Resigning when others are desperate for work
You hear a lot about managing in a crisis, working in a crisis, keeping morale high in a crisis – but very little is said about resigning in a crisis.
Right now you are facing a particularly difficult and sensitive conversation. In a time when you are deprived of such basic things as looking your boss in the eye, how are you supposed to maintain relationships, help ensure a smooth transition, and leave with your head held high?
It’s not easy, but it is certainly doable. These are the most common concerns we’ve addressed in recent weeks.
Usually I would resign in person – what do I do now?
DO – Schedule a meeting in advance
Having something in your calendar often helps as you mentally prepare for the conversation, and it’ll make sure you have your manager’s full attention as you communicate this important news. That being said, if you are the type who regularly holds impromptu calls, then you don’t necessarily need to schedule a formal meeting. It all comes down to the nature of your employee-manager relationship.
DON’T – Start the conversation until you’re ready
A few people have come to me asking if they should send an explanatory email in advance of the discussion, so as to avoid springing on their manager an unexpected (and unwanted) surprise. This is a noble idea, but in practice it rarely works to your benefit. Giving advance warning will most likely increase your stress as it gives your boss time to build an argument for why you should stay. As much as possible, avoid communicating anything about your departure until the meeting itself.
DO – Incorporate video if possible
No, you won’t be able to look your boss in the eye and offer your sincere thanks for helping to train and support you all this time. It’s unfortunate but that’s the time we’re living in. That being said, video calls offer a pretty good alternative to face-to-face discussions.
DON’T – Wait until after the call to draft your resignation email
Have your resignation letter written and ready to send (see samples here) before you pick up the phone or join the Zoom. This email should reiterate your gratitude, focus on the transition, and confirm any details. As soon as you’ve finished the call, hit send on the message. I hope this goes without saying, but don’t send an email as your only form of resignation. That is just rude!
DO – Give reasonable notice
If you’re furloughed, a two weeks’ notice is not absolutely necessary – you’re not technically working so there is likely little work to be transitioned.
Yes – you can resign while furloughed and no, you should not feel guilty about it. Your company, with all its lawyers and advisors, was well aware that it risked losing some of its best people when it chose to furlough its staff.
There should be no legal repercussions for resigning while furloughed (though we are not lawyers, to be clear!).
If you are currently working, the customary two-weeks’ professional notice is still standard – even in these atypical times. One thing to consider: assuming you don’t have a massive amount of work to transition, some companies will ask you to leave before the two weeks have concluded.
What to say: “I’ll work the next two weeks in order to transition my responsibilities and help get [replacement] up to speed, but please consider whether you need me for the full two weeks as I believe I’ll be able to wrap up the transition in under a week.”
DON’T – Let fear or guilt define your future
No one could have predicted this crisis and no one is at fault. Still, you can’t allow this global upheaval to dictate what’s best for you and your family. Your company and manager will understand, even if they are disappointed.
How should I deal with the guilt of leaving my team and manager in their time of need?
The same way your manager, and millions of managers across the globe, are dealing with the guilt of having to let go of their hard-working, loyal employees.
No one is exempt from this crisis – not you, not your coworkers, not your company. Everyone is having to make difficult decisions. The only thing you can do is try, as best you can, to be respectful and make the decisions that are best for you and your family. And while resigning is never fun – especially not now! – it can still be done with minimal stress. Don’t hesitate to send me a message if you have any questions or would like more information!