“Any suggestions for timing of two spouses’ resignations?”

Question: My husband and I work at the same company. We both hold positions that are strategic to the company’s success. I am the primary breadwinner.

I may be changing jobs soon that would entail relocating to another state. My husband plans to remain in his position for three months after I resign.

Do you have any tips for how I/We can best navigate my resignation? Thank you.

Santa Cruz, California

Answer: Dear Monique:    

Interesting situation; interesting question. That said, I’m not sure what your main concern is. It sounds as if you are concerned people will ask you or your husband, “Does this mean you are also leaving?” Regardless of  your main concern, these are my thoughts:

1. First, keep things as simple, and professional, as possible. You will be resigning. Give appropriate notice, and then move on in the most professional way. Say “Good-bye” to all your friends, and “It’s been nice” to all others. I recommend, if possible, that you answer “Where are you headed?” with “I’ve been asked not to say until I get there. I’m sure you understand. I’ll be in touch once I start.” You can’t control others’ behavior, but you can control your own.
2. Second, play it as it unfolds, and don’t offer information unless you really need to. I see no reason whatsoever for your husband to offer his resignation now, or for you to share with others his present intentions. “So, Monique, I guess you and Bob are going to move far away?” can be answered with “That’s not been decided.” “So, Bob, I guess you’ll be leaving, too, no?” can be answered with “Not necessarily. Right now, I’m here; this is my job, and I enjoy it. We’ll see what happens.” The truth may be that, if your new job does not work out, your husband might just stay put. Plans can go awry; no reason to unnecessarily burn bridges or narrow your future options. 

3. Third, to discourage your husband being “walked to the door,” he should “gravitate to necessity.” If you are concerned about your husband being asked to leave when you resign, I suggest he do his best to (a) set up important meetings with important clients, (b) become the project leader on critical projects, (c) begin negotiating a large deal, and in each instance (d) in unobtrusive ways, let all know of these critical functions, so that any urge to walk him to the door is quickly resisted. You can’t control others’ conduct, but you can “motivate” them to do what you want them to do, and like all living things, they are “motivated” by their perception of their own interests.

4. Fourth, surely your husband should “fold his parachute.” In more situations than should be, people act reactively. If there is a question about your husband’s loyalty to the company, he just might be asked to leave. As precautionary measures he should copy personal (not proprietary) information off his company computer (such as tax returns), make copies of “portfolio” material, as well as company stock and benefit plans, and ensure that nothing he highly values remains in his office.

5. Above All: Just Don’t Burn Bridges. It takes a long time to build bridges; too long to unnecessarily burn them. No doubt you and your husband have built up good will over your years at the company. Though the two of you are leaving, it’s smart to keep those bridges intact. Hey, you never know: you might just want to return some day. Treat people as you would like to be treated; there’s no better way to leave a job.  

To read my “Resigning from Your Job: The 21 Necessary Precautions,” simply [click here].

If you would like to obtain our 100-Point Master Checklist for Resigning, simply [click here].

If you would like to obtain two alternative Model Resignation Letters, simply [click here].

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Good luck to both of you in your upcoming transitions.

Al Sklover

© 2011 Alan L. Sklover, All Rights Reserved.

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