Go with a bit of Grace

How you leave a job can be just as important as how you start it.  So when you quit your job, you might be in for a few surprises – even a counteroffer.  But don’t expect everyone to be happy for you.

Some people will congratulate you on your new opportunity,  but some others might not treat you as well.  When people treat you badly, you need to cut them some slack.  Remember, while you may have been thinking about leaving for weeks or months, they are shocked,  surprised and probably disappointed.  You are going off to something better, while they are left behind to deal with the situation you just escaped from.

When you leave during difficult times, your co-workers may feel abandoned – even betrayed.  They might worry that all your work will end up on their desk.

Your boss might worry that your resignation will make them look bad or keep them from reaching their performance targets.

All those disappointmnts and worries might result in people acting distant or even hostile toward you.   And while it might feel personal, it is not personal.  Let it roll off your back.     A friend’s Mom told her to “leave with a bit of grace” – a fine piece of advice.

To leave with your head held high, you need to give proper notice (2 to 4 weeks), work hard to complete your projects, and show a bit of grace toward everyone, regardless of how they treat you.

The Most Happiness for your Dollar

Will more money make you happier?

Scientists have reported for some time that conspicuous consumption doesn’t lead to happiness.  In today’s business climate, conspicuous consumption has declined considerably.  But some new research on happiness suggests that the new, more frugal consumer buying practices that have resulted from the economic crisis may result in happier consumers.  New studies of consumption and happiness show, for instance, that people are happier when they spend money on experiences instead of material objects, when they relish what they plan to buy long before they buy it, and when they stop trying to keep up with their neighbors.

In an article in the Aug. 8,2010, New York Times, (“Will you be happy after you buy it?”),  Stephanie Rosenbloom reports that studies over the last few decades have shown that money, up to a certain point, makes people happier because it lets them meet basic needs. “The latest round of research is, for lack of a better term, all about emotional efficiency,” she writes: “how to reap the most happiness for your dollar.”

Research  recently published by Thomas DeLeire at the  University of Wisconsin in Madison examined nine major categories of consumption. DeLeire discovered that the only category to be positively related to happiness was leisure: vacations, entertainment, sports and equipment like golf clubs and fishing poles. He compared the happiness derived from different levels of spending to the happiness people get from being married. (Studies have shown that marriage increases happiness.)  “A $20,000 increase in spending on leisure was roughly equivalent to the happiness boost one gets from marriage,” he said, adding that spending on leisure activities appeared to make people less lonely and increased their interactions with others.

Rosenbloom writes that “research suggests that, unlike consumption of material goods, spending on leisure and services typically strengthens social bonds, which in turn helps amplify happiness. Academics are in broad agreement that there is a strong correlation between the quality of people’s relationships and their happiness; hence, anything that promotes stronger social bonds has a good chance of making us happier.”

So before you quit your job just to make more money, I urge you to read the entire article.

Quitting Your Job? Be Prepared For a Counter-Offer

Once you have resigned from a job, you need to leave.

Period.

Accepting a counter-offer is almost always a really bad idea –  in my experience more than 90% of people who accept a counter-offer end up leaving the company within a year.  There is a reason for that – the issues that caused you to look for a new job are almost never resolved by a counteroffer.   “Oh you don’t like our toxic work environment?  Your career is stalled?  How about a $10k raise and a new title, how does that sound?”

So if it is so illogical, why does anyone ever take a counter-offer?

I blame evolution.  Our brain is not wired to be very logical when our emotions are running high.  In his book “Emotional Intelligence” Daniel Goleman coined the phrase amygdala hijack to describe when your “fight or flight” fear response overtakes your logic.   Most people decide to look for new jobs using their logical brain, and then decide to accept counter-offers using their emotions.

So to help you prepare for the possibility of a counteroffer, let’s outline what most people go through when they resign.

Quitting your current job and starting a new job usually causes an acute case of the FUDs – Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt.   (The more you expect from yourself, the more you suffer.  So high achievers actually suffer more from FUDs than than low performers).   Just thinking about quitting raises your anxiety level, it makes you feel disloyal – like you are leaving your tribe.  You want to avoid the conflict with your boss.  Your emotions start to short circuit your logical thinking (see amygdala highjack above).   Your brain “helpfully” starts sharing long-buried chestnuts of conventional wisdom like:  “better the devil that you know, than the devil you don’t know.”   In short, how you are feeling makes you doubt your rational judgment.

Now … right in the middle of your maelstrom of emotion, right when you are experiencing maximum fear and divided loyalties, your boss extends a counter-offer.  Your primitive (reptile) brain screams “accept the counter-offer and go back into the safety of the cave” your impulse toward belonging and loyalty says “stay with the tribe, don’t leave, it’s dangerous out there all on your own.”  And while these primal impulses probably protected your ancestors from being eaten by tigers, they are disastrous for your career.

Because you can never go back to the safety of the cave.   You quit, you gave notice.  That changed everything.  Your boss will never trust you in the same way they did before you quit.   While it may feel safer to stay put in your current job, it is actually very risky to stay once you’ve given notice.   There will be a subtle tendency to trust you less, to not share confidential information, to not give you choice projects.  Your boss will probably feel like you “held a gun to their head” by quitting and might grow to resent making the counter-offer (I doubt you made them look good by quitting).   Your boss might be thinking about how to replace you before you quit again.  No, you may not get fired for giving notice, but the odds are pretty good that you’ll regret staying.  The very act of giving notice “poisoned the well” and your relationship with your boss is forever altered.

So before it happens, prepare yourself for what you will say if you get a counter-offer.   It’s always best to be gracious when you decline it.  Don’t say “You are too late Bucko, where were you 6 months ago?”   No, this is the time to prove that you have evolved beyond your ancestors.  I recommend a simple “Thank you, that’s very kind of you to offer, but I’ve made up my mind to move on.”

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