How Not to Leave a Job. A Lesson From Caddy Steve Williams


The way you leave a job says more about you than the way you started it. Recently Tiger Woods fired his caddy of 13 years, Steve Williams. Unfortunately for Mr. Williams, his public reaction to the event is a classic case of how not to walk away from a job. Whether or not Tiger was justified in firing Williams, the time and manner of it is truly irrelevant. The only thing Williams can control is his reaction. In Steve’s own words:

“Following the completion of the AT&T National I am no longer caddying for Tiger after he informed me that he needed to make a change. After 13 years of loyal service needless to say this came as a shock. Given the circumstances of the past 18 months working through Tiger’s scandal, a new coach and with it a major swing change and Tiger battling through injuries I am very disappointed to end our very successful partnership at this time.” You can watch the video announcement below:

The words “scandal,” “earn my respect,” “put my family through,” and “I’ve been loyal” do nothing to help a man who made 31 million dollars from his job as a caddy. If there was ever a chance of reconciliation between Tiger and Steve, I’m sure this interview killed it. If I were a professional golfer looking for a new caddy, I would think twice before hiring him.

Being fired is beyond our control, but leaving a job well is a 100 percent in our hands. Had Mr. Williams said, “I’m disappointed but it’s Tiger’s decision and I wish him well,” most of us would have a lot more sympathy for the man. After watching the interview, I’m thinking: quit your whining.

Have you ever left a bad work situation? How did you handle it?

  • Jim Weese

    Maurilio, I was “let go” by a boss that was incompetent and jealous of how fast I was getting noticed by corporate. I kept my cool during the process and didn’t burn any bridges internally. A few months later he was fired and I was asked to return with a better position and salary. 

    • Good for you Jim. We will never regrets leaving well even when we know we have not be dealt fairly.

  • At the time it always seems like a good idea to just let your feelings be known. It brings a feeling of vengeance for what we feel is a wrong doing, which in turn feels good. Rarely is doing the right thing about satisfying our short-term need to feel good about ourselves.

    I had a very rough last 3-4 months at a job prior to this one. There were times where I wanted to lash out and just quit. I even consulted some family members to convince me not to because I knew they would tell me to stick it out (sometimes that feeling of vengeance can be quite strong). In the end I took some deep breaths, created an exit strategy, and put my head down and proceeded to work hard.

    In the end, when all was said and done they asked me to stay on (it was the end of a contract). I politely declined, shook everyone’s hand, made sure to talk to a couple of mentors I had there, and then parted ways. Heck, I even had a couple of references when I left. I’m not so sure I would have if I had parted ways in a tremendous uproar.

    I love being able to look back at those rough days and know I made it through. It helps me with a couple of things: 1) I realize I can persevere in a tough job environment. 2) I appreciate the position and company I’m in right now A LOT. Also, one more lesson I learned – if things get tough, make an exit strategy. It might take a couple of months to execute, but at least you feel like you’re working towards something instead of endlessly slogging through a tough time.

  • C’mon, 30 million as a caddy? WOW! I thought the man made about 100 k/year so he will be jobless now. Indeed very unprofessional attitude.

    • Oh, he’s not jobless. He was caddying for another pro while Tiger took some time off, which might be the reason for Tiger’s dismissal. The man has to feed his family, of course.

      • As I am not too familiar with golf, what is his job?

  • These days, the media seems to respect men who “speak their mind”. This is the opposite of the idea, from not too long ago, that you gained more respect if you don’t say everything that is on your mind. It shows you have a character trait called self-control. But people with self-control don’t result in ratings, sell papers, or generate web hits.

    • You’re right, James, courtesy and kindness have never sold papers, or got ratings.

  • I’ve never been fired, but I was laid off from a very well paying job at the end of 2008. I’d like to think I left it well. I stayed in contact with my former employers, have used my former supervisor as a reference and even helped the owners of the property on a few occasions after leaving (I was managing a new start up student housing complex). I could have gone the route of talking bad about them, since it was a huge life change dropping income like that and still not being able to find full time work, but I recognized that an opportunity might arise to work for them again, or they might be connected to a business I might try to apply to, and it’s best to leave on good terms.

  • Doug

    I agree with the idea of leaving well, but I think there are some unique factors in play here. Beyond the boss/employee relationship, Tiger and Steve were close friends. They were groomsmen in each other’s weddings. Steve is responding to the pain of feeling betrayed by a friend more than being fired by a boss. In that regard, I understand Steve’s reaction. Ill advised? Certainly. Understandable? Completely.

    • That dynamic makes the interview even more troublesome. It’s ok for Steve to share his hurt feelings with his family and close friends. Going into a public forum with his grievances betrays the friendship even more.

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