FT and fibbing • 5 May 2008 • The SnowBlog

FT and fibbing


Here's a nice little piece in the FT about how to resign, which I contributed to in my own small way. Don't worry, Rob, I'm not planning on doing it again.

Oh, I've just realised you have to register to read it. Here's the piece in full: Sack the boss By Rhymer Rigby Published: May 4 2008 16:33 Emma Barnes, managing director and co-founder of Snowbooks, a UK publisher, recalls the steps that led her to resign in 2001 from Kingfisher, the retail group. As a fresh graduate, Id drunk the fast-track Kool-Aid [believing I would reach] senior management in seven years. But then she had an epiphany. I found I was working 14-hour days and for what? Selling bin bags to people. It was meaningless. So, she decided to quit. I didnt want to burn my bridges so I did my ranting to my friends at the pub and then went into my bosss office and basically fibbed. I said Id been offered an amazing opportunity and I hoped we would keep in touch . . . You do have to assume youll meet people again and it would be foolish to speak your mind. While there is a great deal of career advice on how to get the job you desire, there is little guidance on how to reject the job you no longer want. So, how do you resign? Ann Gales, a partner at the headhunter Heidrick & Struggles (whose work occasions a fair number of resignations), says: Do it professionally. Prepare thoroughly and think about how you do it beforehand. Id always do it in person unless that was impossible. Think about the future, be as positive as possible and leave on as good terms as possible. Make sure that you hand over your projects properly so that your exit period is well managed. The main reason to stick to the script is the need to retain control, advises Sarah Sweetman, of the business psychologists Organisational Edge. Resignation scenarios can be quite emotionally charged Im leaving because I hate you, I have a better offer stuff it. But the second you raise the temperature and start to antagonise the other person, the possibility of losing control of the situation raises its head. She adds that a well-mannered, controlled resignation is as much about being remembered well as making a clean exit. It is perhaps for these reasons that virtually all the witty resignation letters found floating about on the internet most of which take the form of an amusing professional assassination of an incompetent boss turn out to be fakes. Much as hardly anyone ever gives a bad reference, so too are honest resignations seldom seen: it is simply easier for everyone concerned if, as Ms Barnes puts it, you basically fib. Besides, you are in some ways sacking your boss. And actions speak louder than words. Assuming you have some respect for your boss and company, you should be sensitive. You need to consider the impact on the manager and how to handle that, Ms Barnes says. Ms Sweetman takes a similar view: You also have to think about the person on the receiving end. How do they feel? While you shouldnt expose your emotional state, you should not antagonise them either. Both responses mean that you lose control of the situation. She cautions that even if the manager asks you a question whose honest answer may be insulting, youre better off saying youd need to think about it. Alternatively, the person receiving your resignation may refuse to accept it or may make a tempting counter-offer. In the first case, you need to stick to your guns. In the second, you may wish to reconsider. Ms Gales says that although some managers may not react well to a resignation, most people do accept it but you may need to give them a cooling-off period. So it would seem the best way of resigning is to keep it short and sweet. My advice [is that] its like ripping off a plaster, says Jonathan Kelsey, who resigned from the shoemaker Jimmy Choo to set up his own shoe company. Get it over with. However, in certain situations, resignation may not be best the route at all you may be better off waiting to be sacked. Most people who resign in the public arena are pushed, says Greg Dyke, who quit the position of director-general of the BBC following heavy criticism of the public broadcasters news reporting processes in the Hutton report. A lot of people resign to try to save face but they really shouldnt, Mr Dyke continues. It depends on whether theyre right or wrong. If theyre right, theyre better off standing up and saying: Bugger you. Youll have to sack me. In retrospect, I wish I had. Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2008


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