Learning Curve: Resigning

By Stefan Stern, managementtoday.co.uk, Thursday, 01 September 2011 12:00AM

'I quit!': the magic words so many of us dream of pronouncing, possibly to be followed by '... and you know where you can stick your ******* job!'.

What is it? Resigning remains the final, nuclear option for the disgruntled employee. It's the one liberty we all still have: to walk away. Not many were convinced a few months ago when Rebekah Brooks said she had offered her resignation to News International, but it hadn't been accepted. You can always resign. You just go. It may not necessarily be a good idea, but there is comfort in that knowledge.

Where did it come from? Slaves can't resign. They turn up or die. But the rest of us, in theory, have the option of quitting. It was not always so. Labourers in feudal times worked or they starved (sometimes they worked and starved). The only alternative was to travel to seek work elsewhere, which was rarely a practical option. Indeed, before the bicycle and steam trains most people hardly ever moved from where they were born. With industrialisation and mass employment came the option of resigning to do something else. But it is often a risk. An old union adage? Never quit - get sacked (and compensation) instead.

Where is it going? There was a lot of it about over the summer, with top cops and executives flying out of the doors before you could say 'press release'. With journalists and more vocal analysts enjoying the thrill of the chase, no CEO can be certain there won't be a call for his or her resignation at any time. Maximum transparency and scrutiny mean that, should you make a slip, the R word will be thrown at you in an instant.

If you do want to go, fine. If not - you will just have to resign yourself to the situation.

Gradient: A steep and challenging climb.

This article was first published on managementtoday.co.uk

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