Thank You And Goodbye

Two years ago right now, I was preparing to announce my resignation from my corporate position.  Oh, how I felt like I was carrying a “dirty little secret” around most days.  I couldn’t seem to pull the trigger.  So scared to set things in motion. Just couldn’t do it.  Day after day, almost there….then nope, can’t do it.  Holding fast to the mantra “leap and the net will appear”, I was waiting for the right time to present my two week notice.

And waiting.

What was the right time?  When is the right time to walk away from a sure thing?

Ha, that’s assuming what you have is a sure thing.  Something you are happy with.  Something you, and your employer, can see yourself doing, and doing, and doing……forever…and these days, everyone is expendable.  There is no sure thing, except for death and taxes.

In my case, I could have stayed at that position forever.  I loved the job itself, the customers, the territory, the colleagues, and generally speaking, I loved the philosophy behind the company I worked for. I would still be there “if only”. But despite all of it, there were enough unfixable “if only” dynamics going on to make me realize, it was time to go after what I was most passionate about.  At least give it a try, or maybe live with regrets for the rest of my life.

So the day finally came for me to say “Thank you, and goodbye.” more or less.  Well, the way it really went down was;  I met with the Business Manager mid-afternoon, presented my heart-felt resignation with a commendable 2 week exit plan (demonstrating my commitment and respect for the company, the customers, the job and the future) all of which she was grateful to receive.  The next morning, while on my way to my first meeting, I received a call, and was advised to not keep any of my appointments, but instead drive into the office, turn in my phone, company lap top and anything else, and see personnel about wrapping up the loose ends as this would be my last day.

Not what I expected.  That’s just not how I roll.  Leaving people hanging.  Leaving things un-transitioned, and “untidy”.  Frankly it was rather devastating, somewhat humiliating. Certainly eye opening.

But, this is often how companies deal with resignations.  Whether you initiate the separation or the company does, it seems that more and more, the two week notice is not a part of the process. Being walked out the door is.  This begs the question; how do you keep it a professional and positive break?

One simple phrase and we are done here:

“Take The High Road.”

Okay, so it’s not so simple and we’re not done here, but truthfully, the key really is to always take the high road.

In my case, sure I could have focused on the ‘real’ root cause of what pushed me to make my decision, but that would have proved nothing, changed nothing, or meant nothing to them.  Instead, I focused on what positive outcome came of my situation, and looked at things in a positive light. Circumstances lit a fire under my rear, and awakened something in me.  Deciding to resign presented me an opportunity to pursue my heart’s desire, my passion.  Keeping that in perspective allowed me to act diplomatically, and feel proud that I maintained professionalism throughout the resignation process. That, in turn, reflected what I stand for in business and life.

Five Simple High Road Tips

Behind Closed Doors—without a doubt, in life, never tell anyone anything you want to remain a secret.  Even your best friend.  Your mom.  Probably not wise to tell the dog.  For sure not the bird. So for goodness sake, don’t whisper in confidence to anyone at the office that you intend to resign. No one should know a thing until after you officially present your resignation.  Why not?  Out of respect.  Besides, perhaps they’ll try to convince you to stay. But most importantly, because no matter how good someone’s intentions are, your secret will somehow, some way get out, and to have your employer hear you’re leaving through the company grapevine is tacky, disrespectful, and unprofessional.  No matter if you are ‘hating on your job’, or especially if you are not, it’s simply not taking the high road to leak the news.

The Animals Are Restless—when word does get out that you have resigned, keep in mind, maybe you will be afforded a transition period, or maybe not.  Either way, make sure you don’t spend the remainder of your time in the office spewing horror stories to your colleagues and customers about how awful it’s been to work there.  The damage control that will need to happen long after you are gone could be unforgivable Likewise, how rude to initiate bragging sessions about your new position, there’s no need to rub it in to those you are leaving behind.  If someone asks what your next step is going to be, have a short, articulate explanation prepared that simply states the facts.  Take that high road, remain professional, and don’t be construed as someone who tried to launch a mass mutiny.

