3 Steps to Take If Your Boss Asks You to Resign

By | August 19, 2014

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Being called into your boss’s and hearing the words, “We’d like you to resign.” would understandably make anyone want to respond with tears, anger, or perhaps even defensive threats. Instead, follow these three steps to turn the situation around more positively.

Step 1: Lock Your Emotions

The first step is to focus on the situation not your feelings. There are usually two main reasons an employee is asked to resign. Most common is that job performance has not been up to par. Rather than become defensive, become accountable. Acknowledge any areas of weakness. Share ways you attempted to improve. Express that you value your job and ask if there is any way you might redeem yourself in your current or another role, maybe even in a part-time capacity.

The other reason you may be asked to resign is because of an economic downturn or adjustment to the organization’s structure. Similar to the above approach, ask some questions about this. Express your concerns for the well-being of the organization and yourself. Then offer some ideas about how you might fit in with the reconfiguration.

The overall goal of this first step is to de-escalate the situation and redirect it to something more advantageous.

Step 2: Weigh Resigning vs. Being Fired

Most of us would agree that a boss may ask you to resign to make it easier on the employer. If you willingly surrender your job, the boss and company may owe you nothing. You chose to leave. The reverse may also be true: The boss or new company configuration may have become so uncomfortable for you that cutting your loss with a resignation may be a good move. Before agreeing to resign, however, do ask some questions. Find out if you will receive any benefits, such as severance pay. Getting a reference letter may also be helpful. Typically, a resignation will not allow you to file for unemployment benefits; however, being fired will. This difference should be kept in mind, too.

On the other hand, if you truly feel the job or your reputation is worth fighting for, refusing to resign may be the better option. If this is the case, expect the boss’s response to escalate. You may even be fired. Continue to keep your emotions in check. In any job, you should always know your rights and other company policies.

Step 3: Identify the Potential Opportunity

Remember that employment is a type of relationship between you and your employer. Just as in our personal lives, professional relationships can go astray. Ending the employment relationship as professionally as possible provides closure and an opportunity to move on in a positive direction. Job search expert Alison Doyle provided some good advice for writing a resignation that may help you make the transition to a new job or career.

Often the end of one job opens the door to a new opportunity if you follow the three steps described in this post and look positively toward your career future.