Bowing out gracefully
It’s a great feeling – successful interviews, job offer, new contract signed and sealed, start date agreed. You’re about to embark on the next stage of your career, onwards and upwards…but wait! What about breaking the news to your current employers? How are you going to handle their reaction and what will you do if they say ‘please stay’ and make you a counter-offer? Have you devised your exit strategy or will it be a case of ‘bye, it’s been nice knowing you?’ A professional exit is vital in an industry like Facilities Management where the community is quite close-knit and degrees of separation are far fewer than usual so you need to equip yourself for departure.
1. Tell the right person first
Once you are ready to break the news, do so in the right order and don’t be tempted to share your news with co-workers until you’ve had the chance to sit down with your manager. This type of meeting can be traumatic for both parties so it’s a good idea to plan what you are going to say and try and anticipate what sort of reaction you might get. When you’ve explained your decision, offer your manager the opportunity to adjourn the meeting for a few minutes to consider their response. If the offer is declined then you can continue by thanking them for their help and agreeing an acceptable leaving date. It’s vital to remain professional and now is not the time to go down the road of recriminations, personal abuse or grand gestures!
2. Confirm your decision in writing
Resigning in writing only is very rarely a good idea but confirming it by letter is a must. It gives you the opportunity to formally thank your manager and the company, add some positive comment about your time with them, assure them that you are committed to a smooth handover of your responsibilities and reiterate your leaving date. If your contract allows for a period of garden leave in the event of resignation, then it’s vital to have tied up any loose ends before you knock on the boss’s door.
Your company may well react to your decision by offering improved terms and conditions, such as a salary increase, a promotion or any number of inducements. It’s for you to decide if you believe they are made from a genuine realisation that you have been undervalued or from a position of panic. Your reaction should be to ask yourself ‘why did I decide to resign in the first place’ and ‘will this offer make the situation any better, either in the short term or for the future?’ Does accepting the offer place a question mark against your loyalty and put you in a negative light with your colleagues?
4. Exit interviews
Most enlightened companies will conduct some form of analysis of decisions to resign but you are not obliged to divulge the whole truth about your decision. If it truly is a personal grievance, it may be best to decline the interview entirely. Your employer will appreciate constructive feedback about their performance and positive suggestions about how to improve working practices.
5. Leaving on a high note
Once you’ve agreed a mutually acceptable leaving date, you now have a finite target by which to complete projects and hand over the reins. It’s important to your colleagues that your responsibilities are assigned in detail prior to departure and it’s easy to gauge the success of this process by the number of calls you get after you’ve gone! Ensure that you have clarified and have had confirmed the details of your final salary and any other benefits you believe you’re entitled to. As pointed out before, the FM industry is a close community, so utilise your final days to make sure that you thank the key people in the company for their contribution – you never know when your paths may cross again. Make sure that you remove your personal material from your PC and any evidence of your achievements that may be critical to your CV. However, be careful that you are not copying anything that may breach your contract. If you’re going to take your colleagues out for leaving drinks, it’s a good idea to do it the day
before you go – that way, you’ll still have to face them once more in the cold light of day! Leaving a job can be an emotional experience, whatever your reasons for going, and bragging about your great new career opportunity will only guarantee you resentment as you work your notice. Ask yourself how would you want your colleagues to remember you and try to act accordingly. Some will remain your friends after you’re gone but all could have an influence on your future in one way or another
- Be positive that your decision is made for the right reasons
- Consider any counter-offer objectively
- Behave professionally rather than emotionally
- Avoid the temptation to burn any bridges – it really is a small world!
- Make your resignation personal
- Tell anyone until you’ve told your boss
- Alienate your colleagues by leaving additional work for them
- Walk away with the company’s property – intellectual or otherwise