304: Resigning Perfectly with Joseph Liu

By June 4, 2018Podcasts

 

 

Joseph Liu gives practical tips and guidelines for career transitioning, dealing with counteroffers, and avoiding burning professional bridges.

You’ll Learn:

  1. Key indicators that it’s time to resign.
  2. Why it matters to resign well
  3. Numerous reasons why NOT to accept a counteroffer

About Joseph

Joseph Liu is a career change consultant, certified coach, and host of the Career Relaunch podcast, featured as a top business podcast for entrepreneurs in Forbes, the “best podcast for transitioning to a new career” in Glassdoor, and a top podcast to “help you find a job” in Business Insider. The podcast has listeners in over 100 countries and has received unanimous 5-star ratings, and has ranked as a Top 30 career podcast in the US & UK on Apple Podcasts. Tapping into my 10 years’ international corporate branding experience at Fortune 500 companies like Clorox & General Mills, Joseph now coaches professionals to change careers and relaunch their personal brands. He’s served as a speaker for various conferences and organisations including TEDx, MarketingWeek Live, London Business School, Cambridge Business School, Oxford Business School, and General Assembly. Joseph has also been featured in publications like Forbes, HuffPost, Fast Company, The Muse, Monster, SUCCESS Magazine, Credit Sesame, CEO Blog Nation, and Career Builder.

Items Mentioned in this Show:

Joseph Liu Interview Transcript

Pete Mockaitis
Joseph, thanks so much for joining us here on the How to Be Awesome At Your Job podcast.

Joseph Liu
Thanks so much for having me, Pete. Great to be here.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, absolutely. Well, I’m excited to dig into your perspective. We’re talking a bit about resigning and how that’s done well. When you quit medical school, I understand the first thing you did was go forth and teach salsa dance lessons. Tell us about that decision making process.

Joseph Liu
Yeah, that was the fun fact that came to mind for me, Pete, when you asked me that question before we hopped on this recording.

I guess I mentioned that because, yeah, you’re absolutely right. I resigned from medical school after two weeks at the Georgetown School of Medicine. That was one of my first big career pivots in my life. I’ve had a few. That was the first major one.

I guess I mentioned the salsa dance instructor thing for a couple of reasons. First, it’s just kind of a random thing that a lot of people don’t know about me. I taught at a Cuban night club in Washington, DC just to do something on the side just because I enjoyed salsa dancing. I also mention it just because that was a time in my life when I was really confused about my career.

I use that example a lot just to demonstrate to people that hey, it’s okay to go out there and explore a lot of different things even if that thing isn’t the exact direction you want to go with your career because you could uncover some other strengths or illuminate some other path that may not have been obvious if you had just stuck really close to home in your explorations.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s intriguing. In your experience, did the salsa dance teaching sort of illuminate something for you?

Joseph Liu
You know, it did, but it was not something that I went into it thinking, Pete. It really just was the first time I was consistently up in front of a crowd with a microphone in my hand doing something that was new and something that required engaging an audience.

That was probably one of the first moments when I realized I actually enjoy public speaking because it wasn’t apparent to me. I’m actually quite a strong introvert myself, but that was a moment when I really felt like hey, this is something that I could enjoy doing and now I give talks and I do public speaking for a living. The seeds may have been planted from those first moments when I was holding that microphone.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s intriguing. In your speeches, does some salsa come out from time to time to this ….

Joseph Liu
It doesn’t come up a whole lot. I talk mostly about personal branding and career change, but it does come up in the career change talks just to kind of show people that I’ve been on my own winding journey that hasn’t always been straightforward. Yeah.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s cool. You share a lot of this wisdom through your podcast, Career Relaunch. Sort of what’s the main vibe over there?

Joseph Liu
Yeah. Career Relaunch is a podcast that I started a couple of years ago, Pete, that is focused on sharing stories of people who have managed to reinvent themselves and to change careers.

I created it mostly as a point of inspiration and companionship for other people who have decided to step off the beaten path in their careers, whether that’s a major or minor career change, just because in both cases just from talking with a lot of people who have pivoted in their careers, it tends to be a very lonely, confusing journey.

Through these stories hopefully people are finding some points of reference that can help inform where they may want to take their career, but also just to remind them that there are other people out there who are going through the challenges of trying to make a switch in their career.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, that’s great. I really want to talk about the specifics when it comes to resigning and how to do it smoothly and well. I discovered you from Mac Prichard’s podcast and I thought this was just such an important topic.

