Exit Strategies for Executives

I’m Gone!

Executives and top managers don’t have it easy when it comes to transitioning jobs. They’re also subject to notice periods, and further contract regulations. When all signs show that it’s time to leave, there are a few clever strategies one can employ for a simple seamless separation.

Führungskräfte kündigen

You’ve got a new job in your pocket, but first you’ve got to contend with your notice period – how annoying. Employment lawyer Steffen Rohrig has some tips for a seamless exit strategy.

For Jens Winters, the headhunter’s call came as a surprise during lunch one day. The offer was especially tempting – a lucrative new position with exciting chances for upward mobility with an international market leader. The interview rounds with the potential employer were constructive and positive. Winters arrived at his decision to switch jobs very quickly. Then, it was a matter of how to quit his current position…

Plenty of executives find themselves faced with similar dilemmas – circumstances transpire where they suddenly realize it’s time to leave their current job, to take on a new challenge. Or they’re dissatisfied with a lack of opportunities for further development in their company. Some find themselves in uncomfortable territory when a higher-up leaves the company, and their own position isn’t very safe. And when it comes time to leave, they’re left to deal with the banalities of leaving, like notice periods or delay tactics from their employer. But to ensure that a dream job becomes more than just a dream, it’s important to have a creative exit strategy in your pocket. Here’s where it’s key to think out of the box, and use your strengths to the best of your ability.

Notice Periods – Is There A Way to Avoid Them?

Fachanwalt Steffen Rohrig hat jede Menge Erfahrung im Trennungsmanagement.

Specialist and coach Steffen Rohrig has a lot of experience in separation management.

In principle, notice periods should be observed. But these can be twisted and turned, if need be. Steffen Rohrig, a coach and specialist for employee’s rights, has learned plenty of solutions for problems like these in his years of work. But these strategies are often “creative,” and typically require some courage from the employee. “For both sides, it’s usually possible to mutually arrange a shorter notice period. But if this doesn’t go smoothly, I’d advise creating a binding contract addendum, that includes the following: Explain to your employer that you’ll be shortening your notice period – from six months to two months, for example – and confirm this in writing. Specify, so that it’s clear to your employer, that you’re aware this is different than what’s in your original contract. After two months, leave. Your employer is then left out in the cold and cannot threaten with damages and further consequences.” For this procedure management needs good nerves. “And this trick only has a chance of success if you DO NOT switch to direct or indirect competition – because if that’s your attempt you can always be met with the immanent non-compete contractual clause. There is usually no problem with a change of industry.”

Let the employer be his own undoing

If management has been notified of the request for separation, a lessening of expectations is made under normal circumstances. But what if the employer insists on continuously high performance and puts the executive under so much pressure that a disease threatens? Steffen Rohrig recommends this: “If you are threatening to collapse under the pressure, only the path to the doctor helps. And a written note stating you’re not currently capable of performing the duties of you job. Or act responsibly: make no decisions. Force the employer to act on his own behalf. If it is clear in your contract what the contents of your work should be, there are steps you can take. The Federal Labor Court has ruled in the employees’ favor: you only have to work as often as you can work well.”

When in doubt, get some coaching

In this uncomfortable situation, coaching can help to properly deal with the legal elements at hand. The goal of the coaching should be to facilitate an amicable split between the two parties at play. Rohrig sees it like this: “The same managers who handle million-dollar deals in their daily work, are suddenly insecure and thin-skinned when it comes to an employee quitting. Therefore, it’s a good idea to bring in professionals with know-how and tact for additional reinforcement.”

Tortoise and the Hare

And what happens when your employer wants to continue stringing you along? Rohrig has this advice: “Don’t buckle under pressure, and don’t fold! The best move is to strike back immediately, and hard. Be powerful, quick, and efficient. Play the role of the hare, and leave your employer in the dust.”

About the Author

joergurbachJörg Peter Urbach is an author, editor and a blogger, with a passion for words. Urbach has been writing for more than 25 years. Print and online. Concepts. Stories. Trade articles. After his studies in musical sciences, German language, and literature sciences, Jörg Peter worked as an editorial manager in the classical music business. As an experienced editor-in-chief for the online portal Wissen.de, he knows how to entice readers and find topics.

Today, he advises companies on the topics of content marketing and digital communication. When the Kiel native isn’t writing, he enjoys exploring and photographing the Alps. Or listening to opera music. 


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