Ending the relationship
post # 523 — April 8, 2008 — a Careers post
A reader asks:
“I think it’s time to leave my job (where I have been for a number of years) and move on. I don’t have anything lined up; I’m just burned out.
“Do you have an (unconventional) advice for how to leave on “good” terms? I want to make this as positive of a resignation as possible. The firm tends to take these things personally.”
I’m not sure whether my advice is unconventional or not, but I’d try to draw on what we know from relationships in the non-work environment. If you wanted to withdraw from a personal relationship (a marriage?) that you had been in for many years, how would you do THAT?
Here are a few of the rules I’d try to apply:
- Don’t use your announcement as a basis for bargaining. Once you’ve told the others, don’t go back. (But be prepared for vigorous attempts to get you to stay) Make it a clean break. Set a specific date for your last day.
- If you don’t want it to come across as personal, rehearse your exact words so that you remove any personal references from them (“It isn’t you, it’s me”)
- There’s no point trying to re-interpret history. Refuse to get drawn into a discussion of the past, and who could have done what (and to whom) differently. It’s about your individual future not your mutual past.
- Be prepared to apologize – a LOT. No matter how you look at it, you will be letting them down and causing substantive problems for them. There’s no avoiding that. Don’t try to minimize the real and emotional hurt you will cause.
- Do everything you can to help them find your replacement.
What do the rest of you think? How do you end a relationship ?
eplace this text with your post.
Jason Sanders said:
Hi David: In your first point, you bring up the very important issue of counteroffers. Counteroffers may be very seductive, but are potentially very dangerous. Here are some thoughts:
1. When you receive a counteroffer, it generally comes out of a need to keep your position filled, and out of a fear of losing you. It will feel flattering to know that you are needed, but don’t take it too personally. Your contributions will be missed, but in time, any good organization can replace whatever skills they lose.
2. Once you have given notice, you have shifted the nature of your loyalty to the company. Even if you decide to accept a counter offer, you have expressed a desire to leave that won’t be soon forgotten. I have seen people make good careers with a company after accepting a counteroffer, but that is the exception, not the rule.
3. Accepting a counteroffer may provide a short-term fix for the organization, but it also causes disruption. When your colleagues find out that your salary increase came from a leveraged negotiation, it can cause serious morale problems. Others may try similar tactics to get a raise and the organizational results will cause damage.
4. Counteroffers generally do not address concerns about how an organization values your contribution. If the company valued you, why did it take them this long to make it known?
I agree that a clean break is the way to go.
posted on April 8, 2008