Handing in a resignation should come after a thorough soul-searching
  • After handing in your resignation, it is advisable that you don’t accept any counter offers no matter how attractive they might be
  • Be grateful and avoid the temptation of telling off your bosses or venting about wrong things in the organization
  • Be well prepared for the exit interview

                                                 

'I thought that writing my resignation latter was going to be the most difficult part of the process. Little did I know to expect resistance and suspicion from every quarter – what had felt like a relief suddenly became a complex and difficult situation to navigate.'

Imagine you just got what feels like a dream position in a different organisation. You are excited and looking forward to a new challenge. But of course, you first have to have some uncomfortable conversations with your current boss, to be honest without hurting his or her feelings and ensuring you remain on good terms.

This is what my friend was looking forward to when he recounted how a dream opportunity and an exit handled poorly almost turned into a nightmare for his professional life.

According to a survey of more than 700 executives and human resources officers, a leading Silicon Valley advisory firm was surprised to learn that 84 per cent of the respondents had regrets over how they handled their exits and resignations.

Whether it's to do with how truthful to be when giving the reasons for leaving, how to tell your team if you have one or whether to discover a counter offer, how do you navigate your exit to ensure that you do not burn bridges?

Counter offers

Pay, benefits and career progression can be part of the reasons why you're leaving your role. If, when you hand in your resignation letter you're offered the promise of one or all three, should you consider staying? After all, if you can get the package you'll be receiving in your new role but without the risk of venturing into the unknown, you should consider it, right?

Eilene Zimmerman, a career coach advises that you do not take a counter offer, no matter how attractive it is. There's a caveat though. You have to be making a well thought out decision and sure that your handing in a resignation is not a negotiation tactic designed to get you offered more money. If it is the latter, consider that your supervisor may take the resignation in stride and leave you stranded.

If you are sure about leaving, turn down the counter offer but leave the door open for future opportunities by saying you feel it is important to try out new challenges but you would like to stay in contact.

Another way is by starting off the conversation with your supervisor by requesting them not to counter-offer because this is not the reason you are resigning. This helps ease the discomfort of having to turn down multiple offers of better pay or positions.

Do not burn your bridges

Be graceful

The temptation when you have the upper hand is to tell off your boss and vent about all the things the organisation did that were wrong. Don't give in to that temptation.

Also, avoid fanning the gossip mill by disclosing organisational secrets to your subordinates as this may be taken as incitement. You may also cause fear and unintentionally create a mass exodus from members of your team who interpret the things you say in a certain way.

Be as truthful as possible, within reason. If not sure how to break the news to your employees, stick with the standard response 'I have accepted a position with another organisation and this will be my last month.' Do not, by any means, break the news to your team over email whether you were heading one or part of one.

It does not matter how unhappy you are with your current employer, boss or team members. Express gratitude for the opportunity to work in the organization and for how much you learnt.

Notice periods

There is a trend where employees use their leave days to take care of their notice period instead of using this time to hand over.

Show that you are a professional and give adequate notice period, you never know who you might need help from in the future and if you act improperly, it could come back to bite you in the future.

 Word tends to get around fast in certain circles. It will not take long for other people to hear about unprofessional behaviour.

Exit interviews

Avoid using these as an opportunity to bare your heart and lash out at all the people you had issues with. Not only are you not guaranteed anonymity, it's not always likely that being brutal or vicious will lead to changes within the organisation.

Do not be emotional – the best way to handle the exit interview is by rehearsing what you are going to say beforehand and ensuring your sentiments leave an impression of yourself that you are happy with.