Could you maybe orient us a little bit in terms of the why it matters to resign well in terms of some might say, “Well, hey, you’re on your way out, whatever.” You’ve got a different take. Could you unpack that for us?

Joseph Liu
Yeah, sure. I think you’re absolutely right about the tendency for people to not care as much about how they behave on their way out the door. But in working with a lot of people who have left their jobs to do something else, time and time again what is very clear is that how you exit leaves a very long-lasting impression with your former colleagues and your former manager and your former company.

I actually think it matters a lot. I actually think it especially matters when you don’t have skin in the game how you behave because when you don’t have skin in the game, that’s actually very telling to others on who you are as a person. It tells people a lot about your actual character. It also tells people a lot about the type of professional you are.

I actually think that resigning is one of the most important things you’ll do in your career because so many things can go wrong and because it’s hard to do really well. I just know that a lot people don’t do it as well as they probably could.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, could you maybe paint a little picture for us in terms of an outstanding resignation and an abysmally comically bad resignation approach?

Joseph Liu
Yeah, there are a lot of different ways that you can resign from your job. There’s actually a Monster article about the seven ways you can resign from your job by Dominique Rodgers. They go through – she goes through a different range of ways that you can resign all the way from just bolting in and telling them you’re out of there to a more grateful, positive approach.

I guess to answer your first question, the best-in-class would be approaching it in a way that is very grateful and in a way that allows your manager to be in the loop on what your plans are as you’re in the process of resigning. I think there’s two p’s that I keep reminding people of when they’re trying to resign and number one is to be professional, number two is to be positive.

It means making the time to make the effort to meet with your manager in person. Making sure that your manager is the first person who hears this news. Letting them know you’re resigning, allowing them to understand that actually this is a very forward-looking decision. It’s not any gripe about the current situation or your current job even if that may be the case.

But to keep it positive and to focus on the fact that, “Hey, I’ve had a great time here. I’ve accepted a role at company X and this is my desired timing. I’m going to do everything I can to try to help facilitate the transition and hopefully to even onramp the next person who’s going to be following in my footsteps.”

It’s about letting people know with open communication, but also going the extra mile to let them know that, “Hey, during the remainder of my time here, I’m going to be giving it 100%. Here are some of my plans on how I’m going to transition in the next person and here’s some of my plans on how to make this transition smooth for you as a manager.”

Pete Mockaitis
That’s so good, Joseph. I think we’re going to have some listeners going to the transcript like, “I want to use some of those exact words.” That was wonderful.

Joseph Liu
Right. Yeah. The flip side of that is not doing any of those things. It’s going in and in a very negative way just letting your manager know that you’re leaving and not giving any indication that you thought about how you’re going to leave, how to make it easy on the company – that’s still paying you, by the way – and just using it as a time to air grievances, which I just think lands very well with people.

Pete Mockaitis
Certainly. I guess when it comes to grievances if there’s some helpful, actionable feedback elements that I guess in an exit interview and such those can emerge just fine. That’s – airing of grievances, I just can’t the – was it Seinfeld – is it Saturnalia or no that’s the Latin – that’s the Roman holiday.

Joseph Liu
Yeah, I’m not sure.

Pete Mockaitis
But they made a holiday where there’s an airing of grievances.

Joseph Liu
Oh right.

Pete Mockaitis
And the feats of strength.

Joseph Liu
Yeah, exactly.

Pete Mockaitis
As an alternative holiday. That’s what I’m chuckling at over here.

Joseph Liu
Yeah.

Pete Mockaitis
Welcome to my brain, Joseph.

Joseph Liu
Right. I think it’s so tempting to go negative. I think it’s so much easier to go negative than it is to remain positive. It’s just probably just human behavior. I just don’t think in the long run, even though it may feel good, I don’t know if it serves you and it certainly doesn’t serve your goodwill that you have built up over time with the company you’re currently working for.

Pete Mockaitis
Well said. I’d love to back it up just a little bit in terms of before we get to delivering the message.

Joseph Liu
Sure.

Pete Mockaitis
When it comes to just that internal thinking, pondering, decision making, what are some of the most reliable indicators you’ve observed amongst clients that says, “You know what? It’s likely that is in fact time to resign.”

