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4 minute read

How to Handle the Conversation About Your Resignation

Broaching the topic of your resignation is never easy. Learn these important tips on how you can remain professional in this conversation and leave on good terms. 

There could be several reasons why you are choosing to leave your job. Maybe you are not happy where you are, or maybe another company has offered you an exciting new role with an attractive salary. Regardless of your reasons, you should be 100% committed to your decision before informing your company of your plans to leave.

Once you have made a definite decision, here are some points to take note of when informing the relevant parties of your resignation:

Be resolute during the discussion 

When you decide to resign, ensure that the decision is final and communicated clearly to your hiring or HR manager. If you waver, you might be seen as threatening to resign to extract concessions from your organisation.

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To prevent any misunderstandings, always submit your resignation in writing. This letter should contain an unambiguous statement of resignation, an expression of gratitude for the opportunities you were given, a final date of employment, and a statement that expresses your willingness to do your best in the transition period leading up to your last day of work.

Your company may give you a counteroffer to entice you to stay. As flattering as this offer may feel, there is evidence that accepting it could be damaging to your career, for the following reasons:

  • Your loyalty will be called into question if you decide to stay on. Your colleagues and manager might start to wonder if you are a team player, and there is a high chance you will lose your place in the trusted inner circle.
  • The counteroffer might just be an excuse to keep you on until they find your replacement. Cognisant that you are still likely to leave in the future, your company might keep you as a stalling tactic until they find someone else to take your place.
  • The underlying issues that pushed you to resign in the first place would likely not be resolved. Whether it is your unhappiness with your manager or the company culture, chances are, these problems would not go away even if you stayed on.
  • Well-managed companies rarely make counteroffers. If a company believes its policies to be fair and equitable, it will also have policies in place that ensure it would not be subjected to “counteroffer coercion” to get employees to stay.

In face of a counteroffer, be firm in communicating that you are not interested in a “bidding war” for your services, before reaffirming your commitment to do whatever is required before you leave.

Stay calm no matter what happens 

The best outcome would be for your manager to wish you all the best in your future endeavours. However, be mentally prepared for things to take an awkward or uncomfortable turn.

Your manager might guilt-trip you or even display outright hostility. Regardless of their reactions, always remain calm and professional. Try saying something like, “It was not my intention to upset you. Is there anything I can do to ease the transition?”

Remember that you might need to go back to the company you are leaving to request character references, so it is imperative to keep negative emotions in check and show empathy and kindness to your employer.

Leave no room for doubt about your professionalism – this is especially important if you work in a small industry where word can quickly spread about any bad behaviour on your part.

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Be professional; avoid venting about your unhappiness 

Another trap to avoid falling into is the topic of why you have decided to leave. Even if you have been deeply unhappy for a long time, do not see this as a chance to “give them a piece of your mind” before leaving. Most companies do not change because of the resignation of a disgruntled employee. 

Be mindful to stay out of the office gossip mill after submitting your resignation letter. Your colleagues will naturally be curious about your reason for leaving – the best thing to do is reiterate what you told your employer.

Finally, do not let your work standards slip during your notice period. It will be obvious if you have mentally checked out during the final weeks with the company – and this is not the impression you want to leave before your exit.

Follow the strategies outlined above, and you will be able to resign without burning bridges and with your professional reputation intact. Staying calm, courteous, and in control of your emotions will only work in your favour.

This article is contributed by Michael Page.

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