As soon as you accept the offer, it’s extremely important to prepare for the resignation conversation. This is a high-stakes, emotional conversation and if you have not prepared properly, things can spin out of control quickly.
No one teaches you in school how to do this. What follows is wisdom from many years helping people resign:
1. Have the Conversation Friday Afternoon
There is a reason for this – the weekend allows the information to “settle” and allows time for others to process your decision. It also keeps you from being approached or “cornered” about your decision immediately afterwards. Resign in the morning, and your office will become a revolving door for the rest of the day…
Watch your body language. Smile. Walk in with confidence. Sit up straight; stand up straight. Be positive. Don’t act sheepish, afraid or like you’re about to tell your parents you failed your biology final.
2. Your Demeanor as You Enter this Conversation is Huge
A wise person once said, “He who frames the issue, wins the argument.” This isn’t an argument, but the rule still applies. The overall framing of this conversation is that you are EXCITED because you are MOVING TO A NEW AND EXCITING OPPORTUNITY. Something GOOD is happening to you!!! Yes, it’s bittersweet, but your prevailing emotion is definitely
excitement. This is so important to the overall tone of this meeting. You are not RUNNING AWAY from them; you are RUNNING TO something new and exciting.
3. He Who Frames the Issue Wins the Argument
A wise person once said, “He who frames the issue, wins the argument.” This isn’t an argument, but the rule still applies. The overall framing of this conversation is that you are EXCITED because you are MOVING TO A NEW AND EXCITING OPPORTUNITY. Something GOOD is happening to you!!! Yes, it’s bittersweet, but your prevailing emotion is definitely excitement. This is so important to the overall tone of this meeting. You are not RUNNING AWAY from them; you are RUNNING TO something new and exciting.
4. Keep it Short
The most important thing is to be definitive. Present from a position of strength. You’ve made your decision and the purpose of the meeting is to communicate your decision, not debate it
5. Be Definitive
The most important thing is to be definitive. Present from a position of strength. You’ve made your decision and the purpose of the meeting is to communicate your decision, not debate it.
6. This is Not Time for Q&A
Do NOT get into a Q&A discussion about your new role. That will result in a very awkward conversation where you find yourself on your heels defending your decision. After a few innocuous questions, you’ll get one that you can’t answer. That may lead to another that you can’t answer. How can you know these answers? You haven’t worked there yet!!! After a few of these questions, you’ll begin feeling very apprehensive. Best to avoid heading down the path. Trust me on this. Even if it seems like they are just curious and harmless questions, don’t get into answering them. “I really don’t want to get into
specifics…it’s with XYZ Company, and I’m really excited about it.”
7. “Hot Box”
Sometimes there is a tendency to “hot box” a person when they resign. That simply means the company brings in people to question you and try to get you to change your mind. Most of the time it’s a Senior Leader that you work most with. Often they may call in other VPs or the Head of HR. They may tell you all the great plans they have for you and how important you are to the office. They may offer you more money to stay or ask you “what will it take”. If this were to happen, keep it simple. Say you are flattered but your decision is made and it’s final. After you say that 2-3 times, they will get it. “I’m flattered, but my decision is final.”
8. Frame the Discussion
Keep in mind – you are running TO something, not AWAY from something. That is a HUGE distinction. It’s very helpful to state that. It frames the discussion.
9. This is Not an Interrogation
Don’t allow yourself to be interrogated. If you allow yourself to get into a Q&A things can get sideways quickly. You will suddenly find yourself on your heels defending a decision that you should be excited about: who it is, what the title is, what the role looks like, how much you are going to be paid, etc…all are irrelevant and open you up to “point-counter
10. Fear of the Unknown
Companies often play on fear of the unknown vs. known. The current employer is the “known” and the new job gets positioned as the “unknown.” Avoid that conversation, as it’s a no-win and causes nothing but angst.
11. Too Late
Don’t fall into a discussion of what your current company “could or couldn’t have done, or can or can’t do.” The time for spinning those dials or pulling those levers has passed by. To do those things would be reactive and self-serving at this point
12. New Company
It’s not about your current company. Tell them you’ve had a good experience there. Leave it very positively. Again, you are not moving FROM something, you are moving TO something.
13. Stay Positive
If people react negatively, don’t become rattled. Stay positive. Tell them that you know it may cause some short-term inconvenience, but it may also create new opportunities. You can say that it never easy to leave, but it’s been a great experience that has prepared you for this new step on your journey. Remind them that it’s the right move for you and your family. Don’t apologize. Stay positive. The people who really care about you may be sad, but they ultimately want you to do what makes you happy. This approach works very well, and it’s important that you follow the model closely. It will
save you an awkward and uncomfortable encounter.
Written by Kent Burns, CEO, Simply Driven Executive Search
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