“How can I best resign to a very good boss?”

Question: Hi, Alan. I need your help for my resignation. 

I’ve been in my current job for 7 years. I’ve been successful and achieving for the first 5.5 years. My productivity went down dramatically since 1.5 years ago when I became a manager of 9 persons after I originally started as a lower level employee. My boss (the company owner) is always showing his frustration, but always trying to encourage me to be the old super productive employee that he had. So he still believes in me. 

Now I’m sick of the job and I’ve gotten a better offer. How can I tell my boss that I am leaving knowing that at the top of my unproductivity and zero efficiency he always gave me chances and tried to change everything around me to help me. And still till now he is building high hopes on me. 

I’m sure that he will feel betrayed. So how should I convey to him my resignation?? Thanks.

Beirut, Lebanon

Answer: Dear Hani, It is so good to receive a letter like yours. Your boss has treated you well, and now you do not want to treat him badly, or make him feel badly. Because you have decided to leave. Your letter conveys a rare sweetness in your soul, and a rare dignity in your boss, that are both so very admirable. I hope I can assist you:  

1. The only guide to the best way to treat someone – in any relation, in any situation – is to imagine and pursue the way you would want to be treated if you were him or her. I truly believe it is no coincidence that almost all of the major religions of the world agree on this simple guide to a good life, often called The Golden Rule. In different situations, and in different relations, it can be difficult to consistently recall this “rule,” and to appropriately apply this “rule,” but it is, to me, always the guiding “rule.” It requires a temporary laying to rest of our own feelings, our own interests and our own perspective, and our trying with utmost effort and sincerity to experience the world from that other person’s feelings, interests and perspective. It is sometimes not an easy thing to do, but the nobility of it is in the effort. It is true compassion, what many believe to be the highest state of human relation.   

2. Resigning from a job is often experienced by the employer as a hurt, an abandonment, and a disloyalty. I know this from first-hand experience, because I am an employer, and I have had numerous people resign from employment with me over the past 25 years or so. The sense of loss, the sense of unfairness, the sense of hurt is at times quite strong, sometimes even overwhelming. And the intensity of those feelings of loss, unfairness and hurt is often greatest when the employer – like your employer – has exhibited loyalty, patience, generosity and forgiveness to the employee.    

It is often a sense that “After what I did for you, how can you do this to me?” However, there is no such “deal” and no “agreed equality” in any relation, let alone the employment relation. 

3. Compassion requires that when resigning from employment – and especially from employment by a caring employer such as yours – an employee should take appropriate steps to acknowledge and address the employer’s likely feelings of hurt, abandonment and disloyalty. When someone “leaves” us, in any relation, it is quite common and nearly natural to have feelings of abandonment and disloyalty. Those feelings are heightened when we have given much of ourselves to the person who is “leaving” us. It can be experienced when an employment relation ends, when a marriage ends, and even when a close one passes away. I can recall those feelings, myself, when those things took place in my own life.

Compassion requires taking steps to acknowledge and address those feelings in the other person without your employer. In resignation from employment, I suggest you consider incorporating one or more of the following expressions to do just that:

  1. Begin with His Value: “You are important to me, and always will be.”
  2. Express Appreciation: “You have treated me so well; I will never forget that.”  
  3. Demonstrate Respect: “You are a man of respect, and deserve nothing less than respect.”
  4. Acknowledge His Feelings: “If you are disappointed or hurt, I can understand that.”
  5. Show Concern: “I realize this may be difficult for you.”
  6. Make Yourself Available: “I will do all I can to assist in the transition of my duties.”
  7. Do Not Blame: “I am not leaving this job as much as I am going to a new job I believe is better for me and my family.”
  8. Address Abandonment: “I will be available to answer questions that may arise in the future.”
  9. Address Disloyalty: “Please do not view this as a disloyalty to you; it is, instead, a matter of dedication and commitment to my family.”
  10. Address Hurt: “If you feel hurt by this, please know that this is not my intention, and the last thing that I would want to do is to hurt you.”   
  11. Inquire About How You Can Help: “What can I do to minimize any concerns you have?”
  12. You are Not Really “Leaving”: Instead you are going to a more appropriate job.   
  13. Provide a Positive Explanation: “My new job provides opportunity not possible here.” 
  14. Be Clear: “My mind is clear, and certain, about this move.”

Of course, these are just a few of the ways you can be compassionate in resigning so as to reduce the likelihood of feelings of hurt, abandonment and disloyalty. There are many, many others, all based in The Golden Rule and compassion. As an employer myself, I know I would feel better hearing these things from an employee who was “leaving” me.   

4. Compassion does not mean you are responsible for the feelings of others, but that you are aware of them, and have concern for them. You may also have feelings at work at this time, and they, too, are important. You should not feel that you are responsible for your boss’s possibly feeling betrayed or abandoned. Life is full of disappointments, and this may be one for him, but that does not mean you are to blame.     

Hani, as you probably know, I get many more emails describing bosses who are not good, not giving and not dignified as yours is. I am pleased to get your email, and to read of your own concerns for your boss’s feelings. How refreshing, and “recharging” of my own internal “batteries,” as well. I hope these thoughts have been helpful to you. Good luck in your new job.

P.S.: You might be interested in our 100-Point Pre-Resignation Checklist. To obtain a copy just [click here.]

My Best to You,
Al Sklover

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© 2012 Alan L. Sklover, All Rights Reserved.

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