Updated: Mar 2, 2022
During the pandemic, many people have had the opportunity to reflect on their role at their companies, and whether or not it is something that they would want to continue in the foreseeable future. For some, burnout and the workplace model have played a major role in this desire for change. Resignation is not always easy, but there is definitely a way to do it gracefully and maintain ties with previous employers. Keep reading to learn more about our approach to maintaining a healthy relationship with employers before, during, and after you resign.
Everyone has a different approach to resignation, and according to the Harvard Business Review, there are seven main approaches. Of course, there is no perfect way to approach resignation while also having full control over how your manager will respond. According to the Harvard Business Review, most employees and supervisors lean more towards the “perfunctory” and “by the book” approaches (Bolino & Klotz, 2016).
Source: “Saying Goodbye: The Nature, Causes, and Consequences of Employee Resignation Styles,” by Anthony C. Klotz and Mark C. Bolino (Journal of Applied Psychology, 2016)
By recognizing which resignation style resonates most with you, you can identify what has worked and what has not worked, and how you can improve. Just as important as being gracious when accepting a job is being gracious while resigning from a job, which is why resignation approaches should be looked at more closely in the workplace.
Step 1: Inform Your Manager & Colleagues With Proper Notice
Out of courtesy, it is best to inform your manager with at least two week’s notice, as well as informing all colleagues. Your move may affect some of your colleagues and their workflows so it is best to inform everyone and not just a select few. Preparations may need to be made to accommodate the leave as well, so giving the notice well ahead of time will also help your manager and colleagues to adjust accordingly. By doing this, you will have sufficient time to prepare or delegate any last tasks and projects prior to your departure.
Step 2: Finish Strong
While you may have an exciting opportunity ahead, it is very important to continue working hard and diligently right to the last minute. Part of maintaining a good rapport with your employer is to show them that you are still just as committed to your role and responsibilities as you were before your resignation. There may be tasks that still require your attention before you leave, so it is important to take care of them. However, how exactly do you ensure continued success?
Document & Make Work Files Accessible
Even if you only have a few more days, weeks, etc. at your current job, it is important that your manager knows you are still available and committed to your job. Up until you resign, you are ultimately still accountable for any tasks, responsibilities, projects, etc. that are in your control. Taking the time to chat with your manager and colleagues on next steps to either finish or pass on these roles to a new lead is key to maintaining a strong work relationship. Another cornerstone is communication. Once again, it is important to stay in the loop with tasks and projects going on around you until you formally leave the company.
Communication is key in any work environment, but maintaining this will also help you keep your doors open in the future. Lastly, ensure that you document and make your work accessible. For anyone taking over any of your projects or roles, it is important they have the necessary tools and information to assist them in that process. This will also make a good impression as it shows that you have properly prepared your colleagues prior to your leave.
Step 3: Prepare For Your Leave
Along with finishing any lingering responsibilities, you must prepare for all aspects of your leave. Perhaps there will be someone taking your place after you resign. Although it is very unlikely that a new person will be hired in a matter of weeks, it is best to set aside any useful resources for future reference once a new employee is hired. Maybe you discovered a more efficient method for a certain task that is apart of your role. It could be useful for colleagues and future employees to be aware of this information, especially if it increases productivity and efficiency within the role. Since your resignation may significantly influence your colleagues' workflow, it is important that if a new employee is found prior to your leave, that you train them and ensure they are up-to-date.
Another important thing to consider is your desk area, if you work in an in-person environment. Ensure you clean out your desk of any personal belongings, and leave it presentable for the next person. Additionally, if you have any files, digital or physical, ensure that they are easily accessible for the new employee and colleagues.
Step 4: Nail Your Exit Interview
According to expert and author Jodi Glickman, one of the keys to maintaining a strong employer relationship is to ensure that you leave a good lasting impression. While this is an opportunity to reflect on your time at your company, it is also a time to thank those who have helped or mentored you along the way. The best way to grow and advance your career is to learn and grow from experience and mentors -- so it is important to acknowledge those who have helped you along your career path.
Another important part of the exit interview is the feedback exchange. During this process, it is key that you are transparent with your manager, but are also open to any feedback they may have as well. Giving feedback may not always be easy or received well by your manager, but at the end of the day, they are likely to appreciate it in the future, as it could help make significant improvements for their existing and future employees.
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Bolino, M. & Klotz, A. (2016, September 15). Saying goodbye: the nature, causes, and consequences of employee resignation styles (Journal of Applied Psychology, 2016). Retrieved July 19th, 2021, from https://hbr.org/visual-library/2016/09/the-seven-resignation-styles-employees-say-they-use-and-supervisors-say-they-encounter
Bolino, M. & Klotz, A. (2016, September 15). 7 ways people quit their jobs. Retrieved July 19th, 2021, from https://hbr.org/2016/09/7-ways-people-quit-their-jobs
Business.com Member (2020, January 29). I quit! 10 ways to leave your job on good terms. Retrieved July 18th, 2021, from https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/6116-how-to-quit-your-job-without-burning-bridges.html
Knight, R. (2014, December 4). How to quit your job without burning bridges. Retrieved July 19th, 2021, from https://hbr.org/2014/12/how-to-quit-your-job-without-burning-bridges
O’Hara, C. (2016, August 11). What to do after you tell your boss you’re leaving. Retrieved July 19th, 2021, from https://hbr.org/2016/08/what-to-do-after-you-tell-your-boss-youre-leaving
Smith, J. (2013, August 5). How to leave a job so you can come back some day. Retrieved July 19th, 2021, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/jacquelynsmith/2013/08/05/how-to-leave-a-job-so-you-can-come-back-some-day/?sh=6a55e20a685f
Yate, M. (2018, June 12). How to resign without burning a bridge. Retrieved July 19th, 2021, from https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/organizational-and-employee-development/career-advice/pages/your-career-qa-how-to-resign-without-burning-a-bridge.aspx