Be The Superhero—even if you are already an overachieving super employee, do your best to remain, if not exceed that image once you have reached your decision to resign, and follow through right up until your last minute.  Spending your remaining time, however long that may be, ensuring your customers and/or replacement is going to have a smooth transition will speak volumes to your integrity. While a two week notice remains standard, normal, and the expected, do what makes sense for your situation. Continue to work hard, be helpful, offer transition time. Let your employer know you don’t intend to abandon them in a pile of chaos. Take care to not burn a bridge here. Let it be their decision to not take you up on your help.  Your customers and colleagues, if they knew you at all, will know the difference, and you will end up on top, having taken the high road.

Greener Grass—of course….I repeat OF COURSE, your employer is scared shitless that you are going to run over to the competition, whether they admit it or not.  Can you blame them?  They are thinking it, suspecting it, fearing it—some, perhaps, worried about their entire workforce 24-7, 365.  If you live your life taking the high road, then most likely you’re not jumping into the enemy camp in the first place. But unless you tell your employer up front, they will not know it, and they will be writhing with a growing discomfort, that could fester into a bitter resentment.  Even if you do tell them, they may not believe it.  There’s only so far you can go on this planet; “it’s a small world after all”.  If you want to salvage any hope of maintaining a positive, professional relationship after you’re gone, offer some reassurance that you aren’t jumping the fence.

That is, of course, unless you are going to work for the competition.  Then, that’s a whole new discussion we should be having off-line.

The Exit Interview—careful what you say, and how you say it.  Accusations, criticisms, and blaming, no matter how true it all is to you, is definitely a low road approach.  Talking trash about the company, processes, or people could easily come back to bite you. The interviewer is most likely going to be trained to draw it all out of you if you are not paying attention.  If you worked for a super-sonic ass, they probably already knew that.  Maybe it was their plan in the first place, with the intention to force you out.  If the compensation, or the job description, or the business rules or whatever were just not aligned with your way of thinking, don’t give the interviewer a verbal thrashing about it.  Resist the urge to unload on them, and keep your tone as positive as possible.  Perhaps reposition your thoughts something like:

“This company’s complete lack of a system for tracking performance and incentives was a total rip off and made me crazy” could be turned into “I appreciate the many important business rules and procedures this company has taught me during my employment.”

It doesn’t matter if you’re leaving your job for a better position, to be a stay at home parent, to start a new business or franchise, or if you plan to walk out the door and file a law suit against your employer. Regardless of your motivations for leaving, always take the high road and follow these tips during the resignation process.  Keep things on your end positive, professional, and peaceful.

At the same time, understand that your employer may not reciprocate with professionalism.  They may not have it in them. They may support business acumen or a culture that doesn’t allow a “live and let live” arrangement to occur.  So be it. ???????? Let them walk you out, talk you down, and do you wrong.  The fact that you, at least, did take the high road will speak volumes about you to them and everyone else, to their chagrin. If you need to take legal action, you can do that once you’ve officially severed the ties.

But if your employer does also take that high road approach, it’s a beautiful win-win!  You both will be able to maintain a healthy, positive business relationship that could be useful down the road, sometime in the future—a great credit to both of you.

So, on that note,

Thank You and Goodbye!  😉

 

Looking for some discreet coaching with career plans? Need to hash out some specific issues you are facing?  Contact PR Brady AdVentures, I’d love to help!

 

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Comments

  1. Thanks for this wonderful post Patty! I agree with you about taking the high road and not burning any bridges. Over the years I’ve learned to rely on my intuition and when something doesn’t feel right, I pay attention. Always leave on a positive, professional note is my motto.

  2. What a thoughtful post. I’m glad I don’t have a corporate job and need to consider these things, but I certainly understand how the high road is the path of choice. And it’s wonderful you found your way to something that feels better.

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