Leaving On Your Terms
By Karyl Innis
'You've had it! You're not going to take it one more day! Tomorrow
yourre going to walk into The Corner Office and say, "I quit."
True... you don't have another job yet; but, that really won't be much of
a problem. And, compared to the satisfaction of walking out of there...
well, you just want to get out!
Wait a minute. Don't just quit. There's much to think about yet.
Some business executives do a great job of parting company with a
troublesome employer - garnering transition pay, good references, extended
health insurance benefits, retained search services, company car purchases,
country club membership conversions and a whole host of other intangibles.
Some corporate employees have the satisfaction of quitting abruptly and
then exit their place of employment with nothing more than a final
paycheck and a dubious reference. If you are considering leaving your
employer, and you haven't been lured away by another opportunity, consider
carefully how you'll take leave. There's money and reputation at stake.
THINGS TO CONSIDER
- Negotiating when the subject is you, your own worth and values, can
feel awkward, but a little preparation and thoughtful self examination
can make the process easier. Ask yourself these questions:
- Why am I really fed up? Is it your fault? Her fault? Their fault?
Usually there's a little culpability on both sides. It's this fact that
gives them guilt and you room to maneuver.
- What do I really want? Do you need the security of another month's
health insurance? Or do you just want to buy your PC from the company at
a greatly reduced rate? Knowing what the company policy and its past
practices are can help shape a realistic answer to this question.
- What problems will occur by my leaving? Will work pile up? Extra
costs be incurred? Projects get behind? The answers may provide you
leverage to negotiate additional separation benefits in return for
easing the problems created.
NEGOTIATING YOUR SEPARATION
When you have honestly answered the questions above, you are ready to
move to the next step: negotiating your separation. Here's how: First, set
an appointment with the appropriate person. Begin the conversation with I
have something serious to discuss with you.
Then briefly state the tension and the problems you've identified. Two
or three sentences is the maximum amount of venting you should allow
yourself. State your decision to Afind a way to leave the company
gracefully and comfortably for all concerned.
Outline the problem(s) (no more than two) you're aware of that your
leaving will create and your intention to work with the Corner Office and
others to mitigate these problems.
In addition, identify your personal concerns about leaving. Your answer
to question number two above helps here. Do you need references? More
money? Extended health insurance?
Suggest what you are willing to do in return for the enhanced benefit(s)
you want. Are you willing to: answer questions on the phone for three
months? Review project proposals on Saturday morning? Not recruit from the
firm? The list of possibilities goes on.
Agree on the terms of your exit or agree to get back together later that
day to discuss final terms. Finally, decide how your separation will be
announced. When? By Whom?
Be sure to put your resignation in writing, along with your negotiated
exit agreements on a separate page referencing your resignation.
Will this be easy? No. However, the satisfaction of taking leave
gracefully will stay with you forever...just like your references.
A FINAL NOTE
Be prepared for The Corner Office's response. It could be a version of
any of the following four:
- Okay, let's agree on terms - This is what you wanted, set a time
later in the day to discuss the details. Take the time to get yourself
clear on what you want and how you can ease the transition for your
- Okay, you can leave today - this may be sooner than you wanted to
leave, but you can still ask for what you want, and suggest ways you can
assist in this sudden change.
- Okay, but I can't change any benefits for you - while not the
response you'd hoped for, you are no worse off than if you'd just quit;
and your references are still in tact.
- Okay, I understand your concerns...how can I help you stay@ -
Sometimes our frustrations aren't known by our management. This is the
time to state specifically what needs to be changed for you to be able
to stay, state that this is not a ploy on your part to impose change;
yet if such changes occurred you would consider staying.
Don't be surprised by any of the four responses. Decide ahead of time
what you really want. Don't just quit without first taking a chance on
negotiating a better exit for yourself.
What can be negotiated?
Not everything at every company is negotiable, but the following is a
list of those things that I've seen negotiated most often at separation
- Unemployment benefits: Will the company contest your claims for
- Severance pay: Can you receive company policy severance pay even
though you've initiated the separation?
- Reimbursement Educational Tuition: Are you still attending classes?
Will they pay at the end of the semester even though you=re no longer
there? If you goal is to return to school, how about an educational
leave, with tuition reimbursement?
- Employment status: Do you want to move from active status to
leave-of-absence status? Or active to inactive?
- Health insurance: Can it be extended beyond your last day at work?
- Vacation pay: What happens if you have already used vacation that
wasn=t really due you? Will they forgive it? What happens to any unused
- References: What will they say to whom?
- Profit Sharing, Incentives, Annual Bonus: Can these be prorated or
can you receive the full share?
- retained search: Does the company have a history of providing
retained search to departing employees? Even if they don't, will they
provide it for you?
- Office furniture: Can you buy your custom-designed, specially ordered
furniture from the company?
- Hardware, software or other personal technology devices: Does the
company allow for purchase of these items?
- Company cars: Do you want to buy out the lease? Club: Are there any
conversion or extension privileges for dining club or country club?
- Pensions: Don't leave anything on the table here. Ask for the present
value of your pension. Are you bridged or hooked up from any prior
interrupted or predecessor employment?
- Loans: Do you hold any outstanding corporate loans? Negotiate the
pay-outs or ask about incremental loan forgiveness.
Karyl Innis, is chairman, and chief executive officer of The Innis
Company, a nationally-recognized human resource consulting firm,
headquartered in Dallas, Texas. The firm works with Fortune 1000 and other
companies throughout the country manage major corporate restructuring,
mergers, and downsizing. They are experts in career trends and issues.
Like Stybel Peabody of Boston, the firm is a member of Lincolnshire
THE INNIS COMPANY One Galleria Tower 13355 Noel Rd., #1750 Dallas, Texas
75240 Ph. (972) 702-9484 Fax (972) 404-9004