Allowing resignations is on my mind based on news out of Atlanta this weekend, where the owner of the Atlanta Hawks (pro hoops) has agreed to sale the team based on the results of an investigation that showed he had made a bunch of race-based comments related to increasing attendance at Hawks games.
What's interesting to me about this was that Levenson was allowed to proactively announce his decision rather than dig in and face the rath of the NBA in the aftermath of everything that happened to remove Donald Sterling from owning the Los Angeles Clippers.
Which to me, begs a question - when do you allow someone in your company to resign rather than firing them? I think there are a couple of situations where it's probably always in your interest from an Employee Relations perspective to allow the resignation rather than firing, including:
1. When you can prevent highly likely 3rd party action that's going to cost you thousands or tens of thousands to defend, no matter how frivolous.
2. When your organization will react negatively to the person in question being fired, and it's a better PR move to allow the resignation.
3. When you think you know the deal and they know you know the deal, but you don't want to rip up a team with a gut-wrenching, turn everyone-against-everyone investigation led by - of course - you.
4. When in the back of your mind you know the person in question really never had a chance based on a mix of business conditions, internal politics and personalities.
What did I miss? Without question, you have to fire people. A lot of times that's good for the organization to see, but at times, you really need to think through whether it might be better to allow certain individuals to resign.
Asking for a resignation is part complete honesty, part negotiation and part bully activity. It's an art. Allowing people to resign when they need to go should be the exception rather than the rule, but it's a tool in your arsenel that needs to be used.