Joseph Liu
Yeah. There’s probably – I guess the first thing I should say about that, Pete, is that resigning and the timing of your resignation is a very personal decision. Although I’m kind of going through this saying, hey, there’s like a textbook, best-in-class way to do this, it is a very personal journey that you’re on in your career.

You’ve got to decide at what point have you had enough and at what point do you want to throw in the towel. With that said, I think there are broadly three patterns that I see with people who get to the point where resigning makes sense.

The first one is just physical stress and exhaustion, so not feeling energized, never feeling like you’re in flow, feeling like you’re spending your evenings and your weekends recuperating from your day job.

The second one is just looking around the organization, not seeing another role that appeals to you. You might be in a place where you’re thinking, “Okay, I don’t like my current role. Is there something else that I could do? Would I want my manager’s job? Would I want my manager’s manager’s job?”

If you look left, right and upward in your organization and you don’t see anything that resonates with you, I think that’s another reason to maybe consider looking elsewhere.

The final one I think is when you’re day job starts to encroach on your personal happiness. I’ve had that happen to me in my career where my work wasn’t really energizing me and I dragged it home. I even remember going out to dinner once with my wife and she just had to stop me from complaining so much about my job. I was just dragging it into my personal life and my family life too much.

It was just – it was becoming hard for other people to be around me. Yeah, I think those are a few of the signs that I think are red flags.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, that’s pretty clear certainly. Thank you. Then when it comes to doing a resignation, some wisdom would suggest that don’t leave a job until you’ve got another one lined up and it seems like that there are a few more shades of grey to that rule of thumb. Could you expand upon that a little bit?

Joseph Liu
Absolutely. You’re absolutely right about conventional wisdom saying that you should have a job lined up before you resign from your current job, which I think on the surface I actually – I see that does make sense in a lot of situations. First of all because, just practically speaking, you may not have the luxury of being able to take the risk of being unemployed for a while to try to find another job.

Then there’s also a lot of I guess conventional wisdom that says that you’re more employable when you are employed because you just look more attractive to hiring managers and recruiters. I get all that and I buy into that.

At the same time there are I think some hidden advantages to quitting before you have a job lined up. I’ve done this myself in my career. It’s uncomfortable but I think there’s probably a couple times when you may want to consider it, assuming that you can take the risk.

One is that you just may not have the headspace or the time or the capacity to be looking for another job outside of your day job. It could just be that your job is so demanding that you just don’t have the spare energy to do it effectively.

I hear that from a lot of my clients is that they just don’t have it in them to spend their evenings and weekends working on CVs and cover letters and resumes and applying to jobs. It’s hard to do. It’s a full time job. One advantage to resigning before you have something else lined up is just freeing up some time.

The other advantage, which I think is a little bit more subtle, is that sometimes if you’re in a job that is so draining on you or it makes you so unhappy, it can actually affect how you show up in hiring situations because you’re just so down about your current job and when you show up to recruit for another job, you just – people can tell you’re unhappy.

I think that that won’t serve you well as a candidate. I think people can sniff that out. I think you can come across as being someone who is really frustrated and who is desperate to get out and people can generally sniff out desperation. I think that makes you a less attractive candidate.

Pete Mockaitis
I see that indeed we got some real sort of counterbalancing forces to be weighed against each other. I’d like to get your take being up close and personal with a lot of clients and seeing how their paths unfold, what’s your view in terms of how true is it that one who is currently employed looks more attractive? Do you think it’s a little bit more attractive or a lot more attractive?

Joseph Liu
I actually do think it is more attractive. I think that it’s just the nature of recruitment.

I’ve spoken with plenty of recruiters. I’ve worked with recruiters both as a client and a candidate and yeah, in most cases it’s easier for a recruiter to present a candidate to their client who is currently gainfully employed and happy and knocking it out of the park and having accomplishment after accomplishment. Yeah, I do think it is actually slightly advantageous to be currently employed.

It also I think – I mentioned the other situation where it affects your confidence in a negative way. It can actually boost your confidence in a positive way if you’re currently very happy. People like confidence. I do think it’s an advantage. I just think it’s not a completely black and white issue.

I do think there are cases where – and I’ve had clients who are in this situation – where they just – they were not able to gain traction with the kind of radical career change they were trying to make, whether it’s starting their own business or their own side gig or just looking for another job. They just couldn’t do that search justice given the fact that their current job was such a drain on them.

I know I’m kind of – I’m kind of almost dodging the question.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh no, that’s fair.

