For the last couple of weeks Theresa May has had her hands full. Not only has she been attempting to negotiate Britain’s exit from the EU, but she has also had to manage a litany of resignations letters. If Government were a business, its HR function would be very busy indeed…
This is by no means the first time we’ve seen MP’s jump ship from their trusty leaders. Most choose to quietly part ways with dignity, while others like to take a slightly more dramatic approach to resigning.
Geoffrey Howe famously made his resignation speech to parliament after Prime Minister’s Questions. His description of Thatcher’s behaviour as “like sending your opening batsmen to the crease only for them to find… that their bats have been broken… by the team captain” was widely attributed to her demise as PM.
Back in the real world, the public can be just as dramatic as any politician. One extremely disgruntled cabin crew member on a Jet Blue flight snapped after an altercation with a passenger and decided to commandeer the plane’s public address system where his rather colourful resignation was broadcast to the plane and by radio link to the control tower.
He then pulled the lever of the plane’s emergency chute, slid down onto the tarmac, and went home. He was arrested later that evening.
Broadly speaking, publicly criticising your boss or getting arrested are not advisable ways to resign in any industry. But as the transport and infrastructure sectors are particularly tight knit industries, how you act when leaving your employer defines how you will be remembered, so being respectful and professional is vital.
Here are our top tips for resigning:
1. Be clear why you want to resign
A resignation should never ever be used as a tactic for a counter offer, this scare tactic will often back fire.
Make sure that your reasons for leaving are well considered beforehand and you are 100% certain that resigning is the only option left for you. If you have any specific issues with your role; be it financial reasons, relationships with colleagues, work life balance, or any other number of concerns; it is advisable to discuss the options through with your line manager before taking the next step.
If the issues have been discussed and an appropriate resolution hasn’t been found, then your resignation isn’t going to come as a shock to management.
2. Think about what you want to get out of the meeting
There are four key things that you want to achieve in your resignation meeting:
- Explain your reasons
When it comes to explaining your reasons for leaving, you must bear in mind that this feedback is going to be regurgitated throughout the company. Whoever you resign to will discuss this with HR, senior management, possibly your team, colleagues and even people who contact them for future references.
While you might want to take this opportunity to really share what you think of the company/ your manager/ Julie from accounts… it would be wise to take a tactful approach to detailing the issues you have experienced. It is important to communicate problems to avoid mistakes from happening again, whilst also maintaining your professionalism.
- Determine your notice period
If you are looking to negotiate down your notice period, then we always advise our candidates to discuss with their manager what key tasks need to be completed before they leave. If the tasks to complete are agreed then you have more control over securing an earlier leave date.
- Agree a communication plan
It is important to determine how the news of your departure is going to be communicated to the rest of the company. Will your teams be told by you or your line manager, when will they be told and how will this be best done?
One sizeable UK transport organisation once initiated a mass ban on leaving emails as turnover was so high, regular leaver emails were affecting staff morale.
- Leave on good terms
Firstly, leaving the business on a respectable note is just the right thing to do. But if you need more convincing than that, then transport and infrastructure is a very small world and you will encounter these people again in your career. Burning bridges now will almost certainly come back to bite you. There is every chance that you will find yourself working in JV with your ex-colleagues, as a client or supplier, or even employees or directors joining your future teams.
Not only this, but news travels fast, and while you may not agree with a company or an individual’s opinions, making a big song and dance about it will only tarnish your reputation in the industry.
3. Next steps
Having taken the plunge and handed in your notice, there are three outcomes:
- Counter offer
We know of one prominent tier 1 contractor that has attempted to refuse a resignation entirely, but as far as I am aware, companies can’t actually reject your resignation. They may however come back with a promise of riches in a bid to keep you. In this instance, you can expect a series of further meetings leading to a counter offer and a promise that any issues you have raised will magically disappear. In our experience, 42% of candidates were counter offered more money to stay.
It is worth noting that around 65% of employees still leave their organisation within 12 months of accepting a counter offer.
- Work your notice
Assuming you stick to your guns and refuse the counter offer, you will work your notice (negotiated or not) and leave on an agreed date. This is most likely to occur if the company you are moving on to is not a direct competitor and you joining them won’t disadvantage your current company in anyway.
- Gardening Leave
If you are moving to a competitor or another company that is commercially sensitive, then you may find that your work or access to information is restricted or you are placed on gardening leave for the remainder of your notice period.
How you resign will impact on the legacy you leave behind. Everyone would like to be remembered well by colleagues and bosses, so think carefully how best to break the news sensitively and professionally.
If you’ve been on the receiving end of a letter of resignation recently and find yourself with a hole in your senior management teams, click HERE to see how we can help.