“How might I resign, and get the balance of my employment contract paid out to me?”

Question: I am thinking of resigning, but have 8 months left on my employment contract. My company has allowed at least one executive at a similar level to “retire” and get the balance of their contract paid out. What approach should I take to get paid the balance of my contract?

Syosset, New York

Answer: There are two approaches that I would suggest:

First, “the approach that worked in the past.” By this I mean that it could only help you to contact your colleague who was successful in getting his or her contract paid out, and asking him or her what approach he/she took. An approach that worked before is likely to work again, IF your facts are similar to your colleague’s set of facts.

Second, “the approach that works best.” By this I mean the approach that is designed to appeal to the decision-maker’s interests. You need to imagine yourself as the decision-maker(s) here, and consider what approach would motivate you (as the decision maker) to grant your own request.

Successful people are successful in part because they focus on their self-interests. There are three “interests” you could focus on, that would “motivate” him, her or them to say “yes” to your request:

(a) “Revenues” – If paying you out your contract will arguably save them money, such as reducing future headcount, or not having to give you stock you would likely be awarded next year, or being able to replace you with a younger, less-expensive executive;

(b) “Relations” – If paying you out your contract will help them make, preserve or solidify important relations, especially with clients and customers. If you agree to transition over important accounts, and not to bring those accounts to a competitor, that would help “motivate” them to give you what you want; and

(c) “Reputation” – If paying you out your contract could be presented in such a way that the person you are discussing the request with could have his or her reputation “polished” by this. For example, you might suggest that he or she present this to senior-most management as something they “convinced” you to do, thus as a victory of sorts. Alternatively, if you say that “precedent exists,” and you want the Board to avoid any perception of favoritism or discriminatory motive, this too might make the person you are discussing this with seem to be a vigilant protector of his or her superiors.

The important thing is this: You must appeal to their perception of their own interests, and that “perception” is always more important than reality. Remember, too, that the phrases “I want, I need, and I deserve” do not motivate as well as “This could be so very good for you – and for me, too.”

Of course, the facts and circumstances of your employment will – along with your creativity – determine what specific argument(s) you present.

I wish you the best of luck.

Best, Al Sklover

© 2009 Alan L. Sklover, All Rights Reserved.

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