown.

One important point: while Fox News is the sole major purveyor of news and opinion with a conservative/right-wing slant, CNN has more competition in the center/left part of the spectrum, notably from MSNBC.

Another: the average age of cable news viewers — whether they watch CNN or Fox News — is in the mid-60s. As a result of a shift in generational habits, TV viewing is down across the board. Younger people are more comfortable with a "cafeteria" approach to their news menu, selecting alternative and online sources for their information.

It should also be noted, however, that Fox News, according to Harvard's Nieman Lab, dominates Facebook when it comes to engagement among news outlets.

CNN, Fox and MSNBC

Image: Google Trends

CNN vs. Fox (without the 'News'; may include searches for actual foxes). See MSNBC (in yellow) for comparison

For the record, here are the Nielsen ratings for average daily viewer total for the three main cable news networks, for 2018 (compared to 2017):

  • Fox News: 1,425,000 (-5%)
  • MSNBC: 994,000 (+12%)
  • CNN: 706,000 (-9%)

And according to this recent overview, the top 50 of the most popular websites in the U.S. includes cnn.com in 28th place, and foxnews.com in... 27th place.

The top 5, in descending order, consists of google.com, youtube.com, facebook.com, amazon.com and yahoo.com — the latter being the highest-placed website in the News and Media category.
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