Q: I am leaving my current employer in late December. I want to do this professionally. I think my manager will be shocked. How can I resign without damaging this relationship?
A: The groundwork for leaving an employer in a professional manner, begins before you give your notice. One question I would ask is how long have you been there? If you have only been there a few months, this resignation could irritate your current employer. An employer spends time, energy and money investing in new employees. It depends upon the role, but most employers report that it takes several months before an employee is operating independently. For example, earlier in 2018, we had a client hire a new employee. The new employee accepted the role and the employer trained the new employee for several weeks. Around the third month, the employee gave their notice and said he had accepted another position with a competitor. This type of resignation doesn’t typically sit well with an employer. The employer asked the employee to leave within days of the employee giving notice. It was a rocky resignation for sure.
However, if you have invested time and energy in your current role, and performed well, you are smart to think about how to resign in a professional manner. First, begin documenting a transition plan. Think about your daily responsibilities and who could assume them once you leave. Also list vendors and external contacts who could be helpful to your replacement.
Most employers request two weeks’ notice before an employee resigns. This allows for an organized transition. Some employers may request more if you are a senior-level employee. You should submit your notice in writing. A brief email or memo is often acceptable. However, it is important that you resign to your manager directly. If physically work in the same location, you should try to communicate this information via a live conversation. If you are located on one coast, and they are on another, you can schedule a phone call or video call. A manager should never hear this news from anyone but you.
Finally, be thoughtful and gracious. Thank your manager for their impact on your career. Focus on the positive. Offer to be available, even after your notice period, if there are random questions which may pop up.
It is a small world. Always treat that employer as a potential future reference or employer.
Pattie Hunt Sinacole is a human resources expert and works for First Beacon Group in Hopkinton, an HR consulting firm. She contributes weekly to Boston.com Jobs and the Boston Sunday Globe Money & Careers section.