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Not “The Great Resignation” … “a Great Resignation”

Why it is more important than ever to resign well.

By Angela Lane

So, you’ve read all about The Great Resignation: employees switching jobs at unprecedented rates in a dynamic market where the employee is king. Companies bolster our ego with simultaneous offers, sign-on incentives, and the promise that we can “work from anywhere.” Yes, we’re in demand, and we know it. And with all of this attention, some of us just aren’t behaving that well!

Like the employee that sent her boss a bereavement card. On the cover, the card read, “I am sorry for your loss.” Inside, she’d written. “It’s me. I quit.”

Funny? Yes. A great idea? Probably not.

Labor markets, like pendulums, swing. It is never a good idea to behave badly. So, during “The Great Resignation,” make sure your resignation is a great one. When the time comes to fly, follow these five tips.

1. Look Before You Leap.

It is easy to get seduced by offers in the current market. Before you let yourself get swept off your feet, make sure you deeply evaluate the opportunity. Being open to opportunities gives you a career edge. But it is assessing those opportunities accurately that gives you a career. Is the new job taking you somewhere you want to be? Is it part of a plan or simply opportunistic? Is it a winning context, that is, an environment that will let you succeed and set you up for success?

When our colleagues are jumping ship or leaving for what seems like greener pastures, we can wobble. Maybe it’s FOMO. But you want to make good decisions: decisions that will stand the test of time. So do your due diligence. Look before you leap.

2. Don’t quit BEFORE you quit!

OK. So you are resigned to leaving (pun intended). Don’t quit before you leave. As you explore options, assess offers, and slip away early for that all-important interview, don’t slacken off as it relates to your deliverables. Decide you want a regretted loss! Be so good you get that attractive counteroffer, even if you don’t take it. Don’t be remembered for what you left undone. Be recognized for what you did. Be someone whose contribution is missed.

3. Resign With Grace.

When the time comes, you’ll have to say you’re going. Tell your boss first, and not your friend in the office next to you. Trust me: it always gets out. And if you can, resign in person. In any case, confirm in writing, and write with grace. No writing the letter on toilet paper. No putting a note on the bulletin board. No email blast to “all employees.”

Instead, thank the organization for all they’ve done for you. After all, every role teaches us something, even if it is only that this is not the right environment for me.

4. Don’t Burn Bridges.

So you have resigned to your boss, and you did it gracefully. Well done. So this is not the time to tell the guy in Purchasing that he’s a bureaucratic jerk. You don’t need to mention to your assistant that she’s lazy and should probably have lost her job years ago. And your opinion of the Human Resources Team? Probably best to keep that to yourself. After all, you’ve held your tongue this long; no point losing the plot now. Who knows when or where you’ll come across these people again. The world is small. You aren’t a Roman soldier. So don’t burn bridges.

5. Offboard Well.

There is a lot of emphasis on how to transition to the next role successfully. Every newsagent will have a book on it; you write a 90-day plan, have a process to learn the new business, identify your critical stakeholders and set yourself short-term goals. And that’s great. An intentional plan to land well in a new role is a winning career behavior. But “a good resignation” means putting work into your transition from the current position, not just the transition to the new one. So, document what you can, encourage your team to support their new leader and plan to do an excellent handover to your replacement if you can.

A Final Thought

In the era of The Great Resignation, you might be tempted to flex your market muscle. Maybe you work for a lousy boss, have a dead-end job, or are taken for granted. Perhaps you don’t get fair compensation and have too little work-life balance. You could slacken off, walk out or tell them what you really think. (After all, aren’t we meant to be authentic?) But my advice? Make yours a great resignation. Take the high ground. Be magnanimous. After all, if you have indeed done your homework, you’re about to embark on something great. Good luck!

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