The Union Club of Cleveland’s Lawrence McFadden, CMC, GM/COO, who has been on both sides of the resignation table, offers some basic points of advice for accepting resignations with dignity and poise.
A few weeks ago, I came across a question on social media that asked, “What is the correct resignation notice for a culinarian?” This simple statement generated great dialogue from the audience.
Culture, country of origin, and age played a factor in many of the comments.
Going back in time, before culinary schools, formal interview processes, or even social job sites, most culinarians were influenced by mentors. Often starting in a kitchen, young cooks were given the opportunity to engage with their Executive Chef’s network. Hard work and dedication became the succession plan for the next job.
If a cook worked hard enough and was fortunate to be in the stream of succession, he or she might find job security for years at top-scale haunts. This inherited action was “gifting” one chef to another chef and it was a true win-win for both chef and cook, especially if the cook did as he or she was told. The downsides might have been twenty-four-hour job notices, unknown locations and wages negotiated by others. If the lone cook was disagreeable to these conditions the term “black-balled” might rear its head. This simple statement struck fear in any aspiring cook’s career.
Thankfully, over the years, kitchens gravitated toward more progressive recruitment and cooks garnered enhanced interview skills as the reality of supply and demand created kitchen improvements. Traditional employment practices, such as giving notice and taking care of the staff, became more popular. No longer did a modern cook have to put up with secondary conditions, a lack of leadership skills, or a lack of appreciation for their dedication.
Having been fortunate to sit on both sides of the resignation table, a few simple “norms” have come to mind. These philosophies do not follow the popular slogan, “People don’t leave the organization they leave people,” Or, “It’s not when you leave, it’s how you leave that is important,” or even, “Always leave the door open.”
These are great philosophies to influence young minds, but my “norms” as it relates to having someone leave a job go a little deeper.
- First norm: Performance coaches know that the muscles and mental strength dissipate the closer athletes get to the finish line. This is why too many athletes get beaten at the line while the coach yells, “Run through the tape.” The human psyche naturally wanders at the end of any journey, race, or even job. It is simple DNA that might leave a cook to shorten the need-to-work timeline. So, perhaps blame a short work notice on an all too powerful mind.
- Second norm: Research has shown that being wanted by something new has a tremendous emotional effect on us. These thoughts often supersede any current loyalty or trust in an existing organization. Simply stated, getting a job offer as a young cook sends an endorphin rush to the brain making a leave of two weeks feel like an eternity. So chefs, don’t take it personally. Crazy emotions are at work.
- Third norm: People generally hate change. Studies have shown that people would rather inconvenience themselves or even place themselves at risk before making life-altering changes. Leaving a job or an employer is simply not a natural act that one has practiced often. It is most difficult for those long-term employees who are the costliest to replace. So try to remember how much courage it took to get to the resignation date.
One of my mentors, Chef Paul Prudhomme use to say, “Lawrence, employees pass through us at the restaurant. We just stay the same.” This is a great way to look at the natural path of talent moving on and returning to the organization.
Often as employers, we feel the loss instantly instead of seeking the benefit of a future brand spokesperson. For me resignations of talent come with that pit-in-the stomach feeling, followed by a primal protective mental reaction of, “How am I going to protect the customer experience?”
Most often these emotions rush over me within the first ten minutes of the resignation. Once I allow myself clarity, and pace, the following 30-45 minutes form a great bond of understanding in the decision.
For young professionals, here are some industry suggestions:
First, offer two-weeks notice for most positions and one week for each year of service and collaborate with the organization for mutual success. Regardless of past practices, the reality is that no one wants to disappoint someone else. So reasoning around schedules and timelines and handoffs can be lost in the emotions.
As a practice, I try to start with a congratulations, regardless of the notice given. If one of your team members has made it to the door of resignation, the thoughts had to be lingering for weeks or even months.
Second, there is a strong prediction that if anyone spent any quantity of time with us, they are going to refer a friend or need assistance in the future. Keeping an open-door policy broadens the positive networking philosophy for the organization.
Third, as any professional, you are your own brand and everyone wants to work for great brands. The departing employees have a lifetime to either shower you with praise or twist a story.
Finally, remember these three sentences when a member of your team resigns: “When” is never ideal and “why” is often personal and must be honored, but “How” is in your circle influence.