Joseph Liu
But I think there’s a case for both.

Pete Mockaitis
There’s nuance there. No doubt.

Joseph Liu
Yeah, that’s a good word for it, Pete. It’s very nuanced. It’s a very grey situation.

Pete Mockaitis
And I’m wondering if you were to leave a job before having another, is there a super cool experience or answer or explanation you could offer beyond “I just hated it there. I had to leave.” Like, “I was really interested in pursuing the technological disruptions associated with …. I had it in my heart for such a long time to do some service in impoverished, developing nations. I just had to make a go of it.”

I don’t know, is there sort of a good story or experience or explanation that can bridge the gap?

Joseph Liu
Well, I think again it’s always going to be – I think it’s always going to land better with people if you’re positive and forward-looking and talking about the upside of the opportunity in front of you versus what you’re trying to get away from.

I think as long as you don’t go into it talking about your gripes about your current organization, which sounds like – you’d be surprised that people do do that. I’ve had colleagues who when they exit, it’s like they are – they’re going out in a blaze of glory. They don’t try to make a professional exit. They’re actually – they’re quite unprofessional about it. This stuff does happen.

But I think – I don’t know. Best-in-class is probably talking about why you were very happy in your current role but for a variety of reasons in your life you’ve got some other priorities that have come up, this opportunity that has come up at this particular juncture in your life makes a lot of sense.

It’s nothing about your current organization that you’re trying to get away from. It’s just this is a really great opportunity that would be too good for you to turn down and so you’re going to go for it, but that you’ve had a really good experience there.

I think if you can give some combination of why the new experience has been – is going to be good for you and also why that doesn’t diminish any of your positive experiences at your current organization, I think that tends to land quite well.

Pete Mockaitis
Got it. It sounds like you’ve got a story or two in mind in terms of a blaze of glory and unprofessionalism, so maybe to have some laughs and that picture of what not to do, can you share one with us.

Joseph Liu
Yeah. I won’t say who this person is. I won’t even say the company I was at. I’m not giving an example of myself by the way.

I was working at a large blue-chip company where they hire best-in-class, like top marketers and the people who work there are very professional. But I remember somebody resigning and she – she actually had a one-month notice period, so I’m in the UK, where notice periods can be a little bit longer officially. Anywhere from one month to three months is quite standard.

During that last month she completely checked out, like she literally didn’t show up to work. When she was in meetings, she was very negative. She showed up late. She was badmouthing other people in the organization, gossiping a lot to the point where I basically just stayed away from her. I don’t think that when people resign that is that common, but it does happen.

It’s funny because we’re talking about this right now and she’s the first person that came to mind and that’s how I’ll always remember her. Even though we worked fine together on teams, I will always remember her for how she exited the company. I don’t think that’s the kind of legacy you want to leave with people.

People do remember you. People talk about first impressions. People also remember last impressions. That’s why this topic I think is so important.

Pete Mockaitis
Absolutely. You share a little bit here we’re thinking about sort of the timeline. There’s the telltale signs to know it’s time to resign. Then later on there’s the actual announcement, having the boss be the first to know. Any key things you recommend doing in that in between zone, post decision and pre-announcement?

Joseph Liu
Yeah, that’s a really important period, Pete. I think it’s probably going to feel like one of the most awkward times in your career.

If you’re listening to this and you’re in that situation where you’ve decided to resign, but you haven’t actually formally resigned yet, just know that this is going to be as uncomfortable as you probably feel in a job because you’re going to feel like you’re hiding something. You’re going to feel like you’re not being forthcoming with your manager.

When they start talking about whatever it is, the upcoming meeting or the upcoming presentation they would like you to make or upcoming project planning, it’s hard to not spill the beans on this stuff.

With that in mind I think one thing you need to do before sharing your news is to absolutely keep it to yourself until you’re ready to share it with your manager. Literally do not share it and I mean it with literally no one else because the last thing you want to have happen is for your manager to hear this news from someone else in your organization. That’s not going to be good. You want to keep it to yourself.

Another piece of advice is more of an administrative one is just to make sure you review your work contract. This is coming up with somebody I know right now who is exiting from her organization but there are some legalities around the amount of time that she needs to be there. You need to understand your work contract before you promise a start date with your future employer.

You may also just want to understand the administrative side of things related to benefits and other sorts of admin details.

Then there’s just two other things I think are especially important.

