Resigning the Right Way

A diplomatic resignation will be better in the long run than burning bridges.



An interview with our CEO as reprinted from Employment Times.



On the surface, resigning seems like a time to speak your mind. You get to storm into the boss's office and throw his chairs around while telling him to "take this job and..."  You get to tell your coworkers why you hated working with them, you get to egg the building, you get the last laugh.

But resigning is one of those things that is not always what it seems. In reality, a resignation like that would do nothing more than burn bridges and get building security to respond in record time. Resigning with class is much more difficult than throwing chairs.

"If you're leaving on a good relationship with your supervisor, try to approach it as a partnership," Loren Miller, a chair in the Executive Committee, said. "I'd try to put myself in a position to work with the employer to make the resignation a positive, maybe even work and help train the person who's supposed to replace you."

The old way of handing in a resignation was to give a two-week notice, but in today's work atmosphere, that normally is not enough time according to Miller. "Typically the time to give is two weeks," Miller said. "Nobody knows where that came from and there's no good reason for it. In today's market, two weeks is insufficient. The more time you can give your employer to prepare for your leaving...the better off both parties would be. Two weeks is simply not enough time."

For the employer they need to make sure that a system is in place for resignations. Possible requirements could be: employers should have a policy set up stating how much time they need for notice, whether or not there needs to be an exit interview and the steps an employee needs to go through in order to resign.

"We encourage employers to be legally compliant and to be fair in enforcing the policy," Jessica Ollenburg, president of Human Resource Services, Inc., said. "If you want people to give extra notice, be sure not to treat them poorly (after they give notice)."

A worker who resigns may worry, with good reason, about not being treated kindly by the employer while they finish their work at the organization. The employer, on the other hand, may worry about the worker not caring about the work and doing a sloppy job. Both fears can be subsided if the organization has a program rewarding work done after resigning according to Ollenburg.

"A business can't afford to be strapped or taken by surprise," Ollenburg said. "But they also don't want employees who have already resigned to stay around with a detrimental attitude. We would suggest that the employer would create a policy requiring a great deal of notice and have bonuses for not losing motivation. We encourage them to provide an incentive to keep working."

After the resignation occurs, there are still more things to prepare for and to be aware of. First of all, there should be a job lined up waiting for you to step into. If not, you need to be thinking about health care and retirement funds, according to Miller.

"If (the employee) is not going to have health care for a period of time, (the employee) needs to see how long they can remain on their plan and figure out how much it would cost," Miller said. "For your 401K plan, be careful about not getting it into a taxable system. You should talk to a financial advisor for a sensible transition of that money. You definitely don't want to mess that up."

Besides being prepared with money issues, you also need to be ready for a possible exit interview. All exit interviews are different, but Ollenburg advises that some ways are more effective than others.

"Very often there's a psychological dynamic going on between the employer and the employee," Ollenburg said. "The person who resigned feels the need to justify it and may embellish or exaggerate circumstances in their own minds. The individual just may need to vent. The company needs to consider what's the truth and what might be embellished. The interview should be structured so they only ask for information that can be verified by a third party."

"Take it beyond finding out why someone left. The company should find out why they weren't the right person for the job long-term and then use that in future screening."

Resigning can be even more difficult when the employee and the supervisor are not on good terms. Not only is there more tension in the actual resignation, but there is also the problem of future references from the employer, according to Miller. "Doing it (turning in your resignation) in writing is a must," Miller said. "Later arguments can come up about quitting versus resigning and writing a letter cements the whole thing. Although if I'm having trouble with the supervisor, my biggest fear is future references.

"I would want to sit down with the boss with an outline of my reasons for leaving and my qualifications and my accomplishments. Doing that also frees the boss, because they can be held liable for giving a negative review. If he can create an agreement on what to say, both people are off the hook."



By Casey Murray