Sklover & Company, LLC
Serving Executives, Professionals and Senior Managers
8. Navigating Employment Departures
“Turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you.”
– Maori Proverb
Most relations do not last a lifetime, and that goes for employment relations, as well. It’s just a fact that employment relations have become rather transitory, very few lasting no more than a few years, very few lasting more then ten.
Employment departures are generally of four types: (1) Voluntary Resignation, Involuntary Resignation, (3) Termination without “Cause” and (4) Termination for “Cause,” each varying in both reasons and ramifications.
A. The Four Departures
1. Voluntary Resignation: More Complex than Evident
It is sometimes tempting to simply write “By this note I provide my notice.” There are, however, many factors that prudence requires be considered before, during and after resigning to avoid unnecessary risk to your career brand and financial interests, among them:
- (a) securing your next position, free from unmet conditions,
- (b) providing respectful “heads up” to mentors and others who have supported you,
- (c) how and when to notify clients and other important business relations,
- (d) minimum notice required,
- (e) “garden leave” requirements,
- (f) possible non-compete restrictions,
- (g) timing for bonus, benefits and vesting purposes, both with this employer and your next,
- (h) avoiding bridge burning,
- (i) necessary transition arrangements, and
- (j) when to share where you are headed.
Many other considerations may need to be addressed in your particular circumstances.
It is not common for employees to be offered severance payment arrangements after a voluntary resignation, but it is not unknown, either.
2. Involuntary Resignation: Leaving Without Losing Rights and Claims
There are times that, due to circumstances beyond our control, we have no choice but to resign. In such circumstances, it is often wise to make that “involuntariness” clear in writing, in your resignation notice, in order not to give up possible rights and interests in deferred compensation, severance, unemployment benefits, pension entitlements, and the like.
One of the primary purposes of submitting an expressly involuntary resignation is to “leave the door open” to a severance or similar payment arrangement.
3. Termination for “Cause”
“Cause” terminations are the riskiest of terminations due to their potential effect on all three of your most important “business interests”: revenues, relations and reputation. In some fields, being terminated “for Cause” can literally end your career. It is possible to turn that characterization around, if you act soon, decisively and persuasively.
It is rare for an employee who has been terminated for “cause” to be offered a severance payment arrangement. One of the primary reasons we often seek to have a “for Cause” termination re-characterized as “without Cause” is to encourage the offering of a severance payment arrangement to a departing employee. A secondary reason is to make the interview question “Why did you leave?” easier to answer.
4. Termination without “Cause”
Generally speaking, being terminated “without Cause” is without grave risk. That said, depending on the circumstances of the termination, it may be wise to challenge the termination, itself, as well as its timing, terms and tone, all of which experience teaches us are negotiable.
It is near universal that employees terminated without “cause” are offered severance arrangements.
B. The Three Interests to Protect
In order of importance, they are:
1. Reputation: Without question, your primary career interest is your reputation. It takes a lifetime to create and just a moment to lose. Once damaged, it is difficult to repair. Your reputation is the essence of your career brand; it precedes you when you enter a room, when meeting others for the first time, and a large reason people want to either hire or do business with you.
2. Relations: New clients and customers are great, but regular, repeat and long term clients are our “book of business” by which we each earn a living, and quite often of great value when seeking a step “up the ladder.” Maintaining relations when leaving one job for another, or to start a business, is a critical concern.
3. Revenues: Our income stream is what “keeps us afloat.” In employment transitions, we take great pains not to place that stream at risk unnecessarily. Unless a very good reason exists to put revenues at risk, they should be both preserved, and enhanced, if possible, through severance negotiations.
C. The Six Sources of Leverage upon Departure
Over time, we have identified six distinct sources of leverage we can use to improve the timing, terms and tone of an employment departure. As in any win-win negotiation, they are derived from the inter-related interests and perceptions of self-interest of the employer and employee.
The hardest part of any relationship is ending it well. Care and caution are in order when departing an employment relation to properly safeguard all that you have worked so hard to build for most of your life.
We offer confidential telephone consultations as a first, preliminary step in providing counsel to those with workplace or career problems or opportunities. They are available days, evenings and weekends, depending upon urgency. For those with questions related to matters on which we were retained and worked with them during the preceding 12 months, brief discussions, without review of new documents, are provided without charge. For others, our Schedule of Consultation Fees can be found on our About page. Consultation arrangements can be made with Ms. Vanessa Mustapha or Ms. Phyllis Granger at 212.757.5000, or by email to Vanessa@ExecutiveLaw.com or Phyllis@ExecutiveLaw.com.
(If you have any thoughts, comments or suggestions about these Insights, please consider sharing them with us, by forwarding them to us at Vanessa@ExecutiveLaw.com. Thank you, in advance.)
© Copyright 2019 Alan L. Sklover. All Rights Reserved and Strictly Enforced.
1. Your Unique Career Brand
“Either you are distinct, or you will become extinct.”
– Tom Peters
We are enthusiasts when it comes to the practice and pursuit of branding and, of course, when it comes to employment, the notion of “career branding.”
Each of us has a unique personal brand, namely what others think of when they think of us. It is their sum total view of what we offer the world, our value to others, and to our clients, customers, employers and colleagues. Your brand precedes you, empowers you, and follows you, wherever you go.
Your “career brand” is what your present employer and all potential employers think of your potential value to them, and thus what they need to offer you in return for your working for them. Your knowledge, skills, relations and reputation have taken a great deal of time and effort to learn, acquire, and develop, and is a reflection of your personality, character and the standards you have set for yourself.
You create your brand each and every day, whether you know it or not. If you don’t proactively create and enhance your career brand, you leave that critical task to luck and chance, or worse, permit others to define it for you.
The employment marketplace is an increasingly competitive place. New York Times columnist Tom Friedman has written “Good enough is no longer good enough.” We could not agree more. If you don’t have a distinctive, attractive, outstanding career brand, in the employment marketplace you are likely perceived as little more than an easily replaceable commodity.
Most of our clients have devoted and continue to devote significant effort and imagination to creation and enhancement of their own, distinctive career brand, and enjoy the multiple and varied “fruits” of their efforts. Their experiences are as inspiring to us as they are rewarding for them, in the broadest sense and spirit of those two words.
- Your Unique Career Brand
- Managing Employment Risks
- The Recruitment Phase
- The Negotiation Phase
- Equity “Trap Doors”
- Climbing the Ladder
- If Difficulties, Disputes or Allegations Arise
- Navigating Employment Departures
- Continuing Restrictions
- Extending Career Longevity