One just doesn’t happen enough, which is to prepare some sort of a transition file so that when you go to your manager to resign, you go in with literally a document or at least something that you can verbalize that demonstrates that you have given some thought into how you’re going to exit gracefully and facilitate a smooth transition for the manager and the new hire that’s going to replace you.

That is golden if you do that. It just demonstrates that you really care about the origination. It leaves a really great positive impression.

Last thing I would say to do is just to make sure you’re solidifying your relationships. That means making sure that you’re staying in touch with the people who are not only on your team but also your crossfunctionals. Make sure you nurture those relationships because a couple things can happen after you resign that you could experience a little bit of disenfranchisement in the organization.

You also are going to be depending on those relationships to ensure a smooth exit out of the company. You want people on your side once they know that you’re no longer going to be part of the team.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, I’d love to get some further detail when you talk about a transition plan or document. What are some great things that can go in it or action steps to volunteer to tackle to be the most delightful exiting employee possible?

Joseph Liu
Yeah, so this actually probably what I would consider simple to do but not always easy to do, which is – it’s literally a document. You can capture a few items on it.

Number one is project status. On your projects, where do they stand, what’s the situation on them, are they on track, are they behind, are they ahead of schedule. Just so somebody can glance just really quickly and understand what’s on your plate and how are all those projects going, what’s your role in those projects.

Along those lines, you also want to outline any sort of key issues or sticky situations that are either present in those projects right now or maybe coming down the pike.

You probably want to identify some key relationships so the document could include some of the key contacts you have in the organization, especially outside of your current functions, so cross functional relationships with people who have helped you get stuff done in the organization.

Then one more thing to keep in mind with that transition file is just key stakeholders on your projects, key decision makers related to your projects so that whoever looks at that transition file. This file is not only for your manager, it’s also for the incoming person who’s going to succeed you. It allows them to very quickly understand who they need to be building strong relationships especially when it comes to stakeholder management.

Those are just a few things like project status, key issues, relationships, stakeholders.

Pete Mockaitis
I’m just sort of imagining this situation and seeing what would be the most helpful, possible thing you can do if I’m in the manager’s shoes here. I’m wondering, and this might be – this has pros and cons to it, so I’ll just throw it out. See how it goes. I’m wondering – if I’m the manager I thinking, “Oh my gosh, I’ve got to go through all of the headache associated with finding a person.”

I would kind of appreciate it if the exiting employee would volunteer to do some of that leg work, whether that’s in terms of writing up a job post or a job description or sifting through the hundreds of resumes to give me a more manageable dozens of resumes and that sort of thing.

The flip side though, they might say if you are not enthused about this role, do I want you kind of facing those who may replace you. I don’t know. What’s your take on this one?

Joseph Liu
That’s I think a great point, Pete. I should have mentioned that before, but I think that one thing you can also do in this meeting is just ask your manager, “Hey, what can I do to make your life easier over the next X number of weeks? Is there anything I can do to help?” Assuming that they perceive you as a professional individual, I think they’d be happy to have you involved with the hiring process.

I’ve had both happen to me personally in my career. I’ve had situations where my manager said, “Hey, could you lead the hiring process? You know what this role is about. You know what it takes to do well in this role. Can you actually interview your replacement?” which is kind of a weird surreal thing to be going through. But yeah, I think it can be really helpful because hiring is really time consuming.

Then I’ve had situations where people just – it’s just – I’m just not involved with that. I think both can happen. I don’t think it was probably – I don’t think people thought I was going to sabotage it or anything, but they just chose not to have me involved.

I think both can happen. I think ultimately it comes down to what your manager thinks is best. I think that’s the general principle is just whatever he or she thinks is best, I would go with that.

If they want you to be involved, I would treat it seriously. I would approach it professionally. I would hire someone as if you’re going to remain there. I think that’s a great way to go out if you’re willing to do that and invest the time. I think that would leave a really great positive last impression with people.

Pete Mockaitis
Very cool. Now I’d like to speak to the fear here. You’ve really laid out a lovely set of things to do to exit gracefully and well, but nonetheless, I think that there is a not so rational part of us that still has this fear, like, “Oh, if I leave, they’re going to be disappointed in me. They’re going to be bitter toward me. They’re going to say terrible things about me. I’m going to be burning bridges. You’re dead to me, Joseph.”

Could you speak to that in terms of hey, if you do everything just right, what are the odds of that happening and how should we think about it?

