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Handling Employee Resignations Gracefully

Handling Employee Resignations Gracefully

November 03, 2009

A reader writes:

I’ve worked at a large non-profit for 4 years. I’ve recently interviewed at another non-profit and expect that they will make a job offer soon. I’m concerned about how I’ll resign if offered the new job, and I’d appreciate your advice based on the following:

    • My manager and vice president constantly say they don’t want to be blind-sided by resignations; they want to be involved in employees’ decisions to leave…
    • Former colleagues who resigned without advance conversations with management were told they’ve burned their bridges, they’re disloyal, etc. (These individuals worked here for 3+ years, gave 2+ weeks notice, and were model employees.)
    • I’m amicable (but not close) with my boss, and I would jump at the chance to work in this new job if it were offered. I have no desire to remain at my current organization.

Would you advise me to tell my boss I’m looking to leave in the coming months (with no firm job offer in-hand)? If not, how do I involve her in my “decision-making process” to leave? I do not want to burn bridges or be perceived as unprofessional. Please advise.

Ha. Your company is funny. And also liars.

The first two points are in direct contradiction to each other: Managers who react badly to resignations give up any right to expect employees to give them more than two weeks notice.

Managers who get significant amounts of notice when an employee is thinking about leaving are managers who make it safe for employees to do that. That does not mean attacking people when they resign.

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For instance, as I’ve written about before, I’ve always tried to create an environment where employees know they can safely alert me to their plans to leave soon, without having to worry about being badgered or pushed out early, and as a result I’ve rarely had employees give only two weeks notice; in fact, I’ve had employees give as much as 10 months notice at times. But it’s solely because they’ve seen how other people giving long notice periods have been treated. Otherwise I’d have no right to expect it.

So while I’m sure your managers want advance notice and “to be involved in employees’ decisions to leave,” the reality is that they’re making it impossible for you to do that. And there’s no need for you to stress over that; this situation is of their own making.

What people do tells you a lot more than what people say. Believe their actions. And their actions in this case say you’d be a fool to alert them that you’re thinking about leaving.

Related Reads:
Reopening Salary Negotiations After Accepting an Offer
Complete Job Search Strategy Guide
Keep Your Cool in a Heated Resignation
What You Need to Know Before You Quit

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