Resign or Fire

Dear Management Doctor:

I have been working for a municipal planning office in positions with progressively more responsibility for almost a decade. It appears that in the last year I have made some unpopular decisions in the good ol' boy environment that I work in; yet I have had glowing annual reviews ever since I started working here, not run afoul of any administrative policies, and have not broken any laws (that I know of). If it came to it, from a career preservation perspective, would it be better to resign or should I wait to get fired?
Thanks for your help.

For obvious reasons, I would like to stay anonymous.

Dear Anonymous,

In my career I have both resigned without a new job and been fired. I survived both but normally neither is the best choice, particularly in today’s job market. I suggest you work to find a new job while you are still employed, and then resign. For better, or worse, most employers seem to look more favorably at people who are employed.

However, you may have other issues to consider as well. If you are in an “at-will” community or state, you can likely be fired at-will unless there is some form of discrimination or other issue. On the other hand, if you are in some form of civil service position you may have at least some protection. Even with protection it sounds like it may be time to move on to another community.

Some employers like to have firings or resignations without a messy situation or a law suit. In these cases they often buy out an employee. In fact, for planning directors, I suggest no one take the job without a contract that has a good pay provision for termination, at least six months. For what I understand of your situation, I’d try to get at least two or three month’s salary.

I once worked for a county where three of the five Board of Supervisors called me into an executive session and asked for my resignation. Under the county rules I had the right to a public hearing which I requested. After the longest hearing in the history of the county, nine hours, I was given a three to two vote of confidence.
I respect your need to keep the anonymous. However, if you would like a confidential conversation, feel free to give me a call.

The Management Doctor

trainingcompany hot infomanagement doctordumb stuffconsultingpublications