Joseph Liu
Well, you just never really know with people, Pete. I would love to sit here and say, “Okay if you follow this step-by-step process, then you’re going to exit and everything is going to be great and everybody is going to be happy.” I think the reality is that in the world that people are human on both sides.

You mentioned this earlier; I think you’re absolutely right, I think the manager’s going to be a little freaked out. I think the moment you say, “I’m resigning,” I think the rest of it can be a little bit of a blur. Yeah, I say here get your transition file ready, but at the same time how much of that does the manager really absorb.

I’ve done that before with managers. By that point in time I’m handing over the document, they seem like that’s not what they want to look at at that very moment.

Yeah, I think there is a lot of emotion related to this. I think that it can go a couple ways. I think everybody can approach it professionally and I think that people cannot take things too personally. Your manager can want the best for you and once they hear that you are going off to a great opportunity they’ll be more than happy for you. They’ll even in fact do whatever they can to help you. I think that’s a great situation.

I think there are also situations where the manager is a little freaked out. They may not be upset at you, but they’re focused on trying to figure out how clean up what’s going to be a shortage of resource on their team.

Yeah, I think it’s very natural to go into one of these meetings and feel a little bit nervous about it. I know when I’ve done it in the past it’s been really nerve-racking. Literally my heart’s racing when I do this because you develop a good relationship with your manager. You don’t want to disappoint them. You don’t want to create a mess for them. At the same time you’ve got to think about what’s good for your own career.

Yeah, like I said earlier, I think resigning is a really emotional turning point in your career. It will feel heavy I think.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, I guess it’s a good indicator if your manager is feeling shell-shocked or stupefied as opposed to just like relieved and delighted, that means you’ve done something right.

Joseph Liu
Exactly. I always tell people try – people have different pieces of advice on this one, Pete, but my advice to people is I try to do this fairly early in the week and not do it on a Friday because you don’t want them thinking about this over the weekend.

You want to do this at a time when your manager can talk to whoever they need to talk to in the organization right away, figure out how they’re going to share the news. They probably are going to need to talk to HR. They’re not going to want to be thinking about this over the weekend. They want to be able to talk to people right away.

Yeah, I think it’s good to think about where your manager is at and the timing of when you do this. I think it matters. Catch them when they’ve got some headspace. There’s not going to be a perfect time but there will be better times.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. If you do find yourself handed a counteroffer upon you sharing your plans, boy what do you do with that?

Joseph Liu
Alright, so I have a very strong view on this Pete. I read all sorts of different articles with different pieces of advice on this. I just read an article actually yesterday about how to handle counteroffers.

I’m just shaking my head because my view in general, okay, I think there’s going to be exceptions to this, is to not take counteroffers. I’ll tell you why.

Because first of all one of the things I recommend to people just to preclude this from even happening is to just make sure you accept your role before – accept your future role before you resign from your current role. That just eliminates the possibility of you even taking a counteroffer.

But let’s say you’ve done that or let’s say you haven’t done that and somebody gives you a counteroffer which is likely going to happen. I think most managers find it very expensive to replace even non-outstanding employees. I would recommend don’t take it. There’s a few problems with taking counteroffers that can play out in the long run that might not be obvious in the short run.

The first problem is if you take a counteroffer, I’m just going to assume it’s some sort of financial counteroffer, it then becomes very clear that the only thing that’s keeping you at the organization is some incremental amount of money, which means that you’re basically motivated and driven by money. I don’t know if that’s the kind of personal brand you want to be building for yourself in the organization.

The next one, which is much more practical, is that if you take a counteroffer, it may keep you in the organization, it may sort of make you happier for the time being, but if you work in any sort of a large organization or established organization, they’re probably going to recalibrate your salary the next year just so you’re not wildly out of whack with other people in your same grade level or your same level in the organization.

I think that the final problem with it, which I think is the biggest problem, is that your goodwill in your organization may take a hit if you stay or let’s say you take the counteroffer. I think your goodwill in your organization is going to take a hit because people know now that you were thinking about leaving.

Now you’ve gone from being someone who’s, I don’t know, loyal to the organization and quite happy there to someone who thought about leaving and is now suddenly staying. People are unfortunately never going to look at you the same.

The way that pans out in practical terms is maybe you’re going to get passed up for a promotion that you would have been considered for if people didn’t know that you were thinking about leaving. In general, I think it doesn’t go well.

