"The Things We Think But Do Not Say" -- Working title of the Mission Statement from Jerry Maguire
There's a right way and a wrong way to resign from your job. The wrong way is pretty clear, and there are multiple ways to get to the "wrong way". You can surprise those you work for by going AWOL and being unresponsive to messaging designed to figure out where you are and what's wrong. You could also suddenly start acting like the place you work is a half step above a concentration camp, when the reality is your workplace is full of honest people who are doing the best they can do in an imperfect world.
I've seen both in the past month. I've witnessed the lying that goes on with an AWOL employee who had to be tracked down 9 different ways just to get a laptop back. In the past, I've always rationalized that the employee who chooses to vanish like Bob Irsay pulling out of Baltimore in the middle of the night had a maturity problem. Maybe they just couldn't deal with the confrontation of telling people who believed in them that they were moving on to other things. I get it, but it's still the wrong way. Burned bridges, hurt feelings.
So, there's the wrong way. Then a bunch of stuff in the middle. 2 weeks notice, time to transition, etc.
Then, there's the right way.
The right way to resign is be honest about what's driving your decision to leave. To give people a little feedback on what's going on in your head, and why you're making the decision to go.
I saw the right way to resign over the weekend. There's a guy named William Tincup, who was a partner of a firm I love called Starr Tincup, who decided it was time to leave. A big decision, but one he finally got to. When it was time to communicate, he made sure that he did the standard email to the troops and customers, then he let everyone who cares into the "why" at a post called "My Story":
"For the last 11 years, I have been running agencies…first with Ariesnet, and then with Starr Tincup. Since graduating b-school in 1999, I have run a web development shop and a full service marketing agency. I’ve managed HR, operations, professional services, sales, marketing, business development, finance, accounting, and I’ve even taken out the trash once or twice. More than I could ever articulate, I know the ins and outs of running an agency. Conservatively, I’ve probably had 1,000 client experiences, 300 of which were with HR vendors.
I co-founded Starr Tincupin November of 2000. My role over the last two years has been the management of sales, marketing, business development and operations. I’ve been responsible for building the Starr Tincup brand that most people know (and, ahem, love), including the website, book (Try Not To F&ck This Up), direct marketing, email marketing, event strategy, social media strategy, etc, etc. If you liked our marketing, you would enjoy conversationswith me. In 2009, sales for Starr Tincup were flat (the new up!) under my stewardship. In fact, I sold a year’s worth of marketing services in Q1 of 2010 alone. Accolades and applause aside, lately I haven’t been a pleasure to be around. I knew something wasn’t quite right with me but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it…."
That's just the start of the post. Go read it. William does a great job telling everyone why he fell out of love with what he was doing for a living, how he feels about the StarrTincup team, and where he thinks he's going from here. I'm a big Starr Tincup fan, and I'm confident the firm will continue to do great work beyond William's departure, and I'm sure William will do great things in the future as well.
But back to the title of the post - "This is how you resign from your job". Some of you will read William's note and carve it up, questioning everything. That's OK - the artist knows that some will attack.
Some of you will also say that it's unreasonable to expect those who resign to put their thoughts down in a similar fashion - "not everyone's a writer", you'll say.
Agreed. But if you're thinking about resigning and you haven't gone through a similar process in your head - getting your thoughts around why you're REALLY pondering leaving- you'll likely be disappointed wherever you land.
The right way to resign is to be honest with yourself why you are leaving. Not organization stuff, not drama from those around you. What is it about the job that's draining your batteries? Can that be fixed or not?
Only after you do that can you be sure that you're leaving for the right reasons.