Resignation tips for leaders who value their people

Daz's blog on accepting resignation as leaders

Written by Daz Burns


Resigning means that your team member has voluntarily decided to exit stage right. 

And the resignation also means that as the leader who accepts it, you are resigned to accept the decision as it is and the potential upheaval, the uncertainty and/or emotional toll it will leave in its wake. 


I have resigned from many roles in my time, some with a genuinely deep, heavy heart and sometimes with the clarity and confidence that there was no worse place I could be and that the only right decision was to get the hell out of dodge as fast as my little pins could carry me.

But as a leader who has also been on the receiving end of letters of resignation over the years, the feeling in itself, is not at all dissimilar. There have been resignations that I have been grateful to receive for the benefit of our team and there have been resignations that I wished I had never received because they were incredible team members and integral parts of our team. 

Now, this is not an HR spiel about how to have an effective exit interview or how to ensure that all I’s are dotted and all T’s are crossed. 

So, what has inspired this kōrero and why have I decided to talk about this now? 

Well, our team at The Good Day Matrix and Lift55 had a resignation of one of our team members four weeks ago and it was the one that you wish you didn’t get. 

So, I wanted to share a few tips and thoughts about receiving resignations and how I like to think about them. 


I’ve always had their back and that won’t change – I’ll be right where I said I’d be. 

It means that I have always wanted the very best for them and that their dreams matter to me. It also reinforces the fact that my support doesn’t change when they resign. It would be easy for me to try to make them change their mind, or to ask them to give us more time before they leave – but that would only be in my own best interests and not theirs.  


Ask lots of questions

Sadly, and frequently, people are leaving to move on to another role because they have not enjoyed themselves in their current mahi – for a multitude of reasons right? To name a few, the work was too easy, the work was too hard, the workload was too much to manage, there was conflict with the team or there was a lack of support from bosses. 

On the flip side, they could be leaving with their heart sad to leave but their head telling them to take the next opportunity. Which can cause uncertainty or anxiety for them as the date looms closer. 

So, regardless of the circumstances, as their leader, try to finish strong for them. Ask them lots of questions about where they are going, support their excitement, thank them for everything they have contributed to you and the team and encourage them to keep you posted on how things go. 


Listen. Listen. Listen. 

More often than not, people don’t accidentally tell you something. So LISTEN. Intently. Whether they are leaving under a cloud or they are leaving with the sun firmly on their face, listen with the intention to understand. 

Constantly think, why are they telling me this?  

Be self aware about how you are showing up in all your interactions and ensure their wellbeing and mana is protected as much as possible in the process. 


Highway to the comfort zone

Like I mentioned earlier, your resigning team member may have felt the fear and done it anyway in the moment, but then as the reality draws closer to them leaving, their anxiety, worry or dread may be something that is overwhelming them. 

Reassure them that nothing amazing happens in their comfort zone and that boosting through that fear and trusting their decisions will be key as they take the next step in their career.

And for you as the leader of your team, remember that you don’t have to stick with the status quo and replace that employee – it could be a great opportunity to come together as a team, to reassess your strategic goals and decide whether you need someone in the same role, or whether your want to strengthen another area of the organization. The pathways are endless. 



Celebrate the fact they were part of your team.

Celebrate the fact they had the courage to move onto the next challenge in their journey.

Celebrate the fact that you learnt things from them, good or bad.

Celebrate the fact that they learnt things from you, good or bad. 

Celebrate the fact you had the opportunity to be a part of their journey. 

Celebrate the fact that you crossed paths in the first place. 

Celebrate the possibility of what is next to come. 



Unfortunately, though it is a daily inevitability, no one really likes change too much and it can cause a lot of stress. So, a really big tip here is to ensure you manage the transitions in all parts of the process with integrity, with respect and with kindness. Accepting the resignation. Communicating the resignation to the team. Advertising the new role. Interviewing for the new role. Communicating the new hire to the team. Communicating with the new employee. Communicating with the exiting employee. Be engaged and consistent every step of the way. 

Another tip is to keep an eye on the rest of your team, the resignation affects them too. Look out for signs that their emotional wellbeing may not be ok, like a lack of energy, mood swings, they become socially withdrawn, seem restless, or they start to have difficulties completing work that they do everyday. Again, stay engaged and aware, proactively have conversations and take care of yourself and your people. 



Be resigned to the fact that people come and go. It is what it is, but, know there is always a way through. 

Our job as a boss. As a leader. As a human. Is to be there alongside and behind our team. Not solely on ‘our terms’ of them being an employee, but on ‘our terms’ of them being a valuable human being doing the best they can in the world to thrive. 


And to our ex. Employee, good luck getting rid of us mate, we’re hard to shake. We’ll see you for a BBQ soon! ?


Ps. proactively check in with your employee once they have moved on to see how they are going, it means the world to them and solidifies the point that you were not only there for them because they signed a piece of paper to work within your company.  

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