The Art of Resignation.

You’ve decided to move on. It could be for a multitude of reasons, but this article doesn’t focus on that. It focuses on the process of resignation itself. Just like you should plan for a job interview, once you’ve decided to go through with it, you should plan for your resignation as well.


I’m not talking about being fired, but I’ll try to cover that later.


First of all, congratulations. Making the decision to resign is a big step, and one usually made because you’ve made a positive decision to increase your happiness. Leaving a bad environment, earning more money or being more challenged are all things that are likely to leave you more fulfilled. The other positive thing about resignation is that for the most part you are the one in control of the process. You’ve made the decision, not someone else.


Once you’ve made the decision, you should be careful not to discuss it with anyone from your place of employment until you’ve checked several things out.


First of all, what does your contract say about resignation? A lot of companies specify two weeks notice, but one company where I was sysadmin at required a month’s notice so that a handover could occur gracefully. Some of the project managers at that company had to give three months notice as the company had suffered when talent had left without enough time to have a replacement up to speed.


Second, what do the HR guidelines say about resignation? Check out the HR intranet site.


The reason that you should be wary before informing someone about your decision is that some companies will escort you from the building the moment you resign. Some organizations even go so far as to bring about your resignation immediately even if you discuss it with them without having finalized a decision. This is why you should be careful about who you discuss it with. If you mention it to your best mate and he blurts it out to your manager at Friday night drinks, you could be up that well traveled creek without a form of hydrodynamic propulsion.


IT people tend to have an unusual amount of access to a company’s secrets, so many organizations tend to overreact when an IT person resigns, trying to get them out the door as soon as possible. This can be a big shock for people. One moment you are one of the team, the next moment your accounts are locked out and your swipe card doesn’t work. As a sysadmin you should always be the pessimist. I’ve heard stories of people going into their manager’s office to discuss resignation and being kept where whilst another member of staff collects their personal items. Once the items are brought to the managers office, the person is escorted out of the building. Prepare for this sort of thing to happen and the experience will be a lot more enjoyable.


Before you resign you should ensure that all your personal belongings and data (not company secrets of course) are backed up and removed from your work area. It is a lot better to be able to walk straight out the door rather than having someone “supervising” you as you try to fit Optimus Prime, Megatron and three tons of certification texts into a cardboard box. If they don’t march you out the door, no problem, you were going to have to take those transformers and certification texts home at some stage anyway.


Ensure that your personal data is removed from your workstation. Liberal deleting and using cipher /w will help you here. Although we shouldn’t, we always end up with some personal stuff on our work computers. Unless you want other people to read it, remove it. If they are taking the “march you out the door” approach, you won’t get a chance to remove it.


Keep your resignation letter to the point. Your manager might have a passing interest in why you are leaving, but you shouldn’t put it in print. Also, keep everything as professional as possible. There is no reason to burn bridges even if you know that you are never going to use them again.


All the organizations that I’ve worked for have had a lot of notice that I’m leaving, long and successful transitions for new staff, and at each place there was a going away party and a present during the final Friday lunchtime. All I’m telling you is that if you prepare for the worst, you’ll handle it a lot better than if you assumed that you’d work out your two weeks and have the whole thing end with beer, pizza and an engraved fountain pen.

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