Also, I forget there’s one more thing that’s really important point that I thought of just now is if you have verbally accepted your new offer and then you renege saying that you’ve accepted a counteroffer, there’s a bridge you’ve definitely burnt at that point.

Pete Mockaitis

Right. Okay. That’s some mounting evidence. I want to follow up on that one thing you said in terms of if others realize you were considering other things and then you didn’t take them and you stuck around and your goodwill takes a hit. I guess, well, call me naïve, but I guess I’m thinking everybody at all times is always entertaining many offers.

Joseph Liu
Yeah, that’s true.

Pete Mockaitis
Maybe not hard offers like in hand written with dollar signs, but just the notion of fluidity and opportunity and how one as the CEO of one’s own career should kind of always have eyes open and awareness of opportunities, what’s out there and going.

Maybe that’s not as much the real world in terms of people’s perception of when other people do that, that’s bad news, but I just want to get your take on that one.

Joseph Liu
Yeah, I think that there are always exceptions to these rules. I think if – gosh, if your current employer comes back with an amazing counteroffer that you can’t turn down, okay yeah, maybe think about it.

But I guess the problem with that then is let’s say they do come back with something that is extremely compelling and extremely attractive and tempting. If I’m the employee, my question then is so it took me wanting to leave in order for you to offer these things to me. It just – I don’t know if that signals good things about your employer in that case. I think that – I think that won’t go well for you potentially in the future.

Let’s say you’re in a similar situation in the future where you’re unhappy with something, are you going to then have to try to pretend to resign again to get what you want? Me, personally, I think it’s problematic from all sorts of angles.

The other problem with it is that – and this is probably a more jaded view – but I think that what can happen is, okay, like what you mentioned, you take the counteroffer and maybe people perceive you as someone who is just kind of going with the punches, is adapting to a new situation and so you decide that you’re going to stay and you’re just making that decision because it seems attractive to stay.

There could be people out there also who think that you were saying you were going to resign just to get these additional benefits. I think that that is again, more of a – I guess more of a sinister view on it.

But I think that you risk at least being perceived as somebody who said you had an offer elsewhere as a way of threatening people, as some sort of ultimatum to get what you want at your organization. I think that doesn’t serve your personal brand very well.

Pete Mockaitis
Understood. Thank you. Tell me, Joseph, anything else you really want to make sure to mention before we shift gears and hear about some of your favorite things?

Joseph Liu

Well, I think that I’ll just mention that I think it’s really good we’re talking about this topic because I think so much is talked about related to your first 90 days and I think that’s really important, but, again, I think that at least for me whenever I’ve left a job behind I try to remind myself of two things.

One is that final impressions really do matter a lot when it comes to your professional reputation and your legacy.

And I also just remind myself that I’m still working for this company. I think sometimes we can get a little arrogant the moment we have another offer lined up. I think it’s important to be modest and just remember, hey, this is your employer who is still paying your bills and stuff and so you really should give 100% from the moment you resign all the way to your last day there.

I’m not saying do more than 100% or less than 100%. I’m just saying do 100%, do your job, do it well, and I think if you do that, you’ll exit in a good manner.

Pete Mockaitis
Alright. Lovely. Thank you. Now can you share with us a favorite quote, something you find inspiring?

Joseph Liu
Yeah. One of my favorite quotes is related to persistence. I’ll just read it off to you. This is a quote from Jacob Riis.

“When nothing seems to help I go and look at a stonecutter hammering away at his rock perhaps 100 times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at 101st blow it will split in two and I know it was not that blow that did it, but all that had gone before.”

I love that quote, Pete, because it’s just a reminder to me, sometimes I get a little frustrated because I’m not making as much progress with stuff as I want to, especially related to – I don’t know – career or life goals, things like that. Things just don’t tend to move along as quickly as I ever want them to.

I just try to remind myself that all this work that you’re putting in to whatever you’re working toward, you’re just planting seeds and sometimes it just takes a while for those seeds to grow.

Pete Mockaitis
Yes, thank you. How about a favorite study or experiment or a bit of research?

Joseph Liu
I hate to talk about one of my own little projects here, but I actually find that the stories from the people who are on my podcast are really helpful to me also because these are real people making real changes.

I talk about career change on my podcast. But it’s quite meta for me because I’ve recently made a career change myself leaving the corporate world to start my own business.

