With the end of the days where jobs for life were a possibility, let alone a reality, resigning has become a skill we must all learn to survive. Like murder (apparently), resignation gets easier the more times you do it, but for the employee preparing to take the plunge for the first time it can still be an intimidating process. From the first ‘can I have a quick word?’ to the last drink at the leaving party, a month of awkwardness is on the cards. To deal with the situation in as professional a way as possible it is worth taking time out to look at the situation you are about to create from all sides.
There can be many reasons why you have decided to leave your present company, whether you are looking for more money, greater responsibility, more challenge, a bigger company, a smaller company or even a change of location. It is important to remain focused on these throughout the next month. When colleagues, friends or superiors start to question your motives for leaving try to bear in mind the reasons you began to think about moving on and what finally clinched your decision. If you have thought through the decision to move on carefully before you started the resignation process people will soon realise they are just wasting their time trying to persuade you to reconsider.
Your boss’s side:
Your boss will be disappointed to lose you, you’ll have contributed to the company's success and profitability, you’ll have key knowledge about the organisation and will have taken part in training sessions that fitted you better for your job role and are now wasted. In addition your boss now has several problems, replacing you is costly in terms of both time and money, in addition your leaving will reflect on your bosses ability to build and keep a team. Your boss may have been the person who employed you originally and may feel let down by your leaving.
It’s likely that many of your colleagues are also your friends and leaving the company may feel to them as if you are in some way letting them down. Your leaving may also have awakened their own career ambitions or feelings that they are treading water in their current position. It’s important in these situations to stress to your friends just how much you are going to miss them and not to constantly harp on about how exciting your new position is and how much money you are going to be earning there. Your colleagues will also be calculating what your leaving will mean for them, people below you in the office hierarchy will be contemplating whether there is a promotion up for grabs, and your peers will be thinking about who will be brought in to replace you and what their extra workload will be like until that other person is up and running.
The first thing you will need to do is check the terms of your contract to establish how much notice you are obliged to give. For the majority of people this will be four weeks but for some senior staff the notice period will depend on how long you have been at the company or even the nature of the position you hold. When you have worked this out then let your new company know the date on which you feel you can start.
The best way to notify your boss is to have a private meeting with them, nothing is more likely to make you bottle telling them than having an office full of earwiggers in the vicinity. For those in an open plan office environment it’s best to catch your boss at the end of a weekly meeting or in a corridor where there is an empty office nearby, the toilets or coffee machine are definite no’s. Whatever you do make sure you break the news somewhere that you won’t be interrupted. The whole process is made easier by handing over your resignation letter at the start of the conversation, this lends an area of finality to your decision and make sit obvious to your boss that you have thought carefully about the move. A resignation letter should be short and to the point, containing your name, the date, the name of the person to whom it is addressed, notice of termination of employment, when this is effective from and finally, your signature. Avoid the temptation to either sound off or heap praise on the company or your boss, the written word can come back to haunt you.
It is possible and indeed likely that your boss will try and make you an offer to tempt you to stay, and you need to have thought about this in advance. This offer could manifest itself in many ways, from a suggestion of promotion in the near future to a hard offer of more money. It is easy to be flattered by offers or intimations like this but it is vital that you keep focused on your goal. Having proffered your resignation your boss’s attitude to you will have changed and, if you were to stay, the chances are that your commitment to the organisation would be permanently in question. In addition your integrity with the company with whom you had accepted a job offer would be compromised. Many industries can be highly incestuous and questions over your professionalism could affect you in the future either with the companies or the people your oscillating has put out.
The exit interview:
Exit interviews are becoming increasingly common in the UK as companies seek to understand why individuals are leaving and address any problems that repeatedly cause them to lose staff. As with all aspects of the resignation process it is important to remain professional throughout your exit interview, there’s no point burning bridges so close to your last day. Answer all the questions as professionally and fully as you can but if you feel a question pressurises you for an answer that incriminates or denigrates a colleague then it’s fine to say that you aren’t comfortable answering it. Above all try and be helpful and constructive in your responses to questions about the company, if you do feel particularly strongly about an aspect of the company then be careful how you express your criticism.
And so it ends, all that remains is for you to enjoy your final day and make sure most of your work is wrapped up and/or handed over effectively. Good luck.