Oh, by the way, this is my two week notice!
January 27, 2013 11:17 AM   Subscribe

Is it proper etiquette to turn in a resignation notice in-hand? Also, I have a great manager and have a few questions about that.

I'm leaving a company I have been with for two and a half years. I was recently offered a promotion at another location but declined, although I did not explain why. This is a Fortune 500 company, and being young with little work experience, I hope working for them will get a future employers attention and I would like a good reference as well.

What is proper etiquette here? When putting in a two week notice? First thing I thought of was to just drop it in the HR mailbox, but something tells me I should handle it better than that. Should I talk to HR and give it to them in person? Or to my direct manager? Or his manager, who is in charge of all things?

Also, I love my manager. I've been through quite the up-and-down in the few years I've worked through it, and he's helped me through it. Professionally and personally. I've become a better person and a better worker because of him.

I am moving across the country for a better experience and to have a better quality of life, and that is the only reason I am quitting. He was aware of this for the longest time, although in March him and I both agreed that it was best to reverse course and stop publicly talking about that if I wanted a future with the company. Because I never knew when I was going to leave, and I would not get promoted if they knew I might be leaving in the future.

I never wanted to advance within the company, but it was best to tell a white lie. I figured that if I was offered this promotion, it would have been months ago when it would have made a difference for me.

Even lately, he talks about me staying with the company and blah blah blah. But I have never lead him on or said anything of that nature. I just simply told him that I was interested in a career with the company when we had that meeting in March, and I never told him otherwise since then.

If you're a manager, would you want one of your main employees to tell you directly that he is leaving? I kind of feel bad for him that I am leaving, because 1) I am one of his hardest workers and might be difficult to replace right away and 2) he is under the impression I am still interested in that promotion and staying with the company.

I would also like to ask him for a reference from him directly. Is that appropriate, too? Also, would you accept a small gift? We work in retail, so maybe a gift card of a small amount, or a gift card for some place he likes to go to?

Maybe I am overthinking this. I could just as easily drop my notice in the mailbox without caring about it, but I figured there must be a more professional way to do this.
posted by signondiego to Work & Money (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Talk to your manager directly and let him know that you're resigning. You can ask him if you should turn in written notice to him or to HR.

I would be really annoyed, at best, and certainly blindsided, if I learned a supervisee was leaving from HR.
posted by jaguar at 11:21 AM on January 27, 2013 [12 favorites]

You give your resignation letter to your direct manager. I'd do it in person, since you have a good relationship with him, plus you will then have to deal with him for two weeks afterwards. Ask him whether you need to give a copy to HR too.

As for everything else, don't worry about it. People leave jobs. Managers know this. Your manager even knows that you specifically were considering leaving for this specific reason. It's not a faux pas, he won't be blindsided, and if it makes work for him, well, that's the work he's paid to do.
posted by restless_nomad at 11:24 AM on January 27, 2013 [5 favorites]

Yeah, talk directly to your manager, maybe with the letter in hand, then ask "So do you want my letter or should I send it to HR?".

Somewhat relevant anecdote: I had to resign to a direct manager I really respected and got along well with in all ways. I felt I should do something other than just walk into his office and tell him unexpectedly, so I asked him to join me at a nearby beer after work. 3 or so beers later, I told him. He was all "Well, you'll be missed, but congratulations and good luck". I told him I'd give him my letter in the morning.

The next morning I walked into his office first thing and said casually, "Here's that letter, Steve". He looked at me quizzically and said "What letter?". I said "You know, my resignation, like we discussed last night". He said "You're resigning? Oh. I don't remember what we discussed last night".

So in the end, I guess I ended up blurting it out to him anyway, in a much more casual way than I would have without the (apparently) drunken chat the night before.
posted by Diag at 11:43 AM on January 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

Manager here. 2 weeks notice to your manager in person. No need for anything fancy. No gift, but a thank you note is nice. Check to see if there is an on-line process you have to follow.

