How to Resign with Class

Original Spanish version published in El Comercio newspaper (Peru) on February 17, 2018

There are many reasons why we would want to leave –or should leave– an organization at a given time: maybe we are not happy, we may have lost our passion or interest, we may have received a better offer, or we may be at a dead end in our professional development. We may also be aware that they are not happy with our work or that they have lost faith in us.

For whatever reason, any resignation must be handled with the utmost professionalism. How we handle ourselves and work during our last days in an organization has an even greater impact on our image, reputation, and personal brand than how we did throughout all of the previous years in which we loyally contributed to that organization or company.

In other words, our professional reputation will be colored by the memory, good or bad, of how we conducted ourselves as we were leaving an organization. That is why resigning with class and making a grand exit is key, regardless of what reasons led us to decide to leave.

Some additional ideas on the subject:

Communicate your decision as soon as possible: the sooner you announce your resignation, the better. This shows respect and commitment to your post and to the team you work with. You should also keep your intention under reserve until you talk to your direct supervisor. Ideally, you should make this announcement face to face with the person who entrusted you with the responsibility.

Resigning by letter is a serious mistake, and even worse is leaving without giving thanks for the opportunity and trust you received. Likewise, leaving in a rush may cause annoyance, as well as be perceived as an ungrateful and guilt-ridden exit.

The reasons for your resignation should be explained with transparency and honesty. At the same time, you should be careful to keep your relationship with your boss as well as with all collaborators, subordinates, other leaders, clients, and suppliers intact and positive. Remember that every person with whom we interact at work will give good or bad references about our work, ethics, talent, and, above all, our attitude and professionalism. The resignation message should as respectful and friendly as possible. It is not the time to hark back to unpleasant events, disappointments, or to blame or accuse anybody about anything.

Once we have decided to resign, it is very important to close circles in an orderly manner and, above all, work better and ideally harder than ever, though this may sound contradictory.

Adding value and providing good results right up to our last day, completing assignments with a good and cooperative attitude, is vital. The idea is to be very professional to the end, speaking only positively about the organization, always acting ethically, and never disclosing confidential information. Life and careers make unforeseeable turns, and our future professional references will be in the hands of our former bosses and colleagues for many years to come.

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