Congratulations! You’ve just landed that new career opportunity you’ve been seeking. Things are looking up; your career is moving forward. You’re excited about the new challenge. You’ll be taking on additional responsibilities with the opportunity to learn new and interesting things. All you have to do now is tell your boss you’ll be leaving. Oh, boy…deep breath!
Depending on company circumstances and your bosses’ personality, the response you get when you break the news can vary from ‘congratulations, we wish you well in your new role’ to ‘how could you possibly do this to us?’. There might be overtures to keep you which could sound like: ‘I had no idea you were unhappy’ or ‘you can’t leave now, the team really needs you!’ or even ‘what do we have to do to fix this?’.
If you find yourself in a resignation conversation with your boss that is clearly not going the way you hoped, here are some suggestions.
First, realize your manager is in a tough situation. The work you are doing will have to be redistributed while they seek your replacement. Your absence will be an inconvenience. Perhaps you like your boss and don’t want to cause he/she or the team un-do hardship with the extra workload. You also realize that someday you may have to use them as references. So how do you get yourself through this process of leaving without ‘burning’ those relationships?
Try starting the conversation with a note of appreciation about how much the experience of working for your manager has helped your career. How much you’ve learned and how you have grown. How much it has meant to you to have the experience of working with these people. Express your gratitude.
Of course, you are following that pleasant conversation starter with the news of your decision to leave and giving your two weeks notice. If your boss says that is not enough time, be sensitive to what is being communicated. Offer to ‘consult’ back to the company in the evenings or on weekends for a while to help ease the transition. In the unlikely event they actually take you up on your generous offer, arrange for your time to be paid. The hourly rate you seek might be your last year’s income divided by 2000. If your salary was 80,000, ask for 40/hr.
(Note: The news to leave should be communicated with positive language. The time to communicate anything negative about your job or the company has long passed. You are not there to fix what’s wrong or to ‘solve’ the problems of the company, even if they now ask. Your job is to announce your decision and do all in your power to preserve these relationships. You don’t need to justify your decision.)
Now that you have given your two weeks’ notice, be professional. Don’t ‘mail it in’. Get your documentation together, do your best in the knowledge transfer meetings with the persons who will be taking over your duties.
Lastly, during this period, DO NOT share with any of your co-workers details of the great opportunity you have. This information will almost always get back to your boss. It will cast you in the role of the pied piper…leading the team away with information about how good things can be elsewhere. Their careers are their business. If they reach out to you sometime down the road, that is different. For now, keep a lid on the details.
If you are approached about staying with offers of new duties, reporting structures or compensation adjustments, listen politely and then decline. The time to fix your job situation with this company has passed. You are moving in a new direction and have made your decision. A professional organization will respect you for sticking by your decision. On some level they know they had plenty of time to fix things before you got to this point.
Congratulations, you have now successfully navigated the resignation process. Enjoy your new role!