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There have been a number of articles recently on this topic mainly from the point of view of the person having to resign; I especially like the editorial by Wendy S Goffe on the Forbes website

http://www.forbes.com/sites/deborahljacobs/2012/04/09/how-to-quit-your-job-without-burning-your-bridges/http://

However it does present an atypical response to resignation by a naturally cautious person who is a lawyer. There is absolute nothing wrong with this, it simply portrays a very methodical and thought out approach to the point of getting legal advice about the resignation, which is to be commended, plus at her level I would see why this would be a good example to follow. But what about those in very different roles and environs, those who can’t afford legal advice, those who want out and like their job and employer but just simply have something better to go to? Do we always burn our bridges when we resign? I would say no, but people are often embarrassed or feel rejected, some employers/ managers often say it feels like being “dumped”.  However I would stress that most managers/employers who are close to their staff and care about their wellbeing will know if your time with them is limited. Therefore its not going to be a shock! It’s a little like the anticipation of an “injection/shot” is always worse than the shot itself!  It is my opinion that if you take the sting out of the process it can become pleasant and even a learning opportunity.

So for the employers – put yourself in the employee’s position, they are dreading this moment, probably more so if you have a good relationship with them, they are nervous about the unknowns! Like notice periods, pay, references and next steps. Even if you are really disappointed that they are leaving and angry that you have invested time in them, DO NOT BE ANGRY! Be happy for them! They have made their decision, otherwise they would not be sat in front of you now! I am not a fan of “buy backs” or convincing someone to stay – you are only delaying the inevitable unless you can offer them a different role in a different part of the business, but if that’s the case why didn’t you do that already?! So be happy, congratulate them, ask where they are going, tell them you will be disappointed to lose them (even if you’re not), you will visibly see them relax, they will be productive throughout their notice period (generally) they will respect your mature and reasoned approach. Morale in the office may even go up as others in the office will hear that you are a nice manager. People should not be afraid to resign because if they want to go you need to know why!! They will talk to you openly about their feelings which is nothing but great feedback.

For the employee resigning – This is your opportunity to leave a lasting impression of worth, you never know when you will need a reference, or possibly another job (grass isn’t always greener!). Be prepared, tell them where you are going, (you may get garden leave if it is a competitor). Above all be honest and thank them for giving you a job and an opportunity, remember it’s business but this is where it can be taken personally, so be nice about them and the firm. Be constructive with any criticism and phrase the feedback as your opinions not anyone else’s. Do not let yourself be bought or coached into rescinding your resignation, your card is now marked, progression will be limited as there will always be a question of your commitment to the organization. Sounds hard but it’s true.

One final piece of advice for anyone resigning – are you 100% sure? If the headline of tomorrow’s newspaper was to read that you had taken this decision would you be happy for everyone to know? If so you have nothing to lose, if not then revisit the reasons you want to move on and evaluate how those issues will be remedied by your new employer. It’s not always about the money! But once you resign you should be committed!

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