Leadership Blog

Posted By: Eva Grabner | on November 17 2015

How to resign gracefully

Almost everybody who has ever worked has had the experience of resigning. It’s one of the shared experiences of the working population of every country.

There are a myriad of different ways to resign, both good and not so good. One of my most memorable was when a cruise staff member on one of the ships I worked on, got onto the PA system on his last day and gladly told the cruise company, hotel director, cruise director and his colleagues where they could put their job. It was both shocking and funny at the time but the company wasn’t impressed! Not surprisingly, he was escorted off the ship immediately and sent home on the next plane out of the country. Although my colleague may have thought it was a bit of fun, I wouldn’t recommend this way of advising your employer that you are leaving; it’s not a good way to finish up with a company.

Sometimes it’s hard to resign as you may love your job but need to relocate, or you love your team but hate the job. Either way, it’s a very emotional time but one that must be handled diplomatically, professionally and ethically. Remember that your former boss is likely to feature in your future in some form, as a referee, customer, client or a colleague.

I once heard of an employee who was made redundant. He took the news in his stride at first but then his attitude changed. Before he left he took a piece out of the photocopier, signed his manager up to magazine subscriptions that he didn’t want and made some ‘unprofessional’ comments on his Facebook page. Needless to say, he didn’t get a good reference from that employer!

It can also be embarrassing when you resign if you are not long in the job and your employer has invested a lot in you, you may be going to a competitor and only be moving a few floors or streets away, so will most likely have a few potentially awkward encounters with your ex-employer. For any or all of these reasons its best to depart with dignity.

Don’t go down the negative path of a sticky note on your computer with the words ‘I quit’, or a text message, or even a Facebook message. Be proactive, write a short letter stating that you are resigning, your reason (if you want to include this information) and the date you will depart. If you are in sales or even recruitment, you will most likely be asked to leave immediately. An immediate departure may also be in order if you are made redundant. If this happens, have a smile on your face, hold your head high and don’t do something you may later regret.

If you have to work a notice period, do so with grace. Complete your handover notes, continue to work hard and organise to catch up with valued colleagues after you leave. Don’t leave a bad taste in your ex-employers mouth and don’t burn any bridges.

Whether you realise it at the time, every job teaches you something and the way you leave every job says a lot about your character.

Make sure your resignation says everything about your character, regardless of the circumstances of your departure.


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