After stagnating in a marketing management role for the past number of years, you were headhunted and have landed your dream job at a growing startup. With a $20 000 salary increase, more flexibility, a shorter commute, and high potential for growth, you can’t wait to start in just 5 weeks time.
Before rushing too quickly into the new role, you realise that you have to (eventually) share the news with your employer.
Here are some tips to reduce the anxiety and ensure that your process of “moving on” maintains your professional reputation and leaves the doors (and windows) open. Who knows when you might want to hire one of your former colleagues for your growing side hustle?
It is important to check your contract to understand your notice period before speaking to your manager. Usually, 4 weeks is standard, but contracts can require more, especially if you are managing a team or have been working at the same company for years.
Once you determine your notice period, tell your direct manager that you are leaving.
Following this discussion, send a resignation letter to Human Resources (or the nearest to that in some cases!) which is factual and covers the critical information such as your date of departure. While you can thank them for the opportunity to work with them, this note is not an opportunity to share any negative feedback about the business or your manager.
Your Manager Responds
Your boss might respond to the news of your resignation in a number of ways from surprise to anger or genuine pride. Here are some different reactions we have seen and how you can prepare appropriately.
Some bosses will be angry upon finding out you are leaving. These feelings can arise from a feeling betrayed and worrying that (another) team member leaving will reflect poorly on them. As well, most bosses dread the experience of recruiting and hiring someone new.
If you accepted a job with a competitor, the boss (or the security team) might escort you out immediately to ensure that you do not have access to any company data or systems.
To prepare for this situation, it is important to pre-plan how you are going to tell your boss and stay calm and assertive during the meeting. Don’t forget that you are never doing the wrong thing by leaving your job.
Another possible reaction is to make you feel guilty for leaving. This could include projecting that the team will not function well without you or the business might lose clients that you were working on.
To prepare for this, it is important to remember that guilt is a common tactic to make people stay. However, do not forget that this is business, staff are replaceable, and the team will be able to continue without you. If the manager really felt that you were irreplaceable, they would have done a better job of addressing the issues that were causing you to consider other options well before it escalated to this point.
Hopefully, your boss will respond with support and a genuine “congratulations.” The best managers understand that great employees will bring the skills and knowledge from their current role and tackle their next professional challenge.
Being appreciative for their positive reaction is the best approach here. Since you will be parting on good terms, it is very important to thank them for their support and stay in touch after you leave.
To entice you to stay with the company, your employer might present you with a counter-offer. In fact, a recent study found 36% of almost 3000 organisations surveyed said they “sometimes” provided a counteroffer to an employee who was planning to leave the company.
While it might be tempting to stay in a well-known environment, research around counteroffers proves that this decision is rarely (if ever) worthwhile.
One challenge of accepting a counter-offer is that management will suspect that you are still looking for a new position and start looking for your replacement. In fact, they are probably right to do so as research from the National Employment Association confirms that 80% of people who accept a counteroffer leave their positions within 6 months.
While salary and certain responsibilities might change, the underlying reasons that caused you to explore alternative options such as company culture or your relationship with your boss probably have not changed.
Finally, a certain amount of trust was broken between you and the employer that will be difficult, if not impossible to regain. This will make the ongoing relationship strained at best which will make the work environment even more unpleasant, if not intolerable.
The final piece of advice is: be confident in your decision to leave and start thinking about your final days in the office and those goodbye drinks.