I find it very educational to just hear not only about people’s success stories, but their actual challenges and their emotional struggles and the loneliness and the self-doubt that they dealt with along the way because I think that it’s just a nice reminder for me to know that most of the things you do in life are – if they’re worthwhile, they’re going to be difficult because if they weren’t difficult, everybody would be doing them.

I take a lot of notes when I’m hearing other people’s stories when they’re navigating something that I care about.

[39:00]

Pete Mockaitis
How about a favorite book?

Joseph Liu
Great by Choice by Jim Collins. That is a fantastic book.

It’s basically a book – he writes a lot of business books and this one is about comparing companies or teams that succeed to companies or teams that don’t succeed. There’s just some really great concept in that book that you can apply to your own life and your own career.

If you do check out the book, I’d recommend you – if you read one chapter, read the one about the 20-mile march, which is about just putting in a certain amount of work every single day to eventually get where you want to go.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, that’s good. That’s good. And co-author Morton Hansen from episode 278, so good.

Joseph Liu
Oh right.

Pete Mockaitis
Sharp guys teaming up there.

Joseph Liu
Yeah, yeah.

Pete Mockaitis
Very good. How about a favorite tool, something that helps you be awesome at your job?

Joseph Liu
I actually – a couple of years ago I spend a lot of time looking at a whole bunch of different tools to help me be more efficient because I just felt like I was so scattered with all the different things I had going on. I’ll mention a couple here if that’s okay. The first one is Trello. Have you heard of that or used that?

Pete Mockaitis
I’ve used Trello. Yeah.

Joseph Liu
Yeah, Trello’s great. It’s basically like a virtual post it note app you can use on your desktop, your mobile phone. It’s just a great way of organizing projects. I use them for work flow for my own podcast. I just like the visual nature of it.

Wunderlist is my go-to checklist program. I like it just because it’s multi-platform. I can organize things by topic. I can set deadlines. It’s simple. Love that.

Then I use Dropbox for pretty much every single one of my projects where I’m working with different freelancers or suppliers in different parts of the world. Yeah, Trello, Wunderlist and Dropbox.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. How about a favorite habit, something that you do regularly that helps you be awesome?

Joseph Liu
Well, I don’t know if it – I don’t know if I would consider myself an awesome person, but –

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, I do, Joseph.  I do.

Joseph Liu
But okay, I’ll give myself that label temporarily. I would actually say that taking the time to take care of yourself is really important.

I mention that one not because I think I’d do it well necessarily but because it’s actually something I struggled with for a while, self-care and making sure that I take breaks from my work. Now I’m doing a lot more of that and I am noticing how it really affects my energy and my ability to bring 100% to every other aspect of my life.

Just to get really specific, I try to make sure that I’m doing some exercise every day. Today I went swimming. It doesn’t take forever. It takes 20 minutes to do that, but I am left feeling really energized the rest of the day and it helps me bring more energy to relationships, to my work, to being a father, to really everything in my life. Yeah, I think make sure you take care of yourself.

Pete Mockaitis
Is there a particular nugget or piece that you share that really seems to connect and resonate with folks?

Joseph Liu
Yeah, I think the one that comes up most often is this idea that you have to let go of one thing to make room for something else in your life. I think I mention that just because I think a lot of times especially when it comes to careers people want to try to have everything. That can be quite paralyzing because it’s hard to have everything.

I think career pivots are about choices and it’s about tradeoffs. It’s about deciding what’s the most important thing to you, but also realizing that you’ve got a finite amount of space in your life, in your career. You will have to let go of something in order to make room for something else.

Pete Mockaitis
If folks want to learn more or get in touch, where would you point them?

Joseph Liu
Yeah, so they can go to my website, which is JosephPLiu.com. There they can learn more about my speaking and workshops and my online courses and also my Career Relaunch podcast.

Pete Mockaitis
Alright, and do you have a final challenge or call to action for those seeking to be awesome at their jobs?

Joseph Liu
Well, I would just say that it is worth investing the time to find meaningful work in your life. I think you can find meaningful work. I would just challenge you to invest the time necessary in understanding what sort of work allows you to make the most of who you are. I think if you can figure that out, then you can be awesome at your job.

Pete Mockaitis
Cool. Well, Joseph, this has been so much fun. Thank you for taking this time and good luck with the Career Relaunch podcast and all the good stuff you’re doing.

Joseph Liu
Alright, well, thanks so much Pete and it’s been great talking to you.

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The Gold Nugget

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