Resigning is stressful. Regardless of your reasoning you should always be prepared for the conversation that will follow. Most managers won’t have any idea that you are unhappy, let alone the concept of you leaving the firm. Their first reaction will be one of shock, disbelief, and most likely take it personally. From my own experience as an employer, whenever someone has resigned from my firm I initially felt betrayed, wondering what I could possibly do to keep them or at least understand where I could have done something different along the way. I have to say that most resignations I’ve experienced as a manager have been positive because of the way my former colleagues handled themselves and the thought that went into how they resigned. In fact, one of my now Directors who works with me at Eastward resigned to me to start this own company but several years later we now are back on the same team and it is all because of the way he handled his resignation as well as how he kept in contact with me in the interim. With that said, there are many ways to resign with grace to ensure you are not burning any bridges once you walk out the door. You also must continue to cultivate a mutually respectful relationship for the future. You never know what may come around full circle…it is a small world.
Here are a few tips:
- Prepare a letter addressing your manager and/or management team. Address them directly thanking them for the opportunity to learn and grow under their leadership making certain you include specific examples how they have impacted your career. This is important. If you can show a bit of gratitude in how they helped your career, after the emotions wane, they will be able to reflect on your thoughts in the letter. Think about it from their perspective– they must find a replacement to take on the workload, keep the camaraderie and positive vibes amongst the rest of the team including reworking the strategy of the group to ensure the deliverables are met on budget and on time.
- Ensure a smooth transition by handing off all work to colleagues on related projects. This point is self-explanatory but it is crucial. After you are gone, work will continue and someone will take your place. You don’t want to leave any open items; ideally you want to leave a legacy that will keep your name in good standing, not be a story for future employees to share a laugh about.
- Minimize small talk. Upon entering the meeting, be direct and confident. Let your manager know that you are resigning and will be leaving the firm in two weeks or however long you might be contracted to stay. In this scenario, less is more. You will be asked where you are going or how you obtained the new role. This is confidential information and should be treated as such. Respectfully decline to divulge that information and again thank them for the opportunities that were offered to you.
- Always conduct an exit interview if asked by HR. It is essential that you answer the questions without emotion. Think clearly about how you want HR to perceive your manager and the rest of the team. You must remember to have tact in this instance; be respectful of things that the company cannot change but also understand that you are leaving because of things they may refuse to change.
If you have any tips or suggestions, leave them in the comment box below — I am always open to hearing about your experiences resigning from a company or new ideas to share with my network.