Let’s face it; deciding to quit your job is extremely stressful. Even if you’re quitting to pursue a better opportunity, or leaving your role for personal reasons; it’s completely normal to feel stressed about how to break the big news. Follow this three-step approach to minimise the chance of burning bridges.
STEP 1 – THE PREP
The first step is to pick a date and stick to it. In terms of timing, we think it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. That way you aren’t worried about it all day and waiting for the ‘perfect moment’, because let’s be honest, there isn’t one.
Next up is figuring out who you’re resigning to. Now in most cases, this will be your direct manager. However, in a small company, you may want to consider including the owner if you have a good relationship. Although, in most cases, stick to your direct report.
Lastly, have your resignation letter typed and printed out with the date, signed, and ready to go. Doing this will assist you in getting your head around following through with it.
STEP 2 – THE MEETING
It’s the very start of the day (THE day), and your manager has no idea what’s coming. You ask them if they have a spare moment, and then lead them to a quiet room.
Now that you’ve got their attention get straight to the point. Don’t fluff around, don’t drag it out – just cut to the chase and tell them your news.
Now that the cat’s out of the bag, it’s their turn to speak. Be prepared for a wide variety of emotions. They may be shocked/speechless, they may look upset, or they may even laugh.
Once they’ve finished reacting, this is your opportunity to explain why you’re leaving, what your next plans are, and how grateful you were for the opportunity. Regardless of whether or not you loved your job, it’s important to thank them for the opportunity, after all, they did invest in you.
If your manager gets really upset, perhaps offer to give them some time to let it sink in before continuing the conversation. A good employer should be disappointed you’re leaving, but also happy for you.
Also, be prepared that they may try and counter-offer or discuss options to get you to change your mind and stay. Stay strong and don’t give in. If you’re already halfway out the door, higher pay or upgraded title isn’t going to solve your problem. It can be tempting but hold firm. Politely thank them for considering this option, but remind them that you’ve found a different opportunity that’s better suited to your long-term goals.
STEP 3 – THE WAITING GAME
The awkward part. You want the remaining time to fly by quickly. However, it’s imperative to give 100% in your last few weeks, as this is how people will remember you. If you slack off, come in late, don’t do your work; this will be their final impression. The best thing you can do is offer to help train the new starter (if they’ve started), otherwise, help build an excellent turnover document that will allow your replacement to excel in the role.
Another tip is to let your manager do the telling of your news. Don’t be a gossip queen/king, even to your best friend at work. Allow your manager to tell the staff when the time is right.
A few last tips:
- Discretely give out personal hand-written thank you cards to those you had a good working relationship with on your last day.
- Give as much leave notice as possible. Even if your contract says you only need to give two weeks, give more if you can.
- Offer to help in any way during the final stretch.
- Write a final email to your peers, suppliers or clients, and thank them for everything. Perhaps provide your personal email or LinkedIn URL so you can keep in touch.
If you’re resigning from a job soon, hopefully, these tips will make your transition as easy as possible.