Avoiding Career regrets
In times of deep private introspection, I think there are many people who would look back at their careers and admit that they once made a resignation error. If you were to conduct a poll, asking people what they think was their worst career regret, I am convinced that wrong resignation would top the chart for more people.
Some people make their decision to resign personally, a lot of others involve family, friends, colleagues, pastors/spiritual leaders, mentors, etc, hence, this article is addressed to everyone. Parents and mentors should read it to be better informed on how to support their children. Pastors, family and friends should study it so as to be better equipped as sounding boards, when that day comes . . .as it inevitably will.
You can resign but wisdom is profitable to direct
Let’s quickly establish this fact: people must resign and move on to other places or other endeavours. Resigning is not evil. Resigning is not betrayal as some would want us to believe. Also resigning doesn’t automatically mean there is a dispute.
Resigning for a reason or for no reason is an integral part of professional careers. See that the title of this article isn’t “Why you should not resign” but rather “Why you should not resign . . .yet”. Meaning that certain occasions or certain times are much better or more effective than some others.
Here is my thesis: it is your prerogative to resign whenever you feel like but use that prerogative wisely to avoid mistakes that could take a while (sometimes never) to repair. Yes, we agree that it is your life, and your career but no man is an island, so your decision would affect you and a lot of other people.
It would affect you in the short term (a lot of people know this though) and it would also affect in the long term (this aspect isn’t always well considered). Come let us reason together and share ideas from each other that would help another from making yet another avoidable mistake.
When is the best time to resign?
Something tells me someone would like to ‘simplify’ this conversation by just asking me a direct question: “Mr. Aruosa, when is the best time to resign?” Knowing the best time to resign would differ from person to person, and would require being able to know and understand so many variables all at the same time.
Variables such as the person’s age, the nature of current organisation, reason for wanting to resign, immediate plans post-resignation, long term plans, if married or single, has dependents or no-dependents, years of experience, dynamics of current industry or company, dynamics of proposed industry or company, presence or absence of debts and nature of debts, having savings and investments or not, etc.
That answer isn’t meant to scare you. It isn’t meant to indicate that before you resign you need to consider nine hundred and ninety variables (scary right?). All I am trying to show is that there isn’t an ‘almighty’ formula or an app (wouldn’t that be cool) that helps to convert your decision to resign from a thought out one to a casual fly-by-the-moment type of decision. You have to think it through.
Wrong time or circumstance to resign
However, I think another way to answer the question, “when is the best time to resign” is to ask ourselves if there is a “wrong or indelicatetime or circumstance/reason to resign? There are.
- Done suddenly or unplanned – as much as you can, your resignation shouldn’t be sudden, it has to be planned.
- Done in response to an event – it shouldn’t be done in response to an event. It should be planned in response to several events and in alignment with future aspirations.
- New company wants you to come immediately – don’t reign suddenly because the new company wants you to resume with them immediately. A company that is willing to have you resume immediately and therefore puts pressure on you to disregard giving resignation notice to your current company, such a company would also not have any problem asking you to leave without a due process.
- New company promises you heaven – don’t be so easily enticed by promises made by CEO or personnel from the new company, to the extent that you become blind to professional considerations. This could be a career landmine.
- Established to unestablished company–going from an established to an unestablished company must be given additional thought with granular clarity on the exact value.
- Disregards existing relationships – as much as you can avoid a resignation choice or process that requires you to hurt or damage existing relationships.
- Your boss is a huge pain–the fact that your boss is a huge pain is not enough reason to resign. Except this person begins to mete out dehumanizing treatments.
The unwanted effects of wrong resignation
Resignation is your right, just as voting is your right but use it wisely is what we are always told. For your decision to resign could bring you unintended consequences. And remember, “decision determines destiny” (Anthony Robbins). Why should you not resign . . . yet? Below are some reasons:
- Your ability to get an another job – it could affect your ability to get another job. Your reason for resigning almost always comes up in an interview. So a flimsy or inarticulate explanation would guarantee your being knocked off the list.
- Your ability to get a desired job – it could affect your ability to get that job you have always desired. If you happen to have moved a few many times or if your movements have been haphazard (without no obvious career trajectory), recruiters or hiring managers could feel uncomfortable hiring you because they would wonder where your loyalty really lies.
- Unplanned breaks in career – may likely create unwanted breaks in your career. If you resign to pursue a venture which becomes unsuccessful or if you get a new job but soon lose it, a few kinks may have been inserted into your resume. Some are easy to explain and some aren’t so easy, hence becoming a stumbling block to advancing your career.
- Avoidable financial pressure – may lead to financial pressure that wasn’t there before. What if the projections that made you resign don’t pan out? It could lead to financial pressure on you and your family. Are you ready for it? Have you considered it?
Other unwanted effects of wrong resignation
- Idleness and Devil’s workshop –it could lead to prolonged idleness. One caused not just because the person isn’t doing anything yet but because the person doesn’t also know what to do and then time just seem to pass on. And weren’t we all told that an idle mind is the devil’s workshop – this suggest that a person in this situation could be coerced or forced into ventures that may be less than legal or below their moral values.
- Job loss –typically people resign from one job to another or to pursue other dreams. A wrong resignation which moved someone from one job to another, has actually led to eventual job loss in some cases. The person arrives on the new job and after a few weeks or months finds out that something or ‘somethings’ are wrong or not as he or she expected and then decides to resign again or worse, is asked to go!
- Worry and Depression –a wrong resignation can lead to unhealthy worry and eventually depression. Let me explain. You leave a job to go home (maybe person was frustrated with boss or job)or you leave and land another job or you start to pursue a venture for which you had high hopes for, imagine if this high hope is busted? Imagine if this low state persists for much longer than anticipated or much longer than the person’s inner motivation can take? Worry could set in. Then depression might be around the corner.
Jack Welch’s view on resignation
Question asked Jack Welch in his book Winning:
“What is the one thing you should ask in an interview to help you decide whom to hire”?
“If I had just one area to probe in an interview, it would be about why the candidate left his previous job, and the one before that. Was it the environment? Was it the boss? Was it the team? What exactly made you leave? There is so much in those answers. Keep digging and dig deep. Maybe the candidate just expects too much from a job or a company –he wants a boss who is entirely hands off or team mates who always agree. Maybe he wants too much reward too fast. Or maybe she is leaving her last job because she has just what you want: too much energy to be held back, so much ability to energize she wants to manage more people, too much edge for a nimby-pamby employer and such a strong ability to execute she needs more challenge. The key is: listen closely. Get in the candidate’s skin. Why a person has left a job or jobs tells you more about them than almost any other piece of data”.
For those who don’t know, Jack Welch was chairman and CEO of General Electric between 1981 and 2001. During his tenure at GE, the company’s value rose 4,000% and was named Manager of the 20th Century, by Fortune magazine in 1999.