Letters of reference in the corporate world are tough because everything is viewed through the lawyer's lens. At my company, I can't write a letter of reference as a representative of my company. If I write a letter of reference, it has to be as a personal acquaintance and I have to make that clear in the letter. This is common throughout the aerospace industry, so it doesn't cause much problem. Basically, all my company gives out is confirmation of employment.
posted by Edward L at 11:46 AM on January 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

Do not do it over beers; this is not a personal occasion, it's a professional one.

Email your manager or knock on his/her door and ask for a few minutes. Hand them the letter in an envelope and say "It's been a pleasure working at XYZcorp and I want you to know I appreciate everything you personally have done for me. I've been offered another role elsewhere and I'll be leaving to start my new job in two weeks."

Two weeks from now, write your manager a short, personal, heart-felt thank you note (on paper, like in a Thank You card) and drop it in his or her mailbox.

posted by DarlingBri at 11:51 AM on January 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

In my field: a) your manager is going to know what's up as soon as you say you want a closed door. b) at the end of the conversation, they'll ask for a formal letter of resignation. This is a one or two sentence piece.
posted by ftm at 12:02 PM on January 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

Yes, absolutely in person to your manager. Anything else is really unfair to a manager you like. (It may make them look bad if they're unaware one of their reports are planning to jump ship and find out from HR as they wonder why you've suddenly stopped showing up...)
posted by disillusioned at 12:15 PM on January 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

I agree with what people say about giving the letter in person to your manager except that I would send a copy directly to HR (and note it at the bottom of the letter to the manager, of course).
posted by aroberge at 12:27 PM on January 27, 2013

I have always told my manager in person and then followed up with the formal resignation letter by email to both my manager and HR.
posted by something something at 12:53 PM on January 27, 2013

The letter is something for HR to stick in a file. "I hereby inform you of my resignation from [COMPANY] effective [DATE]. Thank you for the opportunity. Sincerely, [YOU]"

You don't need to write your manager a letter unless, you know, you think he'd like to get a letter from you.

Just as an aside, I'd caution against mentioning the name of your new company. Nothing good can ever ever come of it, but many bad things can, up to and including threats of legal action. It's happened to me. I tend to say, "I got offered a new opportunity" and, if pressed, add "they asked me to keep it confidential." No one has ever pressed me beyond there.
posted by drjimmy11 at 2:05 PM on January 27, 2013

I had a great manager at my last job. After I accepted a position at another organization, I just screwed up some courage and said something like, "Hey, I got a new job." He gave me a high five and told me how to officially resign (letter emailed to HR, cc-ong him and his manager). If you really have a good manager, she will be happy for you and if not, you only have to deal for another two weeks. Congrats!
posted by kat518 at 3:06 PM on January 27, 2013

If you can, create a plan to help them transition to working without you. I don't mean offer to shepherd a new employee for 12 weeks afterwards, but I mean spending part of the two weeks getting everyone up to speed to cover for your position, closing projects, notifying contacts and vendors who they'll be working with. It would be great to have at least a suggested plan for doing this when you talk with your boss.

Save the gift cards and what-not for your departure-- leave for your friends at work a card with your contact information if the wish to stay in touch, a personal note and your own wishes to remain in contact. It's good to aspire to that, at least. Express your gratitude to your boss in a personal card or letter. The resignation should be the boilerplate for the file, and other people in this thread have nailed that.

Worst case scenario, by the way, is that the boss is bitter and asks you to leave immediately. This sounds unlikely, but it always does, and sometimes happens. Be prepared for this including the ability to do without 2 weeks salary in addition to what you are owed. Don't take this personally even if your boss does. Clean out your desk, and burn the bridge if necessary.
posted by Sunburnt at 7:30 PM on January 27, 2013

Whenever I've changed jobs, I've printed out a brief resignation letter (from home, not the office!), then scheduled a meeting with my direct supervisor to announce the news and hand over the letter. Your supervisor should handle the HR stuff.
posted by eleanor_of_aquitaine at 12:48 PM on January 28, 2013

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