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Resigning Professionally Part 1: Giving Notice and Receiving Counteroffers

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Resigning from a job can be an anxiety-inducing experience, but it is crucial to maintain your professional reputation and leave the door open for future opportunities. Here are some tips on how to resign professionally, and how to handle potential counteroffers.

Giving Notice

Before giving notice, it is important to check your contract and understand your notice period. Usually, four weeks is standard, but it can be longer if you are managing a team or have been working at the same company for years. Once you know your notice period, tell your direct manager that you are leaving. It is also important to send a resignation letter to Human Resources, which should include factual information such as your date of departure. While you can thank your employer for the opportunity to work with them, it is not the place to share any negative feedback about the business or your manager.


Your Manager’s Response

Your boss’s reaction to your resignation can range from surprise to anger to genuine pride. It is important to be prepared for any possible reaction. If your boss is angry, it could be because they feel betrayed or are worried about having to recruit and hire someone new. If you are leaving for 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. In this situation, it is important to pre-plan how you are going to tell your boss and remain calm and assertive during the meeting. Remember, you are not doing anything wrong by leaving your job.

Another possible reaction is guilt-tripping. Your boss might make you feel guilty for leaving by projecting that the team will not function well without you or that the business might lose clients that you were working on. It is important to remember that guilt-tripping is a common tactic used to make people stay. However, the truth is that staff are replaceable, and the team will be able to continue without you. If your manager really felt that you were irreplaceable, they would have addressed the issues that were causing you to consider other options well before it escalated to this point.

Ideally, your boss will respond with support and 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 of 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.

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The Counterofer

To entice you to stay with the company, your employer might present you with a counteroffer. A recent study found that 36% of almost 3000 organizations 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 familiar environment, research around counteroffers proves that this decision is rarely (if ever) worthwhile.

One challenge of accepting a counteroffer 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 six 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 and make the work environment even more unpleasant, if not intolerable.

In conclusion, it is important to resign professionally, maintain your professional reputation, and leave the door open for future opportunities. Be prepared for your boss’s reaction to your resignation.

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