22 Aug 2022

What is a good resignation?

How should you behave after you resign? Once you’ve submitted your letter of resignation and agreed your period of notice you are embarking on a strange interregnum. You may well feel that, mentally, you have already left the building, but resisting the temptation to embrace the vacancy, and behaving well throughout those strange few weeks may well have benefits both for yourself and your former colleagues.

Clearly, the more senior position you occupy, the more important it is to seek a ‘good’ resignation, not least because any tendency you have to down tools and absent yourself may well lead to feelings of lack of direction and inertia amongst your (soon-to-be-former) staff. They may well be asking themselves ‘is anybody home?’ and losing confidence in their employers, which could cause lasting damage.

The reasons for your resignation may well be an important factor in how you comport yourself. If you feel your hand was forced by dissent and disloyalty, or if you have suffered unfair treatment at the hands of your employers, you may well be overwhelmed by a vengeful desire to sabotage and disrupt. This can be manifested in minor, provocative acts of disloyalty and disengagement, but it is dangerous to let these feelings escalate to the point where you are doing real damage.

Unsurprisingly, ‘garden leave’ is popular with many businesses, especially when senior executives are resigning and they are in possession of confidential information, or have important client contacts. They are asked not to work during their notice period, even though they continue to be paid, and are still subject to the terms of their employment contract – for example, confidentiality. This arrangement safeguards employers against vengeful or unscrupulous resignees, who may well be tempted to poach clients or breach confidentiality for the benefit of their new company.

How to Behave After you Resign

Do

• Create a really detailed job description, so that your successor is comprehensively briefed and understands all the minutiae of your role. Cooperate fully and positively if you are asked to train your replacement.

• Discuss priorities with your manager and ensure that you understand if any open-ended projects require completion before you leave. If this is going to be problematic in the time available, be up-front about it, so that you don’t simply walk out and leave everybody in the lurch.

• Arrange meetings with colleagues and the rest of your team to discuss priorities during your notice period and also to look ahead and review the role your replacement will be required to fulfil.

• No matter how angry or badly treated you have felt in the past, make it a priority to present a calm and positive demeanour to all and sundry.

Don't

• Bad-mouth your employers to clients and contacts outside the organisation, who may well be avid for gossip and may even be keen to pick up scraps of intelligence that can be used against your employers. Ultimately it will do you reputation no good at all if you are seen as bitter and vengeful.

• Don’t disparage your company to the colleagues you’re leaving behind. You may well have legitimate grievances, but stirring up dissent and discontent amongst your colleagues will only leave them feeling unmotivated and unhappy after your departure.

• Don’t gloat to the colleagues you are leaving behind over your new job. You may feel like a very lucky rat w ho is leaving a sinking ship, but exulting over the fact that you’ve escaped and found a better job elsewhere is not going to win you any friends.

• No matter how keen you are to leave, conceal your feelings of indifference and inertia. Don’t make a performance of your disengagement with the job in hand – you’ll just undermine everyone’s morale.

Remember, leaving a good lasting impression and ensuring that there is a smooth transition following your resignation may have unforeseen positive consequences in your future career. Your good behaviour will enhance your professional reputation, ensuring that you will always be able to secure favourable references from former bosses and improving your employability in the future.

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