At this time, people around the globe are caught up in “world cup fever” as Brazil hosts the World Cup of Football (or soccer as it is commonly known in Australia). After the Olympics, it is by far the largest sporting event in the world and is held every four years. I turned on the television this morning to watch a game and was absolutely gobsmacked by the lead news story that accompanied the coverage. A leading Spanish player, Cesc Fabregas, had just signed a contract with English giants Chelsea FC after agreeing to leave Barcelona FC. What followed staggered me.

Now Fabregas was formerly the captain of London club Arsenal FC. He played there from age 16 and left at 25. He was their captain from the age of 21 and played with distinction. For the majority of the time, he was their best player as well. At age 25, he requested a transfer to what at the time was the biggest club in the world, his childhood club, Barcelona FC. He was sold by Arsenal for 35 million pounds which was a massive fee and represented a massive profit for the club. Fabregas then had two solid years with Barcelona, winning many trophies without ever quite climbing the heights that were expected of him. After two years, rumours abounded that he was to be sold and he was offered to Arsenal as part of a buy back clause. Arsenal decided not to purchase him and he was then sold to their great rivals Chelsea for 30 million pounds. So what happened next?

The television screens this morning showed fans all over the world burning his shirts. Fans in Barcelona were irate – how could he leave them after two years they screamed. The truth of the matter was that the management of Barcelona deemed him surplus to requirements and decided to sell him. The Arsenal fans were even more animated and passionate. He was called a “Judas” for daring to join a rival club in Chelsea. However there was almost no acknowledgement that Arsenal chose not to purchase him. He was not required there either.

Now the world of professional football is certainly an extreme environment. Emotions run high and often take the place of rational thinking. However, these emotions are often replicated in the “real world” when people resign. I am here to say that it is OKAY to resign.

Many moons ago, I decided to resign from my place of employment and move on. I didn’t have a firm next job in place (I was young and responsible then) and I thought that I was very well regarded and respected I quitinternally. How wrong I was!! The response from my resignation was two intense days of counter offers and guilt based interrogation before leaving me in a separate room for two more days with instructions not to interact
with my team. On the fourth day, I was allowed to leave and instructed not to return. Emotion certainly took hold as it galvanised my thoughts that leaving was the correct decision and strengthened my resolve to be successful when working for a competitor. It was strange and it hurt and it did no good at all.

Today a client of mine made the decision to move on after 17 years with his business. He felt that it was amicable and his manager was good about it. He spent over an hour in his office, talking about the future and reminiscing about the past. They walked out together only to be greeted by security staff who had already packed up his desk and he was given a cab charge to go home (with an instruction not to misuse it). He was gutted.

Sometimes people decide to resign. It is just what happens. Sometimes you have to move people on. Sometimes it really hurts. Actually, it always hurts. It is an emotional and stressful time for all involved but more often than not, it is done for the right reasons. People leave jobs because they want to experience new things that can’t be obtained where they currently work. They make a choice and that choice needs to be respected. Sometimes companies move people on because they too are going in a different direction and you may not be right for that job at that time. It is okay and will become more common in the labour market of the future where tenures become shorter and more project-based.

For me, the best thing to do is to resign with dignity and class and act with honesty and integrity. If you do this honestly, one hopes that your resignation is dealt with compassionately and professionally. Just remember, it is okay to leave your job…… and it is certainly not worth burning a shirt over.

Brad McMahon – Managing Director

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